Herodias Gardiner

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Herodias Gardiner
Bornc. 1623
Diedafter 1674
Other namesHerodias Long
Herodias Hicks
Herodias Porter
OccupationMother, missionary
Spouse(s)(1) John Hicks
(2) George Gardiner
(3) John Porter
  • Hannah Hicks
  • Thomas Hicks
  • Benoni Gardiner
  • Henry Gardiner
  • George Gardiner
  • William Gardiner
  • Nicholas Gardiner
  • Dorcas Gardiner
  • Rebecca Gardiner

Herodias Gardiner (c. 1623 - after 1674), born Herodias Long, was the wife of three early settlers of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and was also a zealous Quaker evangelist who was whipped in Massachusetts for sharing her religious testimony with others in her former home town of Weymouth. Possibly from Somersetshire in England, and married at the age of 13 or 14 in London, she was unhappily brought to the American colonies by her first husband, John Hicks, where they settled in Weymouth. The couple had two known children, and moved to the Rhode Island Colony, but she soon separated from her husband, and looking for maintenance, settled in Newport with George Gardiner, with whom she lived for about 20 years as his common-law wife.

In 1658 she and a friend made a difficult journey to Massachusetts to present their Quaker message, and they were brought before the Governor, then whipped and imprisoned. A few years later, in 1665, Herodias left Gardiner, and went to live with prominent and wealthy John Porter in the Narragansett country west of the Narragansett Bay. She left behind many court records documenting her marital turmoils. She had nine known children with her first two husbands, and has many descendants.


First marriage: John Hicks[edit]

William Coddington's 1644 account of the separation of Herodias from John Hicks

Herodias Long was born in England about 1623, but her place of nativity is not known. One possibility for her place of origin is Somersetshire, where in early 1639 John Aylesford, who owned land in Little Ockenbury, and in the Barbadoes, left a legacy of five pounds to Odias Long.[1] According to her testimony in court many years later, she was sent to London following the death of her father, and here, unknown to her friends, she married John Hicks.[2] She was 13 or 14 years old when they were married at Saint Faith's Church ("under Saint Paul's"), and their marriage licence was dated 14 March 1636/7.[3] Shortly after their marriage, to her "great grief," they immigrated to New England, and settled in Weymouth in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[4] Here they lived until about 1640, when they moved to Aquidneck Island, probably settling in the town of Newport. They had two children together, but soon after moving to Rhode Island differences arose between them, and Herodias separated from Hicks, and consummated a relationship with George Gardiner, with whom she lived for the next 20 years as his common law wife. Hicks went off to live with the Dutch, and 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.[5] Hicks also eventually obtained a divorce from her in New Netherland, charging her with adultery.[5]

It appears that Herodias had been in an abusive relationship, based on a 7 March 1644 court case where John Hicks of Newport was "bound to the Peace by the Governor [sic], Mr. Easton, in a bond, for beating his wife Harwood Hicks..."[4] (Easton was actually an Assistant, not the Governor.) In her later testimony, Herodias states "...that the authority that was then under grace, saw cause to part us, and ordered that I should have the estate which was sent me by my mother, delivered to me by the said John Hickes; but I never had it, but the said John Hickes went away to the Dutch, and carried away with him the most of my estate; by which means I was put to great hardship and straight."[4] In his letter to Coggeshall, dated 12 December 1644, John Hicks wrote, "...the Knott of affection on her part have been untied long since, and her whoredome have freed my conscience on the other part, so I leave myself to yor advice if there may be such a way used for the finall parting for us."[6]

Second marriage: George Gardiner[edit]

Soon after her break with Hicks, Herodias lived with George Gardiner and spent the next 20 years with him raising a family of seven children, the oldest five of whom were boys, and the two youngest girls.[7] During this time, Herodias became an avid Quaker convert, and she once again stepped into public view in May 1658. She, "with her babe at her breast" (her daughter Rebecca), and her friend Mary Stanton made a difficult journey through 60 miles of wilderness from Newport to her former hometown of Weymouth to deliver her religious testimony.[2] For this, she was taken before Governor John Endecott in Boston, and she and her companion were sentenced to be whipped with ten lashes.[2] Following the whipping, with a three fold knotted whip of cords, Herodias was jailed for 14 days.[2]

Herodias once again appeared in the public record in 1665 when she appeared in court, asking for a separation from Gardiner, relating that she had earlier "joined up with George Gardiner for her maintenance but was never properly married to him."[8] However, testimony of George Gardiner's friend, Robert Stanton, declared that one night at his house both George and Herodias did say before him and his wife that they took one another as man and wife.[2] Herodias now desired of the Assembly that the estate and labor that Gardiner "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."[2]

Third marriage: John Porter[edit]

John Porter gave much of his Pettaquamscutt land to the Gardiner children of Herodias.

While the reasons that Herodias chose to leave Gardiner were not made apparent in her testimony, a major part of the reason was playing out in court across the Narragansett Bay.[9] In May 1665, at the same time that George Gardiner appeared before the Assembly in Newport to answer the petition of Herodias, an "ancient woman" named Margaret Porter complained to the Assembly in Kings Town that her husband, John Porter, had left her, leaving her in such a necessitous state that she had become dependent on her children for her daily support, "to her very great grief of heart."[10] Porter was a very prominent and wealthy citizen of Portsmouth, who was one of the five original purchasers of Pettaquamscutt from the Indian sachems, a huge tract of land that would later become South Kingstown, Rhode Island.[10] Porter's estate, both real and personal, was secured by the Assembly until he made adequate compensation to his wife, which he did the following month, apparently to her satisfaction, and he was thus released from the restraint.[10]

Soon, Herodias was living with Porter, initially under the pretense of being his house servant.[9] In October 1667 an indictment was made "against Mr. John Porter of Narragansett in the King's Province and Harrud Long alias Gardiner for that they are suspected to cohabit and so to live in way of incontinency."[11] The following May, Porter appeared in court and was acquitted, and the next October Herodias was similarly charged, and acquitted as well.[11] According to most writers on the subject, Porter eventually married Herodias, and she co-signed several deeds with him in 1671.[10] In the early 1670s Porter made large conveyances of his Pettaquamscutt lands to the Gardiner children of Herodias, and also made a conveyance to Herodias' son Thomas Hicks of Flushing, New York.[12]

The death date for Herodias is not known. Miller and Stanton say that she survived John Porter, but Porter's death date is also unknown.[13] He was still alive on 25 April 1674 when he was involved in a land deed,[14] but was called deceased many years later, on 8 April 1692, when the children of Herodias appeared at a meeting of the Pettaquamscutt purchasers as "the assigns of John Porter, deceased."[13]


Herodias had two known children with her first husband, John Hicks, and seven more children with her second husband, George Gardiner. Her granddaughter Sarah, daughter of son Nicholas Gardner, married Edmund Sheffield, the son of Attorney General Joseph Sheffield.[5] Herodias 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. Cowboy artist Charles M. Russell is a descendant of Herodias and John Hicks. Rodeo pioneer and cowboy sculptor Earl W. Bascom is a descendant of Herodias and George Gardiner.

In popular culture[edit]

Herodias is the protagonist of a trilogy of novels, Rebel Puritan (2010), The Reputed Wife (2013), and The Golden Shore (2017), written by her 8th great granddaughter, Jo Ann Butler.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moriarty 1945, p. 200.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Austin 1887, p. 81.
  3. ^ Moriarty 1963, p. 2.
  4. ^ a b c Miller & Stanton 1937, p. 29.
  5. ^ a b c Moriarty 1943, p. 222.
  6. ^ Miller & Stanton 1937, p. 30.
  7. ^ Moriarty 1945, p. 199.
  8. ^ Moriarty 1945, p. 195.
  9. ^ a b Miller & Stanton 1937, p. 31.
  10. ^ a b c d Austin 1887, p. 155.
  11. ^ a b Anderson 1995, p. 1504.
  12. ^ Moriarty 1945, pp. 195,197.
  13. ^ a b Miller & Stanton 1937, p. 32.
  14. ^ Anderson 1995, p. 1503.


  • Anderson, Robert Charles (1995). The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620–1633. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society. pp. 1503–4. ISBN 978-0-88082-120-9. OCLC 42469253.
  • Austin, John Osborne (1887). Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. Albany, New York: J. Munsell's Sons. ISBN 978-0-8063-0006-1.
  • Brayton, John Anderson. "Robert, William, and Thomas Hicks of Flushing, Long Island, NY, and Granville Co., NC." North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal. 29: 280 - 286.
  • Miller, Clara Gardner; Stanton, John Milton (1937). Gardiner-Gardner Genealogy. Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing Company.
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews (April 1943). "Additions and Corrections to Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island". The American Genealogist. 19: 222.
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews (1945). "The Parentage of George Gardiner of Newport, Rhode Island". The American Genealogist. 21: 191–200. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews (January 1963). "Additions and Corrections to Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island". The American Genealogist. 39: 2.

External links[edit]