Captain John Underhill1,2,3,4,5

M, b. circa 1608, d. 21 July 1672
FatherJohn Underhill b. c 1576, d. 1608
MotherHonor Pawley b. c 1577, d. b 18 Dec 1658
     John was born circa 1608 in Bergen Op Zoom, North Brabant, Netherlands.6,7,8 John married Heyltgen de Hooch, daughter of William de Hooch, on 12 December 1628 in The Hague, Holland, Netherlands, at Kloosterkerk.9 He and Heyltgen were blessed with 3 known children. On 7 April 1630, John and his wife, Heyltgen, bounded for New England. They arrived at the Boston Harbor in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Also aboard this fleet was Captain Daniel Patrick & his wife. John & Daniel had been hired by Govenor John Winthrop to train the militia., immigrated aboard the ship one of the ten vessels of the Winthrop fleet left from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, county Norfolk, England. John's wife, Heyltgen, died before 1658 in the Town of Southold, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, leaving him a widower.10 John married Elizabeth Feake, daughter of Robert Feake and Elizabeth Ffownes, in 1658 in the Town of Oyster Bay, Queens County, Long Island, New York. He and Elizabeth were blessed with 5 children.11 John and Elizabeth lived at Killingworth within the jurdiction of Oyster Bay. During the Anglo-Dutch War of 1665-1667, Underhill fought with the British to conquer New Amsterdam, and there in 1665 he became surveyor of customs for Long Island. Later he served as high constable and undersheriff of North Riding, Yorkshire, Long Island. John made his will before 21 July 1672 at the Town of Oyster Bay, Queens County, Long Island, New York.12 John departed this life on Thursday, 21 July 1672 in Matinecock, Queens County, Long Island, New York. He was buried at Town of Oyster Bay, Queens County, Long Island, New York, in the Underhill Burying Ground in Locust Valley. The inscription on his monument reads: "Captain John Underhill - Statesman, Soldier- Born Baginton, Warwickshire, England October 7, 1597 - Died Matinecock, Long Island July 21, 1672". His will was probated on 4 November 1675. "Whereas Captain John Underhill, late of Killingworth, within the jurisdiction of Oyster Bay, upon Long Island, did in his will bequeath his whole estate to his wife, Elizabeth, during her widowhood, and did appoint his eldest son John, with others, to be trustees for his children, "and the said Elizabeth has since deceased, the said John Underhhill's made administrator, November 4, 1675. [New York Wills: Liber 1-2, page 121]

Additional Notes: John Underhill was trained in the military from an early age as his father had eventually made a career as a mercenary soldier. While living in Holland, he had served with Prince Frederick of Orange as an officer of the army. In 1630, he immigrated to America in the Winthrop fleet, having been hired by Winthrop to be the military leader for his company in the New World. Once in New England, he began training the militia and building fortifications. Even in these early years, John was not liked by magistrates and ecclesiastics of the colony not only because of their dislike of fighting and violence, but also because of his democratic ideas which he was prone to make public. For the same reasons that the leader disliked him, the people of the colonies did like him very much, had confidence in him and trusted him by electing him to offices of which he held many. So much so, that it has been stated that little of importance happened in the Colony, in those early years, without the input of Captain Underhill.
In 1637, The Pequot nation, the dominating tribe of the tribes in this part of the New World, declared war on the colonist. Here, Captain Underhill showed his true value to the Colony. He proved to be a very skilled military tactician. Using surprise attacks and counter attacks, and catching his foe in a cross fire with no avenue of escape he was able to squelch uprisings quickly often with few men and even fewer supplies. By destroying the Pequot tribe, Captain Underhill, brought relative peace to the colony for many years. He also raised his own stock among the colonist.
When John returned to Boston, a political turmoil was underway with a new party being formed demanding a more liberal government. These leaders were banished and disfranchised. John vocally protested the actions and himself meeting the same fate. He removed to New Hampshire where he was soon made Governor and then found himself in negotiations with the leaders of Massachusetts, they being afraid he would start a war with them. The end result being that John was reinstated into the Boston Church, and the rights of New Hampshire where guaranteed to be protected. John was joyfully welcomed back by the New England colonist.
There were other battles yet to be fought in the western part of New England and in New Amsterdam. Over the years, John's abilities as a military leader and as a leader of the people where again and again brought to light.
At the end of his career, John chose to retire at the age of 70 and spent his last years in the Quaker community at Oyster Bay on Long Island. Living with the Quakers for many years before, and having married one of their members, he had eventually joined their ranks and became a leader in their efforts to obtain religious freedom. Here again he was able to succeed.13

Family 1

Heyltgen de Hooch d. b 1658

Family 2

Elizabeth Feake b. 1633, d. b 4 Nov 1675


  1. [S967] Ambrose Milton Shotwell, Annals of Our Colonial Ancestors & Their Descendants

    , page 135 - 1. Elizabeth,b. 1633 ±; m 1659, (as 2d wife), Capt John Underhill, b. 1600 ±, d. 21 Sept., 1672, s. of John, an officer in the English army.
    He was for a time a fellow soldier with Miles Standish in Holland. He sailed from Yarmouth 7 Apr., 1630, with John Winthrop and his fleet of 900 immigrants for Boston under an agreement to train the militia of the new settlement. Freeman of Boston 18 May, 1631, and was one of the first deputies to the general court. On 28 Sept., 1630, the court ordered ,£50 to be raised for Mr. Underhill and for Mr. Patrick, who was training another company. Capt. Underhill and Capt. Daniel Patrick were fellow soldiers in several Indian fights. Capt. John Underhill and his Netherland wife, Helena Kruger, were members of the old South Church.
    On 7 Nov., 1637, he was banished from Massachusetts. In 1638 he returned to England and there printed a book called "News of America, by Capt. John Underhill, a commander in the warres there." On his return to America he went to Dover, N. H., where he was chosen governor. He afterward went to Boston and made confession of immorality and promised amendment. After much controversy he was again admitted to communion, and after six months of good behavior the court relieved him from sentence of banishment Gov. Winthrop's journal says, " The governor and Capt. Underhill being on a journey" were bountifully entertained bv Capt Elliott. " In April, 1640, Capt Daniel Patrick bought Indian lands near Norwalk, and soon after this date Capt John Underhill was settled in Stafford, making occasional visits to New Amsterdam. In 1643 he was representative to the general oonrt at New Haven. The inhabitants of New Netherlands were having serious difficulties with the Indians and in sore distress. They asked Capt.
    Underhill to come to their aid with a company of English troops (N. E. Register, VIII, 269). On Sunday afternoon, June 2, 1644, a Dutch soldier called at Capt. Underbill's house while the people were at church, and finding Capt. Patrick there, charged him with having misled them, and shot him dead. As in other campaigns, Capt Underhill was successful in subduing the Indians and returned to New Amsterdam in triumph. Later he took part with the English against the Dutch. After peace, he obtained from the Matinecock Indians a tract of land in Oyster Bay, where he settled for the remainder of his life. He named the place Kenelworth after the Kenelworth of the Earl of Leicester in Warwickshire, near where the Underhill family had lived for many generations. The name was corrupted to Killingworth. His second marriage brought him under Quaker influence, and he became a member of the society. He died at Killingworth 7 Sept., 1672, and was buried on his own place. Will dated 18 Sept., 1671, gives use of his whole estate to his " wife Elizabeth Under' hill during her widowhood; but if she marrythen my brother John Bowne and Henry Townsend and Matthew Pryor and my son John Underhill, I impower hereby that they see to ye estate that ye children be not wronged nor turned off without some proportionable allowance, as ye estate will afford, and that my son Nathaniel remain with his mother until 21 years," 'etc.
  2. [S90] Genealogies of Long Island Families From the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record.
  3. [S457] Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Captain John Underhill - The career of John Underhill may be traced in the various publications described in the BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE below. We will limit ourselves here to a few new items, and a few areas where we differ in interpretation from earlier authors.
    A loose, miscellaneous court paper (of undetermined provenance) preserved at the Newport Historical Society provides the only known statement of John Underhill's age:
    The testimony of Captain John Underhill aged about 46 years deposed 30 July 1655 that... he this Deponent coming in Mr Mahew['s] vessel from Sandwich one Nathaniel Britten a Mason being then also in the same it being about August (54) he the said Britten boasted what interest he had in Betty Coggeshall that he built the house & had laid many a stone there and that he was p[er]suaded she would follow him wheresoever he went and that he was very earnest to go ashore to see her & the child for he was very confident the youngest child was his, but through much persuasion of Mr Mahew & this Deponent made the said Britten engage he would not go ashore the vessell then riding in Portsmouth harbor afterwards arriving at Hempstead, in the ordinary did several time declare, that the last child Bettie Coggeshall had was his.
    This makes Underhill just nineteen years old at marriage. Based on this document, Harry Macy has reassessed some aspects of the life of John Underhill [NYGBR 127:22-23; see also NEHGR 148:361-73 for the application of this document to John Coggeshall, son of JOHN COGGESHALL, and Elizabeth Baulston, daughter of WILLIAM BAULSTON].
    The husbands given above for the three daughters of John Underhill by his second wife have been accepted in the secondary literature for more than a century, but primary evidence supporting these claims has not been found.
    Underhill wrote in a fluid and uncommonly direct style for the period. He was not likely to mince words, especially when dealing with Winthrop, whose authority he often challenged. When corresponding with Winthrop he took special pleasure in pointing out ways in which Massachusetts Bay was behind the times or out of fashion [WP 3:460-63, 503-04]. There is some irony to the fact that Underhill's second wife was connected to the Winthrop family.
    Winthrop wrote to his son, John Jr. in London on 6 November 1634 and sent the letter by Captain Underhill "who hath leave to go see his friends in Holland" [WP 3:175].
    During his short visit to England in early 1638, Capt. John Underhill made plans (never carried out) to remove to Providence Island and published a small book called "Newes from America," which described his activities in the Pequot War [Underhill Gen 2:6-7 (and facsimile facing p. 16)]. "Newes from America" has been most recently reprinted in 1981 in the Bulletin of the Underhill Society of America.
    He must have considered going to New Amsterdam, for a permission to inhabit was granted 8 September 1639 by the Dutch governor [Underhill Gen 2:8; NYHM:D 4:59].
    On 25 June 1640, Richard Vines wrote to John Winthrop, asking what commitments Captain Underhill might still have to the Massachusetts Bay, since Underhill had been to Saco "desiring here to inhabit and enjoy the priviledges of the same" [WP 4:256].
    By 1642 Underhill had found a place with the Dutch:
    Captain Underhill, finding no employment here that would maintain him and his family, and having good offers made him by the Dutch governor (he speaking the Dutch tongue and his wife a Dutch woman), had been with the governor, and being returned desired the church's leave to depart. The church, understanding that the English, at Stamford near the Dutch, had offered him employment and maintenance (after their ability), advised him rather to go thither, seeing they were our countrymen and in a church estate. He accepted this advice. His wife, being more forward to this, consented, and the church furnished him out, and provided a pinnace to transport him; but when he came there he changed his mind, or at least his course, and went to the Dutch [WJ 2:76].
    In late 1643, the Dutchman who murdered Captain DANIEL PATRICK at Underhill's house was held by Underhill overnight, before being sent to New Haven, but the assassin escaped Underhill's custody, never to be found [WP 4:420, 428, WJ 2:182]. The investigation at New Haven into this escape revealed that Thomas Stevenson and George Slowson, being appointed to watch the Dutchman, were persuaded by Capt. Underhill to
    let him go to bed in a chamber and told them that if they did but lock the door of the chamber wherein the prisoner lay, they might sit by the fire in the lower room at the foot of the stairs, which they did and had no company but the captain and his wife, who stayed not long with them before they departed to their lodging, and about two or three hours after, they missed the prisoner, and then they called up the magistrate. George Slowson saith that he, questioning about the safety of the window of the chamber where the prisoner lay, the captain's wife showed some dislike of it, and said what ado is here, yet the said Geo: rested not there, but spake to the Captain himself, who said that he had spoken with the prisoner to know if he had no temptation to escape, who answered yea, but alas, said he, whither can I go, I had rather die under the hands of a Christian magistrate then under the hands of the Indians, and thereupon the said George rested more secure [NHCR 1:127-28].
    The implication has been that Underhill had some motivation to allow this prisoner to escape, possibly because his wife was Dutch or that he had Dutch sympathies. Certainly he had known Patrick for many years, but his opinion of Patrick was not overtly evident. It is possible that Underhill felt that the Dutchman's response was the only honorable way to deal with Patrick. In any event, this curious lapse in Underhill's defenses has not been satisfactorily explained.
    BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: A multi-volume series on the family of John Underhill has been published over the space of more than half a century. The first two volumes of the Underhill Genealogy (cited herein as Underhill Gen), edited by Josephine C. Frost and "Published Privately by Myron C. Taylor in the Interests of The Underhill Society of America," were issued in 1932. The information on John Underhill himself is presented in great detail, with photographic facsimiles of many supporting documents [Underhill Gen 1:28-33, 2:1-28].
    Two biographies of John Underhill have been published. The earlier of the two volumes, written by Henry C. Shelley, was commissioned by Myron C. Taylor [John Underhill: Captain of New England and New Netherland (New York 1932)]. In 1934 L. Effingham DeForest and Anne Lawrence DeForest published a briefer but more objective account of Underhill's life [Captain John Underhill: Gentleman - Soldier of Fortune]; this appeared as a section in their Atterbury and Allied Families and also as a separate volume, and has been reprinted in the Bulletin of the Underhill Society of America for 1985.
    J.H. Morrison prepared an account of the Underhill family in England, identifying the immigrant's ancestry for several generations; although the immediate ancestry of the immigrant is sound, the earlier generations should be treated with caution [The Underhills of Warwickshire ... (Cambridge, England, 1932)] (cited above as Morrison).
  4. [S115] 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 Registar, Volume IV - John, [Underhill], Boston, came in the fleet with Winthrop as capt. Of any military force that might be employed or instructed as he had served under the great Dutch prince in the war of the Netherland, speedily joined the church being counted No. 57 in the list, and was sworn a freeman 18 May 1630. His wife Helena joined 15 December 1633, and their daughter Elizabeth was baptized 14 February 1636; and son John, 24 April 1642, a. 13 days old; but he was less fortunate in the church than in the town service representative at the first court that the deputies came to, and in the earliest and the last hours of the Pequot war. He wrote a short story of his serve which is the first Article in 3 Mass. Hist. Coll. VI. Soon after returning from triumph at the total extirpa. Of that tribe, our victor captain was in November 1637, the first named amont the disarmed for the antinomial heresy, and driven away to New Hampshire where his rest lasted not long, though he was chosen governor at Dover in place of Burdett, 1638, the same infirmity rendered his removal unavoidable and he went to the Dutch….
  5. [S1098] Underhill Genealogy.
  6. [S506] Note: Birth date according to that recorded on his monument.
  7. [S457] Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Captain John Underhill - About 1609 (deposed on 30 July 1655 aged forty-six, son of John and Honor (Pawley) Underhill.
  8. [S1096] Harry Macy, Captain John Underhill Revised, pages 22-23 - Particularly important is the authors' discovery of a deposition made 30 July 1655 by "Captaine John Underhill aged about 46 yeares."
  9. [S781] Henry C. Shelley, John Underhill Captain of New England and New, page 102 - entry of far greater interest was mande in the Betrothal Records of The Hague. It was to this effect: “John, the son of John Onderheil, cadet in the guard of Prince of Orange, bethrothed 19 November 1628 with Heylten, daughter of William de Hooch, young maiden from Gorinchem, both dwelling at The Hague.”
    The above taken from the Betrothal Book of The Hague, part 777; Betrothal and Marriage Records of the Kloosterkerk, part 238.
    page 103 - …a similar entry was made in he Betrothal Records of Gorinchem on the 26th November, with additional clause that authority was “given to marry at The Hague.” And a third and final memorandum was entered in the Betrothal Records of the Kloosterkerk at The Hague which, after repeating the particulars quoted above, stated that the marriage was “solemnized the 12 December 1628 in the Kloosterkerk by the minister Ludovicum.”.
  10. [S1098] Underhill Genealogy, Volume II: page 3 - ... Tradition states he lost a daugher in Southold, where it is known his wife, Helena, died.
  11. [S782] Thomas Clapp Cornell, Adam and Ann Mott, Their Ancestors amd Their Descendants, page 265 - The list of the children of Captain John Underbill and the second
    wife, Elizabeth Feakes is here quoted as given in Friends' records,
    where it is stated that the children were born at Killingworth:
    ”Deborah Vnderhill, ye daughter of John and Elizabeth Vnderhill,
    borne ye 29th of 9th month, 1659.
    Nathaniel Vnderhill borne ye 22d day of ye I2th month, 1663.
    Hannah Vnderhill borne ye 2d day of ye l0th month, 1666.
    Elizabeth Vnderhill borne ye 2d of ye 5th month, 1669.
    David Vnderhill borne ye 2d month, 1672."
  12. [S30] New York Historical Society, Collections of the New York Historical Society Abstract of Wills, Volume 25: page 31.
  13. [S1097] David Harris & Francis Jay Underhill, The Underhill Burying Ground, pages 5-14.