Danforth, Thomas, 1623 - 1699

Thomas Danforth was born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England, the son of Nicholas Danforth.  He migrated to Newtown (Cambridge) with his father and brothers, Samuel and Jonathan, in 1635.  When Nicholas died in 1638, he and his brothers were placed in the care of the Rev. Thomas Shepard.  Danforth served as one of the commissioners of the United Colonies of New England (1662-78) and was chosen clerk of Cambridge township (1645-68).   He was clerk of the Harvard Overseers (1654), recorder of deeds for Middlesex County (1652-1686), deputy to the Massachusetts General Court (1657-58), assistant in Massachusetts (1659-79), deputy governor (1679-86), and president of the Province of Maine (1680-86). As commissioner of the United Colonies, Danforth helped to organize military cooperation among the colonies to the Dutch and Indians. He looked after the welfare of Indians attending Harvard College in the 1650s and 1660s.  During King Philip’s War, he defended the “Praying Indians” against hostile criticisms.  When the royal government revoked the Massachusetts charter and Sir Edmund Andros established the Dominion of New England in 1686, Danforth resigned his position as deputy governor. After the Dominion came to an end, he resumed the posts he had held following the colony’s last elections. With the establishment of a new royal charter in 1692, Gov. Sir William Phips appointed Danforth associate justice of the Massachusetts superior court, a position he held until his death on Nov. 5, 1699. ANB; ODNB; Harold S. Jantz, “A Funeral Elegy for Thomas Danforth, Treasurer of Harvard,” Harvard Library Bulletin, vol. 1 (1947), 113-15.
Born: 
November 1623
Died: 
November 5, 1699