John was in charge of the fishing effort. There has been much written about Cape Ann, including White's little Plea. Some, including White, cast aspersions on those who were there. Others have offered a more reasoned view, as we see depicted in this chapter on the Fisher Plantation and this report to the US Treasury, 1853.
By the way, William Hubbard (1621-1704), in his retrospective, was the first to mention John and Thomas. One can envision those in that later 17th century time asking what happened; that is, what were the real people doing during the time; that is, those who did not spawn off countless words during their time here.
John and Thomas were part of the movement from Cape Ann to the Naumkeag area. Then, John seems to disappear. The Great Migration look (pg 1823) tries to make some sense. John was in the Dorchester area in the mid-1630s. He had a wife but no offspring.
John was active in coastal trade, seemed to go as far as Bermuda, and was killed in Connecticut as he tried to venture, despite warnings by Lion Gardiner, up the river to Hartford.
All sorts of questions remain to be answered, and old Rev White isn't here to say. How did these two men become leads in an effort that had such importance? And, then be pushed aside so easily? Ah, many, many more questions.
As said before, 'speculation' requires magical gains. In less than a decade, Massachusetts was shipping tons of fish to Europe. How could this happen in a year's time? Even with the Plymouth help (as they were there in Cape Ann, to boot, hence the conflict that Conant is supposed to have avoided), how could one expect for gains to accrue so quickly?
So much to deconstruct here. Thankfully, some have already started. Winthrop, and perhaps Rev White, wanted theocracy as a way of life. Though they were ahead of their time, John and Thomas were seen as 'irreligious' according to some. Actually, events 100 years in the future showed these two to be on the right path.
Hopefully, time and resources will get some of these types of things better answered.
12/22/2012-- We need to differentiate between Old Planters of Beverly (see The Old Planters of Beverly in Massachusetts, 1930, Alice Gertrude Lapham, The Riverside Press) and the Old Planters of Massachusetts. One could even talk, Old Planters of New England.
05/01/2012 -- Interest in the Old Planters is being assessed. Also, we'll do a sketch of John at this site.