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The Kennebec Proprietors Biographies

The Kennebec Proprietors came into being in 1749, when an association of Boston Merchants jumped into the land speculation business by reviving an old Pilgrim grant on the Kennebec River in Maine. This group of wealthy, well connected merchants organized as “The Proprietors of the Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New-Plymouth,” The proprietors developed and fervently defended their extremely large tract during the twenty-five years leading up to the Revolution. The inclusion of "late Colony of New-Plymouth" and their common name "Plymouth Company" was intentionally tied to the Plymouth Colony to justify their claim.

David Jeffries (1714-1785)

David Jeffries was born on October 23, 1714 in Boston. Jeffries was a descendent of Thomas Brattle, a Harvard graduate, and served as Boston town treasurer from 1750-1782.

Edward Winslow (1714-1784)

Edward Winslow was a 4th generation descendant of Plymouth Governor Edward Winslow and a large shareholder in the Plymouth Company. He served as an early Moderator for the Kennebec Proprietors as well as Clerk of Common Pleas for the Port of Plymouth, Justice of Peace for Plymouth, and Deputy Collector for Port of Boston. Winslow resigned quickly from his moderator duties and was not very in the company after that.

Dr. Silvester Gardiner (1707-1786)

Dr. Silvester Gardiner was one of the most fervent proprietors. He was a prominent Boston physician who eventually exponentially increased his net worth by engaging in the importing of medical supplies. This merchant physician was known as a ruthless debt collector and given the amount of legal records contained in the Kennebec Proprietors collection as well as his personal papers, this reputation was not unfounded. Gardiner was skilled in manipulating the legal system to achieve his goals.

Gardiner and several of his family members had their portraits painted by Famed artist John Singleton Copley, who perhaps uncoincidentally was allegedly indebted to Gardiner for a considerable sum involving the purchase of a property.

William Bowdoin

William Bowdoin became second only to Silvester Gardiner in proprietary influence from the beginning of 1752 to the start of the American revolution. Bowdoin was a leader who raised considerable amounts of money, and served on the standing committee and as treasurer for over 25 years. He was well versed in business, politics, writing, and science. He was the author of the majority of company pamphlets and official communications.

Gershom Flagg (1705-1771)

Gershom Flagg was half share owner in the Plymouth Company and a master builder. He was instrumental in the the founding of Frankfort, and most likely helped design and build Fort Western, Fort Halifax, and the Pownalborough Courthouse. He also shingled the King's Chapel in Boston, did work for John Hancock and built several Cambridge mansions.

Samuel Goodwin: 1716-1802

Samuel Goodwin performed a leading role in frontier development from the start. Goodwin was military trained and was on at least one expedition to Norridgewock. He is listed on the John North map as surveyor. His fervent efforts kickstarted the company's incorporation and early activity around 1750.

Florentius Vassal

Florentius Vassal was an absentee landlord who lived on Wimpole Street London. He acted as the company agent in London. Vassal worked for the proprietors locating copies of old patents and deeds within governmental archives, as well as the company patent appeal to the King in Council.