Winthrop Benefactor Descendant John Winthrop to Speak Feb. 22

February 08, 2016

Quick Facts

bullet point John Winthrop is an 11th-generation descendant of Winthrop benefactor Robert Charles Winthrop of Boston.
bullet point Winthrop's talk will touch on the concept of building upon the foundation established by our predecessors.

John Winthrop

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — John Winthrop and Winthrop University share more than the same name — they share a rich history that can be tied to the vision and philanthropy of Robert Charles Winthrop.

John Winthrop, a direct-line descendant of the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, will discuss his family's heritage during a Feb. 22 lecture in Tuttle Dining Room. The lecture, which begins at 1 p.m., will be free and open to the public.

"This is a wonderful connection for me, a very proud connection," said John Winthrop. The Charleston, South Carolina, resident will touch on the concept of building upon the strong foundation established by predecessors in his Feb. 22 talk. In addition, Associate Professor of History Eddie Lee '83, mayor of York, South Carolina, will discuss "Robert Charles Winthrop: The Kindness of Strangers" as part of the lecture. 

Winthrop's history began with a vision and a donation of $50 from Robert Charles Winthrop, who was able to provide more funds when he became chairman of the Peabody Foundation in Boston. The purpose of the initiative was to help heal the wounds after the American Civil War. With this seed money, Winthrop University's founder and first president, D.B. Johnson, established a training school for women educators. 

Robert Charles Winthrop, a Boston philanthropist and lawyer, served as permanent chairman and president of the Peabody Fund. He was the 18th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and later became an orator, speaking at the ceremony that opened the Washington Monument.

Like a number of his predecessors, John Winthrop was born in Boston. He studied English literature and received a B.A. in liberal arts at Harvard University, where he later established the John Winthrop Fund for Environmental Studies. After graduation, John Winthrop joined the Navy and worked as a journalist. He went on to earn his M.B.A. at Columbia University and continued his journalism career — first at The Atlantic Monthly in Washington, D.C., during the Kennedy administration, and later at The Boston Globe. Today he lives in Charleston with his wife, Libby, and runs his own financial services firm, John Winthrop & Company, Inc., also located in Charleston. In the past, he has served on a number of for-profit and not-for-profit boards, including a utility company, a Wall Street firm and a railroad as well as the American Farmland Trust in Washington, the Fresh Air Fund in New York and the Board of Overseers at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.

According to Winthrop President Dan Mahony, it is an honor to host John Winthrop, whose family played an important part in the university's past.

"It's a rare opportunity to see history come alive so vividly. John Winthrop will provide us a glimpse into Winthrop's rich heritage and how it connects to our bright future," said Mahony.

For more information, contact Meredith Carter, communications coordinator, at 803/323-2236 or

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