List of early settlers of Rhode Island

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This is a collection of lists of early settlers (before 1700) in what would become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and later the state of Rhode Island. Most of the lists are of the earliest settlers or inhabitants of a particular town or area.

Aboriginal tribes and leaders[edit]

Ninigret in 1681

The following aboriginal people lived in what would become the state of Rhode Island.[1]

Wampanoag tribe, lived around Mount Hope Bay (later Bristol, Rhode Island)

Narragansett people, lived throughout the Rhode Island colony

Niantic people, lived around the Pawcatuck River, in the western part of Rhode Island

Nipmuc people wandered within the colony of Rhode Ih

First European settler[edit]

First settlers of Providence[edit]

Those who came to Seekonk with Roger Williams early 1636[edit]

Narragansett Indians receiving Roger Williams

Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in October 1635, but was allowed to remain at his home in Salem until the end of winter, provided he did not preach. However, when his followers visited him at his home in sizable numbers, the authorities deemed this as preaching, and he was to be apprehended and put on a ship for England in January 1636. Being tipped off by magistrate John Winthrop, Williams slipped away from Salem near the middle of January, in the dead of winter, and found shelter with the Wampanoags. From the sachem Massasoit, he bought a parcel of land in Seekonk, which was then at the western edge of the Plymouth Colony (now Rehoboth, Massachusetts). In a 1677 statement, Williams mentioned the four who were with him at Seekonk. The five members of the group were:[3][4][5]

Those who first settled Providence[edit]

The original 1636 deed for Providence, signed by Canonicus

In the spring of 1636 Williams and his company planted crops at Seekonk, but were informed in a gentle letter by Governor Edward Winslow of Plymouth that they were within Plymouth's jurisdiction, and this fact would cause difficulties with the Massachusetts authorities. Without urgency, Winslow suggested that Williams and his group move across the Seekonk River into the territory of the Narragansetts, where no colony had any claim. By this time, it is likely that the family members of the original settlers had joined the group. Two other families also joined the settlement. Joshua Verin wrote a statement in 1650 mentioning "we six which came first to Providence", suggesting he was the next to join the original five.[6] Also, Benedict Arnold later wrote, "Memm. We came to Providence to Dwell the 20th of April, 1636", and since Providence had not yet been established, he certainly was referring to Seekonk, where the Arnolds, coming from Hingham, joined the other settlers.[6][7] It is likely, therefore, that sometime about June 1636 the following 25 people crossed the river from Seekonk, in the Plymouth Colony, to a location on the Moshassuck River in Narragansett territory which Williams soon named Providence:[8]

  • Roger Williams with wife Mary and daughters Mary and Freeborn
  • William Harris with wife Susannah and son Andrew
  • John Smith (miller) with wife Alice and children John Jr. and Elizabeth
  • Francis Wickes, a minor
  • Thomas Angell, a minor
  • Joshua Verin with wife Jane

Original proprietors of Providence[edit]

Those named in a deed from Roger Williams, dated about 8 October 1638[10]

Pawtuxet settlers[edit]

Pawtuxet River near where the Arnolds settled

Those Providence settlers who settled on the north side of the Pawtuxet River about 1638, putting themselves under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts from 1642 to 1658[20][21][22][23]

Providence masters of families[edit]

Those signing an agreement made sometime between 1639 and 1644, sometimes called the "Providence Compact" or "Providence Covenant," made by 13 early settlers of the area who were supposedly married with families, and were labeled as "second comers" in contrast to the "present inhabitants:"[24] Some of these individuals were among the first settlers, but were minors at the time, and had now reached their majority.

Signers of Providence agreement for a government, 1640[edit]

Town layout of Providence showing land plots of many of the earliest settlers

Those 39 Providence settlers who signed an agreement to form a government on 27 July 1640:[25]

Settlers of Cocumscussoc (Wickford) area[edit]

Smith's Castle, home of Richard Smith

Those early settlers who had trading posts in the area of Wickford in what was then the "Narragansett country", and later a part of North Kingstown, Rhode Island:[26][27]

  • Richard Smith, built a trading post established about 1637, where his house, Smith's Castle (rebuilt by Richard, Jr. after King Philip's War), still stands.
  • Roger Williams, built his trading post about a mile north (along the Pequot Path, or Post Road) from Smith's post, and occupied it from about 1644 to 1651 and then sold it to Smith to get funds for his proposed errand to England.
  • Mr. Wilcox (possibly Edward or John), built his trading post in the early 1640s in the same general area.


Founders of Portsmouth[edit]

Supporters of Anne Hutchinson who signed the Portsmouth Compact, dated 7 March 1638[28]

The last four names on the list were crossed out, but these men nevertheless came to Portsmouth or Newport.

Inhabitants of Aquidneck Island (1638)[edit]

The following individuals were among the earliest settlers of Aquidneck Island in the Narragansett Bay, which was later named Rhode Island (from which the entire colony was given its name). The first group of 58 names appears to be settlers of Pocasset (later Portsmouth), while the second group of 42 appears to be settlers of Newport. These two lists come from Bartlett's Records of the Colony of Rhode Island..., and apparently the lists were compiled and incorporated into the town records of Newport on 25 November 1639. The actual arrival dates of the individuals likely span over several months during 1638; a few individuals have legible dates next to their names, while several others have illegible dates.[29]

"A Catalogue of such [persons] who, by the Generall consent of the Company were admitted to be Inhabytants of the Island now called Aqueedneck, having submitted themselves to the Government that is or shall be established, according to the word of God therein" [1638]

"Inhabitants admitted at the Town of Nieu-port since the 20th of the 3:1638" (since 20 May 1638)

Residents of Portsmouth after split with Newport[edit]

Anne Hutchinson/Mary Dyer Memorial Herb Garden at Founders' Brook Park, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Those Portsmouth settlers who remained after the group left to found Newport, and who signed an agreement for a government on 30 April 1639:[30]

  • William Hutchinson
  • Samuel Gorton
  • Samuel Hutchinson, did not stay long if actually here
  • John Wickes
  • Richard Magson
  • Thomas Spicer
  • John Roome
  • John Geoffe (?)
  • Thomas Beddar
  • Erasmus Bullock
  • Samson Shotten
  • Ralphe Earle
  • Robert Potter
  • Nathaniel Potter
  • George Potter
  • William Havens
  • George Shaw
  • George Lawton
  • Anthony Paine
  • Job Hawkins
  • Richard Awarde
  • John Moore
  • Nicholas Browne
  • William Richardson
  • John Tripp
  • Thomas Layton
  • Robert Stanton
  • John Briggs
  • James Davis
  • William Aspinwall (did not sign agreement, but did remain here)

Founders of Newport[edit]

Henry Bull house, c. 1639, from a 1900 post card

Those who signed an agreement for a new government, 28 April 1639[31]

Founders of Warwick[edit]

Samuel Gorton's house built after King Philip's War

Those who purchased the land from the Indians, January 1643[32]


Pettaquamscutt purchasers[edit]

Pettaquamscutt Purchase in 1724

Those who purchased the Pettaquamscutt lands (later South Kingstown) from the Indian sachems, 1657[33]

Original purchasers:

Later purchasers:[34]


Early inhabitants of New Shoreham (Block Island)[edit]

Block Island in 1899

The original settlers of Block Island in April 1661, whose names appear on a plaque at the north end of the island:[35]

  • Thomas Terry*
  • John Clarke
  • William Jud
  • Samuel Dearing*
  • Simon Ray*
  • William Tosh
  • Tourmet Rose*
  • William Barker
  • Daniel Cumball
  • William Cohoone
  • Duncan Mack Williamson
  • John Rathbun*
  • Edward Vorce, Jr.*
  • Tristram Dodge, Sr.
  • Nicholas White
  • William Billings
  • John Acres

Six of the above men (marked with an asterisk) were also original purchasers of the island. Other original purchasers who settled the island shortly after the above were:


Those named in the Royal Charter of 1663[edit]

Rhode Island's Royal Charter of 1663

The early Rhode Island inhabitants named in the Royal Charter of 1663, dated 8 July 1663, and signed by King Charles II, which was the basis for Rhode Island's government for nearly two centuries:[36]

Assistants:

Others named in the document:

Early inhabitants of Westerly[edit]

Westerly, at first called Misquamicut, was purchased on 27 August 1661 by the following Newport men: William Vaughan, John Coggeshall, Jr., John Crandall, Hugh Mosher, James Barker, Caleb Carr, James Rogers, Joseph Torry, and John Cranston. Of these men, only John Crandall appears to have settled in Westerly. Following is a list of 24 Westerly inhabitants appearing in the town records of 18 May 1669:[37]

Colonial leaders during King Phillips War[edit]

Garrison house being attacked during King Phillips War

During the devastating events of King Phillips War (1675-1678), the Rhode Island General Assembly sought the counsel of 16 prominent citizens of the colony with the following resolution, "Voted that in these troublesome times and straites in this Collony, this Assembly desiringe to have the advice and concurrance of the most juditious inhabitants, if it may be had for the good of the whole, doe desire at their next sittinge the Company and Councill of [the following]..."[38]

Original proprietors of East Greenwich[edit]

At a meeting of the General Assembly in Newport in May 1677, the following 48 individuals were granted 100-acre tracts in East Greenwich "for the services rendered during King Philip's War."[39]

Settlers of Frenchtown[edit]

Original plat map of Frenchtown

The following individuals were French Huguenots who settled in what is now East Greenwich in 1687. On 12 October 1686 an agreement was signed between Richard Wharton, Elisha Hutchinson (son of Edward Hutchinson), and John Saffin, representing the Proprietors of the Narragansett Country, and Ezechiel Carre', Peter Le Breton and others representing the French immigrants. The following individuals signed the follow-on agreement, usually giving only their surname, and these same names are found on a plat map of the settlement. Also on the map are two additional lots: "La terre pour L'Eglise" (land for the church), and "La terr pour L'ecolle" (land for the school). Following some severe civil clashes with the English settlers, almost all of these people left Rhode Island to settle in Massachusetts and New York. Two families remained on their original land, however: LeMoine (later anglicized to Money, and then Mawney), and Targe' (which became Tourgee), and a third family, the Ayraults, moved to Newport.[40]

  • William Barbret
  • Paul Collin
  • Jean Germon
  • Dechamps
  • Fougere
  • Grignon
  • Legare'
  • Robineau
  • Petter Ayrault
  • Magni, Junior
  • Magni, Senior

Other prominent early settlers (pre-1700)[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Arnold, Samuel Greene (1859). History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Vol.1. New York: D. Appleton & Company. pp. 73–4. 
  2. ^ Arnold, 98-9
  3. ^ Arnold, 97
  4. ^ Bicknell, 1:158
  5. ^ Chapin, Howard M. (1916). Documentary History of Rhode Island. Providence: Preston and Rounds Company. pp. 8–16. 
  6. ^ a b Chapin, 11
  7. ^ Bicknell, Thomas Williams (1920). The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Vol. 1. New York: The American Historical Society. pp. 143, 158. 
  8. ^ Chapin, 17
  9. ^ Moriarty, G. Andrews (April 1944). "Additions and Corrections to Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island". The American Genealogist 20: 227. 
  10. ^ Arnold, 100
  11. ^ Austin, John Osborne (1887). Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. Albany, New York: J. Munsell's Sons. p. 416. ISBN 978-0-8063-0006-1. 
  12. ^ Anderson, Robert Charles (1995). The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620–1633. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. pp. 1072–1076. ISBN 0-88082-044-6. 
  13. ^ Austin, 50
  14. ^ Anderson, Robert Charles; Sanborn, George F. Jr.; Sanborn, Melinde L. (2003). The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England 1634–1635. Vol. III G-H. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. p. 142. ISBN 0-88082-158-2. 
  15. ^ Austin, 200
  16. ^ Anderson, Robert Charles (2007). The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England 1634–1635. Vol. V M-P. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. p. 302. ISBN 978-0-88082-211-4. 
  17. ^ Anderson (1995), p. 1967
  18. ^ Anderson (1995), p. 1943
  19. ^ Austin, 102
  20. ^ Gorton, Adelos (1907). The Life and Times of Samuel Gorton. George S. Ferguson Co. p. 39. 
  21. ^ Arnold, 102
  22. ^ Bicknell, 1:143
  23. ^ Moriarty, 20:227
  24. ^ Bicknell, 1:177,196
  25. ^ Staples, William R. (1843). Annals of the Town of Providence, from its First Settlement to the Organization of the City Government in June 1832. Providence: Printed by Knowles and Vose. pp. 40–43. 
  26. ^ Arnold, 195
  27. ^ Bicknell, Thomas Williams (1920). The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Vol 2. New York: The American Historical Society. pp. 469–70. 
  28. ^ "The Portsmouth Compact". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  29. ^ Bartlett, John Russell (1856). Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in new England 1. Providence: A. Crawford Greene and Brother. pp. 90–93. 
  30. ^ Arnold, 133
  31. ^ Arnold, 132
  32. ^ Arnold, 176
  33. ^ "Kingston Congregational Church Collection". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  34. ^ "History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  35. ^ *"Block Island settlers". Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  36. ^ "Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations". Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  37. ^ Denison, Frederic (1878). Westerly (Rhode Island) and its Witnesses, for Two Hundred and Fifty Years, 1626-1876. Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid. pp. 47, 52. 
  38. ^ *Holmes, James T. (1915). The American Family of Rev. Obadiah Holmes. Columbus, Ohio: private. p. 41. 
  39. ^ Greene, Daniel H. (1877). History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory from 1677 to 1877. Providence: J.A. & R. A. Reid. pp. 9–10. 
  40. ^ Potter, Elisha R. (1879). Memoir Concerning the French Settlements and French Settlers in the Colony of Rhode Island. Providence: Sidney S. Rider. pp. 10–15. 

External links[edit]