Josiah Winslow, my 10th great-uncle, was born on May 22, 1629, in Plymouth Massachusetts Colony to Edward and Susanna (Jackson White) Winslow. Both of his parents came to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower. Both of his parents lost their spouses during the first winter in Plymouth and married on May 12, 1621. Josiah had several half-siblings as a result. He married Penelope Pelham (1633-1703) in 1651 in Marshfield and had the following children, Elizabeth Winslow 1663-1738 and Isaac Winslow 1671-1735.
Josiah was educated at Harvard in Cambridge Massachusetts. He then became the assistant Governor of Plymouth Colony from 1657 to 1673. In 1656 he succeeded Myles Standish as commander of the colony’s military forces. He also served as Plymouth’s Commissioner to the New England Confederation from1658 to 1972. He became Governor of Plymouth in1673 and served until his death earning accolades for establishing America’s. first public school.
In 1675 and 1676 Winslow was a military commander during the action against Native Americans known as King Philip’s War. As governor, he signed the colony’s declaration of war and also issued a famous statement denying the Indians had a legitimate grievance against white settlers in New England “because the Pilgrims had honestly bought their land.”
Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag. had maintained a long-standing alliance with the colonists. Metacom was his younger son, and he became tribal chief in 1662 after Massasoit’s death. Metacom, however, did not maintain his father’s alliance between the Wampanoags and the colonists. The colonists insisted that the peace agreement in 1671 should include the surrender of Indian guns; then three Wampanoags were hanged for murder in Plymouth Colony in 1675 which increased the tensions. Indian raiding parties attacked homesteads and villages throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine over the next six months, and the Colonial militia retaliated. The Narragansetts remained neutral, but several individual Narragansetts participated in raids of colonial strongholds and militia, so colonial leaders deemed them to be in violation of peace treaties. The colonies assembled the largest army that New England had yet mustered, consisting of 1,000 militia and 150 Indian allies, and Governor Josiah Winslow marshaled them to attack the Narragansetts in November 1675. They attacked and burned Indian villages throughout Rhode Island territory, culminating with the attack on the Narragansetts’ main fort in the Great Swamp Fight. An estimated 600 Narragansetts were killed, many of them women and children, and the Indian coalition was then taken over by Narragansett chief Canochet. They pushed back the colonial frontier in Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Rhode Island colonies, burning towns as they went, including the town of Providence in March 1676. However, the colonial militia overwhelmed the Indian coalition, and, by the end of the war, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. On August 12, 1676, Metacom fled to Mount Hope where he was killed by the militia.
Josiah Winslow died on December 18, 1680, in Plymouth and is buried in the Winslow Burial Grounds there.
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