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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Winslow, Joseph

by Julian D. Winslow, 1996

ca. 1628–1679

Joseph Winslow, merchant, mariner, and landowner, was born in Marshfield, Mass., one of eight children of John of Plymouth Colony and Boston and Mary Chilton Winslow. John Winslow arrived in America on the ship Fortune in 1621, when he brought the furniture of the Pilgrims who had sailed in the Mayflower the previous year. Mary Chilton Winslow was among those who arrived on the Mayflower. Young Joseph was listed on the roster of the militia at Marshfield in 1643 and later accompanied his father to Maine, where John operated a trading post.

Among the eight Winslow children were Edward, a mariner, who was a leader in the foundation in 1664 of the Charlestown settlement on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina; John, a merchant and mariner, who contributed much to the growth of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia through seafaring and trade; and Mary, who married Elisha Hutchinson, the son of Anne Hutchinson, a quietist and an exile from the Massachusetts Colony. Uncle Edward Winslow was three times governor of the Massachusetts colony, served as minister to the court of Charles I, and was an associate of Oliver Cromwell.

Joseph Winslow was twice married. He last married Sarah Lawrence in 1673, and their children included Mary (b. 1674) and Joseph (b. 1677). By his first wife he was the father of Timothy, of Perquimans Precinct, N.C. His contribution to the population of the country has been called his greatest achievement. Although concentrated in eastern North Carolina, his descendants also spread out along the Atlantic seaboard and in significant numbers were part of the later Quaker exodus from North Carolina to the Midwest and among the Free-Soilers who contributed much to the westward expansion of the country.

Winslow was an opponent of the English Navigation Acts and a leader in Culpeper's Rebellion. In this connection he was the foreman of the jury that convened in 1677 at Nixonton on the Little River in Pasquotank Precinct and deposed Thomas Miller, variously known as governor and collector of customs. Governor Miller had acted without the consent of the Grand Assembly in enforcing the Navigation Acts.

As a master mariner, Joseph Winslow operated various vessels in the waters of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He was also an extensive landowner, with property in Massachusetts and Maryland as well as in North Carolina.


Louise Hall, "New Englanders at Sea: Cape Fear before the Royal Charter of 24 March 1662/3," New England Historical and Genealogical Register 124 (April 1970).

Mattie Erma E. Parker, ed., North Carolina Higher-Court Records, 1670–1696 (1968).

Hugh F. Rankin, Upheaval in Albemarle: The Story of Culpeper's Rebellion, 1675–1689 (1962).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 1 (1886).