Nielsen Hayden genealogy

John Mason

Male Abt 1605 - 1672  (~ 67 years)


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  • Name John Mason  [1, 2
    Born Abt 1605  [3
    Gender Male 
    Died Between 9 May 1672 and 6 Jun 1672  Norwich, New London, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I20563  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of TWK
    Last Modified 23 Mar 2019 

    Family Anne Peck,   d. Bef Jun 1672 
    Married Jul 1639  Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    Children 
    +1. Priscilla Mason,   b. Oct 1641, Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1714  (Age ~ 72 years)
    +2. Daniel Mason,   b. Apr 1652, Saybrook, Middlesex, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Jan 1737, Stonington, New London, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 84 years)
    Last Modified 2 Feb 2019 
    Family ID F12713  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Wikipedia (lightly edited):

      John Mason [...] enlisted in the military in 1624 and went to the Netherlands to serve in the sectarian Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), where he gained significant tactical military experience, first seeing action in the Breda campaign. By 1629 he was a lieutenant in the Brabant Campaign and participated in the Siege of s'-Hertogenbosch, literally "The Duke's Forest" in English, and known in French as Bois-le-Duc. He served with Thomas Fairfax under General Horace Vere in the army of Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange.

      In 1632, he joined the great Puritan exodus and sailed from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, settling in Dorchester where he was promptly appointed captain of the local militia. In 1633, he commanded the first American naval task force and pursued the pirate Dixie Bull, routing him from New England waters. He and Roger Ludlow planned and supervised the construction of the first fortifications on Castle Island (later known as Fort Independence) in Boston Harbor. In 1634, he was elected to represent Dorchester in the Massachusetts General Court, where permission was granted for him to remove to the fertile Connecticut River valley. In 1635, he settled in Windsor, Connecticut at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers; he lived there for the next twelve years and served as a civil magistrate and military leader of the nascent Connecticut Colony. In 1640, he married Anne Peck, from a prominent Puritan family; they had eight children.

      The most prominent episode in Mason's lifelong career of public service was his overall command as captain of the colonial forces in the Pequot War of 1637. This was the first sustained conflict in Southern New England, a complex and risky campaign. The large and powerful Pequot tribe had subjugated other local tribes, killed numerous Colonial settlers and destroyed vital corn crops. The Massachusetts Bay Colony eventually declared war with them, and the infant Connecticut Colony was quickly drawn into the conflict.

      The Pequots greatly outnumbered the colonial forces, but the English had superior weapons and tactics. They also had the guidance and support of numerous Indian allies who were tributaries to the Pequots, especially Mohegan Sachem Uncas, who formed lasting bond with Mason and also Wequash Cooke. [...] Following the colonists' victory, Mason was promoted to major and received numerous land grants as a reward for his services. Mason's Island at the mouth of the Mystic River remained in his family for over 250 years.

      In 1647, Mason assumed command of Saybrook Fort which controlled the main trade and supply route to the upper river valley. The fort mysteriously burned to the ground but another improved fort was quickly built nearby. He spent the next twelve years there and served as Commissioner of the United Colonies, as the chief military officer, magistrate, and peacekeeper. He was continually called upon to negotiate the purchase of Indian lands, write treaties, or arbitrate some Indian quarrel, many of which were instigated by his friend Uncas. His leadership abilities were unrivaled, which prompted the New Haven Colony to offer him a lucrative position as manager of their enterprise in relocating to the Delaware River area. However, he declined the offer and remained in Connecticut.

      In 1659, Major Mason moved from the mouth of the Connecticut River to the head of the Thames River, together with his son-in-law Rev. James Fitch and most of the Saybrook residents, and founded the town of Norwich, Connecticut. The land "nine miles square" was purchased from Mohegan Sachem Uncas, who also signed over to Mason all the territory in his tribe's domain as a protector and administrator. Questions regarding title to these thousands of acres created legal disputes which lasted for seventy years; the Mohegan Land Case actually consisted of several cases and appeals making their way through various courts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and even back in London, England before the Lords Commissioners. Several of the Major's Mason descendants, in their legal role as tribal overseers, went bankrupt in the process of defending the Mohegan land rights.

      During his twelve years in Norwich, John Mason served for nine years as Deputy Governor (1660 to 1669), and he helped to write the Connecticut Charter. He served as acting Governor from 1661 to 1663 while Governor John Winthrop Jr. went to England to obtain approval of the Charter from King Charles II. In 1669, pleading old age and infirmities, he retired to an advisory position, but he suffered painfully in the last years of his life from cancer, which was then referred to as the "strangury".

  • Sources 
    1. [S1617] Abandoning America: Life-Stories from Early New England, by Susan Hardman Moore. Woodbridge, Sussex: The Boydell Press, 2013.

    2. [S756] Early New England Families, 1641-1700, by Alicia Crane Williams. Online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    3. [S101] The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3 and The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England,1634-1635, Volumes 1-7, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.

    4. [S1559] Autobiography of William Seymour Tyler, With a Genealogy of the Ancestors of Prof. and Mrs. William S. Tyler, prepared by Cornelius B. Tyler. 1912., month and year only.