Samuel Wilbore

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Samuel Wilbore
Born c. 1595
Sible Hedingham, Essex, England
Died 29 September 1656
Boston, Massachusetts
Other names Samuel Wilbur
Samuel Wildbore
Education Sufficient to sign documents
Occupation Assessor, constable, sergeant
Spouse(s) Ann Smith
Elizabeth (_______) Lechford
Children Samuel, Arthur, William, Joseph, Shadrach
Parent(s) Nicholas Wilbore and Elizabeth Thickines

Samuel Wilbore (c. 1595–1656) was one of the founding settlers of Portsmouth in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Coming from Essex, England with his wife and three sons, he first settled in Boston in 1633. He and his wife both joined the Boston church, but in 1636 a theological controversy began to cause dissension in the church and community, and Wilbore became a supporter of the dissident ministers John Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson, signing a petition in support of Wheelwright. In so doing, he and many others were disarmed, and dismissed from the Boston church. In March 1638 he was one of 23 individuals who signed a compact to establish a new government, and at the urging of Roger Williams this group purchased Aquidneck Island from the natives, establishing the settlement of Portsmouth there.

Soon after settling in Portsmouth, Wilbore repudiated his signing of the petition in support of Wheelwright, thus allowing him back into the Massachusetts colony. By 1645 he had returned to Boston, but also owned property and resided in Taunton within the Plymouth Colony. He was living in Taunton when he wrote his will in April 1656, but was living in Boston when he died the following September. His will distributed his land holdings in Boston, Taunton, and Portsmouth to his three sons. Most of his Rhode Island descendants spell their name Wilbur.


Born by about 1595,[1] Samuel Wilbore was the son of Nicholas Wilbore of Braintree and Sible Hedingham, both in Essex, England. Samuel's mother was Elizabeth Thickines, who had first married Robert Harrington, the vicar of Sible Hedingham, who died in 1594.[2] Wilbore married Ann Smith in January 1620 in Sible Hedingham, and all five of their children were baptized there from 1622 to 1631.[3] Their two sons Arthur and William died in infancy in England, and about 1633 Samuel and Ann Wilbore and their three surviving sons, Samuel, Joseph, and Shadrach, sailed to New England.[3]

Portsmouth Compact with Wilbore's signature sixth on the list

Wilbore arrived with his family in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony where he was made a freeman in March 1633.[4] He and his wife Ann were both admitted as members of the Boston church in December 1633, and the following November he was an assessor of taxes.[4] In 1636 a major theological rift arose in the colony, often called the Antinomian Controversy, and Wilbore became attracted to the preachings of the dissident ministers John Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson, signing a petition in support of Wheelwright.[3] Following the banishment of these two individuals from the Massachusetts colony, Wilbore and many other followers were disarmed when on 20 November 1637 he and others were ordered to deliver up all guns, pistols, swords, powder and shot because the "opinions and revelations of Mr. Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson have seduced and led into dangerous errors many of the people here in New England."[4]

Scores of the followers of Wheelwright and Hutchinson were ordered out of the Massachusetts colony, but before leaving, a group of them, including Wilbore, signed what is sometimes called the Portsmouth Compact, establishing a non-sectarian civil government upon the universal consent of the inhabitants, with a Christian focus.[5] Planning initially to settle in New Netherland, the group was persuaded by Roger Williams to purchase some land of the Indians on the Narragansett Bay. This they did, settling on the north east end of Aquidneck Island, and establishing a settlement they called Pocasset, but in 1639 changing the name to Portsmouth.[6] William Coddington was elected the first judge (governor) of the settlement.[7]

Wilbore was in Portsmouth by May 1638 when he was present at a general meeting, and the following month he was given the military role as clerk of the Train Band.[8] The following January he was selected as constable, and a month later he was allotted about two acres of land in the Great Cove.[8] In 1641 he became a freeman of Portsmouth, and in 1644 was selected as Sergeant.[8]

In May 1639 Wilbore repudiated his signature to the Wheelwright petition,[3] and was thereafter allowed to return to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. About 1645 he returned to Boston, where his second wife, Elizabeth, was received into the Boston church in November.[8] In May 1648 he was called of Taunton[1] (in the Plymouth Colony), and continued to own land there, in Portsmouth, and in Boston.[8] In 1655 he was again in Portsmouth, but when he wrote his will in April 1656 he was living in Taunton.[8] His death, however, on 29 November 1656, was recorded in Boston.[1]

Family and descendants[edit]

Wilbore's son Samuel was named in Rhode Island's Royal Charter of 1663,[9] and was one of the original purchasers of Pettaquanscutt (later South Kingstown, Rhode Island); he married Hannah Porter, the daughter of John Porter, another signer of the Portsmouth Compact, and also an original purchaser of the Pettaquamscutt lands.[4] This son, Samuel, Jr., had a daughter Abigail, who married Caleb Arnold, the son of colonial governor Benedict Arnold, and another daughter, Hannah, who married Latham Clarke, the son of colonial President Jeremy Clarke and his wife Frances Latham.[10] Wilbore was a cousin of William Wilbore, another early settler of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.[3]

Notable descendants of Samuel Wilbore include Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry,[11] American hero of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812; his younger brother Commodore Matthew C. Perry,[11] who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854; and Stephen Arnold Douglas[12] who debated Abraham Lincoln in 1858 before a senate race and later lost to him in the 1860 presidential election. Also Rhode Island colonial Deputy Governor George Hazard is a descendant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Anderson 1995, p. 1987.
  2. ^ Wilbour 1959, p. 98.
  3. ^ a b c d e Anderson 1995, p. 1988.
  4. ^ a b c d Austin 1887, p. 227.
  5. ^ Bicknell 1920, p. 992.
  6. ^ Bicknell 1920, p. 993.
  7. ^ Bicknell 1920, pp. 992-3.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Austin 1887, p. 228.
  9. ^ Laws of Nature.
  10. ^ Austin 1887, p. 243.
  11. ^ a b Arnold 1935, p. 90.
  12. ^ Arnold 1935, p. 274.


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External links[edit]