Mason, John, 1586–1635, founder of New Hampshire

Mason, John, 1586–1635, founder of New Hampshire, b. England. After serving (1615–21) as governor of Newfoundland, he and Sir Ferdinando Gorges received (1622) a patent from the Council for New England for all the territory lying between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers. In 1629 they divided the grant, Mason taking as his share an area 60 mi (95 km) deep between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers, which he named New Hampshire. This grant was confirmed to him when the Council for New England surrendered its charter in 1635. Attempts by his heirs to make good their claims to this land led to long litigation. The inhabitants were finally compelled to recognize the Mason rights, which were sold (1746) by one of Mason's descendants to a group of 12 Portsmouth men, who became known as the Masonian Proprietors. They issued settlement permits and land titles in the undeveloped parts of Mason's grant. The grant was redefined by the state in 1788.

See J. W. Dean, ed., Captain John Mason (1887, repr. 1972).

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