Talk:Aquidneck Island

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Island name[edit]

My Rand McNally World Atlas just calls this "Rhode Island." Isn't that the more common name? Shouldn't this be at Rhode Island (island), or some such? john k 05:19, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Aquidneck is the local name. I'm creating a redirect Rhode Island (island) so that everyone stays happy. Wetman 05:28, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC) (Hey! it's already been done!) Wetman 05:29, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Actually, I'm not sure that Aquidneck is the right name for it at all. For instance, it is the "Rhode Island" from which the state gets its name, "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." However many of the locals do refer to it as Aquidneck and it does appear on some maps that way. I belive it was originally a name for a part of the island that has become the popular name. Although it would probably be correct to switch the redirect and name so that Aquidneck redirects to Rhode Island (island), but it would probably also be confusing. --Zippthorne 05:37, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Why does the map make it look like Aquidneck Island is attached to Tiverton? It is an island and not attached to the mainland at all. (talk) 14:44, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Aquidneck is Narraganset Indian for island. When Roger Williams founded the state there were two settlements Rhode Island (Aquidneck island) and providence plantations. The main land is Providence plantations and Aquidneck island is Rhode island. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:26, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I guess we can expect "Earth" to redirect to "Gaia" soon. Bass ackwards, as usual. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:08, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

Aquidneck origin[edit]

I understand the origins of the name "Rhode Island" are unclear, but where does the name "aquidneck" come from? - TheMightyQuill 08:26, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Most likely from the Indians from whom William Coddington and the Hutchinsonians purchased the island (see Anne Hutchinson), but I don't have documentation of that so I'm not stating it in the article. Aquidneck is probably the older name. Ramorum (talk) 20:16, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Lede needs clarification[edit]

The first four sentences of the article are:

Aquidneck Island is the largest island in Narragansett Bay. The total land area is 97.9 km² (37.8 sq mi). The 2000 United States Census reported its population as 60,870. The origin of the name "Rhode Island" is unclear.

To someone who knows nothing about the naming issues (i.e., me), this makes no sense. Why are you talking about the origin of the name "Rhode Island" being unclear when it's called Aquidneck Island? Is "Rhode Island" an official name? A previous name? Is Aquidneck a nickname or the official name? I think this needs to be addressed up front. I'd fix it if only I knew the answers! (The article itself doesn't seem to provide the answers.) --Rsl12 (talk) 15:55, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

Research into Name[edit]

I'm reorganizing my previous comments--as they were, they were kind of a mess. Check the history for the original version of these notes. --Rsl12 (talk) 22:45, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Here is the evidence I found for 2 possible etymologies of the name "Rhode Island":

Etymology Option #1. Verrazzano noted in correspondence that there was an island in Narragansett Bay similar to the Greek island of Rhodes. The pilgrims, having known of this story, decided that Aquidneck was the island and named it as such.

Evidence: cites actual correspondence and documents. These citations are corroborated in a number of older documents I found (see any of the citations from 1850s in the "Etymology Option #2" section as well). There is a logical leap between Verrazzano's reference to Rhodes and Aquidneck's eventual renaming by pilgrims. But in the absence of better evidence, it sounds like a logical conclusion that Verrazzano was the originator of the idea.

A source from 1882 from someone who concludes Etymology Option #1 must be correct:

Etymology Option #2. Adriaen Block, the Dutch explorer, named something (a particular island? the whole RI state area?) "Roodt Eylandt" because of the red clay lining the shores.

Evidence: Many websites make this claim, including the Rhode Island state webpage. Generally, this is tidbit is left uncited, but those citations I did find were not citations to original sources. After backtracking the strings of citations, I found only two sources: two historians who both wrote texts in the 1850s:

Samuel G. Arnold wrote a work called "History of Rhode Island" (1859), in which he wrote the passage describing Block's commemoration of the "fiery aspect of the place". He cites no sources for this claim:

It's strange that Arnold reaches the conclusion that he does, citing no sources, while discounting the actual evidence such as Verrazzano's correspondence. The text suggests that he has taken the effort to "investigate [the] historical point", but he states his conclusions without actually providing any evidence. I wonder if Arnold is the original source for Etymology Option #2. He might also be the source of claims that Verrazzano was referring to Block Island in describing an island similar to Rhodes--a claim that makes some logical sense, but also seems to come from thin air in Arnold's History.

Henry Schoolcraft's History of American Indians (1851):

AQUIDNECK. - The Narragansett name for Rhode Island. Roger Williams observes, that he could never obtain the meaning of it from the natives. The Dutch, as appears by a map of Novi Belgii published at Amsterdam in 1659, called it Roode Eylant, or Red Island, from the autumnal colour of its foliage. The present term... is derived from this.

Schoolcraft is claiming that "fiery aspect" refers to red autumn leaves, not clay! The year Aquidneck was officially renamed Rhode Island (1644) was 14 years prior to the production of the Dutch map (1659). Also, Schoolcraft doesn't mention Adrian Block (though, if I'm to believe that the Dutch named the island first, it would make sense that Adrian Block would be the originator).

In presenting this information, Schoolcraft refers to "Vol. III of the Collections of the R.I. Hist. Soc.". I should probably try to track that down.

JULY 9, 2010 UPDATE: I found it! Published in 1835:'s%20early%20history%20of%20narragansett&pg=PA22#v=snippet&q=dutch%20name&f=false

The island of Rhode-Island is said to have received its name from the Dutch. They called it Rood Eylandt from its red appearance in autumn. [Moulton's New-York. D.]

So what is "Moulton's New-York. D."?

In the "Notes" section, Potter quotes the abstract of a paper by Hon. J. Hammond Trumbull entitled "Indian Local Names in Rhode Island":

In the summer of 1614, a Dutch schipper, Adrien Block...entered...the east passage of Narragansett Bay.... From the mouth of this bay, sailing westwardly along the south shore of the 'island of a reddish appearance', which the Dutch named Roode Eyelandt....

BUT the Trumbull paper seems to be dated 1872, 40 years after the publication of the work that quotes it! These notes must have been appended much later...

ALSO: I found this interesting work, "Documentary History of Rhode Island (1916):

The work quotes History of the New World (1625) by Joannes de Laet. In describing Block's 1614 expedition, it includes a description of Aquidneck as being "an island of reddish appearance" (in the original Dutch, "een rodlich Eylande").

So I take back everything I said about Etymology #2 seeming dubious. It seems to have as much credence as Etymology #1.

--Rsl12 (talk) 16:41, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


For the sake of completion, here are other sources I was able to track down:

The state webpage cites State names, seals, flags, and symbols: a historical guide by Benjamin F. Shearer, Barbara Smith Shearer, which cites another source (Harrington, "Our State Names", Smithsonian Institution Annual Report (1954)) which I wasn't able to find.

I found something from a 1881 publication :

Adrian Block, the Dutch navigator, who first of all Europeans sailed through Ilurlgatc, succeeds Gosnold. Sailing into Narragansett Bay he " commemorated the fiery aspect of the place, caused bv the red clay in some portions of its shores, by giving it the name oi" Roodt Eylandt, the Red Island. The names Rhode Island and Block Island still testify to his visit.

Though the author didn't cite the source of this information, it seems clear it comes from Arnold, quoted above.

Based on this evidence, I think the following facts should be made clear in discussing the origin of the name "Rhode Island":

  1. The origins of the name "Rhode Island" are obscure
  2. In 1524, Verrazzano made reference to the existence of an island in Narragansett Bay which he likened to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. The island to which he was referring is unclear.
  3. In 1644, colonists decided to name Aquidneck Island "Rhode Island"
  4. The Dutch name for Aquidneck Island was "Roode Eylandt" as early as 1659
  5. The popular story of Adrian Block naming an island after deposits of red clay can be traced back no earlier than 1850.

--Rsl12 (talk) 22:45, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Clarification of "Rhode Island/Aquidneck" section.[edit]

The title of the section "Rhode Island/Aquidneck" is unclear about the subject matter. I in turn edited the section's title to be "Origins of the Names "Aquidneck" and "Rhode Island"." Since the naming bit is one of the more important parts of this article, I figured clarification would draw the reader in more. (talk) 14:41, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

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