GROTON, England (AP) -- Three and a half centuries after the Puritan John Winthrop set off to find religious freedom in New England -- and founded Boston -- the U.S. ambassador to Britain came to Winthrop's village Saturday to honor his memory.
Ambassador Philip Lader was accompanied by the 11th John Winthrop, an investment manager and timber farmer from Charleston, S.C., descendant of the 17th century adventurer who went on to become the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.Together, they planted an oak tree in an 8-acre Groton meadow that has been preserved in Winthrop's memory with the help of family members in the United States. At its heart stands a gnarled mulberry tree planted in 1550 by Adam Winthrop, grandfather of Gov. John Winthrop.
Local organizers said the oak was grown from an acorn taken from the grounds of the White House.
Lader said such ceremonies strengthen ties between Britain and the United States.
"The stewardship of this extraordinary relationship is not just the province of heads of government and captains of industry, but of ordinary people," Lader said.
This year is the 350th anniversary of John Winthrop's death. Born in 1588, he became disillusioned with England in the 1620s because of the anti-Puritan policies of King Charles I.
Elected governor of the newly created Massachusetts Bay Company, Winthrop led a migration of nearly 1,000 settlers in 17 ships to New England in 1630.
After a 10-week crossing, Winthrop's band colonized an area which attracted more than 20,000 English settlers in the following decade.