The Clopton Chronicles

A Project of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society









Thomasine Clopton & Her Husband

John Winthrop


By Suellen Clopton Blanton,[1] [email protected]




A Wise, Modest & Loving Woman


What can be a better worke

And more honorable and worthy

A Christian, than to helpe raise

And supporte a particular church,

And to joyne his forces with such

A company of faithful people

As by a timely assistance

May growe stronge and prosper[2]



Four hundred years ago, in St. Bartholomew’s Church,[3] Cloptons and Winthrops worshipped together.  They married there, and within the church their children were baptized, and in its churchyard and Chancel, Cloptons and Winthrops together, lie buried.  The church is a small building set amongst ancient tombstones all askew, the inscriptions mostly erased by the winds of time.  It is a rather modest affair.  It does not share the majesty of the Clopton’s ancestral church, Holy Trinity,[4] nor is it filled with glorious brasses and magnificent tombs.  Even its lovely stained glass is fairly new as these things are counted.[5]  One comes upon it in the little Parish of Groton,[6] overlooking the lovely valley of the River Box, quite off the beaten tourist path.



St. Bartholomew’s Church


                But if the visitor sits in a pew and permits the quiet dignity of the place to settle comfortably about the shoulders, the silence becomes a balm.  And if one is very lucky, the voices of the ancients whisper in the ear.  The registry[7] tells the tales of joy and sorrow, birth and death.  With stark simplicity one reads:


1615. John Winthrop, Esqre., and Thomasinge Clopton were married the 6th day of Decr. [8]

1616.  Mistres Thomasin Winthrope the 2nd wife of John Winthrop, Esq., was buried the 11th day of December.


To modern day Americans, the name John Winthrop has special meaning, but in 1615. he was merely the twenty eight year old son of Adam Winthrop[9] and his wife, Anne Browne.[10]  His father was a respected man within the community but from the more humble ranks of ‘parish gentry.’[11]  This did not deter Adam from scaling the higher ranks of the gentry to achieve parity with his neighbors and friends.  He did this by negotiating judicious marriages for his children, and the most important perhaps, was the second marriage of John, to Thomasine, the daughter of William Clopton, Lord of the Manor of Castlings Hall and his wife, Margery Waldegrave.[12]




Castling’s Hall where Thomasine Clopton was born and the site of her marriage to John Winthrop.  This romantic setting overlooks Castling’s Heath.  The Winthrop family were frequent guests.  Thomasine’s father and John Winthrop’s father were good friends.  There are numerous references to William Clopton in Adam Winthrop’s diary.



The future Governor of Massachusetts had married Mary Forth[13] when he was seventeen.  When she died in 1615, John was left with three sons and a daughter.  They ranged in age from John Junior, the future Governor of Connecticut, who was nine, to three year old Mary.[14]

For Winthrop, his marriage to Thomasine meant more than providing a stepmother for his children – the union signified that he was now allied to one of the influential local families.  Over the next few years, the Winthrops would marry Gurdons, Cranes and other major local families, not merely consolidating their gentry position, but significantly enhancing it.

It is no accident that within a few months of his marriage to Thomasine, he was appointed to the Commission of the Peace[15] for Suffolk.  While married to Thomasine he lived the life of a country squire at Groton Place.[16]

In the late 1590’s, Robert Reyce wrote The Breviary of Suffolk.[17]  He did not intend it for publication but for private circulation amongst his gentry friends.  Indeed, it was neither printed nor published until 400 years later.  The book gives us a fascinating insight into how a local bigwig viewed the claims of Suffolk gentry to their status and rank.  The Cloptons are well to the forefront of this work, for Reyce was connected by marriage to them and could thus claim a kinship.[18]

There is no mention of the Winthrop family I the Breviary, even though Reyce was a firm friend of John Winthrop, with whom he corresponded regularly, particularly after the migration to New England.  Reyce was absorbed by heraldry and the histories of those Suffolk families dating back to the time of the Norman invasion.  As Churchwarden and Lord of the Manor of Preston St. Mary, Reyce decorated the interior of his church with the Coats of Arms of his gentry neighbors in West Suffolk.  Prominent among those shields is that of the Cloptons.  One will look in vain[19] for the arms of the Winthrops.  The Winthrop family, at least by Reyce’s standards, were not worthy of mention.  The Winthrops had, after all, purchased their arms from the Crown!



John Winthrop


                At age 32, Thomasine was unmarried, and the third daughter of six girls and four boys, all of whom were baptized at St. Bartholomew’s.  She was four years older than her bridegroom.  Thomasine’s elder sister, Bridgett, had already married John Sampson of Kersey who was of the Puritan persuasion and who joined with John Winthrop in private gatherings for worship and later in the migration to New England.  This spiritual kinship was re-enforced when a marriage was negotiated between John and Thomasine.

Like the Cloptons of Groton, he was a Puritan and ardently religious.  He undertook the mission of remaking the evil world as he saw it, arguing that “the life which is most exercised with tryalls and temptations is the sweetest, and will prove the safeste.”  It was not until the late 1620s, several years after Thomasine’s death, that the Cloptons and Winthrops, trapped by Charles I’s belligerent anti-Puritan policy developed interest in overseas colonization.  At least one Clopton accompanied Winthrop on his maiden voyage in the spring of 1630.  It has long been believed Walter Clopton, Thomasine’s brother, was the Clopton who came to New England with his relation, Governor Winthrop, in 1630 and returned home soon after.




In 1609 John Winthrop held his first Court at Groton Hall.  Three farm cottages were joined to form what is now a large private residence.  The enchanting home is next to the church.  On November 22, 1627, Margaret Winthrop wrote to her husband:  “I did dyne at Grotton hall yesterday thay are in helth and remember thear loue wee did wish you theare but that would not bringe you and I coulde not be mery without thee.”




God Have Mercy


For her carriage toward me, it was both

Aimiable and observant as I am not able to express.

It has only this one inconvenience –

that it made me delight too much in her to enjoy her long.




The East Window in St. Bartholomew’s Church was erected in 1875 to the memory of John Winthrop by his American descendants.  This window replaced a much older one featuring the Clopton shield of arms.  Arrangements were made by the Parker family to transfer the Clopton arms to their home, Melford Hall, Long Melford where it may be seen today.



The marriage was to be brief.  A year and a day after the wedding she gave birth to a daughter, who lived only two days.  Death was an accepted part of life.  Men lived to an average of around fifty, with about one fifth surviving to their sixties. Women, as a result of the perils of childbearing, could only expect to live to an average of thirty.  Possibly up to fifty per cent of children did not reach the age of twenty.[20]

Because of a better diet, the children of the wealthy families had a greater chance of survival than those of the peasant woman, but death following the birth of a child killed queens and commoners alike at about the same rate.[21] Whether they were women of the castles and manors or the back streets and humble cottages, each risked her life each time she gave birth. There was no understanding of the importance of even the most basic hygiene.  Infection was a constant threat.[22]  Many women were killed by the brutal, although unintentional, efforts of midwives and physicians to assist in difficult deliveries. At the age of about thirty four, and probably her first pregnancy, Thomasine had the deck stacked against her.

                On December 6, 1616, John Winthrop began an arresting account[23] of his beloved wife’s futile struggle with death.  A “stained and moth-eaten manuscript” has survived, making us witnesses to retching days of pain and anguish.[24]


Dec:  6 1616. God will have mercie on whom he will have mercie, and when and how seemes best to his wisdome and will.  And his mercie is free, meere mercie, without any helpe of our owne worthe or will; so as for all good actions, we adde nothinge either to the deed or the doer; but, as a man shootinge a birde through a hedge or a hole in a wall, the hedge dothe no more but cover the author, though the birde may think the blowe came from the hedge, so surely the Lord hathe shewed me (in prayer and medication whereunto he himselfe onely drewe and inabled me, sending the affliction and sanctifieinge it to that ende) that there was never any holye mediation, prayer, or action that I  had a hand in, that received any worthe or furtherance from me or anythinge that was mine.  And until I sawe this and acknowledged it, I could never have true comfort in God or sound peace in mine owne conscience, in any the best that I could performe.  But when sometymes I fell into a holye prayer, mediation etc, as thinking myselfe somebodye in the performance of suche a duty in a such a manner, etc:  suche a thought would presently be to my comfort and peace as colde water caste upon a flame; whereby I might see that God by suche checkes would teache me to goe wholly out of myselfe, and learne to depende upon him alone; which he himselfe of his meere favour give me grace to doe constantly.  For it is not possible that any good thinge should come from me as of myselfe, since the verye least conceit that ascribes any thinge to myne owne worthe or abilitie in the best dutye, not only takes awaye all meritt from it, but makes it lothesome and sinfulle in Gods sight.

                In this tyme of my sorrowe for may wifes weaknesse, I founde it a speciall meanes for the humblinge and cleeringe of my hearte and conscience, even to meditate upon the Commandments and to examine my life past by them, and then concludinge with prayer, I founde my hearte more humbled and Gods free mercie in Christ more open to me then at any tyme before to my remembrance.

                On Saturdaye beinge the last of November 1616, Thomasine, my deare and lovinge wife, was delivered of a daughter, which died the mundaye followinge in the morninge.  She tooke the deathe of it with that patience, that made us all to merveile, especially those that sawe howe carefull she was for the life of it in hir travaile.  That daye soone after the deathe of the childe, she was taken with a fever which shaked hir very muche, and sett hir into a great fitt of coughinge, which by teusday morninge was well alayed, yet she continued aguish and sweatinge, with much hoarsenes, and hir mouthe grew verye soare, and muche troubled with blood falling from hir head into hir mouthe and throate.

On Wensdaye morninge those which were about hir, and hirselfe also beganne to feare that which followed, whereupon we sent for my Cosin Duke;[25] which when she understood she tould me that she hoped when he came he would deale plainly with me, and not feed me with vaine hopes; whereupon I breakinge for the into teares, she was moved at it, and desired me to be contended, for you breake mine heart (said she) with your grievings.  I answered that I could do no lesse when I feared to be stripped of suche a blessinge:  She replied, God never bestowes any blessinge so great on his children but still he hathe a greater in store, and that I should not be troubled at it, for I might see how God had dealt with Mr. Rogers before me in the life case.  And allwayes when she perceived me to mourne for hir, she would intreat and persuade me to be contended, tellinge me that she did love me well, and if God would lett hir live with me, she would endeavour to shewe it more, etc; She also desired me oft that so longe as she lived I would not cease prayinge for her, neither would be absent from hir, but when I had necessary occasions.

                On thursdaye at noone my Cosin Duke came to hir, and tooke notice of hir dangerous estate, yet expectinge a farther issue that night he departed, sayeing that before Saterdaye we should see a great change.  After his departure she asked me what he said of hir, which when I tould hir, she was no whitt moved at it, but was as comfortably resolved whither to live or die.

                On thursdaye in the night she was taken with deathe,[26] and about midnight or somewhat after called for me, and for the rest of hir friends.  When I came to hir she seemed to be fully assured that hir tyme was come, and to be gladde of it, and desired me to praye which I did, and she tooke comforte therein, and desired that we would sende for Mr. Sands,[27] which we did.  In the meane tyme, she desired that the bell might ringe for hir,[28] and diverse of the neighbours came into hir, which when she perceived she desired me that they might come to hir one by one, and so she would speake to them all, which she did, as they came, quietly and comfortably.  When the bell beganne to ringe, some said it was the 4 aclock bell, but she conceivinge that they sought to conceale it from hir, that it did ringe for hir, she said it needed not, for it did not troble hir.  Then came in Mr. Nicolson[29] whom she desired to praye, which he did.

                When Mr. Sands was come she reached him hir hande, beinge gladd of his comminge (for she had asked often for him).  He spake to her of diverse comfortable points, whereunto she answered so wisely and comfortably, as he and Mr. Nicolson did bothe mervaile to heare hir, Mr. Sands sayinge to me that he did not looke for so sounde judgement in hir:  He said he had taken hir allwayes for a harmelesse younge woman, and well affected, but did not thinke she had been so well grounded.  Mr. Nicolson seeing hir humblenesse of minde and great comfort in God, said that her life had been so innocent and harmlesse as the Devill could finde nothing to laye to her charge.  Then she desired Mr. Sands to praye but not praye for life for hir; he answered that he would praye for grace. After prayer she desired me that I would not let Mr. Sands goe awaye, but when he shewed hir the occasion he had, she was content upon promise that he would come againe.  This was about 5 of the clocke on fridaye morninge.

                Fridaye morninge about 6 of the clocke my Cosen Duke came to us againe, and when he had seene how things fell out that night, he tould us that was the dismall night, wherein she had received hir deathes wounde, yet she might languish a daye or 2, yet after he had felt hir pulse, he said that if the next night were a good night with hir, there was some hope lefte.

                Fridaye morninge she beganne somewhat to cheere, and so continued all that daye, and had a very good night that night followinge, and beganne hirselfe to entertaine some thought of life, and so did most of us that were about hir.  But on Saterday morninge she beganne to complaine of could, and a little after awakinge out of a slumber, she prayed me to sett my heart at rest, for now (said she) I am but a dead woman, for this hand (meaninge hir left hande) is dead allreadye,[30] and when we would have persuaded hir that it was but mumme with beinge under hir, she still constantly affirmed that it was dead, and that she had no feelinge in it, and desired me to pull off hir gloves that she might see it, which I did; then when they would have wrapped some clothes about it, she disliked it, tellinge them that it was in vaine, and why should they cover a dead hande:  when I prayed hir to suffer it, she answered that if I would have it so she would, and so I pulled on hir gloves, and they pinned clothes about  hir hands, when they had doone she said O what a wretche was I for layinge my legg out of the bedd that night, for when I should pull it in againe it was as if it had come throughe the coverlaye, (yet it seemed to be but hir imagination or dreame for the women could not perceive it).

                The feaver grewe very stronge upon hir,[31] so as when all the tyme of hir sicknesse before she was wont to saye she thanked God she felt no paine, now she beganne to complaine of hir breste, and troubles in hir head, and after she had slumbered a while and was awaked, she beganne to be tempted, and when I came to hir she seemed to be affrighted, used some speeches of Satans assultinge hir, and complained of the losse of hir first love,[32] etc:  then we prayed with hir, as she desired, after prayer she disliked that we prayed for life for hir, since we might see it was not Gods will that she should live.

                Her feaver increased very violently upon hir, which the Devill made advantage of to moleste hir comforte, but she declaringe unto us with what temptations the devill did assult hir, bent hirselfe against them, prayinge with great vehemence for Gods helpe, and that he would not take away his lovinge kindnesse from hir, defying Satan, and spitting at him, so as we might see by hir setting of hir teethe, and fixinge her eyes, shaking hir head and whole bodye, that she had a very greatt conflicte with the adversarye.

After she a little paused, and that they went about to cover hir hands which laye open with her former strivinge, she beganne to lifte up hir selfe, desiringe that she might have hir hands and all at libertie to glorifie God, and prayed earnestly that she might glorifie God, althoughe it were in hell.  Then she beganne very earnestly to call upon all that were about hir, exhortinge them to serve God, etc:  (And whereas all the tyme of hir sicknesse before she would not endure the light but would be carefull to  have the curtaine towards the windowe sett open, and so to hir ende was much grieved when she had not either the daye light or candlelight, but the fire light she could not endure to looke upon, saying that it was of too many colours like the raynebowe.)

                Then she called for hir sisters, and first for hir sister Mary,[33] and when she came she said, sister Mary, thou hast many good things in thee, so as I have cause to hope well of thee, and that we shall meet in  heaven, etc.

                Then she called for hir sister Margerye,[34] whom she exhorted to serve God, and take heede of pride, and to have care in hir matchinge that she looked not at riches and worldly respects, but at the feare of God, for that would bringe hir comfort at hir deathe although she should meet with many afflictions.

                To hir Eliz:[35] she said, serve God, take heed of lyeinge.  I doe not knowe that you doe use it, but I wish you to bewarre.

                Hir sister Sampson[36] she exhorted to serve God, and to bringe up hir children well, not in pride and vanitye, but in the feare of God.

                To hir mothe[37]r she said that she was the first childe that she should burye, but prayed hir that she would not be discomforted at it; when hir mother answered that she had no cause t be discomforted for hir, for she should goe to a better place, and she should go to hir father, she replied that she should goe to a better father than hir earthly father.

                Then came my father and mother,[38] whom she thanked for all their kindnesse and love towards hir.

                Then she called for my children and blessed them severally, and would needs have Mary brought that she might kisse hir, which she did.

                Then she called for my sister Luce,[39] and exhorted hir to take heed of pride and to serve God.

                Then she called for hir servants:  to Robert she said, you have many good thinges in you, I have nothinge to accuse you of, be faithfull and diligent in your service.

                To Anne Pold [Podd][40] she said that she was a stubborne wenche, etc: and exhorted hir to be obedient to my mother.

                To Eliz:  Crouff she said, take heed of pride and I shall nowe release you, but take heed what service you goe into.

                To Anne Addams she said, thou hast been in badd servinge longe in an Alehouse etc:  thou makest no conscience of the Sabaothe; when I would have had thee gone to Church thou wouldst not, etc:

                Then came Mercye Smith to hir, to whom she said thou art a good woman, bringe up they children well, you poore folks commonly spoyle your children, in sufferinge (them) to breake Gods Sabaothes, etc:

                To an other she said you have many children, bring them up well, not in lyeing, etc:

                To an other she said God forgive your sinnes whatsoever they be.

                To goodwife Cole[41] she said, you are a good woman, I thanke you for all your paines towards me, God reward you.

                To Hen:  Pease she said, be diligent and faithfull in your worke, or els when death come, it wilbe layd before you; I pray God send your wife good deliverance, she may doe well, though I die, bringe up my goddaughter well, lett hir not want correction.

                To hir keeper she said, be not discouraged, although I die, thou hast kept many that have doone well, thou hast but one child, bringe it up well.

                Hir payne increased verye muche in her brest, which swelled so as they were forced to cutt the tyeings of hir waystcote to give hir ease:  whilst she laye in this estate she ceased not (albeit she was verye hoarse, and spake with great paine) one while to exhorte, another while to praye.  Hir usual prayer was Come Lord Jesus; When Lord Jesus, etc: hir exhortation was to stirre up all that sawe hir, to prepare for death, tellinge them that they did not knowe how sharpe and bitter the pangs of deathe were, with many like speeches.

                In this tyme she prayed for the Churche, etc; and for the ministerye, that God would blesse good ministers, and convert such ill ones as did belonge to him, and weed out the rest.  After this we might perceive that God had given her victorye, by the comfort which she had in the meditation of hir happinesse, in the favour of God in Christ Jesus.  Towards afternoone hir great paynes remitted, and she laye very still, and said she sawe hir tyme was not yet come, she should live 24 howres longer; then when any asked hir how she did, she would answer pretily well, but in hir former fitt, to that questions she would answeare that she was goeinge the way of all flesh.  Then she prayed me to reade by hir, when I asked hir where, she answeared, In some of the holye gospells, so I beganne in John the 14, and read on to the ende of the 17th Chapter.  And when I pawsed, at the ende of any sweet sentence, she would saye this is comfortable:  If I stayed at the ende of any Chapter for hir to take rest, she would call earnestly to read on, _ then she desired to take a little rest.

                She often prayed God to forgive the sinnes of hir youth, etc: and desired me ofte to praye for hir, that God would strengthen hir with his holye spirit.  After, she desired me againe to reade to hir the 8th to the Romans, and the 11th to the Hebrews, whereby she received great comfort, still callinge to reade on, than I read the 116 psalm this is a sweet psalm (said she) then I read the 84 psal: the 32, 36, 37, and other places.

                In the eveninge Mr. Sands came againe, and prayed, and soon after she tooke him by the hand and tould him she would bidd him farewell, for she knew it was a busie night with him. After, we went to prayer, and when we had doone, “O what a wretche am I (said she) to lose the ende of this prayer, for I was asleepe.”

                After we had continued in readinge etc, untill late in the night, she asked who should watche with hir, and when we tould hir, she was satisfied, and disposed hirselfe to rest.

                In the night she prayed one of the women that watched with hir to read unto hir:  whilst I was gone to bedde, she asked often for me, and about 2 of the clocke in the morninge I came to hir.  Now it was the Sabaothe day, and she had now and then a brunt of temptation, bewaylinge that she could not then be assured of hir salvation, as she had been.  She said that the devill went about to persuade hir to cast of hir subiection to hir husbande, etc:

                That Sabao the noone, when most of the companie were gone downe to dinner, when I discoursed unto hir of the sweet love of Christ unto hir, and of the glorye that she was goeinge unto, and what an holye everlastinge Sabaothe she should keepe, and how she should suppe with Christ in Paradise that night, etc: she shewed by hir speeches and gestures that great ioye and steadfast assurance that she had of those things.  When I tould hir that hir Redeemer lived, and that she should see him with those poore dimme eyes, which should be bright and glorified, she answered cheerfully, she should.  When I tould hir that she should leave the societie of friends which were full of infirmities, and should have communion with Abram, Isaacke, and Jacob, all the prophets and apostles and saints of God, and those holye martirs (whose stories when I asked hir if she remembred she answered yea) she would lifte up hir hands and eyes, and say, yea she should.  Suche comforte had she against deathe that she stedfastly professed that if life were sett before hir she would not take it.

                When I tould hir that the daye before was 12 monthes she was maried to me, and now this day she should be maried to Christ Jesus, who would embrace her with another manner of love than I could, “O husband (said she, and sapke as if she were offended, for I perceived she did mistake me) I must not love thee as I love Christ.

                Hir hearing still continued, and hir understandinge very perfecte, hir sight was dimmed, yet she knewe every bodye to the laste.  If I went from hir she would call for me againe, and once asked me if I were angry with hir that I would not staye with hir.

                While I spake to hir of any thinge that was comfortable, as the promises of the Gospell, and the happie estate she was entringe into, she would lye still and fixe her eyes stedfastly upon me, and if I ceased awhile (when hir speeche was gone) she would turn her head towards me, and stirre hir hands as well as she could, till I spake, and then would be still againe.

                About 5 of the clocke, Mr. Nicolson came to hir and prayed with hir, and about the ende of his prayer, she fetched 2 or 3 sighes, and fell asleepe in the Lorde.

                The Wensdaye followinge beinge the 11 of Dec. she was buried in Groton chancell by my other wife, and hir childe was taken up, and laid with hir.[42]










Stained glass memorial window dedicated to Mary Forth, the first wife of John Winthrop, on the left, and to Thomasine Clopton, on the right.  Above them are the arms of Winthrop impaling Forth and Winthrop impaling Clopton.  The arms above this window appear to be much older than the memorial window.












“Wise, modest, loving patient truth and the love of God did  --- at her heart In memory of Thomasine Clopton second wife of Governor John Winthrop Died Dec 18th 1616 and Buried in this Chancel”






Thomasine Clopton received a tender epitaph from the future Governor of Massachusetts:[43]


She was a woman wise, modest, loving, and patient of injuries: but her innocence and harmless life was of the most observation.  She was truly religious and industrious therein, plain hearted, free from guile and very humble minded: never addicted to any outward thing, constant in her love of good Christians, reverent and careful in her attendance upon Gods ordinances both public and private.  Her moving and tender regard for my children were such as might become a natural mother.  For her carriage toward me, it was both aimiable and observant as I am not able to express.  It had only this one inconvenience - that it made me delight too much in her to enjoy her long.




[Just as Clopton descendants and friends have contributed towards the preservation of, and renovations at, Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, and St. Peter’s Church, New Kent County, Virginia, the family wishes to assist the small congregation of St. Bartholomew’s.  Contributions may be sent to “The Winthrop Family in America Fund for Groton Church,” New York Community Trust, 2 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016.  – SCB]



        1.  Adam3 Winthrop, Esq., Lord of the Manor of Groton  (Adam2, Adam1)1 was born August 10, 1548 in London, St. Peter's Parish, in a house on Gracechurch Street2, and died March 28, 1623 in Groton Manor, and buried at St. Bartholomew's Church3.  He married (1) Alice Still, of Grantham, County Lincolnshire4 December 16, 15745, daughter of William Still, of Grantham, County Lincolnshire.  She died 1577 in England in childbirth, and buried at Hadleigh, County Suffolk6.  He married (2) Anne Browne, of Edwardston, County Suffolk7 February 20, 1578/798, daughter of Henry Browne and Agnes.  She died Abt. 1629 in Groton Manor, and buried at St. Bartholomew's Church in the tomb of her husband.

        Adam Wintrhop divided his time while growing up between London and Groton.  When his father died, he was fourteen, and the Manor descended to his older brother, John.  Adam was a citizen and clothworker of London.  Inscribed armiger by Edward, VI, in 1548, he was named master of the Clothworkers' Company in 1551.

        When John migrated to Ireland in 1594, Adam established himself permanently at Groton, and in time became Lord of the Manor.

        Fortunately, he kept records, in which he made methodical notes.  Preserved in the British Museum (Harleian Manuscripts, No. 1598).  The first volume of "The Winthrop Papers," is of particular interest to the Clopton Family.  It is in this volume the daily activities, which often included mention of the Cloptons, is recorded as well as the arresting account of Thomasine Clopton's death.

        When John migrated to Ireland in 1594, Adam established himself permanently at Groton, and in time became Lord of the Manor.

        Fortunately, he kept records, in which he made methodical notes.  Preserved in the British Museum (Harleian Manuscripts, No. 1598), the first volume of "The Winthrop Papers," is of particular interest to the Clopton Family.  It is in this volume the daily activities, which often included mention of the Cloptons, is recorded as well as the arresting account of Thomasine Clopton's death.




The tomb of Adam Winthrop, Esq., and his wife, Anne, is just outside the Chancel door of St. Bartholomew’s Church.  The original inscription on the top was in Latin, and is now illegible, however, records furnish the following translation:



Here lies the body of Adam Winthrop, Esq.,

Son of Adam Winthrop, Esq.,

Who were patrons of this Church,

And Lords of the Manor of Groton.


The side now displays an inscription added at a much later date which reads:  “The above-named Adam, the son, married Anna, the daughter of Henry Browne, of Edwardstone, by whom he had one son and four daughters.  He departed this life in the year of our Lord 1623, and of his own age 75.  But Anna, his wife, died in 1629.  She is also buried here with him.  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”




Children of Adam Winthrop and Anne Browne are:

        2                 i.    Anne4 Winthrop, I, of Groton Manor County Suffolk9, born January 5, 1580/81; died January 20, 1580/81.

        3                ii.    Anne Winthrop, II of Groton Manor County Suffolk9, born January 16, 1585/86; died May 16, 161910.  She married Thomas Fones, Apothecary of London11 February 25, 1604/05; died April 15, 1629.

               Thomas Fones, of Dedford in Bromsgrove, County Worcester, was at the time of his marriage to Anne Winthrop, Apothecary in London at the sign of the Three Fawns in the Old Bailey.  John Burgess, the father of his first wife, had, according to the "Winthrop Papers, "been silenced as a preacher and going to Leyden took the degree of doctor of physic.  Returning to England, after an absence of six or seven years, he was forbidden to practise physic in London on the ground that he had been in holy orders, and removed to Isleworth where he enjoyed a large and lucrative practice.  He was rector of Sutton Coldfield, County Warwick, 1617-35, and accompanied, as chaplain, Sir Horace Vere in the war of the Palatinate in 1620.  William AMes, the Puritan divine, was a son-in-law."

        4               iii.    John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts12, born January 12, 1587/88 in Edwardston, County Suffolk, England and baptized January 16, 1587 at St. Bartholomew's Church, Groton13; died March 26, 1649 in Boston, Massachusetts and buried at King's Chapel Burial Ground14,15.  He married (1) Mary Forth, of Great Stambridge, County Essex April 16, 1605 in Great Stambridge, County Essex by Mr. Ezekiel Culverwell16; born January 1, 1582/83; died June 26, 1615 in Groton, County Suffolk, England and buried St. Bartholomew's Church, probably in the Chancel with her mother, Groton17.  He married (2) Thomasine Clopton, of Castlings Manor, Groton18 December 6, 1615 in Castlings Manor, Groton, County Suffolk19; born Abt. February 5, 1581/82 in Castlings Manor and baptized February 5, 1582 at St. Bartholomew's Church, Groton, County Suffolk20; died December 11, 1616 in Winthrop Manor, England and buried St. Bartholomew's Church, in the Chancel, Groton, County Suffolk, December 11, 161621.  He married (3) Margaret Tyndal22 April 29, 1618 in Great Maplestead, County Essex23; born Abt. 1591; died June 14, 1647 in Boston, Massachusetts and buried, probably, at King's Chapel Burial Ground24.  He married (4) Martha Rainsborough25 Aft. December 20, 164726; died October 24, 1660 in Boston.  Following John Winthrop's death, she married John Coggan, March 10, 165127.

        5               iv.    Jane Winthrop, of Groton Manor, County Suffolk28, born June 14, 1592.  She married Thomas Gostlin, Clothier of Groton, Suffolk29 1612.

        6                v.    Lucy Winthrop, of Groton30, born January 9, 1600/0131; died 1679 in England.  She married Emmanuel Downing April 10, 162232; born 1585; died Abt. 1660 in Scotland32.

He was a lawyer of the Inner Temple, London, and later a resident in New England.  Their son was the "celebrated" Sir George Downing, who was of the first class of graduates of Harvard College in 1642.  He is well known for his diplomatic services under both Cromwell and Charles II.  The famous Downing Street in London is named after him.  Downing College, Cambridge, owes its foundation to this family.  Lucy came to New England in 1638 and settled at Salem.  Both she and her husband returned to Scotland where he held an office under Cromwell and died there.  She returned to England and lived to a very advanced age.  Her letters dated from 1628 to 1674, may be viewed at the Massachusetts Historical Society.






1.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 5.

2.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 5, Also, in his diary, he notes:  "Beinge fryday I Adam Winthrop was borne.  1548.  55. yeres since."

3.  In a letter to his son, John, Jr., dated  April 20, 1623, John Winthrop refers to his father's death:  "I have writen to your vncle of the change that it hathe pleased the Lord to make in our familye."

4.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 7.

5.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 7, Also, Dictionary of National Biography, Volume XXI, p. 697, notes she was the sister of Bishop John Still.  Also, in his diary, Adam Winthrop notes:  "I was maryed to Alice my first wife.  1574."

6.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 154, Adam Winthrop notes in his diary:  "Alice my wife died in Childbed.  1577."

7.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 7.

8.  Dictionary of National Biography, Volume XXI, p. 697, Her father was a clothier.  Also, in his diary, Adam Winthrop notes: "I was maryed to Anne my 2 wife.  1579."

9.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 9.

10.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 259.

11.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 37, 88, The Fones or Fownes pedigree is given in the "Visitation of the County of Cornwall, 1620" (H.S., Pub., IX), 289, and in Muskett, 86-87.

12.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), For a full pedigree of the Winthrop and connected families see J. J. Muskett, "Suffolk Manorial Families, volume I (Exeter, 1894-1900).

13.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1587.  John Winthrop, the sonne of Adam Winthropp and Anna his wife, was baptized the 16th of January."

14.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 9.

15.  Bridgmand, Memorials of the Dead in Boston, His tombstone has not survived, although many first hand accounts of his burial did.  His memorial stone may be found at King's Chapel.

16.  "Great Migration Newsletter," Vol. 4, No. 1, January-March 1993, Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson: p. 1, Also, in his diary, Adam notes:  "The xxviijth day my soonne was sollemly contracted to Mary Foorth by Mr. Culverwell minister of greate Stambridge in Essex cum consentu parentum."  and "The xvjth of Aprill he was maryed to her at Stambridge in Essex by Mr. Culverwell."

17.  Dictionary of National Biography, Volume XXI, p. 698.

18.  Visitation of Suffolk, 1613.

19.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1615.  John Winthrop, Esqre., and Thomasinge Clopton were married the 6th day of Decr."Their marriage settlement, dated September 1, 1615, is printed in  Muskett, "Suffolk Manorial Families," p. 22-23.

20.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1582.  Thomasinge Clopton, the daughter of Mr. Willm. Clopton, gent., and of Mistress Margery his wife, was baptized the 18th day of February."

21.  Groton Parish Register Commencing 1562,  (Courtesy of Martin Wood, LL.B, MA), "1616.  Mistres Thomasin Winthrope the 2nd wife of John Winthrop, Esq., was buried the 11th day of December."

22.  "Great Migration Newsletter," Vol. 4, No. 1, January-March 1993, Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson: p. 2.

23.  Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633,  (Courtesy of Linda B. MacIver, Reference Librarian, Social Sciences Department, Boston Public Library), p. 2039.

24.  Weis, The Magna Charta Sureties,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 10.

25.  "Great Migration Newsletter," Vol. 4, No. 1, January-March 1993, Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson: p. 8.

26.  "Great Migration Newsletter," Vol. 4, No. 1, January-March 1993, Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson: p. 8, Notes the date of marriage is often given as December 4, the contract bweteen John Winthrop and "Martha Coytemore, the relict of Thom: Coytemore," dated December 20, 1647, was put into the record (Mass. Bay Court Records 2:234-35).

27.  Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633,  (Courtesy of Linda B. MacIver, Reference Librarian, Social Sciences Department, Boston Public Library), p. 2040.

28.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 9.

29.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 38.

30.  Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America,  (Courtesy of Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson), p. 9.

31.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 72, Entry in Adam Winthrop's diary reads:  "The ixth Day my wife was Deliuered of her fowrth daughter, Lucilla, and my brother sickened."

32.  Winthrop Papers, Volume I, 1498-1628,  (Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton), p. 404.






Comments?  Questions?  Corrections?

Contact [email protected]

[1] Brief Communion is an excerpt from The Ancestors and Descendants of Sir Thomas Clopton, Knight & Dame Katherine Mylde, and is the property of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society which holds the copyright on this material.  Permission is granted to quote or reprint articles for noncommercial use provided credit is given to the CFGS and to the author.  Prior written permission must be obtained from the Society for commercial use.

Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton is Founder and Executive Director of The Clopton Family Genealogical Society & Clopton Family Archives.

Special thanks to The Massachusetts Historical Society; Francis Bremer, Ph.D. of Millersville University, Editor, Groton Gazette, The Newsletter of the Winthrop Papers Projects, a project of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  The Winthrop Papers may be found on-line at; Martin Wood, LL. B., M.A., author and historian living in Groton, County Suffolk, England, who serves on the United Kingdom Editorial Board, The Winthrop Papers, A Project of the Massachusetts Historical Society; Gladys Partridge of Groton Hall; Joyce L. (Wilman) Hutchinson and James L. Wilman, descendants of the Winthrop family; Bert Hampton Blanton, Jr.; and, Bruce M. Rodenberger, M.D., Sacred Heart OB/GYN, Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Also thanks to Clopton descendants, Wallace Chandler Clopton; Katherine Elizabeth (DeLoach) Eubanks, B.S., R.N.; James M. McMillen; and, Isabel Lancaster (Clopton) Steiner.

[2] The Rev. A. B. Bird, A.K.C., J.P.(Former Vicar of Edwardstone and Rector of Groton), Groton Suffolk, A Short Illustrated Guide, Fifth Edition, Groton Parochial Church Council, 1992, p. 15, quoting John Winthrop, Squire of Groton.

[3] Bird, Groton Suffolk, p. 5. Notes most of the building dates to the 15th Century, although the lower part of the Tower is approximately 200 years older.

[4] See Five Centuries In Christ, The Great Church of the Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford

[5] Bird, Groton Suffolk, p. 5, notes the stained glass East Window was erected in 1875 in memory of John Winthrop by some of his American descendants.  Two lovely windows are devoted to John Winthrop’s first two wives, Mary Forth and Thomasine Clopton.

[6], Bird, Groton Suffolk, p. 1, states the Parish, located in the County of Suffolk, occupies 1,545 acres and is entirely devoted to agriculture.  There is no actual village, rather the parish is comprised of small hamlets:  Groton Street, Gosling Green, Horner’s Green, Daisy Green, Castling’s Heath, Parliament Health and Park Corner.

[7] Groton Parish Register of Baptism, Marriage & Buryinges, 1561-1703, SRO (B) FL 506/1, Suffolk Records Office, Bury St. Edmunds Branch, England.  A  number of reference books devoted to County Suffolk contain transcripts of portions of the registry, including those of the Cloptons and Winthrops.

[8] A transcription of her marriage settlements may be found in Joseph James Muskett’s, Evidences of the Winthrops of Groton, County Suffolk, England and Of the Families in and Near that County With Whom They Intermarried, (Privately Printed 1894-1896), p. 22. 

[9] Fortunately Adam kept records in which he made methodical notes, preserved in the British Museum (Harleian Manuscripts, No. 1598).  Of particular interest to the Clopton family is the first volume of Winthrop Papers, 1498-1628, The Massachusetts Historical Society, The Plimpton Press, 1929.  It is in this volume Adam’s entries noting daily activities, letters and accounts, which often included mention of the Clopton, have been reproduced

[10] An abbreviated genealogy follows.

[11] Dictionary of National Biography, Edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, Volume XXI, Oxford University Press, London, p. 697, notes his grandfather, Adam Winthrop (1498-1562) of Lavenham, County Suffolk, was a substantial clothier, who founded the fortunes of the family.

[12] For more on Thomasine’s family, see Midnight Romps and Wilted Roses

[13] Winthrop Papers 1498-1628, Volume I, The Massachusetts Historical Society, The Plimpton Press, p. 396, Notes that through his marriage to Mary Forth he acquired a considerable estate at Great Stambridge, in Essex, where the Forths had long been settled.  He lived there with his wife for several years.  The preface states “This volume owes much to the scholarship and care of Mr. George W. Robinson. . .”

[14] His children by Mary Forth were John, Jr., Henry, Forth, Mary, and Anne.  Anne died shortly after her birth.

[15] Dr. Bremer notes that Winthrop is frequently, but incorrectly, identified as a Justice of the Peace.

[16] The question of where “Groton Manor,” the ancestral home of the Winthrops, actually stood has long been a mystery.  Dr. Francis Bremer, Editor of the Groton Gazette, recently made some interesting discoveries.  “Adam Winthrop, Thomasine Clopton’s father-in-law, had purchased the estate from Henry VIII in 1544.  But the “manor house” (Groton Hall) – the estate’s principal house – was already occupied under the terms of a previous lease.  With Groton Hall unavailable, Winthrop entered into a ninety-nine year lease to the rectory and glebe land.  He enlarged the rectory, turning it into what he called his mansion house, what became known as Groton Place.  That became the principal residence of the family for as long as they owned the manor.  Groton Hall continued to be leased and occasionally occupied by other members of the family.  Thus, John and Thomasine lived in Groton Place as lord and lady of the manor, while his father and mother occupied Groton Hall.  Groton Hall, later expanded, still stands.  The Winthrop manor house, long believed to have been torn down, also still stands, and is known locally as “Groton Place.”  If this was not confusing enough, later changes made to the structure, specifically a Georgian fa´┐Żade, had been placed on the old structure disguising its true antiquity.”

[17] Robert Reyce, Suffolk in the XVIIth Century, The Breviary of Suffolk, Reprint with notes by Lord Francis Hervey, John Murray, London, 1902. The “Breviary” of Robert Reyce was probably written in the period 1603-1618.  This 1902 edition is based on the original manuscript in the British Library.  It was a manuscript prepared and circulated amongst gentry friends in Suffolk and is one of the few surviving examples of a contemporary manuscript of antiquarian and genealogical interest.  Reyce was absorbed by heraldry and by the coat armor of families who reached back to the time of the Norman invasion.

[18] Reyce’s sister, Margaret, married John Clopton, of Monks Eleigh, County Suffolk.  John was the son of John Clopton, Esq., of Kentwell Manor and Elizabeth Roydon of Ramsey, County Essex.

[19] In a speech Martin Wood gave to some Clopton descendants visiting Groton, he stated, “The reason for the omission of the Winthrop family is a little complex, and I suspect it has something to do with the fact that John, uncle of Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts, who was then Lord of the Manor of Groton was in trouble with the church courts for not maintaining the wife that he had deserted.  There is ample evidence in the lawsuits filed in the Public Record Office in London, of John’s failure to honor his obligations to his wife.  Adam, his brother, was in charge of running the family estate, and is maybe equally guilty, but he may have had his own agenda.  The more opprobrium that attached to the absent John, the more Adam could, as it were, muscle-in and oust his brother both in local public esteem and ultimately take over himself as Lord of the Manor - which is precisely what happened.  John played into Adam’s hands.

In this church, on a Sunday morning in august 1605 the Rector, Thomas Nicholson, mounted the pulpit to deliver his sermon.  Before he could do that he had a painful task to perform.  He read out to the congregation, an order of the Church Court, endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, excommunicating John Winthrop, lord of the Manor of Groton and patron of the living from being in communion with the Church of England.

In modern terms, I would liken this to you opening your newspaper and finding that your Congressman, Senator or Member of Parliament had been found guilty of crime.  Shock waves would have reverberated around the neighborhood, although there were many to whom the news would have come as no surprise, least of all to the Cloptons, who were also related by marriage to Elizabeth Rysby, the wife of the guilty John Winthrop.”

[20] Bonnie S. Anderson & Judith P. Zinsser, A History of Their Own, Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present, Volume I, Harper & Row, New York, 1988, Reprinted by Perennial Library, 1989, p. 295.

[21]Anderson, A History of Their Own, p. 294.  Notes “historians have tried to compile mortality figures for women of the English nobility in the seventeenth century.  Among titled women, 45 percent died before age fifty, of those, one quarter died from childbirth.”

[22] We know how Thomasine died, but we can only guess why.   Because she had never been married, we can only assume this was her first pregnancy.  At 32 she was no longer young and she probably developed high blood pressure during the pregnancy which would place her in danger.  Lacerations may have become infected.  Part of the placenta remaining in the uterus would cause problems.

[23] Winthrop Papers, p. 182-190.  The transcribers note that only “such words or passages as have been obscured or obliterated by time,” were omitted.  This account is even more chilling when one considers how many times similar scenes must have been played out through the centuries, at least through the mid-twentieth century.

[24] In 1951, to mark the Festival of Britain, a play, Brief Communion, by Brian Bird, was produced at Groton, portraying the brief and tragic romance between John and Thomasine.  Five miles and fifteen years separated John Winthrop from Thomasine’s kinswoman, Anne Clopton and her husband, Sir Simonds D’Ewes.  But Sir Simonds, too, would write of his great grief, see A Goodly Sweet Child.

[25] Winthrop Papers, p. 37, notes Anne Snelling married November 11, 1569, John Duke of Colchester, doctor of physic, who died in June, 1629.

[26] She probably developed pneumonia.

[27] Winthrop Papers, Index, references Sands (Sandes), Henry, a preacher at Boxford.

[28] Winthrop Papers, p. 77, notes that the bell was the passing bell or ‘soul bell,’ tolled not to indicate the death of a person, but (to quote Bishop Hooper’s Injunctions of 1551) “whiles the sick is in extremes, to admonish people of their danger and by that means to solicitate the hearers to pray for the sick person.”   This custom was still observed into the eighteenth century.  Citation refers to H. B. Walters, Church Bells of England (London, 1912), p. 154-156.

[29] Winthrop Papers, Index, references a Thomas Nicholson, Rector of Groton.

[30] She has most certainly suffered a stroke

[31] Infection, no doubt, had now spread throughout her body.

[32] The identity of her “lost love,” is an intriguing mystery.  Could it be that Thomasine was so grieved by this loss that she did not consider marriage until the advanced age of 34?

[33] Mary Clopton wed George Jennings, Gent., of London, December 20, 1624.

[34] Margery Clopton wed Thomas Doggett, Gent., of Boxford, Suffolk.

[35] Possibly her sister, Elizabeth Clopton wed George Cocke, Gent., of Ipswich

[36] Bridgett Clopton wed John Sampson, I,. Esq., of Sampson Hall, Kersey

[37] Margery (Waldegrave) Clopton, the daughter of Edward Waldegrave, Esq., of Lawford Hall and Joan Acworth, of Luton.

[38] Adam Winthrop, Esq., Lord of the Manor of Groton, and his wife, Anne Browne, of Edwardston, County Suffolk

[39] Lucy Winthrop wed Emmanuel Downing, a lawyer of the Inner Temple, London.

[40] Winthrop Papers, p. 216, On April 9, 1617, an Anne Pod is said to have “went away.”

[41] Winthrop Papers, There are many references to members of the Cole family

[42] The location of those buried within the church are not marked.  For a complete discussion of burial practices see Five Centuries In Christ, The Great Church of the Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford.

[43] Winthrop Papers, p. 163. The only recorded comments made by John on his first wife, Mary Forth, were short and pointed - “… and she proved after a right godly woman.”