George Gardiner (settler)

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George Gardiner
Bornc. 1599/1600
Diedc. 1677
Other namesGeorge Gardner
OccupationConstable, Sergeant, Ensign, Commissioner, Juryman
Spouse(s)(1) Sara Slaughter (2) Herodias (Long) Hicks
(3) Lydia Ballou
Children(first wife): Benoni, Henry, George; (second wife): William, Nicholas, Dorcas, Rebecca; (third wife): Joseph, Robert, Lydia, Mary, Peregrine
Parent(s)Michael Gardiner, Margaret Browne

George Gardiner (c. 1599/1600 - c. 1677), sometimes spelled Gardner, was an early inhabitant of Newport in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and one of the original settlers of Aquidneck Island. He held some minor offices within the colony in the early 1640s, shortly after which he began a common-law marriage with Herodias (Long) Hicks, who came to live with him after separating from her first husband. This relationship lasted for nearly 20 years, after which Herodias petitioned the court to have Gardiner leave her alone, and she left Newport to go west of the Narragansett Bay and live with John Porter, a land-rich settler who was one of the original purchasers of the Pettaquamscutt lands (later South Kingstown, Rhode Island).

Gardiner had one-three children with Sara, four children with Herodias, and after her departure, remarried and had five more children, and leaves a large number of descendants. A grandson, John Gardner was a Deputy Governor of the Rhode Island colony.


George Gardiner was one of the earliest settlers of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and first appears in the public record in 1638, when he was admitted as an inhabitant of Portsmouth, on Aquidneck Island.[1] A genealogy published in 1937 claimed he was born about 1600, the son of a Michael Gardiner of Great Greenford, County Middlesex, England, but the prominent genealogist, G. Andrews Moriarty, demonstrated that evidence for this was lacking, and in fact was unlikely.[2] Moriarty's strongest evidence against this arrangement is that Gardiner would have sired five children while between the age of 67 and 74, which, though possible, is highly improbable.[2] He gives a birth date in the range of 1608 to 1615 as being far more likely for Gardiner.[2]

Gardiner followed William Coddington to Newport in 1639, but his name was not on the list of the nine men who signed an agreement to establish the new government there.[3] He was a Newport freeman in December 1639 and a land owner there the following year when he had 58 acres recorded.[3] He was named as Constable and Senior Sergeant in 1642, and was an Ensign two years later.[1] At about this time he consummated a relationship with Herodias (Long) Hicks, a woman who has been generally referred to as his common-law wife. John Hicks, the previous husband of Herodias, was in the process of obtaining a divorce from her in Rhode Island in December 1643, when he sent a letter from Flushing, New Netherland to Rhode Island magistrate John Coggeshall.[3] Hicks also eventually obtained a divorce from her in New Netherland, charging her with adultery.[3]

During the next two decades Gardiner and Herodias had many children, and in the mid-1650s Hernias became a Quaker convert. In May 1658, Herodias, "with her babe at her breast" (her daughter Rebecca) traveled from Newport to her former residence in Weymouth in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to deliver her religious testimony, accompanied by her friend Mary Stanton.[1] The women had made a very difficult journey through a wilderness of more than 60 miles,[1] made all the more perilous by the fact that Massachusetts had banished any known Quakers living within the colony, and had forbidden others from entering as missionaries. Upon her arrival in the Bay Colony, Herodias was taken before Governor John Endicott, who sentenced the two women to be whipped with ten lashes from a threefold knotted whip of cords.[1] Following the whipping, Herodias spent 14 days in jail.[1]

In August 1662, Gardiner and Robert Stanton, also of Newport, purchased a large tract of land in the "Narragansett country," just west of the Pettaquamscutt Purchase.[3] A few years later, after living together for nearly 20 years, a rift developed between Gardiner and Herodias, and in May 1665 he appeared before the General Assembly upon the petition of Herodias, who "now desired...that the estate and labor he had of mine, he may allow it me, and house upon my land I may enjoy without molestation and that he may allow me my child to bring up, with maintenance for her, and that he be restrained from troubling me more."[1] By this time she had already left Gardiner, and was living in Pettaquamscutt (later South Kingstown) with John Porter. Gardiner soon thereafter married Lydia Ballou, who was his wife in June 1668 when he was made one of the overseers of the will of his father-in-law, Robert Ballou.[1]

While Gardiner apparently remained in Newport, all of his children from his first wife went with their mother to the "Narragansett country" on the west side of the Narragansett Bay, and their descendants are numerous in North Kingstown and South Kingstown. His children with his second wife remained in Newport.[4] He died about 1677, but was certainly dead by 14 June 1678 when his widow married William Hawkins.[1] According to a Providence record, Gardiner left a will in Newport, but it was lost as were most Newport records following the British occupation of the city during the American Revolutionary War.[2]

Family and descendants[edit]

Gardiner had three children with his first wife Sara, four known children with his second wife Herodias, and an additional five children with his third wife Lydia. Following Gardiner's separation from Herodias, his children by her went with her to the Narragansett country and received many parcels of land from her last husband John Porter, who had substantial land holdings.[5] Gardiner's granddaughter Sarah, daughter of son Nicholas, married Edmund Sheffield, the son of Attorney General Joseph Sheffield.[3] His grandson John Gardner, the son of Joseph, served as Deputy Governor of the colony for eight years between 1754 and 1764.[6] Gardiner is an ancestor of Stephen Arnold Douglas, who sparred with Abraham Lincoln in a series of famous debates in 1858 prior to a senate race, and later lost to him in the 1860 presidential election. Hall of fame rodeo champion and cowboy artist Earl W. Bascom is a descendant of George Gardiner and Herodias Long.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Austin 1887, p. 81.
  2. ^ a b c d Moriarty 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Moriarty 1943, p. 222.
  4. ^ Austin 1887, p. 82.
  5. ^ Austin 1887, pp. 81-82.
  6. ^ National Cyclopedia 1898, p. 41.


  • Austin, John Osborne (1887). Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. Albany, New York: J. Munsell's Sons. ISBN 978-0-8063-0006-1.
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews (April 1943). "Additions and Corrections to Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island". The American Genealogist. 19: 222.
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews (2006). "The Parentage of George Gardiner of Newport, Rhode Island". Rootsweb. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  • The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White and Company. 1898.

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