|21st Lieutenant Governor Connecticut|
|22nd Governor Colony of Connecticut|
|Preceded by||John Winthrop the Younger|
|Succeeded by||Robert Treat|
|Born||about March 1612
Doddington, Huntingdonshire, England
|Died||April 16, 1683|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Payne Leete
Sarah Rutherford Leete
Mary Newman Street Leete
Abigail Leete Woodbridge
Anna Leete Trowbridge
Leete was born about 1612 or 1613 at Doddington, Huntingdonshire, England, the son of John Leete and his wife Anna Shute, daughter of John Shute, a justice of the King's Court. He was educated as a lawyer, and served as a clerk in Bishop's Court at Cambridge, England. He married three times. His first wife, and mother of all ten of his known children, was Anna Payne, daughter of Reverend John Payne of Sothoe. They married on August 1, 1636, and she died on September 1, 1668. His second wife, whom he married on April 7, 1670, was Sarah, widow of Henry Rutherford. She died on February 4, 1673. His third wife was Mary, widow successively of Francis Newman and Reverend Nicholas Street.
Leete's distaste for the oppression of the Puritans by that court was a key factor in his emigration to Connecticut. On 1 June 1639, William Leete was among the 25 signers of the Plantation Covenant on shipboard.
Leete was town clerk of Guilford, Connecticut from 1639 to 1662, and Justice of the Peace there in 1642. He served as town magistrate at Guilford from 1651 to 1658, and as deputy from Guilford to the New Haven Colony General Court from 1643 to 1649. He was Commissioner of New Haven Colony (1655-1658), Deputy Governor (1658-1661) and Governor of the New Haven Colony from 1661 to 1664. After the consolidation of New Haven Colony and the Colony of Connecticut, he became Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1676 to 1683. He is the only man to serve as governor of both New Haven and Connecticut.
Leete is remembered for sheltering the Regicides William Goffe and Edward Whalley in Guilford. While Leete was serving as Deputy Governor and Chief Magistrate of the New Haven Colony, royal agents sought his assistance in capturing the two former English judges known as "regicides", wanted by King Charles II for signing the death warrant of his father, Charles I. Leete cooperated enough to avoid charges of obstructing justice but not enough to insure the capture of the fugitives.
Death and Legacy
Leete moved from Guilford to Hartford, Connecticut died there in April 1683. He is interred at Hartford, Connecticut in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground. His third wife survived him for several months, dying on 13 December 1683. Leete's Island in Branford/Guilford is named for him.
- "William Leete". The family of William Leete: one of the first settlers of Guilford, Connecticut. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- The covenant read as follows: We whose names are herein written, intending by God's gracious permission, to plant ourselves in New England, and if it may be in the southerly part, about Quinpisac [that is, Quinnipiac, later renamed New Haven], we do faithfully promise each for ourselves and families and those that belong to us, that we will, the Lord assisting us, sit down and join ourselves together in one entire plantation and to be helpful to the other in any common work, according to every man's ability and as need shall require, and we promise not to desert or leave each other on the plantation but with the consent of the rest, or the greater part of the company, who have entered into this engagement.
As for our gathering together into a church way and the choice officers and members to be joined together in that way, we do refer ourselves until such time as it shall please God to settle us in our plantation.
In witness whereof we subscribe our hands, this first day of June 1639
- Leete, Joseph; Anderson, John (1906). "William Leete". The family of Leete. pp. 161–177.
- "William Leete". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "William Leete". Connecticut. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "William Leete". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Leete.|
- Frederick Calvin Norton,The Governors of Connecticut, Connecticut Magazine Co., 1905.
|Governor of the New Haven Colony
|Colony merged with the Connecticut Colony|
John Winthrop the Younger
|Governor of the Connecticut Colony