1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mason, John

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MASON, JOHN (1586-1635), founder of New Hampshire, U.S.A., was born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England. In 1610 he commanded a small naval force sent by James I. to assist in subduing the Hebrides Islands. From 1615 to 1621 he was governor of the English colony on the north side of Conception Bay in Newfoundland; he explored the island, made the first English map of it (published in 1625), and wrote a descriptive tract entitled A Briefe Discourse of the Newfoundland (Edinburgh, 1620) to promote the colonization of the island by Scotsmen. Here he was brought into official relations with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, then a commissioner to regulate the Newfoundland fisheries. In March 1622 Mason obtained from the Council for New England, of which Gorges was the most influential member, a grant of the territory (which he named Mariana) between the Naumkeag or Salem river and the Merrimac, and in the following August he and Gorges together received a grant of the region between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers, and extending 60 m. inland. From 1625 to 1629 Mason was engaged as treasurer and paymaster of the English army in the wars which England was waging against Spain and France. Towards the close of 1629 Mason and Gorges agreed upon a division of the territory held jointly by them, and on the 7th of November 1629 Mason received from the Council a separate grant of the tract between the Merrimac and the Piscataqua, which he now named New Hampshire. Thinking that the Piscataqua river had its source in Lake Champlain, Mason with Gorges and a few other associates secured, on the 17th of November 1629, a grant of a region which was named Laconia (apparently from the number of lakes it was supposed to contain), and was described as bordering on Lake Champlain, extending 10 m. east and south from it and far to the west and north-west, together with 1000 acres to be located along some convenient harbour, presumably near the mouth of the Piscataqua. In November 1631 Mason and his associates obtained, under the name of the Pescataway Grant, a tract on both sides of the Piscataqua river, extending 30 m. inland and including also the Isles of Shoals. Mason became a member of the Council for New England in June 1632, and its vice-president in the following November; and in 1635, when the members decided to divide their territory among themselves and surrender their charter, he was allotted as his share all the region between the Naumkeag and Piscataqua rivers extending 60 m. inland, the southern half of the Isles of Shoals, and a ten-thousand acre tract, called Masonia, on the west side of the Kennebec river. In October 1635 he was appointed vice-admiral of New England, but he died early in December, before crossing the Atlantic. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. Forty-four years after his death New Hampshire was made a royal province.

See Captain John Mason, the Founder of New Hampshire (Boston, 1887; published by the Prince Society), which contains a memoir by C. W. Tuttle and historical papers relating to Mason's career, edited by J. W. Dean.