Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1708-1724. Born at the family home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Gurdon was named after his maternal grandmother's family. The descendant of an affluent and politically active family, he graduated with a BA from Harvard in 1684 and an MA in theology in 1687. In 1688, he became the minister for the First Congregational Church of New London, Connecticut. He was ordained on November 19, 1691. This enabled him to become the spiritual advisor to Governor John Winthrop, culminating into the position of secretary, agent and close friend. Over time and due to the poor health of Governor Winthrop, Reverend Saltonstall gained considerable knowledge of government operations in Connecticut. When Governor Winthrop died in 1707, a special session of the General Assembly met and elected Saltonstall as acting governor. Because he was a clergyman, he was hesitant to take the position. However, at the annual re-elections in May, he was re-elected until his death. As Governor, he was a conservative, believing in the established authority. He sought to create better relations with England by becoming more active in the military actions against the French and Indians in Queen Anne's War. Although this allowed a greater security for Connecticut residents, it also increased their debt. Ever the ecclesiastical authority, he strongly believed that church and state were one, trusting this system to be more effective. He was intolerant of divergent sects, and through the Saybrook Platform, adopted in 1708, he would assure doctrinal uniformity. The goal was to curtail church disunity and restore discipline among the clergy and their congregation. Because of his views on law and order, in both church and state, and the discipline employed to maintain them, he was viewed as being severe and arrogant. However, he was a very popular Governor and remained in office until 1724, when he died suddenly of a stroke.
Bio by: Kate
Elizabeth Rosewell Saltonstall