Roger  Conant

Roger Conant (1592 - 1679)

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Roger Conant
Born in East Budleigh, Devon, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Blackfriars, London, Middlesex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Massachusetts Bay Colony (present day Essex County, Massachusetts, USA)map
Profile last modified | Created 11 Mar 2011
This page has been accessed 6,353 times.

Categories: Puritan Great Migration | Nominated Profiles.

The Puritan Great Migration.
Roger Conant migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
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Governor Roger Conant (c. 1592 -1679). First resident, Governor and founder of Salem, Massachusetts, USA.

Roger Conant arrived in Plymouth Colony from London, England early in 1623. Roger was a professional salter, and worked closely with the fishermen and other settlers in the new world, to help provide safe meat & fish products through his expertise as a salter. Previous to his arrival in Plymouth, Roger Conant belonged to the Guild of Salters in London. Salter is used as a reference to people employed in a salt works, or in salting fish or meat. Early in his colonial life, Roger Conant became associated with those opposed to the Puritan authorities in Plymouth and led the settlement to outlying areas, particularly in the Salem area, which he is credited with founding. He was also the first governor of English settlers in Salem from 1626 to 1628.[1]

Life in England

Eight children of Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant are recorded: Joan, Richard, Robert, Jane, John, Thomas, Christopher and Roger.

Roger, sixth son and youngest of the eight children of Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant, was baptized at All Saints Church, in the parish of East Budleigh, Devonshire, England, April 9, 1592. It is probable that he received a good education for his day, as his parents were people of substance and intelligence as well as of exemplary piety. Roger Conant later moved to London and became a salter.[2] Roger was frequently called upon to survey lands, lay out boundaries and tranact public business. On Jan. 20, 1619-20, Christopher Conant (Roger's older brother), grocer, and Roger Conant, salter, signed a bond for their brother John. The two signers register themselves as both of the parish of St. Lawrence, Jewry, London.

Various circumstances indicate that Roger was a freeman of the Salter's Guild, the ninth of the twelve great livery companies, which would require an apprenticeship of seven years. It is probable that he remained in London about fourteen years, or until the time of his migration to America.

Contrary to some accounts that Roger Conant and his family arrived in 1623 in the ship ‘Anne’, per Banks, only Roger’s brother Christopher Conant is listed as being on the ‘Anne’ in 1623. In Bradford’s history, in addition to letters to him by the London Adventurers, mention is made of an unnamed master or journeyman salter who may have arrived in Plymouth in the ‘Charity’ in March 1623/24. It is thought that Bradford may have been describing Conant, and that he arrived in Plymouth in 1624.[3][4]

Life in Plymouth

In 1625, Bradford learned that the long-time minister of their Leiden congregation, John Robinson, had died. Robinson had been the driving force behind all their efforts to find a better place than England to live their lives and it was he who cared for the many left at the Leiden congregation after the Mayflower's departure. After the dispiriting news of Robinson's death, those in Plymouth began to lose the fervor that helped them survive the grim early years there and began to fear that all they had gained might eventually be destroyed. These dark thoughts turned into mean-spirited fanaticism. At about that time, John Lyford, a minister who had been sent over by the London Adventurers, was expelled from Plymouth for secretly meeting with settlers who wished to return to the type of worship that they had back in England. One of Lyford’s supporters, John Oldham, was forced to run a gauntlet while Pilgrims beat him with the butt-ends of their muskets. This punishment received the approval of Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow. The Adventurers were quite displeased over what had happened to one of their men and criticized the Pilgrims as “contentious, cruel and hard hearted, among your neighbors…”. Bradford later in his writings wrote that he thought that Lyford and Oldham deserved their punishments. These actions against the rebellion of Lyford and Oldham were possibly the reason Roger Conant left Plymouth for other locations where he would later continue to be in association with them against the Plymouth authorities.[1][4]

In the years prior to and also after John Robinson’s death, Plymouth Colony had lost about a quarter of its residents. They had moved to other areas of New England or went back to England, or to Virginia. Some, such as salter Roger Conant, found a place to work and worship peacefully in the fishing and trading outposts along the New England coast at Nantasket and Cape Ann.[4]

Per Hubbard’s General History, about 1624 Conant moved to Nantasket with his family and about a year or so later relocated to Cape Ann, at the north end of Massachusetts Bay.[4] Roger did not long remain at the Pilgrims' town, owing to a difference in religious belief between the original proprietors and himself. They were separatists, and he a non-conformist, or Puritan, and in 1624 he found it desirable to join some newly arrived immigrants at Nantasket, or Hull. It was probably while here that he made use of what is now known as Governor's Island, in Boston Harbor, but which at that time and for some years after, bore the name of Conant's Island. During the next winter, Rev. John White, of Dorchester, hearing of the settlement at Nantasket, and of Roger Conant, "a pious, sober and prudent Gentleman," chose him to manage the affairs of the Dorchester Company at Cape Ann. It was soon found that this region was a poor place for planting, and many of the settlers returned to England; but Roger Conant and a few sturdy followers decided to remain and fix their habitation at Naumkeag, now Salem.

In another case of the new Pilgrim vindictiveness, in 1625 Roger Conant was involved in a violent situation between Plymouth Colony military Captain Myles Standish and some fishermen on Cape Ann. Conant was so shocked by the violence that the Plymouth captain displayed then that Conant later reported the incident in detail for Pilgrim historian William Hubbard. In restating John Robinson’s earlier concerns about the way the colony was turning to fanaticism and violence, Hubbard wrote, “Captain Standish…never entered the school of our Savior Christ…or, if he was ever there, had forgot his first lessons, to offer violence to no man.” Hubbard also wrote about Standish; “so was the Plymouth captain, a man of very little stature, yet of a very hot and angry temper.”[4]


In the late autumn of 1625, Conant was invited by the Rev. John White and other members of the Dorchester Company to move to their fishing settlement on Cape Ann as their governor. Still looking for more favorable conditions for a settlement, Conant led a group of people to Naumkeag, now Salem, in 1626, and continued as their governor. In 1627 a patent was solicited from Engand and it was obtained by a group led by John Endicott who arrived in Naumkeag in 1628. Endicott and the other settlers of the New England Company now owned the rights to Naumkeag. Fortunately for the peaceful continuity of the settlement, Conant remained in Salem and despite what must have been a disappointment for him, acceded to Endicot's authority as the new governor.

In 1626 Conant was chosen as the first governor of the English settlers at Salem and was replaced in 1628 by Gov. John Endicott.[1][4]

Roger Conant was the 1st Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, in book HISTORY OF BEVERLY, 1630 - 1842. He discharged the principal offices in Salem. For several years, and represented Salem in the General Court.

According to History of Beverly, he was "a most religious, prudent & worthy gentleman;" graces that eminently qualified him for the duties he was called to discharge, and which, in one instance at least, enabled him to adjust a difficulty between contending parties at Cape Ann that threatened bloodshed. (Quote from Hubbard's Hist. N.E., pp 106-111.)

Later years in Salem

His was the first house built in that now historic town. Let us read early American author: Nathaniel Hawthorne's beautiful description of the scene:

"You perceive, at a glance, that this is the ancient and primitive wood - the ever-youthful and venerably old - verdant with new twigs, yet hoary, as it were, with the snowfall of innumerable years, that have accumulated upon its intermingled branches.. . . . . Roger Conant, the first settler in Naumkeag, has built his dwelling, months ago, on the border of the forest-path; and at this moment he comes eastward, through the vista of the woods, with a gun over his shoulder, bringing home the choice portions of a deer. His stalwart figure, clad in a leathern jerkin and breeches of the same, strides sturdily onward, with such an air of physical force and energy that we night almost expect the very trees to stand aside and give him room to pass. And so, indeed, they must; for humble as is his name in history, Roger Conant still is of that class of men who do not merely find, but make, their place in the sytem of human affairs; a man of thoughtful strength, he has planted the germ of a city. There stands his habitation, showing in its rough architecture some features of the Indian wigwam, and some of the log cabin, and somewhat too, of the straw-thatched cottage of Old England, where this good yeoman had his birth and breeding. The dwelling is surrounded by a cleared space of a few acres, where Indian corn grows thrivingly among the stumps of the trees; while the dark forest hems it in, and seems to gaze silently and solemnly, as if wondering at the breadth of sunshine which the white man spreads around him."

Conant built the first Salem house on what is now Essex Street, opposite the Town Market. In 1630 he was chosen as freeman, or voting stockholder of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Conant was one of the first two Salem representatives to the colony’s general court or legislature, and was repeatedly elected a selectman by the people of Salem. When the legislature granted communities the right to establish district courts, Roger Conant served on numerous Salem quarterly juries for sixteen years. He also was involved in civic activities over the years such as establishing town boundaries and laying out land grants.

In 1639, his signature was one of the first ones on the contract for enlarging the meeting house in Town Square for the First Church in Salem. This document remains a part of the town records at City Hall. Roger Conant was active in the affairs of Salem throughout his life.


Gov. Roger Conant was the son of Richard and Agnes. According to records, Roger Conant was baptized in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England in 1592, the youngest of eight children. His nephew, it is said to be, Dr. John of the great Assembly of Divines at Westminster. He was appointed in 1625, government agent, or superintend for the Dorchester project of the plantation. Roger requested to be made a freeman 19 Oct. 1630.

Roger Conant and Sarah Horton married at St. Ann Blackfriars, London on November 11, 1618 and had nine or ten children. She was alive in November 1660 and may have died before March 1677/78 as she was not named in her father’s will. Her burial place is unknown.[1]

Children of Roger and Sarah Conant:

  1. Sarah was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry, London on September 19, 1619 and was buried there October 30, 1620.
  2. Caleb was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry, London on May 27, 1622. He died in England before November 11, 1633, when his uncle, John Conant, became administrator of his estate.
  3. Lot was born about 1624 and died September 29, 1674. He married Elizabeth Walton and had ten children. The marriage of their descendant Hannah Conant (d.1810) with Josiah Dodge (d.1785/90) in 1761 connected the line of Mayflower passenger Richard More with the Conant family. After Lot’s death, Elizabeth married (2) Andrew Mansfield in Lynn on January 10, 1681/82.
  4. Roger was born in Salem and died in June 1672. He married Elizabeth Weston by 1661 and had two children.
  5. Sarah was born about 1628. She married John Leach and had ten children.
  6. Joshua was born about 1630 and died in England in 1659. He married Seeth Gardner by 1657 and had one son.
  7. Mary was born about 1632. She married first John Balch about 1652 and had one daughter. she married second William Dodge by 1663 and had five children.
  8. Elizabeth was born about 1635 and was unmarried in March 1677/78. Nothing further is known.
  9. Exercise was baptized in Salem on December 24, 1637. He married Sarah Andrews by 1668 and had six children. He died on April 28, 1722 and was buried in Olde Mansfield Center Cemetery, Mansfield, CT.[6][7] The marriage of their descendant George Handy (d.2008) with Beverly Farrar (b. 1926) in 1943 connected the line of the Conant family with Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton (who was fostered by Myles Standish, foe of Roger Conant).
  10. John (we need information on him)

Death and burial of Roger Conant

During his very long lifetime Conant had a number of family tragedies, including the death of his wife Sarah, and of sons Caleb, Lot, Roger and Joshua. Only his son Exercise and possibly several daughters succeeded him.[1][5]

Roger Conant died on November 19, 1679 at the age of 87 in Plymouth Colony - now Beverly in Essex County, Massachusetts. He was reportedly buried in Burying Point Cemetery in Salem. All of Roger Conant's service was rendered against a backdrop of personal tragedy. He had to endure the death of a daughter and four of his five sons. But he trudged steadily on, working for the common good right up until his own death in 1679. His perseverance in the face of adversity, even more than his status as Salem's founding father, is his true legacy.

His Statue in Salem

In 1913, the Conant Family Association approved a bronze statue of Roger Conant in a dramatic, cloaked pose which stands today facing the Salem Common,[5] and atop a huge boulder brought from the woods near the floating bridge at Lynn. Artist Henry H. Kitson designed this heroic bronze statue for the Conant Family Association and the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1913.

Sources & Further Reading

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;,_Massachusetts_founder)

Note: One of the earliest known genealogies of Roger Conant and his descendants is the volume written by his descendant:

E. W. Leavitt and privately printed in 1890: "A Genealogy of One Branch of the Conant Family, 1581-1890."[9]

An earlier Conant genealogy, published in Portland, Maine, in 1887 and written by Frederick Odell Conant also delved into the English origins of the Conant family.[10]

Shipton, Clifford Kenyon (1945). Roger Conant, a Founder of Massachusetts. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. p. 171.

George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D (Editor). Genealogical and Family History of the STATE OF MAINE. ([Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]). Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York. 1909.

Cutter, William Richard (Editor). New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, vol I, publ 1915 page 107.

Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College (Holt, 1885) Vol. 1, Page 442


1. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 269, 270

2. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 269

3. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 269, 270.

4. William Hubbard, A general history of New England [1]

5. Roger Conant in Salem [2]

6. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Family Sketch of Roger Conant [3]

7. Frederick Odell Conant, A history and genealogy of the Conant family in England and America, thirteen generations, 1520-1887 : containing also some genealogical notes on the Connet, Connett and Connit families (Privately printed: 1887) p. 99 [4]

8. Memorial of Roger Conant [5]

9. George Gatfield, Guide to Printed Books and Manuscripts Relating to English and Foreign Heraldry and Genealogy (London: 1892)

10. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, Boston, 1888.

11. Wikipedia. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

12. Young, Alexander. Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (Charles C. Little and James Brown, Boston, 1846) Page 23-4: see footnotes #4


Gov Roger Conant. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Born 9 Apr 1592. England[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Died Age: 87. 19 Nov 1679. Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts, USA. [20][21][22][23][24]

Residence 1631 Freeman 18 May, Massachusetts Colony, MA. [25] Massachusetts[26] Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA. [27] 1626 Beverly[28]

Buried Burying Point Cemetery, Salem, MA. [29]

Event: Arrival 1622 Plymouth, Massachusetts. [30] Arrival 1624 Plymouth, Massachusetts. [31] Arrival 1623 Plymouth, Massachusetts. [32] Civil 19 Oct 1630. [33] Age: 32. Departure 1624[34]

Baptism: 9 Apr 1592. E. Budleigh, Devon, England.

Origin: London[35]

File Format: jpg. Statue_of_Roger_Conant Format: pdf. Conant family tree - Frederick Odell Conant book. Format: htm. Roger Conant family facts.

Marriage Husband Gov Roger Conant. Wife Sarah Horton. Child: @P448@. Child: @P447@. Child: Sarah Conant. Child: @P242@. Child: Joanna Conant. Child: @P444@. Child: @P443@. Child: Mary Conant. Child: Elizabeth Conant. Child: @P449@. Marriage 1628 MA[36] Marriage 11 Nov 1618. St. Ann, Blackfriars, London, England. [37][38]

Husband Richard Conant. Wife @P451@. Child: Gov Roger Conant. Marriage 2 Feb 1578. Colyton, Devon, England. [39]


  1. Source: #S-1094505866 Volume: 165; SAR Membership Number: 32994
  2. Source: #S-1094478061
  3. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 414.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: CTD
  4. Source: #S-1094381328
  5. Source: #S-1094564913
  6. Source: #S-1094168993
  7. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1623; Page Number: 27
  8. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 23729.010; Source type: Pedigree chart; Number of Pages: 18
  9. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1624; Page Number: 451
  10. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1622; Page Number: 114
  11. Source: #S-1094484490
  12. Source: #S-1094411002
  13. Source: #S-1094505866 Volume: 165; SAR Membership Number: 32994
  14. Source: #S-1094478061
  15. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 414.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: CTD
  16. Source: #S-1094381328
  17. Source: #S-1094564913
  18. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 23729.010; Source type: Pedigree chart; Number of Pages: 18
  19. Source: #S-1094484490
  20. Source: #S-1094505866 Volume: 165; SAR Membership Number: 32994
  21. Source: #S-1094478061
  22. Source: #S-1094381328
  23. Source: #S-1094564913
  24. Source: #S-1094484490
  25. Source: #S-1094411002
  26. Source: #S-1094168993
  27. Source: #S-1094381328
  28. Source: #S-1094381328
  29. Source: #S-1094484490
  30. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1622; Page Number: 114
  31. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1624; Page Number: 451
  32. Source: #S-1094461986 Place: Plymouth, Massachusetts; Year: 1623; Page Number: 27
  33. Source: #S-1094168993
  34. Source: #S-1094381328
  35. Source: #S-1094381328
  36. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 23729.010; Source type: Pedigree chart; Number of Pages: 18
  37. Source: #S-1094478061
  38. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 414.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: CTD
  39. Source: #S-2144179857 Source number: 543.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: KM1
  • Source: S-1094168993 Repository: #R-2147395643 Massachusetts Applications of Freemen, 1630-91 Publication: Operations Inc
  • Repository: R-2147395643 Note:
  • Source: S-1094381328 Repository: #R-2147395643 New England, The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635 Publication: Operations, Inc.
  • Source: S-1094411002 Repository: #R-2147395643 Massachusetts, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890 Publication: Operations Inc
  • Source: S-1094461986 Repository: #R-2147395643 U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s Publication: Operations, Inc
  • Source: S-1094478061 Repository: #R-2147395643 U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 Publication: Operations Inc
  • Source: S-1094484490 Repository: #R-2147395643 Web: Massachusetts, Find A Grave Index, 1620-2013 Publication: Operations, Inc.
  • Source: S-1094505866 Repository: #R-2147395643 U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 Publication: Operations, Inc.
  • Source: S-1094564913 Repository: #R-2147395643 Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 Publication: Operations, Inc.
  • Source: S-2144179857 Repository: #R-2147395643 U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 Yates Publishing Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.Original data - This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases. Originally, the information was deriv Note:

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Images: 6
Statue of Roger Conant in Salem Massachusetts
Statue of Roger Conant in Salem Massachusetts

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On 10 May 2016 at 12:15 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

I, too, reviewed the edits of this profile and it looks like the bulk of the content came from the original upload. There have been some tweaks to the text but If you do a side-by-side comparison with his Wikipedia profile, you'll see that it's about a 90% replica. Rob Ton wrote an excellent piece in g2g about the value of original content. It's linked to from the style guide page about Copying Text.

On 10 May 2016 at 04:44 GMT John Ellis wrote:

This is an excellent biography well supported by many varied and excellent sources. There are so many edits to this bio that it would also seem that it is a compilation rather than a plagarism. There is a lot of filler in this biography which should probably be removed as it is a matter of conjecture; However the quotes are there and credit is given. If it is a plagarism whoever originally produced it most likely plagarised it from other original sources. It does defintly resemble the Wikipedia presentation; however many of the facts most probably came from Wikitree itself. Where do we draw the Line?????? Wikipedia was began approx. 2001 The Information presented is from the 1600s. The wikipedia editor did a great job. I believe that Wikitree editors can do as well..

On 9 May 2016 at 09:39 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Yes it is beautiful but it may be plagiarizing text from elsewhere. We need to check. EDIT: yes it appears to be largely a cut and paste from Wikipedia. Unfortunately this is not allowed on wikitree.

On 8 May 2016 at 23:24 GMT Darlene Bissonnette wrote:

Beautiful job on this page!! I'm sure my 10th Grandfather would be VERY proud. I see nothing wrong with this either. Credits are given for text.

On 27 Sep 2015 at 22:33 GMT Dr. Bill Smith Ph.D. wrote:

I feel the profile was done very well. I am consulting with my colleagues for other opinions. Sources are provided for each paragraph. Seems very reasonable.

On 27 Sep 2015 at 12:58 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Uh oh. Looks like there may be a bunch of cut-and-paste from another published source. Not allowed on wikitree. Can you help?

On 18 Mar 2014 at 16:30 GMT GeneJ X wrote:

Since the claim of so many Leach children is made in Roger's biographical sketch, doesn't it make sense to have the comment posted here?

P.S. As far as I can tell, changes over the past couple of days have extinguished traces of an association between Roger's daughter and John Leach. Nonetheless, prior to the recent changes, I did not find the "so many children" claim on the Sarah Conant profile page that had been associated with John Leach.

On 18 Mar 2014 at 13:21 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Gene. I fixed the prefix and middle name fields. They were being used incorrectly. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Please move your comment about John and Sarah 's children to her or his profile. Thanks.

On 18 Mar 2014 at 12:33 GMT GeneJ X wrote:

John and Sarah (Conant) Leach probably didn't have 10 children. During the time when brothers John and Richard Leach (both sporting wives named Sarah) likely had children baptized at Salem, the published church records sometimes only identify the parent as "Sister Leach."

As I recall, in _A history and genealogy of the Conant family..._ all the plausible baptisms so identified were listed as children of John and Sarah (Conant) Leach. This was made worse, in my view, in the more or less suspect work on the Leach family, published 1924-26 which seems to associate those baptisms as children of both John and Richard.

Roger is 15 degrees from Amelia Earhart, 39 degrees from Stephen Hawking, 14 degrees from Jamie Nelson and 17 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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