Elizabeth Winthrop (nee Reade)


Elizabeth Reade was the second wife of John Winthrop Jr, the Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, from 1657 until his death in 1676.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Edmund Reade, a gentleman, and Elizabeth (Cook) Reade. She was born in Wickford, Essex in 1614.

Elizabeth married John Winthrop Jr in July 1635 and they sailed for America on the ‘Abigail’ in August the same year. They had eight children: Elizabeth, Fitz-John, Lucy, Waitstill, Mary, Martha, Margaret and Ann.

A spring on the outskirts of East Greenwich, Rhode Island was named for her by Roger Williams (1599-1683). Elizabeth’s Spring was first used by the Indians who travelled the Pequot trail. Elizabeth probably stopped to drink at the spring on her way to New London from Boston. In 1886 a millstone with a marble tablet bearing an inscription was placed on the spring by Dr James Etherdge. The inscription reads:

Elizabeth’s Spring, so called from Mistress Elizabeth Winthrop drinking at it in her travels up to Connecticut in ye beginning of ye country as early as 1645. Roger Williams laments: ‘Here is the spring, say I, with a sigh, but where is Elizabeth? My charity answers: She is gone to the Eternal Spring and Fountaine of Living Waters’

Wickford, Rhode Island also takes its name from her birthplace. In a letter from her grandson John Winthrop (son of Major General Waitstill Winthrop) in 1704, he state “Wickford also had its name from her Being ye place of Her Nativity in old England”

Source article: ‘Elizabeth’s Spring – A Mirror of History’ by Marion L Fry

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