The namesake of Stoughton, Massachusetts...




September 30, 1631: Born in England (or perhaps in Massachusetts), son of Israel and Elizabeth (Knight) Stoughton.

1650: Graduated Harvard University with a degree in theology.

June, 1653: Graduated New College in Oxford, England graduating with a M.A. in Theology.

1660: Served as a curate in Sussex, England.

1662: Returned to Massachusetts after the restoration of King Charles II of England to the throne after losing is position as a curate.

1662: Served as a clergyman in Dorchester, Massachusetts

April 29, 1668: Gave the election sermon  (New-Englands True Interest; Not to Lie..., 1670)

1670New-Englands True Interest; Not to Lie ... is published

1671-1674: Selectmen in Dorchester

1676: Sent to England with Peter Bulkeley.

1684-1686: Served as Deputy President of the Colonies temporary 

1686: Appointed Deputy to Gov. Joseph Dudley

March 3, 1687: Appointed Judge Assistant by Gov. Joseph Dudley.

1690's : A chief Magistrate and the first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

May 14, 1692: Appointed Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

May 27, 1692: Gov. William Phipps issued a commission for a Court of Oyer and Terminer which appoints as judges Lt. Gov. William Stoughton and others, including: John Hawthorne, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, and Samuel Sewall.

December 22, 1692: Appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

1694-1699, 1700-1791: Served as acting Governor.

1698-1699: Stoughton Hall built on the grounds of Harvard University.

July 7, 1701: Died at his home at the northeast corner of Pleasant Street and Savin Hill.

1726: The South Precinct of Dorchester in named in his honored after Stoughton.

1781: Original Stoughton Hall torn down.

1805: The present Stoughton Hall at Harvard University is built on a different site.

1828: His tomb is repaired by efforts from Harvard University.

1855: Stoughton School erected in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  

Online Sources:


Some bibliography of Sources relating to William Stoughton (additions welcome):

Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, (Boston, MA, NEHGS, 1995), p. 1766

Cuble, Bob, "Stoughton name forever linked to spells and witches", The Brockton Enterprise, October 18, 1992

Stevens, Peter F., "Dorchester's Hanging Judge"Dorchester Reporter, September 27, 2001


Images of William Stoughton:


                                Portrait hangs in the State House in Boston, Mass.     Portrait hanging in the Lucius Clapp Memorial in Stoughton, Mass.

                                    Painted by Mary Brewster Hazelton (1924)             Painted by Phylis Batchelder of Stoughton, Mass. 




William Stoughton was buried at Dorchester Cemetery

This table top tomb replaced his earlier tomb in 1828

The following is the Inscription attributed by some to Stoughton himself.  Others believe by Cotton Mather


Here Lies


Lieutenant, afterwards Governor

of the Province of Massachusetts in New England


Chief Judge of the Superior Court in the same province

A man of wedlock unknown

Devout in Religion

Renowned by Virtue

Famous for Erudition

Acute in Judgment

Equally illustrious by kindness and Spirit

A lover of Equity

A Defender of the Laws

Founder of Stoughton Hall

A most distinguished patron of Letters and literary men

A most generous opponent of impiety and ----

Rhetoricians delight in him as eloquent

Writers are acquainted with him as elegant

Philosophers seek him as wise

Doctors honor him as Theologian

The Devout revere him as Gracious

All Admire him! Unknown by all

Yet known to all

What need of more, Traveller? Whom have we lost



I have said sufficient, tears press

I keep silent

He lived Seventy years

On the Sevent of July, n the year of Savety 1701

He Died

Alas! Alas! What Grief!



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