Historical Facts about John Hancock

  • Hancock graduated from the oldest existing school in the United States, Boston Latin School. Four Harvard educated presidents, four governors of Massachusetts and five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended the Boston Latin School.
  • Hancock graduated from Harvard College in 1754 and continued his education in Britain for four more years.
  • When his uncle, Thomas Hancock, died in 1764 he inherited the House of Hancock along with properties in Boston becoming one of the richest men in the colony at the age of 27. John Hancock was an aristocrat and an unlikely revolutionary.
  • Thomas Hancock made his fortune by securing contracts with the governors of Massachusetts. He had developed close relationships with them over the years as a Boston selectman.
  • Hancock married Dorothy Quincy in 1775. “Dolly” was a cousin to Elizabeth Quincy Smith, mother of Abigail Adams who was the wife of John Adams. Dorothy Quincy’s house in Quincy, Massachusetts, known as the Quincy Homestead, is considered a National Historical Landmark.
  • John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy had two children, Lydia Henchman Hancock and John George Washington Hancock. None of them survived to adulthood.
  • Hancock entered politics in 1765 and devoted his life to public office. He was a protégé of Samuel Adams who guided him through the beginning of his career as a politician.
  • Hancock was a smuggler. He was accused of smuggling by the Boston Board of Customs Commissioners. The Liberty affair made him a popular politician in Massachusetts.
  • Great part of Hancock’s fortune came from smuggling but also a great part of it went to finance the independence war.
  • His first know political action was during the Stamp Act when he supported the boycott of British goods.
  • Hancock had a brief and unsuccessful military career as First Major General of the Massachusetts Militia.
  • Hancock was governor of Massachusetts for more than 13 years.
  • He is buried at Boston’s Granary Burying Ground.