John Hancock and Adoption

Hancock painted by John Singleton Copley


Hancock's father, a Congregationalist minister, died when he was a boy of seven, leaving his mother a destitute widow with three children, and he was adopted by his uncle, Thomas Hancock, a rich Boston merchant. John grew up to become the richest man in New England. He was also a successful lawyer, again following in his uncle's footsteps.

He was the third president of the Continental Congress 1775-77, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and thus became the first man to sign it, and was governor of Massachusetts for nine terms, dying in office.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992) Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97 Dictionary of American Biography Koslow, Philip. John Hancock: A Signature Life. (New York: Franklin Watts Inc., 1998) (Book Report Biographies) Kallen, Stuart A. John Hancock. (Minneapolis: Abdo, 1999) (Founding Fathers) Brandes, Paul D. John Hancock's Life and Speeches: A Personalized Vision of the American Revolution. (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 1996) McGranahan, Ronald W. "The American Revolution Home Page: John Hancock." [Includes portrait]. Available at: Grant, George. "The Forgotten Presidents." Available at: