Edward Winslow is well known to American historians having crossed on the Mayflower, a prolific defender of the Settlers, Governor of New Plymouth three times, and one of the people with whom Sherley corresponded about the various Mayflower related issues. He returned to England on a number of occasions and for the last time in 1646. He turns up in Clapham in 1649 and despite the bad press that Sherley gets about his business with the Pilgrims, it is clear that Winslow regarded him as a friend. He would hardly have chosen to stay in Clapham if he really disliked Sherley and his will appoints Sherley as one of his ‘four friends’ (the Rector, John Arthur, was another) to oversee the disposal of his personal estate in England – again indicating he trusted Sherley. Winslow was also one of the two witnesses at Sherley’s second marriage which took place in Clapham in 1654. Finally Winslow’s daughter, Elizabeth, was married in Clapham a year after his death with James Sherley one of the witnesses. All this demonstrates that Winslow had close connections with a number of the Clapham residents and it is hardly surprising that he lived there for a time as well
This closeness is emphasised by the work they did together. Winslow was one of three Clapham residents on one very important committee, the Compounding Commission which, dealt with the lands of those thought inimical to the regime. Samuel Moyer chaired it from 1650-1 and William Molins and Winslow were two of the other six members. This was a very busy committee meeeting three or four times a week, both morning and afternoon and Winslow, for example, attended meetings on fourteen or fifteen days in December 1650[i] which was entirely typical.
The second example relates to the first protestant missionary activity in North America. In 1649, following missionary activity by John Eliot, who had learnt Alonquin, and promotion of the scheme by Edward Winslow, the Rump Parliament passed an Act shortly after the execution of Charles I creating a Corporation to propagate the Gospel to the Indians in New England. Four of its eighteen members were people who lived in Clapham, Babington, Molins, Sherley and Winslow, and Joshua Woolnough later became a member[ii]. Given that only half of the eighteen ever turned up, the Clapham members (who did) clearly played an important part. Members had been chosen for their wealth and influence and have been described as ‘entirely Puritan, mostly independent, and mostly merchants’[iii]. Lawrence Bromfield and Lawrence Brinley joined after the Restoration and over its lifetime no fewer than sixteen Clapham residents were members.
Six weeks later the parish of Clapham had raised the large sum of some ninety pounds for this cause, almost ten per cent of the total raised in London, and Dennis Gauden was appointed ‘to carry [the money] into Mr Floyd the Treasurer living at the Maremaide in Cheapside.’ The Corporation invested the money raised and transmitted the income to New England. At first they passed the money directly but later goods were transferred instead, often purchased from the members of the Corporation who traded with North America; Babington sold £100 worth of cloth to the society in 1651 and £180 worth in 1652, jointly with Joshua Woolnough; Woolnough also sold goods himself in this way, as did Daniel Judd[iv]. At one stage they thought of paying Edward Winslow a salary directly from the Corporation’s funds, but they realised that this might not look too good and found an alternative route to pay him. Winslow and Molins made use of their position on the Commission for Sequestered Estates to sell the Corporation a number of lands under its remit, including some fee farm rents in Northumberland.
[i] Jeremy Bangs. 2004 Pilgrim Edward Winslow p268 NEHGS
[ii] The New England Company of 1649 and John Eliot 1920 George Winship The Prince Society Boston
[iii] William Kellaway. 1961 The New England Company p12 Longmans
[iv] Ibid p 65-6