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LEVERETT, JOHN, official commander of the forts in Acadia, 1654–57; governor of Massachusetts 1673–79; b. 1616, in Boston, England; s. Of Thomas Leverett and Anne Fisher; d. 16 March 1678/79 (o.s.).

Leverett migrated to Massachusetts, with his parents, in 1633. He engaged in foreign trade and had a distinguished military and public career on both sides of the Atlantic. He joined the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company in 1639 and continued as a member of it for 32 years. He became a freeman of Boston in 1640. Four years later he went to England, where he received a command in the Parliamentary army and gained distinction in the war. He returned to Boston, Mass., by 1648, In 1651 he was elected to the General Court and became one of the selectmen of the town of Boston. By 1653–54 the apprehensions felt in Massachusetts respecting Dutch, Indian, and French neighbours had resulted in plans for an expedition against the Dutch in Manhattan. Cromwell sent out three or four ships, and the General Court of Massachusetts took steps to enlist 500 volunteers, to be commanded by Major Robert Sedgwick and his son-in-law Capt, John Leverett. Before the expedition was ready, peace was signed with the Dutch, and it was decided to turn it against the French in Acadia,

Sedgwick captured the forts at Saint John, Port-Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.), and Penobscot, the last capitulating on 2 Sept. 1654; and designated Leverett as commander of these forts. Leverett was not with Sedgwick’s expedition, as we know from his letter dated at Boston on 8 Sept, 1654 (Rawlinson MSS A18, L58),

Although the documentary evidence is inconclusive, it is to be presumed that Leverett went to Acadia, for he was addressed by Cromwell in a letter of 3 April 1655 as “Commander of the Forts lately taken from the French” and was urged to use “your utmost care and circumspection, as well to defend and keep the forts above said.” He continued to be regarded as commander until the forts were delivered up to Col. Thomas Temple on 1 May 1657, although Leverett had been appointed colonial agent in England on 13 Nov. 1655. Several of Leverett’s petitions for compensation for his expenses as commander in Acadia were among the many facing the Council of State during these troubled years and after the Restoration Leverett was still petitioning for his losses.

On his return to Massachusetts, Leverett was again elected to the General Court for 1663–65. He was major-general of all Massachusetts forces from 1663 to 1673. From 1665 to 1670 he was a member of the council and from 1671 to 1673 he was deputy governor of Massachusetts. He was elected governor of that colony in 1673 and was re-elected annually until his death in 1678/79 He married Hannah Hudson and after her death in 1646, Sarah Sedgwick, the daughter of Robert Sedgwick, in 1647.

C. Bruce Fergusson

Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MSS, A16, f.52., A18, f.58. Documents in Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., “Mass. Archives”; Mass. Hist. Soc., Saltonstall Coll. Maine Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st ser., I, V, VI, IX; 2d ser., III, V, VI; Documentary history of Maine, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, XI, XIII; Province and court records of Maine, I, II, III. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d ser., VII (1838) [XXVII of the Coll.], 122; Proc., 2d ser., XIII (1900), 407. Mémoires des commissaires, I, xv, xl, 97; II, 290–91; IV, 283, 307; and Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 19, 45, 167, 403, 580. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), III, IX. PRO, CSP, Col., 1514–1660, passimRecords of the colony of New Plymouth in New England (1620–1692), ed. N. B, Shurtleff et al. (12v., Boston, 1855–61), V, 75–80., Records of the Massachusetts Bay (Shurtleff), IV, pt. 1. DABDNB, supp.III. James Hannay, The history of Acadia from its first discovery to its surrender to England by the Treaty of Paris (Saint John, N.B., 1879), 195–98. C. E. Leverett, Memoir of Sir John Leverett, knight, governor of Massachusetts (Boston, 1856). Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I, 126–27, 139.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

C. Bruce Fergusson, “LEVERETT, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 25, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/leverett_john_1E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/leverett_john_1E.html
Author of Article: C. Bruce Fergusson
Title of Article: LEVERETT, JOHN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1966
Year of revision: 1966
Access Date: July 25, 2014