Thomas Weld (minister)

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Thomas Weld (bap. 1595, d. 1661[1]), who came to Boston on 5 June 1632 on the "William and Francis", was a Puritan emigrant from England and the first minister of the First Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts from 1632 to 1641.


Thomas Weld was baptised in 1595 in Terling, Essex.[2] He received degrees from Trinity College at Cambridge University in England in 1613 and 1618. In 1624 he served as a minister at Terling. After moving to New England in 1632 he became a strong opponent of John Wheelwright in the Antinomian debate and authored a book on the topic.[3] Weld also assisted in the composition of the Bay Psalm Book and became an overseer of the newly founded Harvard College. He was also an inquisitor at the trials of Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy, and was one of her most vocal opponents.[4]

In 1641, he left most of his family in Massachusetts Bay Colony and returned to England on business for the General Court of Massachusetts. Among his instructions were the acquisition of an extension to the colonial charter to include the territory of present-day Rhode Island. This territory had been settled by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, to the dismay of the Puritan leaders of Massachusetts. Weld created a fraudulent document (known as the "Narragansett Patent") to bolster the Massachusetts claim to the territory.[5] His failure in this effort contributed to his dismissal as a colonial agent. Weld later became a minister to Oliver Cromwell, serving until the latter's death.


Weld's son remained in Massachusetts, and was the ancestor of Theodore Dwight Weld and Ezra Greenleaf Weld, two important figures of the 19th century abolitionist movement.

Thomas Weld's younger brother, who also remained in the New World, was the ancestor of the richest and most famous branch of the Weld Family in America, including former Governor of Massachusetts William Weld and actress Tuesday Weld. Two buildings at Harvard (Weld Hall and Weld Boathouse) are named for his descendants.


  1. ^ Michael P. Winship, ‘Weld, Thomas (bap. 1595, d. 1661)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 17 Sept 2008
  2. ^ A History of the Grammar School, or, "The Free Schoole of Roxburie", p. 111
  3. ^ The Winthrop papers (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1871), pg. 365
  4. ^ Battis, Emery (1962). Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 189–248. 
  5. ^ Winship, Michael. Making Heretics: Militant Protestantism and Free Grace in Massachusetts, p. 242

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