Saybrook Colony

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[[Category:Former colonies|Saybrook, English]]

Saybrook Colony
Colony (English)

Coat of arms

A map of Connecticut annotated to show its colonial history and the establishment of its modern borders
Capital Old Saybrook
Languages English
Government Constitutional monarchy
 •  Established 1635
 •  merged with Connecticut Colony 1644
Currency Pound sterling

The Saybrook Colony was established in late 1635 at the mouth of the Connecticut River in present day Old Saybrook, Connecticut by John Winthrop, the Younger, son of John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The former was designated Governor by the original settlers which included Colonel George Fenwick and Captain Lion Gardiner. They claimed possession of the land via a deed of conveyance from Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. The colony was named in honor of Puritan Lords Saye, or William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele and Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke, prominent Parliamentarians and holders of the colony's land grants.

Early settlers of the colony were ardent supporters of Oliver Cromwell and democracy. In the 1630s in what would become Connecticut, it was rumored that Cromwell's emigration from England to Saybrooke was imminent, along with the departure from Old England of other prominent Puritan sponsors of the colony, including John Pym, John Hampden, Arthur Haselrig, and Lords Saye and Brooke. Even as late as the 1770s, residents of Old Saybrook still talked about which town lots would be given to prominent Parliamentarians.

Settlement preparations included sending a ship with an unusual cargo: ironwork for a portcullis and drawbridges, even an experienced military engineer.[2] Saybrook’s fort was to be the strongest in New England. However, they soon "... found the countrie (England) full of reports of their going ..." and were worried they would not be allowed to sell their estates and take ship. By 1638 the plans for Saybrook were moot. As for Cromwell, his financial difficulties had been cleared up by an inheritance and he moved from Huntingdon to nearby Ely. Thus the sponsors remained in England and played their respective seminal political and military roles in the English Civil War and its aftermath. As a consequence the colony struggled and by 1644, Fenwick agreed to merge the colony with the more vibrant Connecticut Colony a few miles up river.

In 1647 Major John Mason assumed command of Saybrook (Colony) Fort which controlled the main trade and supply route to the upper river valley. The fort promptly and mysteriously burned to the ground but another improved fort was quickly built nearby. He spent the next twelve years there and served as Commissioner of the United Colonies, its chief military officer, Magistrate and peacekeeper. He was continually called upon to fairly negotiate the purchase of Indian lands, write a treaty or arbitrate some Native quarrel, many of which were instigated by his friend Uncas.

See also[edit]


  • Alfred A. Young, "English Plebeian Culture and 18th Century American Radicalism" in Margret Jacob and James Jacob, eds., "The Origins of Anglo American Radicalism" (New Jersey; Humanities Press International, 19910, page 195
  • Richard C. Dunn, "Puritans and Yankees" (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1962)

Further reading[edit]

  • Ward, Harry M. The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90 (Vantage Press, 1961).
  • Andrews, Charles McLean. The Colonial Period of American History (Vol. II) - The Beginnings of Connecticut 1632-1662 (Tercentenary Commission Publication Vol. XXXII 1934).

Coordinates: 41°17′06″N 72°21′29″W / 41.285°N 72.358°W / 41.285; -72.358