He was a nephew of the Lord Mayor of London Richard Saltonstall (1517–1600), and was admitted pensioner at Clare College, Cambridge in 1603. Before leaving England for North America, he served as a Justice of the Peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire and was Lord of the Manor of Ledsham, which he from the Harebreds and later sold to the Earl of Strafford.
Saltonstall was the eldest of eleven children by Samuel Saltonstall and Anne Ramsden.
Saltonstall married his first wife, Grace Kaye, around 1609. They had the following children: Richard, Rosamond, Grace, Robert, Samuel, and Henry. After his wife died in 1625, Saltonstall married Lady Elizabeth West, by whom he had two additional children: Anne and John.
Although Saltonstall only remained in Massachusetts for a brief time, his descendants played a major role in New England history. His son, Henry Saltonstall, graduated in the first class at Harvard in 1642.
Saltonstall was admitted as a pensioner at Clare College in 1603 and, fifteen years later, was knighted on 23 November 1618. He served as justice of the peace in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1625–1626 and was Lord of the Manor at Ledsham.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Sir Richard became involved with the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629, signing the original charter of Massachusetts, and was named to the emigrant committee and appointed first assistant to Governor John Winthrop. After the death of his first wife, he sold his land in England and set sail for New England with his family. They boarded the Arbella on 26 August 1629 at Yarmouth, off of the southern coast of England, with the Winthrop company and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts on 12 June 1630.
Shortly after his arrival in New England, Sir Richard led a small party of planters, including Rev. George Phillips, up the Charles River on the Arbella. They brought several servants and cattle on the trip to establish the Saltonstall Plantation at present day Watertown. On 30 July 1630, the group of about 40 men at the Saltonstall Plantation entered into a "liberal church covenant". He was soon appointed magistrate and justice of the peace.
Despite a land grant of over 580 acres, Saltonstall decided to leave the colony because of the harsh winter. On 29 March 1631, Sir Richard and his family, less two sons, travelled to Boston where they lodged at Governor Winthrop's house. The next morning they set sail for England.
Life in Europe
Sir Richard Saltonstall settled in London and remained involved with colonial affairs. In a letter to two leaders of the Boston church, Saltonstall expressed his disapproval of their hypocritical punishments and religious persecutions.
In 1631, Sir Richard, and several other English gentlemen and lords, were granted a patent of Connecticut by the Plymouth Council in England. The patentees appointed John Winthrop as governor and commissioned him to construct a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River. In 1635, he organized and funded a party of over 20 men, led by Francis Stiles, to prepare a settlement in Connecticut for the arrival of the patentees. This claim was heavily disputed and resulted in severe financial losses for Saltonstall.
In 1644, Saltonstall was appointed ambassador to Holland, where his portrait was painted by Rembrandt. In 1649, he, among others, was commissioned by parliament for the trial of the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Capel, and the Earl of Holland, for high treason.
Sir Richard Saltonstall appears to have been in Newtown, Montgomeryshire (Powys), Wales at the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660. On 18 July 1660 the Council of King Charles II issued an order to Sir Matthew Price, High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire to take into safe custody Vavasour Powell (described as, "a most factious and dangerous minister"), Sir Richard Saltonstall, and Richard Price of Aberbechan.
According to Sir Matthew Price's letters to Secretary Sir Edward Nicholas, Vavasour Powell, Sir Richard Saltonstall and Richard Price were concerned in a plot to depose King Charles II. Letters were found in their possession indicating the plot extended all the way to London. By 2 August 1660 Vavasour Powell was taken into custody, while Sir Richard Saltonstall and Capt. Richard Price "had left these parts" [Montgomeryshire].
There are several monuments dedicated to Saltonstall in Watertown. These include Saltonstall Park on Main Street, Watertown, Sir Richard's Landing (later to be renamed Gerry's Landing), and the Saltonstall Founders Memorial near the Charles River.
There is a small granite monument commemorating their settlement close to the Mt. Auburn Bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- "Sir Richard Saltonstall". Massachusetts Bay First Settlers. Winthrop Society. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- DNB has 1658
- "Saltonstall, Richard (SLTL603R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- The Founders: Portraits of Persons Born Abroad Who Came to the Colonies in North America Before the Year 1701, Charles Knowles Bolton, The Boston Athenaeum, 1919. Books.google.com. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- Society, Halifax Antiquarian (1 January 1901). Papers, Reports, &c., Read Before the Halifax Antiquarian Society. The Society.
- Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America. ABC-CLIO. 1 January 2006. ISBN 9781576076781.
- Cotton, John (1 January 2001). The Correspondence of John Cotton. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9780807826355.
- Forbes, Allan (1 January 1921). Towns of New England and Old England, Ireland and Scotland ... Connecting Links Between Cities and Towns in New England and Those of the Same Name in England, Ireland and Scotland: Containing Narratives, Descriptions, and Many Views, Some Done from Old Prints; Also Much Matter Pertaining to the Founders and Settlers of New England and to Their Memorials on Both Sides of the Atlantic. G. P. Putnam's sons.
- Stark, James Henry (1 January 1972). The Loyalists of Massachusetts And the Other Side of the American Revolution. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 9781465573919.
- Young, Alexander (1 January 1846). Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from 1623 to 1636. Genealogical Publishing Com. ISBN 9780806306377.
- COLLECTIONS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 1 January 1846.
- Stiles, Henry Reed (1 January 1898). The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut: History. Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company.
- Saltonstall, Leverett (1 January 1846). A Historical Sketch of Haverhill, in the County of Essex, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts: With Biographical Notices. John Eliot.