Gov Josiah Winslow was born 22 May 1629 in Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts to Edward Winslow (1595-1655) and Susanna White (1593-1680) and died 18 December 1680 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Penelope Pelham (1630-1703) 1651 in England.

Josiah Winslow was born in Plymouth Colony about 1628 and died in 1680 in Marshfield, Massachusetts. In records of the time, historians also name him Josias Winslow, and modern writers have carried that name forward.

Josiah was the Harvard College-educated son of Mayflower passenger and Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow (1595-1655) and was Governor from 1673 to 1680. The most significant event during his term in office was King Philip's War, which created great havoc for both the English and Indian populations and changed New England forever. Josiah was the first native born governor of an American Colony.

Early Years

Josiah Winslow's parents were Edward Winslow (d.1655) and his second wife, widow Susanna White.

In 1643 Josiah Winslow was chosen deputy to the general court from Marshfield and in 1656 he succeeded Myles Standish as the commander of the colony's military forces.

In 1657 he was chosen assistant governor, a post he filled until he was elected governor in 1673. Also, in 1658 he was Plymouth's commissioner to the United Colonies (a Puritan military alliance against the Indians) until 1672. In 1659 he was appointed military commander of the colony.

In 1643, his father, Edward Winslow, was one of six signers of the new Articles of Confederation of the New England colonies and in 1673 Josiah became the first native-born governor of the colony upon the death of Governor Thomas Prence (1600-1673).


One of Josiah's first acts as governor, was to institute a policy of larger sympathy for the Quakers. He set free two men, Cudworth and Robinson, who were in prison for stating their sympathy for the formerly persecuted Quakers.[11]

During his tenure in 1674–75 the first public school was established and in 1680 the first Lieutenant-Governor was elected. In 1675 he was elected General-in-Chief of the entire military forces of the United Colonies, being the first native-born general.[12]

In 1675 the General Court ordered that four halberdiers (possibly as armed guards) should attend the governor and magistrates at elections and two during court sessions. The government maintained a state of readiness that was previously unknown in the colony.

On September 9, 1675 he signed a Declaration of War made by the commissioners against the Indian leader known as King Philip.

King Philip's War 1675


King Philip's War (1675-1678) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.

On June 20, 1675 natives attacked colonial homesteads and war came to New England. King Philip (aka Metacomet) and Governor Winslow had allowed an acrimonious situation to get out of hand and the attack and the violence that followed surprised everyone – English and Indian alike.[15]

Edward Winslow had been a Pilgrim leader who made peace with the native peoples and treated them honorably. But his son Josiah, who became the colony's military commander about 1659, did not have a good relations with the Indians, and had a different view of them than his father did. Eventually the colonials no longer held the opinion, as they had for many years, of needing the help of the Indians for their survival. Many younger colonists especially began to see the Indians as an impediment to the development of the lands that they largely now saw as their own.

Governor Prence and Assistant Governor Winslow felt they had developed the best way to manage Indian affairs, with Thomas Willet being involved as King Philip's contact with Josiah Winslow. Prence and Winslow tried to emulate the relationship that Bradford and Standish had with the Indians in 1622, but, as recorded by Hubbard, fell short of that goal. When Prence died in 1673 and Winslow became governor, King Philip was very displeased to have to conduct business with a man he immensely disliked. He felt that Winslow was connected somehow with the unsolved death of his brother "Alexander" who was mysteriously found dead. Winslow was also involved in the massive sale of Indian lands down to the outright confiscation of Indian-owned real estate. When Winslow had at first found that his real estate actions were deemed not to be legal in Plymouth, he went about forcing a change in the law to accommodate his unethical actions.

Great Swamp Fight of 1675

"Philip. King of Mount Hope", caricature by Paul Revere, illustration from the 1772 edition of Benjamin Church's "The Entertaining History of King Philip's War"

After war broke out with several indian raids across Massachusetts in September 1675, on November 2, 1675, Josiah Winslow (1628-1680) ( 13th Governor of Plymouth Colony) led a combined force of over 1,000 colonial militia, including about 150 Pequot and Mohegan Indians, against the Narragansetts living around Narragansett Bay. The Narragansett tribe had not yet been directly involved in the war, but they had sheltered many of King Philip's men, women, and children, and several of their warriors had participated in Indian raiding parties.[1] The colonists distrusted the Narragansetts and feared that the tribe would join King Philip's cause in the spring, which caused great concern due to the tribe's location. The militia burned several abandoned Narragansett villages as they marched around Narragansett Bay, as the tribe had retreated to a large fort in the center of the Great Swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island.

The Great Swamp Fight roadside marker formerly located on Rhode Island Route 2 in West Kingston, Rhode Island

The Great Swamp Fight of 1675 (AKA: Great Swamp Massacre or Battle of Narragansett Fort was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett tribe in December 1675. It was fought near the villages of Kingston and West Kingston in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The combined force of 1000 New England militia included 150 Pequots were led by Govenor Winslow and they inflicted a huge number of Narragansett casualties, including many hundred women and children.

Marriage & Family

About 1651, Penelope took a trip to England with her parents who introduced her to the European lifestyle of an upper-class gentlewoman. Also on this trip was the family of Plymouth Colony governor Edward Winslow (1595-1655). While in England Penelope would marry Edward's son, Josiah Winslow (1628-1680).

Sometime between 1646 and 1651 Josiah met Penelope in England and it is believed they were married in 1651, which is when they, and Edward Winslow, all had portraits painted, seemingly as companion pictures. These paintings hang today in the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Josiah and Penelope returned to Plymouth from England in 1655 and eventually settled in Marshfield, Massachusetts, a town of Plymouth Colony.

  1. Infant Winslow (1658-1658) -born and died March 1658.
  2. Elizabeth Winslow (1664-1735) - born April 1664 and died June 11, 1735. She married, September 4, 1684 Stephen Burton as his 2nd wife. They had three children.
  3. Edward Winslow (1667-1667) - born and died May 1667.
  4. Isaac Winslow (1671-1738) - born 1670 and died December 6, 1738. He married, July 21, 1700 Sarah Wensley (or Hensley). Isaac Winslow had an exemplary career in colonial military and governmental affairs.


Offspring of Gov Josiah Winslow and Penelope Pelham (1630-1703)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Infant Winslow (1658-1658)
Elizabeth Winslow (1664-1735)
Edward Winslow (1667-1667)
Isaac Winslow (1671-1738) 1671 Winslow Estate, Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 14 December 1738 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Sarah Hensley (1673-1753)


#g1: Offspring of Edward Winslow (1595-1655) and Elizabeth Barker (1597-1621)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Margaret Winslow (1621-1695) , ,
#g2: Offspring of Edward Winslow (1595-1655) and Susanna White (1593-1680)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Edward Winslow (1623-1623) , ,
John Winslow (1625-1627) , ,
Josiah Winslow (1628-1680) 22 May 1629, Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 18 December 1680, Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Penelope Pelham (1630-1703)
Edward Winslow (1629-1660) , ,
Elizabeth Winslow (1631-1697) , ,

Vital Records

Winslow Family Tomb

Winslow family tomb in Marshfield MA after 2013 restoration.

Location for Winslow Family Tomb: Old Winslow Burying Ground - Marshfield, Massachusetts

Memorial Inscription:

  • The honorable Josiah Winslow, governor of New Plymouth, dyed December 18, 1680, eastatis (age) 52.
  • Penelope, widow of Governor Winslow dyed December 7, 1703, eastatis 73.
  • The Honorable Isaac Winslow, Esq. dyed December 14, 1738. aestatis 67.
  • The Honorable John Winslow, Esq. Obit. April 17, 1774, aestatis Suo 72.
  • Isaac Winslow M.D. died October 24, 1819. aestatis 80.

Green Harbor Monument


This person is listed in memorium on the Green Harbor Monument, located in Marshfield, Massachusetts and dedicated in honor of the early colonists from Plymouth Colony who settled this area in the early 1600s.




Footnotes (including sources)


  1. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (St. Martins Press, New York, 2002) p. 205-206