Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Maj. Gen. Robert Sedgwick

Male Bef 1613 - 1656  (> 43 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Robert Sedgwick 
    Prefix Maj. Gen. 
    Born Bef 6 May 1613  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Baptised 6 May 1613  Woburn, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Died 24 May 1656  Jamaica Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4, 5
    Alternate death 24 Jun 1656  Jamaica Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Person ID I23350  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TWK
    Last Modified 22 Nov 2020 

    Father William Sedgwick,   b. of Woburn, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 25 Jul 1632 
    Mother Elizabeth Howe 
    Married 10 Apr 1604  St. Mary's, Woburn, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F14039  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Joanna Blake,   d. Aft 1657, Norwich, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. William Sedgwick
    Last Modified 1 Feb 2019 
    Family ID F14038  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "Robert Sedgwick [...] settled in Charlestown as early as 1636, was one of the founders of the Artillery Company in 1638, was chosen Major-General, the highest military office in the colony, May 26, 1652; went to England and was appointed by Cromwell commander of the expedition which captured in 1654 the French posts in Acadia. He was sent as a commissioner to Jamaica after the capture of that island, where he died May 24 (Drake), or June 24 (Palfrey), 1656. His children were Samuel, Hannah, William and Robert. His widow Joanna became the second wife of Rev. Thomas Allen of Charlestown, whose first wife was Anna, widow of John Harvard, founder of Harvard College." [Henry F. Waters, citation details below.]

      William Sedgwick (1609-1664), called a "religious and political controversialist" by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, was his brother.

      From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

      Beginning as an importer, especially of cloth, [Robert Sedgwick] helped to organize the [New England] fisheries. He became a leading dealer in fish, his brother-in-law, London financier Robert Houghton, providing links to London importers. Working through partnerships, Sedgwick invested in the establishment of the famed Saugus Iron Works as well as the building of ships, wharves, and warehouses in the towns around Boston harbour. He also owned the Tide Mill at Charlestown, another of the colony's early major industrial projects. Inevitably involved in land development, he aided in the creation of the town of Woburn in 1642. His commercial and military interests gave him a sophisticated sense of England's imperial opportunities in the Americas. In 1644, for instance, he participated in a company to tap into the Great Lakes fur trade by flanking Dutch New Netherland by way of the Delaware valley. The scheme was thwarted by mismanagement and Dutch counter-measures. He also resisted the colony's isolationist impulses by petitioning in 1643 to repeal laws against Baptists and by protesting a 1645 law restricting residence of strangers to three weeks. [...]

      Cromwell, in June 1655, gave Sedgwick twelve ships and 800 soldiers to reinforce the Western Design, an expedition against the Spanish Caribbean. He found the demoralized army occupying Jamaica after its catastrophic defeat at Hispaniola. Although he lived less than a year from his arrival, Sedgwick, appointed one of the commissioners for civil government of the island, played a major role in laying the foundation for the eventual success of the new colony. He inaugurated the commerce between New England and Jamaica, essential to the future prosperity of both. He discouraged piracy, even against the Spanish, and sought instead permanent agricultural settlers. He failed to recruit New Englanders, but in March 1656 some 1400 planters from Nevis, led by their governor, migrated to Jamaica.

      Nevertheless, Sedgwick was oppressed by a sense of failure, and, soon after receiving word of his appointment as commander-in-chief of English forces in America, he died in Jamaica on 24 May 1656. His secretary claimed the new responsibilities had hastened his death. "There is so much expected of me", he said, "and I, conscious of my own disabilities, having besides so untoward a people to deal with, am able to performe soe little, that I shall never overcome it; it will breake my heart."

  • Sources 
    1. [S2210] John Hopkins of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1634, and Some of His Descendants by Timothy Hopkins. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press, 1932.

    2. [S3048] Robert Sedgwick, "Stephen Sedgwick." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 42:184, Apr 1888.

    3. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004-ongoing.

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

    5. [S3047] Genealogical Gleanings in England by Henry F. Waters. 2 volumes. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1901.