William Blaxton

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Conjectural drawing of Blaxton's house in Boston, 1630-1635 (illustration 1889)

Reverend William Blaxton (also spelled William Blackstone) (1595– 26 May 1675)[1] was an early English settler in New England and the first European settler of Boston and Rhode Island.

Biography[edit]

William Blaxton was born in Horncastle, Lincolnshire,[2] England, the son of a minister.[citation needed] He was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge as a sizar in 1614 and received an MA in 1621.[3] He was ordained as a priest of the Church of England in May 1619 by Thomas Dove, Bishop of Peterborough.[4]

Blaxton joined the failed Ferdinando Gorges expedition to America in 1623, and arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1623 on the ship Katherine[5] as a chaplain in the subsequent expedition of Robert Gorges. Most of his fellow travelers returned to England in 1625, and he became the first colonist to settle in Boston, living alone on what became Boston Common and Beacon Hill.

William Blaxton plaque on Beacon Street across from Boston Common, his original farmland
Plaque at Boston Common

The Puritans landed in nearby Charlestown in 1629 but they had problems finding potable water, so Blaxton invited them to settle on his land in Boston in 1630. They then granted him 50 acres (200,000 m2), but he sold it back to them in 1634. This land now makes up Boston Common, a central public park in Downtown Boston.

Blaxton purportedly did not get along with the leaders of the Boston church, so he moved about 35 miles (56 km) south of Boston to what the Indians called the Pawtucket River, today known as the Blackstone River. He was the first settler in Rhode Island in 1635, one year before Roger Williams established Providence Plantations. The area that Blaxton settled was part of the Plymouth Colony until 1691; it came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay Colony until 1741 but finally became part of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Blaxton's home and farm were located in Cumberland, Rhode Island on the Blackstone River. He called his home "Study Hill" and was said to have the largest library in the colonies at the time. His library and house were burned during King Philip's War around 1675. He tended cattle, planted gardens, and cultivated an apple orchard. He cultivated the first variety of American apples, the Yellow Sweeting. The farm was in the Lonsdale area of Cumberland. His friends included Narragasnetts Miantonomi and Canonchet, and Wampanoags Massasoit and Metacomet.[6] Metacomet is notoriously better known today as King Philip, whose followers burned Blaxton's home to the ground.

Roger Williams and Blaxton disagreed on many theological matters, but they remained lifelong friends. Williams frequently invited him to preach in Providence, and he also preached at other churches throughout Rhode Island. According to one modern journalist, he "is considered to be the pioneer clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States."[7] He married widow Sarah Fisher Stevenson in Boston on 4 July 1659 at the age of 64,[8] and they had a son named John (1660–1743). Sarah died in June 1673[9] at the age of 48, and Blaxton died in 1675 at the age of 80, leaving substantial holdings in real estate.[10]

Legacy[edit]

Namesakes[edit]

Memorials[edit]

Notable descendants[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1944-, Anderson, Robert Charles,. The great migration begins: immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. New England Historic Genealogical Society,. Boston. ISBN 088082042X. OCLC 33083117. 
  2. ^ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reverend_William_Blaxton_plaque,_Boston,_MA_-_DSC00183.JPG
  3. ^ "William Blaxton (BLKN614W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ Ordination Record: Blaxton, William in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 9 January 2018)
  5. ^ Banks, Charles Edward (1937). Topographical dictionary of 2885 English emigrants to New England, 1620–1650. The Bertram press. p. 96. 
  6. ^ Amory, Thomas C. (Thomas Coffin) (1877). William Blackstone, Boston's first inhabitant. The Library of Congress. Boston : Rockwell & Churchill, printers. 
  7. ^ "Who is William Blackstone?". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  8. ^ Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620–1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).
  9. ^ The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island: Comprising Three Generations of Settlers who Came Before 1690, with Many Families Carried to the Fourth Generation - John Osborne Austin, George Andrews Moriarty -Genealogical Publishing Com, 1887 - Reference - 496 pages (Page 21)
  10. ^ Find A Grave
  11. ^ Lind, Louise. "William Blackstone Memorial Park". Quahog. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]