Joseph Dudley (September 23, 1647 - April 2, 1720), colonial governor of Massachusetts from 1702 to 1715, the son of Thomas Dudley, was born and died in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
He graduated at Harvard College in 1665, became a member of the general court, and in 1682 was sent by Massachusetts to London to prevent the threatenedrevocation of her charter by Charles II. There, with an eye to his personal advancement, he secretly advised the king to annul the charter; this was done, and Dudley, by royal appointment, became president of the provisional council.
With the advent of the new governor, Sir Edmund Andros, Dudley became a judge of the superior court and censor of the press. Upon the deposition of Andros, Dudley was imprisoned and sent with him to England, but was soon set free. In 1691-1692, he was chief-justice of New York, presiding over the court that condemned Leisler and Milborne.
Returning to England in 1693, he was lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Wight and a member of parliament, and in 1702, after a long intrigue, secured from Queen Anne a commission as governor of Massachusetts, serving until 1715. His administration. was marked, particularly in the earlier years, by ceaseless conflict with the general court, from which he demanded a regular fixed salary instead of an annual grant.
He was active in raising volunteers for the so-called Queen Anne's War, and in 1707 sent a fruitless expedition against Port Royal. He was accused by the Boston merchants, who petitioned for his removal, of being in league with smugglers and illicit traders, and in 1708 a bitter attack on his administration was published in London, entitled The Deplorable State of New England by reason of a Covetous and Treacherous Governor and Pusillanimous Counsellors.
His character may be best summed up in the words of one of his successors, Thomas Hutchinson, that he had as many virtues as can consist with so great a thirst for honour and power. His son Paul Dudley was attorney-general of Massachusetts.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.