Edward Winslow was born at Droitwitch, Worcestershire, England in 1595. An early convert to the Puritan cause, he moved to the Netherlands, where he married Elizabeth Barker in 1618.
Winslow and his wife sailed on the Mayflower, bound for the New World, in 1620. Upon their arrival at Plymouth, Winslow rose to a place of leadership in the new colony. In 1621, he negotiated the first treaty between the Pilgrims and the Native American leader, Chief Massasoit.
Aside from Miles Standish (see no. 19), Winslow was the Pilgrim who carried the most influence with the neighboring Indian tribes.Following the death of his wife, Winslow married Susanna White, the widowed mother of Peregrine White, the first English child born in the northern colonies.
The marriage between Winslow and White was the settlers’ first marriage conducted in New England.Because of his diplomatic skill, Winslow was sent to England twice to represent the colony. While there in 1624, he published GoodNewes from New England: or a True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation ofPlimoth.
This book was important in bringing the colony to the minds of thousands of potential English immigrants.In 1629, Winslow became the official agent for the colony, and continued to make many visits to his native country. On one of his trips in 1635, he was imprisoned for four months on the order of Archbishop William Laud, who deplored the Pilgrims’ approach to church doctrine.
While in New England, Winslow became active in trade with the Native Americans. He set up trading posts on the coast of Maine, and intended to extend his activities to the south as well. Public duties called, however, and he served as governor of the Plymouth colony in 1633, 1636 and 1644.
In 1646, Winslow returned to England on another visit. This time he was caught up in the turmoil of the English Civil War and was unable to return to Plymouth. He rejoiced at the victory of the Puritan forces, which brought the end of the monarchy, and the institution of the Commonwealth government under Oliver Cromwell, who became Lord Protector of England.
Cromwell honored Winslow with several appointments, and in 1649, Winslow became a founding member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.Winslow died from fever while he was on a campaign with English forces in an attempt to capture Jamaica in the West Indies. He was buried at sea. Winslow was the only Pilgrim leader whose appearance was recorded in a portrait, which was painted in London in 1651.