William Leete

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For the former Hofstra University head football coach, see Bill Leete.
William Leete
Deputy Governor
In office
In office
21st Lieutenant Governor Connecticut
In office
22nd Governor Colony of Connecticut
In office
Preceded by John Winthrop the Younger
Succeeded by Robert Treat
Personal details
Born about March 1612
Doddington, Huntingdonshire, England
Died April 16, 1683

Anna Payne Leete

Sarah Rutherford Leete

Mary Newman Street Leete

John Leete

Andrew Leete

William Leete

Abigail Leete Woodbridge

Caleb Leete

Gratiana Leete

Peregrine Leete

Joshua Leete

Anna Leete Trowbridge

William Leete (1612 or 1613 – 16 April 1683) was Governor of the Colony of New Haven from 1661 to 1665 and Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1676 to 1683.


Leete was born about 1612 or 1613 at Diddington, Huntingdonshire, England,[1] the son of John Leete and his wife Anna Shute, daughter of Robert Shute,[2] 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 Southoe. They married on August 1, 1636, and she died on September 1, 1668.[3] His second wife, whom he married on April 7, 1670, was Sarah, widow of Henry Rutherford. She died on February 10, 1673.[3] His third wife was Mary, widow successively of Francis Newman and Reverend Nicholas Street. She died on December 13, 1683.[2][3]

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.[4][5]


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.[3]

Leete is remembered for sheltering the Regicides William Goffe and Edward Whalley in Guilford. When Leete was Deputy Governor and Chief Magistrate of the colony, he helped prevent the capture of the two former English judges who were being sought by King Charles II for signing the death warrant of his father, Charles I. When agents of the king came looking for the fugitive judges, Leete cooperated enough to avoid being accused of obstruction of justice, but did not provide enough information for the judges to be captured.[3]

Death and Legacy[edit]

Leete moved from Guilford to Hartford, Connecticut died there in April 1683. He is interred at Hartford, Connecticut in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground.[6] His third wife survived him for several months, dying on 13 December 1683. Leete's Island in Branford/Guilford is named for him.


  1. ^ Leete genealogist: Diddington today, several versions of Doddington in the past, but definitely in Huntingdonshire by logic alone; not in Doddington, Cambridgeshire
  2. ^ a b The Family of William Leete: One of the first settlers of Guilford, Connecticut. New Haven, CT: Tuttle, Morehouse, and Taylor. 1884. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "William Leete". Connecticut State Library. Sep 1999. Retrieved 8 Aug 2015. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Leete, Joseph; Anderson, John (1906). "William Leete". The family of Leete. pp. 161–177. 
  6. ^ "William Leete". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Newman
Governor of the New Haven Colony
Colony merged with the Connecticut Colony
Preceded by
John Winthrop the Younger
Governor of the Connecticut Colony
Succeeded by
Robert Treat