William Aspinwall

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For other people named William Aspinwall, see William Aspinwall (disambiguation).

William Aspinwall (1605 – c. 1662)[1] was an Englishman who emigrated to Boston aboard the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 and played an integral part in the early religious controversies of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


At the time of the Antinomian Controversy Aspinwall took the side of the adherents of Anne Hutchinson and John Wheelwright, aided in drafting their famous petition, and departed with them to Rhode Island (at Portsmouth where he signed the covenant of formation) in 1638, but moved to New Haven in 1641. By 1642 Aspinwall had rehabilitated his relations with the Boston authorities and soon began to acquire employment in many jobs there that involved the recording of official documents. In 1643 he joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. It was declared by the Boston court in 1644 that Aspinwall "shall be a public notary for his jurisdiction," and he continued at this post until 1651 when he returned permanently to England.

As a skilled surveyor, he joined a group of other Boston merchants who embarked on an unsuccessful expedition up the Delaware in search of furs. He was one of Boston's delegates to the Cambridge Synod of 1646.

Relations ran afoul for Aspinwall again in Boston, and in 1652 he sold his property and returned to England where he was living in Cheshire as late as April 13, 1662. Upon his return to England he became one of the Fifth Monarchists, a radical religious sect that had a brief existence in the turmoil of the Commonwealth of England.


He was well educated and published politico-theological tracts following his return to England, where he may have attended one of the lesser inns of court in London. Aspinwall compiled the Boston Book of Possessions, listing the property of every freeman of the city.

Aspinwall's notary records were published in 1903 by the Boston Record Commissioners: A Volume Relating to the Early History of Boston Containing the Aspinwall Notarial Records from 1644 to 1651.[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Oxford Biography Index entry William Aspinwall". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  2. ^ "A volume relating to the early history of Boston, containing the Aspinwall notarial records from 1644 to 1651". Archive.org. Retrieved 2008-07-17.