John Eliot and John WinthropJohn Eliot Autograph Document Signed, Witnessed by Governor John Winthrop. Four pages, penned on first page only, 6" x 7.5", "8th day of the 10th month", . Known as "the Indian apostle," missionary John Eliot was an early settler in Roxbury, Massachusetts who founded the Roxbury Latin School and was a teaching elder at the First Church of Roxbury. He was influential in converting Indians to Christianity - not only did he translate the Bible into native tongue and publish an English-Native grammar lesson book, he also worked to preserve the Indian customs and culture by creating "Praying Indian" towns where they could live by their own rule while following the tenets of Christianity.
As a leader in his community, Eliot wore many hats. According to church records of Roxbury Dingham died on December 8, 1645. As he lay dying, he called in his minister, John Eliot, and stating that he had no will and was too unwell to write, dictated his final wishes to Eliot, who then wrote them down. In full:
"The last will & testament of Mr. Henry Ding[ham] dyed at Roxbury the 8th day of the 10th month . He having no will written, nor being able to wright, nor desirous that any should be troubled about that little he had to bestow by word of mouth he declared this to be his will.
He made his wife his sole executresse, and gave unto her all he had, houses, lands, goods, debts, &c: excepting some tokens of love he gave to some special friends, as also the particular legacys hereafter specified, requiring her also to pay all his debts.
He gave to John Alcock all his bookes, & a black suit of clothes & a coate.
He gave to his wives kinswoman his house at Boston, after his wives decease, & appointed his wife to make it habitable, wch he had not yet done.
He gave to the schoole at Dedham 3£ to be paide out of his house & lands there. He gave to the schoole of Roxbury 3£.
He forgave such debts that were owing to him by the poore of Roxbury and Dedham. And such as should be judged poore were to be considered of, w'th respect to ye litle he had, & left to his wife.
Witnesse, John Eliot.
Testified upon the Oath of the sd Mr. Jo. Eliott 30 (7) 1647
Before us: Jo. Winthrop, Govr.
Henry Dingham was a physician who originally settled in Watertown, Massachusetts and was one of its earliest citizens. He received grants of land in February and June of 1637. In April 1641, he married Elizabeth, George Alcock's widow (thereby becoming John Alcock's step-father). Their marriage did not last long, as Dingham died of apoplexy on December 8, 1645.
His stepson John Alcock (1627-1667) (the recipient of his books and a suit of clothes) graduated from Harvard in 1646, receiving the 21st diploma ever issued by that university. He taught school for a while in Hartford, and went on to become a noted physician. He is an ancestor of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The will is also signed by Governor John Winthrop, who received the document almost 2 years later. Only four document signed by Eliot have appeared at auction since 1976, of which this is one. Documents by Winthrop are equally scarce. This document last came to auction as part of the Sang Collection in 1988, at which time it sold for a hammer of $4250.
Restoration adding paper at top right corner (affecting a few words), toning throughout with bold ink. Soiling on recto and evidence of past restoration on verso, taking the form of re-enforcement to the edges and folds.
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