Who Was Joshua Winsor

Joshua is an Englishman who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony shortly before 1638. His lineage goes back to 1000 A.D. and is tied to Windsor Castle. Waltlter Fitz Othere, Joshua's seventeenth great grandfather was Castellane of Windsor in 1066 and the Windsor family name starts with his son.

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The book, "Descendants of Roger Williams, Book I, Waterman Line, Winsor Line" sponsored by the Roger Williams Family Association and published by Gateway press, Inc. 1991. Gives the following details in the Winsor Line section complied by Kay Kirlin Moore concerning Joshua Winsor. See pages 193-94 of the text.

Joshua Winsor

Samuel Winsor, the second husband of mercy (Williams) Waterman, was the only son of Joshua Winsor, the original immigrant. Joshua had come to Providence in 1638, but sometime previously he had lived in Massachusetts Bay Colony in the present Boston area. At this writing it has not been ascertained where he came from in England, nor his exact birth date. Horace Field Parshall, in his book "The Parshall Family, A.D. 870-1913; a collection of historical records and notes to accompany the Parshall pedigree" (London, F. Edwards, 1915) claims that Joshua was born circa 1595 in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, the son of Samuel Windsor, grandson of Robert Windsor, great grandson of Edmund Windsor of Stoke Poges, knighted in 1553, and great-great grandson of Sir Andrews Windsor, first Lord Windsor, who died 1543. Mr. Olney Winsor in his book, "A genealogical account of the ancient Winsor family in the United States" (Providence, L.W. Winsor, 1847) claims that Joshua was the son of Samuel Windsor, grandson of John Windsor, great grandson of Samuel Windsor, and great-great grandson of Robert Windsor. Joshua’s name does not appear in the church register at Stoke Poges. When he came to America, Joshua dropped the "d" from his name, and all Rhode Island descendants have usually spelled the name "Winsor".

In common with many other emigrants from England in those days, Joshua’s passage money had been advanced to him, and upon arrival he became an indentured servant to Governor John Winthrop in Boston. Apparently he was somewhat of a free-thinker and ran into difficulties with the theocratic and fundamental views of the Boston colonists. Roger Williams, who had similar difficulties with the authorities in both Boston and Salem, somehow learned about Joshua Winsor, and being in the need of help in handling his property, wrote a letter to John Winthrop in the fall of 1638, from which I quote in part:

Sir, this is the occasion of this enclosed. I understand a servant of yours, Joshua ----- is some trouble to your selfe, as allso to others, & consequently can not (if he desire to feare the Lord) but himselfe be troubled & grieved in his condicion, though otherwise I know not where under Heaven he could be better.

If it may seem good in your eyes (wanting a servant) I shall desire him (not simply from you) but for your peace & his. I shall desire your best & full satisfaction in payment, & what summe you pitch on, to accept it either from this bill, or if you better like from that debt of Mr. Ludlow, for which he promised your worship to pay me 800 waight of tobacco but did not, & I presume your worship may with ease procure it; but I subscribe ex animo to your choice, & with respective salutacions & continued sighes to Heaven for you & yours, rest desirous to (be)

Your Worships unfained though unworthy

Roger Williams.

We know that Roger Williams succeeded in his plan, and Joshua Winsor came to Providence as the indentured servant of Roger Williams. Within two years he worked out his period of indenture, for in May 1640, he was one twenty who signed the "Combination" of agreement as freemen. He purchased his house lot, which according to Mr. Hopkins’ research was located on present South Main Street, just south of what is now Crawford Street, and ran up the hill as far as present Hope Street. The lot runs parallel with Benevolent Street, and the First Unitarian Church on Benefit and Benevolent Streets is probably located on part of his original town lot. He was also accorded six acres of land on the westerly side of the cove, in the meadow lands there.

It is not known for sure whether Joshua was married before he came to Providence, but one researcher indicates he was probably married in 1643; to-date no one has ascertained the name of his wife. We do know that he had four children, a boy named Samuel who was born in 1644, and three girls, Sarah, Susanna, and Mary. Sarah married a Mr. Tyler, Susanna married a Mr. Turner, and Mary married Mr. Carey or Casey. All three of these families settled in Massachusetts, eastward of Boston, and each had families of children, according to Olney Winsor’s statement. Information about Samuel will be recorded in the main body of this work, at page 195.

It is known that Joshua’s wife died in 1654, for Roger Williams again in a letter, dated 15 Dec. 1654, this time writing to John Winthrop, Jr., Governor of Connecticut, said:

It had pleased God, Sir, to take away (some few days since) the wife of our Joshua Winsor (once a servant of your deare father). She had made a passionate wish that God should part them, & take away him or her. It pleased his Jealousie to heare her, & to take away a child in her wombe also, of which she could not be delivered.

From this comment, it would seem that Joshua and his wife had some difficulties, and from other records, it would seem that he was not an easy person to get along with, but according to Olney Winsor "he appears to have been a person of some considerable talents and education, and of a serious and religious turn of mind; but no mention is made of his being a member of any particular church."

Joshua Winsor died in 1679, and was probably buried on his home lot, but his grave may have been later moved to the North Burial Ground, in the days when Benefit Street was laid out, as were many other family cemeteries.

Sources: Calef-Williams; Winsor; Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. Vol. 30 & 36; Rep. Men vol. 3; Williams-Corr.

The bibliography of sources in the book lists the sources above as:


Calef, Frank T. Roger Williams descendants. (No place, no date) 2 vols. And index vol. (1966).


Winsor, Olney. A genealogical account of the ancient Winsor family in the United States… Providence, L. W. Winsor, 1847.

Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll.

Massachusetts Historical Society. Collections, Vol. 30 and 36.

Rep. Men

Representative men and Old Families of Rhode Island. Chicago, Beers, 1908. 3 vols. (Also published in 2 vols.)


Williams, Roger. The correspondence of Roger Williams, 1629-1682, Glenn w. LaFantasie, editor… Providence, Rhode Island Historical Society, 1988. 2 vols.


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