Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Thomas and Jonathan Danforth Collection, 1656-1688

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: Thomas and Jonathan Danforth collection
Creator: Danforth, Jonathan, 1628-1712 and Danforth, Thomas, 1622-1699
Inclusive dates: 1656-1688
Extent: 7 items
The Thomas and Jonathan Danforth collection contains documents pertaining to legal matters reflecting comtemporary procedures relating to testimony and bail, overseen by the Danforths in late-17th century Massachusetts.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Thomas and Jonathan Danforth Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Thomas Danforth was born in England in November 1622 or 1623, and at the age of 11, his family moved to Masssachusetts. In 1650, he was appointed treasurer of Harvard College, a position he held until becoming the steward in 1669. He had a long career in public service, holding positions in the Massachusetts legislature and as president of the Province of Maine. In his final years, he was an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. Notably, he served as a judge during the Salem witch trials of 1692. Danforth married Mary Withington in 1644, and they had twelve children. He died on November 5, 1699.

Jonathan Danforth was born in England in 1628 and, after moving to Massachusetts, became a leading citizen of Billerica, where he served as the town clerk and as the captain of a local military unit. In addition to his public offices, he became a surveyor. He married Elizabeth Poulter on November 22, 1654, and they had nine children. After her death, he married Esther Champney on November 17, 1690. He died in 1712.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Thomas and Jonathan Danforth collection contains documents pertaining to legal matters overseen by the Danforths in late-17th century Massachusetts. Among the documents are brief, signed statements concerning property disputes and other legal matters that reflect contemporary legal procedures related to testimony and bail. Thomas and Jonathan Danforth were directly involved in most of the cases, in both personal and legal capacities. The collection also includes a document pertaining to the construction of a bridge over the Concord River near Billerica, Massachusetts, as well as "A Transcript of birth, in the Towne of Billerica" that records several births between October 1687 and February 1688. Thomas and Jonathan Danforth each signed three items, one item was signed by both men.

Subject Terms

    • Billerica (Mass.)
    • Massachusetts--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
    • Procedure (Law)--United States--Early works to 1800.
    • Registers of births, etc.--Massachusetts--Billerica.
    Genre Terms:
    • Legal documents.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   48, Small Collections  
    Thomas and Jonathan Danforth collection [series]
    Folder   41  
     August 8, 1656-January 1, 1688
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Bremer, Francis J. "Danforth, Thomas." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Historical Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. William Richard Cutter, Ed. Vol. 1. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908.