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Portrait Gallery of former Connecticut Chief Justices

Gurdon Saltonstall Gurdon Saltonstall    Next >>
 Chief Judge, Superior Court, 1711-1712

  • Born: March 27, 1666, Haverhill, MA

  • Education: Entered Harvard College at 14, graduated 1684. Harvard Divinity School, graduated 1687; Ordained as pastor of First Church of Christ, New London, Nov. 19, 1691.

  • Items of Note

  • Occupations: Governor, Colony of Connecticut, 1708-1724; agent, secretary and political manager to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop, 1698-1707; Pastor, First Church of Christ, New London, 1691-1708.

  • Died: Sept. 20, 1724.  Buried: Ancient Cemetery, New London, CT.

  • Portrait artist: Gurdon Saltonstall's portrait, which hangs in the Museum of Connecticut History in the State Library and Supreme Court Building in Hartford, was painted by George F. Wright (1828-1881) from a copy at Yale University.

  • View Illustration and Engraving
  • Family ties: Great grandson of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Lord Mayor of London, 1597; grandson of Sir Richard Saltonstall, first associate of Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of its founders; one of the patentees of Connecticut. His father, Nathaniel, was a Magistrate of Haverhill, Massachusetts, a Colonel in the military and one of judges for the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 (opposed to the proceedings at the trial he denounced the violence of his colleagues and vacated his seat on the bench). Son-in-law of James Richards, richest man in Hartford at the time of his death, 1680 and one of the Commissioners of the United Colonies, 1672-1675.
Items of Note:
  • Connecticut’s first Chief Justice
  • Was first clergyman ever to hold the office of Governor in the Colony of Connecticut
  • In an essay of commemoration upon the death of the Honorable Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather wrote, in part, The Colony of Connecticut was Exalted, Yea, all New England was brightness, while we enjoy’d our Saltonstall….We will not call him a Star, but even a Constellation…
  • Writing of the Saltonstall family a correspondent for the New York Tribune said of Governor Saltonstall that he was...unquestionably one of the first men in New England—standing at the head of the literati, distinguished for great reasoning powers and captivating eloquence, a profound knowledge of men and things, and extraordinary dexterity and wisdom in the despatch (sic) of business. His moral qualities were of the most pure and exalted kind.

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  • Owned first printing press in Connecticut
  • Largely responsible for removal of Yale College from New London to New Haven.
Physical Description: According to accounts of the day, Saltonstall was “…large, tall and commanding in person and voice, a natural leader among men.

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