Winthrop Sargent


Winthrop Sargent (May 1, 1753 – June 3, 1820) was a United States patriot, politician, and writer; and a member of the Federalist party.[1]

Winthrop Sargent
Gilbert Stuart Gov. Winthrop Sargent Park 731 (page 301 crop).jpg
portrait by Gilbert Stuart
Governor of Mississippi Territory
In office
May 7, 1798 – May 25, 1801
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byWilliam C. C. Claiborne
Secretary of Northwest Territory
In office
July 9, 1788 – May 31, 1798
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byWilliam Henry Harrison
Adjutant General of the U. S. Army
In office
September 4, 1791 – November 4, 1791
Preceded byJohn Pratt (Acting)
Succeeded byEbenezer Denny (Acting)
Personal details
Born(1753-05-01)May 1, 1753
Gloucester, Massachusetts
DiedJune 3, 1820(1820-06-03) (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Political partyFederalist
Roewena Tupper
(m. 1789; died 1790)

Mary McIntosh Williams
RelationsJudith Sargent Murray (sister)
Benjamin Tupper (father-in-law)
Paul Dudley Sargent (uncle)
Parent(s)Winthrop Sargent
Judith Saunders
Alma materHarvard College

Early lifeEdit

Sargent was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts on May 1, 1753. He was one of eight children born to Winthrop Sargent (1727–1793) and Judith Saunders. His elder sister was Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820), an essayist, playwright, and poet.[2]

He was the grandson of Colonel Epes Sargent, one of the largest landholders in Gloucester.[3] Sargent was also the nephew of Daniel Sargent Sr. (1730–1806), a prominent merchant, Paul Dudley Sargent (1745–1828), who also served in the Continental Army, and John Sargent (1750–1824), a Loyalist during the Revolution.[4]

He graduated from Harvard College Class of 1771 before the Revolution. He spent some time at sea, as captain of a merchantman owned by his father.[5]


~ Mississippi Territory ~
~ Winthrop Sargent ~
Issue of 1948

Shortly after the outbreak of the American Revolution, Sargent was commissioned in Gridley's Regiment of Massachusetts Artillery on July 7, 1775 as a lieutenant, and later that year was promoted to captain lieutenant of Knox's Regiment, Continental Artillery, on December 10. He was with his guns at the siege of Boston, and later served in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He was promoted to captain in the 3rd Continental Artillery on January 1, 1777, and brevetted major on August 25, 1783 and was discharged from the Continental Army later that year.[1] In 1783 he became an Original Member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.

In 1786, he helped to survey the Seven Ranges, the first lands laid out under the Land Ordinance of 1785. With inside knowledge of the area, he went on to form the Ohio Company of Associates, was an important shareholder in the Scioto Company, and as of 1787, secretary of the Ohio Company.[6]

Sargent was appointed by the Congress of the Confederation as the first Secretary of the Northwest Territory, a post second in importance only to the governor, Arthur St. Clair. He took up his post in 1788. Like St. Clair, Sargent would function in both civil and military capacities; he served as acting Adjutant General of U.S. Army from September 1791 until he was wounded twice at the Battle of the Wabash, on November 4, 1791.[6][7] On August 15, 1796, he would, as Acting Governor, proclaim the establishment of Wayne County, the first American government in what is now Michigan.

President John Adams then appointed Sargent the first Governor of the Mississippi Territory, effective from May 7, 1798 to May 25, 1801.[8] His last entry as Northwest Territory's secretary was on May 31, 1798; he arrived at Natchez on August 6, but due to illness was unable to assume his post until August 16.[1]

The subject was a cotton planter, marketing his crop in New York by Gilbert and John Aspinwall, merchants.[9]

Later lifeEdit

In 1788, Sargent was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[10] He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society elected in 1789[11] and an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati as a delegate from Massachusetts, and published, with Benjamin B. Smith, Papers Relative to Certain American Antiquities (Philadelphia, 1796), and "Boston," a poem (Boston, 1803).[7]

Gloucester, Natchez, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1938. Originally known as Bellevue. Built by David Williams family, ca. 1800. Winthrop Sargent bought it from the Williams in 1808.[12]

Being a Federalist, Sargent was dismissed from his position as territorial governor of Mississippi in 1801 by incoming president Thomas Jefferson. Sargent took up life in the private sector, developing his plantation Gloucester,[13] the earliest such establishment in Natchez. Sargent was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1789, he married Roewena Tupper (1766–1790), a daughter of Gen. Benjamin Tupper, at the settlement of Marietta in the first marriage ceremony held under the laws of the Northwest Territory.[15] After her death, he married Hannah Ober of Massachusetts on 13 Feb 1791. They had a daughter, Hannah born 25 August 1791 in Massachusetts, and Hannah Ober died the next day.[16][17] Then he married Mary McIntosh Williams (1760–1823) shortly after moving to Natchez.[18] They were the parents of:[18]

  • Caroline Augusta Sargent (1795–1844), who married Fielding Lewis Turner (1776–1843)
  • William Fitz-Winthrop Sargent (b. 1799)
  • George Washington Sargent (1802–1864), who married Margaret Isabella Jessie Percy (1802–1865).[18]

He died on June 3, 1820 in New Orleans.[19] His grandson was the writer Winthrop Sargent (1825–1870). A 1848 Louisiana Supreme Court case decided that the Louisiana portion of Winthrop’s estate which included real estate, timber, agricultural properties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Virginia and Massachusetts would be divided between his son George Washington Sargent as well as his stepchildren through his marriage to Mary Williams. These step children included Mary (Williams) Urquhart and Mary Sargents grandchildren through her deceased son James C Williams, namely David Percy Williams.[20] Some of the properties of Winthrop Sargent were passed through the Natchez David Williams family who arrived in the 1700s according to Supreme Court case.[21] The Winthrop Sargent estate was worth several million dollars in 1700s currency and valued at nearly 10 million dollars in the mid 1800s when his heirs divided his estate.[22] One of the heirs of Winthrops estate was Archie P Williams a mixed race slave owner who became a millionaire in 1800s dollars due to his 1/4th share of Sargents estate through his grandfather James C Williams.[23][24] The majority of the Winthrop Sargent estate today is owned by one of the Williams heirs, Anton R Williams, who had philanthropic contributes to society through the Anton R Williams Foundation in Grand Rapids MI and Kalamazoo MI.[25]


Although there are at least two Sargent Townships (in Illinois and Nebraska) and one Sargent County, it is not known if these are named after Winthrop Sargent. However, a former township of the Northwest Territory's Wayne County was designated as Sargent Township or the District of Sargent; this apparently encompassed the settlements downriver from Detroit and at the River Raisin in what is now Monroe County, Michigan. This township apparently ceased to function after the organization of Michigan Territory, being replaced by the District of Erie. A student dormitory at Ohio University (founded in 1804) in Athens, Ohio, is named Sargent Hall in his honor. This is the first university in the Northwest Territory and the first in Ohio.


  1. ^ a b c Mississippi Dept of Archives and History (1905). The Mississippi Territorial Archives, 1798-18 ... Press of Brandon Print. Company. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  2. ^ Sargent, Emma Worcester (1923). Epes Sargent of Gloucester and His Descendants. Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  3. ^ Copley, John Singleton (1760). "Epes Sargent". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  4. ^ Sargent, Winthrop (1920). Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent. Philadelphia: Printed for Private Collection. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  5. ^ Farrell, Betty (1993). Elite Families: Class and Power in Nineteenth-Century Boston. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791415931. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Biography of Winthrop Sargent on Ohio History Central retrieved 2/24/09
  7. ^ a b Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Sargent, Paul Dudley" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  8. ^ "Sword of Winthrop Sargent (1753-1820), First Governor of Northwest". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  9. ^ Papers of Winthorp Sargent.(1965). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society. Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Roll 3465, p. 58, p. 135, p. 179, and p. 212.
  10. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences: 475. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 November 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "Winthrop Sargent". American Philosophical Society Member History. American Philosophical Society. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  12. ^ Johnston, Frances Benjamin (1938). "Gloucester, Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi". Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  13. ^ ""Gloucester," Natchez". Miss Preservation. 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Members Directory". American Antiquarian Society. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  15. ^ Zimmer, L: True Stories from Pioneer Valley, Broughton Foods Co., Marietta, Ohio (1987) p. 20.
  16. ^
  17. ^[bare URL]
  18. ^ a b c "Winthrop Sargent Papers, 1771-1948". Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  19. ^ Skates, John Ray (1979). Mississippi: A Bicentennial History. New York City: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-05678-3.
  20. ^ "Louisiana Reports. Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Louisiana". 1848.
  21. ^ Court, Louisiana (State) Superior (1848). "Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Louisiana and in the Superior Court of the Territory of Louisiana: Annotated edition, unabridged, with notes and references by the editorial corps of the National reporter system".
  22. ^ "Founders Online: To Alexander Hamilton from William Playfair, 30 March 1791".
  23. ^ Supreme Court, Louisiana; Thorpe, Thomas H.; Gill, Charles G. (1848). "Louisiana Reports: Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Louisiana".
  24. ^ "Archie P. Williams - Natchez MS Bi-Racial Millionaire Heir in the 1800s, Planter and Executive". The Weekly Democrat. 24 October 1888. p. 4.
  25. ^ "ARWF - Historical Precedence".
Political offices
New title Secretary of Northwest Territory
July 9, 1788 – May 31, 1798
Succeeded by
Governor of Mississippi Territory
May 7, 1798 – May 25, 1801
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by
John Pratt (acting)
Adjutant General of the U. S. Army
September 4, 1791 – November 4, 1791 (acting)
Succeeded by

External linksEdit

  • Winthrop Sargent at Ohio History Central.