The Atherton Lineage
Maj. Gen. Humphrey1. There is strangely enough, but little
known, of the antecedents of this eminent man. His name first appears on the
church records of Dorchester in 1636. He appears to have come from Winwick
Parish, England, and to have reached Boston in the ship "James," Capt. Taylor,
Aug. 7, 1635. He was admitted freeman and granted lands in Dorchester in 1637.
He was Captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company from 1650-1658, and commenced the first train band formed in Dorchester in 1644. He commanded
the Suffolk Regiment with the title of Major General and was the chief military
officer in New England. He was deputy to the General Court in 1638 and 1641, and
in 1659, he was chosen Speaker. His wife was Mary Wales.
He was much respected for his religious character and public spirit, and was
often employed by the Colonial Government in civil and military matters. He had
great skill and experience in the treatment of the Indians, and manifested much
humanity and sympathy for their ignorant and degraded condition, but exercised
great energy and decision of character when necessary. His efforts to instruct
them were referred to in the New England Confederation, and Eliot applied to him
in behalf of the Neponsett tribe. He was employed in several expeditions against
Narragansett Indians. In 1645, the Commissioners of the United Colonies
appointed a council of war, with Capt. Standish at the head and Leverett and
Atherton of Massachusetts and Mason of Connecticut.
The general's death in southern Boston on Sept. 16, 1661, was occasioned by a
fall from his horse. On his gravestone is the following effusion:
Here lies our Captain, and Major of Suffolk was withall;
A Godly Magistrate was he, and Major General,
Two troops of ours with him here came, such worth his love did crave;
Ten companies of foot also mourning marched to his grave.
Let all that Read be
sure to keep the faith as he has done.
With Christ he lives now crowned, his name was Humphrey Atherton.
Elizabeth2, daughter of Humphrey1 and Mary, was baptized in Winwick,
Eng., Dec. 26, 1629; m. Timothy Mather.
Continuation. - The Mather Lineage
Pope's Pion. Mass., p. 22.
History of Dorchester, Mass., by a Committee of the Dorchester
Antiquarian and Historical Society, Boston, 1859, pp. 102-104.