Person:Roger Conant (1)

Roger Conant
m. 4 Feb 1578
  1. Christopher Conant1588 - Aft 1630
  2. Roger Conant1592 - 1679
m. 11 Nov 1618
  1. Caleb ConantBef 1623 -
  2. Sarah ConantAbt 1623 -
  3. Lot ConantAbt 1624 - 1674
  4. Joanna ConantAbt 1626 -
  5. Roger ConantAbt 1628 -
  6. Joshua ConantAbt 1630 -
  7. Mary ConantAbt 1632 - Abt 1679
  8. Exercise Conant1637 - 1722
Facts and Events
Name[1] Roger Conant
Gender Male
Christening[3] 9 Apr 1592 East Budleigh, Devon, England
Marriage 11 Nov 1618 St. Ann Blackfriars, London (City of), Middlesex, Englandto Sarah Horton
Death[2] 19 Nov 1679 Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts
Reference Number? Q2161663?

Roger Conant was a very early immigrant to New England, and the governor of the group of men who settled the Cape Ann area, particularly the towns of Salem and Beverly.



Roger Conant, who was baptized at All Saints' Church, in the parish of East Budleigh, Devonshire, England, April 9, 1592, was the youngest member of a family of eight children born to Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant, and grandson of John Conant, of Devon.

He moved to London from East Budleigh about 1620. On 20 Jan 1619/20, with brother Chris, he signed Composition Bond of brother John for first fruits of Rectory of Lymington as “salter, of London”. Salters are on of the 12 guilds of London.[4]

Life in New England

He came to the colonies in 1622 or 1623 (possibly in the Anne). The date of immigration has not been officially proven, but a 1671 affadavit says he had been there for 48 years, and his brother arrived in 1623 on the Anne. However, while Christopher received an acre allotment in the 1623 Plymouth land division along with every other known passenger of the Anne, Roger did not, indicating he had either left the area, or had not yet arrived. [4] He landed at Plymouth, where his stay, however, was brief, on account of religious differences. Roger Conant was known as a "pious, sober and prudent gentleman." [5] "Mr. Connant" was one of the five prominent men to receive a two hundred acre farm in the freeman's lands at the head of Bass River 25 January 1635[/6].[4]

The Founder of Salem

Roger was reportedly uncomfortable with the strict Pilgrim society in Plymouth and moved his family to Nantasket in 1624. In the late autumn of 1625, Conant was invited by the Rev. John White and other members of the Dorchester Company to move to their fishing settlement on Cape Ann as their governor. [7] The settlement was located on several islands in Gloucester Harbor, near Stag Head.[5]

After a year's residence, Conant became convinced in 1626 of the need for a more permanent settlement and found an ideal site at the mouth of the Naumkeag River (now the City of Salem), where he continued as their governor. There the settlement thrived and grew by farming as well as fishing. In 1627 a patent was solicited from England and it was obtained by a group led by John Endicott who arrived in Naumkeag in 1628. Endicott and the other settlers of the New England Company now owned the rights to Naumkeag. Fortunately for the peaceful continuity of the settlement, Conant remained in Salem and, despite what must have been a disappointment for him, acceded to Endicott's authority as the new governor. (The Dorchester Company went into bankruptcy in 1627 and became the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 under charter from England). Known as the "Old Planters", Conant and his followers lent continuity to the new settlement of Salem.

Conant built the first house in Salem on what is Essex Street today, almost opposite the Town Market. In 1639, his was one of the signatures on the building contract for enlarging the meeting house in Town House Square for the First Church in Salem. This document remains part of the town records at City Hall. He was active in the affairs of the town throughout his life. In 1679, he died at the age of 87.

A cloaked statue of Roger Conant faces the Salem Common and stands atop a huge boulder brought from the woods near the floating bridge at Lynn Artist Henry H. Kitson designed this heroic bronze statue for the Conant Family Association and the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1913. [8]

Although not universally recognized as the first governor of Massachusetts this distinction fairly belongs to Roger Conant, for the settlement of which he was the head made the first permanent home in Massachusetts, and was the germ from which sprang the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Roger Conant was the most prominent man of those early days, and some historians pay glowing tribute to his character and ability. He was a member of the second representative assembly that ever convened in America (the first being in Virginia), representing the town of Salem, where he held many important offices during his life, and with his wife was a member of the First Church of Salem, both signing the covenant in 1637.

Not all portrayals of Conant are positive - Bradford’s account of Plymouth refers to a salter “...he whom they sent to make salt was an ignorant, foolish, selfwilled fellow ... he caused them to send carpenters to rear a great frame for a large house, to receive the salt & such other uses. But in the end all proved vain. Then he laid fault of the ground, in which he was deceived; but if he might have the lighter to carry clay, he was sure then he could do it ... he could not do anything but boil salt in pans, and yet would make them that were joined with him believe there was so great a mystery in it as was not easy to be attained, and made them do many unnecessary things to blind their eyes, till they discerned his subtlety. The next year he was sent to Cape Anne and the pans were set up there where the fishing was; but before summer was out, he burnt the house, and the fire was so vehement as it spoiled...” Unless there were three salters at Plymouth (the other known salter was not sent to Cape Ann), this account refers to Roger. The more positive accounts of Roger as peacemaker in Hubbard’s (also contemporary) General History of New England may be traced to the fact that Conant and Hubbard were known friends and Roger may have fed him a positively spun version of events. If true, this helps one understand why someone so prominent in the settlement of Salem would take no part in the larger affairs of the colony after the 1630s.

Mr. Conant died in Salem in 1679. His wife, Sarah Horton, whom he married in London, Nov. 11, 1618, was a native of the parish of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, London. [5]


Roger's will is recorded on the Essex Probate Docket as #6172. It is dated 1 March 1677. Roger gives his age as 85. He names his children Exercise, Elizabeth, John, Joshua, Sarah, and Mary Dodge; the 10 children of son Lot; the children of daughters Sarah and Mary, grandson John (son of Roger) and grandson John (son of Sarah), and grandchildren Joshua and Rebecca whose parents are not identified.

At Salem Court, 25:9:1679. The Last will and testament of Roger Conant, dated the 1st of the 1 mo. [March] 1677.

I roger Conant aged about eightie five yeares, being of perfect understandin though weak and feeble in body, doe hereby declare my will and minde wherein in the first place I doe bequeath my soule vnto God that gaue it & my body to the graue, in hope of a blessed resurection: & for my outward estate and goods,

I giue vnto my Sonne Exercise one hundred and fortie acres of Land lyeing neer adjoining vnto the new towne of Dunstable a part of two hundred acres granted me by the General court: also I giue & bequeath vnto him ten acres of Land next adjoining vnto his p'sont home lott and land Lying by the side of william Dodgeses his land, and butts on the land of thomas Herrick: also I give him two acres of marsh at the south end of the grat pond by whenham, or if my daughter Elizageth Conant will exchange to have soe much at the great marsh neer wenham: also I give him my swamp at the head of the railes which is yet undivided betwixt me and Benjamin Balch adjoining vnto william Dodgeses swamp: also I giue him my portion of land Lying by Henry Haggats on wenham side: toward the discharge of such Legassis as I have given & bequeathed: accordin as is hereafter sett down.

more I giue vnto my grandchild John Conant sonne of Roger Conant ten acres of Land adjoing to his twenty acres by the great pond side he paying twenty pounds for the same towards the payment of gegassis as after mentioned.

more I giue vnto my grandchild Joshua Conant seaventeen acres of Land Lying by the south side of the great marsh neer wenham and bounding unto the land of peeter woodbery: and the rest to return to my Executor.

also I giue vnto my Daughter Sarah two acres of Land lying between the gead of the railes and Isaac Hull his ground as part of six acres betwixt me and Benjamin Balch: this to her and her children.

also sixtie acres oif Land out of my farm granted me by the General Court neer the new town of Dunstable I giue and bequeath unto the hands of Capt Roger Clap of the castle neer Dorchester for the use of a daughter of one mrs. pitts deceased whose daughter now Liueth in culleton a towne in Devon in old England and is in lue for certaine goods sold for the said mrs. pitts in London and was there to be paid many years since but it is alleaged was neuer paid and the aforesaid capt clap to giue a discharge as theire atturney according as he is impowered and intrusted in theire behalfe:

furthermore as lagacies I doe giue vnto my sonne lott his ten children twenty pounds to be equally divided: to my daughter Sarahs Children to John five pounds to the foure daughters fiue pounds betwixt ym: to my daughter Mary Dodge to herself fiue pounds and fiue pounds to her fiue children equally divided: to Exercise his children foure pounds betwixt them: to Adoniron Veren three pounds to his sister Hannah twenty shillings and her two children each ten shillings: to my cozen Mary Veren wife to Hillier veren three pounds as also three pounds unto the daughters of My Cozen Jane Mason deceased to be divided amongst them including Loue steevens her children a share: my wearing apparell I giue and household implements not otherwise disposed of and my Gray horse and cattle to my sonn Exercise and sheepe I giue to Rebacka Connant my grandchild and one sheep to Mary Leach:

and whereas there remains in my hands a certain portion of cattle belonging vnto one Mr. Dudeney in England and by him assigned vnto his nephew Richard Conant valued at twenty five pounds and now left in the hands of my sonne exercise Conant that there be a rendering vp of such cattle or theire valuation mentioned unto the said Richard Conant upon seasonable demand he giuing a full discharge for the same.

and further my will is that my sonn Exercise be my executor to my will and Testament and for further help in seeing these things forementioned my sonne william Dodge and my grandchild John Conant Senior to be overseears of the same.

In witness whereof I haue haere vnto sett my hand the day and yeare aboure written. The blotting our of part of a line and a whole line under the part was before signing hereof.

The mark X of Roger CONANT his seale
John Bennet
Benjamin Balch
Sealed in the presence of the aforesaid witnesses and delivered
John Bennet
Benjamin Balch


  1. Roger Conant, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

    the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

    Roger Conant ( – November 19, 1679) was an English colonist and credited for establishing the communities of Salem, Peabody, Beverly and Danvers, Massachusetts (Peabody, Beverly and Danvers were part of Salem during his lifetime).

    Conant arrived at Plymouth Colony from London in 1624, where he became associated with Puritan opposition and subsequently led the settlement to outlying areas, including the site of an ancient Native American village and trading center, which would later become Salem.

    Conant's leadership provided the stability to survive the first two years, but John Endecott, one of the new arrivals, replaced him by order of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Conant graciously stepped aside and was granted 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land in compensation.

    Conant died in Beverly, Massachusetts on November 19, 1679.

  2. Galloupe, Augustus A. Early Records of the Town of Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. (Boston, Massachusetts, United States: E. Putnam, 1907).
  3. Conant, Frederick Odell. A History and Genealogy of the Conant Family in England and America: Thirteen generations, 1520-1887. (Portland, Me.: Harris & Williams, 1887).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Roger Conant, in Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

    BIRTH: Baptized East Budleigh, Devon, 9 April 1592, youngest of the eight children of Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant [Conant Gen 99].
    DEATH: Beverly 19 November 1679.
    MARRIAGE: St Ann Blackfriars, London 11 November 1618 Sarah Horton, daughter of Thomas and Catherine (Satchfield) Horton [NEHGR 147:234-39]. "Sarah Connant" is included in the list of Salem church members compiled in late 1636 [SChR 6]. She was alive in November 1660 to depose about the marriage of James Bede and the widow "Ellot" [EQC 2:265]. She is not named in her husband's will and therefore probably died before 1 March 1677/8.

  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: Containing Historical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families. (Chicago [Illinois]: J.H. Beers & Co., 1912)
    Vol. 1, p. 382-83.
  6.   Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862)

    CONANT... ROGER, Salem, was one of the earliest sett[lers] of Mass. hav[ing] been in 1623 at Plymouth, next at Nantasket, thence rem[oved] to Cape Ann, there resid. betw. one and two yrs. and rem[oving] to Naumkeag, a[bout] 1627. He was s[on] of Richard and Agnes, br[other] it is said of Dr. John of the gr[eat] Assemb[ly] of Divines at Westminster, tho[ugh] ano[ther] acco[unt] makes his f[ather] William, b. in the hundred of E. Budleigh, bapt. at the parish ch[urch] of the same, in Devon, 9 Apr. 1593; appoint[ed] 1625, gov[ernor], agent, or superintend. for the Dorchester project. of the planta[tion] as Endicott, wh[o] supersed[ed] him, was, 1629, for the Gov. and Comp. of Mass. bef. the com[ing] of Winthrop the first chart[ered] Gov[ernor] in the country. [Felt, I. 106. Hubbard, 109, 10.] Gibbs says his gr[andfather] John was of French, i. e. Norman, extract. his ancest[ors] for many generat[ions] hav[ing] been at Gittisham, betw[een] Honiton and Ottery St. Mary's. He req[uested] to be freem[ab] 19 Oct. 1630, was adm[itted] 18 May foll[owing] was rep[resentative] at the first gen[eral] Ct. of Mass. 1634, d. 19 Nov. 1679, in 87th yr. at Beverly (wh. he earnestly desir[ed] to be name Budleigh). Young, Chron. 24, gives him four s[ons] I think he had five; but even the assiduous fondness of Felt, in a Mem. of gr[eat] dilig[ence] filling fourteen pages of Geneal. Reg. II. has not furnish[ed a] complete fam[ily] acco[unt]. His abstr[act] of the will, made 1 Mar. 1678, refers to s[on] Exercise and childr[en]; s[on] Lot's ten ch[ildren]; John, s[on] of Roger; gr[and]ch[ild] Joshua C[onant] whose f[ather] may have been John, or Roger; d[aughters] Elizabeth C. prob[ably] never m[arried]; Mary, wh[o] had been wid[owed] in 1662, of the sec. John Batch, now w[ife] of the sec[ond] William Dodge, and her five ch[ildren]; Sarah, and her ch. John and four d[aughter]s.; a gr[and]ch[ild] Rebecca C. whose f[ather] may have been either of the s. John, or Roger; beside cous. Mary, w. of Hilliard Verin, but whose d. is unkn.; Adoniram Veren, and his sis. Hannah, with her two ch. and three ds. of his cous. James Mason, dec. and it is equally unkn. wh. she was. Of Exercise, perhaps the third s. b. at Cape Ann, a. 1636, bapt. 24 Dec. 1637; Joshua; and Lot, above, is all that is kn. to me; John was of Beverly ch. 1671, prob[ably] d[ied] bef. his f[ather]; Roger, the first b[orn] ch[ild] at Salem is spok. of next. His w. was Sarah, but neither h. nor w. unit. early with the ch.

  7. Salem, MA web site
  8. Salem, MA web site

See also:

  • "Chronological History of Massachusetts", Flyinging the Colors: Massachusetts Facts: John Clements, 1987;
  • Tolland and Windham Counties, Connecticut Biographies - 1903;
  • Pioneers of Massachusetts by Charles Henry Pope - 1900;
  • Mainstreet Salem by Nathaniel Hawthorne;
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Roger Conant (Salem). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.