Pelham, Herbert (DNB00)

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PELHAM, HERBERT (1600–1673), colonist, born probably in Sussex, but possibly in Lincolnshire, in 1600, was the eldest son of Herbert Pelham and Penelope, a younger daughter of Thomas West, second lord De la Warr. He must be carefully distinguished from a very distant relative, Herbert, son of Sir William Pelham, fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, who was born in 1602. The colonist, who was at no university, was brought up as a country gentleman. His uncle, Thomas Pelham, was a member of the Virginia Company, and Herbert Pelham and a younger brother William interested themselves in projects of colonisation.

In 1629 Pelham joined the Massachusetts Company. It would appear from Winthrop's ‘Journal’ that he arranged to sail with Winthrop for Massachusetts in the Arabella on Easter Monday 1630, but, though the younger brother went, Herbert did not actually go out till later, possibly 1635. There he became a freeman of the company, a prominent citizen, and a captain of the militia. He took an active part in the settlement of Sudbury, and later resided at Cambridge, where, in 1640, he and his family narrowly escaped being burnt to death with their house. He was made the first treasurer of Harvard College in 1643. In the following year he seems to have been in England; but, returning to the colony, became a member of the court of assistants in 1645. In 1646 he was one of the commissioners of the United Colonies for arranging a treaty with the Narragansett and Niantic Indians. In 1647 he seems to have returned to England for good, residing at Bures in Essex for some years, and interesting himself in the endeavour to form a society for the religious instruction of the Indians. Ultimately he removed to Suffolk, where he died on 1 July 1673. His property, according to his will, lay chiefly in Lincolnshire, Ireland, and Massachusetts Bay; he was heir to his younger brother, who died before him, in August 1667.

Pelham married, first, Jemima, daughter of Thomas Waldegrave, who died before his emigration; secondly, in 1638, in New England, Elizabeth, daughter of Godfrey Basseville or Bosvile of Gunthwaite, Yorkshire, and widow of Roger Harlakenden. By each wife he had five children. His daughter Penelope was wife of Josiah Winslow. It was his sister Penelope who married Governor Richard Bellingham [q. v.]

[Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography; Herbert Pelham, his Ancestors, &c., by Colonel Chester, republished 1879 from the Collections of the Massachusetts Hist. Society; Bennett Roll, a genealogical record, compiled by a relative of Pelham.

C. A. H.