Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust
Located on 90 Town Street
The early life of John Mason in England (born circa 1600-01) is obscure. A Puritan, he served as an officer under Sir Thomas Fairfax, in the Netherlands against Spain. He made the 63 day passage to the Massachusetts Bay colony with Reverent Wareham’s party in 1630. One of the few experienced military men, he was elected captain at Dorchester, and eventually helped found Windsor, Connecticut, where the Connecticut River Indians had invited settlement.
In 1636, the first Pequot war began in New England, between Indians and the English. The colony had but a few hundred English inhabitants. Mason commanded a contingent of 90 soldiers, and with the principal aid of Uncas and the Mohegans, he defeated the powerful Pequot nation in 1637. Disobeying orders, he made strategic decisions of his own, which helped gain victory over a more numerous enemy. He lost 2 dead and 20 wounded. The Pequots lost hundreds. Many warriors and noncombatants alike perished when one of their forts was burned by Mason. The Pequots then retreated from Connecticut. Mason said of Uncas… “He was a great friend and great service.”
Major Mason was the chief military officer in the colony for 35 years. He was magistrate and major at Windsor for 8 years. He married his second wife, Anne Peck, after the death of his first wife, and he had altogether 8 children. A son, John Jr., was mortally wounded in King Philip’s War (another English/Indian struggle) in 1675. For the next 12 years he was placed in charge of a fort in Saybrook. In 1660, with his son-in-law, the Rev. James Fitch, he founded Norwich. During the first eight years, he was made deputy governor while Gov. Winthrop was in England seeking Connecticut’s charter form King Charles. He died January 30, 1672.