William Blaxton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Blaxton
Founders Memorial, Boston Common (Blaxton).jpg
Conjectural representation of Blaxton on The Founders Memorial (1930) in Boston
Born1595 (1595)
Died26 May 1675(1675-05-26) (aged 79–80)
Signature of William Blaxton (1595–1675).png

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.

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


William Blaxton was born in Horncastle, Lincolnshire,[2][better source needed] 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 he 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 there. Isaac Johnson landed with the Puritans in nearby Charlestown in 1629 but they had problems finding potable water,[6] so Blaxton invited them to settle on his land in Boston in 1630. Blaxton and Johnson were university contemporaries from Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[7][8] The Puritans granted Blaxton 50 acres (200,000 m2), but he sold it back to them in 1634, and this land now makes up Boston Common, a central public park in downtown Boston.

Plaque at Boston Common

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 in Cumberland, Rhode Island. 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, when it came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay Colony until 1741; it finally became part of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He tended cattle, planted gardens, and cultivated an apple orchard, and he cultivated the first variety of American apples, the Yellow Sweeting. He called his home "Study Hill" and was said to have the largest library in the colonies at the time, but his library and house were burned during King Philip's War around 1675.

Blaxton's friends included Narragansetts Miantonomi and Canonchet, and Wampanoags Massasoit and Metacomet.[9] Metacomet is 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."[10] He married widow Sarah Fisher Stevenson in Boston on 4 July 1659 at the age of 64,[11] and they had a son named John (1660–1743). Sarah died in June 1673[12] at the age of 48, and Blaxton died in 1675 at the age of 80, leaving substantial holdings in real estate.[13]




Stainless steel statue in Pawtucket

Notable descendants[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620–1633. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston. ISBN 088082042X. OCLC 33083117.
  2. ^ "Memorial plaque honoring Rev. William Blaxton in Boston, Massachusetts, USA". 26 March 2011.
  3. ^ "William Blaxton (BLKN614W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ "Blaxton, William (1619 - 1619) (CCEd Person ID 138408)". The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  5. ^ Banks, Charles Edward (1937). Topographical dictionary of 2885 English emigrants to New England, 1620–1650. The Bertram press. p. 96.
  6. ^ "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900 / Johnson, Isaac". 1885–1900.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1963). The Founding of Harvard College. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674314504.
  8. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1932). English University Men Who Emigrated to New England Before 1646: An Advanced Printing of Appendix B to the History of Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 10.
  9. ^ Amory, Thomas C. (Thomas Coffin) (1877). William Blackstone, Boston's first inhabitant. The Library of Congress. Boston : Rockwell & Churchill, printers.
  10. ^ "Who is William Blackstone?". Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  11. ^ 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).
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ "William Blackstone". Find a Grave. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  14. ^ Parker, Paul Edward (15 September 2021). "Pioneer or colonizer? Sculpture of Blackstone Valley settler stirs controversy in Pawtucket". Providence Journal. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  15. ^ Conley, Patrick T. (9 September 2021). "Opinion/Conley: Opposition to Blackstone statue is misguided". Providence Journal. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  16. ^ Lind, Louise. "William Blackstone Memorial Park". Quahog.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]