John Johnson
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John Johnson (bef. 1588 - abt. 1659)

John Johnson
Born before in Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 21 Sep 1613 (to 14 May 1629) in St.Mary The Virgin Church, Ware, Hertfordshire, Englandmap
Husband of — married before 1633 (to Jun 1655) in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Husband of — married before 14 Oct 1656 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusettsmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died about in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Feb 2011
This page has been accessed 12,067 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
John Johnson migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
Discuss: pgm
Disputed Origins: Take care. Do not make a profile conglomeration of the several John Johnsons. Robert Charles Anderson in "Great Migration Begins" does not identify any parents for John Johnson.
John Johnson was NOT THE SON of any of the following:
For further insight see Research Notes following the biography.



John Johnson is related to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here is the trail.

John Johnson was born in England about 1588 based on date of first marriage.[1]A search of the parish registers of Ware and Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, England did not discover the baptismal record of John Johnson, thus his parentage and place of birth remain unknown.[2]

Marriage #1

His 1st wife was Mary Heath; married at Ware, Hertfordshire on September 21, 1613. The couple had 10 children; 4 of whom were buried in England. Of the remaining 6 children, 5 were still living when their father's will was probated in 1659; however according to Richardson in his "Heath Connection" "only 4 have been conclusively identified in New England Records."[2]Mary, John's wife, was a sister of William Heath and Isaac Heath, later of Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay. She died and was buried at Ware in England on May 15, 1629.[1]

Children of John and Mary:[1]
  1. Mary was baptized at Ware on July 31, 1614. She married Roger Mowry by 1636; married (2nd) John Kingsley at Rehoboth on March 16, 1673/4.
  2. Isaac was baptized at Ware End, Great Amwell on February 11, 1615/6. He married Elizabeth Porter (daughter of Adrian and Elizabeth (Allott) Porter) at Roxbury on January 20, 1636/7. Isaac was killed in service during King Philipp's War on December 19, 1675. (One of their descendants was Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the United States.)[2]
  3. John was baptized at Ware End on April 8, 1618; buried at Ware on July 8, 1627.
  4. Elizabeth was baptized at Ware End on August 22, 1619 and died at Roxbury on January 5, 1683/4. She married Robert Pepper at Roxbury on March 14, 1642/3; he died at Roxbury on July 7, 1684. 10 children.[2]
  5. Humphrey was baptized at Ware End on November 5, 1620. He married (1st) Ellen or Eleanor Cheney (born March 20, 1541/2 daughter of William and Margaret (_____) Cheney) at Roxbury on March 20, 1641/2.( One of their descendants was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States.)[2] Humphrey married (2nd) Abigail (Stansfield) May, widow of Samuel May, on December 6, 1678 at Roxbury.
  6. Joseph was baptized at Ware End on April 20, 1622; buried at Ware in May of 1622.
  7. Susan was baptized at Ware End, on July 16, 1623 and buried at Ware on August 16, 1629.
  8. Sarah was baptized at Ware on November 12, 1624. She married (possibly) Hugh Burt by 1647 (or it is possible that he was the husband of Sarah's sister Hannah, see below.) She married (2nd) by July 1653 to William Bartram, as their 1st child was born April 1654.
  9. Joseph was baptized at Ware on March 6, 1626/7; buried at Ware on March 30, 1627.
  10. Hannah was baptized at Ware on March 23, 1627/8. No additional records unless she was the wife of Hugh Burt, (see note above with her sister Sarah.)


John emigrated from Ware, Hertfordshire in 1630, landed at Salem on June 22, 1630, settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony.[1]He sailed as part of the Winthrop Fleet which included ARABELLA, flagship, AMBROSE, TALBOT, JEWEL, CHARLES, MAYFLOWER, WILLIAM AND FRANCIS, HOPEWELL, WHALE, SUCCESS, and TRIAL. The first five ships sailed April 8 from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, and arrived at Salem June 13 and following days. The other half of the fleet sailed in May and arrived in July at various dates. Altogether they brought about seven hundred passengers; John Johnson was one of the passengers. Others with the surname of Johnson were: Mrs. Margaret Johnson, destination Roxbury; Francis Johnson, Mrs. Joan Johnson of London, destination Salem; Isaac Johnson Lady Arabella Johnson of Clipsham, Rutland destination Boston; Richard Johnson Mrs. Alice Johnson destination Charlestown.[3]

Freemanship, Church Membership

John Johnson was among the first to become a church member at the Roxbury church, occupying the 9th position on the list of their pastor, John Eliot. He requested Freemanship on October 19, 1630 and was admitted on May 18, 1631.[1]

Marriage #2

Secondly, by 1633, John Johnson married Margery (_____) surname unknown. She was #90 of John Eliot's church list, "Margery Johnston [sic] the wife of John Johnson" which indicates that she probably came to New England in the spring of 1633. She was buried at Roxbury on June 9, 1655.[1][4]

Occupation, Community, Organizations

John held the important position of quartermaster at Roxbury. As such he was a senior officer whose duties included supervising and distributing supplies and provisions and armaments.[5] He was assigned the duty of distributing gunpowder to the various towns in Massachusetts Bay on September 8, 1642 since there was a "present danger of each plantation by the desperate plots and conspiracies of the heathen." He was responsible for responding to a request from Richard Davenport, Captain of the Fort of Massachusetts at Castle Island, for "every soldier one sufficient musket, sword, rest and pair of bandilers with two fathom of match for each musket." Along the same lines, he also held the position of Surveyor General[1]which, according to Wikipedia, is the person in charge of the ordnance, who also was responsible for mapping the fortifications.[6]It was his signature that was affixed to a report of the committee concerning the rebuilding of the castle and batteries on Castle Island on July 20, 1652.[1]

In 1634 a reformation occurred in the General Court whereby freemen from each town elected 2 delegates to be their representatives, instead of all freemen being members of the court. The General Court enacted laws, similar to the Stage Legislature of today, as well as being the judicial court of appeals.[7]John Johnson was one of the two delegates and was titled Deputy for Roxbury to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay.[1] Being one of the first two persons elected, indicates John Johnson's high standing in the community.

Some additional community appointments are as follows:[1]

  • October 19, 1630 Roxbury constable
  • November 7, 1632 On a committee to view ground and set bounds for Charlestown and Newton.
  • August 6, 1633 On a committee to put a cart bridge over Muddy River.
  • November 4, 1646 On a committee to purchase lands for the Indians "to live in an orderly way amongst us."
  • October 27, 1647 He was arbiter in Saltonstall vs. Watertown.
  • May 6, 1657 On a committee to properly supply ministers.
  • May 14, 1645 On a committee to settle people who were unable to help themselves and had no residence.

In 1638 a charter was granted by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay to form a volunteer militia company to train officers enrolled in the local militia companies.[8]It was called "The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company" of which John Johnson had the high honor of being one of those admitted that first year and serving as the clerk of the company.[2]

In appreciation "for his service done for the country diverse years past" John Johnson was granted L40 on May 14, 1645.


In about 1642 Roxbury undertook a list of it's inhabitants which included a valuation of each person's property. John Johnson's property was valued as one of the highest in the town at L15 12s. and L6 8s. By 1650 he held 13 parcels, 6 of which were granted to him by the town with the additional land purchased from several different people. On October 7, 1646 he and others petitioned for land formerly granted them between Dedham, Watertown and Sudbury. On October 18, 1648 he and others were to receive lands previously granted between Andover and Redding,[1]so he had a considerable amount of property amassed.

On May 6, 1657, "Mr. John Johnson having been long serviceable to the country in the place of surveyor general, for which he hath never had any satisfaction, which this Court considering of, think meet to grant him 300 acres in any place where he can find it." In the next year, John Johnson had sold this land to Mr. William Parks.[1]

Armament Tragedy

In March of 1645 a great setback and calamity occurred to the John Johnson family personally and to the entire town of Roxbury. The Johnson's house, (where a significant amount of the colony's gunpowder was stored) caught fire, blew up and was burned to the ground.[1]

Two quotes from "Great Migration Begins" follow:[1] "Many diarists of the time recorded the event like this:" "John Johnson, the surveyor general of ammunition, a very industrious and faithful man in his place, having built a fair house in the midst of the town, with diverse barns and other outhouses, it fell on fire in the daytime, no man knowing by what occasion, and there being in it seventeen barrels of the country's powder and many arms, all was suddenly burnt and blown up, to the value of four or five hundred pounds, wherein a special providence of God appeared, for he, being from home, the people came together to help and many were in the house, no man thinking of the powder till one of the company put them in mind of it, whereupon they all withdrew, and soon after the powder took fire and blew up all about it, and shook the houses in Boston and Cambridge, so as men thought it had been an earthquake."

The pastor, John Eliot remarked: "In this fire were strange preservations of God's providence to the neighbors & town, for the wind at first stood to carry the fire to other houses, but suddenly turned & carried it from all other houses, only carrying it to the barns and outhousing thereby, & it was a fierce wind, & thereby drove the vehement heat from the neighbor houses."

Marriage #3

Thirdly, John Johnson married by 1656 to Grace (Negus) Fawer, the widow of Barnabas Fawer.[9] John and Eleazer Fawer were directed by the General Court to equally divide the estate of Barnabus Fawer so that Grace and her son Eleazer would each receive half. She died after she made her will on December 21, 1671 and before it was probated on December 29, 1671. In her will, her brothers Jonathan and Benjamin each received half of her estate, since they were helpful to her in her sickness.[1]

Character and Abilities

John Johnson was an advisor and counselor to many powerful men of the Massachusetts Bay area, including Governor Thomas Dudley who bequeathed L5 to John Johnson "one of his beloved friends." John evidently was a dependable and capable person, giving attention to detail as he developed the defenses, the armament stockpile and distribution. Anderson in "Great Migration Begins" says, he "was involved as an overseer, attorney, witness and appraiser in the affairs of many of his neighbors... with all these advantages, he kept a low profile in his personal life and never achieved a consistent rank of 'Mr.'"[1]

Estate, Will, Death

John Johnson made his will on September 30, 1659 and it was proved October 15, 1659.

  • to my beloved wife...
  • my five children...
  • my two grandchildren who have lived with me, Elizabeth Johnson and Mehitabel Johnson...
  • my sons Isaak Johnson & Robert Pepper
  • my dear brethren Elder Heath and Deacon Park

Inventory of the property totaled L623 1s. 6d; with more that L350 in real estate and was presented October 15, 1659.

He died in Roxbury on September 30, 1659.[10]"John Johnson, Surveyor General of all the arms, died and was buried the day following."[1]


He was buried 30 Sep 1659 at the Eliot Burying Ground, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, formerly known as Old Roxbury Burying Ground; and Eustis Street Burying Ground[citation needed] need additional source.[11]

Research Notes

FOLLOWING ARE NOT HIS PARENTS:Gerald Garth Johnson's The biography and genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts, (Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 2000. ISBN: 0-7884-1678-2; available at: with free account), soundly disproves various theories for John Johnson's parentages; see in particular chapter 8, page 60ff:[12]
  • He could not have been the son of Isaac Johnson and Lady Arbella Fiennes of Lincolnshire; this couple was of the same generation as John, therefore, too young to be his parents; 3 sources speculate that they may have been kinsmen.
  • He was not the son of John Johnson of Wilmington, Kent; there is also no record of a John Johnson born in Herne or Herne Hill parish, Kent, England.
  • While Edward Johnson of Woburn, MA WAS from Herne Hill, there is no evidence that Edward and John were related. In fact, Edward gave an account of the importance of John Johnson of Roxbury and no where included reference to being related to him
  • He was not the son of Francis Johnson and Elizabeth Thorogood Johnson. They were not old enough to be his parents.
  • He was not the son of John Johnson and Hannah Throckmorton-- work submitted to the IGI without any supporting documentation. The 1588 birth date in Langton, Lincolnshire is not listed in any of the Lincolnshire parish records.
  • He was not son of John Johnson and grandson of Geoffrey Johnson and Bridgett Harbottle. The closest possibility was too old to have been this John Johnson.
  • He is not John Johnson whose father was William Johnson and mother was Elizabeth Bunker
CANDIDATES FOR PARENTS BUT NO RECORDS: From the "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975" there is a general possibility, but no original records that John's parents might be one of the following:
  • Willfred Johnson who had a John baptized 24 Jun 1604 in Great Amwell, Hertford, Eng.;
  • William Johnson who had a son John baptized 27 Nov 1608, Christening Place: SAINT PETER,SAINT ALBANS,HERTFORD,ENGLAND;
  • John Johnson whose son was christened:11 February 1609 WARE,HERTFORD,ENG.;
  • Willm. Johnson with son John's christening: 15 December 1588,ST MARYS,WATFORD, HERTFORD, Eng.

PLEASE DO NOT ADD parents to John Johnson unless you communicate with the Puritan Great Migration Project, the above are merely possibilities at the present time.

WHICH DAUGHTER MARRIED HUGH BURT? While there is no doubt that one of the five children named by John Johnson in his will was at one time the wife of Hugh Burt it is not certain which daughter, Sarah or Hannah, she might have been. Sarah is the more likely candidate, and if it was she, then she went on to marry William Bartram. This difficult and unsolved problem has been discussed by Helen S. Ullmann and by Dean Crawford Smith and Melinde Lutz Sanborn [TEG 6:178-84; Angel Anc 390; see also NEHGR 149:230-39].
NO SON NAMED JOHN: A son named John is often attributed to John, although there is no historical evidence for a surviving child, John. See Gerald Garth Johnson's The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts (Heritage Books, 2000).[12] Some Internet genealogies have a John John I and John Johnson II. This is incorrect. To repeat, John Johnson's parents are unknown. He did not have a son named John who lived.
TWO ABIGAILS: Confusion about the two Abigails. Humphrey Johnson married the widow, Abigail Stansfield May. Humphrey's son, Nathaniel, married the daughter of Abigail May and her first husband, also named Abigail.
2ND WIFE MIGRATED LATER: It is often mistakenly reported that John Johnson married his 2nd wife in England and they migrated together. In fact, according to "Great Migration" Margery migrated in 1633. Her name was not "Scudder," according to Gerald Garth Johnson.[13]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995). pp 1105 - 1110. Featured Sketch of John for subscribers$
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2018.) "The Heath Connection: English Origins of Isaac and William Heath of Roxbury, Massachusetts, John Johnson, Edward Morris, and Elizabeth (Morris) Catwright" by Douglas Richardson. Vol. 146, pp 270 - 275.for subscribers
  3. Banks, Charles Edward. "The Planters of the Commonwealth; a study of the emigrants and emigration in colonial times
  4. Roxbury Church Records, p 176
  5. Wikipedia "Quartermaster"link for Wikipedia
  6. Wikipedia "Surveyor-General of the Ordnance".
  7. Wikipedia, "Massachusetts General Court" paragraph entitled "Predecessor Bodies."link for Wikipedia
  8. Wikipedia "Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts"[1]
  9. MBCR 3:402
  10. Roxbury Church Records, p 176.
  11. Find a Grave Memorial #25156259
  12. 12.0 12.1 Johnson, Gerald Garth. "The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts." pub. Heritage Books, Inc. Bowie Maryland. 2000. pp 101, 102.borrow from
  13. Gerald Garth Johnson's The biography and genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts, (Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 2000. ISBN: 0-7884-1678-2; available at: with free account)

See also:



  • WikiTree profile Johnson-7059 created through the import of BDM7-7-11.ged on Jul 8, 2011 by Brian McCullough.

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Comments: 24

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Massachusetts Bay Colony was a created as a joint stock company called Massachusetts Company in 1629 it had obtained from King Charles I a charter empowering the company to trade and colonize in New England between the Charles and Merrimack rivers. The grant was similar to that of the Virginia Company in 1609, the patentees being joint proprietors with rights of ownership and government. The intention of the crown was evidently to create merely a commercial company with what, in modern parlance, would be called stockholders, officers, and directors. By a shrewd and legally questionable move, however, the patentees decided to transfer the management and the charter itself to Massachusetts.

It's hard to believe that this family was not some how related to Rev. Isaac Johnson one of the Patentee of the Company. John Johnson settled in Roxbury. It was said that the best people settled in Roxbury.They were people of substance, many of them farmers, none being 'of the poorer sort.' They struck root in the soil immediately and were enterprising, industrious and frugal.

Records of the governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England Printed by order of the legislate by Shurtleff, Nathaniel Bradstreet 1810-1874 ed; Massachusetts; General Court …

Johnson's listed as freemen

Edward Johnson May 18, 1631; Frances Johnson May 18, 1631; John Johnson May 18, 1631; Davy Johnson May 18, 1631 page 366 all on the same day at the same church?

William Johnson March 4, 1634 & Isaac Johnson March 4, 1634 page 370

posted by [Living Mcfadin]
post merge clean-up in progress.....

edit: I ended up doing an over-all clean-up of this profile. done.

posted by Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl
edited by Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl
Johnson-96525 and Johnson-2898 appear to represent the same person because: Found gravesite same families and dates need to merge please thank you
posted by Andrea (Stawski) Pack
Johnson-93644 and Johnson-2898 appear to represent the same person because: I'm not sure why this merge was previously rejected. Same estimated birth, close enough death date, and attached to the same spouse. Son Humphrey is also a duplicate and needs to be merged.
posted by M Cole
Would some one add PGM as Mgr of their daughter Elizabeth Johnson Pepper. Thanks

posted by Chris Hoyt
John1 Johnson of Roxbury (1630) was not a captain of any kind. He was admitted to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1638 (requiring only that he could sign his name), but not a single record exists in which his complete name is preceded by a military title. He is occasionally called _Mr._, also _Goodman_, but most often he is named without any title whatsoever. The Roxbury man who was commissioned a captain in 1653 was Isaac2 Johnson, who often appears in Massachusetts Bay Colony records with that title—sometimes without his forename, which has provided the opportunity to confuse him with his father. Gerald Garth Johnson's _Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts_ misrepresents certain records as including the forename John when they do not.
posted by Gene Zubrinsky FASG
prefix "Capt." deleted. Thank you for bringing attention to this error, Gene.
Thanks Cheryl, nice work!
posted by Michael Stills
Completed my work on John Johnson-2898.

I'm leaving bits of information at the very bottom of the bio section... needing citations. Perhaps one of the folks who worked on this bio previously can give citation and if it does not conflict with "Great Migration Begins" the info can be incorporated into the biography. Thanks.

oh my goodness... I see my hand is raised!

Should have time tomorrow, Jillaine.

This profile is in need of some tender love and attention. The bio is long and there is much duplication in it. There are many statements that need source citations. Other paragraphs have been dropped in without much thought to telling this man's story. Who would like to take on turning this profile into a single narrative, well sourced?
posted by Jillaine Smith
Fyi, photo appears to be John Winthrop aboard the Arabella.

John Johnson came with the Winthrop Fleet but was not a ship's Captain.

Artist from Corbis:

posted by Michael Stills
Johnson-55939 and Johnson-2898 appear to represent the same person because: Same wife and daughter
Johnson-30339 and Johnson-2898 appear to represent the same person because: Sources on profile
posted by [Living Baker]
See under From The Great Migration Begins was Margery really the #90 spouse of John Johnson?
posted by [Living Brannan]