Who is that Cloaked Man?
Roger Conant 1592 to 1679
According to records, Roger Conant was baptized in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England in 1592, the youngest of eight children. In 1623 he immigrated to Plymouth with his wife, Sarah and son, Caleb. However, he was uncomfortable with the strict Pilgrim society in Plymouth and moved his family to Nantasket in 1624. In the late autumn of 1625, Conant was invited by the Rev. John White and other members of the Dorchester Company to move to their fishing settlement on Cape Ann as their governor.
Still looking for more favorable conditions for a settlement, he led a group of people to Naumkeag, now Salem, in 1626, and continued as their governor. In 1627 a patent was solicited from England and it was obtained by a group led by John Endicott who arrived in Naumkeag in 1628. Endicott and the other settlers of the New England Company now owned the rights to Naumkeag. Fortunately for the peaceful continuity of the settlement, Conant remained in Salem and, despite what must have been a disappointment for him, acceded to Endicott's authority as the new governor.
Conant built the first Salem house on what is Essex Street today, almost opposite the Town Market. In 1639, his was one of the signatures on the building contract for enlarging the meeting house in Town House Square for the First Church in Salem. This document remains part of the town records at City Hall. He was active in the affairs of the town throughout his life. In 1679, he died at the age of 87.
This dramatic, cloaked statue of Roger Conant faces the Salem Common and stands atop a huge boulder brought from the woods near the floating bridge at Lynn. Artist Henry H. Kitson designed this heroic bronze statue for the Conant Family Association and the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1913.
Conant Statue Restoration
(Salem Common Neighborhood Association)