Sassamon, John, - 1675

Orphaned by the epidemics that ravaged New England in the early 17th Century, John Sassamon [Wasassman] (c. 1620-1675) was a Massachusett from Ponkapoag who grew up in an English household, possibly the home of Richard Calicot.  He accompanied Calicot into service during the Pequot War and acted as an interpreter for John Underhill and his men.  Afterward, he may have married one of Sassacus' daughters, a Pequot captive.

As a young man, Sassamon was one of John Eliot's exemplary pupils and assisted him in translating the Bible into Wampanoag.  He was the first Native student to attend Harvard College in 1653.  Afterward, he served as schoolmaster at the Natick Praying Town but left his post after the death of Massasoit to assist Wamsutta in the transition of government.  Following Wamsutta's death, he became Philip's interpreter, scribe, and legal representative.  In 1673, his kinsman through his daughter's marriage, Tuspaquin, deeded him land at Assawamspset.


After several instances of inserting his own interests over Philip's, he grew suspicious to the sachem and fled back to Eliot's employ.  By 1674 he resided at Nemasket where he served as a minister to the Praying Indians there and taught and preached at Assawamsett and Titicut as well.
At the end of December of 1674, Sassamon warned Josiah Winslow of an potential attack by Philip and expressed a fear that Philip might take revenge on him.  Shortly thereafter, he vanished.  A week later, his bruised and lifeless body was discovered under the ice at Assawampsett Pond.  Three Indians, Tobias, Wampapaqun, and Mattashunnamo were accused, tried, and found guilty.  By confessing, Wampapaqun escaped immediate execution by hanging but was shot a month later.
Philbrick, Mayflower, 196, 211, 218, 220-221.  Brooks, Our Beloved Kin, 63, 115-117, 127. Kawashima, Igniting King Philip's War, 68, 69.  Weston, History of the Town of Middleboro, 17, 71-73.  Wikipedia.
c. 1620
Shortly before January 29, 1675