About this Famous Person
Merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution
Source : Tim DOWLING
John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737; according to the Old Style calendar then in use, the date was January 12, 1736. His birthplace was Braintree, Massachusetts, in a part of town which eventually became the separate city of Quincy. He was the son of the Reverend John Hancock of Braintree and Mary Hawke Thaxter, who was from nearby Hingham. As a child, Hancock became a casual acquaintance of young John Adams, whom the Reverend Hancock had baptized in 1734. The Hancocks lived a comfortable life, and owned one slave to help with household work.
After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock. Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, and fish. Thomas Hancock's highly successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several servants and slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill. The couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life.
After graduating from the Boston Latin School in 1750, Hancock enrolled in Harvard University and received a bachelors degree in 1754. Upon graduation, he began to work for his uncle, just as the French and Indian War (1754–1763) began. Thomas Hancock had close relations with the royal governors of Massachusetts, and secured profitable government contracts during the war. John Hancock learned much about his uncle's shipping business during these years, and was trained for eventual partnership in the firm. Hancock worked hard, but he also enjoyed playing the role of a wealthy aristocrat, and developed a fondness for expensive clothes.
From 1760 to 1761, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with customers and suppliers. Back in Boston, Hancock gradually took over the House of Hancock as his uncle's health failed, becoming a full partner in January 1763. He became a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in October 1762, which connected him with many of Boston's most influential citizens. When Thomas Hancock died in August 1764, John inherited the business, Hancock Manor, two or three household slaves, and thousands of acres of land, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. The household slaves continued to work for John and his aunt, but were eventually freed through the terms of Thomas Hancock's will; there is no evidence that John Hancock ever bought or sold slaves.
- Category American politician