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Full text of "History of Newport County, Rhode Island. From the year 1638 to the year 1887, including the settlement of its towns, and their subsequent progress"

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Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 





From the Year 1638 to the year 1887, including the 
Settlement of its Towns, and their 
subsequent progress. 



" I saw it once, with heat and travel spent. 

And scratched hy dwarf-oaks m the hollow way, 
Now dragged through sand, now jolted over stone — 
A rugged road through rugged Tiverton. 

'* Like a soft mist upon the evening shore, ? 

At once a lovely isle before me lay. 
Smooth and with tender yerdure covered o'er, 
As if just risen from its calm inland bay.' 

*■ I saw where fountains freshened the green land, 
And where the pleasant road, from door to door, 
With rows of cherry-trees on either hand, 
Went wandering al] that fertile region o'er. 

'* Beautiful island ! then it only seemed 

A lovely stranger— it has grown a friend." 

William Cullen Bryant. 

New York : 






From the Year 1638 to the year 1887, including the 
Settlement of its Towns, and their 
subsequent progress. 



'* I saw it once, with heat and travel spent, 

And scratched by dwarf-oaks in the hollow way, 
Now dragged through sand, now jolted over stone — 
A rugged read through rugged Tiverton. 

'^ Like a soft mist upon the evening shore, ^ 

At once a lovely isle before me lay. 
Smooth and with tender yerdure covered o'er, 
As if just risen from its calm inland bay.' 

'■ I saw where fountains freshened the green land, 
And where the pleasant road, from door to door. 
With rows of cherry-trees on either hand, 
Went wandering all that fertile region o'er. 

'Beautiful island ! then it only seemed 

A lovely stranger — it has grown a friend." 

William Cullen Bryant. 

New York : 
L. E. P^tESTON & CO., 


Press of J. Heney Probst, 
36VeseySt.,N. Y. 


F. M. Gilbert. A. H. Ritchie. 


To compile the history of a section of the country which, for 
two hundred and fifty years, has luxuriated in the richest fields 
of incident and circumstance known to the annals of American 
history, is not the pastime of a summer holiday. No county 
in the United States ranking with this in area and population, 
has been the scene or source of so many events and infiuences 
which, in their effects, have extended over the state or nation, 
or down through the generations of her people, as the county 
whose history we have essayed to present in this volume. The 
preserved history is voluminous, and some of its points have 
' become subjects of extended controversy. 

This spot has received the attention of scholars from all parts 
of our land, and is the home, at least during a part of the year, 
of the refined, cultured and wealthy of American society. It 
is also the permanent home of a people who, in scholarly devel- 
opment and intelligent appreciation of historic truth, will not 
suffer by comparison with those ol* any ofher similar section gf 
our great country. With such a host of equipped and skilful 
critics ready to sit in judgment upon our work, it was but nat- 
ural that we should have entered upon it with some misgivings. 
The very fact that our work was to be exposed to the reviewing 
of men whose standing would give weight to their criticisms, 
has stimulated us to greater watchfulness and care in its com- 
pilation. We have trod the ground over with caution, and have 
called to our assistance every available means of securing accu- 
racy and as high a degree of completeness as could be attained 
within the measure of our prescribed limits. We have suc- 
ceeded — even better than our anticipations would allow us to 


expect; and we now submit the work to its readers with the 
pleasing belief that it will abide with honor the day of historic 

No doubt mistakes will be found. No book of history exists 
without them. Honest criticism we invite, but we would caution 
the public against the clamorous ran tings of those who, having 
opinions born of their own real ignorance of the matters dis- 
cussed, are ever ready t6 descend witli vulture-like rapacity 
upon works of this kind. Against all such empirical criticisms 
we protest, and from them we appeal "unto Caesar" — the 
Caesar of the facts, and the tribunal of an intelligent public, 
unbiased by any ephemeral considerations or influences. 

We have been aided in the work of preparation by the gen- 
erous courtesies of those who had in their keeping or posses- 
sion most valuable material. Such were the clerks of the dif- 
ferent towns, the librarians of various libraries, the officers of the 
historical societies of Newport and of Rhode Island, and many 
other individuals whom it would afford us pleasure to mention ' 
by name. All such kindnesses rendered us are gratefully re- 
membered, and to all those gentlemen we wish here to renew 
our warmest thanks. ^ 

The following illustrations, from "The Providence Planta- 
tions," by permission of the publishers, Messrs. J. A. & R. A. 
Reid, are inserted in this *vork, viz. : Port Adams ; Trinity 
Church, Newport; Channing Memorial Church; Thames Street, 
Newport ; The Old Coddington House ; Statue of Commodore 
Matthew Perry ; Statue of Commodore O. H. Perry ; The 
Casino ; Entrance to the Jewish Cemetery ; Bristol Ferry, 
Portsmouth ; and Old Port Dumplings, Jamestown. 




Location and Boundaries. — General Productions. — Scenery.— Nati-ve Plants. — 
Geology. — Causes leading to Settlement. — Purchase and Settlement. — 
Early Government. — Under the Royaf Charter.— Under the New Char- 
ter — Formation of the County — Population — Important Events — Official 
Men from Newport County. — Public Schools. — Statistics.. . .1 1 

The Medical Profession 64 



The Settlement of Aquidneck or Rhode Island. — William Coddington. — 
Nicholas Easton.— John Coggeshall. — William Brenton.— John Clarke.- 
Jeremy Clarke. — Thomas Hazard. — Henry Bull.— William Dyre. — 
Samuel Gorton 140 



The Narragansett Indians. — Pequot War. — New England Confederation. — 
King Philip's War. — Canonicus. — Miantonomi. — Pessicus. — Canonchet. — 
Pumham. — Ninegret. — Massaso^;. — Wamsutta. — End of the Narragan- 
setts , r 184 



Privateering from Rhode Island. — War with the Dutch, 1652-3. — Privateers 
and Pirates, 1653-90.— War with France, King William's War, 1689-98.— 
Depredations by Privateers. — Queen Anne's War, 1702-13. — The Old 
French War, 1754^61.- War of the American Revolution, 1775-83.— 
Rhodelsland in its Political Relations, 1763-74. — Stamp Act Congress. — 
Non-Importation Agreement 268 



Events of 1774.— First Continental Congress.— Military ' Preparations in 
Rhode Island.— Events of 1775.— The Army of Observation.— The Train 
of Artillery.— Depredations by Captain Wallace and his Fleet.— Events 
of 1776 398 




Britisli Occupation of Newport, 1777-9.— The Siege of Newport, 1778.— The 
Fleets off Rhode Island.— The Battleof Rhode Island.— Evacuation by the 
British.— The French in Rhode Island, 1780-81.— The Naval Engage- 
ment.— The March of the French 353 



War with England, 1812.— The Dorr War, 1843.— The War of the Rebellion, 
1861-65 410 



Baptist Churches. — The Society of Frfends. — Congregational Churches. — Pro- 
testant Episcopal Churches. — The Moravians. — Methodist Episcopal 
Churches. — J.ews' Synagogue. — Catholic Churches. — Public Schools 431 



First Settlements. — Newport as a Summer Resort. — Private Mansions. — 
Town and City Governments. — Mayors. — Fire Engines. — Gas. — Public 
Parks.— Public Buildings. — Liberty Ti-ee. — Libraries. — Fine Arts. — News- 
papers. — Notable Events. — Trade and Commerce. — Manufactures. — 
Banks. — Cemeteries. — Charitable Organizations. — Societies 483 



Benjamin Anthony. — George A. Armstrong. — Setff Bateman. — Luther Bate- 
man. — Henry Bedlow. — RobertP. Berry. — JoshuaC. Brown. — John Bull. 
— George W. Carr, Jr. — ^William A. Clarke. — Henry Clews. — George S. 
Coe. — William King Covell. — The Cranston Family. — Lucius D. Davis. — 
The De Blois Family.— George T. DoOrning.- William Findlay. — The 
Fludder Family. — Thomas Galvin. — George Hall. — Nathan Hammettand 
Joseph M. Hammett.— Benjamin Hazard. — Carl Jurgens. — Daniel Le 
Roy. — Josiah O. Low. — John D. Johnston. — Seth W. Macy. — Felix Peck- 
ham. — Thomas P. Peckham, — Jo'm Hare Powel. — Oliver Read. — James 
T. Rhodes. — John Page Sanborn. — William Paine Sheffield. — John W. 
Sherman. — William H. Thurston. — William J. Underwood. — John G. 
Weaver. — George Peabody Wetmore. — Catharine Lorillard Wolfe 574 



Geographical and iDescriptive. — Settlement. — Dealing With the Indians. — 
Comparative Importance. — Admitting Inhabitants. — Rates and Taxes. — 
Taverns or Ordinaries. — Public Morals. — The Common Lands. — Early 
Customs and Ceremonies. — Public Improvements. — Early Representa- 
tives. — During the Revolution. — After the War. — Town Action. — Means 
of Communication. — Mining and Manufacturing 614 



TOWN OF POETSMOUTH— (concluded). 
The Outlying Islands.— Churches of Portsmouth.— Societies.— Henry C. An- 
thony.— John F. Chase.— Robert D. Hall.— Thomas Robinson Hazard.— 
Thomas Holman.— William M. Manchester. — Isaac M. Rogers.— Alfred 
Sisson. — William L. Sisson.— Personal Paragraphs ". . 677 



Location and Description. — The Indians. — Early Land Purchases.- Early 
Settlements.^-The Carr Family. — Other Early Settlers.— Incorporation 
of the Town. — Dui'ing the Revolution.— Fort Brown. — Public Buildings. 
— Tax List of 1832. — Conanicut Park. — Ocean Highland Company. — 
Public Improvements. — Religious Organizations. — The Common Schools. 
— Ferry Connections. — Light Houses. — Dutch Island. — Gould Island. — 
George C. Carr. — Thomas C. Watson.— Personal Paragraphs 723 



Geographical and Desci-iptive. — Incorporation. — Freemen in 1743. — Early 
Town Action. — The Early Settlers. — The Residence of Berkeley. — The 
Revolutionary Period. — The Small-pox Scourge.- — After the War.— The 
War of 1812. — Town Action. — During the Civil War. — Roads and Bridges. 
— Public Schools. — Churches. — The Women's Christian Temperance 
Union.— ^The Miantonomi Library. — The Aquidneok Agricultural Society. 

—The Town Hall.— Civil List 752 


TOWN OF MIDDLETOWN — (concluded). 

William Bailey. — Albert Lawton Chase,— Robert S. Chase. — Daniel Chase.— 
Joshua Coggeshall.— Geor§B C. Coggeshall. — David Coggeshall.— William 
F. Peckham. — Jethro Peckham. — Nathaniel Peckham. — The Sherman 
Family.— John G. Smith. — John B. Ward. — Personal Paragraphs 800 



Description. — Geological Formation. — Discovery.— Footprints of the White 
Man.— Settlement.— Civil Connection.— Some Early Freemen.— Trouble 
with the Indians.— Incursions by French Privateers.- During the Revo- 
lution.— The Phantom Ship.— Colonial History.— Maritime Protection.— 
Block Island as a Summer Resort. — Public Buildings. — Schools.- 
Churches.— Agriculture and Commerce.- Light Houses.— Wrecking Com- 
panies. — Biographical Sketches 837 



The Boundary Question.— The White Man and his Title.— Purchasers of Po- 
casset.— The Commons and the House Lots.— The Proprietors of Punoa- 
test.— The King Philip War.— Tiverton as a, Town. —The Period of the 
Revolution.— Howland's Ferry and Stone Bridge.— Postal and Railroad 
Facilities.- Tiverton Four Corners.— North Tiverton.— Prominent Locali- 
ties. —Mills.'— Taverns. — High ways. — Churches. — Schools.- ^brary and 
Reading Room.— The Town Government 884 




TOWN OF TIVERTON— (concluded). 
Hon. Joseph Osborn.— Joseph Church.— Samuel West, A. M., M. D.— Wiss 
Hannah Howland West.— Joshua C. Durfee.— Chiistopher Brownell.— 
Samuel E. Almy.— Asa Davol.— Isaac Brown.— Job Wordell.— Personal 




First Land Titles.— The Proprietors of Seconnet.— Distribution of the Great 
Lots.— The Commons.— The Aborigines,— The Body Politic— Public Char- 
ity.— Land and Water Routes.— The Revolution.— The Federal Constitu- 
tion.— The Local Government.— Churches.— Cemeteries.— Adamsville.— 
Potter's Corners. — Secular Education. — Public Library. — Business 

Interests , "'■* 


TOWN OP LITTLE COMPTON — (concluded). 

Colonel Benjamin Church.— Colonel John Church.— Nathaniel Church.— 
Joseph Church.— Thomas Church.— William Pabodie.— Major Sylvester 
Brownell.— Isaac Bailey Richmond.— James F. Simmons.— George W. 
Briggs, D.D.— Ray Palmer.— The Coe Family.— Colonel Henry T. Sissou. 
—Levi W. Sisson.— Ephraim Bailey Sisson.— Albert Seabury.— George 
Arnold Gray.— Edward Wing Howland.— Philip W. Almy.— Personal 
Paragraphs 1028 



Ahny, Philip W 1046 

Almy, Samuel E 951 

Anthony, Henry C # 690 

Bailey, William 800 

Ball, Nicholas 862 

Bateman, Luther 575 

Bateman, Seth 574 

Bedlow, Henry 576 

Berry, R. P 578 

Brinley , Francis 555 

Brown, Isaac 953 

Brown, Joshua C 579 

Brownell, Christopher 950 

Buttfick, J. T 68 

Carr, George C 748 

Champlin, John P 868 

Chase, Albert L 801 

Chase, Daniel 803 

Chase, John F 691 

Chase, Robert S 802 

Church, Colonel John 1030 

Church, Joseph 944 

Church, Nathaniel. .., 1032 

Clarke, W. A 581 



Clews, Henry . . '. 582 

Coe, George S ..........'...'.'.'.'.: 5HQ 

Coggeshall, David 805 

Coggeshall, George C 8U4 

Coggeshall, Joshua 804 

Cranston, Henry Y 590 

Cranston, R. B 591 

Cranston, W. H ,■ 593 

Davis, Lucius D ; .'.'..' 594 

Davol, Asa .' 953 

Durf ee, ' Joshua C 949 

Durfee, Thomas 934 

Galvin, Thomas , 596 

Gray, George A ,',[ 1044 

Greene, Nathaniel ; . . . 88 

Hall, Robert D 693 

Hammett, Joseph M 597 

Hammett, Nathan 597 

Hazard, R. N 514 

Hazard,*Thomas R QQ4: 

Holman, Thomas 695 

Howland, Edward W 1045 

Johnston, John D 598 

King, David S 97 

King, David ; , 98 

LeRoy, Daniel , 599 

Littlefield, Lorenzo 873 

Manchester, WilliE!,m M 696 

Harden, O. S '. 876 

Mitchell, B. B 880 

Olyphant, David 106 

Osborn, Joseph 940 

Peckham, Jethro 807 

Peckham, Nathaniel ' 808 

Peckham, Thomas P » 601 

Peckham, William F 806 

Powel, John Hare 603 

Rankin, Francis H : . . * 110 

Read, Oliver 603 

Rhodes, James T '. 604 

Richmond, Isaac B 1034 

Rogers, I. M 697 

Sanborn, John P ^ '. 606 

Sands, Austin L 116 

Seabury, Albert 1C43 

Sheffield, William P 607 

Sherman, Peleg T 809 

Sisson, Alfred ■ 698 

Sisson, Ephraim B 1043 

Sisson, HenryT 1038 

Sisson, Levi W .-.1040 

Sisson, W. L 699 

Smith, J. G .810 

Thurston, W. H '608 

Turner, Henry E 130 

Underwood, William J 608 

Ward, John B 811 

Watson, Thomas Carr 750 

Weaver, John G 609 

West, Samuel 946 

Wetmore, George Peabody 610 

Wolfe, Catharine Lorillard 612 

Wordell, Job , 954 




Fort Adams ^^^ 

Charming Memorial Church ■*■*" 

Trinity, Church, Newport '"^ 

Thames Street, Newport ^^^ 

The Old Coddington House. 486 

House of Charles W. Shields, Newport, R. 1 488 

The Tooker Cottage, Newport, R. 1 489 

" The Breakers." Residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Newport 490 

Residence of Gordon McKay, Newport, R. 1 491 

The Chalet. Residence of Hugh L. Willoughby, Newport 495 

Rough Point. Residence of Frederick W. Vanderbilt, Newport 496 

Statue of Com. Matthew Perry 499 

Statue of Com. O. H. Perry 500 

Anglesea. Residence of Walter H. Lewis, Newport 503 

The Casino. Bellevue Avenue 504 

The Moorings. Residence of Schuyler Hamilton, Jr., Newport 506 

Residence of J. J. Van Alen, Newport 510 

Elmhyrst. Residence of R. N. Hazard, Newport. 515 

Vinland. Residence of Louis L. Lorillard, Newport, R. 1 534 

Friedheim. Residence of Theo. A. Havemeyer, Newport, R. 1 538 

Entrance to the Jewish Cemetery 544 

Hodgson's Newport Botanical Garden 546 

Malbone. Residence of Hon. Henry Bedlow, Newport 577 

Views at " The Rocks." Summer Residence of Mr. Henry Clews, Newport, 

ft,. 1 588 

Galvin's Garden, Newport ^ 596 

Wol-me. Residence of Josiah O. Low, Newport 600 

Sunset Ridge. Residence of A. A. Low, Newport 601 

Roselawn. Residence of J. Fred Pierson, Newport 605 

Ocean House, Newport, R. I ; 609 

Residence of Mr. G. P. Wetmore, Newport 611 

The Capture of Major-General Prescott 649 

Bristol Ferry, Portsmouth 673 

Oakland Farm, Portsmouth. Property of (Cornelius Vanderbilt 683 

Residence of Robert D. Hall, Portsmouth, R.I 693 

House of William T . Richards, Jamestown, R . 1 730 

House of Joseph Wharton, Jamestown, R.' 1 738 

Old Fort Dumplings, Jamestown 746 

The iTish Homestead . Residence of William Bailey, Middletown 800 

Residence of Dayid Coggeshall, Middletown 805 

Residence of W . J . Brightman, Tiverton .'. 958 

The ' ' Gardner Homestead . " Residence of John M . Gardner, North Tiverton. 963 

The Church Homestead 1030 

Residence of Isaac Bailey Richmond, Little (^ompton 1085 

Residence of H , M . Bundy, Little Compton 1050 

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Location and Boundaries. — General Productions.— Scenery.— Native Plants. — 
Geology. — Causes leading to Settlement.— Purchase and Settlement. — Early 
Government. — Under the Koyal Charter.— Under the New Charter.— Forma- 
tion of the County. — Population.— Important Events.— Official Men from 
Newport County. — Public Schools. — Statistics. 

THE County of JS'ewpQrt is situated in the southeastern 
part of the state of Rhode Island. It has an area of 
about one hundred and seventeen square miles. It lies centrally 
in latitude 41° 33' north, and longitude 71° 17' west from Green- 
wich, or 5° 43' east from Washington. It is bounded on the 
north and east by Bristol county, Mass., on the south by the 
Atlantic ocean, and on the west by Narragansett bay. It com- 
prises several islands, the largest of which are Rhode Island, 
Block Island, Conanicut and Prudence, which together consti- 
tute about one half the area of the county. It has a beautifully 
undulating surface, and a generally fertile soil, that of the 
islands being especially rigorous and productive. It also.con- 
tains large quantities of anthracite coal. The county is inter- 
sected by the Old Colony railroad, which has about lifteen 
miles of track within its borders, this being the only railroad 
entering the" county. It has 975 farms, the land, especially of 
the islands, being highly improved and almost entirely under 
cultivation. The number of acres of improved land is 46,762. 
The land is divided into small farms, and such is the general 
thrift of its cultivators that the value of its farms, including 
lands, fences and buildings, reaches the sum of $6,'^91,965. For 


the cultivation of these farms implements and machinery are 
employed to the value of $164,656. Live stock is kept on farms 
to the value of $472,269, and the annual cost of building and 
repairing on these farms amounts to about fifty thousand dol- 
lars. The natural fertility of the soil is such that comparative- 
ly little commercial fertilizer is needed, the annual expenditure 
for this purpose not exceeding about thirty-five thousand dol- 
lars, while the annual products of the soil amount to more than 
three quarters of a million dollars in value. Among the annual 
products the principal are: 131,878 bushels of potatoes, 107,048 
bushels of Indian corn, 78,098 bushels, of oats, 12,249 bushels of 
barley, 14,737 tons of hay, and $12,662 worth of orchard prod- 
ucts. There are kept on farms: 1,875 horses, 1,066 working 
oxen, 8,590 milch cows, 1,973 other cattle, 6,118 sheep, produc- 
ing annually about twenty-five thousand pounds of wool, 2,943 
swine, and dairy products consisting of 420,971 gallons of milk, 
245,601 pounds of butter, and 9,771 pounds of cheese annually. 
Of the 28,280 inhabitants of this county. 8,476 are citizens, and 
of these, 5,207 are native born, and 2,669 are foreign born. The 
ratable property of the county amounts to $37,779,768; of which 
$28,951,641 is on real estate, and $8,828,127 is on personal prop- 

The post offices in this county are Adamsville, Block Island, 
Bristol Ferry, Jamestown, Little Compton, Newport, North 
Tiverton, Portsmouth, South Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Tiver- 
ton Pour Corners. Its townships and the total valuation of 
real and personal property in each are as follows : Jamestown, 
$1,028,280; Little Compton, $1,322,700; Middletown, $2,083,- 
350 ; Newport (city), $28,540,300 ; New Shoreham, $598,160 ; 
Portsmouth, $1,946,900 ; Tiverton, $2,260,078. The county 
contained in 1880 a population of 23,051 white, ],125 colored, 
and four Indians. The native population then was 19,537, and 
the foreign population, 4,643. Of the native population, 15,452 
were born in the state and 3,036 in other parts of New England 
• :and New York state. 'Of the foreign population 388 were born 
in British America, 829 in England and Wales, 2,^3 in Ireland, 
137 in Scotland, 199 in the Grerman Empire, 82 in Prance, and 
123 in Sweden and Norway. 

In point of beauty of location and enchanting scenery the in- 
sular portion of the county is one the most attractive spots to 
be found on the face of the earth. Travelers who have had op- 


portunities for wide fields of observation have come hither and 
declared that nothing they had seen in the famed regions of the 
old world was equal to magnificent scenes which opened to their 
view in this county. Kor does the insular portion engross all 
the beauty of scene to which this county may lay claim. The 
mainland shores are equally rich in this respect. Possessing 
an almost immeasurable extent of shore line upon the beautiful 
bay, with which the land is playing hide and seek in a thousand 
Jutting promontories and indenting coves, the surface of the 
oounty presents miles upon miles of wayside, field and bluff, 
whence the vision stretches away upon the broad ocean — 

" A waste 
Of waters weltering over graves, its shores 
Strewn with the wreck of fleets, where mast and hull 

Drop away piecemeal." 


With its thousand verdure clad hills billowing the landscape 
near and distant, ever varying in outline, in magnitude, in shade 
of green, and in adornment of farmhouse, windmill, country 
seat, or checkered fields, what wonder that the fashion of 
American civilization should choose here its most valued sum- 
mering place. Greater wonder, indeed, is it that the hills 
overlooking these elysian shores have not long since been 
crowded with the country homes of thousands who fain would 
come hither to rest .and enjoy the delights of surrounding 

The soil of the island of Aquidneck, or Rhode Island, differs 
somewhat in its character, between the north and south ends. 
Everywhere rich and amply productive, it is at the north end 
of a sandy inclination, and this circumstance together with 
some a;dvantages of location by which it is protected from the 
blasting, chilling winds from the sea, makes the north end two 
or three weeks earlier in maturing season than the south end. 
Potatoes are largely grown there, and can be marketed, from 
that quarter earlier by the time mentioned than from other 
parts of the island. A branch of agriculture which has of late 
, years grown to considerable proportions on the island, especially 
within a few miles of Newport, is the growing of flowers and 
other greenhouse products. Flowers can be raised here that 
cannot be growft to equal advantage in the vicinity of New 
York, hence large quantities of flowers are grown here and 
shipped to the markets of New York and Bosto^ Frosts here 


hold off later in the autumn than in other parts of the country, 
even in lower latitudes. Hardy flowers have been known to 
keep in blossom until the latter part of November. The condi- 
tions that make the spring rather backward also retard the ap- 
proach of winter. These conditions are supposed to be partly, 
if not principally, the effect of the surrounding waters upon the 
atmosphere. Large quantities of greenhouse grapes are pro- 
duced here and sent to the New York markets. They are sent 
as early as April 1st, and during the first of the season they 
often sell for as high as six dollars a pound. From this they 
continue at falling prices until the season for out-door grapes 
to ripen. The atmosphere of this region during the autumn 
months especially is salubrious and delightful. The tempera- 
ture throughout the season is equable, being eight or ten degrees 
higher in winter and lower in summer than in most other places 
in 'the same latitude. Frosts appear in autumn in the latitude 
of North Carolina before they do here. Owing to the vigorous 
character of the soil, fruits grow to great size, and with aston 
ishing luxuriance. Some fruits originated here have obtained 
world-wide fame. Of such may be mentioned the Rhode Island 
Greening apple and the Buffum pear. 

The native plants of the county are numerous, but no syste- 
matic effort has been made to make a list of them. It is prob- 
able that in general the same plants may be found on the main- 
land that appear on the islands. Through the efforts of the 
Newport Natural History Society a partial list of those to be 
found on the island has been made. This embraces, no doubt, 
nearly all the common plants, and though still imperfect, has 
been prepared with much labor, and is the most complete list 
that can now be found. Omitting the scientific names the list 
is given in j)opular language, which is as follows : Liver-leaf, 
wind-flower, rueranemone; early, bulbous, and creeping butter- 
cup; marsh-marigold, wild columbine, white water-lily, water- 
cress. Whitlow grass, shepherd's purse, blue violet, arrow- 
leaved violet, sweet white violet, lance-leaved violet, St. John's- 
wort, sand spurrey, chickweed, common mallow," yellow wood 
sorrel, spotted cranesbill, jewel weed, rabbit foot clover, red* 
clover, zigzag clover, yellow hop clover, white clover, yellow 
sweet clover, white sweet clover, vetchling, ^ard-hack, wild 
five finger, strawberry, high blackberry, low blackberry, dwarf 
wild rose, early saxifrage, common evening primrose, low 


evening primrose, small evening primrose, button bush, 
bluets, thistle, Canada - thistle, burdock, thorough-wort, 
dandelion, corn flower, beggar-ticks, May weed, yarrow, ox-eye 
daisy, cardinal flower, trailing arbutus or May flower, sweet 
pepperbush, pale laurel, common plantain,- four-leaved loose- 
strife, common mulleifl, wild toadflax, butter-and-eggs, snake 
head, sea-side gerardia, fringed gentian, and bayberry. 

The island of Aquidneck was formerly heavily wooded, but 
it is said that during the revolutionary war, when the British 
held possession of it, they entirely stripped it of its timber, and 
since then but little forest growth has been permitted. There 
are now but few sections of America of equal extent where so 
large a proportion of the area is devoid of forest growth and so 
completely under cultivation or improvement. Oak, walnut 
and chestnut are the prevailing kinds of forest trees, with some 
pine, and in certain localities especially near the ocean shore, 
large cedar swamps are found. Among the cultivated crops we 
should not fail to mention the Indian corn, for which the island 
and 'its vicinity are celebrated. The corn grown here is of 
superior quality, and is much used for grinding into meal, of 
vvhich " Johnny-cakes " are made. Perhaps in no part of the 
country does the custom of preparing these cakes for the daily 
food of the inhabitants prevail to so large an extent as it does 
here. These "Johnny-cakes" are made of corn meal and 
water, with a little salt, but though so simple their use is so 
much indulged in as to become proverbial. 

While the western portions of the state of Rhode Island are 
very simple and uniform in their geological character, the 
southern and eastern parts, especially those covered by the 
boundaries of this county, are various and complicated. As a 
general thing it may be said that the geological formation which 
distinguishes southeastern Massachusetts ext^ds to the north- 
ern parts of this county. A very considerable portion of the 
county, however, is of a later era. Parts of the county consist 
of formations of coarse, conglomerates and argillaceous slates 
of obscure age, on account of the metamorphic action to which 
they have been subjected. Generally no fossils have been met 
with in these rooks, tliough occasionally one has here or else- 
where been foui^d, which would seem to refer the slates to the 
lower Silurian period. These obscure: formations are connected 
with coal bearing strata, referable, it is supposed, to the true 


carboniferous epoch. In these strata have been found the beds 
of anthracite which have been worl<;ed to some extent. This 
subject has been treated in part, but in its most interesting^ 
features, by Mr. T. Nelson Dale, in a lecture before the Natural 
History Society on the geology of the mouth of Narragansett 
bay, which, of course, covers the principal part of this county. 
Prom the words of Mr. Dale are quoted tlie following para- 
graphs. He says : 

"It is well known that coal seams exist under the -city of 
Newport. They have been struck in digging wells, and they 
used to crop out near Sheep point on the cliffs. Coal plants 
have been found near the corner of Marlborough and Farewell 
streets and in several places along the cliffs. The slates and fine 
conglomerates associated with these fossiliferous and carbon- 
iferous strata extend from Sheep point on the south, to Almy's 
pond, Emmanuel Chapel (corner Spring and Perry streets) and 
Fort Greene on the west, to Coddington point and Bishop rock 
on the north, and to Bliss cave, Easton's beach and the Cliffs 
on the east. In the vicinity of Taggart's Perry, Wood's Castle, 
at the Glen, and on the east shore of the east passage betweeu 
High hill and Brown's point, we find other patches of these 
beds. On the west, the same group recurs at Beaver Head and 
Dutch island, although in a more crystalline condition, the coal 
having there become graphite and the clay slate a mica schist 
containing garnets. The vertical thickness of this series is 
about 2,-000 feet. At the end of "the Cliffs" you will have 
noticed some very jagged greenish rocks which recur at the east 
end of Bailey's beach, forming apparently a belt from that 
place to the cliffs ; these rocks are chlorite schist, talcose schist, 
epidote, and probably serpentine. The marked peculiarity of 
these different minerals is that they contain a considerable per- 
centage of magnesia, and one of them, the epidote, some 23 per 
cent, of lime. * 

" The only other place where similar rocks occur isonConan- 
icutp near the southeast corner of the island, and also most of 
the'Dumpling islets. There, however, the chlorite schist con- 
tains passages of calcite and a littlemica, corresponding exactly 
to some of the Paradise rocks, and suggesting the possibility 
that they were deposited at the same time. We may therefore 
perhaps venture to classify the alternating beds of hornblende 
and chlorite schist, and mica schist (traversed by veins of zoisite 


whicli is related to epidote), which form the three central ridges 
of Paradise in the same series. The thicliness of these rocks 
along the cliffs is about 400 tp 600 feet, and the Paradise series 
measures about 950. Both at the Dumplings and Bailey's 
beach, these greenish magnesian rocks lie upon a pinkish rock 
which might easily be mistaken for a granite, but which is more 
correctly a protogine, the mica of the granite being replaced by 
the dark, greenish magnesian mineral, chlorite. The protogine 
is characterized in places by crystals of feldspar an inch in 
diameter, and in others by the presence of two shades if not 
two kinds of feldspar, a pale greenish and a pinkish ^color. 
Although it has beeii supposed to be eruptive, it is clearly 
stratified, and therefore a sedimentary rock, highly metamor- 
phosed. This protogine forms the point about the Boat House, 
Gooseberry island, and the region about the Lily pond, extend- 
ing from the west side of Lily pond beach to a point opposite 
the Little Lime Rock. It forms also the southern part of the 
northern extension of Conanicut. About Narragansett Pier, 
from the steamboat landing south to within two and one-half* 
miles of Point Judith, protogine passing into a gneiss with 
black mica occurs, and the same rock constitutes also East and 
West islands, on the other side of the bay. The thickness of 
these beds of protogine is not easily computed. It is at least 
1200 feet and probably much greater. West of the protogine 
tract of Newport Neck and forming the central part of it is a 
'flinty slate' in. places containing serpsntine and talc. This 
rock lies upon the protogine, as may be seen at several points, 
and as is conclusively proven by the presence of two small 
patches of the flinty slate near the middle of the protogine 
tract, on the west side of Lily pond. 

"The western boundary of the flinty slate extends from Bren- 
ton's cove to the west side of Price's neck. The same recurs 
at Conanicut forming a triangular shaped tflass north of the 
protogine, and also on Sachuest neck where, associated with a 
slaty conglomerate mass it forms a belt on the east side. The 
thickness of this series varies from 500 to 2,000 feet. The re- 
mainder of Newport Neck consists of a series of alternating 
green and purple slates with passages of calcite and occasion- 
ally red jasper. The rock (chloritic argUlyte) forms also the 
greater part of Rose island, the Gull Rocks, the southern ex- 
tremity of Coaster's Harbor island, the Coaster's Harbor rocks, 


Goat island (as ascertained by a recent well boring), the Little 
Lime Rock and some submerged rocks southwest of it. To this 
series belong also the Lime Rocks, where layers of magnesian 
liriieston,e are associated with purple slates. On the Little 
Compton shore the green slates recur, extending from Brown's 
point to Church's cove. From the outcrops of these rocks in 
onr harbor, we^ may infer that they originally extended from 
the Little Lime Rock to Coaster's Harbor island, to Rose island 
and thence to Castle hill, occupying the entire harbor and the 
passage. The great veins which traverse these rocks often 
abound in chlorite, with which occurs also a pink feldspar. 
The series measures from 500 to 3,000 feet. 

"At the north end of Rose island and the southwest end of 
Coaster's Harbor island is a peculiar dark gray or black rock 
made up of large grains of quartz firmly cemented together by 
metamorphic action. It is properly a coarse metamorphic sand- 
stone or grit. The same rock forms the entire western part of 
Sachuest Neck, overlying the flinty slate of^the eastern portion, 
^nd contains here and there small seams of black slate with 
coal plants — one of which is the Annularia longifolia. This 
rock occurs also at Conanicut on the east side of Mackerel cove, 
where it rests upon the protogine and forms a triangular area. 
Its greatest thickness is about 750 feet. This is the lowest and 
earliest rock in this vicinity which upon palseontological 
grounds we can refer to the carboniferous period. 

"Apparently overlying this metamorphic sandstone we have 
in Mackerel cove a mass of light and dark gray argillaceous 
schists, which cover the entire southern extension of Conanicut 
and extend as far north as Taylor's point above Jamestown. 
These schists generally contain minute nodules of carbonate of 
iron (siderite), which, when oxidized, give the surface of the 
rock a striking appearance. Instead of siderite, iron pyrites in 
cubical crystals sometimes occurs. This series of beds is repre- 
sented at the south end of Coaster's Harbor island, and forms 
the southern part of Easton's point. The veins which traverse 
these rocks often contain chlorite and sometimes also calcite 
and a little iron. The total thickness is 600 to 2,000 feet. At 
Easton's point these argillytes are overlaid by the conglomerate 
•with which we are all familiar, which is made up of pebbles of 
finely laminated quartzyte with some mica and contains Lingu- 
Ice (Brachipod Mollusks). This rock recurs at Paradise on both 


•sides of the hornblende and mica schist beds, and along the 
east shore of the island from Smith's beach t© Black point, and 
on the other side of the east passage at High Hill point. There 
is some uncertainty as to whether the similar conglomemte, 
which forms the summit of Miantonomah hill, and that which 
covers the greater part of Coaster's Harbor island, and which 
differs considerably in its character from that of Eastoa's point, 
etc., belong to the same age. The thickness is about 750 feet. 

"The lowest and oldest rocks in this part of the state are of 
sedimentary origin. The first geological fact in the history of 
the region indicates the presence of water, the sea probably, 
which formed the calcareous, aluminous, siliceous and magnes- 
ian deposits which, under metamorphism, become gneiss, pro- 
togine, mica, epidote, chlorite, hornblende and serpentine schist. 
It is difficult to determine how far, if at all, these older strata 
had assumed a crystalline structure prior to the carboniferous 
period, as the whole series, including the carboniferous, evi- 
dently suffered metamorphism and flexture in late or past car- 
boniferous times. It is also uncertain how far these older 
rocks had been disturbed when the carboniferous rocks were 
deposited, but from several indications it seems probable that 
the folds indicated in the section began to be formed in pre- 
carboniferous times, and that the chief outlines of our bay were 
determined at that remote period. 

" We may therefore conjecture that the nearest elevations on 
either side of the carboniferous deposits formed the shore of the 
swamps and estuaries of the carboniferous time.- Such eleva- 
tions occur at Barber's Height and Tower hill, in North and 
South Kingstown, and on the other side of the bay, in Tiverton 
and Little Compton. These southward tending ranges of pro- 
togine, gneiss, mica schist and chlorite slate bounded a bay or 
arm of the sea some 15 miles wide. In about the centre of the 
section maybe seen masses-of protogine and other pre- carbonif- 
erous rocks. While it is possible that they may once have been 
covered by carboniferous deposits which subsequent erosion 
may have carried away, I rather incline to the belief that these 
rocks were never covered in the carboniferous times, but formed 
then an island around which such rocks were deposited. This 
island embraced the greater part of Newport Neck, the entire 
harbor, and a portion of Conanicut, and accordingly measured 
;Some four miles in diameter, so that as we ramble over the 


small, hilly and rocky wilderness which characterizes portions- 
of the JSTeck and of Conanicut, we may transport ourselves in 
imagination back to the time when in looking away our eyes 
would have rested on nothing but a shallow sea, or else upon 
great swamps, crowded with the peculiar vegetation of the car- 
boniferous time. The remainder of Conanicut and of our own 
island, excepting perhaps a small tract at its northern extrem- 
ity and possibly another at Paradise, were not in existence ; 
with these exceptions the nearest terra firma was at Tower hill 
and Little Compton. 

"The carboniferous series consists of four groups of strata : 
(1) the metamorphic grit, (2) the clay slates with carbonate of 
iron, (3) the quartzyte conglomerate, and (4) the slates, coal 
beds and fine conglomerates, which together constitute the coal 
measures proper. During the deposition of the two first and 
lowest of the series, there was nothing of a very exceptional 
character in the physical conditions of our bay. The fine 
quartz grains of the first deposit probably came from the erosion 
of some areas of granite or protogine. The presence of fossil 
plants in the layers of slate which occur in this bed, indicates 
the neighborhood of marshes ; and the abundance of iron car- 
bonate in the succeeding bed shows the presence of carbon in 
the water and originally in the atmosphere. During these de- 
positions, it is quite probable that that process of subsidence 
commenced which marked the period of the coal measures. 
This subsidence would affect the whole region, but, either owing 
to its taking the form of great folds, or owing to the greater 
elevation of the central island, would still leave that island above 
water. But during the time of the third group, the coarse con- 
glomerate, we have evidence of an exceptional state of things. 
The great size of some of the boulders in the conglomerate at 
'Purgatory' and 'Paradise' has been noticed by many. Some 
of these measure from four to nine feet in diameter. 

"The following theories are held- in regard to the origin of 
this conglomerate : (1) that in carboniferous times, another 
glacial period covered this part of the continent with an ice 
sheet, and that these great accumulations of boulders were tran- 
si>orted hither from distant ledges and left by the thawing ice. 
A serious objection to this theory is the fact that the boulders 
do not bear the scratches which characterize glacial boulders. 
Another theory is that the bay at that time was a gulf leaning 


northwards into Artie regions, and that icebergs, broken off from 
some Arctic glacier, floated southwards, and, thawing as they 
reached a warmer latitude, deposited their burden of pebbles 
and boulders here, just as they are doing to-day on the banks 
of Newfoundland. Another theory is that the place of these 
conglomerates was originally occupied by a finely stratified 
quartzite of mica schist, formed during an earlier geological 
period and of marine origin, as indicated by the presence of the 
Brachiopoda, and that the action of the sea ground up the entire 
deposit into pebbles, by a prodlss'similar to that we see going on 
along our shores to-day. Still another theory is that a strong and 
swift river current opened in those times into the bay, and rolled 
the stones to their present place from some shore or hillside to 
the north. Each of these theories contains an element of prob- 
ability. The large size of the boulders and the absence here of 
strata of their identical character are remarkable facts. 

" However that may be, after the formation of the conglom- 
erate came a period of comparative tranquility, during which 
the ' Coal Measures,' measuring here some 2,000 feet, were de- 
posited. To account for alternating beds of coal, slate, and 
conglomerate, it is customary to suppose alternating periods of 
submergence and emergence. Under this theory the prospect 
from the Aquidneck island of the carboniferous time must 
have greatly varied. There were long periods during which a 
supposed observer would have looked out only upon the broad 
arms of the bay, others during which his eyes would have 
rested, at least northward, northwestward, and northeastward, 
on a landscape bearing some resemblance to that of the Dismal 
Swamp of Virginia or the Everglades of Florida, and such 
periods recurred alternately. 

" During the close of the carboniferous period, changes of a 
more radical, though, perhaps, gradual character set in. The 
submergence of the beds having reached its limit, the beds were 
powerfully compressed in a lateral direction, folded, tilted, 
faulted and fissured. This compressure is generally attributed 
to the disturbance of the rocky envelope of the earth following, 
upon the cooling and contraction of its molten interior. At the 
same time, if not due to the same cause, the rocks assumed a 
crystalline structure, the beds of carbonaceous vegetation, then 
probably resembling lignite or hardened peat, were changed 
into plumbaginous anthracite. The beds of clay In places be- 


came mica schist, the conglomerate was compacted, and its peb- 
bles arranged in parallel order, and the underlying older rocks 
became still more crystalline in cliaracter. The fissures through- 
out the series became filled with veins of quartz. Numerous 
observations prove that this pressure came chiefly from rwo 
directions: One W. NW.— E. SE., the other at right angles 
]N. JSTE.— S. SW., the former producing the great folds tending 
N. NE.— S. SW. parallel to the Appalachian range which was 
formed at this time, the other producing a series of minor folds » 
and fissures tending W. JSTW.— E. SE. 

"The folded strata were brought above water and the main 
outlines of the bay and of our island were formed. The surface 
thus exposed suffered erosion by the rivers, tides and rains 
during a great lapse of time, until the glacial period set in, 
when they were subjected to still greater changes at the hands 
of the ice sheet, which by means of its enormous weight and 
the stones and boulders frozen into its under surface, plowed 
out hollows, shattered and broke off rock masses, furrowed, 
grooved and polished all the surfaces which withstood its 
southward march. During the thawing of the glacier, a de- 
pression of the land took place, followed by an elevation of forty 
to fifty feet. To the action of the ice sheet and of the great 
stream to which it gave rise as it thawed, the final configuration 
of our bay and islands is mainly due. This becomes apparent 
in examining a section of the bay, for the depressions do not 
always correspond to the depressions in the folds of the strata. 
The folds have been cut into. How much of this is due to the 
preglacial erosion is uncertain. The most notable instances of 
these influences are seen between High Hill point and Black 
point in Seaconnet river and at the ' Paradise ' ridges. The 
recess between Easton's point and Sachuest point was thus 
formed; that between the Cliffs and Easton's point, and also 
the hollow occupied by Easton's pond, Bren ton's cove, and the 
depression between the chloritic slates and the flinty slates on 
the Neck, the passage between Conanicut and Fort Adams and 
the harbor. Mackerel cove in Conanicut, and the passages on 
either side of Dutch island, all are due to the same causes. 

" A few things remain to be noticed. As the ice sheet thawed 
it deposited its load of clay, sand and boulders, all over our 
region, but very unequally. In this vicinity [Newport] the 
morainal matter is not very thick, but near Providence it forms 


considerable hills and plateaus. But we received our share of 
the boulders, as every builder, farmer, gardener or pedestrian 
knows. Much of this morainal matter was deposited in the sea, 
and this, together with what has since been carried thither by 
streams or formed by the wear and tear of the waves, the sea 
has, in part at least, thrown back upon the shore in the form of 
sand bars and beaches. Then the wind coming to the aid of 
the waves piled up the sand in drifts back of the beaches, dam- 
ming up the outlets to small streams and forming ponds which 
are gradually transformed into marshes. In this way the re- 
cesses in the coast are filled out and the shore is becoming more 
rounded in outline." 

Religious ideas were the paramount factors in the various set- 
tlements which were made in different parts of our country, and 
which in time grew together into the concrete social mass which 
at length became the foundation of a mighty republic. As in 
different localities those religious ideas had their various colors, 
so the conditions gathering around the settlement of Newport 
county gave to it a hue peculiarly its own. It is designed 
here to notice the development of those conditions, and trace 
the steps by which the banner of civilization was brought hither 
and planted on these delectable hills, where it has so gracefully 
and grandly waved upon the invigorating breezes of two and a 
half centuries. 

As soon as we enter upon this investigation we shall find 
Roger Williams standing as one of the most conspicuous char- 
acters of the time in this section of the new world. Some notice 
of him could hardly be omitted in this connection, though our 
immediate field was not the scene of his action. We find him 
an irrepressible character, of great native force and determina- 
tion, who had been highly educated in the schools of England 
and invested with orders in the Church of England. He, how- 
ever, embraced the doctrines set forth by the Puritans and took 
passage in the ship "Lyon," with nineteen others, for America. 
The ship arrived in Nantaskett Roads on the 5th of February, 
1631, and reached Boston three days later. Williams was at 
this time about 25 years of age. He shortly became assistant 
pastor of the church of Salem, but differences of opinion at 
once arose between him and the magistrates, and as his impet- 
uous disposition would brook no restraints or dictation of the 
constituted authorities, he gave up the field in the following. 


autumn and removed to Plymouth. Here he met with many of 
the representative Indian chiefs of the surrounding wilderness 
and spent much time in studying their language, among whom 
were Massasoit and Miantonomi, the latter being a chief of the 
territory now embraced in Newport county. Two years later 
he resumed the pastoral position which he had left at Salem, 
but after another period of controversy extending over nearly 
another two years, he was duly banished from that colony by 
the solemn and decorous pronunciamento of the general court. 
This action was not an unusual one in those times, but was con- 
sistent with the laws under which they lived, and in harmony 
with the general tone of popular sentiment. The banishment 
of a member for teaching doctrines in opposition to their ac- 
cepted laws was no more an exhibition of intolerance than the 
execution of any punishment for the violation of law at the 
present time. The difference is in the color of the glass through 
which we look. 

But it is not purposed here to discuss the propriety or ex- 
pediency of the banishment of Williams. We have only to 
deal with the fact. The order of banishment was dated Sep- 
tember 3d, 1635, and the language was as follows : 

"Whereas Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the 
church of Salem, hath broached and dyvulged dyvers newe and 
dangerous opinions, against the aucthoritie of magistrates, as 
also writ letters of defamacion, both of the magistrates and 
churches here, and that before any conviction, and yet maine- 
taineth the same without retraccion, it is therefore ordered, 
that the said Mr. Williams shall departe out of this jurisdiccion 
within six weekes nowe next ensueinge, which if he neglect to 
performe, it shall be lawfull for the Governor and two of the 
magistrates to send him to some place out of this jurisdiccion, 
not to return any more without licence from the Court." 

A strong character will always draw to itself strong adherents. 
So Williams had many ardent friends and followers. The 
rumor gained credence that a new colony was thus to be formed, 
and the fears that under his leadership such a colony would be 
planted somewhere near their own, which must of course be 
weakened by withdrawals of members to form the new one, 
prompted the general court again to consider the matter, and 
on January 11th they resolved to send Williams to England. 
But before the messengers sent to apprehend him reached Salem 


he had taken his departure, journeying through the wilderness 
southward. Some account of his movements is given in his own 
language at a subsequent time, as foJlows : 

" I first pitched and began to build and plant at Seekonk, 
now Rehoboth, but I received a letter from my ancient friend, 
Mr. Winslow, then Governor of Plymouth, professing his own 
and others love and respect to me, yet lovingly advising me, 
since I was fallen into the edge of their bounds, and they were 
loth to displease the Bay, to remove to the other side of the 
water, and then, he said, I had the country free before me, and 
might be as free as themselves, and we should be loving neigh- 
bors together." 

After leaving Salem in January, as we have seen,' he was, as 
he says,, "sorely tossed, for fourteen weeks, in a bitter winter 
season," between Plymouth and Seekonk, where he fixed his 
habitation in the following spring. After remaining but a 
short time he heeded the warning of his friend Governor Wins- 
low, and embarking in a canoe with five associates sailed across 
the water and up Providence river to the point where he estab- 
lished his plantation in May or early June, 1636. In his sojourn 
in the wilderness he was sheltered and fed by friendly Indians, 
and on his way to the site of his i)]antation he was greeted by 
others in the same amicable mannei'. With the Indians Wil- 
liams continued to maintain friendly relations. He purchased 
land of them, the chiefs at that time being Canonicus and his 
nephew, Miantonomi, both of whom made their residence gen- 
erally on the island of this county which perpetuates the name 
of the former. Williams, with his twelve associates, founded the 
settlement of Providence on a more broad, civil platform, and 
one in which entire freedom from ecclesiastical character was 
aimed at. 

It was well for the new settlement that the friendship of the 
Narragansett Indians had been cultivated, for about this time 
the great chief of the Pequods, Sassacus, was growing in bitter 
determination to annihilate the whites and subdue the Indians 
of all the country adjoining his own territory. In the expe- 
dition which the English sent under Capt. John Mason in 1637 
to break the power of this threatening monarch, Miantonomi, 
with two hundred of his bravest Narragansett warriors, joined 
as against a common foe. Thus augmented, and with the addi- 
tion of other Indians from the Niantics and the rebellious Pe- 


quods under Uncas, the forces of Mason numbered about five- 
hundred strong. 

Attacking the Pequod fort at Mystic at early dawn of a June 
morning, taking it by surprise, this force with wild vengeance 
applied fire and sword relentlessly, till seven hundred victims 
had fallen. The fleeing remnant of the nation were pursued 
along the sound shore westward, with sad slaughter by the way, 
until the remnant were overtaken and captured near Fairfield, 
except that Sassacus and a few others escaped to the Mohawks, 
only to meet death at their hands. 

Thus the great nation of the Pequods was wiped out, and the 
English settlers breathed free of the terrors on their account 
which had made residence in the new country peculiarly 

Though the scenes of the Pequod war were enacted in other 
fields than I^ewport county the influences exerted here must 
have amounted to a powerful factor in the means which brought 
such auspicious results to the white settlers of both this locality 
and Massachusetts bay. The scenes which took place here, on- 
Conanicut island, perhaps turned the tide of events, and in their 
final development gave to the white settlers an overwhelming 
victory for all time instead of a complete extermination of their 
feeble numbers by the combined forces of the bloodthirsty sav- 
ages. The Pequod embassadors sent to secure the co-operation 
of the ISTarragansett Indians were already in conference with 
Canonicus and Miantonomi on the island of Conanicut, when 
Roger Williams, being apprized of their movements and pur- 
poses, came down the bay to intercede with his friends, the 
Narragansett sachems. Though the latter had already entered 
into negotiations with the Pequods to join them in their war 
upon the whites, Williams threw all his energies into the cause, 
and at the imminent risk of his life, for three days and three 
nights labored by entreaty, argument and expostulation, to pre- 
vent the proposed alliance. His efforts were at last crowned 
with success, the proposed compact was completely nullified 
and the friendly relations of the Narragansetts with the colon- 
ists fully' established. 

History can never tell what direful results would have fol- 
lowed had it not been for that interview on Conanicut and the 
herculean struggle of Williams' superior intellect with that of 
the untutored savages. But the aspects which seem to have 


been entirely changed by it, wtren the fate of a coming nation 
hung quivering in the balance, strongly suggest that but for 
that interview the feeble colonies of white settlers then in New 
England might have been completely annihilated before the 
sweep of tomahawk and firebrand, wielded without mercy by 
reckless savage hands. 

While the field was being prepared for the occupation of a 
new race by the confirmation of friendly relations with the "Nar-. 
ragansetts, and the removal of possible danger from the hostile 
Pequods, agencies were at work in Massachusetts bay ffrepar- 
ing the seed which was soon to be planted here, as the nucleus 
of civilization in Newport county. We turn now to look briefly 
at the working of those agencies and the development of their 

Prom the early days of the Christian church, when the apos- 
tle James wrote his general epistle, there have been at times 
persons who taught the doctrine that faith in Christ relieves 
those holding it from all obligation to keep the moral law. 
Those holding this doctrine were called Autinomians. The doc- 
trine appeared in Grermany in the time of Luther, by whom it 
was vigorously opposed, and in England during the protector- 
ate of Cromwell, when some of its votaries maintained that " as 
the elect cannot fall from grace nor forfeit the divine favor, any 
wicked actions which they may commit are not really sinful ; 
and that consequently, they have ho need to confess their sins 
or to break them off by repentance." It appeared again in the 
following century, when its supporters maintained that it was a 
logical consequence from the doctrines taught by Calvin. From 
England the doctrine was brought to the new settlements in 
America by Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, a lady of considerable cul- 
ture and liberal education, who arrived in Boston September 18th, 
1634. She became a member of the Boston church, and rapidly 
acquired influence. Meetings of the women of the church -were 
held under her direction, in which she taught her peculiar relig- 
ious speculations. Among them was the tenet that the person 
of the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, and that the inward 
revelations of the Spirit, the conscious judgments of the mind, 
are of paramount authority. Among those who accepted her 
doctrines were Henry Vane, John Cotton and John Wheel- 
wright and nearly the whole Boston church. The neighboring 
churches and clergy however, were strongly opposed to them. 



The contest in 1636 became violent and all-pervading. Bancroft 
says,— "The dispute infused its spirit into everything; it inter- 
fered v^rith the levy of troops for the Pequot war ; it influenced 
the respect shown to the magistrates, the distribution of town 
lots, the assessment of rates ; and at last the continued exist- 
ence of the two opposing parties was considered inconsistent 
with the public peace." 

The peculiar tenets of Mrs. Hutchinson were among a long 
catalogue of opinions which were condemned as erroneous by 
an ecclesiastical synod held at Newtown, Mass., August 30th, 
1637, and in the following November she was tried by the general 
court, and together with a number of her associates sentenced 
to banishment from the territory of Massachusetts-. 

Nineteen of these exiled colonists, under the leadership of 
John Clarke and William Coddington, were welcomed by Roger 
Williams to establish a plantation near him, and by his recom- 
mendation purchased of the Indians the island of Aquidneck, 
now known as Rhode Island. Here a body politic was formed 
on democrafic principles, in which no one was to be "accounted 
a delinquent for doctrine." Mrs. Hutchinson, with her hus- 
band and sons, Joined the new settlement, and remained there 
until 1642, when, her husband having died, she removed with 
her family into the territory of the Dutch near New York, 
where during the following year she died at the hands of the 
Indians who were then at war with the Dutch. 

We are now prepared to consider the actual circumstances of 
the purchase and settlement. 

The initial part of what is now the county of Newport was 
the insular territory. Of that, the island lying in the bay, 
against the northern part of Rhode Island, now known as 
Prudence, but called by the Indians Chibachuwese, was the first 
purchase from the Indians of which we have any knowledge- 
■ This was first purchased by one Mr. Oldham, as will shortly be 
seen, upon conditions of settlement which were not fulfilled, 
hence the sale was void. Later it was sold to Roger Williams 
and Governor Winthrop. The date of these transactions is not 
known, but it was probably some time during the year 1636. 
The purchase was made of the two chiefs, Canonicus and Mia-n- 
tonomi. Previous to the transaction Roger Williams wrote to 
Governor Winthrop in regard to his motives and purposes that 
" Gannonnicus gave an Island in this Bay to Mr. Oldham, by 


name Chibackuwesa, uppon condition as it should seem, that 
he would dwell (here neare unto thera. The Lord (in whose 
hands all our hearts are) turning theare affections towards my- 
selfe, they desired me to remove thither and dwell nearer to 
them. I have answered once and againe, that for the present I 
mind not to remove ; but if I have it from them, I would give 
them satisfaction for it, and build a little house and put in some 
swine, as understandinge the place to have store of fish and good 
feedinge for swine. Of late I have heard, that Mr. Gibbons, 
xipon occasion, motioned your desire and his own of putting 
some swine on some of these islands, which hath made me more 
■desire to obtain it, because I might thereby not onley benefit 
myselfe, but also pleasure yourselfe, whom I more desire to 
please and honour. I spoke of it now to this sachem, and he 
tells me, that because of the store of fish, Cannonnicus desires 
that I would accept halfe, (it being spectacle- wise, and between 
a mile or two in circuit, as I guess) and he would reserve the 
other ; but I think if I goe over, I shall obtain the whole." 

But the first definite and most important transfer of the ex- 
tensive insular lands of this county was made in the year 1637. 
The following is a copy of this conveyance : 

" The 24th of ye 1st month called March in ye yeare (soe com- 
monly called) 1637. 

" Memorandum. That we Cannonnicus and Miantunnomu ye 
two chiefe Sachims of the Nanhiggansitts, • by virtue of our 
■Grenerale command of this Bay, as allso the perticular subject- 
Inge of the dead Sachims of Acquednecke and Kitackamuck- 
qutt, themselves and land unto us, have sold unto Mr. Cod- 
dington and his friends united unto him, the great Island of 
Acquednecke lyinge from hence Eastward in this Bay, as allso 
the marsh or grasse upon Quinunicutt and the rest of the Islands 
in the Bay (exceptinge Chibachuwesa formerly sould unto Mr. 
Winthrop, the now Governour of the Massachusetts and Mr. 
Williams of Providence) ; allso the grasse upon the rivers and 
coves about Kitickamuckqutt and from these to Paupausquatch, 
for the full payment of forty fathom of white beads, to be 
equally divided between us. In witnesse whereof we have here 

"Item. That by givinge by Miantunnomus' ten coates and 
twenty howes to the present inhabitants, they shall remove 


themselves from off the Island before next winter. Witness: 
our hands. 

"Themarkeof X Caunonnious 

" In the presence of 

" Ye marke of X Yotuesh 

"Roger Williams 

" The marke of X Miantunnomit 

"Randall Holden 

" Ye marke of X Assotemuet 

" Ye marke of X Mishammoh 

" Catjnonicus, his son." 

Other memoranda relating to the transaction have been pre- 
served, among the most interesting of which are the following : 

" This witnesseth that I, Wanamafcraunemit ye at present 
sachem, inhabitant of ye Island, have received five fathom of 
wampum and doe consent to the contents. Witness my hand. 

Ye marke of Wanamataunewit 
" In ye presence of 

Randall Holden." 

" Memorandum. That I, Ousamequin, freely consent that 
Mr. William Coddington and his friends United unto him shall 
make use of any grasse or trees on ye maineland on Powakasick 
side, and doe promise loveinge and just carriage of myselfe and 
all my men to the said Mr. Coddington and English his friends 
united to him, havinge received of Mr. Coddington five fathom 
of wampum as gratuity from himself e and the rest. 

" Dated the 6th of the fifth month, 1638. 

" Ye marke of X Ousamequin 
" Witnesse 
Roger Williams, 
Randall Holden." 

Existing receipts from Miantunnomu, Weshaganesett, Wani- 
menatoni and Canonnicus show that during the year 1639 Cod- 
dington and his associates paid to the Indians at different times, 
to satisfy them for this purchase, twenty fathoms wampum, 
twenty-five coats, thirteen hoes and two "tarkepes." The In- 
dians now removed from the island of Aquidneck and its 
neighboring islands, and surrendered them to the peaceable 
and undisputed possession of the white purchasers. The first 
settlement was made at Pocasset, in the northern part of the 
island, near the present village of Portsmouth. 


William Coddington, whose name appears prominent in the 
first purchase of lands of this county, was previous to that, one 
of the magistrates of the Massachusetts colony. He was one of 
a company of nineteen persons who associated themselves to- 
gether at Boston for the purpose of settling as a colony at some 
place southward, and accordingly sent out a committee of their 
number to select a place and secure territory upon which to 
locate. They made choice of the beautiful islands and shores of 
Narragansett bay, as has been seen, and two and a half cen- 
turies of enlightened progress confirms the wisdom of their 
choice. The deed was taken, as we have seen, in the name of 
" William Coddington and his friends." It was so held by 
Coddington until April 14th, 1652, when he executed an instru- 
ment transferring all rights which he might claim under the 
deed to the company of which himself was but a single member, 
holding equal rights with the others. 

Soon after the purchase of the "plantation " the settlers who 
located upon it entered into a compact, of which the following 
is a copy : 

" The 7th day of the first month, 1638. 
" We whose names are iinderwritten do here solemnly in the 
presence of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into aBodie Politick 
and as he shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates 
unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of 
Lords and to all those perfect and most absolute lawes of his 
given us in hisholy word of truth, to be guided and judged 
Exod. 24. 3, 4. William Coddington, 

2 Cron. 11. 3. John Clarke, 

2 Kings. 11. 17. William Hutchinson, Jr., 

John Coggeshall, 

William Aspinwall, 

Samuel Wilboke, 

John Porter, 

John Sanfokd, 

Edward Hutchinson, Jr., Esq., 

Thomas Savage, 

William Dyre, 

William Preeborne, 

Phillip Shearman, 

John Walker, 

23 histoey of newport county. 

Richard Carder, 
William Baulston, 
Edward Hutchinson, Sen'r., 
Heney X BuLLE, his mai'ke, 
Randall Holden." 
William Coddington was chosen a judge and the little colony 
promised to "yield all due honour nnto him according to the 
lawes of God." At the same time William Aspinwall was ap- 
pointed secretary and William Dyre was made " Clarke of this 

Meetings of the colony were held at irregular intervals, some- 
times of a week or two and sometimes of a month or more, 
whenever occasion demanded, which in those primitive days 
was frequent. At these meetings laws and orders were passed, 
lands allotted to individual settlers, and provision made for the 
needs of the colony in various directions as those needs ap- 

The colony flourished during the year 1638, and such was its 
rapid growth and the prospects of future prosperity that it was 
soon deemed expedient and desirable that a new colony or em- 
bryo town should be established on the southern part of the 
island. On the 28th of April, 1639, William Coddington and 
eight others decided to found such a plantation, and the steps 
which followed resulted in the foundation of what afterward 
became the town, and still later the city of Newport. Though 
the official vote which constituted the first act toward establish- 
ing the new settlement bears the above mentioned date, the 12tli 
of May is the traditional date on which the settlement was be- 
gun. This is attested by the inscription on the monument to 
the memory of William Coddington, which marks his resting 
place in the burial ground on Farewell street, near the Second 
Baptist church in Newport. It is a stone slab, standing in the 
middle of the plot, and bears the following legend of the time 
of which we are writing : 

" THIS MONUMENT Erected by the Town of Newport on 
the 12th day of May, 1839, being the Second Centennial Anni- 
versary of the settlement of this Town ; To the memory of 
WILLIAM CODDINGTON, ESQ. That illustrious man, who 
first purchased this Island from the Narragansett Sachems 
Canonicus and Miantunomo for, and on account of himself and 
Seventeen others his associates in the purchase and settlement. 


" He presided many years as chief Magistrate of the Island— 
and Colony of Ehode Island— and died much respected and 
lamented on the 1st day of November 1678, Aged 78 Years— 
and was here interred." 

If we may be pardoned for the digression, we would linger in 
this ancient burial place a moment longer to speak of two or 
three others of the first settlers of this island whose remains lie 
buried here. Doubtless beneath the grass and in spots other- 
wise half hidden in this enclosure 

" There lie memorial stones whence time haff gnawed 
The graven legends ; " 

but the "legends" upon some of them are still intelligible. 
Among them is a monument to Henry Bull, " Late Governor of 
this Colony aged 85 years deceased January 22d 169f . He was 
one of the eighteen original purchasers of this Island who set- 
tled the town of Pocassett or Portsmouth in 1638 ; and one of 
the eight who settled the town of Newport in 1639." Others 
bear the inscriptions of William James, Sr., who died October 
19, 1697 ; John Easton, governor, who died in 1705 ; and Edward 
Thurston, who died in 1706. 

A little confusion appears to exist in regard to the exact 
number of the first settlers here. It seems probable that one of 
the nineteen, Randall Holden, was not a member of the com- 
pany at the time the purchase was made, but joined or re- 
joined it about the time the compact was entered into. He then 
a few years later separated from the company. Hence we find 
the original number of settlers spoken of sometimes as eighteen 
and at other times as nineteen. 

We now behold the island of Aquidneck with two settlements 
in active and prosperous existence upon it. The usual labors of 
a new settlement engrossed their attention. What with break- 
ing roads, clearing up woods, exterminating wolves and foxes, 
opening a trade in lumber, building vessels and laying the 
foundations of a well established and regulated local govern- 
ment, these towns were soon advanced to a more prosperous 
and important position than their elder sister. Providence. 
During the summer of 1638 Richard Dummer began building a 
mill. For this public convenience he was granted a share in 
the common proprietorship equal to a £150 estate. In the lat- 
ter part of the same year Mr. Esson was encouraged to build a 
water mill for the use of the plantation, and for that use he was 


perrxiitted to fall and carry away any timber that might be 
necessary. At this period the general meeting of the people 
empowered creditors to sell property of absconded debtors, also 
appointed men to trade with the Indians, and fixed the rates at 
which venison should be bought and sold. These prices were 
three half pence a pound to be paid for it in trade with the In- 
dians, and two pence a pound was the price at Avhich it was to 
be sold, a farthing to each pound to be returned into the public 
treasury as revenue. On training days all men able to bear 
arms, between the ages of sixteen and fifty years, were required 
to exercise in military drill. In 1639 fences of either hedge or 
post-and-rail were required to be made around corn ground. 
Keepers were appointed for the cattle which ran at large in the 
common pasturage, from April 15th to November 1st. The set- 
ting of fire on any lands for purposes of clearing was forbidden, 
except during certain specified days in March. This indicates 
the prevalence of a custom of burning grass and shrubs. Stocks 
and whipping posts were among the first institutions set up for 
the public weal in these primitive towns. The fields and woods 
were held largely in common, and the falling of timber, which 
was plentiful here, was regulated by the towns. Those who 
were licensed to cut timber and saw it into lumber were forbid- 
den to sell any lumber outside of the town or to any one in the 
town without license from the proper authorities. The prices, 
which were then regulated by law, were eight shillings per hun- 
dred for inch boards and seven shillings per hundred for half 
inch boards ; and twelve pence per foot for clap-boards and 

On the 12th of March, 1640, a compact amounting to a gov- 
ernment was entered into by a union of the two towns occupy- 
ing the island. It was agreed that this should be under a gov- 
ernor or deputy governor and assistants. The governor and 
two assistants were to be chosen from one town and the deputy 
and two other assistants from the other town. The governor 
and all his assistants were invested with the authority of jus- 
tices of the peace. The election of all town officers was now ef- 
fected by the united towns. The first ofiicers of the primitive 
state thus organized were : William Coddington, governor ; 
William Brenton, deputy governor; Nicholas Easton, John 
Coggeshall, William Hutchinson and John Porter, assistants ; 
William,Dyre, secretary, and Henry Bull, sergeant. The terra 


of their offices was one year. A more full establisliinent of the 
government was effected at a general court of the two towns 
held on the 6th of May following. Among the acts passed at 
that time the following are some of the most interesting : 

" 13. Whereas, it was desired that all the orders and Laws 
formerlie recorded in this Book of State should be openlie read, 
perused and examined by this present Courte assembled ; Be it 
known, therefore, that it hath been so done ; and such as were 
disallowed are repealed, and so noted in the Margent, and the 
rest are ratified, and stand in full force, though the title of the 
Magistrates be altered. 

"14. In regard to the many Incursions our Island is subject 
unto, and that an Alarum be necessary for the safe securing 
thereof ; Be it therefore enacted, that in each plantation there 
bee this forme dulie observed. That as soon as a notice is given 
of any probable Incursion, that then forthwith Three Musketts 
be distinctly discharged, and the Drum or Drummers inces- 
santly to beat an Alarum ; and that forthwith each Man bearing 
armes shall repair to the coulers, which shall be lodged at ye 
Chief Magistrates House in each Plantation, as he will answer 
it at his perill. 

"15. It is ordered, that the Governour with the Assistants 
shall write to Plymouth about their Title of the Maine Land 

"16. It is ordered, that all such who shall have a House lott 
granted unto them within any of our Townes, shall build a 
House thereon within a year after the Grant thereof, or else it 
shall be forfeited to the Townes use. Repealed. 

"17. It is ordered, that Commission be directed to the Treas- 
urers to make demands of all such monies, as are due to the 
Treasury for the Lands assigned forth to particular men, and to 
make return of all such who shall be therein remiss, at the next 
particular Courte who are to be ordered thereby according to 

" 18. It is ordered, that the. particular Courts, consisting of 
Magistrates and Jurors shall be holden on the first Tuesday of 
each month ; and one Courte to be held at Nieuport, the other 
at Portsmouth ; and that the sayd Court shall have full powre 
to Judge and determine all such cases and actions as shall be 
August 6th, 1640, the general court passed further enact- 


ments requiring that all men liable to bear arms should appear 
completely armed with musket and pike and all their "furni- 
ture," at the places respectively designated, " by Eight of the 
clock in the morning, at the second beat of the Drum, on such 
dayes as they are appointed to Traine ; " that " eight severall 
times in the yeare the Bands of each Plantation shall openlie 
in the field be exercised and disciplined by their Commanders 
and Officers : " that there should be two general musters an- 
nually, one in Newport and one in Portsmouth : that a fine of 
five shillings should be paid by any delinquent : that a fine of 
twelve pence should be paid for every failure to come properly 
equipped : that when a general muster should be held in one 
town a sufiicient guard should be set in the other town : that all 
men remaining twenty days or longer upon the island should 
be liable to do duty in the training bands : that herdsmen and 
lightermen detained by their employments should be excused 
for absence on training days on payment of half the fine : that 
the two chief officers of each town — one of the commonwealth 
and the other of the band— should judge the validity of all ex- 
cuses of this kind : that each town should have the transaction 
of its own local affairs, the magistrates of each having liberty 
to call a court on the first Tuesday of each month, wherein 
actions might be entered, juries impaneled and causes tried 
(but they were to have no jurisdiction over cases involving 
"life and limb,") and whence appeals might be taken to the 
quarter sessions : and that the two general courts of the year 
should be held on the first Wednesday after the 12th of March 
and 12th of October respectively. The time of holding the 
quarter sessions was subsequently fixed on the Tuesdays pre- 
ceding the general court days, and on the first Tuesdays in Jan- 
uary and July. 

The Indian question is a perplexing one even to this great 
nation, with all its advancement, its great wealth, its sixty 
million people and its territory expanding from ocean to ooean. 
Of how much more pressing importance and grave perplexity 
must it have been to the handful of inhabitants of this little 
island who composed the government whose history we are re- 
viewing. Grovernor Coddington and his assistants, on the 7th 
of July, 1640, entered into a treaty with Miantonomi and his 
associates, sachems of the Narragansett Indians, as follows : 

" That no Indian whatever, under his jurisdiction shall eyther 


Winter or Summer, kindle or cause to be kindled any fires upon 
our Lands, but such as they shall put forth immediately again 
upon their departure ; Provided, that no hurt or damage be 
done thereby upon or after the kindling of the said fire ; or if it 
so fall out, that hurt or damage be donfe by their kindling of 
fire, then ye damage to be adjudged and they to be tryed by our 

" That in lieu of a Boore yt belonged to the Island, killed by 
an Indian, the said Indian shall pay ten fadome of beads at 
harvest next. 

" That no trapp or Engine be sett by them upon the Island, 
to take or stroye the deare or other cattle thereon. 

" That if any Indian shall be unruly, or -will not depart our 
houses when they are bidden, they are to carry them to the 
Governour or other Magistrate, and they shall be punished ac- 
cording to their demerit. And further, that for any common 
or small crime he shall receive his punishment according to Law; 
and for any matters of greater weight exceeding the value of 
ten fadome of beads, then Miantonomy is to be sent for, who is 
to come and see the Tryal. But if it be a Sachem that hath 
offended, though in smaller matters, then he is also to be sent 
for, and to see his tryall and Judgment, who hath promised to 

" That no Indian shall take any Cannew from the English, 
neyther from their Boatside or shoreside, and the like not to be 
done by them. 

"That upon their trading and. bargaining, having agreed, 
they shall not revoke the said bargaine or take their goods away 
by force, and that they shall not be Idling about nor resort to 
our houses, but for trade. Message, or in their Journeys." 

As improvements were made and the need of more definite- 
ness in boundaries of estates appeared, the dividing line be- 
tween the two towns was established. The act of the general 
court by which this was done bears date September 14th, 1640, 
and its language is as follows : 

"It is agreed and ordered, by the unanimous consent of this 
Courte, that a line of division be drawn between the Townes of 
Newport and Portsmouth, as the bounds of the Lands of 
each Towne, Vidg' t. 

"The s'd Line to begin half a mile beyond the Eiver com- 
monlie called Sachuis River, being the Eiver that lies next be- 


yond Mr. Brenton's Land on the South East side of the Island 
towards Portsmouth, and so on in a straight line to run to the 
nearest part of the Brook to the hunting Wigwamm, now 
standing in the highway between the two Towns, and so by that 
line to the sea on the North side of the Island, which line shall 
be and is the Bounds between the Two Townes, and to be sett 
out by marked Trees ; And that Mr. Easton and Mr. Porter, 
and Mr. Jeffreys and Mr. Sanford shall lay out this Line by the 
iirst of November ensuing." 

The two towns now carried on a sort of government in con- 
federation. The assembly of the people was called the general 
court. Notwithstanding the generally peaceable relations with 
the Indians, which had been established, the people were not 
entirely at ease about their safety. Military regulations were 
not neglected. On the 14th of September the general court 
passed the following order in respect to their defenses : 

" It was further ordered, that Two Barrels of Grunn Powder 
be alwaye readie in the Treasury of each Towne, with Bulletts 
and match : and that provision be forthwith hereof made by 
the Treasurers; and that also the Treasurers shall provide Thirty 
two pikes to lye by ^way in readiness in the Magazines of each 

The character of -the government, which then consisted of the 
two towns, Portsmouth and Newport, was defined more speci- 
fically than it had previously been, at a meeting of the people 
in general court in March, 1641. The expression of that senti- 
ment was made in the following form of language : 

" It is ordered and unanimously agreed upon, that the Grov- 
«rnment which this Bodie Politick doth attend unto in this Is- 
land, and the jurisdiction thereof, in favor of our Prince, is a 
Demooeacie, or Popular Government ; that is to say. It is the 
Powre of the Body of Freemen orderly assembled, or the major 
part of thdm, to make or constitute Just Lawes, by which they 
will be regulated, and to depute from among themselves such 
Ministers as shall see them faithfully executed between Man 
and Man." 

"It was further ordered, by the authority of this present 
Courte, that none be accounted a delinquent for Doctrine : 
Provided, it be not directly repugnant to ye Government or 
Lawes established." 

The last order was subsequently ratified by the same court at 


another meeting. Other regulations of importance were passed 
at the date last mentioned, some of which are of interest suf- 
ficient to warrant their reproduction here. 

"It is ordered, that no Fiers shall be kindled by any what- 
soever to runn at randome, eyther in Medows or Woods ; bu fc 
what by him that so kindled it shall forthwith be put out, that 
it damnifie none. And that if damage shall accrew, satisfaction 
to the utmost shall be awarded." 

"It is ordered, that a Manual Seale shall be provided for the 
State, and that the Signett or Engraving thereof, shall be a 
sheafe of Arrows bound up, and in the Lies or Bond, this motto 
indented : Amor vincet omnia." 

" It was then ordered, that a Line be drawen and a way be 
cleared between the Townes of Nuport and Portsmouth by re- 
moving of the wood and mowing it ; that drift Cattle may suf- 
ficiently pass." 

Greneral courts of election were held annually in March ; they 
usually occupied two or three days. At this time officers for 
the coming year were elected, necessary regulations made and 
the trial of such individual cases as were brought before them 
attended to. Other general courts were held in September. At 
the latter court for 1641 setting of traps for deer was forbidden 
under a penalty of five pounds, except within private enclosed 
grounds. Indians were at the same time forbidden to peel the 
bark off from trees or to fall them. The following curious and 
interesting acts were passed at the same session. 

"It is ordered, that Mr. Robert Jeoffreys shall be authorized 
to exercise the function of Chirurgerie." 

"It is ordered, that the Indian Corne shall goe at four shil- 
lings a bushell between man and man in a^l-^ayments for debts 
made from this day forward : Provided' it be Merchantable." 

" The Court doth order and Proclayme a General Pardon of 
all offences that have been presented to and given in this 
Present Sessions." 

JS'otwith standing the liberality of this government, the char- 
acter and conduct of its citizens were closely investigated, and 
when they were found to deviate from the popular standard 
they were promptly dealt with. This will be best shown by 
quoting from the records of the general court. In March, 1642, 
we find the following : 

" It is ordered, that Richard Carder, Randall Holden, Samp- 


son Shatton and Robert Potter, are disfranchised of the Priv- 
iledges and Prerogatives belonging to the Body of this State, 
and that their names be cancelled out of the record. 

"It is farther ordered, that George Parker and John Briggs 
are suspended their votes till they have given satisfaction for 
their offences. 

" It is further ordered, that Mr. Lenthall being gone for Eng- 
land, is suspended his vote in Election." 

What the offenses charged against these men were does not 
fully appear in the record, but other evidences show that in the 
case of those mentioned in the first paragraph at least they 
were of a political character, viz.: that of denying the right of 
the people here to exercise the functions of a state as they were 
doing. There were men among the early settlers who held that 
English subjects had no right to organize a government of their 
own, as the settlers of several towns had done, and as those of 
Portsmouth and Newport were doing. These men claimed that 
no government could lawfully be erected here without the con- 
sent and authority of the crown. They opposed the idea of 
the democracy which the people of Aquidneck had declared 
their government to be. Such appear to have been the views 
held by the company of men who made the settlement of War- 
wick, and such were the views of the five men — Holden, Weeks, 
Carder, Shatton and Potter— who were disfranchised here, as 
shown in the above paragraph. The degree of bitterness to 
which this controversy arose is suggested by a subsequent act 
of the general court to the effect that should those men "come 
upon the Island armed they shall be by the Constable (calling 
him sufficiently aside) disarm'd and carried before the Magis- 
trate, and there find sureties for their good behaviour ; and fur- 
ther belt established, that if that course shall not regulate them 
or any of them, then a further dew and lawfull course by the 
Magistrates shall be taken in their Sessions : Provided, that 
this order hinder not the course of Law already begun with J. 
Weeks." ' 

These men joined with others holding similar views, and in 
January, 1642-3, founded the settlement of Warwick, upon 
the site called by the Indians Shawomet. The Indian deed 
from Miantonomi to thatcompany, in which those names among 
others appear, bore date January 12th, 1642. The leading spirit 
in the founding of that plantation was one Samuel Gorton, one 



of those restless, pushing men, who thought for themselves, 
and had determination sufficient to prompt them to carry out 
their ideas, even in the face of violent opposition. Gorton 
denied the right of all government here that had not for its 
foundation the authority of the crown of England. As a con- 
sequence he denied the right of the colonies of either Aquid- 
neck or Providence to exercise any of the functions of govern- 
ment. This brought him into collision with the magistrates 
here, and he was banished from the island. He then disturbed 
the peace of Providence by his teachings, and finally withdrew 
with his followers and founded the plantation of Warwick. 
Greene, in his history of Rhode Island continues this subject 
in regard to him in the following words : 

" This brought him into open hostility with Massachusetts, 
which having already cast longing eyes upon the commercial 
advantages of Narragansett Bay, was secretly endeavouring to 
establish a claim to all the land on its shores. Hostile words 
were soon followed by hostile acts. Gorton and his companions 
were besieged in their house by an armed band, compelled to 
surrender, carried by force to Massachusetts, tried for heresy, 
and barelj^ escaping the gibbet, condemned to imprisonment 
and irons. A reaction soon followed. Public sentiment came 
to their relief. They were banished indeed from Massachusetts, 
but they were set at liberty and allowed to return to Rhode 
Island. At Aquidneck they were received with the sympathy 
which generous natures ever feel for the victims of persecution, 
and Gorton was raised to an honorable magistracy in the very 
colony wherein he had been openly whipped as a disturber of 
the public peace." 

The ideas of the Warwick men seemed to gain some root in 
the minds of others. Whilst the people of Aquidneck may not 
have questioned the lawfulness of their government, however, 
they shortly began to see the expediency of being founded on 
a charter from the crown. Accordingly the general court in 
September, 1642, appointed a committee, consisting of the gov- 
ernor, deputy, four assistants, secretary, and three others, viz., 
Capt. Jeoflfreys, Capt. Halrding and Mr. John Clarke, to con- 
sult about procuring a patent for this island and the neighbor- 
ing islands and lands adjacent. The committee were directed 
to address Sir Henry Vane on the subject, and to send a man 
on the proposed errand with petitions for its accomplishment, 



at the' expense of " the Body." How far this project was 
pushed we do not know, but it was undoubtedly merged in the 
more comprehensive plan of securing a patent for the other set- 
tlements of Providence and Warwick in connection with those 
of this island, which was accomplished during the following 

Before leaving the history of that interesting period when 
Aquidneck was an independent state, let us notice briefly a few 
more of the customs and regulations of the time. Training was 
kept up with enforced regularity, and rules were annually 
made concerning the practice of military exercise. Training 
days were appointed on the first Monday of every month ex- 
cept January, February, May and August. Wolves had. be- 
come troublesome, and in order to exterminate them various 
means were used. Men were employed by the day to range the 
woods and hunt them down. A premium of thirty shillings 
each was offered for destroying them, in addition to the pay for 
time employed in hunting them. It appears to have been a 
custom with the state to furnish at public expense dinners for 
those who were in attendance at the general court sessions. 
This was soon regarded as a needless, burden upon the public 
treasury, and in the year 1642 the custom was abolished. At 
this time great precautions were taken to prevent damage being: 
done by the Indians by way of personal attacks as well as upon 
property, by withholding as much as possible the means of 
destruction from the hands of the Indians. To furnish any In- 
dian who was offensive to the state with warlike weapons or 
ammunition was prohibited under penalty of two pounds for 
the first offense and five pounds for the second offense. The 
pay of jurors was fixed in 1642 at twelve pence each for every 
cause upon which they sat. September 19th Roger Williams 
was commissioned to agree with Miantonomifor the destruction 
of wolves on the island, but it was specified that they should 
" in no way damnific the English." At the same time the gov- 
ernor and his deputy were authorized to make a treaty of 
commercial exchange with the Dutch. 

March 13th, 1644, the name of the island was changed, by 
the following act of the general court : 

"It is ordered by this Court, that the ysland commonly 
called Aquethneck, shall be from henceforth called the Isle of 
Rhodes, or RHODE ISLAND." 


The patent for the Providence Plantations bears date March 
14th, 1643-4. It gave to the inhabitants of the towns of Provi- 
dence, Portsmouth and Newport, a "free and absolute Charter 
of Incorporation, to be knojvn by the name of the Incorpora- 
tion of Providence Plantations in the Narragansett-Bay, in 
New England. — Together with full Power and Authority to 
rule themselves, and such others as shall hereafter inhabit 
within any Part of the said Tract of land, by such a Form of 
Civil Government, as by voluntary consent of all, or the greater 
Part of them, they shall find most suitable to their Estete and 

At a meeting of the major j)art of the freemen of the colony 
at Portsmouth May 19th, 20th and 21st, 1647, unanimous agree- 
ment and consent was made to the charter, and it was agreed 
also that Warwick should have the same privileges under the 
charter as were enjoyed by Providence. Laws were adopted 
similar in general tone to those which had previously been in 
force under the union of the two towns of Portsmouth and New- 
port, but very much more full and extending to many other 
subjects. An order was at this time passed that the seal of the 
province should be an_ anchor, which design in general is still 
preserved on the seal of the state. The moderator of this meet- 
ing was John Coggeshall. Among other enactments then 
passed was the following : 

"It is agreed by this present Assembly thus incorporate and 
by this present act declared, that the form of Grovernment es- 
tablished in Providence Plantations is Democratical ; that is to 
say Government held by ye free and voluntairie consent of all 
or the greater part of the free Inhabitants." 

The first officers then elected were : John Coggeshall, presi- 
dent ; William Dyre, recorder ; Jeremy Clarke, treasurer ; and 
Roger Williams, John Sanford, William Coddington and Ran- 
dall Holden, assistants. The latter represented the four towns 
of Providence, Portsmouth, Newport and Warwick. The 
island was then (he principal part of the colony, as may be 
seen from the assessment on the different parts of the colony to 
pay the expense incurred by Roger Williams in obtaining the 
patent. Of the one hundred pounds which was raised for this 
purpose fifty was levied on Newport, thirty on Portsmouth, 
•twenty on Providence, and nothing was exacted of Warwick, 
doubtless out of regard for the weak condition of that settle- 


ment and the fact that it was not embraced specifically in the 

The government of the colony was, however, far from being 
settled on an established and firm basis. The jealousy of Massa- 
chusetts and her desire to absorb the little colony on the one 
hand, and the fear of Indian invasion on the other, furnished 
continual occasions for unrest to the people, while to still 
further complicate their position William Coddington in 1651 
obtained from England a commission appointing him governor 
for life over the colony of Rhode Island, and Connecticut as 
M^ell. This virtually opened a new form of government and for 
the time superseded the charter. The govornor was to be as- 
sisted by a council of six. 

The towns of Aquidneck island now sent John Clarke, their 
agent, to England, to secure if possible the annulment of Cod- 
dington' s commission. At the same time the mainland towns 
sent Roger Williams to England to secure the confirmation of 
the charter. 

The general court of Providence Plantations November 4th, 
1651, ]3assed the following resolution, which hints at the con- 
dition of things at the time : 

"Whereas, it is evident and apparent that Mr. ISTicholas Eas- 
ton being formerly chosen President of the Province of Provi- 
dence Plantations, hath of late deserted his office, and hee, to- 
gether with the tv^ro Townes upon Rhode Island, viz, Ports- 
mouth and Newport, have declined and fallen off from that es- 
tablished order of civill government and incorporation amongst 
us, by means of a commission presented upon the sayd island 
by Mr. William Coddington, Wee, the rest of the Townes of 
the sayd jurisdiction, are thereupon constrained to declare our- 
selves, that wee doe prof esse ourselves unanimously to stand im- 
bodyyed and incorporated as before, by virtue of our Charter, 
granted unto us by that Honorable State of Ould England, and 
thereby do according to our legall and settled order, choose 
and appoint our officers, institute lawes, accordinge to the con- 
stitution of the place and capassitie of our present condition, 
prosecutinge, actinge and executing, in all matters and causes, 
for the doinge of justice, preservation of our peace, and main- 
taininge of all civill rights between man and man, accordinge 
to the Honourable authoritie and true intent of our forsayed 
Charter granted unto us." 


The people at this time seemed rather desirous of courting 
the favor of the English crown, for the reason perhaps more 
emphatically than they might otherwise have felt, that the con- 
dition of affairs in their new home was not at all satisfactory, 
and the prospect of maintaining here a government of any kind 
seemed enveloped in darkness, and the only source from which 
they could expect help was from the crown. The following act, 
passed in 1650, exhibits this desire to appear jealous of the 
honor of the crown. 

"Be it enacted by this present Assemblie, that whosoever 
shall speake wordes of disgrace contemptuously undervaluing 
of that Honored State of England, he shall suffer a severe pun- 
ishment according to the judgment of his peers, theare fault 
being proved by two lawfull witnesses." 

The general court of 1650 ordered that a committee of six men 
from each town should meet four days before the meeting of 
the next general court, and be invested with the authority of 
the full court. They were to be paid by the town that should 
send them two shillings and six pence a day for each man. The 
plan of representation seems to have worked satisfactorily, as 
at the next meeting of the assembly, October 26th, 1650, the 
following record was made : 

" Ordered, that the representative committee for the Colonie 
shall alway consist of six discreet, able men, and chosen out of 
each Towne for the transacting of the affaires of the Common- 
wealth ; and being mett, they shall have powre to make and 
establish rules and penalties for the ordering of themselves dur- 
ing their sessions." 

From the year 1651 to 1654 the island towns maintained a 
government of their own, while the towns of Providence and 
Warwick claimed to exist under the former charter and main- 
tained as well as they could their charter privileges. We quote 
from " Staples' Annals" the following picture of the times : 

"The towns of Providence and Warwick appointed Mr. Wil- 
liams their agent to go to England and solicit a confirmation of 
privileges. In the mean time Plymouth and Massachusetts re- 
newed their dispute before the United Colonies about Warwick. 
In September Plymouth was advised to take possession of that 
plantation by force, unless the inhabitants would willingly sub- 
mit themselves to their jurisdiction. This undoubtedly hastened 
the appointment of an agent to England. The proceedings of 


Mr. Coddington were not approved by all the inhabitants of the- 
islands over which he was appointed Grovernor. Forty-one of 
the inhabitants of Portsmouth, and sixty-five of the inhabitants 
of ]N"ew,port joined in requesting Dr. John Clark, of Newport, 
to proceed to England as their agent, and solicit a repeal of his 
commission. Mr. Williams and Mr. Clark sailed together from 
Boston in November. The objects of their respective missions 
were different. Mr. Clark was the sole agent of the island 
towns, to procure a repeal of Mr. Coddington' s commission. 
Mr. Williams was the sole agent of Providence and Warwick to 
procure a new charter for these two towns. It seems to have 
been admitted that the commission of Mr. Coddington had in 
effect vacated the previous charter." 

The commission of Coddington covered in its jurisdiction the 
islands of Rhode Island and Conanicut. This, it was said, was 
then the greater part of that which had been under the charter 
of the Providence Plantations. While the Gortonists (fol- 
lowers of Samuel Gorton at Warwick) and the people of 
Showomut were raising money to send Williams to England for 
the purposes already mentioned, Mr. William Arnold at the 
time wrote concerning the movement as follows : 

"It is a great pe tie and very unfitt that such a company as 
these are, they all stand professed enemies against all the United 
Colonies, that they should get a charter for so small a quantity 
of land as lyeth in and about Providence, Showomut, Pautuxit 
and Coicett, all which now Rhode Island is taken out from it, 
it is but a strape of land lying in betweene the colonies of Mas- 
sachusits, plymouth and Conitaquot, by which means if they 
should get them a charter, off it there may come some mischiefe 
and trouble upon the whole country if their project be not pre- 
vented in time, for under the pretence of liberty of conscience 
about these partes there comes to live all the sou me the runne 
awayes of the country, which in tyme for want of better order 
may bring a heavy burthen upon the land." 

In the midst of this period of disorganized government war 
broke out between England and Holland, and these hostilities 
affected quite directly the towns on Narragansett Bay, espec- 
ially Newport, which was then engaged in a profitable com- 
merce with the Datch. Meanwhile the agents in England had 
obtained permission for the colony to act under the charter un- 
til a more thorough investigation of the questions in which it 


was involved could be had and a more mature decision be ar- 
rived at. The island towns, on account of their superior num- 
bers and importance now claimed the privileges and rights of 
the charter, and that they were the proper descendants of the 
government which for about three years had been divided. 
They accordingly proceeded to act in the matter of prospective 
relations with the Dutch, and in the name and by the authority 
of the colony of the Providence Plantations, commissioned 
John Underhill, Edward Hull and William Dyre to make 
treaties with the Dutch or to provide for defense against them. 
Against this action Providence and Warwick strongly protested. 
They declared that if they were drawn into any such complica- 
tion by the unwarranted action of the island towns they would 
appeal to the crown. 

They then passed an edict disfranchising all those persons 
in the colony who should own the commission of Underhill, 
Hall and Dyre. Thus the colony was sorely disquieted by the 
conflict of two factions, each claiming the heritage of the char- 
ter. Though the difficulty with the Dutch did not prove as 
great as might have been expected, yet the controversy on the 
priority of rights between the governments centered at Kewport 
on the one hand and at Providence on the other, was still main- 
tained, even after the news arrived that the English court had 
revoked the commission of Coddington and had reinstated th^ 

Many weary months passed in a vain attempt to reorganize 
the government under the charter. Each faction claimed the 
right to dictate terms upon which a union under the charter 
should be made. Finally, in the summer of 1654 a committee 
representing the four towns was agreed upon to meet and form 
a plan or scheme of union. This committee was composed of 
Messrs. Olney and Williams from Providence ; Burden and 
Roome from Portsmouth ; Smith and Torrey (Joseph) from 
Newport ; and Weeks and Potter from Warwick. This com- 
mission met at Warwick on the 31st of August, 1654, and ad- 
justed the differences between their constituents. It was agreed 
that the acts of the two factions, as far as they concerned their 
own towns, should stand, but the acts of neither were to be in 
force in the towns of the other. Henceforth the colony, united 
again, should be governed under the charter of 1643. Tfe« 


general assembly of the colony was to be composed of six 
commissioners from eacli town. 

The government thus re-established, a period of comparative 
peacefulness was enjoyed, but the people of this county were 
not permitted to fall into a condition of drowsy lethargy. What 
with the alarms of the Indians, the continual demands of Mas- 
sachusetts for territory that belonged to Rhode Island, and the 
defense of the persecuted Quakers, these people were kept 
awake to vital questions which daily pressed upon them. JSTot 
the least of these questions was that as to what might be the 
sentiments of the newly crowned King, Charles II., in regard 
to the religious freedom, which was a cardinal feature of the 
colonial policy of Rhode Island. At this juncture Greene de- 
clares in the following language complimentary to one of the 
men of Newport: "It was well for her that at this perilous 
moment she was represented at the new court by so earnest, 
clear headed and dextrous a diplomatist as John Clarke. By 
his exertions a new charter was obtained, and on the 24th of 
November, 1663, accepted 'at a very great meeting and assem- 
bly of the colony of Providence Plantations, at Newport, in 
Rhode Island, in New England.' " 

A new era now opens in the history of Rhode Island, of 
which the towns now of Newport county then constituted the 
principal part. The charter of 1663 was so liberal and complete 
in its provisions and so perfectly in accord with the sentiments 
of the colony that it remained in force during the remainder of 
the, colonial period, and was accepted as the foundation of the 
state government down to the adoption of the constitution of 
1842. A document which could thus hold the respect of the 
people for nearly two hundred years deserves more than a 
passing mention. Our curiosity is at once aroused to know 
something of the details of such a document. We feel, there- 
fore, abundantly justified in quoting liere some of the most in- 
teresting passages and otherwise making abstracts so as to pre- 
sent in condensed form the details of that charter. It begins 
with the following recital : 

" Charles the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, 
Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., to all 
to whom these presents shall come, greeting : Whereas, we 
have been informed by the humble petition of our trusty and 
vjrell-beloved subject, John Clarke, on the behalf of Benjamin 


Arnold, William Brenton, William Codington, Nicholas Easton, 
William Boulston, John Porter, John Smith, Samuel Gorton, 
John Weeks, Roger Williams, Thomas Olney, Gregory Dexter, 
John Coggeshall, Joseph Clarke, Randall Holden, John Greene, 
John Roome, Samuel Wildbore, William Field, James Barker, 
Richard Tew, Thomas Harris and William Dyre, and the rest 
of the purchasers and free inhabitants of our island, called 
Rhode Island, and the rest of the Colony of Providence Planta- 
tions, in the Narragansett Bay, in New England, in America, 
that they, pursuing, with peaceable and loyal luinds, their 
sober, serious, and religious intentions, of godly edifying them- 
selves, and one another, in the holy Christian faith and worship, 
as they were persuaded ; together with the gaining over and 
conversion of the poor ignorant Indian natives, in those parts 
of America to the sincere profession and obedience of the same 
faith and worship, did, not only by the consent and good en- 
couragement of our royal progenitors, transport themselves out 
of this kingdom of England into America, but also, since their 
arrival there, after their first settlement amongst other subjects 
in those parts, for the avoiding of discord, and those many 
evils which were likely to ensue upon some of those our sub- 
jects not being able to bear, in these remote parts, their differ- 
ent apprehensions in religious concernments, and in pursuance 
of the aforesaid ends, did once again leave their desirable sta- 
tions and habitations, and with excessive labor and travel, 
hazard and charge did transplant themselves into the midst of 
the Indian natives, who, as we are informed, are the most 
potent princes and people of all that country ; where, by 
the good Providence of God, from whom the Plantations have 
taken their name, upon their labor and industry, they have not 
only been preserved to admiration, but have increased and 
prospered, and are seized and possessed, by purchase and con- 
sent of the said natives, to their full content, of such lands, 
islands, rivers, harbors and roads, as are very convenient, both 
for plantations, and also for building of ships, supply of pipe- 
staves, and other merchandize ; and which lie very commodi- 
ous, in many respects, for commerce, and to accommodate our 
southern plantations, and may much advance the trade of this 
our realm, and greatly enlarge the territories thei-eof ; they 
having by near neighborhood to and friendly society with the 
great body of the Narragansett Indians, given them encourage- 


ment of their own accord, to subject themselves, their people 
and lands, unto us ; whereby, as is hoped, there may, in time, 
by the blessing of God upon their endeavors be laid a sure 
foundation of happiness to all America: And whereas, in 
their humble address, they have freely declared, that it is much 
on their hearts (if they maybe permitted) to hold forth a lively 
experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and 
best be maintained, and that among our English subjects, with 
a full liberty in religious concernments ; and that true piety 
rightljr grounded upon gospel principles, will give the best and 
greatest security to sovereignty, and will lay in the hearts 
of men the strongest obligations to true loyalty : Now know 
ye, that we, being willing to encourage the hopeful undertak- 
ing of our said loyal and loving subjects, and to secure them 
in the free exercise and enjoyment of all their civil and religious 
rights, appertaining to them, as our loving subjects; and to pre- 
serve unto them that liberty, in the true Christian faith and 
worship of God, which they have sought with so much travail, 
■ and with peaceable minds, and loyal subjection to our royal 
progenitors and ourselves, to enjoy ; and because some of the 
people and inhabitants of the same colony cannot, in their pri- 
vate opinions, conform to the public exercise of religion, ac- 
cording to the liturgy, forms and ceremonies of the Church of 
England, or take or subscribe the oaths and articles made and 
established in that behalf ; and for that the same, by reason of 
the remote distances of those places, will (as we hope) be no 
breach of the unity and uniformity established in this nation : 
Have therefore thought fit, and do hereby publish, grant, ordain 
and declare. That our royal will and pleasure is, that no person 
within the said Colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise 
molested, punished, disquieted or called in question for any 
differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually 
disturb the civil peace of our said Colony ; but that all and 
every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all 
times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their 
own judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concern- 
ments, throughout the tract of land hereafter mentioned, they 
behaving themselves peaceably and quietly, and not using this 
liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, nor to the civil injury 
or outward disturbance of others, any law, statute, or clause 
therein contained, or to be contained, usage or custom of this 


realm, to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwithstanding." 
The charter then declares that the people of the new incor- 
poration should enjoy the benefit of the late act of " indemnity 
and free jjardon " the same as other subjects of the crown in 
other dominions and territories had. The persons whose names 
have already been given were then constituted, together with 
all such as should be admitted to their number, a body corpor- 
ate and politic by the name of " the Governor and Company of 
the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Planta- 
tions, in New England, in America." The administration of 
the local government was placed in the hands of a governor, 
deputy governor and ten assistants. The first persons author- 
ized to hold these offices were named in the charter as fol- 
lows : — Benedict Arnold, governor ; William Brenton, deputy 
governor ; William Boulston, John Porter, Roger Williams, 
Thomas Olney, John Smith, John Greene, John Coggeshall, 
James Barker, William Field and Joseph Clarke, assistants. 

The assistants were constituted a council to deliberate, advise 
and act with the acting governor on all public questions. A 
general assembly of the governor and assistants and deputies 
from the different towns was authorized to be convened twice 
in each year or oftener if occasion required, to "consult,^ advise 
and determine, in and about the affairs and business of the said 
Company and Plantations." The number of deputies to be 
sent from each town to this general assembly was six from 
JN'ewport acd four each from Providence, Portsmouth and War- 
wick, and two each from any other town or city that might af- 
terward be formed or added. To this general assembly was 
given power to change and appoint the times and places for 
holding their meetings ; to admit freemen into the colony and 
invest them with the rights of citizenship ; to elect and consti- 
tute needed offices and officers and to commission the same ; to 
make and repeal all laws for the colony that should not conflict 
with the laws of England ; to appoint and establish courts, and 
define their powers ; to regulate and order the manner of all 
elections ; to prescribe the bounds of towns and cities ; to im- 
pose fines and punishments and to alter, revoke and annul the 
same and grant pardons ; to make purchases and treaties with 
the Indians.; and to fill vacancies in their own numbers occa- 
sioned by death, removal or incapacity. 

The acting governor for the time being was authorized, with 


the assistants, at any time when the assembly was not sitting, fo 
appoint and commission military oflBcers for training the inhab- 
itants in martial affairs, and also fo place in hostile array and 
equipment the military forces of the colony and to lead the 
same in warlike enterprise for the defense of the colony against 
any and all forces or persons who should attempt the invasion 
of the territory or the injury or annoyance of its inhabitants ; 
and also for its protection to invade the native Indians or other 
enemies of the colony ; provided, however, that no invasion of 
the Indians within the territory of another English colony in 
New England should be permitted without the consent of the 
colony within whose jurisdiction the natives inhabited. The se- 
curity of the charter was not to be so construed, however, as to 
afford protection against the power of the mother country to call 
to account any who should commit what might be deemed an 
unjustifiable act of spoliation upon the high seas ; neither was 
the colony to use its liberal investment of power to deny to other 
English subjects the right of fishing in adjacent waters and land- 
ing on its shores for the necessary purposes of the business of 
curing, drying, salting and marketing fish, or for similar pur- 
poses in the taking of whales that might be chased by others 
into adjacent waters. "And further also, we are graciously 
pleased, and do hereby declare, that if any of the inhabitants of 
our said Colony do set upon the planting of vineyards (the soil 
and climate both seeming naturally to concur to the production 
of wines) or be industrious in the discovery of fishing banks, in 
or about the said colony, we will, from time to time, give and 
allow all due and fitting encouragement therein, as to others, in 
cases of like nature." 

The bounds of the jurisdiction of the charter were given in 
the following words: — "all that part of our dominions in 
New England, in America, containing the Nahantic, and 
Nanhyganset, alias Narragansett Bay, and countries and 
parts adjacent, bounded on the west, or westerly, to the 
middle of a channel or river there, commonly called and known 
by the name of Pawcatuck, alias Pawcawtuck river, and so along 
the said river, as the greater or middle stream thereof reacheth. 
or lies up into the north country, northward, unto the head 
thereof, and from thence, by a straight line drawn due north, 
until it meets with the south line of the Massachusetts Col- 
ony ; and on the north, or northerly, by the aforesaid south or 


southerly line of the Massachusetts Colony or Plantation, and 
extending towards the east, or eastwardly, three English miles 
to the east and northeast of the most eastern and northeastern 
parts of the aforesaid Narragansett Bay, as the said bay lyeth 
or extendeth itself from the ocean on the south, or southwardly 
unto the mouth of the river which runneth towards the town of 
Providence, and from thence along the easterly side or bank of 
the said river (higher called by the name of Seacunck river) up 
to the falls called Patuckett Falls, being the most westwardly 
line of Plymouth Colony, and so from the said falls, in a 
straight line, due north, until it meet with the aforesaid line 
of the Massachusetts Colony ; and bounded on the south by the 
ocean ; and, in particular, the lands belonging to the towns of 
Providence, Pawtuxet, Warwick, MiscLuammacok, alias Paw- 
catuck, and the rest upon the main land in the tract aforesaid, 
together with Rhode Island, Block Island, and all the rest of 
the islands and banks in the Narragansett Bay, and bordering 
upon the coast of the tract aforesaid (Fisher's Island only ex- 
cepted), together with all firm lands, soils, grounds, havens," etc. 

The charter confirmed the above described premises to the 
freemen of the colony, "as of the Manor of East Greenwich, in 
our county of Kent, in free and common soccage," reserving to 
the crown one-fifth of all the gold and silver ore that should af- 
terward be discovered there. By the charter the Narragansett 
river was made the dividing line between this colony and Con- 
necticut. In all matters of public controversy between this 
colony and the other colonies of New England the charter con- 
firmed to the people the right of appeal to the crown, and also 
the right " to pass and repass, with freedom, into and through 
the rest of the English Colonies, upon their lawful and civil oc- 
casions, and to converse, and hold commerce and trade with 
such of the inhabitants of our other English Colonies as shall 
be willing to admit them thereunto, they behaving themselves 
peaceably among them." 

In good earnest the freemen now set about the work of re- 
organizing the government conformably to the new charter. 
Two general courts for the trial of causes were held annually 
at Newport, which was the chief town of the colony, and the 
seat of government. They were composed of the governor and 
not less than six of the assistants, with the deputy governor 
and as many more assistants as might be present. The attend- 


ance of the deputy governor was not essential. These courts 
were regularly held in May and October. Courts of trial were 
also held in Providence in September and in Warwick in 
March. Grand and petit jurors were chosen for these courts, 
five of each from Newport, three of each from Portsmoalh, two 
of each from Providence, and a like number from Warwick. 
For the management of the interests of Rhode Island before 
the Court of England, and conducting the business to such a 
propitious result, in the face of such powerfully opposing in- 
:fluences, the colony was placed under a lasting debt of gratitude 
to their agent, Mr. John Clarke, one of the citizens of Newport, 
whose name the people of this county have not yet ceased to 
honor and to regard with a grateful veneration not excelled by 
that accorded to any other man known to its history. 

It has been already shown that the territory now occupied by 
Newport county was enlarged as to the Ehode Island jurisdic- 
tion by the charter of 1663. That charter, as we have seen, 
gave to Rhode Island the island of Block Island. This had 
already been settled, under Massachusetts patronage, having 
by the issues of the Pequot war fallen into the hands of that 
colony, by whom it had in 1658 been granted to Grovernor John 
Endicott and three of his associates. By them it was again 
transferred to a company of nine men, who in 1661 had made a 
settlement there. Representatives from the island attended the 
meeting of the general assembly of the colony in May, 1664, 
and formally acknowledged the jurisdiction of Rhode Island 
and the " submission " of the inhabitants to the will of " His 
Majesty." A sort of town government was established there, 
in which three selectmen were the chief executives, legislators 
and Judges. The town was authorized to send two representa- 
tives to the general assembly. This island was called by the 
Indians, Manasses, or Manisses, and was named Block Island 
by its discoverer, Adrian Block, the Dutch navigator, who in 
1614 sailed around it. November 6th, 1672, it was incorporated 
with more full privileges as a town, and at that time its name 
was changed to New Shoreham, the reason for this name being 
given by the people "as signs of our unity, and likeness to 
many parts of our native country." 

The claims of Massachusetts on the one hand and Connecticut 
on the other hand, upon the territory of Rhode, Island were 
pressed with almost constant vigor by those colonies for many 


years. Into the details of the vicissitudes of that question it is 
not our purpose to go, since the subject becomes tedious in its 
monotony and its rehearsal would only serve to weary the 
reader with matter that belongs more to the state than to county 
history. Suffice it to say that amid all the contentions of co- 
lonial claimants and the varying fortunes of political associa- 
tions the hand of Providence, which seemed always to exercise 
a guardian care over the little colony, did not permit her to be^ 
swallowed up by her more powerful and greedy neighbors. 
Disputes over the boundary lines continued to afford frequent 
causes of disturbance for two hundred years. The encroach- 
ments of Massachusetts and Connecticut were a grim skeleton, 
a menacing goblin, forever haunting the little colony, reaching^ 
out its long, bony, clutching fingers from every ambush and 
wayside whither she passed, and rising before her at every turn 
in the road of her progress. It dogged her steps at the in- 
stallation of the Duke's government in 1664 ; it appeared in the 
smoke and flames of King Philip's war ; it clutched for her 
heart when in 1686 the charter was suspended for a term of 
three years ; and so it continued its threatenings during every 
decade of the two centuries. 

Thus' far we have given a brief outline of the circumstances 
under which the settlement of this section of country was effect- 
ed. Such an outline must of necessity involve the history of 
the state, or colony at least. The county then had no existence 
as such. June 22d, 1703, the territory then occupied by the 
colony was divided into two counties, respectively named Prov- 
idence Plantations and Rhode Island. The latter county em- 
braced the towns of Newport, Portsmouth, Jamestown and New 
Shoreham. June 16th, 1729, the name of Newport was substi- 
tuted for Rhode Island, and the county re-incorporated under 
that name with the same towns as before mentioned. The ex- 
istence of the colony had now become a settled fact and its ' 
foothold had assumed a more permanent appearance. A season 
of more peaceful enjoyment of its political rights had opened 
upon it and business and social prosperity seemed to light its 
pathway. The growth of Newport soon resulted in the forma- 
tion of a new town, called Middletown, from the northern part 
of its territory, June 16th, 1743. The town of Jamestown,^ 
named in honor of King James II., had been incorporated No- 
vember 4th, 1678. By a royal decree dated May 28th, 1746, the 



borders of Rhode Island on the east and north were materially 
increased by the addition of the territory of five towns from 
Massachusetts. These were Bristol, Warren, Tiverton, Little 
Compton and Cumberland. Of these Little Compton and 
Tiverton were annexed to Newport county February 17th, 1747, 
they having been incorporated as towns, under the Rhode Is- 
land jurisdiction on the 27th of the preceding month. Although 
minor changes have been made in its boundaries, the county has 
remained substantially the same in territorial limits, to the pres- 
ent time, with the exception of the town of Fall River, which 
was incorporated from the northern part of Tiverton October 
6th, 1856, and in the settlement of a boundary question was 
ceded to Massachusetts, March 1st, 1862. In 1860, the only 
census year during which Fall River existed as a distinct town 
within the jurisdiction of this county, it had a population of 

The growth of the different towns of this county is shown by 
the following table of population at different periods. The re- 
duction of the population of Tiverton between 1850 and 1860 is 
explained by the formation of Fall River from part of Tiverton 
in 1856. 








































































































































































































Some of the more important events connected with the history 
of the State, in which this county has been especially inter- 
ested, are grouped in the following paragraphs : 

The island of Aquidneck, the first settled portion of the 
county, was purchased March 24th, 1638, and the settlement of 
Portsmouth immediately began. Newport was settled in May, 
1.639. The union of these towns as a government was effected 
ia March, 1640, and William Coddington was elected the first 

The first public school was established at Newport August 
20th, 1640. 

The incorporation of the Providence Plantations, of which 
Portsmouth and Newport were a part, was affected by commis- 
sioners of Parliament March 14th, 1643. 

The name of Aquidneck was changed to "the Isle of Rhodes," 
or Rhode Island, March 13th, 1644. 

The first general assembly under the incorporation of 1643 
met at Portsmouth May 19th, 1647. The colony was divided, 
and two governments, one comprising the mainland towns and 
the other the island towns, set in operation in 1651. This con- 
tinued until August 31st, 1654, when the united government 
was re-instated. 

The colonial charter was granted by Charles II., and the gov- 
ernment organized under it, in 1663. 

The first postal route from Boston to Rhode Island was es- 
tablished June 9th, 1693. The first census was taken in 1708, 
and the first printing press established in 1709 by one Bradford, 
who received fifty pounds a year for doing the public printing 
of the colony. This printing office was set up at Newport, 
where also the first newspaper in the colony was started under 
the name of the Rhode Island Gazette, by James Franklin, in 

The first alms-house in Rhode Island was erected in Newport 
in 1723. 

Beaver Tail light house, said to be the first light house built 
on the Americain coast, was ordered built in February, 1749. 

The first number of the Newport Mercury was issued June 
12th, 1758. 

The first overt act of the colonies of America against the au- 
thorities of Great Britain preceding the revolution was the de- 
struction of the Bi'itish revenue sloop, "Liberty," which took 


place at Newport, July 19th, 1769. Here also was enacted the 
first naval engagement of the war. This took place June 15th, 
1775, between a colonial sloop commanded by Capt. Abraham 
Whipple and a tender of the British frigate "Rose," in which 
the latter was pursyed till she grounded on the shore of Conan- 
icut and was there captured. 

The general assembly of the colony formally renounced al- 
legiance to Great Britain May 4th, 1776. 

A hospital for vaccination and treatment of small pox was es- 
tablished by Jaw in the county in 1776. 

The declaration of independence having been formally ap- 
proved by the general assembly July 19th, 1776, the British 
army under General Clinton took possession of Newport on the 
8tli of the following December. The island was now given up 
to the British, and the functions of local government and par- 
ticipation in the colonial government in an open manner were 

General Pres(3ott, who was in command of the British forces 
on- the island, was quartered at the house of a Mr. Overing, on 
the west side of the island, just north of the present town line 
which divides Middletown from Portsmouth. On Hie night of 
July 9th, 1777, he was surprised and captured by a party of 
Americans headed by Col. William Barton. • 

The French fleet arrived off Newport July 29th, 1778, and one 
month later, viz.: August 29th, the battle of Rhode Island took 
place. This engagement was the result of an effort made by 
the Americans to dislodge the British from the island. The 
American forces, ten thousand strong, under General Sullivan, 
had moved over from Tiverton upon the north end of this island, 
on the 9th of August, where they occupied the abandoned forts 
of the British. The latter, in the meantime, fell back toward 
Newport. On the 15th Sullivan advanced with his army to a 
point within two miles of the British lines, which extended 
across the island, from Tonomy hill to Easton's pond. Here 
cannonading was kept up for several days, and so effective was 
the work that Sullivan was about to storm the enemy's works 
when his army became demoralized by the withdrawal of the 
French fleet which had been expected to afford assistance, so 
that the number of his effective troops was reduced to about 
fifty-four hundred. With these he began to fall back to the- 
northward on the evening of the 28th, and at two o'clock that 


night encamped on Butt's hill, in the northern part of Ports- 
mouth. The British forces marched out from Newport and 
pursued. A general engagement took place on the 29th upon 
the high lands of Portsmouth, in which the loss of the Ameri- 
cans was two hundred and eleven, while that of the enemy was 
one thousand and twenty-three. The Americans held their po- 
sition and repulsed the British. On the following day Sullivan 
withdrew his forces to Tiverton. 

Newport was evacuated by the British, October 25th, 1779. It 
was incorporated as a city June 1st, 1784, and the charter was 
repealed in March, 1787. Another city charter was granted May 
6th, 1853. Here the federal constitution was adopted by the 
state, after a long and heated contest May 29th, 1790. 

The first trip of the steamboat "Firefly," the pioneer steam 
packet, was made between Newport and Providence May 28th, 

The adoption of a state constitution was considered, and a 
convention in 1824 at Newport adopted one, but the vote of the 
people rejected it. Another convention met at Providence in 
1834 and 1835, but nothing was matured. A third convention 
met in 1842 and adopted what was called the "Landholders' 
constitution," which was also rejected by the vote of the peo- 
ple. , In frhe meantime another convention was held which 
drafted the "People's constitution" which it was claimed was 
subsequently adopted by the vote of the people. A government 
organized under it, with Thomas W Dorr at its head, claimed 
the right to exercise the functions- of government. The author- 
ities acting under the charter refused to accede to their demands, 
and preparations were made for hostile action. The rebellion 
culminated on the 28th of June, 1842, when a party of the in- 
surgents attempted to make a stand at Chepachet. The state 
troops moved upon them and they dispersed and gave up the 
contest. Another constitutional convention in 1842 adopted a 
constitution which was approved by the people, and govern- 
ment under it was organized May 2d, 1843. 

It will be interesting to note some of the men whom this 
county has given to prominent positions in the state. Among 
the governors we find the following were from this county : 

William Coddington, March 12, 1640, to May 9, 1647. 

John Coggeshall, May, 1647, to May, 1648. 

William Coddington," May, 1648, to May, 1649. 



Mcliolas Easton, May, 1650, to August, 1651. 

John Sanford, May, 1653, to May, 1654. 

Nicholas Easton, May to September 12, 1654. 

Benedict Arnold, May, 1657, to May, 1660. 

William Brenton, May, 1660, to May, 1662. 

Benedict Arnold, May, 1662, to May, 1666. 

William Brenton, May, 1666, to May, 1669. 

Benedict Arnold, May, 1669, to May, 1672. 

Nicholas Easton, May, 1672, to May, 1674. 

William Coddington, May, 1674, to May, 1676. 

Walter Clarke, May, 1676, to May, 1677. 

Benedict Arnold, May, 1677, to June 20, 1678*. 

William Coddington, August 28, 1678, to November 1, 1678*. 

John Cranston, Novembers, 1678, to March 12, 1680*. 

Peleg Sanford, March 16, 1680, to May, 1683. 

William Coddington, Jr., May, 1683, to May, 1685. 

Henry Bull, May, 1685, to May, 1686. 

Walter Clarke, May to June 29, 1686. 

(The charter was suspended till 1690). 

Henry Bull, February 27, to May 7, 1690. 

John Easton, May, 1690, to May, 1695. 

Caleb Carr, May, 1695, to December 17, 1695*- 

Walter Clarke, January, 1696, to March, 1698. 

Samuel Cranston, March, 1698, to April 26, 1727*. 

William Wanton, May, 1732, to December, 1733*. 

John Wanton, May, 1734, to July 5, 1740*. 

Richard Ward, Jtily 15, 1740, to May, 1743. ■ 

Gideon Wanton, May, 1745, to 1746, and May, 1747, to May, 

Josias Lyndon, May, 1768, to May, 1769. 

Joseph Wanton, May, 1769, to November 7, 1775 ; at which 
date he was deposed. 

John Collins, May, 1786, to 1790. 

William C. Gibbs, May, 1821, to 1824. 

William C. Cozzens, March 3 to May, 1863. 

Charles C. Van Zandt, 1877 to 1880. 

George Peabody Wetmore, 1885 to . 

The following citizens of this county have held the office of 
deputy governor or lieutenant governor, the title being changed 
from the former to the latter term in 1799. 

*Died in office. 


William Brenton, November, 1663, to May, 1666. 

Nicholas Easton, May, 1666, to May, 1669. 

John Clarke, May, 1669, to May, 1670. 

Nicholas Easton, May, 1670, to May, 1671. 

John Clarke, May, 1671, to May, 1672. 

John Cranston, May, 1672, to May, 1673. 

William Coddington, May, 1673, to May, 1674. 

John Easton, May, 1674, to April, 1676. 

John Cranston, May, 1676, to November 8, 1678. 

James Barker, November, 1678, to May, 1679. 

Walter Clarke, May, 1 679, to May, 1686. 

John Coggeshall, May to June, 1686 ; and after the suspen- 
sion of the charter, from May 1, 1689, to May, 1690. 

Walter Clarke, May, 1700, to May 22, 1714*. 

Henry Tew, June 15, 1714, to May, 1715. 

John Wanton, May, 1721, to May, 1722. 

Jonathan Nichols, May to August 2, 1727*. 

John Wanton, May, 1729, to May, 1784. 

Richard Ward, May to July, 1740. 

Joseph Whipple, May, 1743, to May, 1745 ; and again from 
May, 1746, to May, 1747. 

William Ellery, May, 1748, to May, 1750. 

Joseph Whipple, May, 1751, to November 2, 1753. 

Jonathan Nichols, Jr., November 2, 1753, to May, 1754; and 
again, from May, 1755, to September 8, 1756*. 

John Gardner, May, 1754, to May, 1755 ; and again Septem- 
ber, 1756, to January, 1764*. 

Joseph Wanton, Jr., February 27, 1764, to May, 1765 ; and 
again. May, 1767, to May, 1768. 

Paul Mumford, 1803 to 1805*. 

Isaac Wilbour, 1806 to 1807 ; and again from 1810 to 1811. 

Constant Taber, 1807 to 1808. 

Simeon Martin, 1808 to 1810 ; and again from 1811 to 1816. 

Charles Collins, 1824 to 1882. 

John Engs, 1835 to 1836. 

Joseph Child^ 1838 to 1839. 

Edward W. Lawton, 1847 to 1849. 

William Beach Lawrence, 1851 to 1852. 

Anderson C. Rose, 1855 to 1856. 

Samuel G. Arnold, J861 to 1862. 

* Died in oflBce. 


Duncan C. Pel], 1865 to 1866. 
Pardon W. Stevens, 1868 to 1872. 
Charles C. Van Zandt, 1873 to 1875. 
Henry T. Sisson, 1875 to 1877. 
Henry H. Fay, 1880 to 1883. 

The following list contains the names of the men from this 
county who have held the office of secretary of the colony or 

William Dyre, March 12, 1640, to May 16, 1648. 

Philip Shearman, May 16, 1648, to 1651. 

William Lytheiland, May, 1653, to May, 1654, and September, 
1654, to May, 1656. 

Joseph Torrey, May to September, 1654, and May, 1661, to 
May, 1666 ; and again 1669 to 1671. 

John Sanford, May, 1656, to May, 1661 ; and again from 1666 
to 1669 ; and from 1671 to 1676 ; and again from 1677 to 1686. 

John Coggeshall, 1676 to 1677 ; and from May, 1691, to Au- 
gust, 1692. 

Weston Clarke, 1690 to 1691 ; and July, 1695, to May, 1714. 

John Easton, August, 1692, to 1695, or near that date, the 
record being obscure. 

Richard Ward, 1714 to 1733. 

James Martin, May, 1733, to February, 1746.* 

Thomas Ward, 1746, to December, 1760.* 

Henry Ward, December, 1760, to October, 1797.* 

Those of this county who have held the office of attorney 
general to the colony or state have been as follows : 

William Dyre, 1650 to 1651. 

John Easton, May 17, 1653, to May 16, 1654 ; May 20. 1656, 
to May 19, 1657 ; May 22, 1660, to May 22, 1663 ; May 4, 1664, 
to May 4, 1670 ; and 1672 to 1674. 

John Cranston, May 16, 1654, to May 20, 1656. 

John Sanford, May ^2, 1663, to May 4, 1664, and May, 1670, 
to 1671. 

Joseph Torrey, May, 1671, to 1672. 

Peter Easton, 1674 to 1676. 

Weston Clarke, 1676 to 1677; 1680 to 1681; 1683 to 1684; 
1685 to 1686 ; and 1714 to 1721. 
* Died in ofiBce. 


Edward Richmond, 1677 to 1680. 

John Pococke, 1682 to 1683 ; 1684 to 1685 ; 1690, for a year 
or more — the records are missing ; 1698 to 1700 ; and 1701 to 

John Williams, 1 686 to the suspension of the charter. 

Nathaniel Dyre, 1702 to 1704. 

Joseph Sheffield, 1704 to 1706. 

Richard Ward, 1712 to 1713. 

John Hammett, 1713 to 1714. 

Henry Bull, 1721 to 1722. 

James Honey man, Jr., May, 1732, to December, 1740 ; and 
1741 to 1743. 

Augustus Johnston, 1758 to 1766. 

Henry Marchant, 1741 to 1777. 

William Channing, 1777 to 1787 ; and again 1791 to 1793. 

Henry Goodwin, 1787 to 1789. 

Dutee J. Pearce, 1819 to 1825. 

The honorable office of treasurer of the colony or state has 
been held by citizens of this county as follows : 

Jeremy Clarke, May 19, 1647, to May 22, 1649. 

John Clarke, May 22, 1649, to 1651. 

John Coggeshall, May 17, 1653, to September 12, 1654 ; and 
1664 to 1672. 

Richard Burden, September 12, 1654, to May 22, 1655. 

John Sanford, May 22, 1655, to May 21, 1661 ; and May 22, 
1662, to May 4, 1664. 

Caleb Carr, May 21, 1661, to May 22, 1662. 

Peter Easton, 1672 to 1677. 

Thomas Ward, 1677 to 1678. 

Peleg Sanford, 1678 to 1681. 

Weston Clarke, 1681 to 1685. 

John Woodman, 1685 to the suspension of the charter by 
Andros, in 1686. 

John Holmes, February, 1690, to May, 1703 ; and 1708 to 
1709. V 

William Hiscock, 1703 to 1705. 

Nathaniel Sheffield, 1705 to 1708. 

Edward Thurston, 1709 to 1714. 

Joseph Borden, 1714 to 1730. 

Abraham Borden, 1730 to 1733. 


Gideon Wanton, 1733 to 1743. 
John Gardner, 1743 to 1748. 
Thomas Richardson, 1748 to 1761. 
Joseph Clarke, 1761 to 1792. 
Henry Sherburne, October, 1792 to May, 1808. 
Constant Taber, 1808 to 1811. 
William Ennis, 1811 to 1817. 
Thomas G. Pitman, 1817 to 1832. 
John Sterne, 1832 to 1838 ; and again, 1839 to 1840. 
William S. Nichols, 1838 to 1839. 
Stephen Cahoone, 1840 to 1851. 
Edwin Wilbnr, 1851 to 1854. 
Samuel B. Vernon, 1854 to 1855. 

Samuel A. Parker, 1855 to 1856 ; and March, 1868, to Feb- 
ruary 4, 1872. 

George W. Tew, May, 1866, to March, 1868. 

The following citizens of Newport county have been honored 
with the position of speaker of the house of representatives in 
the legislature of the colony or state. 

Jonathan Holmes, Newport, October, 1696, to October, 1698 ; 
and April, 1700, to May, 1703. 

Benjamin Newbury, Newport, February, 1699, to April, 1700. 

William Wanton, Newport, May, 1705, to May, 1706 ; and 
October, 1708, to May, 1709. 

Benjamin Arnold, Newport, May, 1706, to February, 1707. 

John Wanton, Newport, February to May, 1707 ; May, 1710, 
to October, 1710 ; and May, 1713, to October, 1713. 

Abraham Anthony, Portsmouth, October, 1709, to May, 

Ebenezer Slocum, Jamestown, May, 1712, to May, 1713. 

William Wanton, Newport, May to October, 1715 ; October, 
1716, to October, 1717 ; May to October, 1718 ; May, 1719, to 
May, 1722; and February, 1723, to May, 1724. 

John Cranston, Newport, May to October, 1716. 

Nathaniel Sheffield, Newport, October, 1718, to May, 1719. 

William Coddington, Newport, October, 1722, to February, 
1723 ; May 5, 1724, to May 6, 1724; October, 1724, to October, 
1725; and May to October, 1726. 

Henry Bull, Newport, April to October, 1728; and April 30, 
1734, to May, 1734. 


Joseph Whipple, Newport, October, 1728 to February, 1729; 
and June to August, 1741. 

Samuel Clarke, Jamestown, May to October, 1729 ; May, 
1730, to October, 1731; May to October, 1732; October, 1733, to 
April, 1734; October, 1734, to October, 1735; October, 1736, to 
May, 1737; and May, 1740, to May, 1741. 

Peter Bours, Newport, October, 1744, to October, 1746; and 
October, 1757, to May, 1759. 

Samuel Wickham, Newport, May, 1747, to October, 1747. 

Thomas Cranston, Newport, October, 1748, to May, 1749 ; 
May, 1750, to May, 1757; and May, 1760, to May, 1762. 

Benjamin Wickham, Newport, May, 1757, to October, 1757. 

Daniel Ayrault, Jr., Newport, May, 1762, to October, 1762 ; 
and May to October, 1764. 

Metcalfe Bowler, Portsmouth, February, 1767, to May, 1767; 
and October, 1767, to November, 1776. 

George Champlin, Newport, June, 1793, to October, 1793; May, 
1797, to June, 1797; and October, 1797, to October, 1798. 

Archibald Crary, Newport, June to October, 1797. 

Constant, Taber, Newport, October, 1802, to October, 1805. 

Isaac Wilbour, Little Compton, October, 1805, to May, 1806. 

Nathaniel Hazard, Newport, May to October, 1810; and May, 
1818, to May, 1819. 

William Hunter, Newport, May, 1811, to February, 1812. 

Benjamin Hazard, Newport, October, 1816, to May, 1818. 

Job Durfee, Tiverton, October, 1827, to May, 1829. 

Henry Y. Cranston,- Newport, May to October, 1835; May, 
1839, to May, 1841; May to October, 1854; and January to May, 

B,ichard K. Randolph, Newport, May to October, 1842. 

George G. King, Newport, 1845 to 1846. 

Robert B. Cranston, Newport, 1846 to 1847. 

Charles C. Van Zandt, Newport, 1858 to 1859; 1866 to 1869 ; 
and 1871 to 1873. 

John P. Sanborn, Newport, May, 1881, to November, 1882. 

During the transition period, when the American colonies 
were preparing to assume their character and title as states, the 
continental congress was the legislative and executive body of 
the central government. The following citizens of the county 
were members of that body : 


John Collins, of Newport, 1778 to 1783. 

William Ellery, of Newport, 1776 to 1781; and 1783 to 1785. 

Henry Marcliant, of Newport, 1777 to 1780 ; and 1783 to 

John Gardner, of Newport, 1788 to 1789. 

George Champlin and Paul Mumford, of Newport were 
elected in 1785, but the congressional records do not show that 
they were seated there. 

Newport county has been honored by the election of her 
citizens named in the following list to represent Rhode Is- 
land in the United States senate : 

Christopher Ellery, of Newport, 1801 to 1805. 

Benjamin Rowland, of Tiverton, 1804 to 1809. 

Francis Malbone, of Newport, March, 1809; died in June. 

Christopher G. Champlin, of Newport, June, 1809, to October, 
1811, when he resigned. 

William Hunter, of Newport, October, 1811, to March, 1821. 

Asher Robbing, of Newport, December 5, 1825, to March, 

Samuel G. Arnold, of Middletown, September, 5, 1862, to 

William P. Sheffield, Newport, November 19, 1884, to Jan- 
uary 21, 1885. 

Newport county men have from time to time been elected 
to the lower house of Congress. The following list contains 
the names of such as have been thus honored : 

Francis Malbone, of Newport, 1793 to 1797. 

Christopher G. Champlin, of Newport, 1797 to 1801. 

Isaac Wilbour, of Little Compton, 1807 to 1809. 

John L. Boss, Jr., of Newport, 1815 to 1819. 

Nathaniel Hazard, of Middletown, 1819 to December 17, 1820. 
Died in office. 

Job Durfee, of Tiverton, 1821 to 1825. 

Dutee J. Pearce, of Newport, 1825 to 1837. 

Robert B. Cranston, of Newport, 1837 to 1843. 

Henry Y. Cranston, of Newport, 1843 to 1847. 

Robert B. Cranston, of Newport, 1847 to 1849. 

George G. King, of Newport, 1847 to 1853. 


Nathaniel B. Durfee, of Tiverton, 1855 to 1859. 
William P. Sheffield, of Newport, 1861 to 1863. 

The following Newport county men have served the state as 
presidential electors. It will be remembered that at the time 
of the first presidential election Rhode Island had not ac- 
cepted the Federal constitution, hence had no part in the elec- 

1792, 1796 and 1800, George Champlin of Newport. 

1804, Constant Taber, of Newport. 

1808 and 1812, Christopher Fowler, of Newport. 

1816, Thomas Pitman, of Newport. 

1820, Dutee J. Pearce. of Newport. 

1824 and 1828, Stephen B. Cornell, of Portsmouth. 

1832, Nathaniel S. Ruggles, of Newport. 

1836, Henry Bull, of Newport. 

1840, George Engs, of Newport. 

1844, Benjamin Weaver, of Middletown. 

1848, George C. King, of Newport. 

1852, George Turner, of Newport. 

1856, Edward W. Lawton, of Newport. 

1860, David Bnffum, of Middletown. 

1864, Robert B. Cranston, of Newport. 

1868, George H. Norman, of Newport. 

1872, Benjamin Finch, of Newport. 

1876, Samuel G. Arnold, of Middletown. 

1880 and 1884, George Peabody Wetmore, of Newport. 

In the administration of the cause of public education this 
county shares in the advantages of the excellent system under 
which the state dispenses elementary instruction to its develop- 
ing citizens. It will, however, be of interest to notice in brief 
outline the various stages of growth and progress here, by which 
that system has reached its present degree of efficiency. As in 
all the New England colonies so in Rhode Island, the early set- 
tlers gave their attention with much earnestness to the matter 
of educating their children. This subject seemed to them only 
second in importance to the maintenance of religious worship. 
But from the peculiarly unsettled state of the government of 
this colony in the early years of its existence, the matter of 
education was not treated by the colon j^ in general, but local 


circles managed it, each in their owa way, and in accordance 

with the particular circumstuiici-s by which each was surround- 
ed. As a natural consequence of this independent action of 
different towns and communities there was no necessary uniform 

ity in such action, hence the data from which we may learn of 
the early condition and progress of public education are meagre 
and fragmentary. 

To Newport is given the credit of being the leader among the 
towns of this county, and perhaps of the state, in providing 
liberally for the education of its children. As early as 1640 we 
find that town employing a school teacher, one Mr. Lenthal, 
" to keep a public school for the learning of youth." For his 
compensation the town granted him four acres of land for a 
house lot, and two hundred acres more for his use and benefit 
while engaged in this work. Of this land one hundred acres 
were permanently devoted to tlie support of schools, being sold 
or leased, and the proceeds appropriated to the support of pub- 
lic schools. At what time the iirst school house was erected is 
not known, but it appears to have been in use at least as early 
as 1685, and is spoken of in 1700 as an old school house, that 
had fallen down, and was about to be replaced by a new one. 
But the new one does not ajtpear to have been built until some 
thirty or forty years later. , The cause during that period doubt- 
less progressed but slowly. 

Public education in Rhode Island, reduced to anything like a 
uniform and general system, appears to have been the outgrowth 
of influences which originated with John Howland, of Newport, 
nearly at the close of the last century. In February, 1800, an 
act to establish free schools tliroughout the state passed the 

' legislature. This required that every town should establish and 
maintain one or more free schoolsi at the expense of such town, 
to be kept open during periods of each year, corresponding in 
general to the number of cliildren there were to be educated. 
These schools were provided for all white inhabitants of the 
town between the ages of six and twenty years, and the list of 
studies specified by the law was leading, writing and common 
arithmetic. Every town council was to divide their town into 
school districts. Each town ^vas entitled to receive annually 
from the general treasury, for scliool purposes, twenty per cent, 
of the sum it had the previous year paid into the general treas- 
ury, provided not more than six thousand dollars should be 


distributed in this way out of the state treasury. Under this 
law Newport was required to maintain three schools eight 
months each; Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton were 
each to maintain three schools for four months each; and Mid- 
dletown, Jamestown and New Shoreham were each to maintain 
one school four months. This law was so strongly opposed that 
in February, 1803, it was repealed. 

A decadence of interest in school matters seemed now to fol- 
low, but after a quarter of a century a revival of sentiment ap- 
peared, and in 1828, after many a hard fought battle of intellect, 
with the varied weapons of argument, a new school law was 
passed. This act provided that a sum, not exceeding ten thous- 
and dollars, to be derived from certain specified sources of 
revenue, should annually be paid from the state to the towns 
for the support of schools, and authorized each town to supple- 
ment within specified limitations such sum as it received from 
this source, by a tax upon its people to an amount sufficient to 
support its schools. The superintendence of schools was placed 
in the hands of a school committee in each town. On this act 
the present school system of the state has been builded. 

At that time Newport had one free school with about two 
hundred scholars, and forty-two private schools with about one 
thousand one hundred scholars, supported the year round. 
Portsmouth then had four school houses in which schools were 
kept somewhat regularly throughout the winter, and in one or 
two of them during the summer. Middletown had live school 
houses in which schools were taught regularly during the win- 
ter and irregularly during the summer. Jamestown had three 
school houses, one of which was unoccupied, and schools kept in 
the other two only during the winter. Little Compton had eight 
school houses open in winter, and most of them open in sum- 
mer. In New Shoreham there was but one school house, though 
four schools of about thirty scholars each, on an average, were 
kept four months in winter, and six months in summer. In 
Tiverton there were ten school houses in which schools were 
kept with much regularity, and a few other small schools. The 
school law of 1828 was amended in 1839. 

The. first official report of the schools of the state, and the re- 
sults of the operation of the system, was made in 1832. In ii 
appears the following comment: 

"There is not a town in which all the children may not have 



the means of acquiring a common school education; and when 
we consider the nature of uur institutions, and how much their 
preservation depends on the general spread of information, and 
on the correct morals of onr youth, we hare much cause to re- 
joice at the present favorable prospects, and we look forward to 
the period when Khode Island shall be as celebrated for the 
facilities afforded to education as she now is for her industry 
and manufactures." 

From the statistical tables of that report is compiled the fol- 
. lowing, by comparing which with other tables printed further 
on a good idea of the growth of the schools of this county un- 
der the fostering care of the state may be gained : 







a M) 

_r1 TO 

a a 







o n 


° fl 



























Little Compton 


New Shoreham 














The following table shows the condition of the schools in 1844: 


a, t-i 

S3 .2 




Aggregate number 
of Scholars. 



















New Shoreham 








Little Compton 













The school law of the state was again amended in 1845. Other 
amendments and changes in the law have since been made, but 
the law of that year formed the general basis on which the law 
as it exists to-day has been built. 

The following table, compiled from the school reports of the 
year ending May 1, 1855, gives another landmark in the prog- 
ress of popular education here : 

^ ^ " 

S, u 9 
^ c 





Little Compton. . 
New Shoreham. . 










'S aj 
a; cd 

== s 


0) o3 




$6,858.83 $8,875.00 


> o m 


1-1 U 














The school reports for 1886 show the following figures : 

Number of Child- 
ren of School 

0; 03 


=8 . 







^ CO 

■3 "S 




















Little Compton . 



NpTjF Shorfham 



















We append the following statistics relating to different sub- 
jects and periods, which are of interest chiefly in showing the 
comparative growth and importance of the different towns of 
the county. 


history of newport county. 
Census of 1730. 

" In the year 1730 there was by the King's order an exact ac- 
count taken of the number of souls in the colony." 

In this census the four towns which then constituted New- 
port county were reported as follows ; 





















New Shorehain 






Total of the Colony 


ng figures 


The census of 1748-49 showed tlie follow 








1,1 or, 













Middleto wn 




Newport County 




The number of families in the county in 1774 were : Newport, 
1,590; Portsmouth, 220; New Shoreham, 7i'j ; Jamestown, 69; 
Middletown, 123 ; Tiverton, 298 ; Little Compton, 218 ; the 
whole county, 2,593. 

The censusof 1775 showed the pojiulation, diHtrihuted among 
the different classes mentioned, as follows : 





New Shoreham . . 




Little Compton. 

Newport County 

Men Able to 
Bear Arms. 











Men. Women. 









3,782 2,708 



















New Shoreham 









Little Compton 


Newport County 




The valuations of the seveial towns of the county in 
1796 were as follows : Newport, £-^57,200; Portsmouth, £110,- 
207, 9s.; New Shoreham, £83,472, 2s.; Jamestown, £45,599, 18s.; 
Middletown, £55,747, 16s.; Tiverton, £111,272, 18s., 9d.; Little 
Compton, £88,082, 16s. 

War E.vpiovsKs, 1861-65. 

Little Compton. 


New Shoreham 



Portsmouth. . . . 
Middletown .... 


ft x 





^ Oh 





a| ° • 





a> oj g 

bo® t, 

a^ ffi S 

t. *H TO 


p >- i 

o'H P. 




By Henry E. Turner, M. D.* 

IN presenting the following sketches of the medical men of 
Newport county, -the writer desires to state that he has 
been actuated by no motive but the desire to present the exact 
truth, so far as information could be obtained (in a compact 
form) and also to make it as exhaustive as possible. He also 
desires to acknowledge his gratitude to Doctor H. R. Storer, 
G. C. Mason, Esq., Hon. William P. Sheffield and many 
others for valuable aid in his work. 

Doctor Albro, born at Portsmouth, R. I., studied medicine 
with Doctor S. W. Butler, of Newport, graduated at the Uni- 
versity Medical School, New York city, in 1879, and has not 
since been a resident in this county. 

Doctor John Almy was born in Tiverton, R. I., in 1757. He 
studied medicine in the office of Doctor Isaac Senter, of New- 
port, and settled in Little Compton, R. I., in 1797. His wife 
was Abigail, daughter of Isaac Bailey. He was a very popular 
and successful practitioner in Little Compton for 40 years or 
more. He died in Little Compton in 1844, at the very advanced 
age of 87 years. 

, Doctor Caleb Arnold of Portsmouth, R. I., was a son of Gov- 
ernor Benedict Arnold, of Newport, and was a delegate to the 
general assembly from Portsmouth in 1684 ; was, the same year, 
appointed an assistant and declined. Of his professional career, 
nothing is known. 

Doctor Edmund S. P. Arnold came to Newport some years 
since and purchased a fine residence, and lived here for several 
years, but did not resume practice from which he had previously 

*The following sketches in this chapter were not prepared by Doctor Tur- 
ner, viz.: Doctors James Tyler Buttrick, David King, David King, Jr., David 
Olyphant, F. H. Rankin, Austin L. Sands, William Turner, and Henry E. 
Turner.— Ed. 


retired. He, however, was a consulting physician to the medi- 
cal staff of the Newport Hospital from 1874 to 1877. 

Doctor Avery F. Angell, son of Job and Alcey (Leach) Angell, 
was born in Scituate, E,. I., May 5th, 1811. His early life was 
passed in farming and mechanical pursuits ; from 1833 to 1847 
he was a school teacher and afterward was a dentist until 1864. 
He subsequently practised medicine, having graduated in a 
western medical school. For about ten years he resided in 
Newport, practising medicine and dentistry. About 1886 he 
went south and is believed now to be in Florida. Doctor An- 
gell has two sons. He was an original member of the Newport 
Medical Society. 

Doctor Pierre Ayrault was a prominent member of the French 
Huguenot colony, which purchased a considerable tract in East 
Greenwich, R. I., being refugees from the paternal government 
of Louis XIV. after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. 
In 1699, he appears as one of the founders of Trinity church, 
Newport, and it has been thence inferred that he was a resident 
of Newport, but this conclusion is not sustained by any other 
• evidence. His will was proved in East Greenwich, June 4th, 
1711, and this proves him a resident there at the time of his 
death. Directly after, his son Daniel sold his house in Green- 
wich and came to Newport, where for a century or more, he was 
represented by a numerous and influential progeny, of whom 
George C. Mason, Esq., and his son, George C. Mason, Jr., are 
still his worthy representatives in Newport. The will of 
Dr. Pierre Ayrault, above mentioned, was executed in 1711. 
He died June 4th, 1711. There is reason to believe that a 
grandson of Dr. Ayrault, also named Pierre, studied medicine 
in Newport, but died early. 

Miss Mary Baldwin, M.D., has been practising medicine in 
Newport for about three years, having received the degree of 
M.D. at Blackwell College, New York, in 1874. 

Doctor Christopher Franklin Barker, son of Robinson P. and 
Julia Ann (Peckham) Barker, was born in Middletown, R. I., 
October 31st, 1849. After preliminary education in local schools 
he prepared for college at the Newport High School, graduating 
there in 1871. He received the degree of A.B. at Brown Uni- 
versity in 1875, after which he passed two or three years in 
private tuition. In 1879 he entered the oflice of Dr. Samuel W. 
Butler of Newport, as a medical student, and graduated in medi- 



cine at the University of New York in March, 1882, and imme- 
diately established himself in practice in Newport, where his 
preceptor. Dr. Butler, had died in the previous year. He has 
acquired a large business and an enviable position. He was mar- 
ried in May, 1881, to Helen E., daughter of John and Hannah 
(Barker) Peckham, of Middletown, and has two children. 

Doctor Richard Bartlett came from Mendon, Mass., in 1769, 
and advertised as surgeon, bonesetter and physician, and seems 
not to have remained very long. 

Doctor Charles F. Bartlett came to Newport in 1800, and ad- 
vertised to inoculate for kine pox, then a new thing. The 
frigate " General Greene^' arrived at Newport July 21st, 1800, 
from the West Indies, bringing yellow fever. Dr. Bartlett was 
called upon by the town council, with John Wanton, health 
officer,' to investigate the subject and report, which he did; but 
he was antagonized by the other physicians, and the coun- 
cil failed to prosecute the plan which he recommended. Whether 
or not for that reason, a quite alarming and fatal epidemic 
ensued, in which 82 cases occurred at Newport, Providence and 
East Greenwich, and quite a large proportion of the cases were 
fatal. Doctor Bartlett soon after disappeared. While here he 
had a portrait of Washington painted, which is described in 
"Mason's Reminiscences of Newport " (page 291). He died at 
Darien, Georgia, June 22d, 1806. 

Doctor John Bartlett, from Charlestown, R. I., was in New- 
port in 1770. 

Doctor Gustavus Baylies was at Thomas White's, Church 
street, opposite Trinity Church gate, in 1793. He staid a short 
time, removed to Bristol, and married a daughter of Lieutenant 
Governor William Bradford, who was the father of Doctor 
Hersey Bradford, late of Astoria, Long Island. 

Doctor William Hunter Birckhead, son of James and Eliza 
(Hunter) Birckhead, grandson of Hon. Wm. Hunter of Newport, 
and great-grandson of Doctor Wm. Hunter, of Newport, of pre- 
revolutionary fame, was born at Rio de Janeiro, his grandfather 
being then U. S. minister plenipotentiary at the court of Brazil. 
His father was a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was son of 
a distinguished physician of that city. Doctor Birckhead grad- 
uated A.B. at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., in 1861, and A. 
M. in 1863. He studied medicine in the city of New York from 
1861 to 1863, took his medical degree at the College of Physi- 


<;ians and Surgeons, New York, in 1864, and was house physi- 
cian at Bellevue Hospital from 1864 to 1866. He was house sur- 
geon of the Woman's Hospital, New York, in 1867-68. He com- 
menced practice in Newport in January, 1868, and retired from 
practice in 1885. Doctor Birckhead was one of the visiting 
staff of Newport Hospital from its establishment to 1877, when 
he retired. He is a member of the R. I. Medical Society, and 
of the Alumni Association of the "Woman's Hospital. He also 
did some hospital service at Fortress Monroe during the war. 
He has a winning address, by which he soon acquired wonder- 
ful popularity among his fellow townsmen, and rapidly acquired 
a large practice of a lucrative character. 

Doctor John Brett settled in Newport about 1749, and was for 
many years a very prominent member of the profession here. 
He was a graduate of Leyden, and attended the lectures of the 
great Boerhaave. He was highly esteemed among his cotempo- 
raries, not only as a highly accomplished and able physician, 
but as a man of fine literary tastes, of large pretensions as a 
man of science. He was an intimate friend and associate of 
Redwood, and was an active friend of the Redwood library, to 
which he gave many valuable books, all of the highest order. 
Mr. SheflSeld says: "Dr. John Brett came to Newport in 1743." 
Doctor Waterhouse says " in 1749." 

Doctor Benjamin Brown lived opposite Daniel Ayrault's, in 
Thames street, Newport, opposite the foot of Ann street, prior 
to 1770. 

Doctor Richmond Brownell, son of Sylvester Brownell of 
Little Compton, was born in that town in 1790, and died at 
Providence October 29th, 1864. Dr. Brownell never practiced 
in Newport county, but settled, as a physician, in Providence, 
and was a prominent figure there for many years, and highly 
esteemed. He was president of the R. I. Medical Society from 
1840 to 1843. 

Doctor William Tillinghast Bull, son of Henry and Henrietta 
S. (Melville) Bull, and great-grandson of Dr. William Tilling- 
hast, was born at Newport, May 18th, 1849, and graduated 
A.B. at Harvard College in 1869. He studied medicine at the 
College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, under the pri- 
vate instruction of Dr. Henry B. Sands, then professor of anat- 
omy in the institution. He received his medical degree in 
March, 1872, with a prize of $50 for best graduation thesis, on 


"Perityphlitis." He was, immediately after graduation, ad- 
mitted into surgical service in Bellevue Hospital, remaining 
there until October, 1873. He passed the two years succeeding 
in professional study in England, France and Germany. He 
commenced practice at 39 West 85th street, New York city, in 
September, 1875. In March, 1876, he was appointed house 
physician to the New York Dispensary, in which position he 
remained two years. In December, 1877, he was appointed at- 
tending surgeon to Chambers Street Hospital, which place he 
still holds. From 1879 to 1883, he was attending surgeon to St. 
Luke's Hospital and demonstrator of anatomy to the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons. In 1883, he was appointed surgeon 
to the New York Hospital, which place he still holds. He is 
at present consulting physician to St. Luke's Hospital, Hospital 
for Kuptured and Crippled, Ward's Island Emigrant Hospital, 
and the Manhattan Hospital. He is also a trustee of the New 
York Dispensary, and one of the managers of the New York 
Cancer Hospital, and adjunct professor of the practice of surgery, 
at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Bull has dis- 
tinguished himself in operative surgery, and holds a high posi- 
tion in the profession. He is unmarried. 

Doctor Samuel W. Butler, of Newport, was born in Farm- 
ington, Maine, February 2d, 1816. He was a son of Samuel 
and Mary (Pease) Butler, of Parmington, but originally from 
Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Mass. He acquired his medical 
education in Boston, and received the degree of M.D. from 
Harvard College. He settled in Newport in 1842, where he re- 
sided the remainder of his life, with an interval of two years, 
passed in partnership with Dr. Baker, in Providence. He died 
April 7th, 1881, in consequence of injuries incurred hy passing 
into the stall of an untried and dangerous horse, which he had 
lately purchased. He was married in 1843, to Amelia, daugh- 
ter of Holden Backus of Fai-mingron. Me., and had one daugh- 
ter; both still survive. Doctor Baker was a member of the R. I. 
Medical Society, and of the American Medical Association. He 
was for a time hospital surgeon at Fortress Monroe, during 
the rebellion, fie was a member of the Baptist church, a dili- 
gent and faithful man in his profession, and had the confidence 
of a large number of citizens. 

James Tyler Buttrick, M.D., the third son of Eli and Polly 
Iledden Buttrick, was born in Hudson, New Hampshire, March 

.V^, t ■ft>VV,t,"\VV\A 


6th, 1825. His grandfather, Oliver Buttrick, of Concord, 
Massachusetts, joined the army before his twenty-first year, 
was at the battle of Bunker Hill and served through the i-evolu- 
tion. His father, Eli Battrick, was a farmer, respected by all 
who appreciate the higher instincts of veracity, honesty and 
the amenities of a rural life. His mother was of an old and 
highly respectable Vermont family, a woman of great piety 
and truly evangelical sentiments. Dr. Buttrick was a direct 
descendant of Major John Buttrick, who at the battle of Con- 
cord Bridge gave the order (in the ever memorable words) 
^^ Fire— for OocC s sake. Fire and protect your homes,''' for that 
first shot which Emerson says " was heard around che world." 
In person and character the doctor had preserved the type of 
those hardy, uncompromising men who laid the foundation of 
our republic. He despised the effeminate luxury of modern 
life and had a trul-y Spartan relish for that austere simplicity 
so much admired in theory and so little appreciated when prac- 
ticed. His reverence for Grod and man were shown in high in- 
tegrity and large benevolence. He kept no telephone between 
his right hand and his left, the secret of his constant giving 
and serving being hardly known beyond those benefitted. His 
sympathy and skill were always for the poor, and in many 
cases he improvised a hospital, and in. addition to medical and 
surgical aid performed the duties of nurse and steward. Doctor 
Buttrick pursued a preparatory course of study in Boston and 
graduated with honor in 1853 at the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons, New York. He later took a supplementary course 
at Woodstock, Vermont, and then received private instruction 
in general, descriptive and surgical anatomy, surgery, practice 
of medicine, physiology, chemistry, materia viedica, midwifery, 
etc., etc., under Prof. Whittaker of New York. He was several 
times interrupted in his studies for want of means, provided by 
days and nights of toil and deprivation. He would not borrow 
lest death or accident should overtake him and cause another 
to suffer. He not only travelled over a rough road but built 
tlie road himself. He possessed much mechanical skill which 
greatly aided him in the practice of surgery. As an operator 
he was self-possessed and careful, using equally well both the 
left and right hand. He applied himself very closely to the 
best works on medicine and surgery during the whole of his 


professional career, and kept well abreast of the times in medi- 
cal literature. 

He iirst settled in Westford, Massachussetts, and afterward 
in Wilton, New Hampshire. In 1862 he removed to Block 
Island, and in 1867 settled in Newport. He was a member 
of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and in 1863 connected 
himself with the Rhode Island Medical Society. On the 6th 
of March, 1867, he married Mary E., daughter of Hon. George 
Gr. Sheffield of Lyme, Connecticut, formerly of Block Island, 
who with a son and daughter survive him. His death occurred 
July 26th, 1880. A leading practitioner said of him in his 
remarks before the Rhode Island Medical Society, "Dr. Butt- 
rick was a self reliant and laborious practitioner in the 
various branches of medicine, a man of perseverance, of sin- 
cerity and integrity." Another member of his profession wrote 
thus: "Dr. Buttrick was retiring in manner, modest in the 
extreme, but fearless and self-reliant in the performance of 
duty. He shrunk from no responsibility when the welfare of 
his patients required his services. Had he settled in a large 
city the world would have known him better." 

Doctor Benjamin WaiteCase was born in North Kingstown in 
1772 and died in Newport November 7th, 1834. He married 
Sarah, daughter of Hon. Henry Mai-chant, who was a member 
of the continental congfess from Rhode Island. They had no 
children. Doctor Case studied medicine with liis uncle, Doctor 
Benjamin Case of South Kingstown, and came to Newport about 
1800. He soon acquired a large practice, and retained it until 
his last illness. He was cotemporary with Doctors William 
Turner, David King, Edmund T. Waring and Enoch Hazard, 
and died at very near the same time with the three former, Doc- 
tor Hazard dying in 1842, several years later, the community 
being thus deprived of the services of a whole generation of 
physicians, which they had enjoyed for So years or more, to 
each of whom a large clientelle was devotedly attached. Doc- 
tor Case was very positive and heroic in his methods, and made 
himself very conspicuous by the extremely liberal use of cold 
water at a time when the opposite practice prevailed. He was 
also thought to be extravagantly free in the use of the lancet. 
For these and perhaps other reasons, he was not exactly en rap- 
port with his compeers, but the people who habitually em- 
ployed him had the most implicit confidence in him. In his early 


career he was a very active Freemason, but had differences and 
dissension with t'he regular fraternity, and afterward established 
a lodge which was always spoken of as Doctor Case's lodge, 
which finally became defunct, and in his later life he became an 
active and leading spirit among Rhode Island anti-masons. He 
was a remarkably fine looking man. 

Doctor Paul Castel advertised the practice of medicine and 
surgery in ISTewport. He was from Cape Francois, and in 1786 
had rooms at Widow Lillibridge' s, North Side Parade. 

Doctor Nathaniel Ray Chace is now practising in Newport. 
He was born at New Shoreham, Newport county, R. I., July 
8th, 1842, and was a son of Isaac and Celina (Littlefield) Chace, 
of New Shoreham. He acquired his academic and classical educa- 
tion at Lombard University, in Illinois, and received there, his 
degree of A. B. in 1870, and his M. D. in Hahneman College, 
Philadelphia, in 1872, as a Homoeopathic physician. He prac- 
tised in Providence one^year, and came to Newport in June, 
1873, where he has since resided. He is unmarried. 

Doctor Stephen Champlin. Among the young gentlemen 
who were under the instruction of Doctor William Turner of 
Newport, was Doctor Stephen Champlin, from Lebanon, 
Conn., who married Alice, daughter of George Armstrong, of 
Newport, who, at the conclusion of his pupilage, settled in his 
native town, and practised there for many years, and died, 
leaving no children. 

Doctor Walter Channing, son of Hon. William and Lucy 
(Ellery) Channing, was born in Newport, April 15th,' 1780, in 
the house southeast corner Mary and School streets, afterward 
for many years the residence of Charles Gyles, Esq., now oc- 
cupied as a children's home. His father was a very prominent 
lawyer and attorney-general of Rhode Island from 1777 to 1787. 
His maternal grandfather was Hon. William Ellery, one of the 
signers of the declaration of independence. He was a brother 
of Rev. William E. Channing, D. D. Doctor Channing was a 
student of medicine with Doctor Barton, of Philadelphia, and 
a graduate of the Philadelphia Medical School, University of 
Pennsylvania. He was professor of midwifery and medical 
jurisprudence at Harvard, from 1815 to 1854, nearly 40 years. 
He studied also, at the Universities of Edinburgh and London. 
He settled in Bbston in 1802, and became, in a short time, one 
of the most prominent members of the profession in that cily^ 


where he continued to practice until his death. Doctor Chan- 
ning published many books, and was especially interested in 
setherization soon after its introduction. He was physician to 
the Massachusetts General Hospital for nearly twenty years. 
He came to Newport, on the occasion of the reunion of the sons 
and daughters of Newport, August 23d, 1859, and delivered an 
address. Soon after he died. 

Doctor John Clarke was the earliest physician known to have 
belonged to the settlement of Rhode Island, having been a 
signer of the original compact, on settlement at Pocasset, now 
Portsmouth, in March, 1638. He was evidently one of the 
principal factors in that movement, as he was one of the most 
active, energetic, and efficient in the promotion of the radical 
ideas which underlaid it, and of resistance to the influences 
which never relaxed on the part of the home government, to de- 
feat its prime objects, in which -resistance no aid was wanting, 
which could be given by a considerable party among his fellow 
colonists. He was a prominent figure in all the negotiations 
between the colonists, and the parliament, and the king, and 
is supposed to have been chiefly instrumental in procuring from 
Charles II, the charter of 1663, the first grant of perfect reli- 
gious freedom ever impressed with a royal seal, or signed by a 
royal hand, and under which the people of Rhode Island prof- 
ited by its beneficent provisions, and enjoyed the most unex- 
ceptionably good government ever known among men for 180 
years. We have not space to dilate on the political history of 
John Clarke. It has been sufficiently and very frequently ven- 
tilated, and no additions can be made to what is thoroughly 

Medical business never brings a man's name into public rec- 
ord, and generally his other business transactions are limited, 
and we only know of John Clarke's professional relations very 
little. He was in London from 1651 to 1653, as is said, engaged 
in practice, as he probably was during all his residence in Ports- 
TTiouth and Newport. His signature was "John Clarke, Physi- 
cian," although he was the founder and benefactor and first 
pastor for many years of the first Baptist church in Newport, evi- 
dently prosecuting his ministrations to the bodies as well as to 
the souls of his parishioners at the same time. Doctor Clarke had 
three wives but left no descendants. He was born in 1608, and 


died April 20th, 1676, and was at the time of the exodus from 
Massachusetts bay, 30 years of age. 

Doctor Henry Tisdale Coggeshall was born in Newport June 
2d, 1858. His father was Thomas, son of Timothy and Alice 
(Almy) Coggeshall, and his mother was Ellen Prances, daughter 
of George Knowles, all of Newport. He was educated in the 
public schools of Newport, preparing for college at the Rogers 
high school. He entered Yale College in 1880, and after one 
year there entered Harvard Medical School, where he graduated 
in medicine in 1883. He passed one year as house surgeon in 
the Hospital for Women, in Boston, previously to graduation, 
and one year subsequently, as resident physician of the New 
York Infant Asji-lum, Mt. Vernon, N. Y. In 1884 he practised 
for five months in Newport, after which he passed two years in 
medical studies in Europe. While in Europe he attended the 
third international congress as representative of Rhode Island, 
by appointment of Governor Wetmore, at Rome, Italy. After 
his return he served again, for nine months, as resident physi- 
<!ian at the New York Infant Asylum. He was appointed Ger- 
man secretary to the section of diseases of children at the Ninth 
International Medical Congress, at Washington, in 1887. He 
settled in New York city in the autumn of 1887, and is now 
assistant to the chair of diseases of children at Bellevue Hospi- 
tal Medical School, and physician to out-patients, section of 
diseases of children, Bellevue Hospital. 

A Doctor Simon Cooper was a resident of Newport in 1678, 
probably the same who was admitted as freeman of the colony 
in May, 1666. No other record of him is known to exist. 

Doctor D wight Eleazer Cone, of Fall River, Mass., son of Ben- 
jamin and S. Rosalie Cone, was born at Brookfield, Madison 
county, New York, August 18th, 1854. He received his educa- 
lion at New Berlin Academy, and taught school for five years. 
He studied medicine in the office of his uncle, Doctor Frank D. 
Beebe, at Hamilton, Madison countJ^ N. Y., and graduated in 
medicine at the University Medical School, New York city, in 
May, 1875. He became a member of the Chenango Medical 
Society in June, 1875, and practised for three years at Coventry, 
Ohenango county. He came to Rhode Island in November, 
1878, and settled in the town of Portsmouth, where he practised 
until December, 1882, having Joined the Rhode Island Medical 
Society in March, 1879. He removed thence to Fall River, 


where he has since practised, giving especial attention to gy- 
naecology and obstetrics. In November, 1883, he became a 
member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and is secretary 
and treasurer of the Fall Eiver Medical Society, of which he 
was an original member. 

Doctor Charles Cotton, son of Rossiter andPriscilla (Jackson) 
Cotton, of Plymouth, Mass., was born in that historic town on 
the 7th of October, 1788, and died in Newport February 3d, 
1870, in his 82d year. He graduated as A.B. at Harvard in 1806, 
and A.M. 1812. February 18th, 1811, he received orders, signed by 
Paul Hamilton, to join the frigate "Constitution" as surgeon's- 
mate, and April 2d following he received his commission as 
surgeon's mate in the U. S. navy, signed by President Madison. 
October 21st, 1812, he received orders from Commodore Bain- 
bridge to report to Capt. Lawrence on board U. S, S. " Hornet" 
for duty. April 26th, 1813, he was commissioned as surgeon 
U. S. navy. August 2d, 1813, he received notice of the confir- 
mation of his commission by the senate. March 25th, 1823, he- 
was ordered to the ship " Hornet," at Norfolk, and November 
12th, 1823, to the ship "Cyane." February 10th, 1820, he re- 
ceived a silver medal, by act of congress, for gallant services. 
He was in the battle between the U. S. S. " Hornet" and H. B. 
M. S. " Peacock," when the latter was captured, and is said to- 
have been severely censured by Commodore Bainbridge for un- 
necessarily exposing himself in the action. He resigned his 
commission in the navy in 1823. He was on board the "Con- 
stitution" when she carried Hon. John Jay to France. After- 
ward he was stationed at Charlestown navy yard, and in 181T 
had charge of the naval hospital at Newport, R. I., where he 
married, at that time, Mary, eldest daughter of Captain 
Stephen T. and Mary (Langley) Northam. By her he had 
a large family, of whom the only surviving son is William R.. 
Cotton, Esq., of Newport. Doctor Cotton became a member of 
the Medical Consociation of Brown University March 9th, 1813, 
and of the Rhode Island Medical Society September 29th, 1817, 
as appears by diploma, signed P. Bowen, Praeses, but was re- 
commended for election by the censors March 6th, 1816. He 
was a studious man, and accomplished in historical and literary 
lore. He was genial and companionable, and had a keen appre- 
ciation of humor and a fund of local anecdote, which made his 
society agreeable and iastructive. He was highly esteemed as^ 


a surgeon and was a worthy representative of the profession. 
He was a member of the R. I. Historical Society, and of the Pil- 
grim Society, and delivered an address before them on the occa- 
sion of the renaoval of a portion of Plymouth Rock to the 
society's premises, which has since been restored to its original 
position. He was a pupil of Dr. James Thatcher of Plymouth. 

Doctor Isaac B. Cowen, son of Jesse and Anna Cowen, was 
born in Oanandaigua, New York, March 10th, 1855. His youth 
was passed, principally, at Mattapoisett and New Bedford, 
Mass. After graduating from the high school he attended a 
commercial school at Boston, but his ambition led him to pre- 
fer a profession, and he entered the office of Dr. Charles L. 
Swazey, of New Bedford, as a student of medicine, and he re- 
ceived his medical degree at the College of Physicians and Sur- 
geons, at New York, in March, 1873. January 1st, 1874, he 
entered upon the practice of his profession in Little Compton, 
where he died, March 3d, 1886, leaving a widow and two chil- 
dren. He was town clerk of Little Compton from June, 1876, to 
March, 1881, when the pressure of his professional duties com- 
pelled his resignation. His early decease afforded him only 
twelve years of professional life. 

Doctor John Cranston was born in Scotland, in 1625 or 1626, 
and died in Newport, March 11th, 1680. He came to Rhode Is- 
land early, and was elected drummer in March, 1644. In 
1656, he is catalogued as a freeman of the colony, from both 
Portsmouth and Newport, but in the same year was a deputy 
to the general assembly from Newport.. He was afteward at- 
torney general, and his name, for many years, is conspicuous 
in colonial affairs. In 1676, he was the military chief of the 
colony, with the title of major, and so remained during King 
Philip's war. He was deputy governor from May, 1676, to 
November, 1678, and governor from November, 1678, to March 
12th, 1680. In March, 1663-4, in consideration of "the blessing 
of God, on the good endeavors of Captayne John Cranston of 
Newport, both in Phissicke and Chirurgery he is licensed and 
commissioned to administer Phissicke and practice Chirurgery 
throughout this entire Colony, and is, by this court, styled and 
recorded Doctor of Phissicke and Chirurgery." This is un 
doubtedly the first medical degree ever conferred in Rhode Is- 
land, if not OH this continent. With pain we have to acknowl- 
edge that we have no other means of judging of his proficiency. 


or of his degree of medical education. As he came to this locality 
at the age of nineteen, his European advantages were probably- 
limited. He was a near relative of Lord Cranston, and of royal 
blood, one of his ancestors being John Cranston, Prior of Cold- 
ingham, a natural son of James V. of Scotland. His wife was 
Mary, daughter of Jeremiah and Frances (Latham) Clarke. 
His eldest son, Samuel, was governor of Rhode Island from 
March, 1698 to April 26th, 1727, 29 years, dying in office, 
like his father. 

Doctor William Crooke was the son of William and Mary 
(Malbone) Crooke, of ]Srewport, and was baptized by the rector 
of Trinity church, September 27th, 1803. He died in Ports- 
mouth, R. L, in 1843. He studied medicine with his uncle. Doc- 
tor Waring, in Newport, whose wife was his mother's sister, 
they being daughters of the Hon. Francis Malbone. He settled at 
Block Island, and until March, 1842, had almost the entire 
practice of that community, where he was greatly esteemed. 
At that time he came to Newport, where he remained about a 
year, but not practising. He then purchased a small place at 
Lawton's valley, in Portsmouth, and very soon after died there. 
He married a Miss Champlin, of Charlestown, R. L, and left 
one son, William Crooke, who is still living. 

Doctor John P. Curley was born at Newport, March 8th, 
1856, was educated at Newport, graduated in medicine at Har- 
vard College, in 1877, and spent two years following at St. 
Peter's Hospital, at Albany, New York, as resident physician 
and surgeon, and commenced practice in Newport, in May, 
1879. In 1880, he was elected a meniber of the Newport Hos- 
pital medical staff, and served in that capacity for several years. 
He has left Newport since. Although not long here, he gave 
an impression of great capacity and promise. Doctor Peter P. 
Curley, brother of Doctor John P., was born in Newport, Sep- 
tember 18th, 1861, was educated at Newport, and graduated at 
Albany Medical School, in 1883. He was two years resident 
physician and surgeon at St. Peter's Hospital, Albany, N. Y. 
He opened an office in Providence, R. I., in February, 1884, and 
practised thei'e until August, 1887, when he removed to New- 

Doctor Samuel Danforth, son of Samuel, probate judge of 
Middlesex county, Mass., was born at Cambridge, in ]740, mar- 
ried first Watts, second Margaret Billings, third Martha 


Gray. Seven of his ancestors and relatives were graduates of 
Harvard College before him. He graduated in 1758, studied med- 
icine with the elder Doctor Read, and afterward probably with 
Doctor Kast. He came to Newport, and after remaining there 
a short time, he went to Boston, where he became very prom- 
inent, especially as a disciple of the ultra-heroic^ school, and 
might be styled the Boanerges of the medical profession, in 
Boston. On the evacuation of Boston by the British, he was 
made prisoner, as a loyalist, but his services were so desirable 
he was soon released. He was much interested in chemistry, 
and had a very complete laboratory in Boston. He died No- 
vember 16th, 1827, having retired from practice years before. 
Thatcher says of him, "He was tall, erect, penetrating eye, 
aquiline nose, very prominent chin, and sagacious expression." 

Doctor James Puritan Donovan, son of James J. and C. A. 
Donovan, was born in the city of New York in 1864, and gradu- 
ated in,medicine, at New York College of Physicians and Sur- 
geons, in 1886. He settled the same year in Newport, and has 
since been a resident and practitioner in that city. Doctor 
Donovan is a promising young man. 

Doctor Theophilus C. Dunn was the only son of Rev. Thomas 
Dunn, a Baptist minister, who came from County Devon, Eng- 
land, in 1795, to America, and his wife, Mary, daughter of 
Doctor Puddicome and Mary, his wife, of the same county. Doc- 
tor Dunn was born in New York, July 8th, 1800, and died at 
New York, February 26th, 1871. He married Elizabeth, 
daughter of Captain Robinson and Frances (Gibbs) Potter. 
Doctor Dunn's father lived for many years at Germantown, 
Pennsylvania, and the doctor received his academic education 
at Mount Airy chiefly, though he had at some time been un- 
der the tuition of Rev. William Rogers, of Philadelphia, who 
was one of the first class of graduates at Brown University, in 
1769. Doctor Dunn attended his college course at Princeton, 
and graduated there, after which he entered the office of Doc- 
tor Corson, at New Hope, Pennsylvania, and received the de- 
gree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 
at about which time his father's family removed to Newport, 
and remained here during the remainder of their lives. Doctor 
Dunn also came to Newport and married here, entering im- 
mediately into the practice of his profession, of which he was 
a worthy and active member for nearly fifty years. He was a 


most genial and companionable man. He was an optimist of 
the best variety ; without any tendency to levity, his kindly 
manner and bright countenance brought relief into the sick 
room, arid gloom was dissipated, unless the gravity of the case 
demanded gravity of demeanor, when he instinctively graduated 
his address to the requirements. He was perfectly frank and 
straightforward ; no sham found any place with him If any- 
thing questionable were suggested, instantly the reply came, 
"I wouldn't condescend." In his relations with liis profes- 
sional brethren no suspicion of selfishness ever attached to him, 
and he accordingly had their warm affection. He was fond of 
general literature, and conversed on all subjects with great in- 
telligence and in a very acceptable manner. Doctor Dunn was 
an active member of the R. I. Medical Society, was its first 
vice-president from 1840 to 1843, and president from 1843 to 

Doctor Ezra Dyer, son of Ezra C. and Caroline E. (Tiffany) 
Dyer, was born in Boston, Mass., October 17th, 1836, and grad- 
uated A. B. at Harvard, in 1857. Before entering college he had 
given some time to the study of medicine, under Doctors Wy- 
man and Ware. He entered Harvard Medical School in 1867, 
and graduated in 1859, having passed the previous year as 
house surgeon in the Massachusetts General Hqspital. Directly 
after graduation he went to Europe and passed two years in dil- 
igent study in the various medical centers, and giving especial 
attention to diseases of the eye and ear, in which he afterward 
became distinguished as a specialist. Returning home, in 1861, 
he established himself in Philadelphia. In 1862 he was ap- 
pointed to have charge of all eye and ear cases in the Phila- 
delphia army hospitals, and he retained this position until 1865. 
He was an original rnember of the American Ophthalmological 
Society, formed January 9, 1864. In 1873 Doctor Dyer removed 
to Pittsburg, Pa., where he remained until 1883, having a large 
practice, but his health being impaired by two serious surgical 
injuries, he removed to Newport, R. I., where he resided during 
the remainder of his life, practising exclusively in diseases of 
the eye and ear. He was attached to the medical staff of the 
Newport Hospital, having charge in his specialty of all cases of 
disease or injury of eye and ear. Doctor Dyer had published 
several hospital papers, and was a man of brilliant parts and of 
a genial and amiable temper, and a great favorite with his as- 


«ociates. He died at sea, on his return from Florida, where he 
had gone with the hope of improving his health, February 9th, 

Doctor Jonathan Easton, son of Jonathan and Ruth (Cogges- 
hail) Easton, fifth in descent from Grovernor Nicholas, an origi- 
nal settler, was born in Newport, August 6th, 1747, married 
Sarah Thurston, daughter of Peleg and Sarah, December 3d, 
1778, and died March 13th, 1813. He had three children : Doc- 
tor Jonathan, Peleg and Sarah. His residence was the house in 
Broad street lately occupied by Miss Ellen Townsend, now the 
property of the city, and used for an industrial school. Doc- 
tor Easton was a Quaker, as were most of his relatives, and as 
people o£ that persuasion abounded on the island, very natur- 
ally he absorbed a large part of their patronage and did a large 
business during all his natural life. According to George 
Channing, who remembered him well, his appearance and dress 
were such as adapted him well to secure and maintain the con- 
liden6e of his fellow worshippers. Mr. Channing says, "He 
blended so much benignity of manner with his medicine as to 
render the bitter comparatively sweet. He introduced inocu- 
lation for small pox into Newport, in 1772, his being the first 
three cases in Rhode Island. He was an original Fellow of the 
R. I. Medical Society. Doctor Parsons says, he commenced his 
professional career ten years before the revolution, and con- 
tinued it for nearly fifty years." 

Doctor Jonathan Easton, Jr., son of Doctor Jonathan and 
Sarah (Thurston) Easton, was born in Newport about 1780. 
He studied medicine with his father, and attended lectures' in 
Philadelphia, after the establisnment of the medical school in 
that city by Doctor Shippen and his compeers, Doctor Rush, 
etc. He remained in Newport but a short time, and removed to 
Cumberland, R. I., and died early. He also was an original 
member of the R. I. Medical Society 

Doctor Peter Easton died at Newport, September 16th, 1817, 
aged 61 years. 

A Doctor John Easton is mentioned as having incurred sus- 
picion, at the breaking out of the revolution, and being put 
under arrest by order of the general assembly, for royalist 
leanings ; but nothing more is known of him. He probably be- 
-came a refugee, on the evacuation of Rhode Island by the 


Doctor Henry Ecroj'd, Jr., eldest son of James and Rachel 
Ecroyd, was born at Muncy, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, 
May 0th, 1858, of Quaker parentage. He attended the Friend's 
school at Muncy until the age of 14, then entered an ad- 
vanced Friend's school at Westtown, ten miles from Phila 
delphia, where he graduated in 1879, having in the interval 
spent two years at a commercial college, and at the Muncy 
Normal school. He studied medicine for a year and a half in 
Doctor William M. Rankin's office, in Muncy, and then entered 
the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, 
spending the summers in the Friends' Insane Asylum, at 
Frankfort, and the Pennsylvania Hospital for Insane in West 
Philadelphia. After a three years' course, he graduated in 
1883, and passed the following year in district work and lec- 
tures. After a few weeks as resident physician in the Univer- 
sity of Pennsylvania Hospital, he was elected to a similar posi- 
tion in the Pennsylvania Hospital at Eighth and Pine streets, 
Philadelphia. After the expiration of his term he passed a few 
weeks on the Jersey coast, and came to Newport, October 1st, 
1885. Here he has made an encouraging beginning, and is one 
of the attending physicians of the Newport Hospital. 

Doctor Edward Ellis. Nothing is known of him, except that 
in the hewspaper report of the celebration of King George Third's 
coronation, in Newport, the route of the procession is said to 
be "from Dr. Ellis' house to the state house," and an adver- 
tisement, not very long after, of the house of " Dr. Edward El- 
lis," describing the house at foot of Pope sti'eet, corner Spring 
wliai'f, latterly known as the Handy house, earlier as the Over- 
ing house, gives his Christian name, and makes the route of the 
parade a very natural one, that being then the south end of 
the town. 

Doctor J. J. Ellis was born in Boston in 1826, graduated A. B. 
at Harvard University in 1847, and took his medical degree at 
Harvard in 1852. He was house surgeon for one year in the 
Massachusetts G-eneral Hospital. He settled at Portsmouth, 
R. I., and after two years, removed to Bristol, R. I. in 1854. He 
remained at Bristol until, in 1862, he became an assistant sur- 
geon of volunteers, attached to the 37th Massachusetts Regi- 
ment. He was sick three months at Washington, and was honor- 
ably discharged for disability, being in an advanced stage of 
Phthisis. He returned to Newport, and lingered for a few 


weeks in a hopeless condition, and died March 17th, 1863, aged 
37 years. He married the only child of Eev. John O. Choules, 
D. D., by whom he had one son, who is still living. Doctor El- 
lis was a man of more than ordinary promise. 

Doctor George Engs, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Stanhope) 
Engs, was born in Newport, February 24th, 1840, and died in 
Newport, July 7th, 1887. The family of Engs was of a good 
old Puritan stock, its first representative in America having 
been a deacon in the old South church in Boston, in very early 
times. Four or five generations of the family have been among 
the substantial citizens of Newport. Doctor Engs early indica- 
ted scholarly tastes and acquired studious habits, and in 1860, 
received the degree of A. B. at Yale College, and began the 
study of medicine in the office of Doctor David King, of New- 
port, graduating in medicine at the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons, New York, in 1863. He commenced practice in New- 
port as physician and obstetrician, but always eschewing surg- 
ery, as not congenial with his tastes. In 1866 he went to En- 
roj)e, passing two years in the different medical capitals, but 
chiefly in Vienna, making himself an accomplished German 
scholar, and perfecting himself in professional lore. In 1882, 
he again visited Europe, on a tour of travel for six months, and 
resumed practice on his return. Doctor Engs was a man of 
great intellectual power and an intense love of truth. He in- 
vestigated thoroughly and reasoned ably, and his analyses 
were valuable because his mind was always dominated by that 
instinctive regard for truth and rejection of any evidence which 
admitted of doubt. Although reticent and retiring, he was 
genial among his associates, who were not numerous. He had 
a strong hold on the confidence and kindly appreciations of the 
community, and gave promise, until his health failed, of an un- 
usually successful career. He was unmarried. 

Doctor Thomas Eyres was a son of Rev. Nicholas Eyres, pas- 
tor of the Second Baptist church in Newport, a native of 
Great Britain, born August 22d, 1691, died in Newport 
February 13th, 1759. Doctor Eyres was born August 2d, 1735, 
married Amey Tillinghast, August 2d, 1759, and died February 
23d, 1788, in Newport, leaving a daughter who married Wil- 
liam Briggs, of Newport. His race being long extinct, little 
more can be gathered concerning him. He attended Henry 
Collins in his last illness. He left Newport during the revolu- 


tion, and practised in Providence. Doctor Eyres received the 
degree of Bachelor of Arts from Yale College in 1754, and was 
the first secretary of Rhode Island College, afterward Brown 
Uuiversity, from ]764 to 1776. 

Doctor Joseph J. Fales was born at Wrentham, Mass., Jan- 
nary 27th, 1797. He was graduated from Brown University in 
1820, attended lectures at Philadelphia and Boston, was grad- 
uated in medicine at Boston, and settled in Newport in 1822. 
In 1825 he married Miss Terry, an English lady. She died in 
1830, having had two children, who died young. He left New- 
port in 1832, and afterward lived in Boston. In 1835 he mar- 
ried Caroline L. Hammett, sister of DocDor George A. Hammett, 
and daughter of Deacon Nathan B. Hammett, of Newport, His 
widow survived, and with four children, Mary E., George H., 
Edwin M. and Emma G., resides in East Boston. 

Doctor Havela Parnsworth, with his brother Oliver, came to 
Newport in 1798, from Vermont, and with him established a 
a democratic newspaper, styled the "Guardian of Liberty." 
After a year or two the publication was abandoned, and the 
doctor became a practitioner of medicine in Newport, and, at 
one time, in Portsmouth. Oliver continued the paper under 
filename of "Rhode Island Republican," and published in 
1800 a book entitled, "Memory of Washington." Of Doctor 
Farnsworth's subsequent history nothing is known. 

Doctor Moses Pifield, son of Rev. Moses and Celia (Knight) 
Pifield (the father being an itinerant minister of the Methodist 
Episcopal church) was born December 23d, 1823, at Warehouse 
Point, Conn. The Reverend Moses was from New Hamp- 
shire, his wife from Providence, R. I. Doctor Pifield at- 
tended school at Centreville, R. I., at the Weslej^an Academy, 
Wilbraham, Mass., and at East Greenwich Methodist Seminary. 
He commenced the study of medicine with Doctors George and 
Charles W. Fabyan, at Providence, R. I., and was graduated 
from the University of the City of New York in 1846. He mar- 
ried Hannah A., daughter of Christopher and Sarah (Congdon) 
Allen, of North Kingstown, in 1846. He practised medicine in 
Fall River, Mass, and Little Compton, R. I., until 1852, when, 
on the decease of Doctor Keith, he removed to Portsmouth, 
R. I. He practised there for several years, when on account of 
his father's ill health, he removed to Centreville, R. I., where 
he became cashier of the Centreville Bank, afterward Centre- 


ville National Bank, and of the Warwick Institution for Savings, 
combining these financial duties with the practice of medicine, 
which he prosecutes with equal assiduity and interest. Although 
64 years of age, he still enjoys good health. He has been a 
member of the R. I. Medical Society since 1855, and is a mem- 
ber of the American Medical Association. 

Doctor Henry Collins Flagg was the son of Ebenezer and 
Mary (Ward) Flagg, who were married in Newport February 
5th, 1740. His grandfather, Richard Ward, was governor of 
Rhode Island from July, 1740, to May, 1743. Doctor Collins 
was born at Newport, at what date is not precisely known ; he 
was a brother of Major Ebenezer Flagg, of Col. dreene's R. I. 
Regiment of the continental line of the revolution, who was 
killed with his colonel on Croton river, New York. Doctor 
Collins was surgeon on General Greene' s staff, in South Carolina, 
where he remained and married, and became prominent in his 

Doctor William Fletcher came to Newport in 1785, as surgeon 
in the British navy, but was transferred, while here, to the 
army. At the close of the war he retired on half paj'-, and re- 
mained here and practised until his death, March 9th, 1788. 
He was born in Lancashire, England, in 1742. His epitaph says, 
"He, lived like a gentleman and died like a philosopher." 

Doctor Samuel Ward Francis, fourth son of Doctor John W. 
and Eliza M. (Cutler) Francis, was born in New York city, De- 
cember 26th, 1835. He acquired his preliminkry education in 
Joshua Worth's school, in New York, and graduated A. B. at 
Columbia College in 1857, having received five or six prizes dur- 
ing his undergraduate course. He studied medicine in his 
father's office, and at the school of Doctors T. P. Thomas and 
William Rice Donaghe, and graduated in medicine at the New 
York University Medical College in 1860. He married June 
16th, 1859, Harriet H., daughter of Judge M. H. McAllister, of 
the U. S. District Court of California. After graduation he 
commenced practice in New York, where he was physician to 
the Dispensary for diseases of head, abdomen and skin. He 
was in Newport from 1862 to 1864, again passed two years in 
New York, and in 1866 took up his permanent residence in 
Newport, where he remained until his decease, March 25th, 
1886. The cause of his death was diabetes mellitus. On grad- 
uation in medicine, he took the Mott bronze medal for best 


clinical report. Doctor Francis wrote voluminously for the 
medical journals and other periodicals, and was author of two 
novels. He was a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, 
and of the Victoria Institute of Great Britain, and of many 
other medical and scientific societies, and was vice-president of 
the Newport Medical Society. He was gifted with a remarkably 
inventive genius, and obtained several patents. He was the 
original inventor of the typewriter. He was the founder of the 
Newport Society of Natural History. Doctor Francis was 
faithful and diligent in the performance of his professional 
duties, and was highly esteemed and deeply beloved by his em- 
ployers and his professional brethren ; he was a man of most 
amiable temper and charming social qualities, and his demise at 
the early age of 51 years, produced an impression of shock and 
sadness quite unusual ; he left five children. 

Doctor Valentine Mott Francis, third son of Doctor John W. 
and Eliza M. (Cutler) Francis, was born in New York city April 
25th, 1834. He attended the schools of Rev. Doctor Hawkes, 
and of KT. Huddard of NewYork, and some others, and studied 
medicine with his father, and at the same school as his brother, 
that of Thomas & Donaghe, and took his degree of M.D. at New 
York University Medical College in March, 1859, and in June 
following received his diploma as practical analytical chfemist. 
He also had a diploma for six months' attendance on wards in 
Bellevue Hospital. He published the first work on hospital 
hygiene, and also a. poem on the fight for the Union, and did 
much work as a newspaper correspondent. He practised in New 
York for two and one-quarter years, and then retired and re- 
moved to ISewport, where he still lives, passing his summers at 
Conanicut. He was a member of the New York Sanitary Asso- 
ciation in 1861, and is a life member of the New York Historical 
Society. Doctor Francis married, first, Sarah Faulkner, eldest 
daughter of Charles Carville, Esq., April 16th, 1857. They had 
two sons, both dead. February 7th, 1865, he married AnnaM., 
daughter of Doctor Rene de La Roche, of Philadelphia. She 
is still living. They had three sons, one of whom survives. 
Doctor Francis has not resumed practice since his removal to 
Newport, but has acquired a large number of attached friends 
by his sterling qualities. 

Doctor Sylvester Gardiner was the son of William Gardiner, 
Esq., of South Kingstown, R. I., and was born there in 1707. 


He early developed studious inclinations, and under tlie direc- 
tion of Rev. Doctor MacSparran, who had married his sister, 
his bent was encouraged, and he was sent to Boston and studied 
medicine with Doctor Gibbons, an English physician, whose 
daughter he married. After two years he went to Europe, 
studied four years in Paris, and afterward spent two years in 
studying opthalmology in France. He returned and settled in 
Boston, where he became famous, and had a most extensive 
practice in medicine and operative surgery. He was reputed to 
have the most extensive obstetrical practice in 'New England. 
He acquired a large fortune, was largely engaged in purchases 
of land, and was a member of the Plympton Land Company. 
He was owner of an extensive tract, now Gardiner, Maine. He 
is reputed to have erected churches, and to have supported 
Episcopal clergymen from his own private means, but his pros- 
perity came to an end at the revolution. Being an active loyal- 
ist, he became a refugee, his property was confiscated, and he 
was impoverished. After the war he came to Newport, and 
practised his profession, and died here in 1786, aged 80 years. 

Doctor William Gibson did not practice in Newport, except 
when visiting here in summer, when he occasionally performed 
operations. He was particularly distinguished as a surgeon. 
After his retirement he came to Newport, and made his resi- 
dence here in his latter years. He was born in Baltimore in 1788, 
and died at Savannah, Georgia, March 2d, 1868, aged 80 years. 
He was educated first at Annapolis, Md., then at Princeton, N. 
J., and last at Edinburgh, where he attended the high school, 
and where he received the degree of M.D. in 1809. He was 
present at the battle of Corunna, and received a slight wound 
at Waterloo. He settled at Baltimore in 1810. He married, in 
1810, Sarah Charlotte Hollingsworth. In 1812 he tied the com- 
mon Iliac artery. He was successively professor of surgery in 
the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania, 
where he officiated for many years, and was very much admired 
for his distinct and lucid demonstrations, and for his marvelous 
skill in preparations and drawings for the illnstration of his 
lectures. He was at Lundy's Lane, and extracted a bullet from 
General Winfield Scott. He performed the Cajsarian section 
twice on the same woman, who recovered both times, and both 
children were saved. 

Doctor John Bernard Giljiin, son of John Bernard and Mary 


(Miller) Gilpin, was born in Newport, R. I., September 4tli, 
1810. He was prepared for college at Judge Joslin's academy 
in Chnrch Street, formerly noted as John Frazer's classical 
school. He took the degree of A.B. at Trinity College, Hart- 
ford, Conn., about 1831, studied medicine in the office of Doctor 
T, C. Gunn, and graduated in medicine at the University of 
Pennsylvania in 1834. About this time his family had removed 
to Annapolis, JSTova Scotia, where he settled, and practised for 
eight years, when he removed to Halifax. There he became a 
prominent practitioner until about ten years ago, when he re- 
tired from active practice, and returned to Annapolis, where he 
now resides. Doctor Gilpin is a younger brother of Hon. Wil- 
liam Gilpin of Newport. 

Miss Gertrude Gooding, M.D., daughter of Joseph and Mary 
(Howland) Gooding, was born at Bristol, R. I., July 15th, 1855. 
She acquired her education in Bristol, graduating in the high 
school of that town in 1873, and afterward graduated at Mt. 
Holyoke Seminary in 1876. ^The five succeeding years she was 
employed in teaching the natural sciences in the Maiden, Massa- 
chusetts, high school. She received the degree of M.D. from 
Boston University Medical School (Homeopathic) in 1884. She 
then practised in Philadelphia for two years, and was a resi- 
dent physician in West Philadelphia Hospital for infants, in 
Women's Homeopathic, Maternity and Surgical Hospital, West 
Philadelphia Presbyterian Home for Old Women, and Rosine 
Home for Girls. Miss Gooding came to Newport in 1886, and 
still practises here. 

Dr. Ebenezer Gray practised medicine at Newport in 1752-3, 
of which the only evidence obtainable is a bill for services to the 
family of John Stevens, ancestor of the famous stonecutter 
family of Newport, from May, 1752, to February, 1753 — 
£10 12s. Od. 

Doctor Benjamin Greene, son of Hon. Isaac and Eliza (Kenyon) 
Greene, of Exeter, R. I., was born in that town October 30th, 
1833. In 1856 he began the study of medicine under the tute- 
lage of his uncle, Doctor Job Kenyon, at Anthony, R. I., and 
in 1857 matriculated at the University Medical School, in 
the city of New York, where he graduated in 1859. He com- 
menced practice directly after at Portsmouth, R. I., and has 
continued to practice there to the present time. In 1860 he be- 
came a member of the R. I. Medical Society. Besides his prac- 


tice he has been successfully and extensively engaged in real 
estate transactions in and about Fall River, vsrhich is eight 
miles from his home. Doctor Greene married November 26th, 
1860, Eunice A., daughter of Philip B. and Sarah E. (Cooke) 
Chase, of Portsmouth, R. I. He is an active member of the 
Methodist church, and of the order of Freemasons. He enjoys 
the respect and confidence of the community in which he lives, 
and of his professional brethren. 

Doctor Nathaniel Greene, the eldest son of Nathaniel Ray 
Greene, who was the eldest son of Major General Nathaniel 
Greene of the revolutionary army, was born at Dungeness, the 
patrimonial estate of his family, on Cumberland Island, 
Georgia, June 22d, 1809. His mother, who was born November 
8th, 1784, died January 9th, 1886, at her residence in Middletown, 
R. I., at the extreme age of 102 years, was a daughter of Ethan 
and Anna (Ward) Clarke. She was a very remarkable woman. 
She retained her mental faculties unimpaired until her decease, 
and those faculties were by no means of a common order. She 
delighted in literary pursuits, and her familiarity with the best 
class of English authors, of an earlier period especially, was 
phenominal to her last years ; she would convei"se in a wonder- 
fully intelligent manner on the productions and authors of the 
golden period of English literature, as Addison, Johnson, Gold- 
smith, Bolingbroke, etc. She spent some of her latter years, 
and until her eyesight failed, in reading Hume and other 
authors of that stamp ; at the same time she kept up a vivid 
interest in current events, and was familiar with neighborhood 
incidents, and whatever concerned the interests of her friends. 
No effort of memory was ever evident. Her conversation 
flowed as easily as that of young persons. She was a very 
conscientious, judicious and wise person, and thoroughly kind- 
hearted. Very few persons are permitted to be as interesting 
at a time of life when they are regarded as monuments of by- 
gone days. Her husband, the father of the doctor, was a most 
amiable, genial and generous specimen of those " 7-ara awes," 
the gentlemen of the old school ; his habits of reading were in 
harmony with those of his wife, who outlived him many years. 
Except the doctor their only child was Professor George Wash- 
ington Greene, who held professorships in Brown and Cornell 
Universities, and who holds high rank among American 
Literati. He left one son and three daughters. Doctoi' 


Nathaniel Greene passed his boyhood in East Greenwich, R. I., 
which became the residence of his parents soon after his birth, 
and so remained until 1836, when they purchased a farm in 
Middletown, R. I., about five miles from Newport, on the west 
shore of Rhode Island, where his parents passed the remaining 
years of their life, and where he still resides. December 17th, 
1827, he married Miss Mary Jane, eldest daughter of Col. Wil- 
liam and Harriet (Gibbs) Moore, of Newport. She still sur- 
vives. She have had no children. His school education was 
pursued chiefly at the academy at East Greenwich. In 1824 he 
entered the freshman class at Amherst College, and in 1825 the 
Sophomore class of Brown University, which being, at that 
time, in rather a languishing condition, it was not thought ex- 
pedient to complete his course there, and he accordingly left 
before the completion of his junior year. He then entered as a 
student of medicine the office of Doctors Peck and Clarke, one 
of whom, Doctor Welcome Clarke, was a relative, at Whites- 
town, Oneida county. New York, where he remained about a 
year ; he afterward returned to East Greenwich, where he 
completed his professional education in the office of Doctor 
Charles Eldredge of that town. His family being large land- 
owners, he employed several years after the conclusion of his 
medical studies, in the congenial pursuit of farming, in which 
he has the reputation of being proficient, and which he has 
never entirely abandoned, but which became secondary and 
collateral after he had taken up the practice of medicine, which 
he did about 1848. He has prosecuted his profession with more 
or less vigor, to the present time, in the towns on Rhode Island, 
as a disciple of the School of Ha^hneman. As a physician 
among the people of those tenets, he has enjoyed a large prac- 
tice and great popularity, and in the whole community is 
looked upon with much respect as a man of high character and 
tone, and as a man of thoroughly gentlemanly instincts, and 
worthy his race and antecedents. His great-grandmother was a 
daughter of Rest (Perry) Mott, wife of Jacob Mott of Portsmouth, 
and daughter of Edward Perry of Sandwich, who was the an- 
cestor of Commodores Oliver H. and Matthew C. Perry, thus de- 
riving from an identical source part of the blood of two of the 
prominent families of Rhode Island. In 1842 Doctor Greene com- 
manded a company of volunteers raised in Middletown and 
Portsmouth for the service of the state against the revolutionary 

»i, v/y dJ/^e^f" 


organization called the Dorr government, and although no 
blood was shed, he.proved his willingness and his capacity for 
the service which might have been required ; after this he was 
captain of a company of cavalry, organized at that time, on 
the state establishment, with the rank of colonel ; after a year 
or two this company was disbanded. 

He was for several years president of the Aquidneck Agri- 
cultural Society. 

He was in 1848-49-50 anid 1851 senator in the general assembly 
of Rhode Island, and filled that position honorably and ac- 
ceptably. At the preliminary meeting, held at Providence, 
December 12th, 1877, for the rehabilitation of the Rhode Island 
Society of the Cincinnati, which had been in abeyance, from 
various causes, since 1835, he was unanimously chosen its 
president pro tem., and at the annual meeting, on July 4th, 
1878, its charter having meanwhile been recognized by the 
general assembly as having full force, he was unanimously 
elected its president, and has since, on every fourth of July, 
been re-elected. He has also been, every year, elected as one 
of the society's delegates to the meetings of the general society, 
which meetings are triennial, and has attended four of those 
meetings, and is very highly esteemed and regarded by the 
members of that organization. 

Doctor John Haliburton came to this county, Doctor Parsons 
says, " in 1750," but as he died in 1807, aged 69 years, he was 
born in 1738, and was then only 12 years old. He probably 
came about 1760, as he married, January 4th, 1767, Susanna 
Brenton, daughter of Jahleel Brenton, Esq., of Newport. He 
had five children born in Newport, of whom John, the eldest, 
was an officer in the British navy ; Brenton, the fifth child, was 
an eminent jurist, chief justice of Nova Scotia for many years, 
was knighted in 1859, and died in 1860, aged 85 years. Doctor 
Haliburton took high rank in his profession, and being con- 
nected with the most influential families of Newport, then in 
its palmiest days, had a most brilliant and successful career, 
and is said to have accumulated a handsome fortune, but dur- 
ing the revolution, in 1780, becoming suspected of correspond- 
ence with the enemy, he retired to Halifax, where he passed the 
remainder of his days. 

Doctor Castill O. Hamlin came to Portsmouth, R. I., in 1833, 
directly after Doctor James V. Turner had removed to New- 


port. He was from northern New England. He was a promis- 
ing man, but was cut off in a few month's, dying April 8th, 
1834, at the early age of 36 years. 

Doctor George Alfred Hammett, son of Deacon JSTathan and 
Mary (Billings) Hammett, was born in Newport, September 
20th, 1809, was baptized December 17th, 1809, and died in New- 
port, February 6th, 1875, aged 65 years. Doctor Hammett, 
after leaving school, was clerk in a large grocery, at the south- 
east corner of Thames and Mill streets, but having a studious 
turn of mind, after a few years he entered Doctor T. C. Dunn's 
office as a student, and Doctor Dunn often said that the avidity 
with which he devoured medical books was perfectly phenome- 
nal. This was carried to such a degree that he once asked the 
doctor to allow him to occupy his office on Sundays ; to this he 
did not accede. After the completion of his studies he offered 
his services to the public, but he never had any considerable 
practice, and afterward took charge of a lumber business which 
had been his father's. This he prosecuted with no great energy 
until his father died, leaving him a competence. He then re- 
tired, and thereafter devoted his entire time to the pursuit to 
which he had always been devoted, to omniverous reading, 
never of trashy books, but of substantial literature, with a de- 
cided preference for speculative subjects. In his later years he 
was a constant "habitue" of the Eedwood library, to which 
he, from time to time, gave generous aid. Doctor Hammett 
married late in life, but had no children. 

Doctor William Handy, son of Charles and Ann Brown 
Handy, was born at Newport, and was baptized in Trinity 
church, September 29th, 1766. He married in June or July, 
1788, being then of Newport, Abby Saltonstall, daughter of 
Rosewell Saltonstall, Esq., merchant, of New London. He was 
for many years a prominent and successful practitioner at New 
London, Conn. 

Doctor Enoch Hazard was born in Newport, January 2d, 1773, 
and died in Newport, May 7th, 1844. He was a son of Thomas 
and Mary (Easton) Hazard. Doctor Hazard married a 
daughter of Nicholas Easton and had an only son. General 
John Alfred Hazard, who bequeathed a large estate to the 
Newport Hospital. Doctor Hazard pursued his medical 
cal studies with his uncle, Doctor Jonathan Easton, attended 
lectures in the Philadelphia Medical School, and graduated 


there. Although not a member of the Friends' Society, as his 
uncle had been, he had acquired by habit a close assimilation 
with their habits and modes of thought, and he always re- 
tained their favor. He did a large business until his death, at 
the ripe age of 73 years. He was a tall, hard favored man, 
angular not only in his appearance but in his methods, and very 
positive. Nevertheless, he was very popular, and inspired a 
high degree of affection and implicit confidence in his habitual 
employers. He was a very worthy man, but very decided in 
his prejudices. He represented, through his father and mother, 
two of the most important and influential of the original set- 
tlers of Rhode Island. 

Doctor Jonathan Easton Hazard was the son of Godfrey and 
Ruth (Easton) Hazard. He was Doctor Enoch Hazard's first 
cousin, their mothers being sisters, and also sisters of Doctor 
Jonathan Easton, and daiaghters of Jonathan Easton, the direct 
descendant of Grovernors Nicholas and John Easton. The doctor 
was always known as Doctor Easton Hazard, although he never 
practised, being engaged in other avocations. His wife was 
Mary, daughter of George Lawton. They had one daughter, 
who died in 1870, unmarried. Doctor J. E. Hazard had studied 
medicine in his yoiith, under the direction of his cousin. Doc- 
tor Enoch. 

Doctor Rowland Robinson Hazard was a son of Thomas 
Hazard, of South Kingstown, R. L, distinguished as Little 
Neck Town. He was brought up, from early youth, in the 
family of Doctor William Turner, and educated as a physician, 
but never practised, except indoors, having established himself 
as a druggist, in the shop of Charles Feke, directly after his 
death, on the parade. Later he moved three doors east, and 
for many years he was a very industrious and highly esteemed 
citizen. He married Anna, daughter of Lieut. -Governor Charles 
Collins, but had no children. He was always known by his 
title as Doctor Rowland, in distinction from Doctor Enoch. 

Doctor George Hazard, of South Kingstown, was a son of 
Carder Hazard of that to wn, who was a brother of George Hazard, 
the first mayor of Newport. Doctor Hazard began the study 
of medicine in Narragansett with Doctor Joshua Perry, an 
uncle of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, but soon went to 
Newport, where he completed his medical studies under the 
tuition of Doctor Jonathan Easton, and where he married in 


October, 1790, Sarah, widow of Captain Daniel Gardner, and 
daughter of his uncle, Hon. George Hazard. Doctor Hazard 
attended medical lectures in Philadelphia, and settled in his 
native town after a period of practice in Newport, and practised 
there until he died in September, 1828. His second wife was 
Jane Maria, a daughter of Edward Hull, Esq., of Jamestown 
and New Shoreham. Their children were Doctor William 
Henry Hazard, of Wakefield, R. I., and Hon. Edward H. 
Hazard, one of the lights of the Rhode Island bar. Doctor 
Hazard was a lifelong friend of Doctor William Turner, of Few- 

Doctor William Henry Hazard, son of Doctor George and 
Jane M. (Hull) Hazard, of South Kingstown, was born February 
12th, 1808, the eldest of eight children. In 1824 he entered the 
office of Doctor William Turner, at iSTewport, as a medical 
student, and lived in his family for three years, and afterward 
attended lectures in Boston. He commenced practice in South 
Kingstown in 1828, and still practises there, although in his 
eightieth year. He married Louisa Lyman, eldest child of the 
late Governor Lemuel H. Arnold, of Rhode Island, March 15th, 
1841, but has no children. 

Doctor Thomas Arnold Hazard, son of Arnold Hazard, of 
Jamestown, came to Newport in 1832, studied medicine in the 
office of Doctor Alexander P. Moore, and graduated in medicine 
in March, 1835, at the University of Pennsylvania. He settled 
at Kingston, R. I., where Doctor D. Watson, who came to 
Newport, had previously practised, and remained there until 
he died, December 8th, 1886, aged 78 years. He had never 
married. Doctor Hazard took high rank as a physician, and 
had a large and successful practice, and had very great influence 
as a man of affairs, and enjoyed the entire confidence of the 
community surrounding him. 

Doctor Henry Hooper was a son of Doctor Richard, of Water- 
town, Mass., who died at Watertown in 1765, very old. Doctor 
Henry was born at Watertown in 1687, died at Newport February 
17th, 1757. His wife, Deborah, died May 2d, 1750, aged 65 years. 

Doctor Henry Hooper, Jr., son of Doctor Henry and Deborah 
Hooper, was born in Newport in 1716, and died in Newport 
October 15th, 1745, aged 29 years. Nothing further can be 
traced, by record or tradition, relative to this family. 

Doctor William Hunter. The latter half of the eighteenth 


century may be properly accounted the golden age of medicine 
in Newport. She had been uncommonly prosperous, and had a 
community of merchants who had accumulated large estates, for 
the period. She was then, as now, a favorite resort for people of 
wealth and leisqre. She had a large aristocratic element, such 
as success always engenders, and was an acknowledged center 
of literary and artistic taste and of social and mental refinement. 
The Redwood library, comparatively small as it appears now, 
was far in advance of any library in the country, in the num- 
ber, and especially in the character of its books, unless, perhaps, 
some few of the collegiate institutions might be excepted. The 
merchants of Newport were noted for their generous hospitality, 
and for their elegant style of living and their magnificent enter- 
tainments. Newport then, from 1750 to 1775, presented a field 
extremely tempting to those aspiring debutantes for success in 
the medical profession, who for various reasons had found it 
expedient to emigrate from Europe, and who had had such ad- 
vantages of education as assured them advancement in a wealthy 
and exceptionally refined community as that of Newport then 
was. We find, accordingly, that quite a number of young phy- 
sicians, who had enjoyed the instruction of the most eminent 
medical men of the period, and the eclat of degrees from the 
best schools in Europe, besides the hospital experience of Lon- 
don, Edinburgh and Leyden, became residents of Newport, and 
earned the reputation here which their accomplishments deserv- 
ed. Among those particularly prominent were Hunter, Brett, 
Moffatt and Haliburton, and others of whom we are able to 
rescue less material for biographical account. Doctor William 
Hunter, who was of the same family as the celebrated William 
and John Hunter, of Edinburgh and London, was a native of 
Scotland, and acquired his medical education at Edinburgh, 
where the most brilliant luminaries of the medical world were 
then at the zenith of their glory, and whose school of medicine 
was, almost without dissent, deemed the center of medical 
science. Doctor Hunter was born in Scotland in 1731, and died 
in Newport January 31st, 1777. It has been generally believed 
that he was a refugee from Scotland, on account of penalties 
incurred from participation in the rebellion of 1745. This idea 
seems to be entirely illogical, because if he was born in 1781 he 
would be, at the time of CuUoden (1746) when the revolt col- 
lapsed, 15 years of age, too young, probably, to engage in such 


an enterprise, and certainly too young fco have commenced the 
prosecution of a medical education, which he could not have 
done afterward, with penalties as a rebel against the British 
government hanging over him. He must have received his 
medical degree as late as 1752. This fond delusion must, 
therefore, be dismissed as untenable. Doctor Parsons says 
Doctor Hunter came to America in 1752, which is probably 
true, and would be directly after receiving his degree of M.D., 
although some authors have placed his arrival as early as 1750. 
However that may be, he seems to have ingratiated himself 
rapidly into popular estimation, for the general assembly elected 
him, in March, 1758, physician and surgeon-general to the Rhode 
Island troops. He served in the unfortunate campaign against 
the French in Canada, in General Abercrbmbie's expedition, and 
probably also in the more propitious one which succeeded under 
Oeneral Amherst. From this time, the war being concluded by 
the capture of Quebec and Montreal, he pursued the practice of 
his profession in Newport with great success. In 1756 he de- 
livered the first course of lectures on a medical subject, viz.. 
Anatomy, ever delivered on this continent, at the state house at 
Newport. He was married September 13th, 1761, to Deborah, 
daughter of Godfrey Malbone, Esq., of Newport. The children 
of this marriage were: Eliza, born July 20th, 1762, died at Paris 
in 1859; Anne, born April 20th, 1766, married John Fancounet, 
died 1859; William,- born April 20th, 1768, died November 18th, 
1772 ; Katharine, born June 2d, 1770, died October 1st, 1770 ; 
Katharine, born February 28th, 1773, married Count de Portalis, 
died 1860; William, born November 26th, 1774, died December 
3d, 1849, in Newport. This last child, and only surviving son,, 
was a lawyer of very great classical and scholastic attainments, 
and stood very high at the Rhode Island bar, and was celebrated 
especially for brilliant forensic abilities. He was senator in 
congress from October, 1811, to March, 1821, from Rhode Island. 
Later he was appointed, by President Jackson, charge de affairs 
to the court of Brazil, which position he adorned and dignified 
for many years. He was a student of Inner Temple, London. 
Doctor Hunter was active and very positive in his adherence to 
the cause of the crown in all the troubles preceding the revolu- 
tion, and was, consequently, very obnoxious to the other party, 
but he died while the British forces were in possession of New- 
port, and in the full persuasion of the final triumph of the royal 


cause. He was outspoken in his denunciation of those he was 
pleased to style the "dommed rubbles." 

Doctor Frank Hunter, son of Henry and Rebecca (Eells) 
Hunter of Newport (who were married in Stonington, Conn., 
December 9th, 1773), was a student at the University of Edin- 
burgh, and graduated in the same class in medicine with Doctor 
William Gibson, former professor of surgery in the University 
of Pennsylvania, and who, in his old age was a resident of New- 
port in 1809. It is supposed that Hunter died young and with- 
out returning home, as nothing more is known of him. He was 
spoken of by Doctor Gibson as a man of wonderful talent and 
acquirements, but as of an eccentric and mercurial disposition. 

Doctor John Francis Hurley, only son of Patrick and Mary 
(Donovan) Hurley, was born at Boston January 28th, 1839, mar- 
ried Anna Louisa Burke September 1st, 1863, at Boston, and 
-died of Phthisis at Newport December 2d, 1885. Doctor Hur- 
ley took his medical decree at Cambridge in 1863, and was ad- 
mitted as fellow of the Massachusetts Medical Society August 
1st, 1863. He practised in Boston for a short time, then he went 
to Springfield, Mass., where he practised until 1867, when he 
came to Newport and practised here until his death. 

Doctor Robert Jeoffireys. Although not on the roll of those 
who signed the compact of settlement at Pocasset, Robert Jeof- 
freys, who may have been the Mr. Jeoffreys admitted August 23d, 
1638, with Mr. Dummer's party, appears on the roll of freemen 
at Newport September 1st, 1689, and he was elected treasurer for 
one year, and was reelected for 1640-41 and 1642. In 1642 he 
was elected captain for Newport. That he was the Mr. Jef- 
fereys who came with Mr. Dummer seems probable from the fact 
that the name William Jeffreys does not appear until 1655, 
when the whole roll of the freemen of the colony is engrossed, 
and the name Robert Jeffreys does not appear. If two Jef- 
freys had been here the record would have been more explicit. 
In 1641 this entry in the colonial record appears : "26. It is or- 
dered, that Mr. Robert Jeoffreys shall be authorized to exercise 
the function of Chirurgerie." Robert Jeffrey received a part 
of Rocky farm in the first division of lands in 1641. He is said 
to have removed in 1646. As he does not appear later on the rec- 
ord, it is probable, as he had previously been quite conspicu- 


Doctor Cyrus Johnson, son of Isaiah and Ruth (Leonard) 


Johnson, was born at Falmouth, Mass., October 13th, 1779. His 
grandfather was Daniel Johnson, many years judge of the court 
of Plymoiith county, Mass. Doctor Johnson married, March 
11th, 1804, Hannah (Plaisted) Warren, daughter of David War- 
ren, Esq., and Sarah, his wife, of Saco, now state of Maine. She 
was born April 19th, 1787 and died at Newport June 13th, 1826. 
They had three sons and two daughters. The youngest 
daughter was Eliza N., the third wife of James Horswell, Esq. 
Doctor Johnson had a certificate from his medical instructor, 
attesting his good character and diligent application as ;i 
student, and highly commending his qualifications for the prac- 
tice of physic, surgery and midwifery, signed by "Jeremiah 
Barker, M. D., F. M. M. S.," and dated "Falmouth, May 1, 

He seems to have settled first in Saco, then in what was called 
the district (now state) of Maine, where he married, and where 
his first child, Charles C. P. was born February 3d, 1805. 
Shortly afterward he was in Portland, his second child, Maria M., 
being born there July 6th, 1806. In 1810 he came to IS'ewport and 
remained there until he died, January 17th, 1861, a period of 51 
years. He married for his second wife Miss Henrietta B. Lazell, 
daughter of Isaac and Jane Lazell of Bridgewater. Bhe died 
August 26th, 1859, aged 62 years. Doctor Johnson had an of- 
fice and dispensary in his residence on the east side of Thames 
street, the third house above the Parade, for thirty years and 
probably more. He was a very mild and unobstrusive man. 

Doctor John Melvin Keith, son of a Baptist minister from 
Scotland, who, nearly sixty ago taught a school in what 
was then known as Trinity Church school house, corner School 
and Mary streets, Newport, and who was reputed a man of 
learning, was born in 1808. He commenced the study of medi- 
cine with Doctor William Turner about 1828, and after the con- 
clusion of his studies he settled in Providence county, R. I. 
After the death of Doctor Hamlin in 1834, he withdrew from 
his chosen locality and settled himself in Portsmouth, R. I., and 
practised there until his death, which occurred July 9th, 1852, 
a period of eighteen years, he being 44 years of age. His wife 
was Frances, daughter of Capt. Robinson Potter of Newport, 
and sister of Mrs. Doctor T. C. Dunn. Doctor Keith was a man 
of fine appearance and attractive manners, and enjoyed the full- 
est confidence and regard of the community in which he lived. 


He was buried in the churchyard of St. Mary's, Portsmouth. 
His only child, a son, is still living. 

Doctor Thomas Alphonso Kenefick, son of William and Ann 
(O'Mealley) Kenefick, was born at Lawrence, Mass. He studied 
medicine in the office of Doctors Garland and Chamberlain at 
Lawrence, Mass., received the degree of M. D. at the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1885, when he settled 
at Newport, where he still practises, occupying the office of the 
late Doctor S. W. Butler in Pelham street. He has been for 
two years a member of the active medical staff of the Newport 

Doctor David King was born in Raynham, Mass., in the year 
1774. His ancestry were of Puritan origin, and were distin- 
guished for their public spirit, and for their Christian and social 
virtues. His early life was passed amid influences auspicious 
to the growth of the best elements of character. He was pre- 
pared for college at a grammer school, under the direction of 
the Rev. Peres Forbes, LL. D. In September, 1792, Doctor 
King entered Rhode Island College as a student under the pres- 
idency of Manning, and graduated in 1796, under the presi- 
dency of Maxcy. 

After graduating, choosing medicine for his profession, he, to- 
gether with his classmate, Shurtleff, became the pupil of Doctor 
James Thatcher of Plymouth, Mass. Doctor King, by his dili- 
gence and assiduity in his medical studies, soon acquired the 
necessary elements of a medical education. Diverted by some 
accidental circumstance from the navy, which he was inclined 
to enter as surgeon, he, in the autumn of 1799, sought profes- 
sional employment in Newport, Rhode Island. 

In the early period of his professional career, his attention 
was drawn to the consideration of the vaccine disease, then first 
introduced into the United States. Regarding it as an invalu- 
able discovery, he proceeded, notwithstanding the strong oppo- 
sition of popular prejudice, to benefit his fellow citizens by the 
application of the newly discovered principle in his science. In 
October, 1800, he vaccinated Walter Cornell of Newport, who 
was the first person vaccinated in the state of Rhode Island. 

In thus early adopting the views of the immortal Jenner, and 
carrying them out in practice, he displayed a decision and inde- 
pendence of mind which strongly characterized him through 
life. For several years he held the. appointment of surgeon to 


a detachment of United States troops stationed at Fort Wolcott. 
In 1819, during the prevalence of the yellow fever in this place, 
his great skill and experience were actively and successfully 
called into operation in repelling that terrible malady. At 
that time it was the part of humanity to refute the errors of 
those who regarded that disease as invariably and certainly 
propagating itself, and as exposing those who attended upon 
the sick to almost certain death. Not admitting the contagious 
character of the disease, he attributed it to a more general and 
pervading cause ; and by his intrepidity and free personal ex- 
posure attested his confidence in the truth of his theoretical 
views. He was one of the earliest promoters of the Rhode Is- 
land Medical Society, in which he successively held the offices 
of censor, vice-president and president. He was elected presi- 
dent in June, 1830, and continued in that office until July, 1834. 
In the revival of Redwood library, he was an active co-oper- 
ator with other public spirited men, and he was long a director 
and at last president of that institution, until ill health com- 
pelled him to resign that office. It was his pride to advance 
those enterprises which might benefit the town in which he 
lived ; and he regarded it with an attachment which, in general, 
is appropriated only to the spot of our birth. The uprightness 
of his character and the strength of his judgment induced 
many to consult him as a friend, to whom, nothwithstanding 
the pressing cares of his professional life, he rendered valuable 
services. The warm sensibilities of his heart ever prompted 
him to disinterested action, which made him- the object of pre- 
eminent respect while living, and will forever perpetuate his 
memory in the hearts of his friends. In jjrivate life his char- 
acter was adorned by every quality which constitutes goodness. 
A perfect faith in Grod was ever an ennobling presence in his 
mind. In August, 1834, he suffered an attack of paralysis, 
brought on from exertions in the discharge of his professional 
duties. His constitution gradually failed until his death, which 
occurred November 14th, 1836. Few men have lived more re- 
spected or died more lamented. 

David King, M. D., died in Newport, March 7th, 1882, at the 
age of 69 years, 9 months and 25 days. He was the second sou 
of Doctor David and Ann (Grordon) King, of Newport, and was 
born May 12th, 1812. He pursued his preparatory studies at a 
classical school in Newport, at that time taught by Hon. Joseph 


id l^J 


Joslea, who still survives at a venerable old age. He graduated 
at Brown University, in 1831. with the second honors of his 
class. His father and two of his brothers were also educated 
at the same university. He immediately began the study of 
medicine under the direction of his father, who was a leading 
physician of Newport. He also attended lectures at the Jef- 
ferson Medical College, in Philadelphia, where he received his 
degree as Doctor of Medicine, in 1834. 

He commenced the practice of his profession in his native 
town, and there continued it to the end of his life. He entered 
upon his career just as Newport was beginning to assume the 
position which it has now long occupied, as the leadingplace of 
summer resort in the United States. His practice early became 
extensive, not among his fellow townsmen alone, but also among 
the visitors of the season, who would naturally compare rts 
methods with those of the eminent physicians of other cities. 
He prepared himself to meet the conditions thus prescribed, 
and won the confidence and esteem of families from nearly 
every part of the country, and even from foreign lands. 
Thoroughly educated and devoted to his profession, he also 
possessed in an unusual degrpe the kindly disposition, the 
varied intelligence and the exalted character which made him 
not only the trusted physician, but also the valued friend of 
persons in every condition of life. In 1850 he went abroad for 
professional improvement, and spent a year and a half largely 
among the hospitals of London, Paris and Dublin, and in ob- 
serving the most approved methods of medical practice. He 
also made important additions to his well stored medical library. 
In 1872 he again visited Europe for a somewhat longer period, 
with his family, making this visit tributary to still wider pro- 
fessional observations, not only in Great Britain and France, 
but also in Italy and Grermany. Doctor King became a member 
of the Rhode Island Medical Society in 1834, and soon began to 
make special investigations as to medical science and practice. 
He won prizes offered by the society in 1836, 1837 and 
in,1839. His prize essays were all published. He also filled in 
succession nearly every office in the society, has been repeatedly 
chosen its president, and has three times delivered the address 
at its annual meetings. He was also one of the founders of the 
American Medical Association and a frequent attendant at its 
meetings. On the erection of the state board of health by the 


legislature of Rhode Island in 1877, he was appointed one of its 
members and filled the office of president to the end of his 
life. He felt a warm interest in the objects which this board 
was designed to promote, and in 1880 went a third time to 
Europe, and informed himself fully as to sanitary methods and 

Though occupied through life with a large professional prac- 
tice, he also gave much attention to the study of American his- 
tory, especially of the history of his native state, with which 
no man of his time was more familiar.. He read numerous 
papers before the Rhode Island Historical Society, on characters 
and events in colonial history. He was also the leading founder 
of the Newport Historical Society, in 1853, and was its presi- 
dent to the end of his life, and while in England prosecuted 
important inquiries relating to the local history of the town. 
He was also a member of the New England Historical and Gen- 
ealogical Society, and a contributor to its journal. He devoted 
much time to the Redwood library, in Newport, of which he 
was long the president, and to which he left a legacy in his will, 
as he did also to the Newport Historical Society. In the crea- 
tion and organization of the Island cemetery, in his native city, 
he took a leading part, and by his judicious counsel and ex- 
ertions he contributed very largely toward making it the beau- 
tiful spot it has now become. He was chosen president of its 
corporation at its organization, in 1848, and continued to hold 
the office till Ms death, a period of nearly, thirty-four years. 

In addition to his medical library he made a large and costly 
collection of books of general literature, especially of English 
and American history. He was a member of the ancient parish 
of Trinity church, and did much to promote its prosperity, and 
to all the higher social and moral interests of his native city he 
was warmly devoted. 

He was much attached to the place of his education, and at 
the college commencement in 1881, less than a year before his 
death, he attended the meeting of his class on the fiftieth anni- 
versary of their graduation, and prepared for that occasion a 
touching tribute to the memory of his deceased classmates, and 
to the honored instructors of his'coUege days. Doctor King, in 
1837, married Sarah Gribbs, daughter of the Rev. Salmon 
Wheaton, J). D., of Newport, who died in the same year. They 
had three sons and four daughters. One of his sons graduated 


at Brown University in the class of 1859. Another, while en- 
gaged in his preparatory studies, joined the 1st Rhode Island 
Regiment that went to the defense of the national capital, and 
was mortally wounded in the first battle of Manassas Junction, 
in July, 1861, and taken to Richmond as a prisoner of war. 
His father was permitted to pass the rebel lines and to bring 
him away. He was able to travel as far as Philadelphia, where 
he died of the wound he had received. A third is a well known 
resident of Newport, and was formerly a merchant in China. 

John BroWn Ladd was a native of Little Compton, R. I. He 
studied medicine with Doctor Senter, in Newport. He after- 
ward went to Charleston, where he was soon after killed in a 
duel with a Mr. Isaacs. A small volume of his poetical effusions 
was published by his sister after his death. 

Doctor Francis Lucena, from Lisbon, was in Newport in 1764, 
at his brother James' on the Point. 

Doctor Henry Goodwin MacKaye now practises medicine in 
Newport, and has done so for two years. He is the son of 
James and Maria (Goodwin) MacKaye, and great-grandson of 
Hon. Asher Robbins, of Newport, formerly United States sen- 
ator from Rhode Island, and was born in March, 1856, in the 
city of New York. He received the degree of A. B. at Har- 
vard University, in 1878, and his medical degree at Harvard 
Medical School in 1883. He was married in January, 1887, to 
Ellen G., daughter of William Bailey, Esq., of Middle town, R. I. 

Doctor W. Duncan McKim, resided and practised in New- 
port in 1882 and 1883. He is now a prominent practitioner in 
New York city. 

Doctor Thomas Henry Mann, son of Levi and Lydia Laurana 
(Ware) Mann, was born at North Wrentham, Mass., April 8th, 
1843, eldest of six children. He was at the high school at Wal- 
tham, Mass., when Sumter was fired on. On the 20th of May, 
1861, he enlisted in Company I, 18th Mass. Volunters, and was 
in the battles of Yorktown, Hanover Court House, the Seven 
Days Battles before Richmond, Second Bull Run, Antietam, 
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and at the battles 
of the Wilderness. He became a prisoner May 5th, 1864, fif- 
teen days before the expiration of his term of enlistment, and 
was exchanged ten months afterward, March 1st, 1865. He had 
been made corporal and sergeant. He studied medicine with 
his uncle. Doctor H. M. Paine, of Albany, N. Y., and graduated 


in medicine December 24th, 1870, at the Albany Medical Col- 
lege. He then commenced practice at Willimantic, Conn., but 
in the autumn of 1872 removed to Block Island, where he prac- 
tised for four years, when he removed to Woonsocket, R. I., 
where he still practises. He was married, March 3d, 1869, to 
Julia, daughter of Salmon and Caroline (Burgevin) Backus, of 
Ashford, Conn., and has several children. 

Dr. John P. Mann was born in Attleboro or Rehoboth, 
Mass., in 1755, and died in Newport September 24th, 1837. 
He was an early graduate of Brown University, and came 
to Newport and settled as a physician, in early life, and 
probably practised somewhat in the earlier part of his career, 
but not at all in his later years. Doctor Mann married Miss 
Clarke, daughter of Hon. Joseph Clarke (who had been general 
treasurer of the colony and state from 1761 to 1792, 31 years) 
and of Rebecca, daughter of Abraham Redwood. She had for- 
merly been the wife of Doctor Walter Rodman. He married, 
second, Ann, widow of William Robinson, and daughter of 
George and Mary (Ayrault) Scott, who survived him. Doctor 
Mann will be remembered by many still living as a dignified 
and stately gentleman of the old school, very much resembling 
the pictures of Greneral Washington. He lived in the house in 
Broadway, now Mr. Kimber's, and superintended the cultiva- 
tion of a tract of land of considerable extent, now divided and 
constituting an important section of the town, and north and east 
from the house. To the ordinary mind he represented the an- 
cient aristocratic element, then fast disappearing. 

Dr.Curtis E.Maryott,son of Rev. IchabodB. and Almira (Miner) 
Maryott, was born in the city of New York, May 3d, 1841. He 
is descended from Rev. Samuel Maryott, a Sabbatarian, who 
was born in England in 1706, and for many years was minister 
to the congregation which occupied the old building on Barney 
street, now occupied by the Newport Historical Society, and 
who died in Newport in 1802. Doctor Maryott passed his early 
years in North Stonington, Connecticut. He took his medical 
degree at the University of New York in 1866, and in December 
of that year commenced practice at Block Island, where he re- 
mained until 1872. He then removed to Wakefield, R. I., where 
he now lives. He married, November 2d, 1867, Maria Louise, 
daughter of Asa and Louisiana (Inman) Hawkins, of Gloucester, 
R. I. 


Doctor Benjamin Mason was the son of Benjamin Mason, 
merchant, of Newport, and Mary (Ayrault) Mason, his wife. 
He was born in Newport in March, 1762, and married, Novem- 
ber 8th, 178S, Margaret Chaniplin, daughter of Col. Christopher 
and Margaret (Grant) Champlin, of Newport. He died Septem- 
ber 18th, 1801, aged 40 years. He studied medicine in the oflGlce 
of Doctor Isaac Senter, and completed his medical education in 
London. His career was short but brilliant, being cut off in the 
early prime of manhood, and leaving a family of young chil- 
dren. Of these, Benjamin died in youth. George C, the father 
of the present George C. Mason, Senior, a long-time clerk of the 
supreme court of Rhode Island, for Newport county, and after- 
ward cashier of the Rhode Island Union Bank, being of a frail 
constitution, died at about the same age as his father. Elizabeth 
was the wife of the distinguished hero of Lake Erie, Commodore 
Oliver Hazard Perry. Doctor Mason outlived his preceptor. 
Doctor Senter, two years, and succeeded him as director and 
purveyor-general of the Military Hospital in Rhode Island, and 
naturally succeeded to a considerable part of his practice. He 
was an honorary member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. 
Doctor Parsons says: "He flourished many years before the 
last century, and was at the head of the profession in Newport." 

Doctor Thomas Moffatt was one of the galaxy of medical men 
of European education who made their home in Newport dar- 
ing the eighteenth century, and shed lustre on the medical his- 
tory of that ancient and then flourishing town. Doctor Moffatt 
was a Scotchman, and had the best advantages of education 
then attainable. He was reputed to have been an adherent of 
the Jacobite cause in 1745, and to have come to America about 
1746, to escape the penalties of rebellion. In 1750 he was in 
Rhode Island, and appears to have been in practice in Newport 
until, in 1765, when having become obnoxious to the people 
from his activity in promoting the execution of the stamp act, 
his house was attacked by a mob, his property damaged, his 
books and papers scattered, himself paraded and hung in effigy, 
and obliged to take refuge in one of the king's vessels in the 
harbor, and finally to go to New London, where he was made 
comptroller of the king's customs. In the beginning of the rev- 
olutionary troubles his pronounced adhesion to the royal cause 
again made him obnoxious to popular sentiment, and he return- 
ed to Newport and resumed his practice, but after the e vacua- 


tion of Rhode Island by the British troops, disappeared and 
never returned. In 1777 Duncan Stewart, who had been royal 
collector of customs at New London, had leave to remove to 
l^Jew York, and to take with him the effects of Doctor Thomas 
Moffatt, which latter was revoked on learning of Doctor Mof- 
fatt's adhesion to the crown. Miss Calkins says (Hist. IST. Lon- 
don): "In 1778 Rev. Mather Byles conveyed to his friend, Doc- 
tor Thomas Moffatt, his house in N. London, to secure 240£due 
the church, from which he had retired, for certain contingent 
claims." He was in London in 1779, and signed an address to 
the king, and no mention is made of him af teward. He made a 
claim on the colony of Rhode Island for damages sustained in 
the riots in JSTewport, which the general assembly agreed to pay, 
after a liberal scaling down, whenever their account with the 
British government, for expenses incurred in the French war, 
was settled, as it never was. A long history of this affair may 
be found in Bartlett's R. I. Colonial Records. At one time, dur- 
ing his residence in Newport, Doctor Moffatt was associated 
with the elder Gilbert Stuart, in the manufacture of snuff, in 
North Kingstown, at the place now known as Hamilton, R. I. 

Doctor Alexander Pope Moore practised in Newport about 
10 years, and died here, April 22d, 1836, of smallpox. He mar- 
ried Mary, daughter of Nicholas Easton, of Newport, and left 
one son. 

Doctor Thomas Paine Moore, brother of Doctor Alexander P., 
of Newport, came here after his brother's death, from Warren, 
R. I., where he had previously practised, and was appointed 
surgeon to the Marine Hospital in Newport. About 1841 he re- 
turned to Warren, and practised there until his death. 

Doctor Frankland Morton died in Newport July 25th, 1720, 
aged 33 years. Nothing further can be learned of him. 

Doctor Moyes, probably an itinerant, advertised ten lectures 
on natural science at the court house, Newport, in 1785. 

Miss Annie News, M.D., a native of the state of New York, 
was graduated in medicine at Ann Arbor, Michigan. She came 
to Newport about 1873, and practised successfully here until 
1885, when she went to Europe and studied for two years in 
the schools there. On her return she established herself in the 
city of New York, where she now, practises. 

Doctor George Mountain Odell was born in Prederickton, New 
Brunswick, Dominion of Canada, in 1818. He received the 


degree of A.B. at King's College, at Frederickton, in 1836. In 
1841 he took the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University 
of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1842 he received the diploma of 
the Royal College of Surgeons at Edinburgh. From 1842 to 
1876 he practised his profession in Frederickton, his place of 
nativity, and in the latter year came to Newport, where he has 
since prosecuted the practice of his profession. Doctor Odell 
is a gentleman of fine accomplishments and high tone, and has 
established an enviable position. 

Doctor David Olyphant was born in Scotland, in 1720, at 
"Pitheaoles," the house where his ancestors had lived for 
many generations. The house, or castle, as it is called, is about 
one and one-half miles from the railway station at Perth, and 
is still owned by one of the descendants of the family in the 
female line. In common with nearly all the branches of his 
race, he warmly espoused the cause of the Stuarts. After the 
battle of Culloden, in which he took an active part, his life was 
in danger, but he succeeded in escaping from Scotland, and 
coming to this country landed at Charleston, South Carolina, 
where he lived for many years, practising his profession and 
rising in it to the highest eminence. Here, too, as was natural 
from his early training, he took a leading part in the political 
discussions of the time. In General Moultrie's "Memoirs of 
the Revolution"' we find his name among the list of members 
of the provincial congress held at Charleston. He was also a 
member of the legislative council of February, 1776, of which 
that revered patriot, the Hon. John Routledge, was president, 
and, at a later date, in a letter to General Moultrie, the Hon. 
Charles Pinckney says: " The senate, I hope, will act wisely, 
though it is to be lamented they are obliged to act now without 
the assistance of yourself, Olyphant and others, whose aid 
would give a lustre to their proceedings." On the breaking 
out of the revolution he at once offered his services to the gov- 
ernment, and on the 4th of July, 1776, received his commission 
as director-general of the southern hospitals, the duties of 
which he discharged with the highest honor, integrity and abil- 
itj^, until the surrender of Charleston, when he became a 
prisoner of war and, perhaps because of his Scotch birth and 
early history, was subjected to treatment that called forth a 
protest from General Moultrie to the English commanding 
officer. In addition to other offices, he was repeatedly elected 


to the senate of South Carolina as representative of St. George, 
Dorchester. His health failing, in the year 1785 he removed to 
Newport, K I., the climate of which, more like that of his 
native land, proved a complete restorative, and decided him to 
remain there permanently. In the year 1786 he married Miss 
Ann Vernon, granddaughter of Governor Ward, of Rhode Is- 
land, one of the belles and brightest wits of her time. She was 
Doctor Olyphant's third wife. He had a son by a previous 
marriage, who was accidentally killed. He lived in Newport, 
continuing there the practice of medicine until his death, in 
1804, at the age of 84 years. One who knew his history well 
thus wrote on hearing of his death: " Still will he continue to 
live in the remembrance of those who knew hira, and the annals 
of our country will teach succeeding generations to stamp a high 
value upon his character. In private life he was an easy, polite 
and well-bred gentleman; an agreeable and instructive compa- 
nion, he was always sure to command the esteem and regard 
of society according to the proportion of their acquaintance 
with him, and those who knew hiro best valued him most." 
He left one son and one daughter. In the naming of his son he 
showed the same loyalty of nature that led to his banishment 
from Scotland. On the rolls of the Society of Cincinnati, of 
which Doctor Olyphant was one of ths original members, it 
stands printed in full, David Washington Sincinnatus Oly- 
phant, the first a family name, then that of the friend whom he 
considered the noblest of earth's heroes, and then that name 
which enrolled under its banner those friends who were the 
dearest, and nearer to him because of the trials and struggles 
through which they had passed together. While anxiety may 
be felt for a child weighted with such a name, we can sympa- 
thize with the feelings that prompted it, and rejoice that in 
this case it was carried without stain or blemish through long 
years of an honored life as an eminent merchant of New York, 
and the founder of American missions to China. The name, as 
indicated above, was but a sign of love and loyalty, the dis- 
tinctive traits of the old Scotch family, and which led its histo- 
rian to write: "but even the sternest foe of the Olyphant 
politics (in Scotland) will not grudge, I hope, some meed of 
praise to that unflinching steadfastness which was ever ready 
to give life and lands, home and health, in behalf of a race of 
doomed kings." The subject of this sketch was true and 





steadfast to what he believed to be the best for his native 
land, and then for the land of his adoption. There may be a 
doubt, perhaps, vphich was the deepest feeling of his heart, 
love of freedom, or hatred of the " Georges." Perhaps the two 
were unified to him, but the Jacobite tradition was with him, 
wonder at it as we may, an abiding one. It seems proper, in 
closing this sketch, to state that Doctor Olyphant apparently 
thought himself the proper heir to the title of Lord Olyphant, 
after the death of his uncle in 1770 — the last who bore the title 
— and he had many papers in his possession that seemed to vin- 
dicate his belief. In his will, Lord Olyphant bequeathed to 
him the family plate, and then, providing that the residue of 
his estate should be invested for Lady Olyphant during her 
life, directs that at her death it should be transferred to his 
nephew. Doctor David Olyphant, of Charleston, South Carolina. 
The doctor, however, never entered his claim, perhaps thinking 
that the events which led to his leaving Scotland would be used 
as a bar to his success. He doubtless hoped that his son would 
secure it. That son, however, had other and higher purposes 
mai'ked out for his life's work. Let his descendants emulate 
-his example, and never waste wealth, if possessed of it, in the 
pursuit of a title, however noble; but rather, which is far nobler, 
endeavor so to live as to be worthy of it. 

Doctor Horatio Palmer was born in Boston, Mass., in 1815, 
graduated at Dartmouth College, and received his medipal ed- 
ucation in Boston. He married and established himself in 
Little Compton, R. I., about 1834, and died there, in 1848, aged 
34 years, having prosecuted the practice of medicine in Little 
Compton fifteen years. 

Doctor James D. Peckham was a native of Little Compton, 
belonged to a Quaker family, and was born in 1799. He studied 
medicine with Doctor William Wilbour, of Hopkinton, R. I., 
and attended lectures in New York city. He commenced prac- 
tice in Little Compton, R. I., in 1821, and was a successful and 
popular practitioner in that place for 28 years. He died in Lit- 
tle Compton December 23d, 1849, aged 50 years. 

Doctor William Thornton Parker, son of William Thornton 
Parker, A. M., M. D., of Boston, Mass., grandson of Benjamin 
Parker, A. M., M. D., of Bradford, Mass., and of Virginia, and 
great-grandson of William Jackson, M. D., of London and of 
Boston, was born in Boston December 24th, 1849. He attended 


Mr. Vinson's academy at Jamaica Plains, Mass., afterward 
four years at St. Paul's School, Concord, 'New Hampshire, and 
three years at the Highland Military Academy at Worcester, 
Mass. While a private pupil of Professor Dixi Crosby of Han- 
over, New Hampshire, Doctor Parker entered the medical de- 
partment of Dartmouth University in 1868, and in 1870, the 
medical department of the University of Vienna, Austria, where 
he studied upward of two years, and graduated with honors at 
the Royal University of Munich in 1873. He afterward took a 
post-graduate course in the medical- schools of Paris, France, 
and was for some time Interne in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, 
Ireland. In 1874 he was appointed surgeon of the steamers 
" Hammonia " and " Cimbria" of the Hamburg line. He mar- 
ried in 1875, Miss Elizabeth R., daughter of Hon. John B. Steb- 
bins, president of the Institution for Savings, Springfield, Mass. 
He again went to Europe in 1875, to study in the hospitals of 
Paris and London. Returning, he practised for nearly three 
years in Lenox, Mass. In 1880 he was appointed government 
surgeon at White Earth Indian reservation, and surgeon in 
charge of Bishop Whipple's Hospital for Indians, and in 1882, 
was appointed acting assistant surgeon, U. S. Army, serving in 
Texas, New Mexico, Indian Territory and Colorado. In 1885 
he was appointed by Secretary Manning in charge of the na- 
tional quarantine against cholera at Fisherman's island, Vir- 
ginia. In 1885 Doctor Parker settled in Newport, R. I. for 
practice in civil life. In 1887 he was appointed by Governor 
Davis medical examiner for third district, Newport county, 
R. I. During the international congress he was vice-president 
of the section of anatomy and member of the council of the sec- 
tion of climatology. At one time, since his residence in New- 
port, he was associated with Horatio R. Storer, M. D., in prac- 
tice, and at all times has shown himself an active and energetic 
man. He is captain of a company in the military establishment 
of the state of Rhode Island. 

Doctor George B. Penrose was a surgeon in the British army 
at the time of its occupation of Newport. While here he was 
attracted by the charms of Miss Mary, daughter of Joseph and 
Mary Dunbar Cowley and married her. Soon afterward he was 
ordered home on some business arising from the vicissitudes of 
the service and died on the passage. His widow remained in 
Newport and lived to extreme old age, drawing a pension 



from the British government until she died in 1848, sixty 
years. Mrs. Penrose lived and died in an old-fashioned man- 
sion standing next but one to the foot of Church street on the 
spot nov7 occupied by the residence of Col. John Seabury. Dur- 
ing the British occupation this house was known as the "Crown 
Coffee House," as is shown by numerous notices in the news- 
papers of the time, inviting officers and gentlemen to partici- 
pate in the delights of Mrs. Cowley's genteel and elegant danc- 
ing assemblies at the "Crown Coffee House." Mrs. Cowley 
herself familiarly dubbed it "Dunbarton Castle." Later, and 
until its destruction, it was always known as "Penrose Hall," 
Mrs. Penrose having continued those charming reunions for a 
long time after her mother, and given her attention to teaching 
several generations of the lads and misses of Newport how to 
"trip the light fantastic toe." Mrs. Penrose died in Newport 
October 10th, 1848, aged 93 years. 

Doctor Christopher Grant Perry, son of Commodore Oliver 
H. and Elizabeth (Mason) Perry, was born in Newport, April 
2d, 1812. After graduating at Brown University in 1830, he 
made a voyage to the East Indies in 1834, and on his return en- 
tered the office of Hon. William Hunter as a student of law, 
and was admitted to the Bar of Rhode Island in 1836. With- 
out taking up the practice of that profession he entered upon 
the study of medicine in the office of Doctor T. C. Dunn in 
Newport, attended lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, 
and took his medical degree there in 1837. He then settled in 
his native town and commenced the practice of medicine, which 
he continued for several years, but finding medicine not con- 
genial with his tastes, or perhaps with his physical condition, 
which was not very vigorous, he returned to his first love, and 
went into the practice of the law, which he prosecuted with 
diligence and success, until disabled by ill health, dying of con- 
sumption, April 7th, 1857. He took an active part in sustain- 
ing the state government in the Dorr troubles in 1842, and af- 
terward succeeded Col. William B. Swan as commander of the 
Newport artillery company, which position he filled for nine 
years and until his decease, and in which he enjoyed the full 
confidence and most enthusiastic affection of his men, which 
feeling of affection was met on his part by the most devoted 
loyalty to his command, and the most generous friendship for 
its individual members. Doctor Perry's especial traits were 


a most rigid conscientiousness and high sense of honor. Al- 
though sternly governed by the sense of right, he was unob- 
trusive and retiring, and was characterized by a gentleness 
and suavity of manner, almost feminine. He was a most 
worthy and" exemplary man in all his relations, and although, 
possibly for lack of occasion, he did not develop any remark- 
ably heroic traits, was a worthy scion of a noble stock. He 
was married May 31st, 1838, to Miss Frances, daughter of Hon. 
Thomas Sargeant of Philadelphia, and had two sons and two 
daughters, one of whom is the wife of William Pepper, M. D., 
provost, and professor of the theory and practice of medicine 
in the University of Pennsylvania. The other daughter married 
John La Farge, Esq. 

Doctor Francis Huntington Rankin was born at Fishkill-on- 
the-Hudson, New York, September 25th, 1845. His grandfather, 
Henry Rankin, was a Scotch merchant, who came to this 
country in early manhood, and became a successful and promi- 
nent merchant in New York city. He was a man of stern in- 
tegrity and strong religious devotion, traits of character for 
which the family were distinguished. His son, Robert Gosman 
Rankin, the father of Doctor Rankin, was born in N"ew York 
city in 1806, graduated at Yale College, and studied Jaw in the 
office of Chancellor Kent, and after his admission began prac- 
tice in New York city. He there married Laura Wolcott, a 
daughter of Hon. Frederick Wolcott, a man noted for his intel- 
lectual gifts and high moral character. Mr. Rankin was an 
ardent student of natural science, fond of literary and scientific 
pursuits, a great promoter of educational enterprises, public 
spirited, generous and active in every philanthropic and reli- 
gious work, a man of culture, fine sensibilities and extensive 
reading. For thirty years he was a regent of the University of 
New York, and was also connected with several of the promi- 
nent railroads and scientific enterprises of the day. Doctor 
Rankin's mother belonged to a family distinguished in the 
colonial and revolutionary history of the country, and con- 
nected with many families of distinction throughout N"ew Eng- 
land. Her grandfather, Oliver Wolcott, was one of the signers 
of the declaration of independence, and his son, Oliver, was 
secretary of the treasury during Washington's administration. 
Her mother was a daughter of Col. Joshua Huntington, of 
Norwich, Connecticut, whose family was also represented among 

^ewv^ 'fi(^(^^^M>v^ 

■"tnt?^, \ M^** 


the signers in the person of Samuel Huntington. Both families 
took a conspicuous part in the military and political history 
of New England, and five of Mrs. Rankin's ancestors were gov- 
ernors of Connecticut. Doctor Francis Huntington Rankin is 
one of a large family of sons and daughters. In early manhood 
he manifested a decided preference for the profession which he 
has since adopted. He pursued his classical studies at the Col- 
lege of the City of New York, and took his diploma as doctor 
■of medicine at the medical department of the New York Uni- 
versity in the spring of 1869. Shortly afterward he went 
abroad, and spenta year in the hospitals of Vienna. Soon after 
the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 he went 
to Berlin, and received an appointment as acting assistant sur- 
geon in the Prussian army, being stationed in the large military 
hospital in the suburbs of Berlin. After serving thus for a 
short time he became acting full surgeon. On his return to 
America he received the "steel medal of thanks" from the 
Prussian government. He began the practice of medicine in 
New York city in the summer of 1871, and during the first year 
held the position of assistant inspector on the New York board 
of health. He was subsequently connected with the New York 
Hospital for diseases of the nervous system, the Manhattan Eye 
and Bar Hospital, the Demilt, Children's Northeast Dispen- 
saries, and several other institutions. He was also tutor and 
assistant to the chair of materia medica in the medical depart- 
ment of the University of New York. In the summer of 1876 
Doctor Rankin removed to Newport and entered into partner- 
ship with Doctor Austin L. Sands, who died the following year, 
since which time he has continued alone in practice. He is a 
fellow of the Rhode Island State Medical Society, and was, in 
1882, instrumental in forming the Newport Medical Society, of 
which he is president. He has manifested great interest in the 
sanitary condition of the city of his residence, is a member of 
the Newport Sanitary Association, and was, from its first in- 
ception, one of the council. He is also one of the attending 
physicians of the Newport Hospital. The doctor is connected 
with the Business Men's Association, is a member of the New- 
port Historical Society, and of the Natural History Society. 
He was, in 1879, a member of the advisory board of health of 
Newport. He has frequently contributed to the medical litera- 
ture of the day through the pages of the leading journals and 


Xieriodicals. On the 11th of November, 1879, he married Grace, 
daughter of Jacob Voorhis, Jr., of 'New York, a descendant of 
one of the early Knickerbocker settlers. The doctor is, in his 
religious associations, a Congregationalist, and a member of the 
church of that denomination in Newport. 

Doctor William Richardson was born in Boston, Mass., March 
13th, 1788, and died in Johnston, R. I., September 30th, 1864. 
He was twice married, first to Mary, daughter of Job and Sarah 
(Lawton) Almy, of Newport, May 4th, 1815. His second wife 
was Jane, daughter of Isaac Lawton, of Portsmouth. They 
were married September 5th, 1827. His first wife had^even chil- 
dren, and the second five. Doctor Richardson, for many years, 
during his residence in Portsmouth, combined the two avoca- 
tions of farmer and jihysician, which was then more common 
than now. In the latter part of his residence in Portsmouth 
he occupied what was then called the Gelston place, formerly 
Samuel Thurston's farm, but after Doctor Richardson, it was 
owned and occupied by David Almy. It stood a short distance 
north from Glen road, and is still distinguished by an ancient 
and enormous black walnut tree, larger than any other tree now 
existing on the island. Doctor Richardson removed, in his ad- 
vanced years, to Johnston, R. I., and died there. He was some- 
what eccentric and angular in appearance and manner, but was 
a very worthy, honorable and estimable man. He was fitted for 
college at Groton Academy, under the instruction of William 
M. Richardson and Caleb Butler. He graduated at Bowdoin 
College, as A.B., in 1809, studied medicine from 1809 to 1813 
in the office of Doctor James P. Chaplin, and graduated in 
medicine at Harvard College in 1813. He first practised at 
Slatersville for four years, then removed to Portsmouth, R. I,, 
where he remained 21 years, to 1838, when he removed to John- 
ston, at which place he died, having practised there for 26 
years. He was an efficient and valuable member of the school 
committee, both in Portsmouth and Johnston, for many years. 
He was a member of the R. I. Medical Society. 

Doctor Benjamin Richmond, son of Perez and Deborah (Lor- 
ing) Richmond, was born in LitJ;le Comption, R. I., August 7th, 
1747. He was married October 14th, 1770, to Sarah, eldest 
daughter of Col. Thomas Church, grandson of Col. Benjamin 
Church, of Indian fighting fame. Doctor Richmond was a 
practitioner of medicine, widely known and highly appreciated 


in Little Compton and Westporfc for almost half a century. He 
left several children, of whom Doctor J. W. Richmond, of 
Providence, was most known. He died September 15th, 1816. 
Doctor John Wilkes Richmond, son of Doctor Benjamin and 
Sarah (Church) Richmond, was born in Little Compton, R. I. 
Having prosecuted the study of medicine under the auspices of 
his father, he established himself in Portsmouth, R. I., where 
he practised for a number of years. While there he built a 
house of considerable pretensions, on the spot on the west 
road, next south of the Redwood farm, on the site now occu 
pied by the residence of Peleg Coggeshall, Esq. He married, 
N'ovember 8th, 1804, Miss Mary Nichols Sheffield, daughter of 
Aaron and Mary (Nichols) Sheffield. He married, second, April 
10th, 1815, Henrietta Bours, widow of John, daughter of Wil- 
liam Shaw, of Newport. Up to the time of his second marriage 
Doctor Richardson was a resident of Portsmouth, but afterward 
he removed to Providence, and for many years was a prominent 
figure in that city. His second wife, Henrietta, died in Provi- 
dence July 17th, 1849, aged 67 years. He was conspicuous in 
urging the payment of the Rhode Island revolutionary state 
debt, not yet paid. He died in Providence at a very advanced 

Doctor William Cabell Rives, Jr., son of William C. and 
Grrace W. Rives, was born in Paris, France, January 10th, 1850. 
He received the degree of A.B. from Oxford University, England, 
in 1874, and of A.M. in 1878. He studied medicine at Harvard 
Medical School, and the University of the City of New York, 
graduated in medicine at the latter institution in 1877, and was 
abroad in 1880 and 1881, pursuing medical studies at Vienna. 
Doctor Rives was a member of the international congress, at 
London, in 1881. He settled at Newport, and was appointed a 
visiting physician to the Newport Hospital in 1882, and was a 
member and secretary to the Newport city board of health from 
1885 to 1887 inclusive. Doctor Rives was also a member of the 
Newport Medical Society. Within a few months he has re- 
moved his field of practice to the city of New York, leaving 
behind him the reputation of a faithful and accomplished phy- 

Doctor James Robinson is said to have come to Newport from 
Little Compton. He was born in 1703, married October 16th, 
1740, Mary Challoner, of Newport, and died November 29th, 



1745, aged 42 years. He was a physician of high repate, 
although his career was short. He had three children : John 
Tyrrell, born September 23d, 1743, died young; Sarah Ann, 
born August 1st, 1745, married Caleb Gardner, June 3d, 1770, 
had one daughter, afterward the wife of Audley Clarke; 
and Mary, died April 10th, 1764, aged 22 years, unmarried. 
Doctor Robinson's widow married John Channing, and had 
two sons, William and Walter. William Channing married 
a daughter of William EUery, signer of the declaration of inde- 
pendence, and was the father of ~Rev. William EUery Channing, 
the famous divine, and of Doctor Walter Channing of Barvard 
University. Walter, the son of John and Mary, was one of the 
celebrated mercantile firm of Gibbs & Channing of Newport. 

Doctor Thomas Rodman came to Newport with his younger 
brother, Doctor John Rodman in 1680. They were the sons of 
Doctor John Rodman of Christ Church parish, Barbadoes, 
where they had been long resident. Doctor Thomas Rodman 
had had a wife, Sarah, previously, but so far as known, no 
children. In 1682, June 7th, he married Patience Malins, widow 
of Robert, and daughter of Peter and Ann (Coggeshall) Easton, 
and had a son Thomas and a daughter Ann. He married, third, 
Hannah, daughter of Governor Walter Clarke and had six 
children, of whom the second was the future Doctor Clarke 
Rodman. Doctor Thomas Rodman died January I7th, 1727, 
aged 87 years and 16 days. He was born in 1640 and was, 
therefore, forty years old when he came to Newport. He soon 
became an important factor in the Quaker Society, to which his 
family belonged, as well as in public affairs, besides occupying 
a leading place in his profession, and for the fifty years, nearly, 
of his residence in Newport, he held high rank among her most 
respected citizens. His residence was the house on the west 
side of Thames street, second below the city hall, now the resi- 
dence of Rowland Sherman, Esq., and late of his father. Job 
Sherman. Doctor Rodman's progeny are very numerous, and 
hold many prominent positions throughout the country. 

Doctor Thomas Rodman, Jr., son of Doctor Thomas and Pa- 
tience (Easton) Rodman, was born in Newport, November 11th, 
1683, married September 20th, 1706, Katherine Fry, daughter 
of Thomas and Mary (Griffin) Fry, and died in South Kings- 
town, R. I., in 1775. He had nine children, from whom are de- 
scended many persons of great prominence, and the name is 


among the leading ones in South Kingstown at this date. Doc- 
tor Rodman received his medical training from his father in 
Newport, and was equally influential and successful in the 
sphere of activity he had selected. 

Doctor Clarke Rodman, second son of Doctor Thomas Rod- 
man by his third wife, Hannah, daughter of Governor Walter 
and Hannah (Scott) Clarke, was born in Newport March 10th, 
1699, and died August 30th, 1752. He married, January 3d, 1717, 
Ann, daughter of Daniel and Mary (Mowry) Coggeshall of 
Portsmouth, R. I. They had ten children, of whom Walter and 
Thomas were also physicians. Doctor Clarke Rodman followed 
in the footsteps of his father, ministering to the Newport peo- 
ple, promoting the interests of the community in which he 
lived, and of the religious society to which his family were at- 
tached, in a manner which inspired the esteem and respect of his 
•cotemporaries. He built and occupied the house corner Thames 
street and Touro, afterward removed to Bridge street, and still 
standing, the site being occupied by Young's brick block, in 
which house afterward lived successively. Doctors Hunter, 
Senter, Case, and Watson, down to 1837, about 100 years. The 
piece was given to him in the division of the estate of his grand- 
father. Governor Walter Clarke, whose own residence was the 
house next south of it, formerly Isaac Gould's. This house is 
still standing, having been removed to Elm street. He was an 
original member of Redwood Library Company. 

Doctor Walter Rodman, eldest son of Doctor Clarke and Ann 
(Coggeshall) Rodman, was born in Newport August 13th, 1719, 
and died at Jamestown July 20th, 1753, aged 34 years. His wife 
was Rebecca Redwood, sister of Abraham, founder of the li- 
brary, and daughter of Abraham and Patience (Howland) Red- 
wood. They had no children. It is not known whether he 
practiced in Newport or on Conanicut, but it is probable that 
lie lived on the farm on the west side of that island, still 
known as the Rodman farm, and it is certain that he died on 
that island. His widow married Joseph Clarke, for many years 
(1761 to 1792) treasurer of the colony and the state. 

Doctor Thomas Rodman, Second, third son of Doctor Clarke 
and Mary (Coggeshall) Rodman, was born in Newport June 5th, 
1726. He married, July 6th, 1750, Catharine, daughter of 
Deputy Governor John and Frances (Sanford) Gardner. He 
was admitted freeman of the colony in April, 1745, and signed 


the petition to the king in 1750. In 1758 he was commissioner 
relative to flags of truce. In February, 1759, "Mr. Thomas 
Rodman (son of Clarke Eodman, late of Newport, Physician, 
deceased) was elected Surgeon to the Regiment ordered by this 
government for the ensuing campaign." In February, 1760, he 
was reelected. A letter addressed to his wife from Sorel, now 
in existence, proves that he was engaged under Lord Amherst 
in that glorious campaign which resulted in the triumph of the 
British arms in North America. All this proves also that the 
religious sentiments of his ancestors had losl: so much of their 
hold on the young surgeon as to have failed to restrain his 
patriotic ardor. In 1760, he was 34 years old, and had prob- 
ably practised in Newport for a dozen or more years, but no 
record is afforded of that interval, nor of his future. The time 
of his death is not known. He left a son, Walter, some of 
whose descendants are still living in Newport. This gives us 
an unbroken succession of Doctors Rodman in Newport from 
1680 to 1760. 

Doctor John Rodman, brother of Doctor Thomas of Newport, 
and son of Doctor John of Christ Church parish, Barbadoes, 
came to Newport in 1680 with his brother and practised here 
for several years, and had several children born here. He was 
afterward at Block Island for some years, and went finally to 
Long Island, and has a large number of descendants in New 
York and New Jersey and elsewhere. He had a wife Mary, 
who, perhaps, came with him from Barbadoes. He died at 
Flushing, Long Island, July 10th, 1731, aged 78 years. 

Doctor Austin Ledyard Sands was born in Philadelphia, 
December 14th, 1825. His father was Austin Ledyard Sands, 
of New York, and his mother a daughter of Mr. Andrew 
Hodge, of Philadelphia. Doctor Sands received his preparatory 
education in the classical department of the New York Univer- 
sity and entered the regular college course at the age of twelve 
years and was graduated at the age of sixteen. He at once be- 
gan the study of medicine at the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons, New York, of which his uncle. Doctor Alexander 
H. Stevens, was president. His medical studies were pursued 
under the direction of Doctor Stevens and regular examinations 
also attended under Doctor John Watson, who had been a stu- 
dent and partner of Doctor Stevens. Before taking his degree 
of doctor of medicine he received an appointment on the surgi- 

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cal Staff of the New York Hospital, with which institution he 
remained for two years. While in attendance as house surgeon 
of the hospital Doctor Sands received an appointment as phy- 
sician and surgeon to the West Point Foundry located at Cold 
Spring, on the Hudson river, then under the management of 
Groverneur Kemble and Mr. Parrott, the inventor of the cele- 
brated gun of that name. While at Cold Spring Doctor Sands 
had unusual responsibility cast upon him. His experience was 
extended and varied, some of the most difficult and important 
operations in surgery having been accomplished by him. The 
frequent and severe accidents constantly occurring in this large 
foundry afforded abundant opportunity for his surgical skill 
and put to a severe test his merits as a surgeon. At this time 
also the Hudson River railroad was in process of construction 
and the frequent blasting accidents at this rocky point added 
greatly to the number of formidable operations performed by 
him. Doctor Sands, on his removal from Cold Spring in 1852, 
returned to N'ew York and until 1860 was associated with Doc- 
tor Alexander P. Hossack. During the war of the rebellion he 
twice served on the battle field as volunteer surgeon. In 1860 
the wear and tear of city practice produced a marked effect upon 
his health which began perceptibly to fail. He was compelled 
for a time to abandon active work and seek repose and much 
needed rest. 

In October, 1863, he repaired to Southern Italy and remained 
abroad one year. On returning to New York he resumed his 
practice but was again obliged to seek restoration to health as 
of primary importance, and left the city. Relatives and friends 
urged Newport as a desirable point for settlement, and in the 
spring of 1865 he purchased a residence in that city where the 
remainder of his life was spent. In the fall of 1875 he was the 
victim of a brutal assault, the injuries he received being of so 
severe a character as to seriously undermine his health. He 
rallied in a measure from the effects of the blow and spent the 
following winter in the south, but never again resumed the bur- 
den of a large practice. In the summer of 1876 he shared his 
labors with a partner, and he spent the following winter in 
Europe, returning in the spring apparently much improved. 
The summer's duties again proved detrimental and once more 
the doctor sailed for Europe in quest of health, trusting that a 
winter on the Nile might impart to him renewed vigor. He had 


but Started when he was prostrated by violent illness and died 
in Cairo, Egypt, on the 20th of December, 1877. In his death 
Newport lost an honored citizen and the medical profession one 
of its brightest lights. He was devoted to his calling, ever 
faithful to those committed to his professional care, kind and 
considerate to the poor, and ready with a skillful hand in cases 
of need and suffering. His genial nature and unfeigned sym- 
pathy won the affection of all who knew him. 

Doctor Stephen Hull Sears, son of Stephen and Henrietta 
(Hull) Sears, was born in South Yarmouth, Mass., July 31st, 
1854. He studied medicine in the office of Doctor A. Miller, at 
Needham, Mass., graduated in medicine at Bellevue Hospital 
Medical School, New York, in 1879, and has practised in New- 
port since December 30th, 1879. In December, 1881, he was 
appointed A. A. Surgeon in the U. S. marine hospital service, 
which position he still holds. Doctor Sears married, August 
23d, 1881, M'arianna B., daughter of Danforth P. W. and Ange- 
line (Bears) Parker, of Barnstable, Mass., and ha.s three 

Doctor John Sapel, from Germany, was in Newport in 1785. 

Doctor Isaac Senter was born in Londonderry, New Hamp- 
shire, in 1753. Little is known of his early life. He came to 
Newport in his youth, and was a student in the office of Doctor 
'Thomas Moffatt, a Scotch refugee, after Culloden, whose con- 
nection with the stamp act made him obnoxious to the friends 
of liberty in 1765, and who left Newport soon after. Doctor 
Senter commenced the practice of medicine in Cranston, R. I. 
After the battle of Lexington, he immediately joined the volun- 
teers from Rhode Island and marched to Boston, where he soon 
made himself useful and prominent in the camp of the colonists. 
He was selected for a prominent position in the expedition soon 
after oi'ganized to join General Richard Montgomery before Que- 
bec, under the command of General Benedict Arnold. The trials 
and struggles and sufferings of this New England contingent, 
in their advance through the almost unexplored wilderness of 
northern New England, ai-e well described in Doctor Senter's 
own journal, as well as those of Doctor Irvin and others, which 
have been given to the public, and present a wonderful jncture 
of adventurous and enterprising heroism most creditable to all 
the participants, but in its results most disastrous. Every man 
of Arnold's command was killed or made prisoner. Senter, 


happily, was among the latter. After a few months service in 
the hospitals and among the sick and wonnded in and about 
Quebec, he was released and returned home. He left the con- 
tinental service in 1779 and resumed his practice in Cranston. 

In 1778, 1779 and 1780 he was representative from Cranston to 
the Rhode Island general assembly. In 1776 he was elected 
surgeon of Rhode Island state hospitals, and in 1780 physician 
and surgeon-general of Rhode Island. In 1780 he removed to 
Newport and occupied the Rodman liouse, where two genera- 
tions of Doctors Rodman and Doctor Hunter had preceded him, 
and where Doctors Benjamin W. Case and Daniel Watson 
afterward successively lived until about 1837, making an almost 
if not continuous occupation of the same premises by promi- 
nent and popular medical men for six generations, and for a 
period of more than a century and a quarter, and that unques- 
tionably the most central and conspicuous poiiit in the ancient 
town. In all the accoimts obtainable Doctor' Senter is de- 
scribed as a tall and large man, with a firm, statelj^ and digni- 
fied carriage, but of genial and popular manners. He was un- 
doubtedly a man of brilliant talents. He made some contribu- 
tions to European medical journals and acquired much distinc- 
tion therefrom, and within my recollection was spoken of by 
elderly people in the highest terms of appreciation. Doctor 
Senter had a library which, in those days, was considered large, 
and was rich in medical and scientific and literary lore. Many 
of his books may still be found in Newport. He was an honor- 
ary member of the Medical Society of London. George Chan- 
ning in " Recollections of Newport," says : " Dr. Senter exert- 
ed a sort of enchantment, when summoned to a sick bed, if 
the case demanded only simples, his smile proved more poten- 
tial than his recipe." In distant lands, the highest commenda- 
tion was awarded him for medical and surgical superiority. 
Doctor Senter died at Newport in 1799, aged 44 years. 

Doctor Horace Senter, eldest son of Doctor Isaac Senter, was 
born in 1776, in Cranston, R. I., and was killed in an encounter 
with John Rutledge of South Carolina, January 12th, 1804, at 
Savannah.- He was esteemed as a young gentleman of very 
great promise, was given all the advantages of the European 
schools and hospitals, and stepped into the position just left 
vacant by his father, into an atmosphere glowing with the aura 
of his brilliant career, with surpassing charms of person and 


manner, with all the accomplishments which a line mind and 
very superior advantages could give, with a social position and 
popular sentiment which seemed to insure a tide of success, 
and during his professional life everything warranted the 
brightest hopes of his friends and the public, but in less than 
fiv^e years his tragical end blasted all these expectations and 
left a gloom on the community, the shadow of which is hardly 
yet annihilated. He was a fellow student of Doctor John C. 
Warren, of Boston, at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital, London. 
Edward Senter, the third son of Doctor Isaac, was also in- 
tended for the profession. He was a student in the office of 
Doctor William Turner, at the same time with the late Doctor 
James V. Turner, about 1810, but he died soon after without 
having practised. 

Doctor Jotham Sexton came to Adamsville, in Little Comp- 
ton, R. L, from Connecticut, about 1830, and practised for ten 
years, his practice being limited, in great measure, to Tiverton, 
R. I., and Westport, Mass. In 1840 he removed to Fall River, 
where he practised for ten more years, dying there in 1850. 

Doctor Benjamin Stanton, son of John and Mary 
Stanton, was born in Newport, March 13th, 1684, and died Sep- 
tember 18th, 1760. He married Martha, daughter of Henry and 
Sarah (Stanton) Tibbitts, his first cousin. He had a large con- 
nection among Friends, and an extensive practice, dividing with 
Doctor Clarke Rodman that influence which afterward de- 
scended almost unbroken to Doctor Jonathan Easton and to 
Doctor Enoch Hazard consecutively. He had one son and 
three daughters. He lived at the head of Broad street, opposite 
Equality park. 

Doctor Nathaniel Greene Stanton, son of George A. and 
Catharine (Sands) Stanton, was born at New Shoreham, July 
8th, 1836. He derived his name from the great Major-General 
Greene, of the revolution, who was, by marriage, the great 
uncle of his mother. He attended school at East Greenwich, at 
Suffield, Conn., and lastly at Alfred Center, Allegany county. 
New York. After leaving school he passed five years in- Provi- 
dence, in the drug store of Wadsworth & Burrington, when, 
the war breaking out, he enlisted as hospital steward in the First 
R. I. Cavalry. After a year's service he became medical cadet 
and was afterward transferred to the Third R. I. Cavalry, with 
commission as assistant surgeon, ranking as lieutenant. He 


had charge of the military hospital at Baton Rouge from Feb- 
ruary to September, 1863. He afterward rejoined the First R. 
I. Cavalry, at Poolsville, Maryland, and was mustered out of 
service as supernumerary. He then studied medicine, and grad- 
uated in medicine at Harvard, in 1866. He then went to Europe 
and passed a year in clinical studies at the hospitals of London 
and Paris, at the Maternity, and at Guy's and St. Bartholo- 
mew's. On his return he associated himself with Doctor Thomas 
G. Potter, in old school practice in Providence, and after two 
years came to Newport and established himself as a homoeo- 
pathic practitioner, which he has continued to this time. In 
Newport he was first a partner of Doctor IS". Greene, and after- 
ward of Doctor Abiram F. Squire. Doctor Stanton is a popular 
man and has a good practice. 

Doctor Horatio Robinson Storer, son of D. Humphreys Storer, 
M. D., of Boston, formerly professor of obstetrics and medical 
jurisprudence in Harvard University, and president of the Ameri- 
can Medical Association, was born in Boston, February 27th, 
1830. He attended the Boston Latin School from 1841 to 1846. 
On leaving school he entered Harvard University, where he took 
the degree of A. B. in 1850. He was very early interested in 
the natural sciences. He was president of the Harvard Natural 
History Society, and in 1850 published observations made dur- 
ing a trip to Nova Scotia and Labrador, on the fishes of those 
coasts. He also spent a summer in Russia before his gradua- 
tion. He studied medicine in the Tremont Medical School of 
Boston, and received his medical degree from Harvard College, 
in 1853. He also attended lectures at Harvard Law School. He 
spent two years after graduation studying in London, Paris 
and Edinburgh, and was assistant for one year, in private prac- 
tice, to Sir James G. Simpson. In 1855 he commenced a very 
successful practice in Boston, and was very active and promi- 
nent in all matters pertaining to the profession, and contributed 
largely to its current literature, especially in relation to his 
chosen department, Gynsecology. In 1865 he became professor 
of obstetrics and medical jurisprudence in the Berkshire Medi- 
■cal College, which position he retained until 1869. He was ' 
prominent among the earlier ovarotomists, and eventually in- 
•curred septicaemia, by which he was disabled and relinquished 
practice, and retired to Europe in 1872, and remained in South- 
ern Europe until 1877. On his return he took up his residence 


at JSTewport, where he has since resided, not in active practice^ 
except for a short time, in connection with Doctor W. F. Parker, 
when, finding his health again yielding to the strain, he finally 
retired. Doctor Storer is a man of great acquirements and won- 
derful facile expression, both by tongue and pen ; the latter of 
which is sufficiently attested by the large number and great 
variety of the treatises he has given to the public in the thirty 
years of his professional life. He is one of the vice-presidents 
of the section of Grynsecology of the International Medical 

Doctor Abiram Francis Squire is now practising as a homceop- 
athist, at Newport. He came here in 1873, and became a part- 
ner with Doctor Nathaniel G. Stanton. He was born in Buffalo, 
N. Y., February 25th, 1846, and was the son of Abiram H. and 
Hannah (Huff) Squire. He married, in 1875, Mary Henry 
Alexander. Doctor Squire acquired his academic education at 
the Buffalo Central High School, and received the degree of M. 
D. at Harvard Medical College. 

Doctor Peter Tallman, son of Peter and Ann Tallman, was 
born March 22d, 1658, probably in Newport, as his father was a 
freeman of Newport in 1655, and in December, 1658, made a 
considerable purchase of land in Portsmouth, and in 1661 was 
deputy from Portsmouth and solicitor general of the colony. 
There is no evidence that Peter, the father, was a physician, as 
is probable, two of his sons having been members of the pro- 
fession. He is reputed to have been a French refugee. He died 
in 1708. Doctor P^ter Tallman married, November 7th, 1683, 
Ann Walstone, widow of John, who died in 1708. She was the 
daughter of Benjamin and Jane Wright. He was at one time a 
resident of Guilford, Conn., but returned to Portsmouth and 
died there, July 6th, 1726. He had three children : Elizabeth, 
Peter and Ebenezer. 

Doctor James Tallman, also a son of the first Peter, of New- 
port and Portsmouth, was born in Portsmouth, and was a prac- 
titioner of medicine in that town, of high repute, traditions of 
which have scarcely yet died out. He died there in 1724. He 
married, March 18th, 1689, Mary, daughter of Joseph and Mary 
(Brayton) Devol. He married for his second wife, Hannah, 
daughter of John and Mary (Wyer) Swain, of Nantucket, 
September 14th, 1701. He had by his first wife, Mary, two sons 


and one daughter, and by his second wife, Hannah, six sons and 
three daughters. 

Doctor William Thurston was at Newport in 1787. 

Doctor John R. Thurston was born April 24th, 1774, at New- 
port, and received his education there. He was a direct de- 
scendant of Edward Thurston, one of the very early settlers on 
Rhode Island. Doctor Thurston probably completed Tais medi- 
cal education in Scotland, since he married, in 1799, Mary Ann 
Bruce, of Aberdeen, Scotland. He was captured in a Newport 
vessel and taken to St. Christopher's, W. I., where he settled^ 
and died there. May 7th, 1819. 

Doctor William Torrey Thurston, son of the above, was born 
at St. Christopher's, July 14th, 1805, graduated A. B., at Co- 
lumbia College, New York, in 1819, and M. D. at the College 
of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, in 1829. He has prac- 
tised at Westerly and Woonsocket, R. I., and was distin- 
guished in the United States service during the war. In 1881 
he was admitting surgeon and superintendent to Rhode Island 

Doctor Alfred Henry Thurston, son of Charles M. and 
Rachel (Pitman) Thurston, was born in Newport, October 2d, 
1832, and passed his early years there. He graduated A. B. 
at Columbia College, New York, in 1851, and M. D. at Uni- 
versity Medical School, New York, in 1854. He died in New 
York, August 2d, 1865. He entered the United States service 
in 1861, and served with distinction until the close of the war.- 
He was twice married. 

Doctor William Tillinghast, son of Pardon and Avis (Nor- 
ton) Tillinghast, was born at Newport, in 1753, and died at 
Newport, January 26th, 1786. Doctor Tillinghast married a 
daughter of John Holmes, a direct descendant of Obadiah 
Holmes, who succeeded Doctor John Clarke as minister of the 
Second Baptist church, Newport. Mrs. Tillinghast being the 
only child of John Holmes, inherited a large landed estate in 
Middletown, derived from Reverend Obadiah, which descended 
to her daughters, and has only lately been alienated from the 
family. They had three daughters; Catharine, married Captain 
John Dennis ; Avis, married John Baker, and had a son, Wil- 
liam ; Mary F. H., married Henry Bull. By this last marriage 
Doctor Tillinghast was the great-grandfather of the present 
Doctor William Tillinghast Bull, of New York, who is his 


namesake. Mrs. Bull, at her father's death, was three years 
old. Doctor Tillinghast, having received preliminary instruc- 
tion from Doctor Sylvester Gardiner, in Newport, went to 
Philadelphia and attended lectures, and took a degree at the 
old school and returned to Newport, where he commenced prac- 
tice about 1773, and pursued it with great acceptance until 1786, 
when he died. His residence was in the house built by his 
uncle, John Tillinghast, on Mill street, opposite the "Old Stone 
Mill," now the property of Mr. Tuckerman, formerly of Gov- 
ernor William 0. Gibbs. Doctor Tillinghast was a man of fine 
appearance and elegant address, and never appeared except in 
the full dress of the period, perfect in all its appointments of 
ruffles, buckles, etc. 

Doctor William Jerauld Townsend, son of Solomon and Ann 
(Pearce) Townsend, of Newport, was born at Newport in April, 
1824. His mother was a daughter of Samuel Pearce of Prudence 
island, and sister of Hon. Dutee Jerauld Pearce of Newport, 
and granddaughter of Doctor Dutee Jerauld of Warwick, R. 
I., of an old French family, among the early settlers of Rhode 
Island. Having completed his academic education, Doctor 
Townsend entered, as a medical student, the office of Doctor T. 
C. Dunn, where he proved himself a most devoted and faith- 
ful student, and exhibited remarkable enthusiasm in everything 
relating to his chosen vocation. After two terms' attendance 
he took his medical degree at the Jefferson College, Philadel- 
phia, in March, 1835, and before going home made a visit to the 
family of Doctor Corson, at New Hope, Penn. There he in- 
curred a malarial affection, which developed Phthisis, which 
very rapidly terminated his life. He died at Newport, May 
15th, 1835, aged 21 years and 1 month. He was a most amiable 
and entertaining companion, and gave promise of a most bril- 
liant future. Doctor Townsend was cousin to the late Christo- 
pher Townsend, by whose munificence the public library in New- 
port was established and endowed. 

Doctor William Turner, 1st, son of William and Patience 
(Haile) Tnrner, was born (probably) in Swansea, Mass. His 
mother was a noted midwife. He studied medicine with Doctor 
N. P. Vigneron, in Newport, where his parents lived at 
that time, and where they died. He settled in Newark, 
N. J., and had a large practice, and died there. He 
had three wives, the last of whom, Mehitabel (Foster), 


widow of Campfield, and mother of Doctor Jabez Camp- 
field, was also the mother of Doctor Peter Turner, of East 
Greenwich, R. I., whose son-in-law, Doctor William Turner, and 
whose son, Doctor James V. Turner, practised for many years 
in Newport. 

Doctor Henry E. Turner, third son of Doctor Peter, of East 
Greenwich, was a pupil in the famous classical school of John 
Eraser, and afterward a student in the office of Doctor William 
Turner, at Newport. He practised for some years in East 
Greenwich. He married Martha Washington, daughter of Major- 
General Nathaniel Greene, and widow of John Nightingale, 
Esq. He first went to Tennessee, and afterward to Savannah, 
Ga., where he died in 1861, aged 74 years. 

Doctor Peter Turner, second son of Daniel and Sarah (Poster) 
Turner, of New Jersey, and brother of Doctor William Turner, 
studied medicine with his brother, in Newport, and was ap- 
pointed surgeon in the United States army. He died during 
the war of 1812, at Plattsburg, very young and unmarried. 

Doctor Oliver Cromwell Turner, third son of Doctor William 
Turner of Newport, was born in Middletown, R. I., August 26th, 
1814, and studied medicine in the office of Doctors William and 
James V. Turner, and took his medical degree at Jefferson Med- 
ical College, in Philadelphia, in 1836. He practised in New- 
port. He married Sarah, daughter of John Read of Newport. 
He was a very conscientious and worthy young man, and a great 
favorite with all who knew him, and very amiable and unpre- 
tentious. He died November 14th, 1852, aged 38 years. 

Doctor Francis Lincoln Turner, son of Doctor James V. and 
Catharine R. (Greene) Turner, was born in Newport, December 
27th, 1835. He studied medicine with his father and brother in 
Newport, and took his degree in medicine at the Albany Medical 
College. He married Mary Catharine, daughter of George C. 
and Elizabeth Munro, but had no children. He commenced 
practice at Schagticoke, N.Y., but after a year or two returned 
to Newport and entered into practice here. Shortly after his 
return to Newport, where he was becoming a favorite and his 
prospects of a successful career were very promising, his health 
was seriously impaired by an unfortunate accident, and he never 
fully recovered it. 

Doctor William Turner, United States army, was the eldest 
of five sons of Daniel Turner, Esq., of Newark, N. J., all of 


-whom held commissions in the military or naval service of the 
United States. He was also the lineal descendant in the sixth 
generation of the Captain William Turner who lost his life in 
King Philip's war soon after gaining the battle of Great Falls, 
Mass., May 18th, 1676. Doctor Tui-ner was born at Perth Am- 
boy, ]Sr. J., September 10th, 1775, and early in life commenced 
the study of medicine with Doctor Jabez Campiield, of Morris- 
town, ]Sr. J., his father's half-brother. His license to the prac- 
tice of medicine and surgery bears date Princeton, N. J., June 
4th, 1794. Shortly afterward he removed to Bast Greenwich, 
R. I., where, with his uncle. Doctor Peter Turner, he practised 
for some four years. In 1798 he was commissioned assistant- 
surgeon. United States navy, and August 31st, 1799, was pro- 
moted to surgeon, and ordered to the U. S. Frigate "General 
Greene" (28 guns), Christopher Raymond Perry, Esq., command- 
ing, at Newport, R. I. This ship was built at Warren, R. I., 
in 1799, and was nnder orders for the West India Squadron, 
commanded by Commodore Silas Talbot, then operating against 
the French in the war of reprisals — a war, for some reason 
singularly neglected by our historians, and important as the 
first foreign war in which we ever engaged after the war for in- 
dependence, though it was against the tri-color and not the lillies 
of our former allies. 

They sailed from Newport September 23d, 1799, and made 
Cape Frangois, San Domingo, October 6th. At this place they 
frequently met Tonssaint L' overture, Dessalines, Moize, Rigaud 
and others of the fearful black uprising of 1793, so picturesquely 
described by Harriet Martineau in " The Houp and The Man." 
In a letter to Doctor Peter Turner, October 10th, 1799, he de- 
scribes Tonssaint as "a little, old and very ugly looking negro, 
but has a keen eye and is very polished in his manners." After 
capturing a number of prizes among their " L' Industrie," 
"Flying Fish" and a Danish brig, they received orders to 
proceed to New Orleans, then French territory, and receive the 
American Commissioner, General Wilkinson, and his suite, and 
to carry them to the United States. 

Upon arriving at Newport, R. I., the yellow fever, which had 
made its appearance among the crew of the ship soon after her 
arrival upon the station, but had disappeared after passing the 
latitude of the capes of the Chesapeake, again appeared ; and 
some few cases were reported in the town. The town council of 


Newport fully exonerated Doctor Turner from all blame in the 
matter. But the incident led to a sharp correspondence with 
Doctor Moses Brown of Providence, which even at this late day 
excites interest in the reader of the courteous but decided 
letters of the young surgeon. An interesting incident of this 
cruise is that Oliver H. Perry and Benjamin Turner, the doctor's 
brother, were both midshipmen of the ship on their first cruise, 
and there cemented a friendship that was only broken by death. 

The private journal of Doctor Turner of this cruise shows a 
.refined and cultivated mind, and one that appreciated to the 
fullest extent the possibilities and opportunities of his pro- 
fession. His success in the treatment of the yellow fever is 
shown by the few deaths, while nearly all of the crew at one 
time or another during the cruise had passed through the ter- 
rible malady. 

Upon his detachment from the ship he made a short visit to 
his parents, then at New Brunswick, N". J., and was ordered to 
the U. S. Frigate "Adams" (28 guns), S. V. Morris, Esq., 
commanding, for a cruise in the Mediterranean. The threaten- 
ing aspect of our relations with the Barbary powers made it 
necessary to strengthen our force in those waters. 

General William Eaton had been sent to Tunis with extraor- 
dinary powers, of which he was not slow to avail himself, his 
position calling forth the exercise of the diplomatic skill which 
subsequently gained for him the approval of congress, and of 
the court of Denmark. Upon his health failing he visited the 
continent, and December 31st, 1801, appointed Doctor William 
Turner in his place, " with full power to act in his absence." 

Doctor Turner's health, which had been delicate before these 
cruises, was now, after some years at sea, quite robust ; and as 
his desire was for a more extended practice than he could ever 
hope for in the navy, he resigned his commission October 27th, 
1802, and settled in Newport, R. I. 

Upon the breaking out of the second war with Great Britain 
he was appointed by Oliver H. Perry surgeon of his flotilla at 
Newport, June 29th, 1812, which position he held until Septem- 
ber 29th, 1812, when he was commissioned surgeon's mate, U. S. 
army, and ordered to Fort Walcott, Newport Harbor. On the 
24th of April, 1816, he was commissioned post surgeon, and 
surgeon on June 21st, 1821. He was the first surgeon attached 
to Fort Adams, and supervised its sanitary arrangements dur- 


ing construction. He remained on duty at Forts Walcott and 
Adams until his death, September 26th, 1837. His total mili- 
tary service amounted to 30 years. He was a strong opponent 
of the severe corporal punishments inflicted on enlisted men, 
and did not a little to have them abolished. He corresponded 
with the eminent medical men of his day, and was held in 
high esteem by Doctors Eush and Physic, as their letters 
testify. He was conspicuous in all projects for advancing the 
standard of the profession in Rhode Island. His certificate of 
membership of St. John's Lodge of P. & A. Masons, ISTo. 1, 
bears date June 30th, Anno Lucis, 5801, and is signed by 
"Moses Sexias, Prince of Masons, etc., etc., etc.:" Robert N". 
Auchmuty, S. W. ; Thomas Tilley, J. W. ; and S. Cahoone, 

He married, August 15th, 1800, at East Greenwich, Hette 
Foster Turner, daughter of Doctor Peter Turner, and grand- 
daughter of Cromel Child, of Warren, R. I. 

Doctor James Varnum Turner was the fourth son of Doctor 
Peter and Eliza (Child) Turner of East Grreenwich, where he was 
born on the 27th day of March, 1789. He acquired the rudi- 
ments of his education under the tuition of Master Stephen 
Franklin, one of the old time pedagogues, who pursued, in its 
fullest extent, the ancient system of appealing quite as much 
to the external susceptibilities of his neophytes, as to their 
intellectual capacity. As, however, he was a quiet and steady- 
going boy, he suffered less from the method that has very long 
prevailed, on the authority of the wisest of men, than did some 
of his more mercurial associates. He completed his academic 
studies at the Greenwich Academy, then conducted by Abner 
Alden, Esq. , who was noted as an instructor at that date, and 
had occupied a similar position in Bristol, R. I., and was well 
known as the publisher of a series of school books, quite 
famous and, popular in their day. A college education at that 
time was an exceptional advantage, and immediately after leav- 
ing school he entered the office of his father and commenced 
his medical education, which he completed in the oflice of his 
brother-in-law, Doctor William Turner, of Newport. He, as 
well as his elder brother, Doctor Henry E. Turner, afterward of 
Tennessee and Georgia, was an original fellow of the Rhode 
Island Medical Society. He first went to Warren, R. I., which 
was his mother's birthplace, and where he had numerous rela- 


tives, with a view to settlement, and after remaining there for a 
time, became dissatisfied with the prospect and returned to East 
Grreenwich, which was then a place of very considerable com- 
mercial activity ; falling in with the current, he fitted out a 
schooner, called the "Leander," with such commodities as were 
adapted to the supply of the British army, then occupying 
Lisbon, entrenched behind the lines of "Torres Vedras." This 
was not a very successful venture, the vessel arrived in a leaky 
and damaged condition, was condemned and sold, and he came 
home in one of Brown & Ives' vessels, commanded by Captain 
Job Cook, to Providence. 

He then spent several years, associated with his brothers, 
Henry E. and George, in trading in western lands in Ohio and 
Tennessee, quite successfully, but came home and went into 
the West India trade with William Brown of East Greenwich. 
During this time, August 27th, 1815, he married Catharine Ray 
Greene, daughter of Hon. Ray and Mary (Plagg) Greene, and 
afterward had seven sons and four daughters, all of whom grew 
to man's estate, and of whom eight are still living. In 1821 he 
took the farm where his wife and four of his children were born, 
remaining there until 1828, when he removed to Portsmouth, 
R. I., and resumed the practice of his profession. Here he was 
popular and successful. At this time he was 39 years of age. 
Taking up his burden where he had laid it down, nearly twenty 
years before, he prosecuted his calling with all the energy of 
youth, and apparently with all the zest of novelty. At the end 
of five years, in May, 1833, he removed to Newport and became 
the partner of his brother-in-law and former instructor, Doctor 
William Turner. This association was a most harmonious one, 
and existed until the death of Doctor William Turner, Septem- 
ber 26th, 1837. Doctor J. V. Turner then associated with him- 
self, Doctor O. C. Turner, son of Doctor William, and his own 
son, Doctor H. E. Turner. At the end of a year, in 1838, Doc- 
tor O. C. Turner retired from the firm and from that time until 
October 28th, 1863, twenty-five years, when Doctor J. V. died, 
he and his son remained partners. 

Doctor James V. Turner was the embodiment of all the sub- 
stantial qualities that inspire respect, confidence and affection, 
and he enjoyed, as he well deserved, all these in their fullest 
extent. Remarkably modest and unpretentious, and yet self- 
reliant, truthful and conscientious, a strong man but always 


avoiding ostentation, almost too retiring, he yet was firm in as- 
serting himself whenever he judged proper. He was a home 
man in the fullest sense and did no visiting for many years out- 
side his family. The superlative attraction of his own fireside 
is well illustrated by the fact that, wanderer as he had been in 
his youlh, during the last 35 years of his life he never was off 
the island of Rhode Island, except an occasional professional 
visit to Conanicut. Nevertheless, he was social and genial in 
his intercourse with the community, and held a high place in 
the public esteem and regard. His reputation as an obstetri- 
cian was very high in the community he served, beyond which 
he had no ambition to extend it. 

Of Doctor Turner's seven sons one died in 1859. At the break- 
ing out of the war six sons were living, one of these disabled by 
accidental paralysis. Of the other five, four entered the volun- 
teer service, two by enlistment as privates, two by appointment 
as officers. When discharged rhreewere captains. The fourth 
died in the service at Newbern, North Carolina, a lieutenant. 
The fifth and eldest son. Doctor Henry E. Turner, then 45 years 
old, with a. small family, was attached to the service but not 
in the field. He was A. A. surgeon. United States Army, at- 
tached to Fort Adams, then headquarters of the Fifteenth U. S. 
Infantry. Doctor J. V. Turner died at Newport October 28th, 

Henry E. Turner, M. D., son of James Yarnum and Cathar- 
ine (Ray) Turner, was born at the Governor Greene homestead, 
in Warwick, Rhode Island, June 15th, 1816. He is a direct de- 
scendant of Captain William Turner, of Boston, who, in 1676, 
raised a company and marched to Northampton under Major 
Savage, and was present at the repulse of the Indians from that 
place in March, 1676. In May of the same year. Captain Tur- 
ner organized a force of one hundred men and surprised and 
severely punished the Indians at the Connecticut Great Falls, 
now known as Turner's Falls, but was killed on the retreat. 
Doctor Turner's grandfather was Doctor Peter Turner, of East 
Greenwich, R. I., at which place he practised his profession for 
nearly forty years and died in 1821. During the revolution he 
was surgeon in Colonel Christophei Greene's Rhode Island regi- 
ment in the continental line, and was present at Red Bank and 
other hard-fought battles. Doctor H. E. Turner is also a de 
ficendant of Simon Ray of Block Island and William Almy of 

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Portsmouth, R. I. His grandfather on his mother's side was 
the Hon. Ray Greene of Warwick, son of the second Governor 
William Greene, and grandson of the first Governor William 
Greene, who was a grandson of Deputy-Governor Greene of the 
colony of Rhode Island from 1690 to 1700. Hon. Ray Greene 
was attorney-general of Rhode Island from May, 1794, to 1797. 
He represented Rhode Island in the United States senate from 
1797 to 1801. In May, 1801, he was appointed United States 
District Judge, which position he did not, however, fill. His 
son, the Hon. William Greene, was lieutenant-governor of 
Rhode Island from 1866 to 1868. Doctor Turner is also a de- 
scendant of Roger Williams and of John Sayles of Providence, 
John Greene, Randal Holden, Samuel Gorton, Richard Carder 
and Rufus Barton of Warwick, and of Jeremy Clarke of New- 
port, all original settlers of Rhode Island. 

In early life Doctor Turner attended the academy of East 
Greenwich, now the Methodist Seminary. When about twelve 
years of age, in April, 1828, he removed with his parents to 
Portsmouth, R. I. Five years later, his parents removed to 
Newport, at which time (1833) he commenced the study 
of medicine in the office of his uncle and father, Doctors 
William and James V. Turner, who were then associated in 
practice. He later went to Philadelphia, where he graduated 
in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in March, 
1836. After his graduation he went to Indiana, where he 
spent about a year. On the , decease of his uncle, Doctor 
William Turner, he entered upon the practice of his profes- 
sion with his father, which partnership continued until the 
death of the latter, in October, 1863, since which time he 
has prosecuted his profession in the same place. For four 
years Doctor Turner was vice-president and for two years pres- 
ident of the Rhode Island Medical Society. He is secretary of 
the Rhode Island Society of Cincinnati, which position he has 
held for ten years. From November, 1862, to June, 1865, he 
served in the U. S. army as acting assistant surgeon, being at- 
tached to headquarters of the Fifteenth U. S. infantry at Fort 
Adams. For nineteen years he was a member of the school 
committee of Newport. He has been a director of the Redwood 
library for nearly forty years, and for two years (1884 to 1886) 
its president. He represented Newport in the state legislature 
from May, 1848, to May, 1850. He has been for several years 


vice-president ol' the JNTewport Histoncal Society, is a member 
of the board of health of Newport and chairman of the state 
board of health. In 1881 Doctor Turner was appointed by Grov- 
ernor Littlefield of Rhode Island on the committee to assist 
the governor in entertaining the delegation from France to the 
Yorktown celebration. The delegation were the guests of the 
state in October, 1881. In 1853 he was elected city physician 
of Newport, which office he still holds. Doctor Turner is much 
interested in the history of his native state, and amid his pro- 
fessional and other duties he has found time to gratify his lit- 
erary tastes. He has delivered before the Rhode Island Hi- - 
torical Society and the Newport Historical Society many lec- 
tures, among which those on " the Greenes of Warwick," 
" Jeremy Clarke's family " and "William Coddington," have 
been piablished. In matters of genealogy and history he is 
considered an " authority," and much of his spare time is oc- 
cupied in assisting numerous historical students both at home 
and abroad who are constantly asking his aid. He was married 
July 18th, 1844, to Ann Eliza, daughter of Joseph G. and Sarah 
D. Stevens. They have had six children, of whom two sons 
and a daughter are living. 

Doctor Peter Thatcher Wales, son of Rev. Atherton and Mary 
(Niles) Wales, was born at Marshfield, Mass., August 3d, 1745. 
He married Lydia, daughter of Rouse Potter of Portsmouth, 
R.I., and died in May, 1809, aged 64 years, in Portsmouth, where 
his active life had been passed in the successful practice of 
medicine. His residence was on the Glen road, a short distance 
from the East Main road, near the Union meeting house, in 
Portsmouth. His wife, Lydia (Potter) Wales, died in April, 
1803, aged 54 years. They had several children, and some of 
their descendants are still living in Rhode Island. 

Doctor Edmund Thomas Waring, son of Thomas Waring, a 
planter of South Carolina, was born at Charleston, S. C, De- 
cember 25th, 1779. His early education was received at George- 
town, S. C, under the instruction of the Rev. William Stough- 
ton, a Baptist minister, then living there, but afterward of 
Philadelphia. He then came to Rhode Island, and . was a 
private pupil of Doctor Jonathan Maxcy, president of Rhode 
Island College. He entered college but did not graduate ; 
without completing his college course, he entered the office of 
Doctor Isaac Senter as a student of medicine. On the comple- 


tion of his studies he settled in Newport, where he was one of 
the most prominent physicians until within a few months of his 
death, when he joined his children in South Carolina, where he 
died, January 1st, 1835. He was cotemporary with Doctors 
David King and William Turner, who commenced business in 
Newport about 1800, and all died within three years, 1834-7. 
Doctor Waring was a well equipped physician and surgeon, and 
was very much beloved and respected. He was a high-toned 
gentleman, and of a peculiarly amiable temper and gentle ad- 
dress. Mr. Channing says, " He never lost a friend or made an 
enemy." His wife was Freelove Sophia, daughter of Hon. 
Francis Malbone, member of congress from Rhode Island, who 
died on the steps of the capitol, at Washington. Doctor War- 
ing was an original member of the Rhode Island Medical So- 
ciety, and was second vice-president from 1831 to 1834, when 
disability precluded his promotion. 

Doctor Benjamin Waterhouse, son of Timothy and Hannah 
(Proud) Waterhouse, and grandson of Timothy and Ruth 
Waterhouse, of Portsmouth, N. H., was born in Newport, 
March 4th, 1754, and died at his residence at Cambridge, Mass., 
October 2d, 1846. Having prosecuted his medical studies under 
Doctor Haliburton, at Newport, he visited Europe, and was a 
student in the office of his relative, the celebrated Doctor Foth- 
ergill, of London. He went to Edinburgh and Leyden, and was 
a graduate at the latter place. In 1783, having been for several 
years a practitioner in Newport, he was offered the professorship 
of theory and practice at Cambridge, and from that time was 
identified with Cambridge and Boston. He retained this pro- 
fessorship for nearly thirty years, during part of that time de- 
livering lectures on natui-al history in the college. His style 
and delivery were much admired. He was also professor of 
botany in Brown University. In 1812, having long previously 
been surgeon of the marine hospital in Charlestown, he was ap- 
pointed director-general of all the hospital ports in New Eng- 
land. This appointment he held for many years, to 1820. He 
was a voluminous writer on medical, scientific and political sub- 
jects, and published quite a number of books, besides contribut- 
ing largely to magazines and newspapers. His father's house 
was on south side. Liberty square, Newport. 

Doctor John A. Wadsworth practised medicine in Ports- 
mouth, R. I., for a few years, between 1820 and 1828, and mar- 


ried, October 2d, 1822, Elizabeth, daughter of Benjamin and 
Sarah (Chase) Mott. After leaving Portsmouth he established 
a druggist's business in North Main street. Providence, where 
he was well known for many years after. 

Doctor Daniel Watson, son of Robert Watson of Jamestown, 
was born in that town, April 13th, 1801. His education he ob- 
tained chiefly at P'lainfield Academy, Connecticut, and after- 
ward entered the office of Doctor Charles Eldredge of East 
Greenwich, as a student of medicine. Subsequently he con- 
tinued his studies in Newport, in the office of Doctor William 
Turner of the United States army. He attended lectures at the 
University of Pennsylvania, and graduated there in the spring 
of 1834. During his residence in Philadelphia he was a private 
pupil of Doctor Chapman, then professor of theory and practice 
in the university. After his graduation he went to East Green- 
wich, and soon after, March 1st, 1824, married Sarah G. C, 
daughter of Captain Perry G. and Priscilla (Cook) Arnold of 
East Greenwich, who survived him for several years. They had 
eleven children, of whom five sons and two daughters are still 
living. After remaining at East Greenwich for a year or two 
Doctor Watson removed to Little Rest, now known as Kingston 
hill, in South Kingstown. Here he remained until he removed to 
Newport, about 1834, practising his profession and giving a 
good deal of attention to politics, for which he always retained 
a strong penchant. At his coming to Newjoort he occupied the 
house so remarkable in its traditional association with the med- 
ical profession, at the corner of Thames street and the parade, 
and which had lately been vacated by the decease of Doctor 
Benjamin W. Case. In 1836 he purchased and removed to the 
house formerly theMawdsley house, at the corner of Spring and 
John streets, where he died and where hisfamily still reside. 
His death occurred May 17th, 1871, in the 71st year of his age. 
He still retained his political tendencies after he came to New- 
port, and was several times a representative in the general as- 
sembly. In his professional relations he was a most exemplary 
and judicious man, and very tenacious of old-fashioned ideas 
of professional etiquette. He was a great favorite with his em- 
ployers, and very diligent in his attentions to his patients, and 
never more sought after than immediately before his fatal at- 
tack which preceded his death by about three months. During 
his active life in Newport he had the whole practice on the is- 


land of Conanicut, with very rare exceptions, as had Doctor 
"William Turner for thirty years previously. 

Doctor William Argyle Watson, son of Doctor Daniel and 
Sarah (Arnold) Watson, of Newport, was born at Kingston, 
R. I. At a very early age he came, with his father's family, to 
Newport, where he acquired his early education, and having 
studied with his father, he graduated in medicine at the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania. For a number of years he was a resi- 
dent and pi'actitioner at Newport. At the commencement of 
the war, he entered the service of the United States as a naval 
surgeon, and performed much and very valuable and creditable 
service, chiefly in the Gulf of Mexico. His health suffered very 
material impairment in the service from the consequences of 
which he is still suffering. After the war, he made his resi- 
dence in the city of New York, where he is well and favorably 
known, and enjoys a large practice. Doctor Watson is a bach- 
elor. He passes a few months in every year at his father's 
homestead in Newport. 

Doctor Richard M. Webber, who had been for several years 
a promising young practitioner at Tiverton, R. I., died at the 
Stone Bridge, in that town, in the early part of 1828, of 

Doctor John E. Weeden, son of Wager and Sarah (Hull) 
Weeden, of South Kingstown, R. I., studied medicine with 
Doctor William Turner of Newport about 1830-3, graduated at 
the University of Pennsylvania, and settled in Bristol, R; I. 
In 1836 he removed to Westerly, R. I., where he practised fif- 
teen years, when he retired from professional work, and applied 
himself to manufacturing pursuits. He is still a resident of 
that town. Doctor Weeden married Eliza, only daughter of 
Judge Amos Cross, of Westerly. 

Doctor Samuel West, Jr. (see town of Tiverton). 

Doctor William Lamont Wheeler was born at Mansville, 
New York, and graduated at McGill College, Montreal, Canada. 
He studied medicine in the city of New York, where he re- 
ceived his medical degree. He took honors at the Opthalmic 
College, and studied at Partish's School of Pharmacy. He was 
connected with Bellevue Hospital for three years, and held a 
post at the small pox hospital at Blackwell's island. Early in 
the war Doctor Wheeler was appointed an assistant surgeon in 
the navy, and was at Newport when the naval school was theji\ 


temporarily. He was severely wounded at Fort Sumter, and 
had a prominent scar on his forehead thereafter. He settled, 
after leaving the service, at Ithaca, N. Y., and practised there 
for several years. About 1872, he married Miss Hester Gracie, 
daughter of Hon. William Beach Lawrence and settled in New- 
port, where he practised, excepting a year spent abroad, until 
his death, October 15th, 1887. He had no children. 

Doctor George F. S. White, son of William and Cynthia 
White, was born in Westport, Mass., August 6th, 1818. He at- 
tended the Middleborough, Mass., academy, and afterward 
taught school for several years. He then prosecuted the study 
of medicine in the office of James H. Handy, M. D., and re- 
ceived the degree of M. D., at Berkshire Medical College, at 
Pittsfield, having also attended lectures at the College of Phy- 
sicians and Surgeons, at ]S"ew York. At the age of twenty-six, 
Doctor White married Mary Corey, of Westport Point, and at 
about the same time began the practice of medicine at West- 
port, removing, however, soon after, to Adamsville, in Little 
Compton, R. L, where he continued to practice until his de- 
cease, which occurred on the 5th day of May, 1881, at Adams- 
ville, having been in practice 37 years. Doctor White was, for 
several years, a useful member of the school comnjittee. "He 
was a man of warm and sympathetic nature, and was greatly 
esteemed by a large circle of friends. He had an extensive prac- 
tice and rode a large circuit for nearly forty years, yet he did 
not- lay aside his medical books, nor lose his zeal in his chosen 

Doctor Thomas Wilbour was born in Little Compton, R. I., 
in 1718. It is not known where he was educated. He married 
Edith Woodman in Little Compton, in 1740, and practised 
medicine in that town antil 1760, when he removed to Hopkin- 
ton, R. I. In 1770 he married a second wife and had a son 
William born in 1771, who also became a physician and contin- 
ued practice in the same field as his father, Doctor William 
Wilbour, who had three sons who were physicians ; Thomas 
and Amos practised in Fall River, Mass., and William, in 
Westerly, R. I. This second William had a son, John, who 
now practises in Westerly. 

Doctor Norbert Felicien Vigneron, or Wigneron, a native of 
France, Province of Artois, Diocese of Arras, Parish of la 
Ventre, was born and baptized June 2d, 1660. He was a son of 


Antoine and Marie Therese (nee De Beaussart) Vigneron. He 
had several brothers and sisters. The date of his arrival in 
America is not known, nor of his advent at Newport. He 
married, at the age of 40 years (1704), Susanna, daiighter of 
John and Joanna Pierce, and had four children. He was 
in Newport probably early in the eighteenth century, Doctor 
William Turner, of Newark, N. J., who was born in 1710, 
grandfather of Doctors William -and J. Y. Turner, having 
been a student in his office as early as 1730. He had a 
very high reputation as a physician and surgeon. His resi- 
dence was the house northeast corner of Marlborough and 
Farewell streets, Newport, lately occupied by Capt. Gilbert 
Chase, now by William E. Dennis. Doctor Vigneron was 
the great-grandfather of Commodore William Vigneron Tay- 
lor, who was sailing master of the "Lawrence" at Lake Erie, 
commissioned for gallantry in that action, and great-great- 
grandfather of Admiral William Rogers Taylor, U. S. N. By 
a singular coincidence, the same house. Doctor Vigneron' s, 
in which his grandfather had studied medicine, was occupied 
by Doctor James V. Turner in 1834-35-36, and in it his seventh 
son, Doctor Francis L. Tuimer, also a physician, was born. 

Doctor Charles Antoine Vigneron, eldest son of Norbert Feli- 
cien, was born in Newport in 1717, and succeeded to his father's 
profession and field of practice. He married, at the age of 21 
years (1738), Hannah, daughter of Jonathan and Mary Irish, of 
Little Compton, E,. I., then Massachusetts, and died at New 
York November 10th, 1772. They had eleven children. In 
October, 1772, Doctor Vigneron went to New York, and was 
inoculated for smallpox, of which he died November 10th fol- 
lowing, and was buried in St. Paul's churchyard. The New 
York Gazette and WeeJcly Register of November 16th, 1772, 
says, in an obituary notice: "In the medical and chirurgical 
arts, which he professed and practised for many years, he shone 
with superior lustre." 

Doctor Stephen Vigneron, a younger son of Doctor Norbert 
Felicien, was surgeon of a ship, probably a colonial letter of 
marque, commanded by Captain Bennitland, in the old French 
war, and she never was heard from after leaving port. He had 
previously served at Cape Breton, and was at the fall of Louis- 

Doctor Stephen Vigneron, son of Doctor C. Antoine, and 


grandson of Doctor N. F. Vigneron, was born at Newport Nov- 
ember 25th, 1748. He succeeded his father in practising sur- 
gery and medicine at Newport. He was in active service in the 
revolution, on the patriot side, and his record, according to 
Bartlett's R. I. Colonial Records, is as follows: "In January, 
1776, inspector of saltpetre; in February, 1776, surgeon's mate, 2d 
regiment Colony's brigade, vice Ebenezer Richardson; in Octo- 
ber, 1776, chosen surgeon C©1. Cook's regiment; in November, 
1776, chosen surgeon of all the forces, to be stationed on Rhode 
Island; in December, 1776, chosen surgeon Col. Tallman's regi- 
ment; in June, 1778, chosen surgeon Col. Topham's regiment^ 
in February, 1779, chosen surgeon Col. Topham's 2d battalion 
of infantry." When the British occupied Newport he escaped 
on horseback, leaving his books and instruments, which were 
confiscated. He died of typhus on board the " Jersey" prison 
ship, at New York, August 24th, 1781, aged 33 years. 

Doctor Thomas Weston Wood, son of Horatio Gr. and Mary 
(Weston) Wood, was born at Middleborough, Mass., July 26th, 
1818, graduated A.B. at Brown University in 1840. He received 
his diploma from New York State Medical Societj^, June 14th, 
1844, having previously pursued a course of medical studies 
with Doctor Needham, of Pawtuxet, R. I. Se commenced prac- 
tice, which he continued only a few years, as a botanic physi- 
cian, in Newport. In 1857 he was elected clerk of the county 
of Newport, for the court of common pleas and supreme court, 
and was incumbent of the same places for thirty years, and 
l^erformed his duties to the entire satisfaction of the public un- 
til May, 1887. Doctor Wood is very highly esteemed as a citi- 
zen and as a man. He is a prominent member of the United 
Congregational church, and for many years its secretary. 

Doctor Aaron C. Wylley was born in or near Lyme, on the 
Connecticut river, in 1776, and died at New Shoreham, R. I., 
March 27th, 1826. His father was also named Aaron. Doctor 
Wylley married, first, Joanna, daughter of Edward Hull, Esq., 
and sister of the wife of Doctor George Hazard, of South Kings- 
town, and sister, also, of Mrs. Wager Weeden, of Jamestown 
and South Kingstown, and had two daughters. After her death 
he married a Miss Dodge, of New Shoreham, and had one son 
and several daughters. Doctor Wylley was esteemed as a man 
of great acquirements and decided genius. He wrote and pub- 
lished an article on the yellow fever at Block Island, which wa» 


highly thought of, and later an account of the Palatine light, 
which attracted much attention and discussion. He was the 
only medical practitioner on Block Island for thirty years, and 
had the unlimited coniidence of the population. He was pas- 
sionately fond of the study of the natural sciences, and had a 
high reputation for proficiency in that department of knowledge. 
He was an intimate friend of Doctor William Turner, of New- 
port, and was highly appreciated by him. On his gravestone, 
the conclusion of a long and eulogistic epitaph is: " There were 
but few who have been more generally useful, who were pos- 
sessed of more good qualities, or who have by their acts con- 
ferred greater blessings on their fellow men." 



By John Austin Stevens. 

The Settlement of Aquidneck or Rhode Island. — ^William Coddington. — Nicholas 
Easton.— John Coggeshall. — William Brenton. — John Clarke.— Jeremy 
Clarke.— Thomas Hazard.— Henry Bull.— William Dyre. — Samuel Gorton. 

SIXTEEN YEARS had hardly passed since the landing of 
(he Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock (December 11th, 1620), 
exiles, as they styled themselves, for conscience' sake, before 
Roger Williams, banished from the communion of Salem so- 
ciety, found a resting place on Slate rock and began the set- 
tlement to which he gave the name of Providence. On his ar- 
rival in the waters of this beautiful region Jie was warmly re- 
ceived by Massasoit, the jjowerful sachem who welcomed the 
Pilgrims on their first arrival, and whom Williams had already 
met in a friendly way at Plymouth. Results of infinite conse- 
quence to the E"ew England colonies sprung from the meeting 
of these two men. It was in June, 1636, that Williams, with 
his four companions and a young lad, began his plantation on 
lands granted to him by Canonicus and Miantonomi, sachems of 
the Narragansetts, whose sway extended over all this region, 
Early in the spring of the next year (1637-8) a band of exiles, 
likewise seeking peace and that freedom of conscience which 
the saints of Massachusetts only permitted under limitations, 
visited Providence. They were led by John Clarke and Wil- 
liam Coddington. Their original intention was to settle further 
to the southward, on the Atlantic coast, but attracted by the 
genial climate, the independence of the situation, weary, per- 
haps, of wandering, they, after some exploration, in which they 
were aided and accompanied by Williams in person, selected 
the island of Aquidneck (Rhode Island). On their return to 
Providence a body politic was entered into by agreement. 
The first settlement on the island was begun at Pocasset, at 


the cove on the northeast part of the island. The colony seems 
to have increased rapidly, as a second settlement was projected 
in the follov^ing spring. The record reads : 

" Pocassefc on the 28 of the 2d 1639. It is agreed— By us 
whose hands are underwritten to propagate a plantation in the 
midst of the island or elsewhere ; and doe engage ourselves to 
bear equal charges answerable to our strength and estates in 
common ; and that our determinations shall be by major voice 
of judge and elders ; the Judge to have a double voice. Present 
William Coddington Judge ; Nicholas Easton, John Coggeshall, 
William Brenton, Elders : John Clarke, Jeremy Clarke, Thomas 
Hazard, Henry Bull, William Dyre, Clerk." 

" On the 16th of the 3d It was agreed and ordered that the 
Plantation now begun at this south west end of the island shall 
be called Newport ; and that all the lands lying Northward and 
eastward from the said towne toward Pocasset for the space of 
five miles and so cross from sea to sea with all the lands south- 
ward and westward bounded by the maine sea together with 
the small islands and the grass of Cunnunneqott is appointed for 
the accommodation of ye said towne. It was also ordered that 
the Towne be built ypon both sides of the spring and by the 
sea-side southward." 

The town was no doubt named after Newport, the capital of 
the Isle of Wight, which the island of Aquidneck greatly re- 
sembles in its situation and climate. The founders of the new 
settlement, being the most important of the colony, carried with 
-them to Newport the records of the Pocasset settlement, which, 
on the first of the fifth month, 1639, changed the name of their 
town to Portsmouth, after the English seaport of that name. 
Newport and Portsmouth, England, are in the same county of 
Hampshire ; and, like their American namesakes, sister towns. 

The records of the 1st of the 8th month, 1639, give the names 
of fifty-nine persons admitted by the general consent of the com- 
pany "to be Inhabitants of the island now called Aquednecke 
having submitted themselves to the Grovernment that is or shall 
be established according to the word of Grod therein," and the 
record following gives the names of fifty-two inhabitants ad- 
mitted at the "Towne of Nieu-Port since the 20th of the 3d 
1638." This seems to have been preliminary to a joint gov- 
ernment of the two towns, Newport and Portsmouth, as the 
next record bears the caption, "By the Body Polilicke in the 


He of Aquethnec Inhabiting this present 25th of 9th month 
1639 In the fourteenth yeare of ye Raign of our Sovereign King 
Charles It is agreed that as natural subjects to our Prince and 
subject to his lawes all matters that concerne the Peace shall be 
by those that are officers of the Peace Transacted ; and that all 
actions of the case or debt shall be in such Courts as by order 
are here appointed and by such Judges as are deputed ; Heard 
and legally determined— given at Newport on the Quarter Court 
Day which was adjourned till ye Day 

"William Dyre Secretary" 
At this meeting Mr. Easton and Mr. John Clarke were "de- 
sired to inform Mr. Vane of the state of things here and desire 
him to treate aboute the obtaining a Patent of the Island 
from his Majestie." Grovernor Vane was now in England, 
where he had been made a member of parliament. Up to this 
time each of the towns had its own local government of Judge 
and elders. 'Now general quarter courts were held, and on the 
6th of March, 1640, a general assembly, which received the 
report of a committee, consisting of Nicholas Easton, John 
Clarke and William Dyre, appointed to lay out the lands " pro- 
portioned forth " by the Judge and elders, together with a map 
and schedule. The schedule was entered on the records. The 
names of the proprietors were : William Coddington, John 
Coggeshall, William Brenton, Nicholas Easton, William Dyre, 
John Clarke, Jeremy Clarke, William Foster, George Gardner, 
Robert Stanton and Robert Field. It was ordered at this time 
that all the sea banks were free for fishing to the town of New- 
port. At a general court of election, held on the 12th of the 
1st month, 1640, a number of persons presenting themselves and 
desiring to be reunited to the body were " readily embraced by 
them." These, without doubt, were those of the original com- 
pany, who had remained behind at Pocasset, at the time of the 
second settlement, at the southern end of the island. A num- 
ber of others were received as freemen, and it was also agreed 
that "if there shall be any person found meet for the service 
of the same in either plantation (Newport or Portsmouth) if 
there be no Just exception against him upon his orderly pre- 
sentation he shall be received as a freeman thereof." It was 
then ordered that the chief magistrate of the island "shall be 
called Governour and the next Deputy Governor, and the rest 
■ of the Magistrates Assistants." 


An election was then held, when Mr. William Cocldington 
was chosen governor for the year ; Mr. William Brenton, deputy 
governor ; Nicholas Easton, John Coggeshall, William Hutch- 
inson and John Porter, assistants ; Robert Jeoflfreys and Wil- 
liam Balston, treasurers ; William Dyre, secretary ; Jeremy 
Clarke, constable of Newport, and Mr. Sanford, constable of 
Portsmouth ; Henry Bull, sergeant attendant. At this session 
the change of name of the Pocasset settlement to Portsmouth 
was confirmed. 

At the general court held at Newport May 6th, 1640, partic- 
ular courts were ordered to be holden on the first Tuesday of 
each month ; one court at Newport, the other at Portsmouth. 
The government of Aquidneck was now definitely constituted. 
The right which the body politic held or asserted over their 
members is shown by the disfranchisement of four at the court 
of sessions, March 16, 1641, when their names were "cancelled 
out of ye roll." On the 19th of the same month the form of 
engagement of the officers was agreed to "be in these words : "To 
the Execution of this office I hereby judge myself bound be- 
fore God to walk faithfully and this I profess in ve presence of 

The necessity of bringing under one government the several 
local governments of Narragansett bay was early perceived, and 
Roger Williams was for some years engaged in England in se- 
curing a patent for the colony. This charter of incorporation, 
as it is described in the instrument, included the inhabitants of 
the towns of Providence, Portsmouth and Newport, under the 
name of the " Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the 
Narragansett Bay in New England." It was granted in the 
name of King Charles the First in 1643, by "Robert, Earl of 
Warwick, Governor in chief and Lord High Admiral of the 
American Plantations ;" and his associate commissioners. At 
the general court of election held at Newport March 13th, 
1644, it was " ordered that the Island commonly called Aquid- 
neck shall be from henceforth called the Isle of Rhodes, or 
Rhode Island." There is a blank in the records from this date 
until the meeting of May, 1647, when the general court "agreed 
that all should set their hands to an engagement to the 

It was now settled that the councils of Newport and Ports- 
mouth were to agree as to their courts of Justice, 


Lawes " were to govern seamen on the island, and Newport was 
to take into their custody the trading house or houses of Nar- 
ragansett bay. A body of laws was established, and the old 
declaration that the form of government was democratical, 
" that is to say a Government held by the free and voluntary 
consent of all or the greater part of the free inhabitants,'' was 

The want of precision in the geographical limitation of the 
new government in the charter instrument allowed, if it did 
not encourage, endless dispute and bickerings, not only with the 
neighboring governments of Massachusetts bay, Plymouth and 
Connecticut, but also among the towns of the Rhode Island 
plantations. These came to a crisis in 1649, when the struggle 
in England between the king and his parliament was drawing 
to its fatal close. At the May election, in 1648, Mr. William 
Coddington was elected president, but on the meeting of the 
general court bills of complaint were made against him, the 
nature of which is not specified (the pages containing them 
having been later cut from the records and given to Coddington), 
but to which he made no answer and was in consequence sus- 
pended from the office. 

In January, 1649, Coddington went to England. On his ar- 
rival he found Cromwell's government in full sway. In August, 
1651, Coddington returned with a commission from the par- 
liament to govern the islands of Rhode Island and Conanicut 
with a council of six men to be named by the people and ap- 
proved by himself; the commission to run for his life. This was 
considered to have vacated the previous charter, and President 
Easton, with the island towns of Portsmeuth and Newport, 
withdrew from the general government. Providence and War- 
wick dispatched Roger Williams and certain citizens of the 
island also sent over John Clarke to recover their charter. This 
they succeeded in doing on the restoration of Charles the 
Second. This instrument, more precise in its terms and more 
liberal in its principle, was signed by the king on the 8th of 
July, 1663, and remained the fundamental law of the colony 
until the adoption of the present constitution of the state of 
Rhode Island in 1842. Only a summary is here presented; the 
details of these various fragments of local history appear in the 
following sketches of Coddington, Clarke and G-orton. 


William Coddington.— We are not informed as to the place 
of birth of this, the first of the founders of the Aquidnecli or 
Rhode Island colony and its first judge or chief magistrate. 
There is his own written authority for the statement that he was 
"one of those Lincolnshire gentlemen so called, that denied the 
royal loan and suffered for it in the time of Charles I." In this 
he no doubt refers to the forced subsidies which the king at- 
tempted, in 1626, to levy from his subjects under the cover of 
loans to remedy the deficiency of parliamentary supplies. 
These were assessed upon the individual directly by commis- 
sioners under secret instructions and in an inquisitorial man- 
ner. Such a method of levy had its single precedent in a 
similar arbitrary act of Henry VIII., and was in contravention 
of English ideas of the liberty of the subject and an express 
article of the great charter. It was for resistance to this pro- 
ceeding that five gentlemen, among whom was Sir Edmond 
Hambden, were brought to trial before the king's bench, and 
many others throughout the kingdom refusing these loans 
were by warrant of the council thrown into prison. That Cod- 
ington was a man of fortune there is no doubt, as he is found 
in the early days of the Massachusetts colony the owner of a 
large tract of land in Braintree, which then embraced not 
only Braintree but the present towns of Quincy and Randolph. 
His mansion also was the first brick dwelling house built in 
Boston, and held to be the finest in the town. 

When in 1630 the patentees of the Massachusetts Land Com- 
pany transferred the government and the charter of " London's 
Plantations in Massachusetts Bay in New England " to Massa- 
chusetts Bay, John Winthrop was sent out as its governor, and 
with him a board of assistants, of whom Coddington was one. 
These officers were appointed in England, but in 1632 the free- 
men of the colony took the right of election to themselves. 
Winthrop was continuously re-elected governor and Codding- 
ton to the board of assistants until 1635, when Henry Vane 
arrived from England and soon after was elected to Winthrop's 
place. Coddington, whose views were more in accord with the 
liberal views of Vane than the narrow views of Winthrop, 
continued in his office of assistant. He was later appointed 
treasurer of. the colony. At this time the Antinomian con- 
troversy was at its height. The views of Anne Hutchinson, 
eloquently declared from the pulpit by her brother-in-law, 



Wheelwright, were embraced by the liberal Boston party, 
among whom were Governor Vane and Coddington; on the 
other side the country towns led by Winthrop. As was natural 
in a community the government of which was founded on a 
theocratic form, the religious controversy soon turned into a 
struggle for political control. The next election was held in 
the Newtown (Cambridge) common, and resulted (May 17th, 
1637) in the choice of Winthrop and the defeat of Vane and 
his assistants, of whom Coddington was one. The next day 
Boston elected Vane and Coddington and a third, of the same 
opinion, delegates to the general court. The court refused to 
receive them on the plea of informality. The next day they 
were re-elected and took their seats. Meanwhile Wheelwright 
had been brought before the general court (March, 1637,) to 
answer for a sermon preached by him on January Fast Day, 
and condemned guilty of sedition and contempt, sentence being 
deferred until the meeting of the next court. The governor 
protested against the judgment of the court without avail, and 
a petition of the Boston church justifying the sermon was re- 
jected by the court as a " seditious libel." 

Thus it happened that on the first session of the newly 
elected general court, to which Vane and Coddington were depu- 
ties for Boston, the condemned minister was brought up for 
sentence but again respited. ISTow the church people took up 
the subject in earnest, and in session at Newtown condemned 
" eighty-two erroneous opinions." Thus fortified by the judg- 
ment of the ministers, the dominant party at the genferal court, 
in which Boston was represented by William Aspinwall, John 
Coggeshall and Coddington, again re-elected as third deputy, 
took a further step and dealt in a summary way with the Bos- 
ton church petition which had bee a pronounced a seditious 
libel on the court. Aspinwall and Coggeshall, both deacons of 
the Boston church, were dismissed the court; the one for hav- 
ing signed, the other for defending the remonstrance. Cod- 
dington, under direct instructions, moved the repeal of the 
alien law (which, aimed at the Antinomians, forbid, under 
penalty, the harboring of any emigrant for more than three 
weeks without leave of the magistrates) and a reversal of the 
condemnation of Wheelwright. The answer of the court to this 
motion was the issue of a summons to Wheelwright to appear 
for sentence the same day. He was sentenced to banishment 


and to leave the jarisdiction within fourteen days under pen- 
alty of imprisonment. Coggeshall and Aspinwall were then 
called in turn. The one was disfranchised and ordered to keep 
the peace, the other disfranchised and banished. 

It will be observed that these sentences were graduated to 
the offenses and given against them as deacons of the seditious 
church. Coddington, as an instructed deputy, was apparently 
beyond their reach. Anne Hutchinson was next brought into 
court, and making her own defense claimed "inward revela- 
tion" and inspiration. She was sentenced to banishment and 
handed over to the marshall. These proceedings were followed 
by a proscription of seventy-five of the heretical offenders in the 
several towns of the colony and an order to surrender up their 
arms and ammunition unless they would "acknowledge their 
sin in subscribing the seditious libel." The justification by 
Governor Winthrop of the judgment of the court was sufficient 
notice to the liberal minded that their only safety was in volun- 
tary withdrawal from the intolerant community. Coddington 
was not included in the act of proscription of November. 
Whether because of his high position, his personal influence or 
his wealth, the general court in all its proceedings seems to have 
had a consideration for him which it did not extend to his fel- 
lows; but proscription was not needed to determine him to 
follow the fortunes of his friends, and those of their way of 
thinking who had "determined to remove for peace sake and 
to enjoy the freedom of their consciences." The original pro- 
posal of removal came from John Clarke, who was "requested 
with some others to seek out a place." Whether Coddington 
accompanied Clarke to New Hampshire, to which place he first 
went in his search for a proper place for settlement, cannot now 
be ascertained, but it seems more probable that he did not join 
the emigrating party until they left their vessel on their return 
and crossed the country to Narragansett bay in the search for a 
warmer climate. 

There is some negative evidence to show that Coddington was 
not of the original party. In his testimony given at Boston in 
1652, relative to the purchase of the island of Rhode Island, he 
says : " Whereas there was an agreement of eighteen persons to 
make purchase of some place to the southward for a plantation 
whither they resolved to remove ; for which end some of them 
were sent out to view a place for themselves and such others as 


they sliould take into the liber tie of freemen and purchasers 
with them. And upon their view purchased Rhode Island." 
And again in testimony at Newport in 1677 he says that "de- 
ponent (Coddington himself) went from Boston to find a plan- 
tation to settle upon and came to Aquedneck." 

Nor are we informed as to whether he was one of the two per- 
sons who accompanied Clarke and Roger Williams to Plymouth 
to enquire as to the jurisdiction in which Sowams lay, which 
they had looked upon for a settlement. If it be permitted to 
hazard an opinion it seems probable that Coddington did not 
join the party until after the visit of Williams and Clarke to 
Plymouth. He was under no proscription and free in his 

As Coddington was a merchant it is probable that the choice 
of Aquidneck island in the heart of the great bay, and the later 
removal of the settlement to its south end, where lay the broad 
roadsted and safe land-locked harbor, were determined by his 
judgment. It seems also that he was the money patron of the 
enterprise. The deed of purchase of Aquidneck by Canonicus 
and Miantonomi is made unto " Mr. Coddington and his friends 
united unto him" and this title runs through all the codicils, 
receipts and explanatory memoranda. 

Nor if we give full credence to the testimony of Coddington 
in 1677 already alluded to, and made in his seventy-sixth year, 
do we find any need of special assistance from Roger Williams 
in this treaty for the purchase of the island. The influence of 
Williams was paramount with Ousamequin (Massasoit) within 
whose Wampanoag domain Sowams lay, a tract brought under 
the jurisdiction of the Plymouth government by Massasoit' s 
treaty of submission ; but Coddington had equal claim to the 
good will of the Narragansett chiefs. He says in his testimony 
that when " he (Coddington) was one of the magistrates of the 
Massachusetts colony he was one of the persons that made a 
peace with Canonicus and Miantonomy in the colony's behalf of 
all the Narragansett Indians and by order of the authority of 
the Massachusetts a little before they made war with the 
Pequot Indians." This was in October, 1636, when Miantono- 
mi and two sons of Canonicus visited Governor Vane of Boston 
and were received with military state. And Coddington further 
says that he first applied to Wonnumetonomey, sachem of the 
Aquidneck to buy the land but was referred, by him to Canoni- 


cus and Miantonomi, the chief sachems. 1'hese points are in- 
sisted upon that the independent character of the Aquidneck 
settlement may appear in its proper light, and that to the form of 
government set up and the modes of administration adopted on 
Rhode Island itself, the growth as a community, the success as 
a body politic and its territorial independence, the colony and 
the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is largely, 
indeed chiefly due. These are general considerations. For the 
services of Coddington examination must be made of the rec- 
ords themselves. And first it may be here said that the title to 
Rhode Island and the small neighboring islands in the bay and 
to the privileges in other islands and on the main land pur- 
chased or obtained of the sachems, lay in the hands of Codding- 
ton from 1637 to 1652, when he engaged to deliver the deeds 
and declared that he had no more in the purchase of right than 
any of the eighteen purchasers. 

The name of "William Coddington stands at the head of the 
agreement of incorporation into a body politic entered into at 
Providence on tlie seventh day of the first month, 1638. The 
records appear as of Portsmouth, but Ai^nold says it was signed 
at Providence, and that Roger Williams was a witness. Up to 
this time Coddington had not been placed under the ban by 
Massachusetts but March 12th, five days after the signature of 
the compact at Providence, Coddington and ten of his compan- 
ions, with their families, were banished by the general court. 
Excommunication had already been pronounced by the church 
authorities. It does not appear that the voluntary exile of Cod- 
dington, Coggeshall and their friends had anything to do with 
this decree. They were heretics and this was enough. 

The record 'of this first meeting of the freemen incorporate 
closes with Coddington' s solemn covenant to do justice and 
judgment impartially according to the laws, he being called to 
be a "Judge amongst them." To him, as to the rest, was al- 
lotted a house lot of six acres, and in addition, apparently as a 
gratuity, ten acres of ploughing ground. In the same year 
three elders were chosen to share the government with the 
judge and to account for their actions and rules once every 
quarter of the year. In the agreement made at Pocasset, which 
was the origin of the Newport plantation, Coddington was made 
the judge anid granted a double voice in the government, which 
was to be by major voice of the judge and three elders. In ad- 


dition to the house allotment of four acres he was also granted 
six acres for an orchard. This was the second orchard in Rhode 
Island. The first was planted by William Blackstone in 1635. 

In 1640 the town of Newport became the seat of government 
for the island, and William Coddington was chosen governor, 
and held the office until 1647, when the government of Provi- 
dence Plantations was re-organized under the charter granted 
in 1643 by Charles I., the office of governor was abolished, and 
that of president set up in its place. John Coggeshall was 
chosen president, and Coddington assistant for the town of 
Newport. The next year he was chosen president of the colony. 
And now there occurred a difference in the colony of which no 
satisfactory explanation has yet been made. Mr. Coddington 
was not present at the election, nor is there any means of know- 
ing from the records themselves whether there were any meet- 
ings of the assembly in the year that transpired, or if there were 
such, whether Coddington sat as assistant for Newport. It 
cannot, therefore, be decided whether or not he took offense at 
being set aside for Coggeshall at the first election, under the 
charter of the year before. Arnold states that there was jealousy 
in Portsmouth of the other three towns, and that the town 
clerk of Portsmouth was ordered to inform Newport of their 
intention to meet separately. Roger Williams wrote to Provi- 
dence that the island was distracted by two parties, but he does 
not mention the cause of disagreement. 

At the very meeting at which Coggeshall was elected presi- 
dent Coddington was suspended, and with liim Mr. William 
Boulston, one of the three assistants. He was one of the early 
friends of Coddington, and proscribed with him in the decree 
of the Massachusetts government. Divers bills of complaint 
were exhibited against Coddington, and it was ordered that if 
the president-elect be found guilty, or being cleared of the 
charges, refuse the place, or if he refuse to give his engagement 
to the next session of the court, then the assistant for Newport, 
Mr. JeremyClarke, shall be inserted in his place. Mr. Coddington 
did not attend the court to clear himself of the accusations, 
and Jerejny Clarke was installed at the next meeting. 

The following January, 1649, Mr. Coddington sailed with his 
daughter for England. The preceding May William Dyre, the 
clerk of the assembly, brought a suit against Mr. Coddington, 
but whether in his official capacity or as a private individual. 


does not appear on the records, nor yet how it wag decided. 
That there was a faction in the colony against Grovernor Cod- 
dington is certain from the account of the dissensions given to 
John Winthrop by Roger AVilliams at the time, and there is 
the same authority for knowing that Jeremy Clarke was at its 
head. That a matter of fundamental principle lay at the bot- 
tom of it is not doubtful from the character of the parties. It 
has been found, and not without reason, in Coddington's hos- 
tility to the union of the governments of Rhode Island, before 
independent, to those of Warwick and Providence. The origi- 
nal purpose of the settlement was expressed by John Clarke in 
his interview with the Plymouth authorities, as to whether 
Aquidneck lay within their jurisdiction, " to be clear of all and 
be of ourselves." They were not then, nor were they better 
satisfied by later experience with the governments, either of 
Massachusetts or of Providence ; as a i-ecent authority happily 
puts it, " Law was found in Massachusetts, but not liberty ; in 
Providence there was the warmest love of libertj', but to a great 
extent an absence of law." 

Though their early application for an independent charter for 
the island had come to naught and was not renewed, they still 
desited to maintain their autonomy. The weight of authority 
is that these were Coddington's views. It has been said that 
before his departure for England Coddington "betrayed an 
agitated and alienated state of mind." Certain it is that he was 
chosen president without his consent, and was unwilling to 
take office under the charter. That his neglect or refusal dis- 
concerted the faction led by Jeremy Clarke is evident from the 
immediate introduction into the assembly of the concealed 
bombshells of complaint, which would probably have never ex- 
ploded had Coddington willingly surrendered his opinions and 
accepted the office. Arnold has no hesitation in assigning the 
cause of the dispute to a fundamental diflference of political 
opinions. "Coddington," he says, " was a royalist, and was 
about attempting to withdraw the island from the other towns, 
and to unite it to Plymouth. Clarke and Easton (the moder- 
ator of the assembly at the election referred to) were republi- 
cans and leaders of the dominant i)artyon the island." That the 
shape which the dissensions took was political is safiiciently 
clear, but there must have been a deeper ground for the jjassion 
shown on both sides. 


It is always safe in the search for the causes of movements in 
the history of New England, and indeed in the history of all 
times and countries, to look at the religious side. The Antino- 
mian doctrine had taken firm hold of the Khode Island colony. 
Coddington had drank deep at the original source, the preach- 
ing of Wheelwright and the teachings of Anne Hutchinson. 
Indeed, it may be here said that the failure of Wheelwright to 
take the charge of their church was a disappointment for which 
even the preachings of Anne Hutchinson, who came to Newport 
upon her banishment and stayed awhile, did not compensate. 
There were many, and among these Coddington and Coggeshall, 
who held to the belief that men must look to the revelation of 
an inner light which was to be followed, rather than the Scrip- 
tural word. Mr. John Clarke strenuously opposed this ad- 
vanced view, and the result was a schism in 1641, in the Baptist 
church. Eoger Williams, with whom Coddington was ever on 
terms of friendship, inclined from the beginning to this opinion. 
Callander doubts whether Williams ever joined with the Baptist 
church at Providence only so far as " to hold them to be nearest 
the Scripture rule and true primitive practice as to the mode 
and the subject of baptism. But that he himself waited for 
new Apostles.'' Those holding these views Avere termed Seekers, 
and later joined the Society of Friends or Quakers, whose 
great apostle, George Fox, began to expound in the year 1644. 
Coddington joined this society, the members of which 
thirty years later controlled the government of the colony. 
Roger Williams, however, never recognized Fox as an apostle. 
He was his own apostle. But this is a digression, the purpose 
of which is merely to suggest a motive for acts not as yet suf- 
ficiently explained. 

If Coddington were a royalist, as Arnold declares, his going 
to England with a political purpose would seem to have been a 
supreme folly. The submission of Charles to the parliament 
was already known in the colonies, and although the fatal end 
was not foreseen there was no ground for any hope from royal 
favor. In fact the estates of the royalists were under seques- 
tration throughout the kingdom. While Coddington was toss- 
ing on the seas the great tragedy was being enacted, and when 
he arrived royalty was at an end, the commonwealth of England 
proclaimed and the government in the stern hand of Cromwell. 
For two years Coddington waited a hearing. Cromwell had 


other work on his hands in the suppression of the risings in 
Scotland and Ireland, and of the desperate efforts of Prince 
Charles "By what representations," says Arnold, "or 
through what influence he [Coddington] succeeded in virtually 
undoing the acts of the long parliament in favor of Rhode Is- 
land we can never know." Certainly it was not by proclaiming 
royalist sympathies. 

However this may be Coddington received from the council 
of state a commission to govern the islands of Rhode Island and 
Conanicut for life with a council of six to be named by the peo- 
ple and approved by himself. On his return to Newport in 
August, Easton, the president of the province of Providence 
Plantations, deserted his office. Newport and Portsmouth sub- 
mitted to the new order of government but a number of the fac- 
tion opposed to Coddington, and no doubt others who found it 
not the " Democracie or popular government" they had de- 
clared it to be when Coddington was their governor in 1641, de- 
spatched John Clarke to England to obtain a revocation of the 
commission, while Providence and Warwick sent over Roger 
Williams to secure similar privilege for themselves, in confir- 
mation of the charter of 1643. Of course Coddington did not at- 
tempt to exercise any authority outside of his Jurisdiction and 
matters moved along quietly enough, though the situation was 
embarassing. In September, 1652, a letter from Roger Wil- 
liams announced that the council authorized the colony to con- 
tinue under the charter for the present, and in October an order 
of council was issued directing the towns to unite again under 
the charter, an order which William Dyre was bat too happy 
to bring home. But the; order did not bring peace ; the main- 
land and the islands each claiming superiority and each con- 
vening a general assembly. That which met at Newport de- 
manded the statute book and book of records from Coddington, 
but the sturdy gentleman replied to the messengers that he 
would " advise with his counsel and give an answer, for he dare 
not lay down his commission nor hath he seen anything to show 
that his commission is annulled." 

Not till the return of Roger Williams in 1654 was the reunion 
of the colony eflfected. At the general court held at Warwick 
he was chosen president. But it was not until 1656 that' the 
hatchet was finally buried. Coddington was elected commis- 
sioner for Newport to the court of that year, held at Warwick. 


Opposition was made to his taking his place and he put on rec- 
ord his formal submission in these words : " I, William Cod- 
dington, doe hereby submit to ye authoritie of his Highness in 
this colony as it is now united and that with all my heart." 
Clarke, the agent in England, was requested to withdraw the 
complaints made against him, and certain records which might 
seem prejudicial to him and others were ordered to be cut from 
the books and delivered to Mr. Coddingfcon. The presentments 
standing against him on the island book of records were not to- 
be prosecuted but the fine imposed for not delivering up the 
book of records was not to be returned, and complaint having 
been made that the Indians had guns like those Coddington 
brought over from England, he was requested to account for the 
disposal of his. 

In 1658 he appears with Benedict Arnold as a purchaser of 
Dutch Island. In 1663 it is pleasant to find the old gentleman, 
who seems through thick and thin to have held the confidence- 
of the government as well as of the people, the first named of 
the committee to assess upon the towns of Conanicut island the 
rate they should pay toward the one hundred pounds voted for 
supplies to John Clarke, the agent of the colony in London ; to 
whom Coddington chiefly owed the loss of his life estate in the 
office of governor of the isles. 

In 1665 Coddington, having openly joined the Quakers, sent 
a paper on their behalf to the royal commissioners, Carr, Cart- 
wright and Maverick, who were sent over to settle all troubles 
in the reorganized colonial government, to which they at once 
sent answer to the governor with instructions that it be com- 
municated to the Quakers in the presence of the assembly. This 
was done verbally to Coddington and a copy of five proposals 
commended by the commissioners to the colony was handed to 
him for their consideration and observance. In 1665 and 1666 
Coddington again served as assistant, in 1673 as deputy, and 
from 1674 to 1676 as governor. He was succeeded by Arnold 
who died in office in June, 1678, at the beginning of his term. 
At an adjourned session of the assembly held in August, Cod- 
dington was appointed to fill the vacancy. When this body 
met in October Coddington also was on his death bed. He died 
on the 1st of November, 1778, in the 78th year of his age. Mrs. 
Ann Coddington, his widow, as was usual, delivered up the 


charter and other writings belonging to the colony to the com- 
mittee of tlie assembly appointed to receive them. 

Thus olosed, as it had begun, the long and useful life of this^ 
the father of the Rhode Island colony. He came to the island 
the first magistrate of a little settlement, small in numbers but 
great in purpose. He was constantly employed in its service 
and he left it the governor of a strong and prosperous colony. 
The town of Newport was especially indebted to him. His sa- 
gacity foresaw the possibilities for an extensive commerce and 
establishing himself the first mercantile business, he led the way 
in its development. He was interred in the Coddington burial 
place, which he bequeathed to the Society of Friends, in Fare- 
well street. The freemen of Newport in 1836, mindful of the 
memorable services of this, their founder, repaired the monu- 
ment at the head of his grave. Governor Coddington's house 
was on tile north side of Marlborough street fronting Duke 

Nicholas Easton sailed from Southampton, England, with 
his two sons, Peter and John, in March, 1634, and arrived in 
New England in May following. This body of colonists' first 
went to Ipswich, where they spent the summer and succeeding" 
winter. In 1635 they removed to Newbury, where Easton built 
the round house for the colony that year. According to Win- 
throp,Ea.stonwasby trade a tanner, but he is said to have been the- 
" architect of the Newbury round house." He was no doubt one 
of those believers in the new doctrine of the Antinomians and 
followers of Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson, as he was one of 
those disarmed in November, 1636, for refusing to disavow the se- 
ditious opinions, yet probably not aggressive in their expression, 
as he was allowed to remain in the Massachusetts colony. On 
the 12tli of March he was ordered to leave the jurisdiction, but 
he was not one of those banished with Coddington by the decree 
of that court. In the beginning of 1638 the little party again 
removed to Hampton. 

Nicholas Easton's name does not appear among those of the 
subscribing incorporators at Providence on the 7th of March, 
1638, nor yet do the records make mention of his appearance in 
the colony, but on the distribution of lands on the 20th of Nay,. 
at Portsmouth, he was granted six acres of land with the rest. 
He was nor admitted a freeman of the town until the 20th of 
August. lie appears first at the meeting of the 23d of the same 


month. His practical character is shown by the grant to him 
on the " 16th of the 9th month, 1638, of sufficient accommoda- 
tion for four cows and planting ground as they shall think 
meet, all of which is for the setting up of a water mill, which 
the said Mr. Esson hath undertaken to build for the necessary 
use and good of the plantation; and further * * * he shall 
have full liberty to fall and carry away any such timber as 
shall be of necessary use for the present building of the 

Mr. Easton was one of the nine incorporators of Newport, 
and the consideration in which he was held is shown by his 
selection as the lirst of the three elders, to whom, with the 
judge, the government of affairs was confided. He was also 
one of the eleven original proprietors. There is a record that 
the family moved to the new lands and landed at and lodged 
upon Coasters' Harbor island, the last night of April, 1639, and 
the next morning gave the name of Coasters" Harbor to that 
island, and crossed over to JSTewport, where they erected the 
th^ first English house in Farewell street, near what is now 
the northwest corner of the Quaker meeting house lot. 
This house, built about six months after Easton's coming, was 
destroyed by fire in 1641, the flames taking from an Indian fire 
in the woods near by. 

In the eai'ly winter of 1639 Mr. Easton was requested with 
Mr. John Clarke to write to Sir Henry Vane to solicit Ms in- 
fluence with the king for a charter for the island settlement. 
It is interesting as showing the strict holding to the letter 
of the law of the early settlers, that at the meeting of the 
quarter court in December, 1639, the first act was to fine 
Mr. Easton, their chief elder, for attending without his weapon 
as ordered by the laws agreed upon. In 1640, on the abolition 
of the office of elder, he was chosen first of the assistants. 
Dropped in 1641, he was again chosen in 1642. Arnold, the 
historian, in his division of parties, classes Coddington as a 
royalist and " Clarke and Easton republicans and leaders of the 
dominant party on the island." In 1648 he was moderator of 
the assembly at which the Coddington trouble began. In 1650 
he was chosen moderator for the day and at the same session 
president of the colony; but on Coddington's return with his 
commission as governor he, as appears by the act of the general 
sessions of the committee at Providence, " deserted his office 


and with the townes of Newport and Portsmouth declined" 
from the old established order, by which it seems that he sub- 
mitted to Coddington's authority. It was for the sake of peace 
and order no doiabt, for at the May, 1654, session of the general 
assembly he was named first moderator and again chosen presi- 
dent of the colony, which was still torn by dissensions. In 1660 
he was again commissioner for Newport and moderator of the 
general court. 

Nicholas Easton was one of the assistants appointed in 1653 
with Willian Dyre and John Sanford, to look to the state's 
share in the prizes made in the war with the Dutch, the settle- 
ment of the accounts for which was a matter of lengthy litiga 
tion. From the proceedings taken by the court of commis- 
sioners in 1658 it seems that the sum of money committed to 
Easton' s care in 1652-3, and which appertained to the use of 
his highness the lord protector of the commonwealth of Eng- 
land, was considerable. The matter was finally disposed of by 
a court of commissioners. In 1666 and 1666 he was again 
deputy, and during the latter term was appointed with Gov- 
ernor Arnold to consider the delicate subject of the manner of 
engaging allegiance to the crown as public servants, anything 
in the form of an oath being apparently objectionable, although 
it is difficult with our modern light to detect anything more 
than a solemn promise, save only that the penalty was that 
of perjury. In May, 1666, he was again chosen deputy gov- 
ernor, and continuously re-elected until 1672, when he was 
raised to the dignity of governor of the colony, holding the 
office until 1675, when he was succeeded by William Codding- 
tou. In this year (1675) he died at the age of 83. 

Nicholas Easton married for his second wife Ann Clayton, to 
whom he gave by deed ,tlie land known as Easton' s point, 
which tlien comprised 65 acres of land. In the first division 
of land among the proprietors of Newport, to Nicholas Easton 
and his sons were assigned all the land on the east side of Fare- 
well street and between that and Broadway; and the Easton's 
point farm was given to the father. 

John Coggeshall, fourth on the list of signers of the Aquid- 
neck compact of 1638, was in reality next in importance to the 
fathers of the settlement, William Coddington and John Clarke; 
William Hutchinson, Jr., the third whose name appears on the 
agreement, playing a small part in public matters. Mr. Cog- 


geshall was also one of the nine founders of the town of JN'ew- 

John Coggeshall was English born, and came to Bi^sron in 
1630, with John Winthrop and William Coddingtoh, wlien these 
gentlemen, with others, were sent out by the London Company 
to reorganize their government of the Massachusetts plantation. 
He was, like them, a man of wealth, and began busiuf-ss in Boa- 
ton as a merchant. He joined the congregation of the Boston 
church, and was one of its deacons. He was a member oH the 
first board of selectmen of Boston. In 1634, having in his 
church membership the necessary qualification precedent, he 
was admitted a freeman of Boston, and chosen to rei^resent the 
town in the court of deputies, and again chosen in lOHo and 
1636. It was in this latter year, while thus engaged, that the 
Antinomian controversy was brought judicially before the 

The Reverend Doctor Wheelwright, the expounder of the new 
doctrine of the "covenant of grace," and that "the pei.son of 
the Holy Ghost and a believer were united,'' preached a sermon 
on the January, 1636, Fast day, in which he expre^^ed these 
heresies. Summoned to answer before the court, he was pro- 
nounced guilty of sedition and contempt. At the meeting of 
the court in 1637, a petition was presented from the Boston 
church in behalf of Wheelwright, who had drawn a large part 
of their membership, including Vane, the late governor, and 
William Coddington, into active sympathy with himself and 
his faith. This earnest petition was declared a '-seditious 
libel" by the court. William Aspin wall, deacon of the Boston 
church, and one of the signers of the petition, was disnvissed 
the court, and a few days later disfranchised and banished. 
John Coggeshall, also a deacon, but not a signer, defending the 
petition, was also dismissed and disfranchised, and ordered to 
keep the peace on pain of banishment. This was enough for a 
man of Coggeshall's sturdy character, and he was ready to join 
the little band who, immediately after these proceedings, began 
their scheme of a settlement outside of the limits of the ty- 
rannical jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Of him, a^ of Cod- 
dington, it is not possible to say whether he accompanied or 
followed John Clarke into New Hampshire in the winter of 
1637-8. It is not improbable, however, as he was one of those 
persons from whom arms ■and ammunition were taken itway un- 


■der the November order of the court. He was also one of the 
ten and the next named in order after Coddington, who, with 
their families, were formally banished by decree of the general 
court in March, 1638. 

He signed the original compact at Providence, was present at 
the first meeting of the Aquidneck settlers at Pocasset, and sub- 
scribed to the agreement to found the second settlement at New- 
port. At Portsmouth he was granted the usual allotment of six 
acres of land, was one of those entrusted with laying out a lot 
for the meeting house in the neck, of which it may be here said 
that there are doubts whether the building was for civil or re- 
ligious purposes — -perhaps for both combined — and with the 
general allotment for the town ; and he was also chosen one of 
two treasurers for the company, William Hutchinson being the 
other. When the Portsmouth town chose three elders to assist 
the judge, as their chief magistrate was then called, in the 
execution of Justice and judg.ment, Coggeshall was the second 
named. In the agreement for government of the Newport 
plantation the judge and elders of Portsmouth are named with- 
out change of persons. He is the second named (Coddington 
"being the first) in the record of the lands allotted to the eleven 
proprietors of Newport. That apportioned to him consisted of 
three hundred acres on the neck, about one and a half miles from 
the present state house. 

In 1640, on the organization of a general government for 
Aquidneck the office of elder was done away with or rather 
changed in title to that of assistant. Mr. Coggeshall was one 
of those chosen, and was annually re elected till 1644. In that 
year, on the organization of a military company for Newport, 
he was the first named of the corporals chosen by the general 
court to th^ command. When in May, 1647, the general court 
met at Portsmouth to set their hands to an engagement to the 
new charter, received from the Earl of Warwick, governor in 
chief of the American colonies, John Coggeshall was chosen 
moderator of the assembly, and by the same body first president 
of the province of the Providence Plantations, a high post, and 
increased in honor by the election among the four assistants for 
the four towns of the colony of Roger Williams for Providence, 
and William Coddington for Newport. Mr. Coggeshall did not 
long enjoy his new dignity. He died in office on the 27th of 
November, 1647, aged about fifty-six. Such is the inscription 

160 msTor.Y ok wewpokt county. 

on the tombstone in the Coggeshall burial jjlace on Coggeshall 

William Bkenton was not one of the signers of the Provi- 
dence compact for the Aquidnecl-c settlement, but was admitted 
freeman of their society, together with Nicholas Easton, at 
Portsmouth, on the 2nth of August, 1638, and his name appears 
as present at the meeting of the 23d of that month. On the 
establishment of the government of the settlement he was chosen 
one of the elders to assist the judge. 

William Brenton was one of the nine subscribers to the 
agreement at Pocasset, April 28th, 1639, to "propagate a plant- 
ation " at Newport, and one of the elders governing the same, 
and one of those original proprietors to whom the grant of 
lands was recorded, March 10th, 1640. Notwithstanding this 
he seems to have remained for a time at Portsmouth, where 
he was also granted land in 1644, and was in August of that 
year appointed to view the deer which Massasoit had per- 
mission to kill on the island and bring to Portsmouth. The 
api^ointing of town meetings was also entrusted to him and 
another. In 1640, the form of government being changed, Mr. 
Brenton was chosen deputy governor, and again in 1641 and 

What part Mr. Brenton took in the Coddington troubles is 
not shown in the records, but he is known to have sided with 
him in his views of the Shawomet purchase, and the dangers 
threatened by Gorton's action in that town, which some have 
held to have been the real cause of Coddington' s dissatisfaction. 

In 1655, on the roll of the freemen of the four towns, his 
name appears as in the Portsmouth list. In 1659, however, he 
was of Newport, for in that year he was appointed one of the 
committee of this town to draw up the letters to the commis- 
sioners of the united colony and the general court of Massa- 
chusetts, in reference to the purchase of lands in the Rhode 
Island colony, contrary to law, by the Massachusetts people ; 
and further to correspond with John Clarke, the colony's agent 
in London, on the subject. In 1660 he was chosen president 
of the colony, and in the same year sat as commissioner for the 
town of Providence, and later in the year for Portsmouth. In 
1661 he was a moderator of the assembly, and at the same 
meeting re-elected president, and again this year appears as 
commissioner for Newport, and again in 1662 as next or vice- 


president, Benedict Arnold being chosen president. He was 
also engaged in the raising and receiving of moneys for the 
.supply of Mr. Clarke in London, and the correspondence ap- 
pears (1662) to have been managed by him. He seems to have 
protested against the acquisition of Westerly by Vaughan, 
Coggeshall, Cranston and others, but for what reasons there is 
now no means of ascertaining. 

In 1663 he was again elected deputy governor, and with 
Arnold, governor, addressed Endicott, the governor of Massa- 
chusetts, with a view to the "speedy extirpating the root or 
stem of discontent being or growing between these two colo- 
nies ;" and the next year the same officers complained to the 
governor of Connecticut of outrages committed by people 
of their jurisdiction on the west side of Pawcatuck, " alias 
Narragansett river." The same year he was named with Roger 
Williams and others to meet agents of the colony of New 
Plymouth at Rehoboth, or at Newport, and attempt to settle 
the boundary lines with that colony also. This meeting was 
held at Rehoboth the following February. Small as the terri- 
tory of Rhode Island was their neighbors were constantly en- 
gaged in efforts to diminish it. In 1665 he was again deputy 
governor, and in 1666 chosen governor of the colony and con- 
tinued in office until 1669, when he was succeeded by Benedict 
Arnold. During his term he endeavored to secure from the 
king's commissioners. Colonel Nichols, Carr and Maverick, a 
settlement of the long standing dispute about the intrusions in 
the Warwick settlement. Mr. Brenton now withdrew perma- 
nently from public life. In 1672 he was again elected governor, 
but though urged to accept the position and give his engage- 
ment he, both by word of mouth and letter, absolutely refused, 
and Nicholas Easton was chosen in his place. Mr. Brenton was 
then at Taunton on a visit. 

John Clarke. — In his history of the Baptist denomination 
in America Benedict says : " Where Mr. Clarke was born is not 
certainly known. In some of his old papers he is styled 'John 
Clark of London physician;' but tradition makes him a native 
of Bedfordshire." Of later years it has been assumed that "he 
was born in London, England, on the 8th day of October, 1609." 
Nor is it known where he was educated or where he studied 
physic. It is certain, however, that he was learned in the 
ancient languages. In his will he gives to his "dear friend 


Richard Bailey liis Hebrew and Greek books;" also " my con- 
cordance with a Lexicon to it belonging, written by myself, 
being the frnit of several years study." 

We find it nowhere stated at what time or by what vessel he 
arrived in the Massachusetts bay, nor when nor where he was 
ordained as a preacher if at all; nor yet to what communion or 
order of the church he belonged. Tradition says that " he was 
a preacher before he left Boston, but that he became a Baptist 
after his settlement on Rhode Island by means of Roger Wil- 
liams." If we rightly understand the meaning of Mr. Callen- 
ders inference (Historical Discourse, 1638) Clarke -was not an 
ordained clergyman. He and his followers had depended on 
the coming of Doctor Wheelwright, the banished minister of 
Braintree, but he disappointed them, choosing to go to Long 
Island, from Piscataqua, his first refuge after his exile. " Mr. 
Clarke, who was a man of letters, carried on a publick worship 
(as did Mr. Brenton at Plymouth) at the first coming till they 
procured Mr. Lenthal of Plymouth, who was admitted a free- 
man here August 6, 1640." So far Callender. 

William Brewster, at the first coming of the Pilgrims after the 
-expulsion of their minister, Tyford, had, although a layman, 
iled them in their religious duties as " teaching Elder." Brew- 
ster also was a scholar, a graduate from the University of Cam- 
bridge, England, and like John Clarke quite competent to his 
task. And further Callender with his usual caution reports as 
•of tradition: " It is said that in 1644 Mr. John Clarke and some 
others formed a church on the scheme and principles of the 
Baptists." Benedict goes farther and says that John Clark, 
M. D., was the "founder of this church and also its first 
minister. He took care of them at their settlement and con- 
tinued their minister till his death." 

Although it would be hardly just to say that John Clarke, 
the pioneer Baptist statesman, as he has been enthusiastically 
named in our day, was the controlling spirit of the colony, the 
first steps of which he undoubtedly guided, he certainly divided 
the superior influence with William Coddington, to whom as 
trained in law and exercised in civil administration the first 
settlers looked for counsel, choosing him for their first judge 
or chief magistrate. The name of John Clarke stands next to 
that of Coddington among the signatures of the incorporators 
of Portsmouth and first after the elders in the agreement made 


at Pocasset for the plantation of Newport. The records of the 
colony are a complete testimony to the nature, the extent and 
importance of his services. His good judgment and ready pen 
fitted him for a variety of service invaluable in a young settle- 
ment. He surveyed the lands, arranged the highways and 
made disposal of the farms. In 1639 he was requested to in- 
terest Governor Vane for the obtaining of a patent for the 
island from the king, and the next year was one of the com- 
mittee on the same subject. In 1648 he was appointed one of 
the six commissioners for Newport to the general court. In 
1649 he was chosen general assistant for the town and again in 
1650; in 1649 also he was chosen general treasurer of the colony. 
In 1650, when it seems to have been uncertain whether Roger 
Williams would go to England on the business of the colony, 
John Clarke was nominated as one of the two persons to go in 
his stead. In the year 1651 there was committed under the au- 
thority of the Massachusetts government one of the greatest of 
the many outrages that stain the records of that intolerant 
colony. In May John Clarke, then the pastor of the first Bap- 
tist church in Newport, and Obadiah Holmes who had lately 
helped to found a church of the same order at Seekonk (and 
presented therefor by the grand jury at the general court of 
Plymouth in the jurisdiction of which Seekonk lay, had taken 
refuge at New^port), were deputed by the Newport church to 
visit, in company with John Crandall, an aged member of the 
Seekonk church, who lived near Lynn and had requested to be 
called upon. While Clarke was preaching there on Saturday to 
the inmates of the house and later at the church, the three were 
arrested as "erroneous persons being strangers," silenced at 
the church by a magistrate, and the next day, after excommuni- 
cation, sent to Boston for trial. They were there charged by 
Governor Bndicott with being Anabaptists. Clarke denied that 
he was "either an anabaptist, a pedobaptist or a catabaptist, 
and affirmed though he had baptized many he had never rebap- 
tized any for that infant baptism was a nullity." The others 
agreeing in this, they were then and there fined, in default of 
which "to be well whipped." 

Refusing to pay the fine they were sent to prison. Clarke in 
a letter challenged the court to a discussion of the doctrine for 
which he was condemned. The magistrates named a day but 
before it arrived Clarke was dischargad, some person unknown 


to him having paid his fine of twenty pounds. He renewed the 
challenge hoping to meet the Puritan Cotton, to discuss with 
him the principles of Baptist faith, voluntary baptism, and in- 
dividual responsibility ; the theologic points on which Massa- 
chusetts and Rhode Island were at variance. The debate never 
took place. Holmes not paying his iine of twenty pounds, was 
brutally flogged. Crandall was let free on the jailer's surety. 
An old man who had come from Seekonk to visit Holmes in 
prison was arrested for shaking hands with him after the whip- 
ping and sentenced to be fined or whipped. It seems that dis- 
cretion tempered the valor of Endicott and his crew, and that 
while they hesitated to do violence to Clarke they laid the full 
measure of their hate and spite on the back of Holmes, who was 
within the Plymouth jurisdiction. 

On his return to Newijort after this outrage Mr. Clarke re- 
ceived a fresh instance of the perfect confidence of the colony 
in his skill and judgment. Groveruor Coddington had just re- 
turned from England where he had obtained a commission as 
governor of Rhode Island and Conanicut for life ; a virtual dis- 
memberment of the colony. Alarmed at this proceeding, a large 
number of the important citizens of Portsmouth and Newport 
selected Doctor Clarke to proceed to England as their agent and 
secure a repeal of the governor'^ commission. He sailed from 
Boston with Roger Williams but the objects of their missions 
were different and wholly independent of each other. Onc'e in 
England the colony found Clarke enough to do, and with what 
satisfaction to them apjjears by the votes of the general court 
of commissioners held at Newport November 24th, 1663. This 
was on the occasion of the reading of John Clarke, the colony's 
agent's letter to the president, assistants and freemen of the 
colony, which accompanied the box containing the king's letters 
of patent under the broad seal. It was thereupon voted that 
Mr. Clarke be saved harmless in his estate, all his disbursement 
for his voyage going and when he should return and his ex- 
penses abroad, be repaid and discharged by the colony, and 
further, " that in consideration of Mr. John Clarke's aforesayd 
his great paynes labours and travail with much faithfulness ex- 
ercised for twelve years in behalf of this colony the thanks 
of the colony be sent unto him by the governor" and deputy 
governor, and for a gratuity unto him the sum of one hundred 
pounds sterling. 


In this long period he had been constantly engaged. He pro- 
cured and sent powder and ball to the colony. He was charged 
in 1658 with letters to his highness, Oliver Cromwell. Two 
years later he was commissioned " agent and attorney " by the 
general court. In 1662 he himself addressed two petitions to 
"High and Mighty King" Charles the Second setting forth in 
dutiful and honorable light the profound loyalty of his subjects 
of Rhode Island and their desire for a more " absolute, ample 
and free charter," of which they were sadly in need to shelter 
them from the encroachments of their greedy neighbors of the 
Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies. The result of his di- 
plomacy, for such it was to get the better of the agents of these 
neighbors, was the charter of 1663 ; the gratitude of Rhode Is- 
land to the king and to their agent has been already shown. 

Clarke returned to Newport in the summer of 1664 and 
handed in his accounts, which were ordered to be paid. In Oc- 
tober he was again elected deputy for Newport and continuous- 
ly until 1668, being constantly employed in the most delicate 
matters of administration ; settlement of difficulties among the 
towns, treaties with the neighboring colonies, revision of the 
laws, arrangements for harbors and in a hundred ways demand- 
ing tact and discernment. He was chosen deputy governor in 
1671 and 1672 and again in 1673, but positively refused to serve. 
In 1670 he had been again appointed agent to England to pro- 
test against the intrusions of Connecticut and other colonies 
into the colony of Rhode Island and their infringement of her 
chartered rights, and in 1671 two hundred pounds in silver was 
voted for his supplies. Similar resolutions were taken in 1672 
but delay proved the best policy, and the colony seeming to be 
in a hopeful way to compose the differences with Connecticut 
" in a loveing and peaceful manner," the votes were rescinded. 

Notwithstanding the many expressions of confidence and 
promises of money to Mr. Clarke, it appears by the record 
that he had still an outstanding claim against the colony 
of £450 sterling, which the general assembly, "considering 
that the said Mr. Clark hath received alreadj' a great sum," 
seemed to consider an over weighty charge. A letter was 
ordered to be written to Mr. Clarke, and the answer to be 
reported to the next assembly. Nothing further appears on the 
record until October, 1676, when Mr. Clarke's executor pre- 
sented a paper demanding one hundred pounds, current money 


of England, as due to Mr. Clarke. The matter was referred to 
a committee for inquiry, but the records are thereafter silent as 
to the final settlement. It is said that in order to meet Ms ex- 
penses to England he was obliged to mortgage his Newport 

In justice to the Rhode Island authorities, however, it must 
be stated that thej^ claimed that Mr. Clarke had made "show- 
ing that he had occasions of his own to go to England which 
was not the Colony's business," and intimate that some of these 
expenses might be transgressions against the king or the laws 
of the colony. As to his business in London there is a curious 
intimation in the protest of the "pestilent people of Warwick" 
against the payment of the sum assessed upon them in 1664 for 
the agent's services. They say "Wee know that Mr. Clarke 
did publiquly exercise his ministry in the Word of Grod in 
London as his letters have made report, as that being a cheefe 
place for his profitte and preferment which we doubt not 
brought him in good means for his maintenance; as also he was 
much employed about modelizing of matters concerning the 
affairs of England as his letters have declared; in which noe 
doubt he was incouradged by men of noe small estates who in 
all licklyhood did communicate liberally unto him for such 
labors and studies." 

Mr. Clarke's estate was appraised at the time of his death 
at £1080.125. To the Baptist church he left a lot of land 
in Tanner street, known as the Clarke burial ground. The re- 
mainder of his estate he left in perpetual trust, the income to 
be distributed for " the relief of the poor or the bringing up 
of children into learning." Mr. Clarke. had three wives, but 
left no children. He died on the 20th of April, 1676, in the 67th 
year of his age. The only literary work he left behind him 
was his narrative entitled "111 News from New England," 
which was printed in London in 1652 and has since been re- 
printed by the Massachusetts Historical Society Coll., Series 4, 
Vol. 2. 

Jeremy Clarke.— The name of this one of the founders of 
Newport does not appear among those of the Aquidneck in- 
corporators at Providence. He was present at the meeting 
January 2d, 1638-9, at Portsmouth, when the form of govern- 
ment was agreed upon. He was one of the nine subscribers to 
the agreement at Pocasset for th eNewport plantation. No rela- 


tionship is known to have existed between this family and that 
of John Clarke, the founder. Nothing is known of the life of 
Jeremy Clarke in England nor is there (on the authority of 
Doctor Turner) any mention of a settlement by him in the 
Massachusetts or Plymouth Bay colonies to be found in their 
records, and in fact but meagre materials for any account of 
him whatever. He was evidently a man of consideration as he 
was named not only constable in 1639, but appointed to the 
place of Mr. Jeoffrey, the treasurer of the Aquidneck Company 
during his absence among the Dutch that year. In 1640 he 
was again appointed constable and one of the three persons 
selected to lay out the Newport lands among the proprietors, 
of whom he was one. In 1642 he was elected lieutenant and in 
1644 captain of the trains band; in 1647 he was chosen treasurer 
of the colony; again in 1648 both assistant and treasurer; and 
at the same election, Coddington having declined to qualify as 
governor, Jeremy Clarke, who is charged with having led the 
cabal against him, was by the court established governor in his 
place until Coddington should be cleared of the charges against 
him or another president be elected or installed. 

Clarke is styled in the record of the assembly the " President 
Regent of the colony." His name last appears as witness to 
the deed of Misquamacock (Westerly) by Socho, the Indian 
sachem of the Niantics, to William Vaughn and others in 1661. 
He died in this year. He married Frances, daughter of Louis 
Latham and widow of Thomas Dongan. After Clarke's death 
she was married (for the third time) to the Reverend William 
Vaughn, the first pastor of the Second Baptist church in New- 
port. Walter Clarke, son of Jeremy, was later governor of 
the colony. 

Thomas Hazard.— Of the antecedents of this one of the nine 
founders of the town of Newport we know nothing. His name 
first appears as one of the subscribers" at Pocasset. He was one 
of those appointed to lay out the lands within the circuit and 
bounds of the town after the rate and proportion of twenty 
cows' meat to a division of three hundred acres of upland. He 
does not appear to have served. He was present at the general 
court of election in March, 1640, which established the govern- 
ment of the colony. In 1655, when the roll of the freemen of 
the colony in every town was taken, he appears at Portsmouth, 
after which there is no further mention of him on the records. 


Henry Bull was either maimed or had not yet learned the 
art of writing when the Providence compact for the Aquidneck 
settlement was signed, foi* he is recorded as affixing his mark. 
He first appears at the meeting at Portsmouth June 27th, 1638, 
and on the 24th of January, 1638-9, was chosen sergeant of the 

He was one of the nine subscribers to the Pocasset agreement 
to plant the town afterward named Newport, but neither at 
Portsmouth nor there does he appear as one of the landed pro- 
prietors. On the organization of the government he was again 
chosen sergeant, and in 1641 and 1642 again elected. He is 
styled sergeant attendant ; he had now a companion in the office. 
The duties of the sergeants were in 1638 defined to be to attend 
all meetings of the judge and elders and to execute the sen- 
tences of the court. In 1642 they were granted the fees al- 
lowed by order of law for arrests and summons. The laws es- 
tablished in 1647 included the office of general sergeant, and 
required that he should be "an able man of estate, for so ought 
a sheriff to be whose place he supplies." 

Mr. Bull was a commissioner for Newport at the court held 
at Providence in 1655, and in that year also one of the men 
chosen for his town to fix the rates on the towns for the build- 
ing of sufficient prisons in each. In 1657 he was a commissioner 
for Providence. In 1666 he was deputy for Newport, and again 
in 1673 and 1674 ; in 1680 and 1681. In 1685 William Codding- 
ton (second son of the old governor) was re elected governor, 
and declining to give the engagement to the office, Henry Bull 
was chosen in his place. James the Second had just inherited 
the crown of England. In February, 1689-90, William and 
Mary coming to the throne, there was great confusion in the 
colony. Walter Clarke, the governor of Rhode Island, being 
re-elected and declining to act, Christopher Almy was elected ; 
but he also refusing to serve, Mr. Henry Bull was chosen by the 
assembly and engaged. Clarke refused to let the charter go 
■ftivless the committee of the assembly should forcibly open the 
cbeat and take it. It was surrendered to Grovernor Bull two 
moutlis later. 

^tiMay, 1690, it was ordered by unanimous vote that Walter 

Clarke, tlae late governor, and all the officers of the colony in 

1-686, at%e coming over of Sir Edmund Andros, be confirmed 

a™ established in their respective places. The old charter was 


resumed. This was at a meeting of the general assembly at 
Newport, on the 1st of May, 1690, yet on the 6th of the same 
month Mr. Bull presided as governor at a meeting of the assem- 
bly, and on the 7th of May, at a second meeting, he acted as 
moderator, and was again elected governor, but probably re- 
fused to serve, as did Mr. John Coggeshall, next chosen ; where- 
upon Mr. John Easton was elected and engaged. What became 
of the reinstated officers the record does not inform us, nor yet 
Arnold in his history of Rhode Island. 

Henry Bull died in 1693, and was buried in the old Quaker 
cemetery on Farewell street, where there stands a square low 
pillar of granite, with cornice and pediment, bearing the in- 
scription : "Here lyeth the body of Henry Bull, Esqr., late 
governor of this colony, who died January 23, 1693, aged 85." 

William Dybe, one of the founders, and the first clerk of 
the Aquidneck company and colony, came to Boston from Eng- 
land about "1627 or 1629." He married his cousin, Mary, who 
is described as a " person of no mean extract or parentage, of 
an estate pretty plentiful, of a comely stature and countenance, 
of a piercing knowledge in many things, of a wonderful sweet 
and pleasant discourse :" and no less an authority than John 
Winthrop describes her in his Journal of 1638 as a "very 
promp and fair woman of very proud spirit;" testimony 
which must be accepted, for these early Puritan fathers were 
good judges of the things of the flesh as well as of the spirit. 
William Dyre and Mary, his wife, united with the Boston 
church, of which the Reverend John Wilson was pastor, and 
the following March, 16.'56, was admitted freeman of Boston. 
Like Coddington and Coggeshall, who were members of the same 
congregation, Dyre was attracted by the preaching of Wheel- 
wright and the no less persuasive eloquence of Anne Hutchin- 
son, and warmly espoused the Antinomian cause and signed 
the remonstance or petition to the general court against its con- 
demnation of Wheelright, and was one of those proscribed and 
disarmed by the decree of November, 1636, to use his own 
words, " because his hand was to the seditious writing and de- 
fended the same." 

Whether he was one of the little party which John Clarke 
led into the cold wilds of New Hampshire that autumn or early 
winter is not known. Mary Dyre, his wife, was not less earnest 
in her faith in the new doctrine, and her devotion to Anne 


Hutchinson. She must have remained in Boston as late as 
March, 1638, when her husband had already joined the expe- 
dition of Clarke and Coddington. The examination of Mrs. 
Hutchinson before the church and her defense of five examples 
selected from twenty-nine theses was had before the Boston 
church March 15th, 1638. When she was cast out of church 
Mrs. Dyre walked with her. This is Governor Winthrop'sown 
testimony. He adds that she was not afraid to "show her 
colors." William Dyre signed the original Aquidneck com- 
pact at Providence, and was at this, its first meeting, appointed 
clerk of the "Body Politicke," as they styled themselves. 
William Aspinwall was appointed secretary. 

Dyre appears as attending all the meetings at Pocasset, and 
also as clerk to the nine associates, of whom he was one, who 
made the second plantation at Newport. To this office of clerk 
he was continuously chosen until 1640, when he became secre- 
tary for the colony, and so continued till 1643, and no doubt 
till the new charter was received. For his services he was 
voted £19 in 1640 and also ten acres of land. In the records of 
the original grants of lands to the Newport settlers it appears 
that at that time he had given full satisfaction for seventy-five 
acres. This, with ten acres allowed by the town's order for 
travelling about the island, made eighty-seven acres, more or 
less. This land lies on the bay, opposite Coaster's Harbor is- 
land, at what was then known as Coddington' s corner, and since 
as Coddington' s point. Here is still the old burial place of 
the Dyres. 

On the organization of the colony in 1647 under the first 
patent, William Dyre was chosen general recorder by the as- 
sembly, the first to fill that office. Notwithstanding this he was 
chosen clerk of the next assembly which met in May, 1648, and 
at which the Coddington troubles began. In those Dyre took 
an active part against the governor, with whom he was in con- 
stant quarrel. In 1648 he appears in the record in a suit against 
him. In 1654 he was very much troubled by Mr. Coddington's 
alleged infringement upon the highway which led to their farms. 
In 1667 Mr. Dyre's temper led him into trouble with the author- 
ities. He had killed a mare belonging to Coddington, who ob- 
tained judgment against him. Dyre appealed to the general 
assembly which, however, sustained the verdict. But the royal 
commissioners being then engaged in the affairs of the colony, 


Dyre appealed to them. The commissioners referred the sub- 
ject back to the assembly and the execution oi the judgment 
was stayed. Coddington thereupon demanded the service of 
the execution. But the assembly did not stop here. Dyre was 
summoned to appear before them and "make a recantation un- 
der his hand of the wrongs he had done the colony " in his pe- 
tition. Dyre's humble recantation appears at length upon the 
records as well as the pardon of his offense. 

Copies of the papers were sent to the commissioners. These 
gentlemen, however, had recommended that Dyre's petition, 
whic'h was a complaint against the jury in the case, be consid- 
ered by the assembly. The assembly endeavored to persuade 
the parties to a composition but without success, and at the 
next session of the court they were referred to the processes of 
law for their relief. Mr. Coddington, however, insisted on the 
execution of the judgment and the court finally issued the or- 
ders to the sergeant. The sturdy Coddington was a hard an- 

It does not appear that Dyre ever had any legal training be- 
yond that he gained in the long exercise of his duties as clerk 
to the assembly, which of course brought a perfect knowledge 
of the affairs of the colony. In 1650 he was deputed general at- 
torney for the colony. The duties of the several officers were de- 
fined at this meeting of the general court. The attorney-gen- 
eral "to have full power to implead any transgression of the 
laws of this state in any courts of this state * * * and be- 
cause envy the cut throat of all prosperitie will not faile to gal- 
lop with its full careere let the sayd attorney be faithfully en- 
gaged, and authorized and encouraged." 

This appointment was made after Coddington's departure. 
When the stout old governor returned with his commission as 
governor of the colony, Dyre's name disappears from the rec- 
ords. Whether he went to England with John Clarke in No- 
vember, 1661, when that gentleman was dispatched as agent of 
a number of the inhabitants of Providence and Newport to so- 
licit a repeal of Coddington's commission, is not known, but it 
is certain that he was in England with Clarke, and that he 
brought home in February, 1653, and deposited with the town 
clerk of Newport an order from the council of state to the sev- 
eral towns to go on under the charter, which was held to be 
equivalent to a revocation of Coddington's commission. It 


seems also that on his arrival Dyre took letters to Providence 
and Warwick, naming a day at which he would meet at Ports- 
mouth all the freemen of the colony to communicate to them 
the orders of the council. On the 1st of March, 1653, an assem- 
bly of the colony at Portsmouth met to receive these orders, 
and reinstated all officers who had been ousted by Coddington, 
and Dyre it is presumed returned to his post of attorney 

In May of this year (1653) war having broken out between 
England and Holland, warlike measures were taken in the 
Rhode Island colony, and in obedience to the orders of the En- 
glish council of state that the state's part in all prizes be se- 
cured and accounted for, three persons were appointed for this 
purpose, of whom Mr. Dyre was the first named. It may be 
here stated that in 1659 Mr. Dyre was called on to give account 
of his action and declined, but was held on his bond and the 
case sent before the next court. The day after his appointment 
to look to the state's sbare in prizes he, with Captain John Under- 
hil], received a commission to serve, no doubt, though it is not 
so stated, with the volunteers against the Dutch. 

In the court of commissioners which met at Portsmouth in 
1655 he sat for Providence. In 1660 he appears at Newport as 
third named in the office of general recorder and second also in 
that of general attorney ; in 1662 he was commissioner for New- 
port and again deputy in 1666, and the same year chosen solici- 
tor for the colony. In 1664 the royal commissioners, Mcolls, 
Carr, Cartwright and Maverick, having captured New York 
and nearly completed the conquest of the Dutch possessions in 
North America, Clarke, Cranston and Dyre were delegated to 
carry a letter from the Rhode Island authorities with thanks to 
his majesty for the charter and congratulations to the commis- 
sioners for their success. The name of William Dyre appears 
on the records in a public capacity as deputy for Newport Oc- 
tober 31st, 1666, and again on an order to pay him three pounds 
for a claim for services rendered by him while secretary to the 
general council. In May, 1669, it is recorded that Mr. William 
Dyre, secretary of the council "resigned up unto the council 
the books and papers which belonged to them and also the 

While the name of Dyre will always be held in grateful re- 
membrance by the colony for many services, it goes down in the 


history of New England with sad and sombre recollections. 
When William Dyre went over to England at the time of the 
Coddington troubles, he took his wife, Mary Dyre, Anne 
Hutchinson's early convert, with him. On his return, uncer- 
tain no doubt as to his reception in the colony, he left her be- 
hind him. After a stay there of five years she returned to the 
colonies and landed at Boston, from which she was forever ban- 
ished in 1856. While in England she had become converted to 
the new Quaker doctrines, and joined the Society of Friends. 
These new doctrines had scandalized the good people of Massa- 
chusetts, who enacted a series of laws inflicting penalties, from 
fines and whipping, to banishment and death, upon those who 
held to them. 

On her arrival at Boston Mary Dyre was seized and sent to 
prison, but on the personal intervention of William Dyre, who 
was not of the new faith, was released and permitted to go on 
to Rhode Island on his entering into bonds " not to lodge her 
in any town of the colony, nor to permit any to have speech 
with her on her journey." Mary Dyre could not long stay at 
home, and returned again to Boston to cheer her suffering com- 
panions in the faith. Husbands never had much control over 
wives in the free community of Rhode Island. The "inward 
call" was supreme over all other voices. She was again ar- 
rested in Boston, and sentence of death pronounced against her 
by that most cruel, most bigotted of all Puritans that was ever 
landed on these shores. Governor Endicott. Taken to the gal- 
lows with her companions she saw them executed, but, after 
her face was covered and the noose set about her neck, was re- 
prieved, much it must be said to her dissatisfaction. 

She was put on horseback and carried off toward Rhode Is- 
land, from which, home having apparently little attraction for 
her, she went to Long Island. The next spring, again "called," 
she went back to Boston, where the cruel Endicott, unable to 
bring her into subjection by his state and grandeur and self- 
sufficient conceit, again ordered her to execution. She was led 
through the city to Boston Commons, drums beating. She 
died "requiring her blood of the hands of those who did the 
deed in wilfulness," a wish which it is at least some satisfaction 
to think was not unheard at the judgment seat. 

It is said that in the last days William Dyre pleaded earnestly 


with the general court for clemency. It has been claimed that 
this judicial murder was the immediate cause of the stoppage 
by Charles the Second, of these atrocious acts in Massachusetts, 
and of the liberal terms of the Rhode Island charter. We find 
no further mention of William Dyre beyond an indenture in 
1670 of two of the sons to make certain payments of money to 
their sisters withia three years after the death of their father. 
The second son, William Dyre, Jr., went to Delaware about the 
time of his mother's death. Samuel Dyre, the eldest son, mar- 
ried a daughter of Edward Hutchinson and granddaughter of 
Anne Hutchinson. 

The records of the Dyre family above quoted state that one 
William Dyre was collector of customs at New York for the 
Duke of York in 1680, and a letter written by him to Samuel 
Pepys from that town on the 4th of January of that year, is 
printed ; and this William Dyre, who is named as Captain Dyre 
in London, in 1679, is supposed to be the old secretary. As his 
first child was baptized in 1635, he could not have been at that 
time less than sixty-six years of age, and there is probably 
some confusion of persons. It is only known that Dyre's death 
occurred before that of Roger Williams, which took place in 

Samuel Gorton, though not a founder, was the central figure 
in the long bitter struggle between the colonies of Massa- 
chusetts Bay and New Plymouth on the one hand, and that of 
Providence Plantations and Rhode Island on the other, for ju- 
risdiction over an important part of the Narragansett territory. 
The eastern colonies were eager and persistent in their attempts 
to gain a foothold in the magnificent bay, the Rhode Island set- 
tlers stubborn in their resistance to the entrance of the aggres- 
sive wedge, the near consequences of which were easily fore- 

Of no man in New England's history have there been so many 
and discordant opinions as of Samuel Gorton. The early Mas- 
sachusetts writers, whose judgment is invariably found to be 
biassed by a religious prejudice, concur in styling him "heter- 
odox, turbulent, pestilent." The milder form of judgment 
from their successors is that he was an eccentric person, a no- 
torious disturber of the peace. Arnold considers him " one of 
the most remarkable men that ever lived." He certainly ap- 


pears as one of the strongest types of individualism in a day 
when marked personal character was the rnle rather than the 
exception. In his printed works and the legal documents which 
he signed he styled himself by turns, " Citizen of London, 
Clothier," "Gentleman," "Professor of the Mysteries of 

He was born in England about 1600 and landed in Boston 
in 1636. Thence he soon went to Plymouth where he fell into 
trouble with the church elders and was brought before the 
court, where he carried "so mutinously and seditiously that 
he was for the same and for his turbulent carriage toward both, 
magistrates and ministers in the presence of the court sentenced 
to find sureties for his good behaviour during the time he 
should stay in that jurisdiction, which was limited to fourteen 
days, and also amerced to pay a considerable fine." 

From Plymouth he went to the favorite place of refuge for 
the afflicted and oppressed and the generally discontented, the 
new plantation in Narragansett bay. He joined the Aquidneck 
settlement and on the division of the island into the towns of 
Portsmouth and Newport he remained in the former. His name 
is found second in order and next to that of William Hutchin- 
son among those who at Portsmouth, April 30th, 1639, "ac- 
knowledge ourselves the legal subjects of his majesty King 
Charles and in his name do hereby bind ourselves into a civil 
body politic;" and his name again appears as Mr. Samuel 
Grorton, one of the four to whom the honorable prefix is given, 
in the "catalogue of such persons who [at Newport 1st, 8th 
month, 1639] by the General Consent of the Company were ad- 
mitted to be Inhabitants of the island now called Aquidneck." 
According to Staples he was never, however, received as a pur- 
chaser or admitted as a freeman. 

He was not happier in his relations with the Aquidneck set- 
tlement than he had been at Plymouth. Like many an English- 
man then and since, he had contempt for all authority except 
that of the king. He says himself that he was obedient "so far 
as it became me," because they were duly commissioned by an 
authority which he reverenced, but that Rhode Island had no 
authority but the blessing of a clergyman, and that he held 
himself as fit and able to govern himself and family as any that 
were then upon Rhode Island. With these views noisily main- 


tained and sturdily preached, he soon came into antagonism 
with his fellows at Portsmouth and was publicly whipped and 
put off the island. 

From Aquidneck he went up to Providence where he no 
doubt put the patience and charity and liberal principles of 
Roger Williams and his companions to a severe test. Nor yet 
here was he received as an inhabitant. On the 8th of the first 
month, 1640, Williams wrote to Governor Winthrop that "Mas- 
ter Grorton having abused high and low at Aquidneck is now be- 
witching and bemadding poor Providence." Williams was 
shocked by his "foul censures of all the ministers of this coun- 
try" (Rhode Island) and "withstood his inhabitation and town 
privileges," but found the tide so strong against himself that he 
had serious thoughts of leaving Providence and taking refuge 
on "little Patience," an island in the bay next to that of Prov- 
idence, which he had procured for Winthrpp. 

But as yet Providence was 7iot, like Aquidneck, a coherent 
settlement. Roger Williams had good reasons for wishing to 
keep clear of the eastern colonies, but there were a few among 
the associators of the town who had leaning toward a stronger 
civil authority and a closer alliance Avith the eastern colonies. 
Here was the field for Gorton's spirit of independence and con- 
troversy, and his companions are said to have "carried so in 
outrage and riotously as they were in danger to have caused 
bloodshed." A few persons had attached themselves to Gorton 
and followed him up from Aquidneck, like himself after " fines, 
whipping and banishment." They abetted or were abetted in 
" riotous and insolent carriages" by certain of the townspeople 
of Providence who were opposed to that stronger government 
which was projected. 

They had resisted the service of warrants, quarrelled on the 
streets with persons chosen to execute the same, and made a 
"tumultuous hubbub," and "some few drops of blood were 
shed on either side." Here was occasion to draw in the Massa- 
chusetts authority. Immediately a number of the citizens 
wrote to the governor and assistants of the Massachusetts patent, 
inviting them " of gentle courtesy and for the preservation of 
humanity and manhood to consider our condition and lend us a 
neighbor like helping hand and send us such assistance our 
necessity urges us to be troublesome unto you to help us to 
bring them to satisfaction and ease us of our burthen of them 


at your discretion." This petition begins " We the inhabitants " 
of Providence 17 November, 1641. There are thirteen signa- 
tures. That they were a weak minority or that they had 
other motives than appear in the petition, is not to be doubted. 
But Providence was not the place at which interference could 
be made with any show of decency, and Winthrop answered 
the petitioners that "except they did submit themselves to 
some jurisdiction, either Plymouth or ours (Massachusetts) we 
had no calling or warrant^to interpose in their contentions; but 
if they were once subject to any then we had a calling to pro- 
tect them." 

The hint was plain enough and soon availed of. In September, 
1642, four of the townspeople of Providence, one of whom was 
a companion of Williams and all early settlers, two of whom 
had signed the petition of the previous year and a third the 
father of one of these signers, petitioned the general court of 
Massachusetts and were taken under its government and pro- 
tection. Benedict Arnold's name is given as having a company, 
for settlement probably, and William Arnold, his father, is ap- 
pointed "to keep the peace in their land," all of which points 
to an '■'■ imperium in imperio,'" a colony within the colony 
under the strong arm of Massachusetts. Winthrop says, "they 
were accepted under our government and protection partly to 
rescue the men from violence and partly to draw in the rest in 
these parts under ourselves or Plymouth who now lived under 
no government, but grew very offensive and the place was 
likely to be of use to us especially if we should have occasion 
of sending out against any Indians of Narragansett and like- 
wise an outlet into the Narragansett Bay; and seeing it came 
without our seeking and would be no charge to us we thought 
it not wisdom to let it slip." 

Benedict Arnold was an Indian trader and their factor in the 
Massachusetts bay. The settlement which his father, William 
Arnold, was appointed to govern was at Pawtuxet where some 
of the party had already built houses in which they resided at 
their pleasure, having also lands and houses in Providence. 
Before this submission of Arnold to Massachusetts the settlers 
had occupied the land in common for grazing cattle, except sucji 
portions as each fenced in for building houses and planting 
their corn. This freedom was now restricted, to which Gorton 
and his friends objecting and making opposition, Arnold com- 



plained to Massachusetts and in reply Governor Winthrop and 
his assistants notified their " neighbors of Providence" that 
whereas they had "gone about to deprive them (Arnold of 
Pawtuxet and others) of their lawful interest, that they and 
their lands" were under Massachusetts jurisdiction and would 
be maintained in their lawful rights, and that if there were 
dispute Providence might proceed against them in the Massa- 
chusetts court. This warrant was issued on the 28th of Oc- 
tober, 1642. 

Aware of the probable result of any such appeal, Gorton and 
his party resolved to make a settlement where there could be 
no dispute about jurisdiction in the acknowledged territory of 
the IN'arragansetts, and in the January following (1642) pur- 
chased for a consideration of one hundred and forty fathom of 
wampum from Miantonomi, chief sachem of the Narragansetts, 
the tract of land on Showhomett bay, known as Showhomett 
river, the deed being witnessed by Pumham, the local sachem 
of Showhomett. [Twelve fathom of wampumpeage from each 
one of the twelve purchasers, such was Miantonomi's price.] 
Before leaving, however, Gorton's party, twelve in number, 
sent an elaborate theologo-polemic answer from Mooskawset 
(Gorton's plantation on the stream of that name near Pawtuxet), 
November 20th, 1642, to the Massachusetts warrant. This 
curious document is one of the queerest of the droll compound 
of politics and religion which was the staple public and private 
literature of the day: the Massachusetts court and church are 
arraigned before men and heaven; the Gortonists are as Moses 
and the Jews before Pharaoh; Brother Winthrop is another 
Pontius Pilate; and numberless of the recondite names of scrip- 
ture are dragged into service in this rambling complaint. 
Anathema Maranatha is the measure of their censure on "those 
in estate who had fallen away from the grace of God as their 
fathers had done before them." This letter, purposely sent to 
Boston at the time when the general court was sitting, was sub- 
mitted to an assembly of the ministers wiio, after much study 
and careful analysis, found in it twenty-six blasphemous par- 
ticulars and denounced the authors to their congregations as 
"worse than the barbarous Indians;" but the oourt did nothing 
until after they heard of Miantonomi's deed in the following 
In this deed it will be observed Miantonomi expressly styled 


himself sachem of the " Showomett." Absolute in power and 
authority, the prince of the Narragansetts cared little whether 
his action was not pleasing to Pumhara whom, as his inferior 
sachem, he could remove and restore at his pleasure by Indian 
law and practice. But the sachems of Shawomet had acknowl- 
edged a degree of subjection to Massasoit. It is probable also 
that Pumham was loath to leave his beloved Neck. Taking 
advantage of this disposition of Pumham, perhaps himself 
exciting it, Benedict Arnold, early in the year 1643, took 
Pumham and Sacconoco, sachem of Pawtuxet, to Boston, where 
Pumham complained to the general court that he had signed 
the deed through fear of his superior sachem and had received 
no part of the wampum. Miantonomi and Gorton were sum- 
moned to appear. The nature of the tribal dependence 
Miantonomi did not or would not explain to their satisfaction. 
It was the interest of the court to break up these ties of alle- 
giance. In June Pumham and Sacconoco again went up to 
Boston and signed articles of submission. 

Miantonomo no doubt made the sale in his straights for 
money for the summer campaign against the Mohegans. In 
September the unfortunate chief met his death, murdered by 
the advice of the Massachussetts elders. In this month also, 
the great offender being out of the way, the Massachusetts 
court summoned Gorton and his party to answer before them 
the complaints of their new subjects, Pumham and Sacconoco, 
to which Gorton replied that he and his companions were far 
out of their jurisdiction and could not and would not acknowl- 
edge subjection unto any but only the state and government of 
old England. Upon which the general court immediately sent 
word that they would shortly send commissioners with a suf- 
ficient guard to receive satisfaction else they would right them- 
selves by force of arms. 

Hearing a few days later that an officer with a company of 
soldiers was on his way, the Gorton party sent a message to the 
commissioners warning them on their peril not to set foot on 
their lands in a hostile way. They received an answer which 
left no doubt of the intention of the commissioners to look upon 
those who did not submit "as men prepared for slaughter." 
The troops followed close at hand, accompanied by a number of 
Providence people : the Gorton party offered to submit to arbi- 
tration and a truce was agreed on until the Massachusetts au- 


thorities might be heard from, during which the soldiers be- 
haved roughly. Governor Winthrop replied that besides the 
title of land in dispute there were twelve of the Gorton com- 
pany " who had subscribed their names to horrible and detest- 
able blasphemies against God and all magistracy," and in- 
formed them that those who came up under conduct of the 
commissioners should suffer no violence but come they must. 

As soon as the messengers came back the soldiers run in the 
cattle, and the Gorton people entrenching themselves, the troops 
opened fire upon them. The Gorton company did not return 
their fire and " finally consented to go down into the Massa- 
chusetts upon composition," whereupon they were led away 
prisoners, their cattle and swine were taken, and their houses 
left to the Massachusetts Indians to pillage. On the seventy 
miles march to Boston the commissioners had public prayers in 
the streets of the towns, at Dorchester Cotton and Mather tak- 
ing a hand in the pseans of triumph ; and so on to the door of 
the house of Governor Winthrop, who came out and blessed the 
troops, after which the prisoners were led to the common jail 
and held without bail until the court sat. They were then re- 
quired to make answer to four questions on abstruse points of 
doctrine to which, though thej^ protested against the jurisdic- 
tion, Gorton was only too happy to reply. He made answer in 
writing and at the governor's orders signed his reply. 

No fault could be found with the doctrine, but nevertheless 
votes were taken as to whether they should be punished by 
death and they escaped by a majority of two ; they were, how- 
ever, imprisoned, Gorton being sentenced to be set at work in 
irons in Charlestown ; and so he and his companions lingered 
the entire winter season, Gorton improving the opportunity to 
address a stiff religious document to the elders of the Charles- 
town church. Meanwhile the secrecy in which these proceed- 
ings were conducted was gradually broken and the people of the 
towns, who seem to have had more Christianity and more com- 
mon sense than their ministers and magistrates, because dissat- 
isfied with such a summary outrage. A general court was 
called and the prisoners were ordered to be banished, not only 
from the jurisdiction of Massachusetts bat from Providence and 
the lands of Pumham and Sacconoco which they were com- 
manded to leave within fourteen days on pain of death. 

Gorton declined to have his bolts taken off on these terms, but 


the magistrate ordered the smith to file them off and left him to 
go, or stay at his peril. The Boston people showing joy in their 
release, the governor ordered them out of the town before noon. 
They left at once without providing for their journey and made 
their way to Shawomet to their own home. There considering 
the terms of their banishment and finding that their Shawomet 
land was not expressly mentioned as a forbidden refuge, they 
addressed a letter to the Massachusetts court asking if it were 
so included, and at the same time informing them that Massa- 
chusetts never had jurisdiction over the lands of Pumham and 
Sacconoco and of their own determination " to wage law with 
them and try to the uttermost what right or interest thej'' could 
show to lay claim either to their land or their lives ; " to which 
bold threat Winthrop curtly answered that Shawomet was in- 
cluded in the terms of banishment and they must not come 
there under peril of their lives. 

They then left their homes and went to Rhode Island. Their 
return greatly astonished the NarraganseLts and gave them, ac- 
cording to Gorton's account, an exalted idea of their power. 
The Indians imagined, as they had heard of a great war in Eng- 
land, that there were two great parties there : the Wattacon- 
oges, as they called the English in their language, and the Gor- 
ton-oges. Whereupon the chief sachems, old Canonicus and 
Pessicus, who was first in authority, sent over for them. Six or 
seven, including Gorton, answered the invitation and crossed 
the bay to Conanicut island where they were met by an armed 
band and escorted to the house of Canonicus, where they were 
courteously entertained, and then conducted to the house of 
Pessicus, where they had a conference with the sachems and 
counsellors of the tribe ; the result of which was the determi- 
nation of the Narragansetts in a general assembly of the tribe to 
become subjects to the state and government of Old England ; 
Gorton and three others being appointed their commissioners 
and attorneys to convey this solemn act and deed of subjection 
to the king. This document is dated April 19th, 1644. On the 
24th of May, Gorton of course being still their adviser, the 
sachems answered an invitation of the Massachusetts court, de- 
clining to go down to attend them and giving notice of their 
subjection to the king. 

Thus adroitly did Gorton transfer the contest for sovereignty 
to England, but indissolubly associated the title of himself and 


of his companions to the Shawomet lands with that of the 
native sachems from whom it was derived. In June the men 
of Shawomet in their turn gave formal notice of these proceed- 
ings to the general court and with it some valuable information 
and some seasonable advice. Meanwhile they lived in Rhode 
Island or Aquidneck, hiring houses and planting until the re- 
ceipt of the charter of Providence Plantations, which covered 
the disputed territory. 

Failing in these attempts to overawe the settlers, the Massa- 
chusetts Bay and Plymouth governments raised a force to 
punish the ISTarragansetts for making war upon the Mohegans in 
revenge for the death of their prince, and were only dissuaded 
by the intercession of Williams and the probable fear of a 
general Indian rising. They then determined to ruin theKarra- 
gansetts in another manner and imposed on them a tribute of 
five hundred pounds, in default of which they were to surrender 
their territory. The Massachusetts government concluded to 
issue warrants against any occupation of the Shawomet lands. 
Gorton and his companions sailed from New York in April, 
1644, with the submission of the JSTarragausetts and the appeal 
of the Shawomet settlers to the commissioners of foreign plan- 
tations in England against the intrusion and violent seizure of 
their lands by Massachusetts. The board of commissioners of 
foreign plantations had been established by parliament in 1643, 
and the earl of Warwick appointed governor-in-chief of all 
plantations in America. The decision of the board July, 1647, 
though not conclusive, for the controversy continued thirty-five 
years, was peremptory as to the rights of the Shawomet settlers 
to live upon their lands in peace. 

In 1648 Gorton, satisfied, that Winslow, the Massachusetts 
agent, could not work any harm, returned to New England and 
boldly landed at Boston, where the court ordered his arrest, 
but a letter from the earl of Warwick proved his safeguard. 
So angry were the authorities that only the casting vote 
of the governor enabled him to pass safely to Rhode 
Island. The settlers of Shawomet had not attempted any 
town incorporation before the colony charter of March, 
1644. Their first act was on the 8th of August, 1647, 
when they chose a town council under the order of the general 
assembly. They had taken the name of Warwick in honor of 
the earl, president of the board of plantations, to whom they 


owed their restoration to their rights. In May, 1647, it was 
agreed in general assembly of the colony that Warwick should 
have the same rights as Providence. 

In 1651, during the time of the dissensions of the island and 
the commission of Coddington, Gorton was chosen president of 
the towns of Providence and Warwick. The whole subject of 
the disputed territory came up again with renewed vigor on the 
arrival of the three royal commissioners to settle the disputes 
and bounds of the colonies. Cartwright, on the eve of his 
return to England in 1665, wrote to Grorton a letter as caustic 
in tone as it was true in tenor. " These gentlemen of Boston," 
said he, "would make us believe that they really think that 
the king" has given them so much power in their charter to do 
unjustly that he reserved none for himself to call them, to ac- 
count for doing so. In that they refuse to let us hear com- 
plaints against them so that at present we can do nothing in 
your behalf. But I hope shortly to go to England when if God 
bless me thither I- shall truly represent your sufferings and 
your loyalty." 

Gorton died at the close of 1677. On what day is not pre- 
cisely known nor is it known where he was buried. The town 
of Warwick and the integrity of the soil of Ehode Island are 
his sufficient monument. His foresight in the submission to 
the crown of the ISTarragansett sachems, which was the origin 
of Kings Province and which maintained the autonomy of the 
Narragansett territory until it, by the natural order of things, 
fell under the authority of the Rhode Island colony, was an act 
of state policy of the highest order. Were his grave but kn^wn 
every Rhode Islander should drop upon it a stone as their 
tribute for the freedom they enjoy. 



By John Austin Stevens. 

The" Narragansett'; Indians.— Pequot War.— New England Confederation.- 
King Philip's War,— Canonicus. — Miantonomi. — Pessious. — Canonohet. — 
Pumham.— Ninegret.- Massasoit. — Wamsutta.— End of the Narragansetts. 

IT is estimated by the highest authority on this difficult sub- 
ject tliat at the time of the English settlement the region 
of country now known as New England was inhabited by about 
thirty-six thousand Indians of whom one-third were warriors. 
They were most numerous on the coast, about the shores of the 
bays and the mouths of the great rivers, where the abundance 
of fish assured them an unfailing supply of food. Of the 
several tribes who took their names 7rom these bays or rivers 
the Narragansetts were the largest and most powerful. There 
is a tradition, accepted by historians, that three or four years 
before the landing of the Pilgrims a "devouring sickness" 
had raged from Narragansett to the Penobscot, which wasted 
the Indian's to such an extent that the "living sufficed not to 
bury the dead," whose bones covered the ground in many 
places. This desolation, which prevailed mostly to the east- 
ward, did not diminish but rather increased the numbers of 
the Narragansetts, many flying from the plague in other 
quarters to this less afflicted territory. They were reckoned 
at this time at five thousand fighting men — the usual Indian 
method of computing population. 

The Narragansetts, in common with their neighbors, are sup- 
posed to be a branch of the Delawares, and their language, a 
variety of the speech of that great race, was spoken over a 
region of country extending north and south from the Bay seat 
of empire about six hundred miles. They were erect in stature, 


with well knit frames, athletic limbs, high cheek bones, hazel 
eyes, straight black hair and of light copper colored com- 
plexion. They painted their faces in peace and war and in 
times of mourning; their decoration varying with the emotions 
they sought to portray. Terrible in war and versed in savage 
wiles, they were just in their dealings, piinctual to their engage- 
ments, faithful in their friendships. They were monogamous 
although polygamy was not forbidden. They lived in wigwams 
adapted to the changes of climate. They were deft in the manu- 
facture of earthenware, and were moreover the principal makers 
of wampumpeage of both kinds, the white of the periwinkle 
and the black of the quohoa or hard shell clam, which together 
were the sole currency of the Indians over a vast surface of 
country, as also among the English, French and Dutch traders 
in North America. 

Their population was so close that in a travel of twenty miles 
one could meet a dozen of their towns. They were not only 
thrifty, but rich in the accumulation of comfort. While they 
probably did not carry agriculture as far as it was understood 
by the Mohawks, they were better versed in manufactures of their 
rude kind, and had some notion of trade before the arrival of 
the English. The rule of their hereditary sachems was patri- 
archal rather than autocratic, and their sway was undisputed 
from the Pawcatnck to the Merrimac. Unlike the Mohawks 
they had no fortified places or palisaded enclosures; only their 
council house, fifty feet in diameter at the base of the gathered 
tent poles, differed from the wigwams in its greater size. Their 
neighbors, the Wampanoags on the north and east and the 
Massachusetts beyond, the Niantics and Mpmucks to the 
north and west, the Indians of Aquidneck and Block Island 
and the Montauks at the eastern end of Long Island, all paid 
them tribute. To the westward their proper domain reached 
to the river Pawcatuck where they were confronted and defied 
by the fierce Pequots, their hereditary foes, whose seat of power 
was at the mouth of the river which bore their name. 

Precisely at what time the Narragansetts came into this 
region is not known. Roger Williams, asking as to the 
origin of the title Narragansett, was told that it was the 
name of " a little island between Puttisqumscutt and Mus- 
quomacuk on the sea and fresh water side." He went to 
see it and "about the place called Sugar Loaf hill, saw it 


and was within a pole of it but could not learn why it was 
called JSTahiganset." Sugar Loaf hill is on the mainland near 
what is now South Kingstown. Petaquamscott was the name of 
a large rock near Tower hill. He was also told that " Canoni- 
cus' father and ancestors living in those Southern parts trans- 
ferred and brought their authority and name into those 
Northern parts all along by the Sea Side as appears by the 
great destruction of wood all along near the Sea Side." By 
those "Southern parts" no doubt is meant the territory 
lying east of the Pawcatuck river which, at the height of 
their power, was the western border of the Narragansett 
kingdom. That the islands in the bay were conquered not 
long before Williams' arrival appears from a passage in the 
original deed of Aquidneck, by which " Canonicus and Mian- 
tonomi, the two chief Sachems of the Nahigannsitts (convey) by 
virtue of their general command of the bay as also the par- 
ticular Subjickgs of the dead Sachems of Acquednecke and 
Kitackihuckquett, the great island of Acquedneck lying from 
hence eastward in this bay." This strengthens, though it 
hardly establishes, the tradition which points out a spot on the 
island where a great battle occurred in which the earlier Indian 
inhabitants were overcome; this is a field in Middletown which 
abuts on the southwest on South wick's Grove. Arrow heads 
have been repeatedly found here. The field is between the 
east and west roads about two miles out from Newport limits. 
The deed clearly shows, however, that the island of Conanicnt, 
whence it issued, was the residence of the chief sachems and 
the seat of their government. 

Hutchinson relates a tradition as to the warlike ancestor 
under whom the Narragansett tribe became a nation: "In the 
early times of this nation some of the English inhabitants 
learned from the old Indians that they had, previous to their 
arrival,, a sachem Tashtassuck. Tashtassuck had but two 
children, a son and a daughter; those he joined in marriage 
because he could find none worthy of them out of his family. 
The product of this marriage were four sons, of whom Canonicus 
was the eldest." 

At the period when the Narragansetts first appear in colonial 
history their sachems were Canonicus, son of the chief who first 
extended his sway over the northern and eastern regions, al- 
ready advanced in years, and governing with him under his 


council, as "marshall and executioner," to use the quaint and 
meaning phrase of Roger Williams, Miantonomi, son of his 
youngest brother. Under their joint rule, wise and firm, the 
[N'arragansetts were prosperous and happy when the news 
reached them of the landing of the strange race at the eastward 
and the wonders brought with them : the useful implements of 
peace, the terrible weapons of war and the new domestic ani- 
mals. Disquieted, no doubt alarmed, at the continual arrival 
of the emigrant ships, they sent to the new comers a bundle of 
arrows tied with a snake skin in battle challenge. The wage 
was not accepted by the sage Pilgrims, nor was it necessary, 
for between the two there sprung up a third power whose 
strength was in their enmity and whose immediate interest was 
in peace. 

In the Pokanoket country, on the mainland north and east of 
Narragansett bay, lived the tribe of Wampanoags whose sway 
covered the tract now known as Bristol and reached southerly 
to Seconnet. They were second only in power to the Karra- 
gansetts, to whom their subjection was recent. The chief 
sachem of this tribe was Massasoit, whose favorite residence 
was on the commanding hill of Pokanoket, to which the colon- 
ists later gave the name of Mount Hope. This steep eminence 
is at the lower end of the peninsula and overlooks the island of 
Aquidneck and the western shore of Seconnet. 

Massasoit or Ousamequin, as he is usually named in Narra- 
gansett documents, received the Pilgrims on their arrival not 
only without enmity but with real kindness and was of great 
service to them in many straights. Often at Plymouth, he be- 
came early familiar with the superior power and arts of the 
white men, and seeing how useful they might be to his people 
he sought their friendship. In the spring after their landing he 
made with them a formal treaty which freed him from his de- 
pendence on the formidable Narragansetts. This friendly 
spirit to the English Massasoit maintained to the end of his life, 
while Canonicus is said to have been ' ' most shy of the English 
to his latest breath." As far as can be judged from the records 
of the times and the writings of the sages, Canonicus was of a 
higher order of character and a more princely dignity. Viewing 
them as types of their tribes, the domination of the Narragan- 
setts seems the natural outcome of race superiority. 

Roger Williams, in a deposition made in 1652 as to his pur- 


chase of lands, says that "coming into the JSTarragansefct 
country he found a great contest between three sachems, two 
(to wit, Canonicus and Miantonomi) were against Ousamaquin 
on Plymouth side," and that he was forced to travel between 
them there to pacify, to satisfy all their and their dependents' 
spirits of his honest intentions to live peacably by them. His- 
torians have inferred from this passage that these chiefs were 
"at feud." That Canonicus looked with jealous eye at the 
alliance of his old tributary with the Plymouth government is 
probable, but sixteen years had healed this bitterness, and 
there is no proof of other difference between the chiefs than as 
to allowing the whites to settle upon land within or bordering 
upon the free territory of Narragansett. 

Before concluding his treaty with Canonicus, Williams had al- 
ready obtained a grant of land from Massasoit qn the Seekonk 
river, which was within the limits over which the new Plymouth 
colony claimed jarisdiction ; a jurisdiction which the sachem, 
though he did not dispute, did not admit. Indeed, here as else- 
where among the Indians, and notably in the case of the Mo- 
hawks, their chiefs claimed a sovereignty equal to and inde- 
pendent of that of the English crown, and never willingly sur- 
rendered jurisdiction over their own people. The right and jus- 
tice of this claim Williams always maintained, of which there 
is witness in his letter to the general court of Massachusetts in 
1654, wherein he questions "whether any Indians in this coun- 
try remaining barbarous and pagan may with truth or honor be 
called English subjects. Their own consent and conversion to 
Christianity he considered to be conditions precedent. Massa- 
soit was no doubt aware that the first and chief of the offences 
cited in the sentence of Williams' banishment from the Massa- 
chusetts Ray colony was his teaching "that we have not our 
land from the king but that the natives are the true owners of 
it and that we ought to repent of receiving it by patent." 

The territory of the Wampanoags lying within the limits of 
the Plymouth patent, the grant of land by Massasoit was of it- 
self a protest against the jurisdiction of the colony. Williams 
abandoned his plantation on the Seekonk and crossed the water 
to the Narragansett territory because of the warning to him of 
Governor Winslow of the new Plymouth colony that his people 
were "loath to displease the bay," otherwise the Massachusetts 
government, by harboring one banished by their edict. 


What consideration in current wampum or commodities Mas- 
sasoit received for his land on the Seekonk, if any, does not ap- 
pear. Probably both and if neither, then the grant was made 
only for reasons of gratitude for favors past and to come, and of 
a personal friendship for Williams which ,was of long standing; 
for in his treaty with the English he had parted with something 
of his birthright. Not so the sage Canonicus. Proud as he 
was politic, he would not condescend to sell his lands. Gifts 
in return were received, no doubt expected, but Canonicus 
would not have them mentioned in the bond. Williams, in a 
manuscript, says "the Indians were very shy and Jealous of 
selling the lands to any, and chose rather to make a grant of 
them to such as they affected, but at the same time expected 
such gratuities and rewards as made an Indian gift a very dear 
bargain." According to Callender, in the case of the Narragan- 
setts, the natives inhabiting any spot the English sat down 
upon or improved were all to be bought offto their content and 
oftentimes to be paid for over and over again. It may be here 
observed that the Indians recognized no individual title to land. 
To them it was free as air and water. An instance of this may 
be found in the recent constitution of the Cherokee tribe. The 
Indian system was communal. Bandelier, in his account of 
Mexican civilization, assigns to them a similar system, and it 
is supposed they brought it with them from the northern coun- 
try from which they migrated southward. 

The memorandum deed of 1637, of purchase made "two 
years previous" of " the lands about the fresh river called 
Mooshaasic and Wanasqu tucket" (Providence) signed by 
marks of Canonicus and Miantonomi, makes no mention of any 
purchase price, but a second paragraph, " in consideration of 
his (Williams') many kindnesses and services" done them at 
Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth, extends the bounds 
of the grant to the Pawtucket river. Roger Williams express- 
ly says : "I declare to posterity that were it not for the favor 
that Grod gave me with Canonicus none of these parts, no not 
Rhode Island, had been purchased or obtained for I never got 
anything out of Canonicus but by gift." In this document, in- 
teresting and instructive in many points of view, Williams 
shows the nature of the services he rendered in return for the 
protection and generosity of the sachem. " I never denied him 
nor Miantonomy whatever they desired of me as to goods or 


gifts or use of my boats or pinnace and the travels of my own 
person day and night which, though man know not nor care to 
know, yet the All Seeing eye hath seen it and his all powerful 
hand hath helped me." 

In the course of his several treaties, in 1634 and 1635, with the 
ISTarragansett sachems, Williams had, he says, " frequent prom- 
ise of Miantonomi," his kind friend, that he should not want 
for land about the bounds where he had settled provided he 
satisfied the Indians then inhabiting, he "having made coven- 
ants of peaceable neighborhood with all the sachems and natives 
round about." In fact the records show no passage of purchase 
money for land from Roger Williams to Canonicus. The same 
legal fiction of a sale appears in the case of Chibachuwesa, now 
known as Prudence island, which is referred to in the deed of 
Aquidneck. This island became the property of Williams and 
Governor Winthrop in the spring of 1636. Canonicus and Mi- 
antonomi, visiting the Massachusetts governor, carried the offer 
by Williams of a half interest to Winthrop in which he naively 
adds, "I think that if I goe over I shall obtain the whole," a 
hope speedily realized. And so again in the case of Hope island, 
the deed of gift of which from Miantonomi, was i)roduced before 
the general assembly in 1658, upon the presenting of a petition 
to have the Indians removed. 

It seems from the foregoing that Williams received his lands 
as a princely grant for his wise counsel and his services as an 
ambassador and peace maker with the encroaching governments 
of Massachusetts Bay and the Plymouth colony, services for 
which his knowledge of the Indian language, his character and 
temper qualified him beyond any man in New England. This 
acquaintance with Indian character Williams says he got by 
"lodging with them in their filthy holes even while I lived at 
Plymouth and Salem to gain their tongue ; my soul's desire 
was to do the natives good." He was well compensated for all 
his pains by his Indian friends. The records show one case in 
which Canonicus took consideration in the form of white beads. 
This was in the purchase of Aquidneck by Coddington and his 
friends. Later, in 1642, Miantonomi took wampumpeage in pay 
for Shawomet, now Warwick. 

ISTo such considerations of policy or friendly scruples weighed 
with Massasoit, the first and earliest of Williams' friends. 
The records recite one case where the Wampanoag sachem, 


seeking to withdraw from an agreement to barter certain lands 
near Pawtucket for sundry commodities and fathoms of wam- 
pum, was held to his bargain on the testimony of Williams. 
After "going to slepe" over the trade the Indian demanded to 
purchase shot and required four coats more in addition to the 
four engaged to him, which Williams and his associates indig- 
nantly refused; not willing, as they testify, " to wrong our 
country in granting his desire of four coats and so unreasonably 
to raise the price of such parcels of land in this barbarous 

This was in 1646, when the conditions of the contracting par- 
ties were greatly changed. The white man was the lord of the 
soil, the sachem but a poor Indian. Neither Canonicus nor 
the princely Miantonomi ever thus fell from their high estate. 
Comparing these several deeds one with another, it seems, how- 
ever, that these grants of land were, on the part of the sachems, 
waivers of eminent domain or permissions to settle on condition 
of satisfying the dwellers thereon. The Narragan setts were 
largely a farming people. Williams mentions the clearance of 
the coast line from woods, and it is said that for eight or ten 
miles distant from the sea shore the lands were cultivated with 
corn which grew in great abundance. It is natural therefore to 
suppose that though there may have been no individual owner- 
ship of the soil, occupancy, betterment and cultivation con- 
ferred a right which the sachem did not, perhaps could not, 

That such was the usage is shown by the statement of Wil- 
liams that in the case of the first grant by Canonicus of land 
which had belonged to Massasoit before his submission to the 
Narragansetts, he had thought it prudent to propitiate the 
Wampanoag chief by gifts and still more plainly in the con- 
dition of the deed of Aquidneck, " that by giving by Mianto- 
nomi of ten coats and twenty hoes to the present inhabitants 
they shall remove themselves from off the island before next 

Hardly were the colonists established on the island before 
they began to place restrictions on the Indians in matters of 
trade. The first regulation was an order in general meeting at 
Portsmouth on the 16th of the 9th month, 1638, naming four 
of their number for the venison trade, directing that not more 
than three half-pence a pound be given the Indians in the way 


of trade, and the truck masters to sell the same for two pence a 
pound; a farthing for each pound to go to the treasury, the rest to 
themselves for their attendance. The next order on the records is 
of the freemen of the same town granting leave, August 29th, 
1644, to Ousamequin with ten men to kill ten deer within the 
liberty of Portsmouth with the proviso that the deer be brought 
to the town to be viewed and " neither Ousamequin nor any of 
his men shall carry any deer or skins off from the island but at 
the town of Portsmouth to depart from off the island within 
five days.'" And the same day all the Indians in the town were 
ordered to depart with their effects to live in the woods and not 
to return under certain forfeit. 

The freemen of Newport, feeling perhaps more secure in their 
position, which was directly under the wing of Canonicus, 
agreed on the 2d of the 7th month, 1639, that the trade with 
the Indians should be free to all men and appear to have put 
no restriction on their coming or going or their stoppage in the 
town. In the course of the next year, however, July 7th, 1640, 
certain propositions were made interchangeably between Gov- 
ernor Coddington and his assistants on the one side and Mian- 
tonomi with his sachems on the other side, and the same were 
solemnly ratified on the 16th of August following. These pro- 
vided that only temporary fires should be kindled on any of 
the settlers' lands, and all damages arising from such kindling 
should be adjudged and the Indian offender to be tried by the 
law of the town; that any Indian killing a "Boore" (a hog), 
pay ten fathom of beads at the next harvest; that no trap be 
set for deer or cattle on the island; that unruly Indians be car- 
ried before the magistrate for punishment in matters of com- 
mon or small crime according to law, but for matters of greater 
weight, exceeding the value of ten fathom of beads, then Mian- 
tonomi to be sent for who is to come and see the trial. But if 
the offender be a sachem Miantonomi to be sent for tO see the 
trial whether the matter be large or small. ISTo Indian to take 
any canoe from the English and the like not to be done by them. 
They are not to revoke their bargains or remove their goods by 
force after trade; nor shall they idle about the houses of the 

The colonists seem to have been uneasy this year, for at their 
last session in October the governor was ordered to invite the 
counsel of the governor of Massachusetts Bay concerning their 


agitations with the Indians. The Indians seem to have been 
careless in their handling of fire, for in April of the next year 
(1641) the house of Mr. Nicholas Easton, the first built in the 
town of Newport, was burned, the flames taking from a fire 
lighted by the Indians in the woods near by. There was great 
alarm, and an armed boat patrolled the shore to prevent the In- 
dians from landing. In a skirmish two English were wounded and 
one Indian killed. Garrison houses were appointed for refuge 
in case of alarm. The misunderstanding was explained and 
quiet was restored. In September, 1641, the general court 
ordered that no Indian should fell or peel any trees upon the 
island; a restriction which struck at the manufacture of 

The very last legislation taken by the general court at New- 
port before the freemen of Aquidneck reorganized under 
charter from the crown and changed the name of the island to 
the Isle of Rhodes, granted a full commission to Roger Wil- 
liams to consult and agree with Miantonomi for the destruction 
of the wolves, with the condition that this enterprise effected, 
the Indians must not require more the "like curtesie of hunt- 
ing." The. deer must not be injured. Stringent orders had 
but a short time before been issued against the sale or gift of 
powder, shot, gun, pistol, sword or other weapon to " the In- 
dians that are or may prove offensive," and forfeitures attached 
of forty shillings for the first and five pounds for the second' 
offense. For the history of further legislation the records of 
the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations must 
be searched. Meanwhile mention must be made of the sale by 
Miantonomi to a company of settlers, of Sliawomet,on Sowhoraes 
bay, which soon after received the name of Warwick, in honor 
of the king's newly appointed governor of his islands and other 
plantations in America. This deed was signed by Miantonomi, 
as sachem of Shawhomett and witnessed by Pumhomm (Pum- 
ham) sub-sachem of the tribe; an act apparently unimportant 
in itself, yet portentious in its consequences to the noble prince 
and his nation. 

The Pequot War.— The Pequots, of all the tribes of the 
coast, seem to have been the most jealous of English rule and 
to have had the clearest insight into the danger it threatened to 
Indian independence. Hereditary enemies of the Naragansetts, 
they had taken advantage of the weakening of the power of 


Canonicus in the defection ol' the Wanipanoags and the Nip- 
murks I'rom tlieir tribal dependence. By successive inroads 
they had wrenched Itoiii tlie Naiia.nnnsett prince rhr sover- 
eignty of the Long Islnnd Indians of Monlauk a,nd of Uluck 
Island, and puslied their border on the mainland ten inih's east 
of the Pawtuoket river into the very domain ol' their enemy. 
Emboldened by this success they turned their arms npon their 
English neighbors of the Connecticnt and, without the formal 
declaration of war which usually precedes or opens Indian 
hostilities, began a series of massacres of isolated boats' crews 
on the sound and in the I'iver. Among these was I he sni'prise 
and murder, in 1636, at Block Island, of John Oldham, an Eng- 
lish trader, well known along the whole New England coast, 
and in such favor with the Narragansetts that Canonicus, shy 
though he was of the English, liad invited him to settle in the 
bay on the island of Chibachnwesa (that Prndence island which 
later became the proi:)erly of Roger Williams and Governor 
Winthrop) and establish a fishing station there. Returning 
from a trade voyage to the Connecticut and touching at Block 
Island with his little vessel, with two English boys and two 
Narragansett Indians for his crew, he was set upon and mur- 
dered, his companions being carried olf. The news of this 
outrage reacliing ]\Iiantonomi, he nt once sc^it out an expedition 
which recovered the Indians and the boys, who were returned 
'to their homes. 

The people of Bost(m, greatly alarmed foi- IlKur coast trade, 
dispatched an embassy, accompanied by the sacheiu of the 
Massachusetts tribe as intei)reter, to Canonicus; they returned 
satisfied with the success of their negotiation and full of praise 
for the "state, great command over his men and marvellous 
wisdom in his answer and the cariiage of tlie whole treaty " by 
the prince. It was found that some of liie Narragansett 
sachems were conc'erned in the plot, but Canonicus and Mian- 
tonomi were not, and offered " assistance for revenge of it, yet 
upon very safe and wary conditions." An expedition was 
fitted out at Boston in three pinnaces, which landed on Block 
Island, destroyed the Indian wigwams and canoes, and push- 
ing on to the mouth of the Pequot river, in September burned 
the villages on the two sides of the stream in the absence of 
Sassacus, chief sachem of the tribe, on Long Island, after 
which they returned safely to Boston without the loss of a man. 


They killed fourteen and wounded forty of the Indians. The 
Pequots were greatly excited, but looking beyond immediate 
retaliation which is a part of Indian creed, they conceived the 
idea of a more thorough revenge by a league of all the savage 
tribes, which should extirpate to the last man the English 
settlers, whom they instinctively felt to be the common enemy 
of their race. They sought the aid of the Mohegans, a fierce 
tribe whose home was in the region between the Connecticut 
and Hudson rivers, and whose sachem was Uncas, a revolter 
from the Pequot tribe. Here they were repulsed. They also 
sent ambassadors to their hereditary foes, the Narragansetts, 
proposing to close the ancient feud, bury the hatchet and form 
with them a league against the English. The success of the 
Boston mission to Canonicus was no doubt compromised by 
this summary proceeding of the Massachusetts colony. It was 
not in accord with Indian methods. Even the Plymouth gov- 
ernor disapproved and remonstrated with his neighbor of the 
Bay for his ruthless provocation to war. 

The Connecticut colony, weak, almost defenseless, were in- 
dignant at a proceeding which brought the torch to their dwel- 
lings without notice. Great was the alarm in Massachusetts 
when rumors reached them of the proposed league. In their 
distress the governor and council of the Bay appealed to Roger 
Williams to interpose his influence with the sachems. The en- 
voys of Sassacns were already at the island of Conanicut, where 
the Narragansett sachems were gathered in council about their 
sage chief, when Williams, "alone in a poor canoe, paddled 
his way down the bay through a stormy wind with great seas" 
to the home of Canonicus. " For three days and nights" he 
says his business forced him to lodge and mix with the bloody 
Pequot ambassadors whose "hands and arms methought reeked 
with the blood of my countrymen murdered and massacred by 
the^m on Connecticut river, and from whom I could not but 
nightly look for their bloody knives at my own throat also; 
Grod wondrously preserved me and helped me to break to pieces 
the Pequot negotiations and design; and to make and finish by 
many travels and charges the English league with the Narra- 
gansetts and Mohegans against the Pequots." Tradition has it 
that Canonicus "desired to have preserved peace" and only 
finally yielded to the persuasion of Williams. The ambitious 
Pequots were " hoist with their own petard;" the league they 


had devised with theNarragansetts and Mohegans being turned 
against themselves. At the request of Governor Yane, Mianto- 
tonomi, with two sons of Canonicus, visited Boston, where he 
was received with military honor. He there agreed upon and 
concluded a treaty of amity and alliance offensive and defensive 
against the Pequots, the interpretation of some clauses of 
which, not understood by him, he left to the interpretation 
of Williams. 

In the spring the Pequots wreaked their vengeance on the 
Connecticut settlers. Massacre followed massacre. The colony 
ordered war; their troops were at once joined by the Mohegans. 
The Pequots fell back to their two fortified villages on the 
Mystic river and the sea. The Connecticut troops sailed for 
ISTarragansett bay and landed at what is now Wickford, where 
they were joined by a strong force of Narragansett warriors. 
Marching across the country they struck the rear of the Pequot 
village at night; assaulting at daybreak and plying the torch 
as well a? the musket, in an hour's sharp work they destroyed 
the entire village of seven hundred Pequots, only fourteen of 
whom survived, seven escaping and seven taken prisoners. 
The English lost two killed and twenty wounded. The second 
village, defended by three hundred P'equots, was not attacked. 
A month later Massachusetts dispatched a detachment to de- 
stroy the remnant of the tribe. Their hiding places were 
broken up, and by July not over sixty of the tribe remained. 
Eight hundred had been slain and two hundred captives were 
distributed among the ISTarragansetts and the Mohegans as 
slaves, under the pledge that they should never be called 
Pequots nor allowed to see their native country. The Con- 
necticut assembly obliterated the name by act; Pequot river 
was called the Thames and the site of their village New London. 
Sassaous, their sachem, gave himself up to the Mohegans and 
was by them murdei'ed. The story reads like a chapter of 
Caesar's campaign against the Gauls. 

The supremacy of the Narragansetts over the Montauk tribe 
was now revived. Their western border was freed from alarm. 
Between them and the Mohegans, their allies, there was no 
hostile tribe. Thus closed the first great crisis in the New 
England settlement. The two years of the Pequot war were 
no less eventful in Indian history. But for the coming of 
Eoger Williams into the Narragansett country there is little 


doubt that in the temper of the nation in 1636 they would liave 
joined and led the Indian league with their whole power. The 
blotting out of the Pequot power in 1637 was the first act in the 
internecine struggle which was to end in the ruin of the Narra- 
gansetts. The second was an inevitable consequence of the 
first: a struggle at first peaceful, afterward by war, to control 
the Indian tribes who inhabited the zone between the Pawca- 
tuck and the Connecticut rivers, the respective bounds of N"ar- 
ragansett and Mohegan power. Some of the Connecticut river 
tribes, dreading the encroachments of the fierce Uncas, had 
sought and obtained the alliance of the just and generous 
Miantonomi, now, in the advancing years of Canonicus, the 
master spirit of his nation. Uncas, fearful doubtless of the 
interference of the English, sought by intrigue to break the 
confidence of the Massachusetts authorities in the good faith 
of Miantonomi by secret rumors. Summoned by the general 
court the loyal sachem promptly appeared, satisfied them of 
his innocence and directly charged Uncas with the- calumny. 
This was in August and September, 1642. 

New England Confederation. In May of the next year an 
act of policy was consummated by the authorities of the sev- 
eral settlements, which had a determining influence in this as in 
later Indian struggles. This was the confederation of Massa- 
chusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven under the 
style of the United Colonies of New England. The plan was 
first broached at the close of the Pequot war which had shown 
the advantage of concert, but various jealousies had hitherto 
stood in the way. The general restlessness about this time 
amongst the natives, who were now well supplied with arms 
and accomplished in their use, brought harmony at last and the 
league for defense was completed. It may here be mentioned 
that the English settlements on Narragansett bay were not in- 
vited to join this confederation, although the most exposed 
from their position in the heart of the most numerous and pow- 
erful of the Indian nations. In July, 1643, the Mohegans de- 
clared war upon Sequasson, a sachem of the Connecticut and 
an ally of the Narragansetts. Both parties sought the aid of the 
English, who announced their intention of remaining neutral. 
Miantonomi, before marching to the aid of his ally, faithful to 
the engagement he had made at the time of the Pequot war, 
notified the governor of the Massachusetts bay, and received 


an answer that "if Uncas had done him or his friends wrong 
and would not give satisfaction he might take his own course " 
with them. Mfantonomi took the field with a thousand warri- 
ors and was defeated in a bloody fight. By the treachery of two 
of his own captains he was given up to Uncas. An attempt was 
made by his subjects to obtain his liberty under ransom which, 
as appears by the letter of the owners of Shawomet who were 
interested in the effort, was "given and received" by his 
capcors. He was then taken to Hartford and delivered 
over to the English there to be held prisoner, as he himself 
entreated, until the meeting of the commissioners of the United 
Colonies at Boston. These, it is claimed, were prejudiced against 
him because of his sale of Shawomet, which was coveted by 
Massachusetts, to men, some of whom, like Williams, theyhad 
exiled as heretics. The commissioners were all of opinion that 
it would not be safe to leave him at liberty nor yet had they 
grounds to put him to death. In their dilemma they called in 
five of the most judicious elders who, adding another to the sum 
of villainies perpetrated in hypocritical godliness, recommended 
his death. He was accordingly again delivered over to Uncas 
with orders to execute him and two Englishmen were delegated 
to witness the deed. Uncas was promised protection and assist- 
ance in case his territory were invaded in retaliation. The un- 
righteous sentence was carried out. 

Thus fell one of the truest friends, most generous benefactors 
and earliest patrons of the Rhode Island settlement. To the 
lasting disgrace of the United Colonies its records bear witness 
among the earliest of its proceedings to its sanction of this hid- 
eous crime, mean in its inception, cowardly in its close. The 
deception of Massachusetts was only equalled by the ingrati- 
tude of Connecticut. The absence of Roger Williams, then in 
England on the business of a charter for the Providence settle- 
ment, was a public calamity. Yet it is doubtful whether his in- 
fluence could have stayed the hand of the " clerico-j iidicial 
murderers," as the judges of Miantonomi have been styled. 

The Narragansetts long and bitterly mourned their noble 
chief. Canonicus was broken with grief. Pessicus, the brother 
of Miantonomi, succeeded him as chief sachem, together with 
Canonicus, who appears to have already abandoned the chief 
control of the government even in name, though still taking 
part in the councils and joining in all acts of sovereignty. The 


Narragansetts now enter on a new and the last phase of their 
national or political existence. Crippled in their resources by 
the heavy ransom of which they had been wronged, yet thirst- 
ing for revenge ; fearful also of the interference of the Massa- 
chusetts power to thwart their warlike purpose, they resolved 
to throw themselves upon the protection of the English king. 
In the absence of Roger Williams the Narragansett chiefs, on 
the murder of Miantonomi, took advice of the settlers of Shaw- 
omet, of whom the leading spirit was the heretic, Gorton, whom 
the general court had banished by another of their atrocious 
decrees. These settlers had, it appears, sided in the effort at 

On the 19th of April, 1644, Canonicus and Pessicus invited 
Gorton, who had taken refuge from the pursuit of the Massa- 
chusetts government on the island of Aquidneck, and his 
friends to cross over to Conanicut. Here they found the 
sachems in solemn council. The result of the deliberations and 
conference was the voluntary and free submission of the chief 
sachem and the rest of the princes, with the joint and unani- 
mous consent of the whole people, with their lands, rights, in- 
heritances and possessions, to King Charles, acknowledging 
themselves his servants and subjects, to be ruled, ordered and 
disposed of according to the laws of that honorable state of Old 
England, "upon condition of his majesty's royal protection and 
righting of the wrong done or to be done to them ; not that they 
found the need thereof in respect to their relation with any of 
the natives in these parts, knowing themselves sufficient defence 
and able to judge in any matter or cause in that respect, but 
that they had just cause of jealousy and suspicion of some of 
his majesty's pretended subjects." They express their desire 
to have their matters and causes tried in his majesty's pleasure 
under just and equal laws but with this express understanding, 
best given in their own words : "Nor can we yield over our- 
selves unto any that are subjects themselves in any case; having 
ourselves been the chief Sachems or Princes successively of the 
country time out of mind." This deed or act of submission, 
signed by Pessicus as chief sachem and successor of Miantono- 
mi, Canonicus as "protector of the late deceased Miantonomi in 
the time of his nonage" and Mixan, son and heir of that above- 
said Canonicus, was entrusted to Gorton and his associates, who 


are named commissioners in the instrument, and by them some 
months later taken to England. 

This act brought the Narragansetts into direct antagonism with 
Massachusetts, which had been seeking covertly or overtly to ob- 
tain an outlet into the JSTarragansett bay. They summoned the 
sachems to appear at the next meeting of the court in the spring. 
The sachems on the 24th of May peremptorily refused, pleading 
their press of business preparing to avenge the death of their 
chief and asking their reasons of Massachusetts for advising 
them not to "go out against their inhuman and cruel adversary," 
who had taken not only their ransom but the life of their 
prince also. They give formal notice of their late subjection to 
King Charles, declare their intention of referring all serious 
matters of dispute to the English government, and ask for and 
offer free passage and conduct to their respective people desir- 
ing to have commerce. The general court, startled by the tone 
of this dignified document, sent messengers to dissuade the 
IN^arragansetts from their warlike purpose. The envoys were 
coldly received. 

In June the settlers of Shawomet in their turn addressed the 
general court of Massachusetts, notifying them that they had 
themselves witnessed the deed of subjection and that they, the 
general court, need take no further trouble concerning the In- 
dians in their neighborhood since the home government could 
be appealed to in case of disagreement. They also assured the 
court that the ISTarragansetts would take a sharp and princely 
revenge for the indignity done to their sovereign ; and further 
warned them that they had lately met abroad one of the great 
sachems of the Mohawks, the most fierce and warlike people in 
the country with some of his men, and that they were furnished 
with 3,700 guns, plenty of powder and shot and defensive furni- 
ture for their bodies in time of war ; that the Mohawks deeply 
sympathized with the Narragansetts in the loss of their sachem 
and the unjust detention of the ransom given for his life, and 
were determined to wage war to the uttermost against any that 
should assault them. Both the tone and the contents of this 
letter must have been as gall and wormwood to the gentlemen 

The air was full of war and the settlers of Aquidneck were in 
alarm all of the summer. To add to their anxiety they were 
short of powder and Massachusetts, either from inability or 


malice, refused to give them a supply. Their religious opinions 
were, as Governor Win throp phrased it, too "desperately er- 
roneous" for their distress to awaken much sympathy from the 
self-elected saints of the Puritan colony. 

In February, 1645, the Narragansett sachems sent messengers 
to Boston declaring that unless Uncas made amends by the pay- 
ment of one hundred and sixty fathoms of wampum or agree to 
a new hearing of the dispute within six weeks, they should 
make war. No redress forthcoming, one thousand warriors, 
sotae armed with guns, fell upon the Mohegans and defeated 
Uncas with much slaughter. Connecticut troops marched to 
his aid. The. general coxirt again ordered the Narragansetts to 
stop the war. Negotiations ensued. A second time messengers 
were sent to both the Mohegans and Narragansetts, on this oc- 
casion by the New England commissioners. Roger Williams, 
now returned, was called on by the sachems. The embassy on 
their return carried a letter from Williams stating that terms of 
neutrality had been agreed upon by the sachems and the Rhode 
Island colony and that the Narragansetts would continue the 
war. They were resolved to have the head of Dncas. 

The United Colonies now declared war on the Narragansetts 
and began to raise troops. A mounted troop was despatched in 
advance. The Narragansetts, alarmed at this joint action of the 
colonies and at la'st awake to the real value of King Charles' 
protection, sued for peace. Roger Williams again interposed 
and for the second time within eight years saved the general 
peace. Pessicus, with other sachems and a large train, went to 
Boston. A treaty was concluded, onerous in the extreme to the 
Narragansetts. They were condemned to pay two thousand 
fathoms of wampum within two years, a sum the magnitude of 
which best appears when compared with that demanded by them 
of Uncas. Captives and canoes were to be exchanged with the 
Mohegans ; all claim to the Pequot country conquered partly 
by their arras was abandoned by the Narragansetts. The 
sachems, helpless, signed the treaty. A part of the first install- 
ment of the tribute was sent to Boston the spring of the next 
year. The venerable Canonicus died in June (the 4th) of this 
year. "He was laid to sleep," says Williams, "in the same most 
honorable manner and solemnity in their way as was Grovernor 
Winthrop himself." The burial of a Narragansett sachem was 


an imposing solemnity not unlike the ceremonies of the Chinese 
at the funeral rites of their dynastic emperors. 

Pessicus, summoned by the commissioners to answer for the 
neglect to fulfill the treaty, and charged besides with an at 
tempted conspiracy with the Mohawks, excused himself on plea 
of illness, declared that he had only accepted the treaty under 
duress, and sent Ninegret, sachem of the Niantics (or the West- 
erly tribe), to answer in his place. The Niantics were not prop- 
erly Narragansetts but a tributary nation. Ninegret was, how- 
ever, related to the great sachems, his sister, Quiapen, having 
married Mexham, the son of Canonicus. He escaped from the 
commissioners under promise to pay one thousand fathoms of 
vvrampum within twenty days after his return, the remainder in 
the spring. The tribute was not paid. Ninegret again appeared 
to answer for the failure and also a charge of an attempt to as- 
sassinate Uncas, of whose territorial and personal rights the 
commissioners were exceedingly tender. The next year an ofii- 
cer and guard of men were sent to Narragansett, who surprised 
Pessicus in his wigwam, and dragging him by the hair from his 
attendants, made him prisoner. The sum was gathered, the 
debt paid, and the troops withdrew. 

Thus ended, in an act of personal outrage, of all the most of- 
fensive to Indian pride, seven years of Indian protest and 
English brutality. Yet, as Roger Williams stated later, " the 
Narragansetts had long been confederates with the English, 
faithful allies, true in the Pequot wars and the means of draw- 
ing the Mohegans to the alliance. Never had they stained their 
hands with any English blood neither in open hostilities nor in 
secret murders. Through all their towns and country many and 
ofttimes one Englishman travelled alone with safety and loving 
kindness," — and this was their reward. 

For three years, from 1644 to 1647, owing to a break in the 
records, there is no information as to the legislation of the col- 
ony upon Indian matters. In 1649 an order was made against 
the taking of black wampumpeage of the Indians at less than 
"four a penny" under penalty of total forfeiture, from which 
it appears that the value of this currency had fallen, owing in 
part to the greater abundance of commodities and in part to the 
gradual substitution of other money, which it was of course in 
the interest of the whites to foster. In 1651, whether to protect 
the Indians or the original grantees of the land, it was ordered 


that no purchases should thereafter be made of the natives for a 
plantation without the consent of the state, except for the 
clearing of the Indians from particular plantations already set 
down upon ; from which the theory already advanced of Indian 
right of occupancy, if not of domain, is confirmed. A breach of 
this order carried a forfeiture of the land thus bargained for. 
But this seemingly having been evaded, the law was again en- 
acted in 1658 with the addition of the forfeiture of twenty 
pounds to the colony in case of transgression. 

There was no doubt early regulation of the sale of liquors to 
the Indians, but drunkenness was- now common among them. 
In 1654 the general sergeant was authorized to collect the fines 
from those offending in the sale and to take one half for his fees. 
The next year, for the preventing of the great mischief of the 
Indian drunkenness two ordinary (tavern) keepers were ap- 
pointed in each town to whom it was alone permitted to sell any 
sort of strong drink either to English or to Indians by retail, 
that is under a gallon, under penalty of five pounds fo.r each 
offense, one half to go to the constable and the other t6 the in- 
former ; and further, that neither of these ordinary keepers 
should sell more than a quarter of a pint of liquors or wines a 
day to an Indian ; and in case an Indian were found drunk, the 
ordinary keeper by whose means he was made drunk was fined 
twenty shillings for each person's transgression, the Indian to 
pay ten shillings or be whipped or "laid neck and heels." The 
clause of the law authorizing the sale of a quarter of a pint in a 
day to an Indian was repealed in 1656, and in 1659 a stringent 
statute was passed against either selling or giving either strong 
drinks or wine directly or indirectly to any Indian, any person 
being allowed to seize from any Indian carrying it and convert 
it to their own use : only it was allowed to give a dram to an 
hired Indian servant. In this year also an elaborate statute 
regulated punishment for Indian thefts ; their petty robbing 
and pilfering and inability to make restitution proving of great 
damage. The value of white peage is here fixed at six a penny, 
and in case of inability to pay the penalty and costs of trial, it 
was made lawful for the judges of the court where the trial was 
had to condemn the Indian offender "to be sold as a slave to 
any foreign country of the English subjects." 

Although, as has been seen, the crushing blow in the destruc- 
tion of the Pequotsi was struck by the troops of Connecticut 


and their allies of the Narragansett tribe, neither the one .nor the 
other was considered in the distribution of the spoils. Prompted 
either by wisdom or disdain, or perhaps even deeper motives 
of a Machiavellian order of policy, the English did not ap- 
parently contest the tribal sovereignty of the JSTarragansetts 
over the sachems of the intervening tribes, but confined their 
demand to the lion's share of the conquest, the soil itself, and 
the commissioners of the United Colonies assigned to Massa- 
chusetts the entire Pequot country. We have seen also the 
imprudent sale by Miantonomi and Pumham of Shawomet, in 
1642, to a company of settlers who were in quarrel with the 
Massachusetts colony. The next year the authority of the 
JSTarragansetts being rudely shaken by the death of Miantonomi, 
Pumham repudiated the sale he had himself authenticated as a 
vsritness, and apparently assuming an independent authority, 
made formal submission (June, 1643) to the jurisdiction of 
Massachusetts. The sachems of the Pawtuxet, also under the 
tribal sovereignty of the Narragansetts, made similar submission 
at the same time. By this defection the sovereignty of the 
Narragansetts was narrowed almost to the original limits of 
the tribe. The Wampanoags and the wandering Nipmucks 
of the north&jn country had long since accepted English pro- 
tection; the Nian tics who lived about thePawcatuck river alone 
held firmly to their ancient allegiance. It was not long before 
the general court made the sachems of Pawtuxet and Shawomet 
to understand the meaning of submission. They were held to 
obey the summons of the court. 

It was at this meeting of the court that a final insult was put 
upon the Narragansetts by a grant to Captain Atherton, the 
brutal insulter of the sachem Pessicus, of five hundred acres 
of land in the Narragansett territory. The Narragansetts seem 
to have understood the folly of an attempt to resist this con- 
stant encroachment of the English with a front so broken. But 
the white men were by no means at their ease. The breaking 
Out of war between the English and the Dutch (1652) was a fresh 
cause of alarm; not from any fear of their neighbors of the 
New Amsterdam colony on Manhattan island, but from the 
uncertainty of the attitude of the Indian tribes. The Maquas 
or Mohawks, by far the most powerful of the Indian nations, 
had long been the faithful friends of the Dutch, to whom they 
were bound by the famous treaty of Corlear. Should the Dutch 


enlist tbem in their service and they in turn form a league with 
the Narragansetts, the peril would be supreme,even though the 
Mohegans should stand fast or even hold aloof from the con- 
test. In April, 1653, the council of Massachusetts sent messen- 
gers to question Pessicus, Mexham, the son of Canonicus, and 
Ninegret, the three chief sachems of the Narragansetts. Their 
answers to the several queries did not satisfy the commisioners. 
But while unwilling to affront the English power by direct act 
of hostility, the sachems took advantage of the occasion to pun- 
ish the defection of the Long Island tribes, whom they assailed 
in the September following. For this they were again called to 
account by messengers from the commissioners,and their answer 
being again unsatisfactory, war was declared by the commis- 
sioners. But Massachusetts prudently pronouncing the cause 
insufficient, this declaration was not carried into effect. 

According to Roger Williams' account, John Endicott, the 
governor of the Massachusetts colony, had expressly given 
consent to Ninegret to right himself against the "insolent 
challenges of the Long Island sachem." Ninegret took his 
revenge, but at the request of the English restored the captives. 
The next year (1654) the Long Islanders treacherously broke 
the peace and slaughtered at midnight near thirty of the Narra- 
gansetts at Block Island, one of whom was the nephew of Nine- 
gret. The war broke out afresh and the Narragansetts from 
Aquidneck went to the assistance of their chief. The United 
Colonies, alarmed again, sent messengers to Ninegret summon- 
ing him to Hartford; he returned a haughty reply, refused to 
go to Hartford and asked to be let alone by the English. Roger 
Williams, the president of the Providence colony, addressed 
the general court of Massachusetts, defending the fealty of the 
Narragansetts to the English and justifying their war of self- 
defense against the Long Island tribes. In this interesting 
document he describes the Narragansetts and "Mohawks as 
the two great tribes of Indians in the country, as confederates 
and long having been and both yet friendly and peaceable to 
the English," and urges the need of friendship with one if ever 
the English should go to war with the other. From this letter 
it is also learned that these two nations had of late not been 
friendly, but that their differences were now healed and some 
of the Narragansetts had gone home with the Mohawks on a 
visit. He expresses the fear that in case of any great defeat to 


the English, Mohawks and Narragansetts, Long Islanders and 
Mohegans would unite against them. 

However this just appeal and sound reasoning may have 
affected the Massachusetts government, it did not prevent the 
dispatch of a force by the commissioners. The Indians with- 
drew to the refuge of a swamp and the troops returned unsiic- 
cessful, to the mortitication of the commissioners at Hartford. 
The influence of Massachusetts brought the struggle to a close. 
The unavenged murder of Miantonomi still haunted the con- 
sciences of his tribe. The perfidious retention of his ransom 
by Dncas shocked the sense of justice, one of the strongest 
traits of Indian character, not only of the Narragansetts but of 
the Mohawks. Alike they looked upon the renegade Pequot 
chief of the Mohegans as an outlaw. In the interview of the 
Mohawks with the Narragansetts measures of concerted action 
were agreed upon, and the Mohawks sent out a large force 
against the common enemy in the summer of 1657, but all their 
plans of surprise, an essential part of Indian tactics, were set at 
naught by information given to the Mohegans by the English 
scouts. It is strange to understand the determined effort of the 
English settlers in the Pequot country to thwart all efforts of 
the Narragansetts against the Mohegans, unless it be that they 
held their expeditions to be an invasion of the soil which they 
sought to bring within jurisdiction of the Connecticut colonies. 
So constant was this interposition that, on the request of the 
Narragansett sachems, the general court of commissioners held 
for the colony of Providence Plantations at Warwick in July, 
addressed a remonstrance to the English settlers at Pequot, in- 
timating in a plain way that it was the opinion of the Narra- 
gansetts that the English scouts were acting, not under the 
orders of the colony but in the pay of Uncas himself. They give 
notice also that the Mohawks were coming down in numbers 
and would pay little regard to any scouts they might find giving 
notice to the enemy. 

In May, 1660, the final act in the series of villainies was 
committed by the commissioners of the United Colonies 
upon the Narragansetts. For alleged injuries on the Mohe- 
gans, which their sachems denied, a heavy fine was levied 
upon the Narragansetts and an armed force sent down to compel 
them to mortgage their entire territory for the payment of a 
sum of six hundred fathoms of wampumpeage within four 


■months. Six months were allowed for redemption. The Indians 
were unable to effect the redemption and in the spring of 1662 
the sachems delivered formal possession. The mortgage deed 
was signed by Sucquansh, Ninegret, Scuttup and Wiquanka- 
mitt, chief sachems of the Narragansetts, and bears date 13th, 

The history of the Narragansett empire ends here; and yet 
the sachems retained somewhat of their dignity. In 1664, soon 
after the restoration of Charles the Second, a royal commis- 
sion was issued to reduce the Dutch provinces in America to 
subjection, and further, to determine all questions of appeal 
and jurisdiction and all boundary disputes arising in the New 
England colonies. On their arrival in Rhode Island the Narra- 
gansett sachems confirmed to them the formal submission they 
had made by writings to the crown in 1660, and they agreed to 
pay an annual tribute of two wolf skins and not to make war 
or to sell land without the consent of the authorities appointed 
over them by the crown. While they had parted with their 
territory they still acknowledged no sovereignty except that 
of the English king. 

King Philip's War. — A new and startling figure now ap- 
pears upon the scene : the hero of a dramatic episode similar in 
character and not inferior in interest to that which Parkman 
has made famous in his glowing page : that vast plot, which 
the Puritans call in their quaint phrase, " the Design of 
Philip," was the prototype, and perhaps, though a century 
earlier, the suggestive cause of the " Conspiracy of Pontiac." 

The name of the proud young chief of the Wampanoags, 
Philip of Pokanoket, first appears upon the records of the 
colony with a simplicity which denotes his consequence ; in an 
order of disarmament of all the Indians on Aquidneck island 
because of information fi'om Seconck of " such deportment of 
the Indians, especially of Philip, which giveth great occasion 
of suspicion of them and their treacherous designes." Not 
otherwise does history name its heroes, its sages, its kings. 

Massasoit, the sachem of the Wampanoags, whose dominion 
spread along the coast from Narragansett bay to Cape Cod, died 
in the winter of 1661 to 1662, and with him closed the era of 
peace and good will between the lords of the soil and the Eng- 
lish invaders. For forty years he kept sacred the treaty made 
with the Pilgrim fathers. In the early days of the weak Ply- 


mouth settlement, when, wasted by disease and famine, they 
would have fallen an easy prey to concerted action among the 
many tribes whom he swayed, he not only held to his compact, 
but with generous hand gave to them of his abundance. As 
years went by the annoyances and encroachments of the white 
men increased. 

No race has better understood the policy of divide and con- 
quer than the Saxon. It has been the history of its progress 
and empire. To the Pilgrim fathers it was a native instinct. 
One by one the tribes which had acknowledged the rale of the 
chief fell from their allegiance, and, yielding to the intrigues 
of their white neighbors, asserted their independence. Mas- 
sasoit's chief residence was onNarragansett bay, at what is now 
the town of Bristol, at a spot called Sowams by the Wampa- 
noags, Pokanoket by the Narragansetts, and Mount Hope by 
the early colonists. Here, at the headland of the peninsula 
which commanded the beautif nl bay, with its swarming waters 
and fertile islands, "the very garden of New England," the 
old chieftain, " the earliest and firmest friend of the Pilgrims," 
had his seat of patriarchial government ; and here resided with 
him two sons, Wamsutta and Pometacom or Metacomet. To 
these young sachems the names of Alexander and Philip were 
given on occasion of a visit to Plymouth court, about the year 

Wamsutta or Alexander, the elder of the brothers, increased 
his power by a marriage with Wetamoo, squaw sachem of 
Pocasset (now Tiverton), the chief of the Indian villages on the 
eastern mainland. On the death of Massasoit, Wamsutta, who 
had shared the government during the declining years of his 
father, became chief sachem. The proud spirit of the young 
chiefs had long chafed under the quiet submission of their aged 
father and the general policy of non-resistance which he main- 
tained to the close. That any general plan of conspiracy was 
thus early conceived is not probable, but there is little doubt 
that the germ of a concerted action by savage tribes of the con- 
tinent lay deep within their politic souls. There was example 
of the power of union close at their doors in the military force 
of the United Colonies, and proof that such alliance was not 
beyond the reach of Indian diplomacy in the wonderful struc- 
ture of the confederation of the six nations of the New York 


Massasoit was hardly in his grave before rumors were rife in 
the Plymouth colony that Wamsutta was plotting against the 
English, and the distinct charge was brought that he had al- 
ready made overtures to the Narragansetts, the hereditary 
enemies of his tribe. Summoned before the general court at 
Plymouth, he did not appear, whereupon he was seized by an 
armed force at one of his hunting stations and forcibly carried 
off prisoner, with his train of warriors and women, some eighty 
in number. Crazed with anger and fatigue, he fell ill and was 
permitted to return home on promise of attendance at the next 
court and the surrender of his son as a hostage. He died be- 
fore he reached his wigwams. The more moderate of the Puri- 
tans did not hesitate to condemn this rigor. The Indians did 
not forget it. The widow nursed her feelings of revenge. The 
injury rankled deep in the heart of the brother, and stirred to 
life the fated germs which came to full fruition in such disaster, 
devastation and death as had never before fallen upon the Eng- 
lish settlements. 

Metacomet, or Philip, now became chief sachem. He still 
further strengthened his power by marriage with the sister of 
Wetamoo, widow of Wamsutta, the squaw sachem of the Po- 
cassets. From the very beginning of his sway he undertook 
the vast enterprise of a union of the tribes to the alternative of 
Indian independence or English extermination. Prudent and 
politic, his line of conduct effectually cloaked his designs. 
Answering without hesitation the summons of the general court, 
he made submission, consented to treaties, even to pay tribute; 
in a word agreed to whatever was required of him by the Ply- 
mouth authorities. By what means he soothed the jealousies 
of the neighboring tribes, assuaged their rivalries and brought 
them to a common action is not, will never be known. Indian 
history is in a manner a sealed book. We know their motives 
and see the results, but not their methods. Strange Indians 
were constantly at Mount Hope, and Philip's emissaries were 
heard of wherever there was disaffection. The mere presence 
of his ancient men with Ninecraft, sachem of the Narragan- 
setts in 1669, was held sufficient evidence of a plot to warrant 
the arrest of that chief. At this time also Governor Lovelace, 
of the New York province, informed Governor Arnold of 
Rhode Island of apprehensions had at the east end of Long Is- 



land of a rising by the Narragansetts, but in the same letter 
said that he did not thin'i tiiem in a condition strong enough to 
make any such attempt. But in the spring of 1671 Lovelace 
was of another mind. In a letter to Governor Prince lie says, 
"I verily believe by what relations I have met with, even of 
our own (New York) Indians, the defection seemed almost uni- 
versal." Again Philip, not yet ready, bent to the storm. At 
a conference held at Taunton in April his men gave up their 
arms, and in September he made submission at Plymouth. 

No data exist by which even to approximate the number of 
the Indian tribes to which Philip addressed himself. We only 
know that in the report of the king's commissioners, made in 
December, 1660, the Rhode Island colony is credited with the 
"greatest number of Indians," but as yet there had been no 
harmony of feeling or action between them and the neighbor- 
ing tribes. 

Early in May, 1667, on information of the suspicious deport- 
ment of the Indians, especially of Philip, the Rhode Island 
council which sat in the intermissions of the assembly, had or- 
dered the disarming of all the Indians on the island, leaving 
the magistrates of Providence and Warwick to do as they saw 
fit ; and on the 10th, fully satisfied of the existence of plots, 
every Indian above sixteen was ordered by proclamation to 
leave the island. Only a license from the governor, the deputy 
governor or two assistants in the island was an adequate pass- 
port. But even at this juncture the number on the island 
proper must have been small. It does not appear that this or- 
der had been rejjeated. 

On the eastern mainland Philip naturally turned to his sister- 
in-law, Wetamoo, the squaw sachem of Pocasset (now Tiverton) 
who, although she had condescended, after Wamsutta's death, 
to a marriage with an Indian of lesser degree, was eager to re- 
venge the death of her first husband. Beyond, on the head- 
land opposite to Rhode Island, was the tribe of the Sogknonates, 
who occupied the territory from Fogland ferry to the sea, some 
seven to eight miles long; Seconnet, later Little Compton. 
Their squaw sachem, Awashonks, timid or prudent, hesitated, 
controlled by the advice of Mr. Benjamin Church, who had 
lately made a settlement on the point, and chanced upon a great 
dance at the very moment when she was entertaining Philip's 
She was herself quite willing to be dissuaded 


from joining the league, but the young braves would not be held 
back. For weeks Philip entertained the youth of the tribes 
from near and far, at Mount Hope, with dances, until crazed 
with excitement, and even he could not longer control them. In 
an unfortunate hour, furious with the indignity put upon him 
in the hanging of his executioners, as though he were a vassal 
of the English power and not a lord of the soil, he yielded to 
the entreaty of his braves and consented to the beginning of 

For four years constant rumors had alarmed the borders. 
The plans of Philip, it is generally believed, were laid for an 
uprising in the spring of 1676, but as usual in time of extreme 
tension, the outbreak was hastened in an unforseen manner. 
One of John Eliot's "praying Indians" of the Massachusetts 
tribe, who had received instruction at Harvard College and later 
served Alexander and Philip as secretary, discovered and be- 
trayed the plans of the sachem to the Plymouth governor. In- 
dian justice quickly reached the traitor, who was found dead in 
an ice pond. The executioners were in their turn betrayed, 
tried by a mixed jury of whites and Indians, found guilty and 
put to death. From this time Philip kept his men in arms, 
moving from place to place, gathering forces and to avoid sur- 

Alarmed at the near approach of hostilities, Mr. John Easton, 
the deputy governor of Rhode Island, together with three other 
magistrates, relying on their ancient friendship, sought an in- 
terview with Philip. By Easton' s own account of the interest- 
ing event the Indians had the best of the argument. Indeed, 
what answer could be made to Philip's complaint that " when 
the English first came their king's father (Massasoit) was as a 
great man and the English as a little child ; he constrained 
other Indians from wronging the English and gave them corn 
and showed them how to plant, and was free to do them any 
good, and had let them have one hundred times more land than 
now the king had for his own people." To the magistrates' 
persuasion that he should abandon the thought of war "for the 
English were too strong for them," the Indians said " then the 
English should do to them as they did when they were too 
strong for the English." 

Not less striking was Philip's reply to John Borden, of 
Rhode Island, a warm friend who urged him to peace. " The 


English who came first to this country were but an handful of 
people, forlorn, poor and distressed. My father was then 
sachem. He relieved their distresses in the most kind and hos- 
pitable manner. He gave them land to build and plant upon. 
He did all in his power to serve them. Others of their own 
countrymen came and joined them. Their numbers rapidly in- 
creased. My father's counsellors became uneasy and alarmed 
lest, as they were possessed of firearms which was not the case 
with the Indians, they should finally undertake to give law to 
the Indians and take from them their country. They therefore 
advised him to destroy them before they should become too 
strong and it should be too late. My father was also the father 
of the English. He represented to his counsellors and warriors 
that the English knew many sciences which the Indians did not; 
that they improved and cultivated the earth and raised cattle 
and fruits, and that there was sufficient room in the country for 
both the English and the Indians. His advice prevailed. It was 
concluded to give victuals to the English. They flourished and 
increased. Experience taught that the advice of my father's 
counsellors was right. By various means they got possession 
of a great part of his territory. But he still remained their 
friend till he died. My elder brother became sachem. They 
pretended to suspect him of evil designs against them. He was 
seized and confined and thereby thrown into sickness and died. 
Soon after I became sachem they disarmed all my people. They 
tried my people by their own laws and assessed damages 
against them which they could not pay. Their land was taken. 
At length a line of division was agreed upon between the En- 
glish and my people and I myself was to be responsible. Some- 
times the cattle of the English would come into the cornfields 
of my people for they did not make fences like the English. I 
must then be seized and confined until I sold another tract of 
my country for satisfaction of all damages and costs. Thus 
tract after tract is gone. But a small part of the dominion of 
my ancestors remains. I am determined not to live till I have 
no country. 

With such a spirit there was no room for composition. Nor 
was there more disposition to arrangement on the part of the 
English, for hardly had the Rhode Island mediators departed 
from the Ferry, the scene of their interview, " without any dis- 
curtiousness," when they were notified by the Plymouth gov- 


ernor that he intended "inarms to conform Philip," that is to re- 
duce him to subjection. All hopes of peace were now at an end. 
Hostilities were preceded by individual depredations. The war 
opened by an attack made at Swansea on Sunday, the 24th of 
June, 1675, on the people returning from public worship. 
Philip's young braves would no longer be restrained. At first 
only deserted houses on the neck of Pocanoket were plundered, 
but a shot being fired and an Indian wounded, the savages could 
not be controlled. A number of whites were waylaid and 
killed. Troops soon arrived and under the guidance of Mr. 
Benjamin Church, of Little Compton, the neck was occupied 
and Philip withdrew from Mount Hope to a swamp at Pocasset, 
where he successfully defended himself and drove back the 
soldiers, and later, hard pressed, escaped toward the Nipmucks 
in Worcester county. 

During the summer and autumn the Indians hung about the 
Massachusetts and Connecticut settlements with brand and 
tomahawk. No further doubt existing that the Narragansetts 
were in alliance with Philip, the commissioners of the United 
Colonies declared war against them in November and in Decem- 
ber marched an army of fifteen hundred to two thousand men 
to their reduction. The Indians' force at the beginning of the 
war has been estimated by the highest authorities at ten thou- 
sand warriors ; of these the Narragansetts alone had two thou- 
sand, those of the Plymouth country at least four thousand. 

But perhaps because of the precipitancy of the war the 
scheme of Philip to the westward seems to have failed. The 
Long Island Indians, none of whom were warlike tribes, and 
always held well in hand by the governor of the New York 
province, were early disarmed and their canoes secured, while 
an armed sloop patrolled the sound to prevent the crossing of 
the ill disposed. Watches were kept, block houses erected on 
the coast and heavy guns sent to the islands of Nantucket and 
Martha's Vineyard, both of which were under New York 
authority. Later in October, news reaching New York of an 
extraordinary confederacy of the Indians and a threatened at- 
tack on Hartford of from five to six thousand and of disturb- 
ance at the Navesinks, the same stringent rules were applied in 
the vicinity of New York and all the canoes in the sound east 
of Hell Gate were ordered into the block house. A few days 
later proclamations were sent out commanding the erection 


and fortification of a block or palisadoed house in every town 
or village in the province. The sale of powder at Albany to 
the Indians was prohibited byan order of council. In Mary- 
land the Susquehannas rose. Fortunately for the New England 
colonies the great Mohawk confederacy stood aloof and the 
river Indians, of whom the chief were the Mohegans, who occu- 
pied the eastern border between the Hudson and the Connec- 
ticut colony, were controlled by Uncas, their sachem, a revolted 
Pequot and a faithful ally of his English neighbors. The ex- 
tent of the alarm is itself proof of the genius of Philip. 

On the iSth of December, 1675, the English troops found the 
Indians with Philip at their head, gathered with their families 
to the number of three thousand on a piece of upland or high 
ground three or four acres in extent, in the midst of a difficult 
swamp in what is now South Kingstown, about seven miles 
nearly due west from Narragansett south fei-ry. The Narragan- 
setts had surrounded his camp with pallisades and a heavy 
abattis of inclined trees. They were thoroughly provisioned 
and well armed. And here it may be stated that the Indians 
were now well used to firearms, though owing to the disarma- 
ment to which Philip had been forced to submit, the supply of 
muskets, powder and ball was small. Not until their territory 
was invaded did the Narragansetts forget their old league of 
friendship with the Rhode Island colony, and the English 
array was almost at their wigwams before they fell upon the 
isolated garrisons of the whites. 

The first overt act of the war was the surprise of Bull's garri- 
son at South Kingstown about the 15th of December. On the 
18th, the weather being intensely cold, the English army 
marched through heavy snow to the assault of the fortified 
enclosure. Besides the enlisted quotas of Massachusetts, 
Plymouth and Connecticat, one thousand men, including a 
troop of horse, there marched one hundred and fifty Indians, 
Mohegans of the tribe ruled by Uncas, and the remains of the 
broken Pequots, eager for revenge on the destroyers of their 
race. With the volunteers who joined the marching body in 
the Rhode Island colony the number could not have been less 
than fifteen hundred men. No records show how many men 
the councils of war in the Rhode Island towns mustered for 
this engagement, nor yet if there were any regularly enlisted. 
Indeed, but for the recent massacres of the outlying garrisons, 


it is questionable whether any of her people would have volun- 
teered for the fray. They were commanded by General Josiah 
Winslow, with whom rode, as an.aid and counsellor, Cap taiij Ben- 
jamin Church, who was already well known for his knowledge 
of Indian character and ways, and who now showed not only 
great personal courage, but high military qualities, prudence, 
judgment and foresight, which won for him his indisputable 
place in history as the foremost Indian fighter of his day. 

Arriving before the narrow entrance to the enclosure, which 
was flanked by a block house, early in the afternoon, the Eng- 
lish sought in vain to force the passage or climb over the sharp 
breastworks. For three hours the carnage raged, at one time 
the assailants being driven from the assault. At last an en- 
trance was effected in the rear by the reserve guard. The Indians? 
out of powder and ball, had but their bows and arrows with which 
to resist this double attack. The wigwams were tired and the 
enclosure blazed with the flames of five hundred dwellings. 
Night closed the dreadful scene. In this, the most deadly bat- 
tle in the history of New England, the Indians lost in killed, 
wounded and prisoners not less than one thousand, of whom 
one-third perished in the flames and as manjr more in the fight. 

To the English the victory was at a heavy cost. How many 
were slain, how many wounded, how many perished in the snow 
on the return is not now known. The estimates vary from two 
to four hundred. But among these were a large number of the 
officers that led the assault. Six of the captains fell in the first 
attempt to force the entrance. Church himself was badly 
wounded. From motives of policy, as well as humanity, he had 
opposed the firing of the wigwams. Owing to this error the 
victors and the vanquished alike suffered. One half of the 
losses of the English are ascribed to the want of shelter for the 
wounded on the night of the battle, and in the forced march 
homeward in the cold and snow of the December night. No 
positive evidence has come down as to the presence of Philip at 
this fight. That there were Wampanoags of his adherents 
among the Narragansetts is certain from the refusal of Canon- 
chet, the Narragansett chief, to the demands of the English in 
November, but according to Church's recital Philip himself was 
at this time on the Hoosac river, engaged in an attempt to enlist 
the Mohawks in the general cause. 

Andros, governor of New York, writing to the governor of 


Maryland a few days before the swamp fight, says that, "bas- 
ing their action on their means in the Plymouth and Massa- 
chusetts colonies, the eastern Indians were endeavoring by all 
means of command and profit to engage the Maquas (Mohawks) 
and sent to all other parts, as far as Canada." All accounts 
agree that Philip failed in these negotiations, and some assert 
that he was driven from the Hoosac by a descent of their war- 
riors. However this may be, he is found in the spring with the 
Narragansetts. They had then made their winter quarters in a 
"rooky swamp," about twenty miles to the northward of Wick- 
ford, where the English troops went into garrison. The winter, 
rude in the beginning, was unusually mild in January. The 
troops, re-inforced, dislodged the Indians from their new po- 
sition, pursued their broken organization, and were then dis- 

The war was by no means over, the hostile tribes gathering 
in the spring in the Nipmuck country, in the rear of Wachuset 
hills, in the neighborhood of Worcester, where it is supposed 
that Philip joined them. The upper towns of Rhode Island 
colony, trembling not only for safety, but for life, besought aid 
of the general assembly. This body convened on the 13th of 
March, 1676, at Newport, to consider the hazardous situation, 
replied by letters to the appeals of Providence and Warwick 
that the colony was not "of ability to maintain sufficient gar- 
risons for the security of the out-plantations," and advised the 
inhabitants to come into the island, which was most secure. 
The Newport and Portsmouth inhabitants had taken care, they 
said, that land should be provided by the towns for those to 
plant who could not otherwise find land, and pasturage for a 
cow would be given to each family ; and they warned those that 
stayed out with their cattle, provisions and ammunition that it 
was at their own hazard and to the probable advantage of the 
enemy. On the same day, to further enforce the orders of the 
council of war on the island, they directed that every Indian 
from twelve years old and upward in the custody of the inhab- 
itants should be secured, a keeper attending him by day and 
securely locking him up at night, under heavy forfeiture This 
order was published in the towns of Newport and Portsmouth 
by beat of drum. 

To temper this rigor the assembly voted that " noe Indian in 
this colony be a slave, but only to pay their debts or for their 


bringing up or custody they have received or to perforin cove- 
nant as if they had been countrymen not in war." How many 
Indians there were on the island at this time is not known, the 
census taken in separate lists of English, Negroes and Indians 
in April, as also the provision of corn, guns, powder, shot and 
lead, having disappeared from the archives, nor is there author- 
ity for even an approximate estimate. 

The fears of the petitioners on the mainland were immediately 
realized. Warwick was sacked and burned, only one house, 
and that of stone, escaping. On the other hand, only one of 
the inhabitants was slain. Providence was deserted. The town 
records give the names of thirty men only "That stayed and 
went not away." The venerable Roger Williams, the father of 
the colony, now seventy-seven years of age, was the captain of 
the train band. It is related that when the Indians approached 
the town he went out alone to meet and admonish them. 
"Massachusetts," said he, so runs the tradition, "can raise 
thousands of men at this moment, and if you kill them the 
King of England will supply their places as fast as they fall." 
"Well, let them come," was the reply, "We are ready for 
them. But as for you, Brother Williams, you are a good man; 
you have been kind to us manj- years ; not a hair of your 
head shall be touched." The town was assaulted on the 29th or 
30th of March. Some fifty-four houses at the north end were 
burned. There is no record of any killing of persons. Certain 
it is that Roger Williams was not harmed. 

In April, the assembly, at an adjourned meeting, held on the 
first Tuesday, organized a service of boats for defense of the 
waters of the bay ; four boats, with five or six men in each, 
well furnished, one-third of the men to be of Portsmouth if 
thought best. The persons charged with the ordering and em- 
ploy of these were : Mr. John Easton, deputy governor, Mr. 
Walter Clarke, Captain John Cranston, Mr. John Coggeshall 
and Mr. Caleb Carr for Newport ; Captain John Albro, Mr. 
Robert Hodgson and Mr. Robert Hazard for Portsmouth. 
Power was given them to increase or diminish the number of 
boats, as they found cause. This is the first mention of a naval 
force on the records. It appears from other sources that it con- 
sisted of sloops, and that the colony had sent out several sloops 
well manned in June of the previous year. It is claimed by 
Mr. Arnold, the historian of the state, that it is the first instance 


in the history of the colonies when a naval armament was relied 
on for defense. "It was," he says, "the germ for a future 
Khode Island squadron a century later, and for an ultimate 
American navy." 

It was further voted that a barrel of powder be supplied to 
Portsmouth, and the two great guns lying in the yard of the late 
deceased Mr. William Brenton be pressed for the country's ser- 
vice and carried to Portsmouth, and placed one in the ferry neck, 
the other at or near the house of Mr. John Borden. The pow- 
der and guns were entrusted to Captain John Albro, Mr. Robert 
Hazard. Lieut. William Correy and John San ford, who were 
empowered at the charge of the country to cause the guns to 
be set on carriages and fitted for service, and to appoint for the 
care and ordering of each. And further the company and 
council of the most judicious was invited at their next sitting ^ 
of the assembly, which was adjourned to meet again the next 
Tuesday, the 11th inst., at Henry Palmer's house in Newport. 

The hot work of March seems to have forced the peace loving 
people from their neutrality, and there were surely those among 
the judicious inhabitants who longed to have a hand in the 
stirring fray. For nearly ten years little or nothing had been 
done by the authorities to further the organization of the militia 
or the discipline of the train band on the island, but now it was 
agreed to choose a major to be the " chief e Captain of all the 
colony's forces," to have his commission from the general as- 
sembly. Captain John Cranston was chosen major, yet true to 
the old spirit of purely popular will, it was conditioned that 
this action should "noe wayes extend to hinder the liberty of 
the soldiery in their election of a major when soe appointed by 
the assembly to elect." The acts, as usual, were published by 
beat of drum at Newport and Portsmouth. Major Cranston 
continued in his command during the remainder of King 
Philip's war, and his commission was later renewed in 1677. 

Canonchet was surprised in April near the Blackstone river. 
The fall of this, the last of Narragansett's great sachems, was 
a fatal blow to Philip's cause. For two months the Rhode Is- 
land colony was left in comparative peace. In June the Indians 
made the famous assault on Hadley on the Connecticut river. 
While Philip was absent on this raid Colonel Church made a 
treaty with Awashonks, queen of the Seconnet tribe. • The 
squaw sachem received a safe conduct from the Rhode Island 


assembly sitting at Newport. About the same time this body- 
sent back. to Providence the Indian captives which had been de- 
livered them for safe keeping, "judging they properly belonged 
to Plymouth colony." 

After the defeat at Hadley the Indians again ravaged the 
Plymouth country. Pursued by the English, they were again 
surprised in a cedar swamp near Warwick. Magnus, an old 
queen of Narragansett, and sister of Ninegret, was taken, and 
with ninety other captives, slain. In this engagement the In- 
dians lost one hundred and seventy-one, the English not a sin- 
gle man. The savages now began to submit, many coming in 
to Conanicut. The main body fled to the Housatonlc, where 
they were overtaken by Major Talcott and nearly annihilated. 
Meanwhile Governor Winslow had commissioned Captain 
Church to take a force of two hundred men and break up 
Philip's retreat at Mount Hope. Two Rhode Island companies, 
under Lieutenant Richmond and Captain Edmonds, brought in 
nearly fifty captives, who were sold into service in the colony 
for a term of nine years, as were all other captives taken. None 
were permitted to enter the island. Philip's followers were 
gradually captured, and the sachem himself took refuge in a 
swamp near Mount Hope, the home of his race. But his un- 
daunted spirit would not stoop to surrender. A follower who 
counselled submission was slain by his own hand. The swamj) 
was now surrounded. Captain Roger Goulding, of Rhode Is- 
land, went in to drive out the few that remained. An Indian 
named Alderman, a brother of the man Philip had thus uncere- 
moniously killed, shot the chieftain through the heart. The 
body was dragged to Captain Church, who ordered his head to 
be cut off and his body to be quartered. The head was sent to 
Plymouth, where it was exposed on a gibbet for twenty years. 
The body was hung on four trees. One hand was sent to Bos- 
ton as a trophy, the other was given to the Indian who killed 
him and was exhibited for money. 

Some of the Indians escaped from the swamp under the lead 
of an old warrior, Annawan, a chief counsellor of Massaspit. 
Church captured him by surprise and received from him, as his 
memoirs say, "Philip's belt, curiously wrought with wampum, 
being nine inches broad wrought with black and white wam- 
pum in various figures and flowers and pictures of many birds 
and beasts." This, when hanged upon Captain Church's shoul- 


ders, reached his ankles, and another belt of wampum he pre- 
sented him with wrought after the former manner, which Philip 
was wont to put upon his head. It had two flags on the back part 
which hung down on his back, and another small belt with a star 
upon the end of it which he used to hang on his breast, and 
they were all edged with red hair which Annawan said they got 
in the Mohoys (Mohawks) country. Then he pulled out two 
horns of glazed powder and a red cloth blanket. He told Cap- 
tain Church these were Philip's royalties which he was wont to 
adorn himself with when he sat in state." 

Young Metacomet, the only son of Philip, and numberless 
Indian captives taken at this period, were sent as slaves to 
Spain and the West Indies. In the entire struggle the Pagan 
Indian, in his treatment of captives, showed a higher civiliza- 
tion than his Christian foes. 

After defeat punishment. Such is the customary sequence of 
war. And now the hand of vengeance was no longer stayed by 
the fear of reprisal by the crushed foe. Already the council of 
Rhode Island by act of July 24th, 1676, had empowered a com- 
mittee to sell the Indian men and women able for service, an 
act confirmed by the general assembly on the 6th of August fol- 
lowing with the limitation that those so sold should be for the 
term of nine years. In June it had been voted to return the In- 
dians sent by Captain Roger Williams from Providence on the 
plea that they belonged to Plymouth colony, because it was said 
that they were left as hostages to the English forces. The 
X^eaceful colony stood in equal dread of the United Colonies 
and of Philip's savage confederacy. 

Philip fell on the morning of Saturday the 12th of August, 
On Monday the 14th, the town authorities of Providence, upon 
the recommendation of a committee of five, of which Roger 
Williams was the first named, condemned all their Indian cap- 
tives, innocent and guilty alike, to terms of servitude — " All In- 
dians under five to serve till 30, above 5 and under 10 till 28, 
above 10 to 15 till 27, above 15 to 20 till 26. Prom 20 to 30 to 
serve 8 years, all above 30, 7 years;" a graduation seemingly 
devised to secure the master against any contingency of loss by 
the support and nourishment of the servant at a non-wage earn- 
ing age. A record of the proceeds of this sale of the first com- 
pany of Indians on account of the townsmen, shows the share of 


each man to have been sixteen shillings and fourpence half- 

But there were other captives made by the Rhode Island 
troops in the course of the campaign and held for trial and the 
stern rigor of the law. Among the powers granted to the colony 
in its charter was that ' ' to exercise the Law-Martiall in such cases 
as occasions shall necessarily require and upon just cause to 
invade and destroy the native Indians and other enemies of the 
said colony." A court martial, composed of the major part of 
the government and a large number of military oflBcers, was 
convened at Newport on the 24th of August, 1676, for the trial 
of the Indians charged with being engaged in Philip's designs, 
that is with rebellion against the colony in adhering to Philip, 
chief sachem of the Indians of another colony and in particular 
of assisting in the burning and destroying of Pawtuxet, South 
Kingstown and Warwick and other towns. Edmund Calverley, 
the attorney general, brought the impeachment. Quanopen, a 
cousin of Canonchet, bravely owned to the charge that he was 
in arms against the English nation, "admitted his presence at 
the destroyinges and burnings and declined to say anything 
against the Indians so engaged." He was voted guilty of the 
charge and condemned to be " shot to death in the town on the 
26th." Quanopen was the second in command in the Narra- 
gansett country. Two of Quanopen's brothers were condemned 
to suffer the death penalty at the same time and place. There 
is no record that there was either respite or commutation of this 

The court was still sitting on the 31st of August when Benja- 
min Church appeared with a letter of the 28th from Josiah 
Winslow, governor of the Plymouth colony, to Governor 
Clarke, demanding the surrender of all Indians, '' whether men, 
women or children," who had been received and entertained on 
the island and further empowering the captain to conduct them 
to Plymouth, "and to ssll and dispose of them there to the in- 
habitants or others for term of life or shorter time as there may 
be reasons." Perhaps the taste for blood of the more gentle 
Newporters was already sated with the shootings of the 26th. 
However this may be, the records of the court show a vote that 
the three Indians, whose trial was in progress, were ordered to 
be delivered out of the prison to Captain Church, seven more to 
Captain Anthony Low, who engaged to transport them out of 


the colony, and singular to add, "oiie more to be at the dispose 
of Henry Lilly which he receives in full satisfaction for his at- 
tendance at this court and to be transported as the other to 
Captain Low." The Henry Lilly thus gratified was the 
marshall and cryer of the court. That these unfortunate crea- 
tures were destined to the slave block" seems beyond question, 
Captain Aulhony Low commanding a vessel in the westward 
trade. The records of the court close with the declaration in 
the name of his majesty '' that noe Indian either great or small 
be landed on any part of Rhode Island or any Island in the 
ISTarragansett Bay upon the penalty as formerly imposed upon 
such offenders ; and they shall be taken as being contumacy of 
the authority of this colony." 

Walter Clarke, the governor, was a Friend, and as such op- 
posed to the war, which he believed, with many of his sect, 
might have been averted by negotiation. He does not appear 
to have attended the court martial, over which it fell to him as 
governor to preside. On the contrary, though there is evidence 
that he was in Newport, the court directed the copy of the 
transactions to be rendered to the deputy governor, and em- 
powered that officer to summon them at his pleasure. 

From Church's narrative of his father's proceedings in this 
memorable war, it appears that Captain Church brought oldAn- 
nawan and a half dozen of his Indian soldiers to Rhode Island, 
sending the rest of his company and his prisoners by his lieu- 
tenant, Jabez Howland, to Plymouth. On his return to Ply- 
mouth, where the general court was then sitting, he took with 
him Annawan. Thence he visited Boston, to wait upon Gov- 
ernor Leverett. On his return to Plymouth "he found to his 
grief the heads of Annawan, Tispaquin, etc., cut off, which were 
the last of Philip's friends." Tispaquin was one of the most 
famous of Philip's captains. Church had captured his wife and 
children and carried them with him to Plymouth, leaving word 
to the chief that if he would come in their lives and his would 
be spared. But his safe conduct seems to have availed not with 
the stern authorities. For this ruthless barbarity the only ex- 
cuse is the temper of the times. Governor Hutchinson, in his 
history, justly observes: "Every person almost in the two col- 
onies [Massachusetts and Plymouth] had lost a relation or near 
friend, and the people in general were exasperated; but all does 
not excuse this great severity. One eleventh of the able bodied 


men of New England are said to have been slain during the 
two years of the war, and such was the suffering from the inter- 
ruption of farming that a famine was only averted by the char- 
itie of London and Dublin." 

It is some comfort to know from contemporary authority that, 
like their comrades at Newport, these chiefs had a soldier's 
death ; they were shot and their heads cut off, and their bodies 
quartered after execution. No history of New England nor of 
the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, nor 
yet of the Island of Rhodes proper, were complete without some 
narrative of this terrible war, on the result of which the destiny, 
nay the very life of the English settlements hung. The part 
taken in it by Rhode Island was not active. While defending 
themselves they gave aid and comfort to their sister colonies, 
but little or no armed assistance. Callender sums it up in one 
graphic phrase : "As to the part this colony had in that war it 
must be observed that tho' the Colony was not, as they ought to 
have been, consulted,yet they not only afforded shelter to the fly- 
ing English, who deserted from many of the neighboring Planta- 
tions in Plymouth Colony and were received kindly by the inhab- 
itants and relieved and allowed to plant the next year on their 
commons for their support ; but they likewise furnished some 
of the Forces with Provisions and Transports ; and some of their 
principal Gentlemen, as Major Sanford and Capt.Goulding, were 
in the action at Mount Hope as Volunteers in Captain Church's 
Company when King Philip was slain. The Indians never 
landed on the island in the war time ; armed boats kept plying 
round to break their canoes and prevent their making any at- 
tempts. But our settlements on the Main suffered very much 
both atPetequamscut and at Warwick and at Providence where 
the Indians burnt all the ungarrisoned and deserted houses. 
And the inhabitants made many complaints that when the army 
of the United Colonists returned home they did not leave a suffi- 
cient number of forces to protect our plantations, which were 
now in a very peculiar manner exposed to an exasperated and 
desperate enemy." 

This attitude of self defense, as is claimed by the defenders of 
Rhode Island, of apathy, as was charged by its unfriendly 
neighbors, was long a subject of bitter quarrel. The agents of 
the Plymouth colony charged the colonists of Rhode Island 
with ingratitude to them, indifference to their distresses and a 


want of English spirit. This they ascribed to the authority of 
Rhode Island being at the time of the war in the hands of the 
Qnakers. But though, as was charged, the governor and 
lieutenant governor were both of this persuasion, there 
are military commissions still in being under their hands and 
seals, to Benedict Arnold, junior, and others, to go in an armed 
sloop to visit the garrisons at Providence and other towns, and, 
as Callender justly observes, " It was but reasonable the United 
Colonists should have left a sufficient guard at least at their 
own headquarters and some other places while the island, the 
only part of the colony able to contribute to the charge of the 
wars, was at so great an expense in supporting and defending 
the distressed English who lied to them from all the adjacent 
parts;" and he adds that to confonnd the slanders of the day 
the deputy governor gave an affidavit or evidence or solemn en- 
gagement that "he never was againsc giving forth any Com- 
missions to any that might have been" for the security of the 
King's interest in this colony. The further charge that the 
Rhode Islanders took in many of the Indians who, routed and 
almost subdued, were flying l)efore the victorious and savage 
English, is not questioned by historians. It was, to say the 
least, a safe as well as humane policy. It does not appear that 
any of those who shared in the burnings, destroyings or massa- 
cres sought this shelter, but rather the peaceful and helpless, 
who still clung to the old amity pledged between Massasoit and 
Roger Williams. Nor yet does it appear that these were ex- 
empted from the official sale and servitude. 

Canonicus or Quanuanone, chief sachem or prince of the Nar- 
ragansetts, was the oldest son and heir of Canonicus and the 
grandson of Tashtassuck, the first of his line of whom there is 
any account. According to Indian tradition he was the might- 
iest chief in the country who, having a son and daughter and 
finding no one equal to them in dignity, married them together. 
Prom this union sprung the first Canonicus, the father of the 
sachem whom the whites found in supreme authority on their 
coming to the shores of New England. On the arrival of the 
first Pilgrims he sent them as a warlike message a bundle of ar- 
rows tied in a snake skin, and received in return, it is said, the 
skin filled with powder and ball. By the declaration of Canon- 
icus he and his forefathers had long ruled the country, "hav- 
ing ourselves been the Chief Sachems or Princes successively 


time out of mind." Under their rule the tribe had extended its 
territory by wars, its influence by confederacy and its comfort 
and happiness by peace. 

While the Narragansetts were proud and warlike they were 
not, at least under the rule of Canonicus or at any time during 
their intercourse with the whites, an aggressive tribe. Their 
conquests were assured, not by tyranny, but by conciliation, 
and their policy was to absorb the subjected race into their own 
nation as individuals, or to bind them to themselves as parts of 
a common confederacy. But for the coming of the English it 
is probable that, with their advanced ideas, they would have 
welded the coast tribes of the continent into a great and happy 
nation. They had every element of power, an extensive coast 
line for their trade, an understanding of agriculture, a better 
knowledge of manufacture than their neighbors and, what was 
of more importance as a political factor, they provided the cur- 
rency for a large section of countoy. They showed a keen 
appreciation of the arts and appliances of civilization and were 
quick to supply themselves with guns, kettles and tools. 

It cannot be supposed that Canonicus looked with any favor 
upon the coming of the English into his territory. The treaty 
of alliance which Ousamequin (Massasoit), chief of the Wam- 
panoags, had made with the Massachusetts had withdrawn from 
him his most powerful ally and greatly weakened theinflnence of 
the Narragansett nation. Roger Williams says of him that 
"he was most shy of the English to his last breath." It is dif- 
ficult to decide whether the old prince had ever put himself 
within the power of the whites or visited thera at their Massa- 
chusetts settlement. In one letter Williams says, "I spend no 
costs towards them and in gifts to Ousamequin (Massasoit) and 
all his, and to Canonicus and all his, tokens and presents many 
years before I came in person to the Narragansett, and there- 
fore when I came I was welcome to Ousamequin and the old 
prince Canonicus." In another he says, " When the hearts of 
my countrymen and friends and brethren failed me his (the 
Most High) infinite wisdom and mercy stirred up the barbarous 
heart of Canonicus to love me as his son to his last gasp, by 
which means I had not only Miantonomi and all the Cowesit 
Sachems my friends but Ousamequin also who, because of my 
great friendship with him at Plymouth and the authority of 
Canonicus, consented freely (being also well gratified by me) to 



the Grovernor Winthrop's engagement of Prudence, yea of 
Providence itself, and all the other lands I procured of Canoni- 
cus which were upon the point, and in fact whatever I desired 
of him." Thus, as he does not state that he had met.Canonicus 
at Plymouth, it is reasonable to suppose that their first personal 
interview was when they met in treaty for the settlement in the 
jSTarragansett territory which he named Providence. 

It is not to be supposed that when Canonicus gave permis- 
sion to his new friend to settle on his lands, he had the 
least idea of the nature of an English deed, or supposed that it 
carried with it any exclusion of himself or his people, or any 
surrender of his authority over them. By William's letter to 
Winthrop in 1637, on the subject of the occupancy of the con- 
quered Pequot territory, it appears that the right of hunting 
was tacitly reserved everywhere. "I told him (Miantonomi) 
that they (the JSTarragansetts) might hunt in the woods as they 
do in Massachusetts and here notwithstanding the English did 
generally inhabit; and this satisfied." The Indians themselves 
had no individual rights in the soil. Williams expressly says 
that "according to the law and tenor of the natives (as I take it) 
in all New England and America, viz: that the inferior sachems 
and subjects shall plant and remove at the pleasure of the high- 
est and supreme sachems;" such was the habit of the Peru- 
vians under the Incas. Not that the Narragansett chiefs were 
long left under this delusion. First they were requested to re- 
move their Indians, then ordered to remove them and soon for- 
bidden to sell their lands except to such persons as were agree- 
able to the new comers. But amid all these encroachments 
Canonicus held fast to his friendship to Roger Williams. 
He was already a man of seventy when the settlement of Provi- 
dence was made. His age and his temper induced him to peace. 
Moreover his nephew, Miantonomi, then in the vigor of his age 
and power, was inclined to closer relations with the whites. 
The old chief yielded no doubt to the more active and superior 

Roger Williams was at heart and in true spirit a practical 
missionary. In his zeal, and urged besides by his natural love 
for the acquisition of languages, he had spent " many a day in 
their filthy, dirty holes to gain their tongue." Later the chiefs 
would not trust themselves with the Massachusetts authorities 
unless he went with them as their interpreter as well as their 


safeguard. So well pleased was Canonicus with him that he gave 
to him the island of Chibachuwesa (Prudence) as an inducement 
to him to settle near himself. A careful study of the history of 
the period shows that both he and Miantonomi usually yielded 
to the peaceful counsels of their friend. Roger Williams was 
in England when the old chief was stricken by the perfidious 
murder by the "elders of Massachusetts," of his beloved 
nephew, but had it been otherwise no persuasion of his could 
have overruled the determination of the Narragansetts for re- 
venge. On his return he attempted to quench their wrath and 
to hold them to the league they had subscribed with the Mas- 
sachusetts, but as he wrote, there was "a spirit of desperation 
fallen upon them to revenge the death of their prince and re- 
cover their ransom for his life or to perish with him." It is a 
satisfaction to know that the result of this expedition was the 
severe chastisement of the Mohegans, whose sachem, Uncas, 
was as treacherous a savage as there is any record of. 

The United Colonies imposed and collected a forced tribute 
which precipitated the ruin of the Narragansetts. They were 
in this crisis of their affairs when Canonicus died, June 4tli, 
1647. He had already passed his eightieth year. He had once 
said to Roger Williams, " I have never suffered any wrong to 
be offered to the English since they landed nor never will. If 
the Englishman speaks true, if he means truly, then shall I go 
to my Grave in peace and hope that the English and my pos- 
terity shall live in love and peace together." To this Roger 
Williams bore testimony in his appeal in favor of the JSTarra- 
gai^setts to the general court of Massachusetts some years later. 
He was then president of Providence- colony. "I cannot yet 
learn that it ever pleased the Lord to permit the Narragansetts 
to stain their hands with any English blood, neither in open 
hostilities nor secret murders. * •* * For the people many 
hundred English have experimented them to be inclined to 
peace and love with the English nation. Their late famous, 
long-lived Canonicus so lived and died, and in the same honor- 
able manner and solemnity (in their way) as you laid to sleep 
your prudent peace-maker, Mr. Winthrop, did they honor this, 
their prudent and peaceful Prince." The burial of an Indian 
chief was an impressive ceremonial. On that of the son of 
Canonicus, the father burned his own home, with all its con- 
tents, that the young brave might want for nothing in the spirit 


land. Hardly more than a decade had passed since Canonicus 
received the exiled, landless wanderer to his broad and beauti- 
ful territory, and to the protection of his proud and powerful 
nation ; yet that decade had sufficed to strip him of his lands, 
his people and his authority, nearly to the last vestige. 

In 1883 the Khode Island Historical Society, with suitable 
ceremonies and addresses, erected a boulder memorial in a place 
called the Glen, in the North burial ground at Providence, to 
the great chief. The site is now known as the Sachem's Gflen. 
The boulder was a short time before unearthed in the town. It 
is a symetrically shaped, oblong rock of primitive granite, about 
five feet in height and two feet square. It bears the name of 
Canonicus, and beneath the carving of a rude bow and arrow. 

MiANTONOMi, or Mecumeh, prince sachem of the Narragan- 
setts, was the nephew of Canonicus, the son of his youngest 
brother, Mascus — so Roger Williams testifies in a solemn depo- 
sition made in 1682, in reference to his purchase of the lands 
about Providence from these two sachems. Canonicus, he says, 
was the heir, and Miantonomi, "his Marshall and Executioner, 
and did nothing without his uncle Canonicus' consent." He 
first appears in history as leading his tribe in 1636 to the rescue 
of the Niantic country about Misquamicut and the mouth of 
the Pawcatuck river from the dominion of the Pequots, who, 
in the year 1632, had, in a fierce struggle with the Niantic 
tribe, " extended their territory ten miles east of the Pawca- 
tuck." Overcome by their superior force, the eastern Niantics 
had called on the aid of Canonicxas and making an alliance with 
the Narragansetts, had become tributary to their jiower. To 
this Wawatoam, the wife of Miantonomi, gives certain testi- 
mony in her confirmation of Socho or Sosoa or Sassawwaw's 
title to the land of Misquamicut, "Whereas my uncle Mne- 
gret sayeth that it is his land, I, Wawatoam, do utterly deny it 
before all men for it was conquered by my husband, Miantono- 
my, and my uncle, Canonicus, long before the English had any 
war with the Pequots, therefore I, Wawatoam, do really con- 
firm it and affirm it to be Socho.'s land." Socho was a renegade 
Pequot who, as Roger Williams informed Grovernor Winthrop, 
had deserted his native tribe and become Miantonomi' s "special 
darling and a kind of General of his forces." For his service 
in this successful campaign, which forced the Pequots to the 
westward of their river, Socho received a grant of the territory 


from his new prince, thougli it appears that Ninegret, the Nian- 
tic sachem, held the Niantic fort on Fort Neck in 1637, when 
Captain Mason, with his Connecticut troops and Mohegan and 
Narragansett allies, halted there on their march to the destruc- 
tion of the Pequot fort at the Portal rocks on the Mystic river, 
and the complete overthrow and destruction of this savage and 
warlike race. 

The guide on this expedition was Wequash, a revolted Pe- 
qnot. This man, who is said to have been "the first convert 
to the Christian faith among the aborigines of New England," 
was a brother of Ninegret, but it is presumed by a Pequot wo- 
man, and not of the blood royal of the Niantics. In 1637, soon 
after the fall of the Pequots, Roger Williams wrote to John 
Winthrop that his guide had slain Sassawwaw (Socho) treach- 
erously, and that Miantonomi was bent on revenge, but a few 
days later reported that Socho was still alive. This attempt of 
Wequash was probablj^ before his conversion, and perhaps 
prompted by his jealousy of Miantonomi's favor to Socho to 
the detriment of his brother Ninegret' s interest as the sachem 
of the Niantics. As of Canonicus, there does notap^^ear to be 
any evidence that Miantonomi was ever within the limits of the 
Massachusetts colony, or had ever personally met Roger Wil- 
liams before his coming to the Narragansett country in 1636. 

The first letters of Williams to the governor and deputy gov- 
ernor declare that Canonicus was by no means pleased to see 
him but that Miantonomi was more cordial. "At my first 
coming," he says, " Canonicus was very sour and accused the 
English and myself of sending the plague amongst them, and 
threatening to kill him especially. * * * i discovered cause 
for bestirring myself and staid the longer, and at last (through 
the mercy of the Most High) sweetened his spirit. * * * 
Miantonomi kept his barbarous court lately at my house and 
with him I have far better dealings. He takes some pleasure to 
visit me and sent me word of his coming eight days henqe." 
In the autumn of 1636 Roger Williams, at the request of the 
Massachusetts authorities, at risk and peril of his life, broke up 
the league the Pequots were seeking with the Narragansetts, 
and succeeded in forming an alliance between the English, the 
Narragansetts and the Mohegans against the Pequot power. 
Immediately afterward Miantonomi, at the request of Governor 
Vane, went up to Boston, taking with him two sons of Canonicus 


and a large train of attendants. He was received with military 
honors, and after the conclusion of a formal treaty of alliance, 
departed with the same honors. But it does not seem that the 
Indian prince put great faith in the English. 

Williams wrote in the spring of 1637, just before the depart- 
ure of Miantonomi on the expedition against the Pequot fort, 
that Miantonomi had visited him with a great train and that the 
ISTarragansetts were "at present doubtful of reality in all our 
promises." After the complete success of the expedition his 
trust seems to have been strengthened, for Williams then wrote, 
" If I mistake not I observe in Miantonomi some sparks of true 
friendship, could it be deeply imprinted into him that the 
English never intended to dispoil him of the country, I prob- 
ably conjecture his friendship would appear in attending of us 
with five hundred men (in case) against any foreign enemy;" 
and yet the proposal made by Miantonomi at this time that 
Governor Vane would send some English to take possession of 
the Pequot country and there inhabit does not seem to justify 
this hesitation. 

Miantonomi proposed that the English should inhabit near 
the Connecticut and leave the Narragansetts free to hunt in the 
neighborhood of Mystic on their own immediate border; but to 
Williams' answer that the English might inhabit and the In- 
dians be free to hunt in the same places Miantonomi made no 
objection — "this satisfied." As Miantonomi was bold in war 
so he was generous in victory. It was he that proposed to his 
Massachusetts allies that "if the Governor were so minded they 
(the Narragansetts) incline to mercy and to give them (the 
Pequots) their lives;" and in all the negotiations that followed 
he showed a high souled nature. In all the preceding j'-ears, 
he said, "we never killed nor consented to the death of an 

The destruction of the Pequot stronghold left the range of 
country between thePawtuxet and the Connecticut rivers with- 
out any certain jurisdiction. The Mohegans on the one side 
and the Narragansetts on the other roamed over it in pursuit of 
the scattered Pequots and not seldom came to blows themselves 
over their captives. This continued warfare was a source of 
alarm to the English, who were never at ease when any of the 
Indians were on the war path. Miantonomi, anxious that his 
good faith should not be doubted, proposed a visit to the Massa- 


chusetts governor, "if he may safely go." Williams assured 
him of good treatment. He returned satisfied of their good 
intentions. In his gratitude for Governor Winthrop's " loving 
carriage" to Mm, he ordered all the Indians oflP from Prudence 
island, which had been given to Williams and Winthrop, and 
upon which they were about to commence a little plantation for 
the drying of fish and the breeding of hogs. 

The Pequot war ended with the murder of Sassacus, their 
chief sachem, by theMohegans, to whom he had fiedfor shelter, 
and the division of the survivors of the tribe as slaves among 
the conquerors. The share of the Narragansetts Miantonomi 
left to the wisdom of Governor Winthrop. The correspondence 
of Williams shows that the Narragansetts, though they had a 
principal share in the captures, were not liberally treated in the 
division; Miantonomi's request for a Pequot squaw being 
haggled over if not refused. Nor does Williams' own temper 
seem to have been over kindly, as he advises Winthrop " if there 
be any just exception (to their demands) which they can not 
well answer that the use be made of it (if it may be with safety 
to the common peace) to get the bits into their mouths especi- 
ally if there be good assurance from the Mohawks." Of the 
possible enmity of this powerful confederacy the New England 
colonies were in daily dread. There was a bitter qaarrel over the 
disposal of the captives. The Mohegans on the one side and the 
Man tics on the other wished for the additional strength this 
recruitment would bring to them. The Niantics refused to 
yield up any of those to whom they had promised life, either 
to the Mohegans or to the Connecticut government who sup- 
ported their Mohegan allies in all their demands. Canonicus 
and Miantonomi in vain endeavored to persuade the Niantics 
to give up the Pequots, but they in turn threatened that for 
every life the English should take they would have revenge 
even in the settlements of P'rudence, Aquidneck, Providence 
and elsewhere. 

In 1640 Uncas, the Mohegan chief, having captured three 
Niantics, refused to give them up and Miantonomi determined 
to go himself with a sufficient force to Monhegan (Norwich) and 
bring them in. The Massachusetts government again summoned 
Miantonomi before them but he declined, not satisfied with in- 
terpreters \Vhom he feared to trust, or to go up without being 
accompanied by Williams. Yet in all this period he lost no 


opportunity of propitiating the, governor by an exchange of 
gifts. Canonicus and he sent beads to Winthrop and Mianto- 
nomi's wife a "basket" to Mrs. Winthrop. "In return Ca- 
nonicus asks for little sugar and Miantonomi for a littje 
powder." In August of this year the general court of Massa- 
chusetts summoned the sachems to answer charges of a con- 
spiracy with the Mohawks against the colonies. These charges 
originated in Connecticut. Miantonomi answered in person, 
accused Uncas of the malicious intrigue, and entirely satisfied 
the court. 

In 1642 Roger Williams sent to England to obtain a charter 
which might compose the dissensions of the Rhode Island set- 
tlements at home and secure theni against the threatening ag- 
gressions of their neighbors of Massachusetts and Connecticut. 
In the summer of this year a war broke out between Uncas, 
sachem of the Mohegans, and Sequasson, a sachem on the Con- 
necticut river, an ally of the ISTarragansetts. The English de- 
clined to interfere. Miantonomi, before going to the aid of his 
allies, faithful to his old engagement, sent to the governor of 
Massachusetts "to know if he would be offended, if he made 
war on Uncas," and was answered "If Uncas had done him or 
his friends wrong and would not give satisfaction we should 
leave him to take his own course." In July, 1643, Uncas began 
the war against Sequasson. Miantonomi, with a thousand 
braves, took the trail across the country toward Monhegan and 
came upon Uncas at a place about a mile and a half southwest 
of the Yantic river. According to tradition Uncas sent a mes- 
senger across the space which lay between the forces and asked 
an interview. Miantonomi is said to have consented but to 
have been outwitted by a stratagem of the wily Pequot, and the 
Narragansetts being thrown into panic by a sudden charge, fell 
prisoner, being now no longer young, to his fleeter footed ene- 
mies and was carried by Uncas to his fort hard by. No violence 
was at the time offered to him. He was soon after taken by 
Uncas to Hartford, where he was held prisoner for judgment by 
the commissioners of the United Colonies. He was taken in 

His defeat was ascribed by the good people of Connecticut to 
the prayers of their minister, Thomas Hooker, who was reck- 
oned by the colony as the "Moses who turned away the wrath 
of Grod from them and obtained a blast from heaven upon the 


Indians by his uplifted hands in those remarkable deliverances 
which they sometimes experienced." On the occasion of this 
war in which, it must not be forgotten, the English took no 
part, the "Magnatia" says: "Much notice was taken of the 
prevailing importunity wherewith Mr. Hooker urged for the ac- 
complishment of that great promise unto the people of Grod ' I 
will bless them that bless thee and I will curse him that curseth 
thee,' and the effect of it was that the Narragansetts received a 
wonderful overthrow from the Mohegans though the former did 
three or four to one exceed the latter. Such an Israel at prayer 
was our Hooker." 

The united commissioners met at Boston in August, when the 
case of Miantonomi was debated. They were all of opinion 
that "it would not be safe to set him at liberty neither had we 
sufficient ground to put him to death. In this difficulty we 
called in five of the most judicious elders and propounding the 
case to them, they all agreed that he ought to be put to death; 
and we agreed that upon the return of the commissioners to 
Hartford they should send for Uncas and tell him our determi- 
nation that Miantonomi should be delivered to him again and he 
should put him to death so soon as he came within his own ju- 
risdiction, and that two English should go along with him to see 
the execution and that if any Indians should invade him for it 
we should send men to defend him." It is to be regretted that 
the names of these elders are not known and that they escape 
their proper place in the pillory of history. The reason for the 
hatred of the elders to the Indian prince was the sale he had 
made of the Shawomet country to Gorton, the proscribed her- 
etic of the Massachusetts colony, and the consent of the com- 
missioners to the mnrder, their jealousy of the Narragansett 
power and their desire to promote animosity among the Indian 
tribes. With such a cause of quarrel and the aid of the Mohe- 
gan power, they might repeat upon the Narragan setts the story 
of the Pequot destruction five years before. It is said that the 
commissioners stipulated with Uncas that Miantonomi should 
not be tortured, but proof is lacking of any such humanity. It 
is of tradition that Uncas took Miantonomi back to the spot 
where he had been overtaken, when his head was cloven with a 
hatchet from behind and he was buried where he fell. A heap 
of stones was raised about his body, which disappeared many 
years after. Some citizens of Norwich have erected on the tra- 


ditional spot a monument about eight feet high, a solid cube of 
granite five feet square on a massive pedestal; with the simple 
inscription, "Miantonomi, 1643." 

Thus fell the " noble souled," high spirited chief, whom Hop- 
kins calls " the most potent prince the people of New England 
had any concern with; and this was the reward he received for 
assisting them seven years before in their wars with the 

Pessicds was the son of Mascus, the youngest of the brothers 
of Canonicus, and himself the brother of Miantonomi. After 
the murder of that prince in 1643 he shared the sovereignty of 
the Narragansetts with his uncle, now well advanced in years. 
His name first appears in an official way as " Chief Sachem and 
successor of that late deceased" Miantonomi, in the letter of 
submission to King Charles. Next in order comes the mark of 
" that ancient Canonicus, Protector of that late deceased Mian- 
tonomy during the time of iiis nonage," after which the " marke 
of Mixan, son and heire of that above said Canonicus." The 
mark of Pessicus is a strung bow and arrow, the head pointed 
downward, the mark of Mixan a hatchet or tomahawk, while 
that of the old chief is the familiar carpenter's instrument 
known as a T square. The act or deed, as it is styled in the 
record, was witnessed by two of the chief counsellors to sachem 
Pessicus; Awashoosse and Tomanic, Indians. It will be observed 
that Pessicus signed first in order. Tlie paper is dated the 19th 
of April, 1644. It is followed on the record by a letter sent to 
the general court of Massachusetts on the 24th of May, 1644, 
which is signed by Pessicus and Canonicus, the formality of 
the signature of young Mixan probably being deemed un- 

The power of the government was wholly in the hands of 
Pessicus. It fell to him when the affairs of the tribe were in a 
difficult financial and political situation. Financially they were 
impoverished by the large amount of wampumpeage they had 
paid and paid in vain for the ransom of Miantonomi. Politically 
the authority of the sachems was compromised by the contempt 
of their power which this breach of faith implied, and further 
by the disloyalty of Pumham in his denial of the validity of 
the sale made in 1642 by Miantonomi, as sachem of Shawomet, 
which he himself witnessed, and his more recent submission to 
the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. This act brought theNarra- 


gansett chiefs face to face with the powerful and merciless 
Massachusetts colony; the general court of which improved the 
pretext thus given them, and which no doubt was of their own 
suggestion, to gain a footing on the shores and in the affairs of 
Rhode Island and "an outlet into Narragansett bay." 

Gorton and his followers, who made the purchase of Mianto- 
nomi, were forcibly ejected from their settlement and banished 
on peril of their lives. After confinement at hard labor for a- 
while the leaders were released, but, being notified by Governor 
Winthrop that their own purchased territory was included in 
the ban, they took refuge at Aquidneck. The occasion seemed 
propitious to Canonicus and Pessicus. Messengers were sent 
to invite Gorton and his friends to visit the Narragansett chiefs 
assembled in council on the island of Conanicut. The question 
before this conference was one of the jurisdiction of Canonicus 
as against the claim of a subordinate sachem, Pumham; of Gor- 
ton and his associates as to the title to the land they had pur- 
chased and paid for. The result was the formal act of sub- 
mission to King Charles. "Our desire is," they say, " to have 
our matters and causes heard and tried according to his just and 
equal laws in that way and order His Highness shall please to 
appoint; nor can we yield ever ourselves unto any that are sub- 
jects themselves in any case; having ourselves been the chief 
sachems or princ'es successively of the country time out of 
mind." This voluntary and free submission, as they styled it, 
was placed in the hands of Gorton, who, with three others, his 
associates, were made attornies or commissioners for the safe 
custody, careful conveyance and declaration thereof unto his 
Grace. Gorton is supposed to have gone to England with this 
document in the ensuing winter. 

After their murder of Miantonomi the general court of Massa- 
chusetts summoned the Narragansett chiefs to appear before it. 
To this Pessicus and Canonicus replied with a formal notice of 
their submission to King Charles and of their intention to refer 
any disputes to his royal decision. They decline to go up to 
the court and assign as their sufficient reason "Our brother 
(Miantonomi) was willing to stir much abroad to converse with 
men and we see a sad event at the last thereupon. Take it 
not ill therefore though we resolve to keep at home (unless some 
great necessity calls us out) and so at this time do not repair 
unto you according to your request." They give plain notice. 


however, that they intend to take revenge for the death of 
Miantonomi, and ask to know why they are advised " not to go 
out against their so inhuman and cruel adversary who took so 
great a ransom to release him and his life also when that was 
done." Alarmed at the new posture of affairs, the general court 
sent messengers to dissuade the Narragansetts from war. 
Pumham and Sacconoco, who had played the same part at 
Pawtuxet as the wily savage had done at Shawomet, were so 
fearful of punishment that they applied for and received a guard 
of soldiers from Massachusetts. In reply to the message of the 
court, the Narragansetts sent messengers to the commissioners 
of the United Colonies demanding the payment by Uncas of 
one hundred and sixty fathoms of wampum or a new hearing 
of the case within six weeks, threatening war in case of re- 

In the spring the Narragansetts, one thousand strong, and 
partly armed with guns, defeated Uncas and his Mohegans with 
slaughter. The Connecticut colony sent troops to the aid of 
their old ally. Both the tribes were summoned to Boston to 
ex[)lain the cause of the troubles. Terms of neutrality were 
agreed upon between Rhode Island and the Indians, and a con- 
tinuation of the war was inevitable, although Roger Williams 
again exerted himself for peace. The Narragansetts were de- 
termined on the thorough subjection of Uncas. The United 
Colonies now declared war, sent back the peace offerings of the 
Narragansetts, who sought no quarrel with any but the Mohe- 
gans, and mounted troops were impressed and sent forward un- 
der Lieutenant Atherton. The Narragansetts, alarmed in their 
turn, sought for peace. Roger Williams, accompanied by Pes- 
sicus, two other sachems and a large Indian train, went up to 
Boston. Disappointed in their hope of exterminating the Nar- 
ragansetts by war, the commissioners imposed upon them a 
treaty which was their ruin. An indemnity was imposed upon 
them of two thousand fathoms of wampum, to be paid within 
two years, in four equal installments; each, it will be observed, 
three times and more the amount demanded of the Mohegans 
by the Narragansetts. They were required to give up all right 
to the Pequot territory, originally a part of their own domain, 
and recovered in great measure by their arms. 

The next year (1647) the Narragansetts were charged with an 
attempt to engage the Mohawks in a war with the English. 


Canonicus, dying in June of this year, left Pessicus in sole 
command, aided, however, by young Mexham, the grandson of 
the old chief. Pessicus was summoned to Boston, but in his 
stead sent Ninegret, whom they held as a hostage until some wam- 
pum was forced from him. The ensuing installments not being 
forthcoming, Captain Atherton, who seems to have been about 
the most brutal of the unscrupulous henchmen of the United 
Colonies, was sent with an armed band to collect it by force. 
Surprising Pessicus in his wigwam before he could summon as- 
sistance, he dragged him out by the hair of his head, and col- 
lected the debt in true highwayman fashion at the point of his 
pistol. Arnold considers this a courageous act, but we fail to 
see the courage in surprising an unarmed man, while holding 
his assistants at bay through fear of the murder of their chief. 
For his conduct, on this occasion Captain Atherton was given a 
farm of five hundred acres, carved out of the lately stolen and 
newly annexed possessions at Warwick (Shawomet). 

Both Warwick and Pawtuxet were now attached to Ply- 
mouth by the commissioners of the United Colonies. 

There is an entry on the Rhode Island records. May 23d, 
1650, which shows the change in the attitude of the colonists to 
the Narragansetts princes which ten years had wrought. It is 
an order "that Pessicus shall have libertie to get t so many 
chesnut rinds, upon the common of the Island as may cover 
him a wigwam ; provided he take John Greene with him that 
no wrong may be done to any particular person upon the is- 
land." In 1653 the council of Massachusetts sent messengers 
to question the JSTarragansett princes, among whom Mexham, 
son of Canonicus, now appears for the first time, and to de- 
mand reasons why they had taken up arms against the Long 
Islanders. A satisfactory answer not being received, war was 
declared by the United Colonies, but Massachusetts held back, 
refusing her quota. 

In 1660 the commissioners of the United Colonies completed 
their work of spoliation. Under the pretense that the Mohe- 
gans had been injured by the Narragansetts they sent down an 
armed force, with instructions to collect a fine of five hundred 
and ninety-five fathoms of wampum within four months. To 
raise this sum the sachems mortgaged their entire country to a 
company consisting of Mr. John Winthrop (the governor of 
Connecticut), Major Atherton and their associates, who had al- 


ready purchased the previous year the northern tract known as 
Narragansett country and Coweset country ; but the signature 
of Pessicus does not appear in this instrument. In 1661, how- 
ever, we find his supreme authority again in his denial of the 
right of Ninegret, the Niantic sachem, to the Misquamicut 
lands lately conveyed to a party of settlers. In 1665 the three 
royal commissioners appointed to settle all the colonial dis- 
pates, arrived at Pettaquamscot. The Narragansett sachems 
confirmed their submission to the crown, and the commissioners 
set up a new authority in the king's name over the entire terri- 
tory, from the bay to the Pawcatuck river, under the name of 
the "King's Province," the Rhode Island charter recognizing 
the validity of the Indian titles to the soil. The governor and 
council of Rhode Island were appointed magistrates until the 
May election. And what was of supreme importance, the 
mortgaged lands held by the Atherton company were ordered 
to be released on the payment of two hundred and thirty-five 
fathoms of peage by Pessicus or Ninecraft, the purchase of the 
tracts being declared void for lack of consideration of the deed 
and because of prior cession to the crown. 

In the report sent to England by the commissioners the same 
year they state that two of the sachems then living did actually 
in their own persons surrender themselves, people and country, 
into his royal majesty's protection before his commissioners, 
who had made the submission in 1644. To each of them a coat 
was presented in the name of his majesty. They in turn en- 
gaged thereafter, in token of subjection, to pay a tribute of two 
wolf skins to his majesty on a fixed day, and by the commis- 
sioners they then sent to the king two caps of peage and two 
clubs inlaid with peage as a present, and a feather mantle and a 
porcupine bag as a present for the queen. Pessicus also de- 
sired the commissioners to pray King Charles that no strong 
liquors might be brought into that country, for he had thirty- 
two men that died by drinking of it. At that time Ninecraft 
seems to have divided the authority with Pessicus. Pumham, 
however, maintained his independent position, and in spite of 
all the efforts of the English commissioners, declined to submit 
to Pessicus. He was supported in his resistance for twenty 
years by the counsel and force of the Massachusetts colony. 

With this account of the commissioners Pessicus disappears 
from the scene. -What part he played in the great war in which 


his kinsman, Canonchet, led the tribe is not known. Updike, 
in his account of this chieftain, says that " he was piit to death 
by the Mohawks in 3 676." 

Canonchet — Naunnnteno, "as he was last called," says 
Drake in his notes to Church's narrative, was the last sachem 
of the race of Narragansett princes. His name does not appear 
at all on the records of the Rhode Island colony. He was noted 
for his enmity to the English race, for which he had good and 
sufficient cause. His name appears first of the six subscribing 
sachems of the Narragansetts to the treaty forced upon them by 
Captain Hutchinson on behalf of the Massachusetts government, 
at the point of the sword at Petaquamscott in July, 1675. By 
this treaty they agreed to harbor none of King Philip's people 
in the course of the war which had broken out in the spring. 
The tribe as a whole kept to their engagement but it is proba- 
ble that some of their young braves had a hand in the hot fights 
of this battle summer. 

On the defeat at Hatfield (Connecticut) Philip's forces dis- 
persed, and as winter was now approaching, the greater part re- 
treated to Narragansett where they were warmly received by 
Canonchet and his tribe. The United Colonies, dreading that 
the IS'arragansetts would join Philip in the spring, summoned 
them to surrender Philip's men and the women and children he 
had put under their protection. To this Canonchet gave the 
spirited and famous reply: " Not a Wampanoag nor the paring 
of a Wampanoag' s nail shall be given up." No word of notice 
was given to the Rhode Island colony, and the entire proceed- 
ing of Massachusetts, this demand and the hostilities which fol- 
lowed, were in direct disregard and contravention of the char- 
ter of Rhode Island, in which it was explicitly declared " not 
lawful for the rest of the colonies to invade or molest the native 
Indians without the knowledge and consent of the Governor 
and Company of the Providence Plantations." 

The three colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Connecti- 
cut raised eleven hundred and thirty-five men, including one 
hundred and fifty Mohegans and Pequots, and marched under 
the command of General Winslow, the governor of the Ply- 
mouth colony, upon the winter fortress of the Narragansetts, 
-about fifteen miles distant from Wickfordin the present town of 
South Kingstown, R. I., hardly a stone's throw from the line of 
the Stonington railroad, " but then the center of an impassable 


swamp upon soma rising ground containing about four acres of 
land. It was securely hid by tall junipers which, with the 
cedar and pine, formed the intricacies of the place, and was 
fortified with great ingenuity and strength. * * * Upon the 
approach of winter the tribe had removed to this fortress all 
their women and children and had rendered it as impregnable 
as their knowledge of defensive warfare could possibly make it. 
They had erected about live hundred wigwams of a superior 
construction, in which their provisions were stored, and had 
piled the tubs and baskets of grain around inside of the walls, 
making their dwellings still more impervious to the bullets of 
their enemies. The tubs were made of hollow trees cut or sawed 
into suitable lengths, with a wooden bottom. More than three 
thousand persons had taken refuge within these huts. * * * 
The passage over the ditch that surrounded the fort was by a 
single tree which had been felled, on which all must pass to 
gain the opposite side. * '• * Besides the high palisades the 
Indians were protected by a breastwork of fallen trees about a 
rod in thickness, which extended entirely around the fortress, 
their tops foremost." 

This was the scene of the celebrated swamp fight of the 19th 
of December, 167i5, the most hardly contested and bloody con- 
test in the early history of the colonies. The English lost 
about eighty killed and one hundred and fifty wounded; the 
Indians three hundred to three hundred and fifty slain and as 
many more captured. Church, in his narrative, says that he 
was informed at the time that " near a third of the Indians be- 
longing to all the Narragansett country were killed by the En- 
glish and by the cold of that night;" and adds that "sixty or 
seventy were from Pumham's town of Shawomet who never be- 
fore then fired a gun against the English." Nor in fact do the 
histories of the colonies contain mention of one single act of 
hostility by the Narragansetts upon any of the colonies until 
this invasion of their home and territory. 

It is not probable that Philip was in this fight. If he were, 
Church, who acted as aid to General Winslow, would certainly 
have known it and his son, who wrote the history of Philip's 
war, would have made mention of it. It seems hardly possible, 
as he was in force enough in January to plunder Warwick and 
desolate the neighborhood on his way up to the Nipmuck coun- 
try, but it is certain that Canonchet commanded his tribe in the 


last grand struggle, and that he was with Philip in the ensuing 

The Narragansetts sued for peace but the Massachusetts col- 
ony refused the overture and marched reinforcements into the 
territory. Canonchet accompanied Philip in his invasion of the 
Massachusetts colony. He is supposed to have commanded at 
the bloody attacks upon Lancaster and Medfield, and in the 
raid upon Weymouth within fifteen miles of Boston in Febru- 
ary, and it is certain that he led the party which surrounded 
and destroyed in March the party of Captain Pierce, whom he 
surprised on his way to attack him at Pawtuxet. Such was 
the terror in Providence, which the Indians nearly destroyed, 
that the records preserve the names of but " thirty that stayed 
and went not away." Among these was Roger Williams, of 
v^hom the tradition is preserved that he went out alone to meet 
the approaching savages and was kindly received. As Canon- 
chet commanded at Pawtucket falls on the 26th of March and 
the burning of Providence was on the 29th, there is little doubt 
that it was Canonchet who thus remembered the ancient friend- 
ship of Canonicus and Miantonomi for the venerable founder of 
the Providence Plantations. 

The whole colony was now in terror; gunboats patrolled the 
island. But the alarm was now widespread and from every 
quarter troops marched to the center of hostilities. In April 
Colonel George Denison led a force of English and Mohegans 
from 'New London along the old Indian trail, across the Pawca- 
tuck ford, through Westerly and the heart of the Narragansett 
territory, and came upon Canonchet near the Pawtucket river, 
close to the spot where nine days before he had destroyed Cap- 
tain Pierce and his party. Canonchet was surprised in his tent. 
Flying in haste, he missed his footing in the ford of the river 
and wet his gun. He was overtaken and captured " without 
resistance, though a man of great strength," by one of the 
Pequots. A young Englishman coming up to him asked him 
some questions but was answered, " You too much child! No 
understand matters of war! Captain conie; him I will answer." 
He was offered his life on condition of the submission of his 
tribe. He would not listen to the proposal, wished " to hear no 
more about it." 

Drake, in his notes to Church's narrative, says "he was 
afterward shot at Stonington." Arnold says that "he was sent 



in charge of Captain Denison to Stonington where a council of 
war condemned him to be shot." But Mr. C. H. Denison, 
from whom free quotations have already been made above, 
says: "The army continued its march (homeward) until 
it reached and crossed the Pawcatuck the ford where 
the present bridge is situated, and after advancing about two 
miles came to a halt on a small plain. A council of war was 
now held by the captains, assisted by the Rev. James Noyes, 
whose residence was at hand, and it was decided that the 
prisoner must be shot. While they were deliberating, a mat 
was spread for him to sit upon, and while resting upon it one 
of the soldiers sat down by him and looking him in his face 
insultingly while he was speaking, he took it in such indigna- 
tion that although his arms were pinioned, he gave the man 
such a violent thrust or blow that the fellow went sprawling 
along the ground. The plain which was destined to be the 
spot where the noble chief should be executed is about two 
miles from Westerly, R. I., toward Mystic, and is now known 
as Anquilla. When told that he must die and that his last 
hour had arrived the chief said, ' T like it well; I shall die be 
fore my heart is soft or I have said anything unworthy of my- 
self.' * * Two Indians were appointed to fulfill the order of 
the court. The whole army stood to their arms, a quick, sharp 
word of command was given and a report of two muskets echoed 
among the surrounding hills. Down, like a tall pine stricken 
by a thunder bolt, fell the stately form of the Narragansett 
chief. With a loud, exultant whoop, the Niantics, Mohegans 
and Pequots, traitors to their race, rushed upon the fallen foe 
and the work of death was finished. He was quartered, be- 
headed and his body burned by the Indians, who carried his 
head to Hartford and presented it to the governor," 

Arnold gives some other interesting details. He says, "To 
insure the fidelity of the friendly tribes by committing them 
to a deed that would forever deter the Narragansetts from 
seeking their alliance, it was arranged that each of them should 
take part in the execution. Accordingly the Pequots shot him, 
the Mohegans cut off his head and quartered him and the 
Niantics who, under Ninegret, joined the English, burned his 
body and sent his head as ' a token of love ' and loyalty to the 
commissioners at Hartford." In the story of these barbarities 
there is little difference between the English and the savages. 


The English, however, do not seem to have tortured their cap- 
tives but to have reserved this mode of punishment for their 
religious enemies or antagonists of their own race. 

PuMHAM was a Narragansett Indian; the local sachem of that 
tribe of the nation which inhabited the country about Warwick 
neck in Kent county. His own residence was on the neck. 
This land was sold by Miantonomi, sachem of the Narragansetts, 
on the 12th day of January, 1642, for four hundred and ftfty- 
four fathom of wampumpeage. Totanomans joins in the con- 
veyance, though his name does not appear in the body of the 
instrument; Pumham and Jano being witnesses to the deed. 
The purchasers were Holden and eleven others, among whom 
was Samuel Gorton, whose eccentric career is stated elsewhere. 
The land conveyed is described as "lying upon the West side 
of that part of the Sea called Sowhames Bay from Copassnatuet, 
over against a little Island in the said Bay being the North 
bonnds and the outmost point of that neck of land called 
Shawomet; being the South bound from the Sea Shore from 
each boundary upon a straight line westward twenty miles." 
It maybe observed here that as in all the deeds or titles granted 
to the whites, this deed is made by the chief sachem or prince 
of the nation, the local sachem simply witnessing the transfer. 
Arnold, in his History of Rhode Island, estimates the consid- 
ei-ation as the equivalent of seventy-two pounds sterling, if 
black peage is meant, or half that sum if white. It was prob- 
ably the black peage, the ordinary currency. 

With this sale Pumham, the sachem of Shawomet, was dis- 
contented. He seems to have been attached to his lands and to 
have striven to maintain his own residence and that of his tribe 
upon them. The weakness of the young colonies on the Narra- 
gansett territory and their inability to aid their allies, Canonious 
and Miantonomi, in any effective way, were apparent. In his 
discontent Pumham followed the example set by Ousamequin 
(Massasoit), chief of the Wampanoags, and together with the 
sachem of Pawtuxet, submitted himself and his lands to the 
jurisdiction of Massachusetts. He at the time denied having 
consented to the sale of Shawomet or having received any part 
of the purchase money. Thirteen years later, in 1656, he 
pleaded having been drawn into the covenant by the awe of his 
superior sachems, to which Eoger Williams made answer that 
"it was the law and tenor of the natives in all New England 


and America, viz: that the inferior sachems and subjects shall 
plant and remove at the pleasure of the highest and supreme 
sachems." And again, in 1665, Pumham and his tribe are 
described by the same authority as "a melancholy people and 
judge themselves by their former sachem [Miantonomi] and 
these English oppressed and wronged." 

The submission to Massachusetts brought protection to Pum- 
ham, but little peace or enjoyment of his lands. The charter 
of 1643 distinctly placing this territory within the Providence 
Plantations, the only hoi:)e of Massachusetts to secure a footing 
on JSTarragansett bay was through the usurped jurisdiction over 
the tribe of Shawomet. In 1645 the general court of Massa- 
chusetts granted ten thousand acres of the lands of Pumham 
to thirty-two persons, and Benedict Arnold was appointed to 
negotiate with the sachem for the right in any improved ground. 
The houses in the Holden-Grorton settlement granted by Mian- 
tonomi were included in this new grant on such payment, if 
any, as the general court shoiald order. Plymouth also claimed 
the land as within her jurisdiction, and surely with as much 
right as Massachusetts, if the original title of the supreme 
prince were to be disregarded. 

The return of Gorton from exile, the determination of Rhode 
Island to maintain her rights under the charter, and the direct 
submission of Canonicus and Pessicus and the Narragansett 
kingdom to the English crown, were of perilous omen to Pum- 
ham, and his fear of the anger of his inferior sachems in view 
of the threatened renewal of war with theMohegans, so alarmed 
him that he applied to Massachusetts for a guard, in response 
to which an officer and ten men were sent to build a fort and 
hold it for his protection until danger was over. 

In 1649 the general court for Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations meeting at Warwick, summoned "Pumham and the 
other sachem (Sacconoco) and ordered letters to be sent to Bene- 
dict Arnold and the rest of Patuxet" about their subjecting to 
the colony of Rhode Island. Pumham does not appear to have 
paid much regard to their summons, and Warwick neck seems 
to have become a thorn in the side of the colony. In 1655 
Roger Williams, at that time president of Providence Planta- 
tions, complained to the general court of Massachusetts of the 
insolence and injuries done to themselves and their cattle by the 
Warwick and Pawtuxet Indians under shelter of the authority 


of Massachusetts. "These Indians," he says, "live as bar- 
barously, if not more than any in the country;" and he adds, 
to show the general condition of affairs at that period, "The 
barbarians all the land over are filled with artillery and ammu- 
nition from the Dutch openly and horridly, and from all the 
English over the country by stealth." 

The next year, 1656, on the complaints of the War^-ick set- 
tlers of oppression by Indians, a committee, including Roger 
Williams, Benedict Arnold and Gorton, was named to treat 
with " Pum ham and his company." Williams went to Boston 
and wrote to the court a month or two later that his negotiations 
with the sachem were progressing favorably. That the accord was 
not of long duration appears by the order of the general court 
in 1658 for any that see cause to arrest Pumham, "who dwells on 
Mishowamett Neck," or any other Indians upon Warwick lands. 
His^ men had been again busy killing cattle and making forci- 
ble entry on the settlers' lands. And the next year the sheriffs 
had warrants to arrest Pumham himself and any other Indians 
concerned in an insurrection at Warwick, and the rescue of an 
Indian there as well as a robbery at Pawtuxet. 

In 1664, on the receipt of their new charter from Charles the 
Second, and the sufficient assurance that its terms would be en- 
forced, the general court of Rhode Island, on the petition of 
the Warwick inhabitants, gave notice to Pumham by letter 
from the governor and deputy governor that "he was within 
the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island colony, and that he must 
take some speedy course to remove the difference betwixt the 
men of Warwick and himself concerning lands, or else he may 
expect that upon a legal trial the Courts of the Colony are re- 
solved to do justice in the premises." But the determined old 
sachem still refused to leave Shawomet neck, the home of his 
fathers ; and it was not until the king's commissioners came 
into the province to settle the outstanding disputes between the 
colonists themselves and with the Indians, that he was finally 
induced to remove. These commissioners, according to their 
instructions, entered upon the Xarragansett territory and 
named it the King's Province. In their report they state that 
" the Matachusetts did maintain Pumham fa petty sachem in 
the province) twenty years against this (R. Island) Colony." 
The commissioners in April ordered that Pumham and liis In- 
dians should that year plant their corn on the neck, but before 


the next planting remove to some other place out of the 
King's Province provided for them by such as they have ' 
subjected themselves unto (a reference to Massachusetts) or to 
some other place within the King's Province appointed for them 
by Pessicus, their rightful prince. On his removal the courts 
of Warwick to pay him twenty pounds at eight a penny, and 
if he and his tribe subject themselves to Pessicus, then the town 
of Warwick to give ten "pounds at eight a penny as a present. 
And it seems that Cheesechamut, eldest son of Pumham, hav- 
ing received thirty pounds in peage, at eight a penny, from the 
gentlemen of Warwick, and the promise of ten pounds more 
in like pay, engaged to depart from and quit the tract of land 
known as Warwiclv neck, as also that province now called the 
Kings Province, formerly the Narragansett country, imme- 
diately on the receipt of the said ten pounds, and not at any 
time thereafter to return to inhabit in the aforesaid place or 
places. This acquittance and agreement, signed at ''Mr. 
Smith's ti'ading house," at J^arragansett, was signed by Cheese- 
chamut, Nauswahcoraet and Assowaet, in the presence of a 
number of witnesses, of which Robert Carr, the king's commis- 
sioner, was one. December 28th, 1665, the additional ten 
pounds was paid by Robert Carr himself to help along the ne- 
gotiation, and on his advice the final sum was paid by Gorton 
and his Warwick associates. 

Pumham would not or at least did not join in this agreement, 
although he is said to have taken the ten pounds from the 
Warwick people, and did not leave the neck, although formally 
ordered in a requisition addressed by Sir Robert Carr, "To 
Pumham, pretended Sachem on Warwick Xeck and his adher- 
ents." Pumham had endeavored to interest his Massachusetts 
friends, and John Eliot himself had written to Carr interceding 
for him, saying, " Pnmham and his i)eople have suffered much 
hard and ill dealings by some English ; and there hath been 
both force and fraud used toward them to drive them or deceive 
them out of their lands." Eliot adds that the}" are in no wise 
willing to part wdth that little which they still hold, and be- 
seeches Carr, as the king's commissioner, to deal honorably by 
them ; to whicli Carr replied that, at their hearing of the case, 
he had heard nothing of hard and ill dealings to Pumham and 
his people, nor did he understand whom it was intended to ac- 
cuse, and raps Eliot severely over the knuckles for his interfer- 


ence. And Roger Williams also, in llie March succeeding the 
order to remove, notifies Sir Rjberr Carr of his • having heard 
of a late confederacy amongst great numbers of rliese barbarians 
to assist Pamham."' 

There is nothing more curious in the whole of this curious 
history of Indian dispn res as ro sovereignty and English dis- 
putes as to jurisdiction, than this letter of Eciger Williams. It is 
printed in the Rhode Island Colonial Records, 11. 135. In it he 
calls Shawomet Pnmham's "Lordship."" and insists on a satis- 
factory consideration for it: a matter of some hundreds of 
pounds. He stares that in his negotiations with Pumham "'he 
would not part with that necke on any terms." He intimates 
that the ^Xarragansett chiefs. Xinecraft and Pessicus. were bar- 
barians who would join against the English if it came to blood. 
but adds that if -King Philip keep his promise they will be too 
great a party against those Sachems:"' the firsr intimation had 
of Philip's ijower. One clause is especially significant in Roger 
Williams" notice: '• Tour honor will never effect by force a safe 
and lasting conclusion until you have first reduced rhe Massachu- 
setts to the obedience of his Majestie and these their appendants 
("towed at their stern) will easily (and not before) wind about 

A year after the hearing and supposed settlement at Warwick, 
Sir Robert Carr informed Lord Arlington of his attempted ar- 
rangement with Pumham and the unwillingness of that chief to 
submit to Pessicus. but stated that the matter had been finally 
arranged by Roger Williams, " an ancient man "" who was " very 
much instrumental in forwarding Pumham'' s removal, who with 
his company are removed"" to general satisfaction. Arnold, in 
summing up this part of Pumham" s career, styles Pumham " a 
renegade" and •' the abject slave of the Puritans " oT the Massa- 
chusetts colony, but this the records scarcely show: and it is 
questionable whether, as in the case of Xinegret, had the Xar- 
ragansett princes not disposed of their territory, they would 
have proven false to their tribal duties as subordinate sachems. 
That he was not the "abject slave"' of the English is shown by 
the readiness with which he joined the confederate chiefs wbo 
flocked to Philip's side in the spring of 167.5. 

When the Massachusetts commissioners marched into the 
iSarragansett territory they found the 'villages in Pumham" s 
district " deserted, from which it is to be supposed that he had 


been provided with lands somewhere in the King's Province. 
That he had been reconciled with the Narragansett chiefs ap- 
pears from the fact that he was one of tlie six sachems who 
"treated with the Narragansetts sword in hand" in July, 
and subscribed the treaty of peace, which they broke without 
hesitation the moment the overawing force was withdrawn. He 
had composed his difficulties with Warwick or else returned to 
that neighborhood in the progress of the war, as Church states 
in his narrative that General Winslow, on his march against 
the Narragansetts in the winter campaign, marched around that 
township by night instead of crossing the bay to Smith's gar- 
rison house at the ferry (Wickford) in the hope of surprising 
Pumham and his town, but found them gone. His village was 
destroyed at this time, a few days before the swamp fight. It is 
not known whether Pamham was engaged in this last great 
stand of the JSTarragansets, when Canoachet, the son of Mianto- 
nomi, led his nation. Pumham was killed at the head of his 
warriors on the 25th of July, 1676, in a fight near Dedham, 
Massachusetts. Trumbull says that his grandson, who was 
f^steemed the best soldier and the most warlike of the Narra- 
gansett chiefs, had before this been taken by Ca^Dtain Denison. 
Thus says Arnold: "Pamham efiEaced the stain of a servile life 
by a manly death." We heartily agree in the conclusion of 
this sentence. 

NiNEGRET, who first appears in history as at the Niantic fort 
when Lieutenant Mason passed by it on the "Old Indian path," 
on his way from Narragansett (Wickford) through the woods 
to surprise the Pequot stronghold, is said in the writings of the 
times to have been a renegade from that tribe which, like the 
Bulgarians of the Lower Empire, seem to have been ready for 
any service. Eoger Williams mentions him as one of the chief 
sachems, a "chiefe soldier," a "notable instrument." He is 
occasionally called Yanemo or Juanemo. His early fighting 
reputation was gained in his feud with the Mon tanks, whom, 
with their sachem Wyandance, he defeated with great slaughter, 
after which he attacked their unprepared headquarters at 
Metoac, devastated their villages and returned with a store of 
booty, wampum and shells. 

Ninegret was the chief sachem of the Niantic Indians, who 
were tributary to thelSTarragansett nation; their chief ruling un- 
der the authority of the ]N"arragansett princes in a serai-feudal 


manner. The Niantics, according to Indian tradition, held pos- 
session of the coast from the Pawcatuck to the Connecticut 
river, the territory on the east of the former and the west of 
the latter and from the coast line northward thirty to forty 
miles into the forests, and by the Europeans were divided geo- 
graphically into the Eastern and Western Niantics : the eastern 
having their stronghold near Weccapaug, now Charlestown, 
R. I., and the western at Lyme, Conn. 'They were said to have 
been a peaceful tribe and to have fallen an easy prey to the 
tierce Pequots who swept down upon them from northeastern 
New York, established their headquarters at the mouth of the 
Pequot (Thames) river where they built two strongholds, and 
pushed their conquests to the mouth of the Pawcatuck. Here 
they were met by the Niantics and the Narragansetts called to 
their aid, but defeating them in battle extended their con- 
quests ten miles east of Pawcatuck in 1632. The land occupied 
by the eastern Niantics, of whom Ninegret was then sachem, 
embraced the southwestern part of Rhode Island and was known 
by the name of Misquamicut (in the Indian language meaning 
Salmon) after the neck of the land on the east side of the Paw- 
catuck river. This seems to have been included in the Pequot 
contest, but the intruders were in their turn driven from the 
territory in 1635 by Socho (Sassawwa), a renegade Pequot, who 
had become one of the most trusted of Miantonomi's Narragan- 
sett captains, a service for which he was rewarded by Mianto- 
nomi with a gift of the tract of Misquamicut. Roger Williams 
says of Socho in 1637, in a letter to Governor John Winthrop, 
that he became Miantonomi's " special darling" and a kind of 
general of his forces. This tract Socho sold in 1660 and gave a 
deed for it to William Vaughan and others, "all of Newport in 
Rhode Island." The grant of Miantonomi was confirmed in 
1661 by Pessicus, the brother and successor of Miantonomi and 
after the death of Canonicus, chief sachem. Against this sale 
and transfer of the old territory of the Niantics Ninegret pro- 
tested, claiming the tract as the property of his people — and 
here may be found perhaps the key to Ninegret's subsequent 
desertion of the Narragansett cause. 

Ninegret had no kinship with the Narragansett sachems. His 
sister Quiapen, however, was the wife of Mexham, the son of 
Canonicus. (So says Updike, but Arnold says Ninegret claimed 
the tract but his "nephew Pessicus denied his right thereto." 


Pessicus and Miantonomi were nepliews of Canoiiicus, father of 
Mexham. Mnegret was therefore the brother-in-law of the 
cousin of these princes and not the uncle of Pessicus.) The 
tract of Misquamicut, which was incorporated as Westerly, the 
fifth town of the Rhode Island colony in 1669, embraced the, 
greater part of the territory of the eastern Niantics including 
their best trading and fishing station and the Pawcatuck ford. 

After the death of Miantonomi in 1643, Mnegret seems to 
have been admitted to a share in the rule of the confederated 
tribes of the Narragansetts and Niantics. In 1647, when the 
New England commissioners demanded the appearance of Pes- 
sicus at Boston to demand the payment of the indemnity of 
wampum forcibly imposed upon them in 1645, Ninegret was 
sent in his stead and was held hostage until his messenger went 
home for an amount on account of the same and engaged to pay 
the remainder. He protested against the payment of tribute to 
the English, to whom the Narragansetts owed nothing. While 
in Boston on this visit, Mnegret' s portrait was taken. An en- 
graving of this picture, which is owned by the Winthrop family, 
is to be found in Drake's " History of Boston" and also in 
Denison's " Westerly and its Witnesses." 

In 1653 the council of Massachusetts sent messengers to ques- 
tion the sachems of the Narragansetts as to their intention to 
ally with the Dutch (in the war between England and Holland 
then raging), directing their queries to Pessicus, Mnegret and 
Mexham, as chief sachems, and again on hearing of the attack 
of the Narragansetts on the Long Island Indians. In 1654, war 
having again broken out between the Narragansetts and the 
Long Island Indians, the United Colonies summoned Mnegret 
to Hartford. He answered that the enemy had slain the son of 
a sachem and sixty of his tribe. " If your governor's son were 
slain and several other men, would you ask counsel of another 
nation how and when to right yourselves V He refused to go 
to Hartford and asked "to be let alone." 

Eoger Williams, in a letter to the general court of Massa- 
chusetts in 1654, throws the blame of this Indian quarrel on the 
Long Island tribe. " The cause and root of all the present mis- 
chief is the pride of two barbarians, Ascassassotic, the Long 
Island sachem, and Mnegret of the Narragansetts. The former 
is proud and foolish ; the latter is proud and fierce. I have not 
seen him these many years, yet from their sober men I hear he 


pleads. First — ^that Ascassassacotic, a very inferior sachem 
bearing himself [relying] upon the English hath slain three or 
four of his people, and since that sent him challenges and dar- 
ings to fight and mend [avenge] himself. 2 He, Ninegret, con- 
sulted by solemn messengers with the chief of the English 
Governors, Major Endicott, then Governor of the Massachu- 
setts, who sent him an implicit consent to right himself, upon 
which they all plead that the English have just occasion of dis- 
pleasure. 3 after he had taken revenge upon the Long Is- 
landers and brought away fourteen captives divers of their chief 
women, yet he restored them all again upon the mediation and 
desire of the English. 4 after this peace made the Long Is- 
landers, pretending to visit Mnegret on Block Island, slaught- 
ered of his Narragansetts near thirty persons at midnight, two 
of them of great note, especially Wepiteammoe's son, to whom 
Ninegret was uncle. 5 In the prosecution of this war, although 
he had drawn down the Islanders to his assistance, yet upon 
protestation of the English against his proceedings, he retreated 
and dissolved the army." It seems that the Connecticut colony 
had taken the Long Island Indians under their protection, in 
reference to which Roger Williams continues, "II know it is 
said the Long Islanders are subjects ; but I have heard this 
greatly questioned, and indeed I question whether any Indians 
in this country remaining barbarous and pagan may, with 
truth and honor, be called the English Subjects. 2 But grant 
them subjects, what capacity hath their late massacre of the 
Narragansetts, with whom they had made peace, without the 
English consent, though still under the English name, put them 

Notwithstanding this appeal which, as it was written on the 
5th of October, probably reached its destination too late, the 
commissioners of the United Colonies despatched Major Wil- 
lard against Ninegret with a force of two hundred and seventy- 
four foot and forty horse. Ninegret retreated to a swamp on 
the 9th of October, and the troops returned to Hartford with- 
out success toward the close of the month. The commissioners 
at Hartford were greatly angered, but Massachusetts no doubt 
in consideration of Roger Williams' appeal, interfered, and the 
war went no further. Ninegret had a fort, but it was no de- 
fense against the English troops. The swamp is supposed to 
be the cedar swamp in Westerly, near B urden' s pond. The Nian- 


tic fort was originally built as a protection against the Pequots. 
It stood or Fort neck, about eighty rods southwest of Cross' mills. 
The land had steep banks on the south side, and projected 
into Pawaget pond (sometimes called Ninegret's pond), an arm 
of which runs northerly. The fort was close on the beach, 
square and about three-quarters of an acre in extent. It had 
three bastions twenty feet square at the three angles. The main 
entrance was near the pond at the south corner, where there 
was no bastion. 

The sale of the Niantic country in 1660 to Vaughan and the 
N'ewport company has been noticed. In 1659, in defiance of a 
law of Rhode Island, John Winthrop, governor of Massachu- 
setts, and others purchased from Coginaquam, sagamore or 
sachem of Narragansett, the northern neck of Wyapumscott, 
on the mainland about Narragansett (Wickford). In 1660 the 
final outrage was committed by the commissioners of the United 
Colonies on the unfortunate peo]Dle. An armed force was sent 
into the territory, and under pretense of wrongs done the Mo- 
hegans, their allies, which the Narragansett sachems denied, a 
heavy fine was laid, and they were compelled to mortgage their 
entire country for the payment of five hundred and ninetj'-five 
fathoms within four months. In October, 1660, Sucquansh 
(grandson of Canonicus), JSTinegret, Scuttup and Wegnakaumut, 
alias Grideon Chief, sachems of the Narragansetts, for them- 
selves and their tribe, mortgaged by deed all the lands in their 
country, commonly known and called by the name of Narra-^ 
gansett country and Cowesett country, on condition they should 
pay the fine of six hundred fathoms merchantable wampum 
peage to the United Colonies. Six months was named for re- 
demption. Atherton paid the fine. The Indians were unable 
to redeem the land, and in the spring of 1662 the sachems made 
formal delivery of the land. The narrow strait in which the 
successor of Canonicus was at this time, appears from the order 
of the general court of May, 1661, to the recorder to issue a 
writ to arrest " Susquans, the Indian Sachem," and bring him 
before the court of trials in an action for debt of thirty pounds. 

Reading the history of these atrocious proceedings, it is some 
comfort to remember that Rhode Island was not one of the 
United Colonies, and had her hands full defending her own 
rights against her grasping neighbors, without taking up the 
cause of the Indians. In 1644, harrassed and disheartened by 


the conflicting claims to jurisdiction, Pessicus and Canonicus 
made submission to King Charles I., saying that they could 
"not yield over themselves to any that are subjects themselves 
in any case, having been the chief sachems or Princes succes- 
sively of the country time out, of mind." When, in 1663, on 
receiving the charter from Charles the Second, the commis- 
sioners notified '' the Indian Kings viz Quissuckquansh (grand- 
son of Canonicus) and Nineganet (sachem of the Nigantocott 
country; this of course is Ninegret,) that the king in his patent 
had taken the said Sachems and all the Narragansett Indians 
into his gracious protection as subjects to himself, the sachems 
thanked his majesty for his gracious relief in releasing their 
lands from their forced purchasers and mortgages of their lands 
by some of the other Colonies." 

They sef m still to have had hopes of redress, but his gracious 
majest j'^ was otherwise employed in the gay days of the restora- 
tion, and too busy with the fair dames at Whitehall to listen 
to the complaints of his loyal subjects of "King's Province," as 
the Narragansett and Niantic countries were now styled, even 
had they reached his ears. He was too heedless of his own inter- 
ests to care for those of others. For some years nothing more is 
heard of Ninegret. Shorn of the authority which he had shared 
with Pessicus, and overruled if not excluded from the council 
of the Narragansetts by the authority of Canonchet, the son of 
Miantonomi, Ninegret- probably "sulked in his tent" literally. 
In 1675, when the genius of Philip of Pokanoket attempted to 
gather the tribes for a stand for wigwams and country, Nine- 
gret and his Niantic followers stood aloof. When, after the 
first outbreak, Captain Hutchinson, commissioner from Massa- 
chusetts, marched arms in hand to Petaquamscott (on Narrow 
river in South Kingstown) and forced a treaty upon the Narra- 
gansetts, Ninegret was one of the six subscribing sachems 
(Canonchet, Canonicus, Matatoag, Ninegret and Pnraham, and 
Maquus, sister of Ninegret, squaw sachem of the Narragansetts). 
Church's narrative does not mention Ninegret. Drake, who 
annotated the narrative, mentions him as one of the six, saying 
that " he did not join with the rest in the war." The "rest," 
although they had given hostages, all turned against the Eng- 
lish in the course of the campaign. What hostages they gave 
and whom Ninegret gave up for his good faith are not men- 
tioned. Perhaps in this may be found the reason for his re- 


serve. Drake adds in another note that the war lasted "until 
the Narragansetts were all driven out of the country except 
Ninegret." Easton makes no mention of him in his narrative. 
But Arnold, in his recital, says that on the execution of Canon- 
chet at Stonington, in which all the Indian allies of the English 
took part, " the Niantics, who under Ninegret had joined the 
English, burned his body." This may have been, however, 
without Ninegret's knowledge or consent. Arnold cites no au- 
thority for his statement. Tucker says, " the whites purchased 
Ninegret's neutrality during the Indian war of 1675, and for 
this treachery t'o his paramount sovereign and. his race the 
' Tribe Land ' in Charlestown was allotted to him and his heirs 
forever as the price of his treason;" but the same writer rather 
illogically adds, "The Ninegret tribe never were the real Narra- 
gansetts, whose name they bear. It is a libel on their glory and 
their graves for him to have assumed it. Not one drop of the 
blood of Canonicus, Miantonomi or Canonchet ever coursed in 
the veins of a sachem who could sit neuter in his wigwam and 
hear the guns and see the conflagration ascending from the 
fortress that was exterminating their nation forever." Yet Drake 
tells us that Maquus, the old queen of Narragansett and sister 
of Ninegret, was with the Narragansett party surrounded by 
Major Talcott in the cedar swamp near Warwick in July, 1676, 
and taken with the rest was put to sword, and this Arnold 

On the death of Canonchet in April, 1676, the sceptre of the 
allied Narragansett and Niantic tribes devolved upon Ninegret. 
It may more properly be said that with Canonchet the sover- 
eignty of the Narragansetts ended and their independent tribal 
organization also. It is a tribute to their power that the Niantics, 
who alone remained standing after the dread catastrophe, 
merged their name in that of the Great Bay tribe. Ninegret 
died soon after the war, leaving his tribe in p'>ssession of such 
lands as were left to them after the Misquamicut cession, they 
neither having been taken away from hira nor confirmed to him 
by the English as far as can be learned. He was simply not 
driven out. 

He was buried in the burial place of the Ninegrets, the re- 
mains of which are still to be seen on Port neck. Ninegret had. 
two wives. By one he had a daughter; by the other a son, 
Ninegret, and two daughters. Weecounkhass, the first daugh- 


ter by the first wife, succeeded him. She was crowned at Che- 
munganocli, now Itnown as Shumancanuc (Charlestown). True 
to their old policy the Connecticut authorities who, from the 
time of the Pequot war, had claimed jurisdiction over and en- 
deai'ored to plant their settlers in the Niantic country, had at- 
tempted to set up Catopeci, a Pequot Indian, as joint sachem 
with the hereditary sovereign. True also to the old policy of 
the Niantics and Narragan setts, the injured princess, who in the 
document styles herself " Wecounkhass, the queen of the Ni- 
hantick Country in the King's Province in New England, with 
the consent of her Counsell," petitioned the king to leave the 
jurisdiction of the country, as it ever had been, in the hands of 
Rhode Island. The question of jurisdiction over King's Prov- 
ince was finally decided in favor of Rhode Island in 1687. 

Weecounkhass on her death was succeeded by her half 
brother, Ninegret. In 1708 a committee of the general assem- 
bly was appointed to agree with Ninegret "what may be a suf- 
ficient competence of land for him and his people to live upon," 
and to view the state of the land. In 1709 they reported a great 
deal of land very poor and some very good, and also that Nine- 
gret had executed a quit claim deed to all Indian lands what- 
ever, except a tract or reservation of sixty-four square miles. 
In 1717, on the petition of Ninegret (the second), the assembly 
assumed the care of the Indians" lands and appointed overseers 
to lease them for the benefit of the tribe and to dispossess tres- 
passers. In 1718 a memorial was addressed to the assembly in 
behalf of Asquasuthuks, granddaughter of Miantonomi, setting 
forth her claim to the Narragansett lands. The claim was dis- 
proved at the next session and the title shown to have come to 
the present Niantic sachem from old Ninegret as "survivor of 
and joint tenant of the sachemdom with Castickqunce" (Pes- 
sicus), brother and successor of Miantonomi, after his murder 
by Uncas. 

Ninegret' s will was dated in 1716-17 and he died about 1722, 
leaving two sons, Charles Augustus Ninegret and George Au- 
gustus Ninegret. Charles Augustus succeeded as sachem. At 
his request certain of his lands in Westerly were granted as a 
site for a meeting house. In 1734 twenty acres of this land 
were laid out and deeded for the use of the Church of England 
In Westerly. Charles Augustus, dying, left an infant son, 
•Charles, "who was acknowledged as Sachem by a portion of 


the tribe but the greater part adhered to George Augustus, his 
uncle, as being of pure royal blood/' The dispute ended with 
the death of the child. George received the royal belt in 1735. 
On his death he left a widow and three children : Thomas, 
George and Esther. In Updike's history of the Narragansett 
church there is a minute : " September 6, Thursday, 1759. The 
bans of marriage being duly published in the church of St. 
Paul's in Narragansett, no objection being made John Anthony, 
an Indian man, was married to Sarah George, an Indian woman, 
the Dowager Queen of George Augustus Ninegret, deceased, by 
Dr. McSparran." 

Thomas Mnegret, better known as "King Tom," was born in 
1736 and succeeded his father in 1746. He was then ten years 
old and was sent to England where he received a common school 
education. On his return from England he brought the plans 
of a building which was set up and in which, known as the 
sachem house, he lived and died. In 1750 the Indian church 
was planted. In 1759 Thomas Ninegret xietitioned for the re- 
peal of the law forbidding the purchase of Indian lands, which 
was framed and passed in their interest, and permission was 
given to him and all other Indians to dispose of their lands 
without restriction. This act was repealed on petition of the 
tribe in 1763, and Ninegret consenting to execute a deed for the 
sachem lands, a committee was appointed to set them off, but 
the tribe could not agree as to what lands should be set off. In 
1765 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent over a 
teacher with books to the Narragansetts, and Ninegret petitioned 
the society to establish a free school, in quite a touching letter. 
King Tom, though heavy and fat, idle and not over temperate, 
was fond of learning and religion. In 1767 he was required by 
the assembly to execute a deed for the school house lot in 
Charlestown to the colony and to settle his accounts and to pay 
his debts by sale of his personal estate and lands if not ade- 
quate. Th6 tribe, aggrieved by this proceeding, on the advice 
of Sir William Johnson sent an agent to England to lay the 
matter before the king. King Tom died in 1769 or 1770. Upon 
his death the sachem house was sold and a large part of the 
tribe lands to pay his debts, after which, in 1773, the remainder 
was secured to the ti'ibe by act of the assembly beyond contin- 
gency of debt. 

King Tom's wife and only son left him some time before his 


death and went to the west. The son dying before the father 
and George Augustus being also dead, the sovereignty passed 
to their sister, Esther, who married Thomas Sachem and was 
crowned queen in 1770. Quite interesting details have come 
down to us as to the ceremony. The rock on which she stood 
is still pointed out. It is about three feet above ground and 
twelve rods north of King Tom's mansion^ — Sachem House. An 
eye witness of the coronation gave an account of it about 1840 
to Mr. Updike of Westerly. — "I saw her crowned over seventy 
years ago. She was elevated on a large rock so that the people 
might see her; the Council surrounded her. There were present 
about twenty Indian soldiers with guns. They marched her to 
the rock. The Indian nearest to the royal blood in presence of 
her counsellors put the crown on her head. It was made of 
cloth covered with blue and white peage. When the crown 
was put on the soldiers fired a royal salute and huzzaed in the 
Indian tongue. The ceremony was imposing and everything 
was conducted with great order. Then the soldiers waited on 
her to the house and fired salutes. There were five hundred 
natives present besides others." 

Queen Esther left one son, George, who was crowned after her 
death. He was killed when about twenty-two years old by the 
falling of a tree which was being felled. He was the last of the 
Ninegrets, and the last king of the tribe. His death was in 
1827, according to Drake (Notes on Church's Narrative). 

Massasoit, or Ousamequin, sachem of the Wampanoags, 
was the earliest of the sachems of whom there is record in the 
history of the New England settlements. In March, 1621, 
three months after the landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth 
bay, they were visited by an Indian, Samoset, from the coast of 
Maine, who had learned some English from the fishermen who 
visited the coast. He informed the whites that they were in 
the region of the Wampanoags, whose territory extended to 
the Narragansett bay. A few days later Samoset brought in 
another Indian, one Squantum (.or Tisquantum), a native of Pa- 
tuxet (or Plymouth), the place in which they now were. This 
savage was one of those who had been carried off to England 
by one of the sea captains, and also spoke English. An 
hour later he was followed by Massasoit. An interview was 
held at which Squantum acted as interpreter, and a treaty of 
alliance was made between the settlers and the Wampanoagp. 



which was maintained unbroken for fifty- four years. Massasoit 
had ah'eady some knowledge of English power from Sqnantum, 
his subject, and from a visit made to him by Captain Dermer, 
an English captain, who, coasting from Maine to Virginia in 
1615, in an open pinnace, had fallen in with Sqaantum, whom 
he knew, and had been taken by him to the headquarters of his 
chief at Pokanoket. 

The territory of the Wampanoags extended from Cape Cod 
to Narragansett bay, and by some (Miller's King Philip and the 
Wampanoags) is supposed to have included the islands in the 
bay. The Indian plague of 1616 had been particularly fatal to 
this tribe, and they had fallen under the dominion and become 
tributary to the Narragansetts, who had taken to themselves 
the islands before the coming of the English. There are sup- 
posed to have been four large Indian villages of the Wampa- 
noags on the neck, a peninsula which projects into Narragan- 
sett bay ; one at Montop, the name of which was later changed 
to Mount Hope ; another at the head of the cove ; a third at 
Kickamut, the back river ; and a fourth at Sowams or Sowam- 
set. The Indian remains at all these places show that it was 
cultivated and thickly inhabited. The sachems had their resi- 
dences at Metacom in Montop bay, and at Pokanoket or 

In the summer of 1621 Governor Bradford sent a deputation 
of the Plymouth colony to return Massasoit's visit: Edward 
Winslow, Stephen Hopkins, and Squantum as a guide. They 
were received by Massasoit at Pokanoket, and found him 
almost destitute of provisions, save a partridge and a few fish. 
In 1623, word coming to Plymouth that Massasoit was "sick 
and like to die," Winslow was sent to visit him. He reached 
Pokanoket in time to rescue him, and so won the gratitude of 
the sachem that he said, "Now I see the English are my friends 
and love me ; and whilst I live I will never forget this kindness 
they have shown me." And in fact at this interview he gave 
the English warning of a plot of Massachusetts Indians against 
the white settlements. 

Intercourse soon grew between the bay settlements and Mon- 
top, and as early as 1632 the Plymouth settlers had a trading 
post at Sowams, which they held to be the garden of their 
patent. Here there is a living spring of water known as Mas- 
s'lsoit's spring. The trading post is supposed to have been at 


Phoebe's neck, on the Barrington side of the Swanzey river. 
Massasoit at this time is believed to have been about forty years 
of iige. "The King,'' says the earliest account of him, -'is a 
portly man in his best years, grave of countenance, spare of 
speech." It is know^n that he made repeated visits to Ply- 
mouth, as indeed was needful, he having j)laced himself and his 
tribe under the protection of the Plymouth government. He 
is said to have taken the name of Ousamequin when he started 
on his war against the Narragansetts in 1630, an expedition, 
the result of which was apparently his freedom from tributary 
subjection, but of which there remains no account. Moreover, 
the Indians in the immediate neighborhood of the Plymouth 
settlements recognized his tribal jurisdiction. The distance 
from Plymouth to Montop is about thirty miles, and the Indian 
trail soon became the route of daily travel. 

It was while on these- visits to his white friends that Massa- 
soit became known to Roger Williams, who arrived in Boston 
in 1630, and no doubt also to John Eliot who came to New 
England the next year. Both of these men were ministers of 
the gospel and admirable linguists, one having been educated 
at the University of Oxford and the other at that of Cambridge. 
Alike deeply concerned for the conversion of the natives, they 
alike from the time of their arrival mingled with them and 
sought by converse to learn their tongue. Of their thorough 
knowledge of the dialects there is proof in " A Key into the 
Language of America; or a Help to the Language of the Natives' 
in that part of America called New England," by Roger Wil- 
liams, published at London in 1643, and in John Eliot's gram- 
mar and translation of the Bible into the Indian language. The 
facility which Williams early acquired was of great service to 
himself personally and to his friend Massasoit, for whom he 
acted as interpreter at his meetings with the English authori- 
ties. Young Governor Henry Vane, during his short stay in 
New England, 1635-37, and Governor John Winthrop, in his 
term of office, both befor,e Vane's coming and after his departure, 
and Edward Winslow, governor of Plymouth, were Williams' 
friends and alike interested with him in the establishment of 
peaceful relations with the Indians and their conversion to 
Christianity. Indeed one of the objects set forth in the charter 
of the Massachusetts colony was the conversion of the natives; 
and Winslow was the immediate cause of the founding of the 


Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England 

When Roger Williams was banished from Massachusets in 
November, 1635, as a disturber of the peace both of the church 
and the commonwealth, the first cause of offense named was 
the teaching of an erroneous yet not religious opinion, viz., that 
the natives were the true owners of the land and the settlers 
gained no rights to it by patent from the king. This of course 
was an agreeable recommendation to the natives. It was natural 
therefore that when, to avoid the warrant that was to put him 
on board a vessel aboiit to leave for England, Williams fled in 
the middle of January to the wilderness, leaving his wife and 
children behind, he should have gone directly to Massasoit; 
moreover he was privately advised by his friend Winthrop " to 
steer his course to the Narragansett Bay and Indians for many 
high and heavenly public ends, "and particularly because of the 
" freeness of from any English claims or patents." Wil- 
liams made his Journey through the winter snows from Salem, 
an exposure from which he had not recovered thirty years later. 
He was accompanied by five companions; one of these was a 
Dorchester miller, like himself banished for " erroneous opin- 
ions," another a poor destitute creature, a third poor young 
fellow and two lads. At Montop Williams was warmly received 
by Massasoit and granted a tract of land on the eastern bank 
of the Seekonk river near what is called now Cove Mills. See- 
konkisnowRehoboth. "Here," says Williams, "I first pitched 
and began to build and plant, but I received a letter from my 
ancient friend Mr. Winslow, then Governor of Plymouth, pro- 
fessing his own and others' love and respect to me yet lovingly 
advising me since I was fallen into the edge of their bounds and 
they were loth to displease the Bay, to remove to the other side 
of the water; and then he said I had the country free before me 
and we might be as free as themselves and we should be loving 
neighbors together." From this it is clear that the eastern 
authorities considered the bounds of their patent and of the 
Wampanoag jurisdiction under their protection to be the 
eastern shore of the Narragansett waters. "As good as ban- 
ished from Plymouth as from the Massachusetts," by this gentle 
advice, Williams, about two months after beginning his planta- 
tion at Seekonk, took his canoe and with his five companions 
dropped down the stream to a slate rock on the west shore of 


the stream, at its confluence with the head waters of the bay, 
where he was hailed by some Narragansett Indians and landing, 
was pleasantly greeted. Again embarking, he passed around 
the headlands and canoed up the river on the west side of the 
peninsula to the mouth of the Mooshassic and chose for the seat 
of his new plantation the slope of the hill which rises from the 
stream, and gave to it the name of Providence. This was with- 
out question in the Jurisdiction of the Narragansetts, but it 
would seem that this country had also belonged to the Wam- 
panoags, for Williams himself says that "some time after the 
Plymouth great Sachem Ousameqixin (Massasoit) upon occasion 
affirmed that Providence was his iand and therefore Plymouth's 
land." To this Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, and also 
an old friend of Williams, answered that even if the claim 
proved true Williams should not be molested again. 

Williams early gained the favor of Canonicus and Mianto- 
nomi,the Narragansett sachems, and at the request of Governor 
Vane of Massachusetts visited them at their headquarters on 
Conanicut island and negotiated the league against the Pequots. 
Within two months of his settlement at Providence he was be- 
come their chief adviser. In return they had freely granted to 
him the lands and meadows where his plantation lay, between 
the two strfeams at the confluent point of which Providence 
lies. No doubt this dispute about the land was " the great 
contest between the three Sachems (to wit, Canonicus and Mi- 
antonomi were against Ousamequin on Plymouth side)," in 
regard to which Williams, from whom this is quoted, "was 
forced to travel between them three to pacify, to satisfy all 
their and their dependants' spirits of my honest intentions to 
live peaceably by them." 

It is not at all probable that there was any armed contention 
or bloody feud between the Narragansetts and the Wampan- 
oags at the time Williams settled. In the same declaration 
Williams says that Ousamequin "consented freely, being also 
well gratified by me to the Governor Winthrops' and my en- 
joyment of Prudence yea of Providence itself," etc. In fact 
the land neighboring on Providence to the north, and perhaps 
that on which Providence stood, had belonged to the Cowesets 
who, after the defection of Massasoit, were gradually falling 
away from their tribal allegiance and, with their northern 
neighbors, the Nipmucks, subjecting to the Massachusetts col- 


ony. Indeed a few years later, in 1646, when the Narragansett 
power had greatly weakened, we find the Providence settlers 
buying the " right which Ousamequin pretendeth to a parcel 
of land" between their bounds at Pawtucket and an Indian 
plantation northwest from thence called Loquasquscit (Smith- 
field, at the lime quarries), although they claim that they had 
the right of feeding and grazing cattle there by their grant from 
the Narragansetts before they had "released him (Ousame- 
quin) of his subjection," which gives evidence of a formal con- 
tract to his withdrawal from tributary subordination. 

The name of Ousamequin first appears in the Rhode Island 
records in connection with the first of these transactions. In 
1637 there appears annexed to the deed to Coddington and his 
associates of the island of Aquidneck, a memorandum of a con- 
sent to them by Ousamequin for a gratuity of five fathoms of 
wampum of the use of any grass or trees on the mainland on 
the Powakaseck (Pocasset) side. This by his Plymouth pro- 
tection was strictly in Wampanoag territory. In 1646, in the 
matter of the Indian plantation just mentioned, he was in troub- 
le with the town of Providence. They had paid him in coats 
and hoes and wampum, which he asked, but over night he 
changed his mind. On the report of Roger Williams and 
others he was, however, compelled to adhere to the "fair and 
righteous bargain." Being outside of the Rhode Island juris- 
diction, Ousamequin's name rarely appears in the history that 
concerns it, only we may notice that with ten of his men 
he had permission from the town of Portsmouth, in 1644, to 
take ten deer on the island of Aquidneck, within the liberty of 
that town ; but the deer were to be taken to Portsmouth, there 
to be viewed, and neither Ousamequin nor any of his men were 
to carry any deer or skins off from the island except at that 
time, and they were to depart off from the island within five 

Massasoit and his Wampanoags had no part in the wars be- 
tween the ISTarragansetts and the Mohegans which were the 
indirect cause of the ruin of the Rhode Island tribe. It was 
not the policy of the Massachusetts government to allow their 
Indian neighbors to go on the war path. The chief, now ad- 
vancing in years, lived quietly at his favorite seats. He had a 
large family: his wife, two brothers, Qaadequmet and Akkan- 
poin, three sons and a daughter whose name is not known. His 


oldest son was Wamsutta, sometimes called Mooanum, his sec- 
ond Pometacum, Metacom, both of whom figure in history; 
and a third Sunconewhew. Wamsutta and Metacomet were 
better known by their English names of Alexander and Philip, 
by which, according to some authorities, they were called as 
early as 1656, but which as others hold were given to them 
after the princes of Macedonia, when they went up to Plymouth 
court in 1662. 

Wamsutta, or Alexander, the eldest of the sons of Massasoit, 
was admitted to a part in the government of the Wampanoags 
before 1657. In that year he was the cause of a dispute be- 
tween the Plymouth and Rhode Island colonies in his sale of a 
little Island in Narragansett bay to Richard Smith, Jr., the son 
and successor of the old trader of the Narragansett. The 
colony of Rhode Island had always exercised jurisdiction over 
this island. In 1638 the town of Portsmouth granted permis- 
sion to mow its grass to one of their people, and no counter 
claim seems to have been set up until this sale, which, as 
Richard Smith always leaned toward Plymouth, was no doubt 
one of their practical attempts to help Massachusetts to gain a 
foothold on Narragansett bay. After the purchase by Smith 
the authorities of Plymouth colony wrote to Rhode Island 
claiming jurisdiction. The letter was answered and commis- 
sioners appointed on both sides to settle the matter, but from 
the fact that private instructions were given to their commis- 
sioners by the Rhode Island assembly, there is little doubt that 
they were resolved in no event to surrender jurisdiction in any 
of the waters of their bay. In 1659 Smith attempted to take 
forcible possession, but was firmly met and the matter was 
finally decided as of right in favor of Rhode Island. 

In this matter Wamsiitta played the part Plymouth desired. 
Indeed, as the power of the Narragansetts waned, the lower 
sachems reasserted their authority. Not only did Pumham, 
the subordinate Narragansett sachem of Shawoniet, refuse to 
leave Warwick neck, which the chief sachems sold to Gorton 
and Holden, but still another claimant sprung up to the same 
land in the person of Nawwushawsuch, " who lived with Ous- 
amequin." In 1656 Rhode Island daily looked for hostilities in 
consequence of this feud. Roger Williams sought in vain to 
settle this dispute, as well as the difficulties made by some of 
the Pawtuxet families who had subjected themselves to Massa - 


chusetts' jurisdiction before Rhode Island had its charter. Such 
was the state of affairs when old Massasoit died, toward the 
close of the year 1661, at the age of about eighty years, faith; 
ful at the close as he had been from the day when he made the 
first Indian treaty of amity with the Pilgrim fathers. Yet, 
though he had on more than one occasion saved the weak set- 
tlers from disaster, if not utter ruin, he had not escaped with- 
out suspicion and indignity, and had gradually seen his own 
power, notwithstanding his release from Narragansett domina- 
tion, weakened over his own tribe and their subordinate allies. 
To him, as to all with whom the Indians came in contact, the 
touch of the white man's hand was death. At the first cele- 
bration of "Forefather's day" at Plymouth in 1769, one of 
the regular toasts of the dinner was, "To the memory of Mas- 
sasoit, our first and best friend and ally of the natives."' It 
may be here remarked that this chief always appears on the 
Masssachusetts records as Massasoit, on those of Rhode Island 
as Ousamequin. 

A¥amstjtta or Sepaaquet — Alexander, the eldest son of Mas- 
sasoit, succeeded his father as chief sachem, but from what is 
known of his character and his brother, it is not probable that 
either of them shared their father's attachment to the English, 
or at least were willing as thoroughly as he to conform their 
policy to that of the Massachusetts or Plymouth governments. 
His first act was in direct antagonism to Massachusetts policy. 
This was a deed to the town of Providence in 1662 of a tract 
of land west of the Seekonk river which Massasoit had claimed, 
as in the case of the Loquasquscit lands in the old Coweset 
jurisdiction. This sale of lands which the eastern colonies 
itched to possess, to the heretics of Providence, was as deadly 
a sin in the eyes of Plymouth and Massachusetts as the sale of 
Shawomet to the pestilent Gorton, and it is a striking coinci- 
dence that in each case this presumption on the part of the In- 
dians to choose the purchasers of their terrritory was the chief, 
if not the only reason for their death. 

Wamsutta had also strengthened the power of his tribe by 
his marriage with Wetamoo, squaw sachem of the Pocassets, 
who ruled the country which fronted westerly on the western 
waters of Narragansett bay, facing Mount Hope and Rhode Is- 
land in their entire length. Accused by " some of Boston " of 
contriving mischief against the English, and that he had so- 


licited the Narragansetts to engage with him in his designed 
rebellion, Alexander was ordered by Governor Prince of Ply- 
mouth colony to appear before the next general court. Not 
answering the summons, but it is said continuing to visit the 
Narragansetts, Major Winslow was sent with a force to bring 
him up. He was surprised at a hunting station, and only sur- 
rendered at the point of the pistol. He was taken prisoner, 
followed by a train of eighty warriors and women. Halting on 
the way at Wiuslow's house at Marshfield, Alexander fell ill. 
It is said of him that the day was very hot, but that he would 
not ride Winslow's horse because there was none for his squaw 
to ride. To ill to go further, he was allowed to return, on his 
promise to send his son as a hostage for his appearance at the 
next court. He is said to have "died before he got half way 
home;" some say of "fatigue, rage and heat," but there were 
suspicions of crime in his death. John Easton, in his " Rela- 
tion of the Indyan Warr," written at the time, relates that 
Philip and his warriors charged "that their king's brother 
when he was king came miserably to dy by being forced to 
Court as they judge poysoned." His death, which his wife, 
Wetamoo, as well as his brother, ascribed to foul means, was 
without doubt the determining cause of King Philip's rising, 
and of the terrible struggle which still bears the name of 
Philip's war. 

EwD OF THE Narragansetts. — In the winter of 1678-9, the 
Indian council of five Narragansetts and others of the tribe by 
the president of the council, Gideon L. Ammons, petitioned the 
general assembly of Rhode Island to name a committee " to in- 
vestigate their affairs in reference to the encroachment of the 
whites upon the tribal lands, and whether it was better to con- 
tinue the tribe as a tribe or enfranchise them." Public hear- 
ings were had and testimony taken, some of which were at the 
Indian meeting house in Charlestown, a township in the Mis- 
quamicut region in the southwestern part of the state, and orig- 
inally a part of the town of Westerly, incorporated as the fifth 
town of the colony by freemen of Newport in 1669. The report 
of the "committee is authority for the following statement. 

After the death of George Ninegret, no king of the Narra- 
gansetts was ever crowned and the tribe was ever after gov- 
erned by an annually elected governor or president and a coun- 
cil of four members. When the Indian council was established 


is not known. It was in existence in October, 1770. Sinct^ 
1707, however, the tribe and the reservation of lands have been 
virtually under the jurisdiction of the colony and state, as the 
Indian kings and their councils, although holding directly from 
the English crown, as of the King's Province, have always har- 
monized with the colony and state authority. They claim to 
be allied by treaty with the state and to enjoy certain privi- 
leges and protection by virtue of their subjection, accepted by 
the English king and their grants of territory. 

They held an election day in March and a religious meeting 
in August of each year. An act for regulating the affairs of the 
Narragansett tribe of Indians in this state passed by the legis- 
lature of Rhode Island in February, 1792, prescribed the 
method of election, All the males of the said tribe of twenty- 
one years of age, born of an Indian woman belonging to the 
tribe, or begotten by an Indian man belonging thereto or of any 
other than a negro woman, was entitled to vote at all meetings; 
the council to be elected at the school house, their accustomed 
place of meeting, in March, by a majority of votes. 

The Indian church was planted in 1750, in the reign of King 
Tom, as their sachem, Thomas Ninegret, was called. In 1847, 
according to Updike, " there was not an Indian of the whole 
Mood remaining in the tribe." Their character as well as their 
blood had changed by their mingling with whites and negroes. 
In 1833 a committee reported that there were one hundred and 
ninety-nine of the tribe residing in Charlestown and fifty were 
supposed to be absent. In 1858 they enrolled one hundred and 
thirty-eight members. In 1879 the tribe numbered one hun- 
dred and thirty-three, of whom fifty-eight were males and sev- 
enty-five females. They maintained their poor and supported 
public worship,and the state paid the expenses of the school. Be- 
sides the original reservation, which contained about sixty-four 
square miles, in 1858 about two thousand acres of their tribal 
lands were held by individual members of their tribe as their 
separate estate. In 1879 they owned in all about three thousand 
acres in the center of the town of Charlestown. 

In 1880, the Narragansetts having consented to a dissolution 
of the tribe, the Indian council made a deed to the state for the 
entire reservation except the meeting house and lot and a right 
of way to it as long as it should be used as a place of public 
worship. The sum of five thousand dolars was agreed upon as 


the price, and the purchase money was divided among three 
hundred and twenty-four persons admitted to be members of 
the tribe, the individual share of each being fifteen dollars and 
fifty-three cents. It is curious to note in the list of the tribe 
not an Indian name unless that of Noka is found. The words 
of Denison are now true to the letter in all their force. 

Of the old pride and power of the Indian kings and war- 
riors only their mouldering sepulchres remain. The royal 
burying ground of the most ancient date is located in Charles- 
town, about a mile north of Cross' mills, on a piece of pleasant 
table land near fifteen feet above the surrounding high ground. 
The spot commands a beautiful view of the adjacent country 
and the sea. Royal graves were privileged above others. On 
this plateau, in a mound one hundred feet long, thirty feet 
wide and three feet high, and in the spaces around it, are the 
remains of the kings, qaeens, members of the royal family and 
chiefs of the Narragansett nation. Some of the graves are evi- 
dently very ancient. In 1878 the general assembly of Rhode 
Island, having received a deed of half an acre of this plateau, 
set up a post and rail fence five feet high which encloses a plot 
twenty feet by one hundred, including the greater part of the 
graves, and also a tablet of marble thus inscribed: " This tablet 
is erected and this spot of ground enclosed by the state of 
Rhode Island to mark the place which Indian tradition iden- 
tifies as the Royal burying ground of the Narragansetfc tribe, 
and in recognition of the kindness and hospitality of this once 
powerful nation to the founders of this state." 



By John Austin Stevens. 

Privateering from Rhode Island.— War with the Dutch, 1652-3. — Privateers and 
Pirates, 1653-90,— War with France, King William's War, 1689-98.— Depre- 
dations by Privateers.— Queen Anne's War, 1702-13.— The Old French War, 
1754-61.— War of the American Revolution, 1775-83.— Rhode Island in its 
Political Relations, 1763-74.— Stamp Act Congress.— Non-Importation Agree- 

ALTHOUGH the treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which closed 
the thirty years' war between France and Sweden, the 
victorious powers and the House of Austria, assured the inde- 
pendence of the Netherlands as one of its great results, and gave 
a temporary peace to Europe on land, the depredations of the 
maritime powers upon each other by no means ceased. Priva- 
teers still roamed the seas with their commissions. Spanish 
galleons, with the treasures of the Indies, still crossed the ocean 
at fixed periods, and were too rich a prize. to be lightly aban- 
doned. England, under the reign of James I. and Charles I., was 
neutral in the continental struggle. The great revolution kept 
her too busy at home to meddle in foreign war ; but her ad- 
venturous sea-faring men took letters of marque from Prance 
and probably from Spain also. At first the colonies had too 
much to do at home in their plantations and little coasting trade 
to think much of foreign plunder. The time soon came when 
it was a chief source of occupation and fortune. 

In the early part of 1649 a prize, captured from the Dutch, 
though at what date does not appear from the letter of Roger 
Williams to John Winthrop, Jr., of Connecticut, which relates 
the incident, was bought by Captain Clarke, of Newport. It 
had probably been brought into this port by some adventurous 
Englishman. Trouble was threatened by Stnyvesant, the gov- 
ernor of New Amsterdam, who claimed that the capture was 


"contrary to the peace with Spain." This attitude of the Dutch 
gave alarm because of the purchase by one of their number of 
Dutch island, at the mouth of the bay ; a purchase which fell 
through later. The peace with Spain was the treaty of West- 

In the spring, of 1650, as is also learned from a letter of Roger 
Williams to John Winthrop, Jr., of Connecticut, the records of 
the Rhode Island colony being silent on the subject, one Bluefield 
brought a prize into Newport, and some Frenchmen who came 
with him, probably his companions in the expedition, "bought 
a frigate of Captain Clarke [of Newport] to go out upon their 
voyage to West Indies." The vessel was the Dutch prize pur- 
chased the year before. To this the English residents demurred, 
fearing that they would practice their trade upon this coast. 
There was at this time great uncertainty as to the state of 
affairs abroad. King Charles had been beheaded. Prince 
Charles, proclaimed king in Scotland, had found it necessary to 
leave the Hague and his Orange kinsmen and friends to take 
refuge in Paris. The last vessel from Bristol had brought word 
of great divisions in England itself and " a fresh report of wars 
with France," from the court of which an armed attempt at 
restoration of the monarchy was feared. There is no informa- 
tion as to the nation from which the Frenchmen, " flesht with 
blood," as Williams describes, took the prize they brought in, 
nor yet whether they were permitted to take out the ship they 
purchased ; but in the absence of contrary order on the records 
it is probable. But they could have taken no commission from 
Newport, as England was at peace with all the contracting 
powers of the treaty of Westphalia. 

The "crowning mercy" of Worcester, and the flight from 
England of Prince Charles, after that disastrous and decisive bat- 
tle, left the parliament free to pacify the country and engage its 
forces in foreign affairs. A war abroad has always been a 
favorite mode of securing peace at home. The prosperous col- 
onies and great wealth of the Dutch decided Cromwell to turn 
a deaf ear to those of the parliament, who were urging a close 
confederacy with the Holland states. Among these was Sir 
Henry Vane, the old friend of Roger Williams, and after a man- 
ner an early patron of the Rhode Island colony. The famous 
" Act of navigation " was aimed directly at ,the Dutch, who 
had almost a monopoly of the carrying trade of the world. Not 


content with this war of enactment, the parliament issued letters 
of reprisal to sundry English merchantmen who complained of 
Dutch ill-treatment, and numbers of Dutch vessels were taken 
and brought in as prizes. The states-general replied by equip- 
ping a large fleet, and a collision, accidental or premeditated, in 
the road of Dover with the English fleet, not satisfactorily ex- 
plained, brought on war, the formal declaration of which was 
made by parliament in 1652. The orders of the council of state 
to the colonies to prepare for defense found Rhode Island and 
the Providence Plantations in schism, the former separated 
from the mainland by the commission to Coddington. The 
latter claimed the authority over the colony by reason of their 
holding to the old charter which the commission abrogated. 

Assemblies were held at Providence and Newport the same 
day— May 17th, 1653 ; the commissioners of the colony, as the 
deputies from Providence and Warwick styled themselves, re- 
ceiving and considering a letter from the town of Newport, 
written in March, notifying them that for "present security" 
they had taken measures for forts and arms and mustering of 
the militia. The reason for this hesitancy must be sought, no 
doubt, in the influence of Roger Williams, then in England, as 
the agent of Providence and Warwick, to secure the confirma- 
tion of the old charter. Williams was the guest of Sir Henry 
Vane at his home, Belleau, in Lincolnshire, and it is known that 
Vane was opposed to St. John's policy of war with the Dutch, 
and no doubt hoped that the colonies might be kept clear of 
entanglement. However this maybe, the colony commissioners, 
on receiving the letter, passed an order restrictive rather than 
menacing in tone. After recognizing the authority of the council 
of state, they forbid further export of provisions from the 
colony for supply of the Dutch, direct that each plantation (or 
town) take measures for its own "safety defence," and finally 
expressly require that "in the name of the commonwealth of 
England that no man within the limits of this colony presume 
to take vessels or goods from the Dutch, as being authorized by 
this colony, without orders and directions from a General Court 
of Commissioners, upon such a penalty as the nature of his 
facts shall require by the judgment of his peers" — and it was 
further ordered that all writs and warrants shall be issued forth 
in the name of the Commonwealth of England." 

While this waiting policy of self-defense and neutrality was 


being adopted at Providence, the general assembly, as tliey con- 
tinued to call themselves, which met at Newport on the same 
day, May 17th, and had the usual election of president and 
other officers, proceeded at once to active measures. "Three 
men, Mr. William Dyre, Mr. John Sanford [the newly elected 
president] and Mr. Nicholas Easton were chosen to see that the 
order of the Right Honorable the Council of State be attended 
to, namely in looking and taking care that the State's part in 
all prizes be secured and account kept." This was the first 
court of admiralty in Rhode Island. The next day, on the ad- 
vice of a committee, upon which each town was represented by 
two members (Newport by Nicholas Easton and John Easton), 
it was agreed to help their countrymen on Long Islan^d either by 
defending them against the Dutch or by offensive war, and to 
lend them two great guns and other arms, and the aid of twenty 

^For the trial of prizes brought in, the general court, with 
three jurors from each towu, were authorized. Commissions 
were granted to Captain John Underbill and Mr. William Dyre, 
and one to Edward Hull to go "against the Dutch or any 
enemies of the Commonwealth of England." Captain John 
Underhill was from Long Island, where he settled after the 
Massachusetts banishment, and had the Puritan hatred for 
Dutch and English alike. He did famous service in the Pequot 
war. Some of the freemen of the towns of Providence and 
Warwick attended this assembly and concurred in its resolu- 
tions. The commissioners for Providence and Warwick met 
again at Providence in June and adopted a "brief remon- 
strance," in which, after setting forth their grievances and 
claim to authority under the old charter, and admitting the 
validity of the council^of state's direction to " offend the Dutch 
as they shall think necessary," they protest against the com- 
missions issued to Underhill, Hull and Dyre, declare that they 
will not be forced into engaging in the said commission, but will 
use their endeavor to " free themselves from all illegal and un- 
just proceedings, and finally order that no inhabitants of the 
colony that do own the validity of the commissions granted to 
Underhill, Hull and Dyre in the name of the Providence Planta- 
tions shall thenceforth have liberty to act in government until 
they have given satisfaction to the respective towns of Provi- 
dence and Warwick." 


This subject has been treated at length, as the action of. New- 
port at this time is a point of departure in the history of the 
colony between the policy of peace, held to by the Eoger Wil- 
liams plantation of Providence, and the more warlike tendency 
of the seaport town. 

In the course of the summer Captain Hull captured and 
brought in a French ship in a manner that Massachusetts pro- 
tested against as unlawful. In the autumn Massachusetts was 
still further aggrieved, and sent a special messenger to remon- 
strate against the act. This was the seizure by Captain Baxter, 
under a Rhode Island commission, of the " Desire," of Barn- 
stable, in Harapstead Harbor, an English settlement under 
Dutch jurisdiction, with stores on board. To the complaint of 
the agent of Massachusetts, President Easton answered that he 
had issued the letter of marque nnder the authority of the 
council, to whom he had sent a rejjort of the case. Baxter next 
captured a Dutch vessel near New York, and was chased to 
Fairfield harbor by two Dutch men of-war. To this act the 
commissioners of the united colonies answered with a pro- 
hibition of Dutch vessels from entering any of the English- 
American ports. The cause of this lukewarmness of the United 
Colonies in this struggle with Holland must be sought in their 
sympathies with parties in England. They no doubt sided with 
those who disapproved of the breach of the old alliance of 
England and Holland against the House of Bourbon. In May, 
1654, the vessel "Deborah" was commissioned to defend her- 
self. This was, probably, the last letter of marque issued, as 
peace with the Dutch had been already signed by Cromwell, 
April 15th, 1654. The records of the Rhode Island court of 
admiralty no doubt give the details of the prizes taken during 
the war. That the profits were considerable appears from the 
proceedings before the court of commissioners in May, 1658, 
wherein it is stated that there was " remaining in the hands of 
Mr. Nicholas Easton a considerable sum of money or estate, 
which was committed to him by order of court in 1652 (or '53), 
which estate is duly appertaining to the use of his Highness, 
the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, and the 
■colony is accountable therefor when his Highness shall please 
to call for an account of those passages, viz. concerning the 
State's part of prizes taken in the time of the differences in the 
colony with the Dutch." Suits were brought both against 


Easton and William Dyre, the latter of whom declined to give 
any account. The cases were still pending in 1660. 

The unhappy influence of this legalized freebooting on the 
morals of the inhabitants of the colony is shown by the act 
which the court of commissioners found it necessary to pass in 
1658, four years after the close of the war, on the information 
of "several considerable members of the colony of the inordi- 
nate desires and mischievous conducts and endeavours of ill- 
disposed persons pretending to make prize of such Dutchmen 
as come to trade with the English in this colony." All such 
persons were warned not to be " so hardy as to attempt or put 
in practice any such design of seizing any either Dutch goods 
or vessels that shall arrive or be brought into this colony to be 
sold to the English here, unless by express commission from the 
State of England or an order of the law making Assembly of 
the Colony under pain of felony." 

Privateers and Pirates, 1653-1690. — This isolated case, un- 
der the very eyes of the staid authorities of Rhode Island, is but 
a feeble expression of the license of sea-faring adventurers. 
The contest of the two great maritime powers of the world for 
colonial dominion was the opportunity uf the freebooter — an 
opportunity which the dismantling of posts, the weakening of 
defenses and the aggregation of protecting vessels in large fleets 
for concerted action greatly increased. Nor was it much more 
than the extreme of that domineering spirit, that love of con- 
quest and adventure which animated Raleigh and Drake and a 
hundred other kindred spirits a century before ; only that their 
successors were not always disposed to inquire into the nation- 
ality of their prizes, and often captured the vessels of their own 
flag with as little ceremony as those of their traditional enemies. 

In 1683 the grievance had reached its height. The American 
coast swarmed with privateers, and this lax commerce soon de- 
generated into uncontrolled piracy. The vessels were often 
owned by honest gentlemen, whose sense of morals was dulled 
by heavy profits, and who rarely inquired closely into the con- 
duct of captain or of crew. The West Indies, with their easy 
coast, became the field, and Jamaica the center of the lawless 
traffic, but the vessels occasionally entered, on one or anothei- 
pretence, into the north Atlantic ports. In July, 1683, Captain 
Thomas Paine arrived at Newport with a privateer ship from 
Jamaica. The deputy collector of Boston came down to seize 



her. The captain showed Jamaica papers, which satisfied Gov- 
ernor Coddington, who refused to give her up. The Boston of- 
ficer claimed that the papers were forged, and sent down from 
Boston a pass of the Jamaica governor to prove the forgery. It 
would seem that Paine was a Rhode Island man. 

In March, 1684, the home government sent orders to Jamaica, 
and later to all the American colonies, to take measures against 
privateering and piracy and the harboring of suspicious craft. 
In June following a letter from the king, together with one 
from Sir Leoline Jenkins, one of his principal secretaries, en- 
closing a proclamation for the suppressing of privateers and 
pirates, reached the assembly, and was forthwith published in 
the town of Newport by beat of drum, and read by the recorder 
at three of the most public places in the town, and the same 
day an act for the restraining and punishing privateers and 
pirates was passed. The serving, without a special license 
from the colony, was made felony, with the proviso that any 
persons belonging to the colony who were then serving any 
foreign prince, state or potentate, who should return before the 
end of December next following and surrender himself should 
be exempt from pursuit under the law, and commissioners were 
appointed under the king's seal, subject to the judges of ad- 
miralty in the colony, to hear and determine all matters of 
treason, felony, piracy, etc., committed on the sea, or in any 
haven, creek or bay. 

War with France. King William's War, 1689-1697.— The 
revolution which drove out James the Second, and brought 
William and Mary to the throne January 22, 1689, was wel- 
come to the New England colonies. The new sovereigns were 
proclaimed in Newport in May. The policy of English sub- 
serviency to France came to an end and William, whose views 
of state craft extended far beyond the limits of his new king- 
dom, was not slow to throw the weight of its arms into the 
struggle of the Protestant nations to maintain the balance of 
power in Europe. Louis XIV. had made a war unavoidable by 
sending troops into Ireland to aid in the reinstatement of King 
James, and parliament heartily pledged themselves to Wil- 
liam's support. 

The king's declaration of war was proclaimed in Newport by 
fceat of the drum by the clerk of the assembly, in "solemn 
^ranner," in March, 1690. The rumor had already come in of a 


raid of the French and Indians from Canada on one of the 
towns above Albany, and soon after the proclamation news ar- 
rived of a French fleet off the coast. In May seven sail of French 
privateers swept the coast from Cape Cod to New London. Ves- 
sels were sent out in pursuit, and again on subsequent similar oc- 
casions, but there is no record of letters of marque being issued. 
It is known, however, that in 1696 a Rhode Island privateer 
brought in the "Pelican," a vessel which the French had taken 
on her voyage from Boston to London, armed and fitted as a 
privateer. She was coasting on the banks of Newfoundland 
when she was fallen in with and again captured. 

That there were letters of marque issued from the Rhode Is- 
land colony and that some of those persons to whom they were 
granted were not over-scrupulous in their proceedings, is cer- 
tain from the nature of an order of the assembly called by Gov- 
ernor Clarke on special occasion in July, 1696, when it was 
voted that "considering of the many great complaints that sev- 
eral vessels have been fitted out of this colony and by all likeli- 
hood and circumstances are upon some unlawful design which 
is to the great dishonor of his Majesty and this his Majesty's 
Government ; and Tor the prevention of such proceedings for 
the future be it enacted by this Assembly that there be no per- 
son or persons commissionated from fhis government but shall 
first give bond of one thousand pounds with good securities 
that they shall not proceed upon any unlawful act as aforesaid ; 
except such vessels as shall be sent out by the authority of this 
Colony for the defence of his Majesty's interests against a com- 
mon enemy ; any act to the contrary notwithstanding." 

There was no court of admiralty provided under the royal 
charter, but the general council of the colony passed an admir- 
alty act in January, 1694, as appears from a document in the 
British State Paper office, which vested the authority, with tlie 
approval of the assembly, in itself. The occasion of its passage 
was the arrival of the Dublin frigate, of Jamaica, with a French 
prize, the first which had been brought in since the declaration 
of war. This seems to have given an immediate impulse to a 
movement for privateering in Newport. 

In December following the home government took perhaps 
the most effectual measure to check these illegal and irregular 
. acts by the establishment of courts of admiralty in all the col- 
onies, and in June, 1697, the High Court of Admiralty of Eng- 

276 HISTORY OF Newport county. 

land issued commissions to Peleg Sanford as judge of the court 
of admiralty in the colony of Rhode Island, and to Nathaniel 
Coddington as register of the same. The governor, Walter 
Clarke, refused to recognize the commissions, holding them to 
be a violation and infringement of the charter rights of the col- 
ony, and informed the assembly that if they allowed them he 
would leave the seat of governor, in which case there would be 
no more choice or election according to their charter. But the 
assembly not taking that view of the matter, Clarke pocketed 
the commission and dissolved the assembly. Clarke appears 
soon after to have resigned his office. 

He was succeeded by his nephew, Samuel Cranston, who also 
refused to administer the oath of office to the judge in admiral- 
ty, and withheld from him his commission. The records men- 
tion no inauguration of the court, but that it was established is 
certain from Bellomont's commission to its members, Brinley, 
Sanford and Coddington, to collect evidence in 1699 against the 
pirates and to secure the confederates of Kidd; a difficult matter 
because of the sympathy everywhere felt for the freebooters. 

The war closed with the treaty of Ryswick in September, 1697. 
All Europe was once more at peace. A printed proclamation 
was issued in England in October, and despatched to America 
with orders to put a stop' to all privateering against the French. 
It reached New England in December and was formally pub- 

While refusing to recognize the persons appointed in admir- 
alty, yet no longer venturing to act as such themselves, by their 
governor, in defiance of royal authority, the assembly of Rhode 
Island passed a severe law for the seizing and securing of any per- 
sons that" may be suspected of having been upon the seas upon 
such wicked designs as piracy and robbing, ordering that every 
person that had or should thereafter bring into the colony any 
foreign coin, gold, bullion, silver, merchandise and other treasure 
supposed to be taken in and upon the seas shall be apprehend- 
ed and made to show cause how he came by the same." 

King William left the colony in no doubt as to his intentions. 
He addressed a letter by the hand of Lord Shrewsbury to 
Rhode Island on the general subject of the trade, and immedi- 
ately after the signature of the peace a second letter by the 
hand of the same lord, his principal secretary of state, com- 
manding diligence in the obedience to his proclamation order- 


ing the seizure of all pirates and in especial manner of Henry 
Avery (the captor of the Mogul's ship). These later documents 
reached the colony two days after the adjournment of the as- 
sembly but were all published together with a proclamation of 
the assembly as of the date of its session, May 4tli, 1 698, in 
every town of the colony by beat of the drum. 

The extent to which privateering had been carried on under the 
unrestricted roving commissions, appears in the records of the 
years 1698-9 in the representations to the king about the irregu- 
larities in the government of Rhode Island, the instructions of 
the board of trade and plantations to Bellomont on the one hand 
and the letter of Governor Cranston, Clarke's nephew and 
successor, to the board of trade and their instructions to 
Bellomont on the other. The earl of Bellomont, commander- 
in-chief of the king's province of the Massachusetts Bay, ISTew 
York and New Hampshire, etc., was instructed to make special 
inquiries into the misdemeanors of Rhode Island and to put cer- 
tain queries to Clarke, the late governor. From these it seems 
that he was charged with having granted commissions without 
taking security, to sundry persons named, some of whom were 
notorious pirates; one, William Mayes, was charged with having 
assisted Avery in taking the Mogul's ship " Guns way," to which 
Cranston replied that " Mayes had his clearings from the Cus- 
tom House at Rhode Island to go on a trading voyage to Mada- 
gascar with a lawful commission from the government to fight 
the French, his Majesty's enemies." 

William Mayes lived at Portsmouth. The general assembly 
adjourned to meet at his house there in 1682. He does not seem 
to have returned from his voyage, and it is supposed that Avery 
murdered him and his whole company. He was the only per- 
son ever commissioned by Rhode Island, says Cranston, that 
" has been to the southward of Cape Good Hope." 

In a letter to the board of trade Cranston gives information of 
a ship scuttled on the coast a month before — a bagboat of four 
hundred tons belonging in London, bound for Borneo island. 
On the island of Polonoys, near Sumatra, the crew took ad- 
vantage of the captain's being on shore and ran away with the 
ship. One of the men was caught at Newport and the rest in 
the neighboring governments, and their money, about twelve 
hundred pounds, taken from them. 

Bellomont visited Rhode Island in September, 1699, with a 


number of the council of Massachusetts, and met the Rhode Is- 
land authorities at Governor Cranston's house. Inquiry and 
examination were made, when it appeared that one Gillam, a 
notorious pirate who came from Madagascar to Rhode Island 
with Captain Kidd, had been entertained in Newport at the 
house of the deputy collector. To sum up this curious matter 
John Russell Bartlett, editor of the Rhode Island Records, 
adds in a note that there are various documents preserved among 
the papers of Mr. John Carter Brown, copied from the state pa- 
per office at London, "which corroborate in a measure the serious 
chai'ges contained in the report of the earl of Bellomont against 
Rhode Island, It does not ajjpear, however, that there was any 
complicity between the authorities of the colony and those en- 
gaged in piracy, as might be inferred from Lord Bellomont' s 
report." But it is not so clear that there were not some, indeed 
many who were engaged in privateering between which and 
piracy the line was narrow; and Mr. Bartlett admits " that the 
facility with which commissions for letters of marque were ob- 
tained during the wars with France and Spain induced many 
adventurers to x^esort to Rhode Island for that purpose; while the 
advantages of the fine harbors of Narragansett bay led these 
privateers to fit them out as well as to return here with their 
booty. The notorious Captain Kidd was within our waters 
where he landed portions of his goods and ill-gained treasures, 
as appears from the testimony above referred to. Several of 
his ^companions charged with piracy also took r«fuge here and 
on the east end of Long Island, where they were sought by the 
authorities at the instigation of Lord Bellemont." 

The British cabinet in November, 1(399, issued an order to the 
governors of all the colonies to arrest Kidd, should he appear 
in their waters. He was taken in Boston and with his associ- 
ates, by a ship sent out for the purpose, was carried to England 
where he was executed for crimes in the results of which many 
a man of station in the colonies had his profit. It is a curious 
instance of the temper of the time that commissions to privateers 
should have been issued by such men as Walter Clarke without, 
as he himself admits, any thought of taking security for a faith- 
ful discharge of this, the most dangerous of trusts. 

Neither royal orders, colony proclamation nor beat of drum 
are much restraint upon men who have once acquired a taste for 
blood and plunder, and it is not surprising to find, in the journal 


of an English Friend who was at Block Island on a religious 
errand in 1702, that most of the able bodied men on the. island 
had gone off in privateers. 

Depredations by Foreign Privateers.— At the time (1680) 
that the inquiries of the board of trade were submitted to the 
Rhode Island authorities, England was at peace and there 
could be no excuse for the appearance of privateers on the 
waters of the. American colonies, but the seventh question of 
the board shows that there were such rovers under the pre- 
tence of commission or in defiance of the law of nations abroad 
on the high seas. The answer of Rhode Island was that "our 
coast is little frequented and not at all at this time with 
privateers or 'pirates." This happy state of affairs was not 
of long duration. In 1682 the first of these freebooters 
made their appearance' on the coast and hardy rufiians 
they were. Their bark, the " White Wood," was captured 
and the crew brought into Newport. Some of them broke jail 
and plotted to murder Sanford, the governor of the colony. 
One of them, a negro, betrayed the design and in reward, at his 
own request, was held under guard while the privateers, John 
Smith and his associates, were sent to Virginia for trial. The 
articles seized from the men, moneys, plate, clothing, guns, 
servants and boats, were taken possession of by the governor 
and recorder, who were ordered to account to the assembly. 

The war began by France to re-establish James the Second on 
the throne of England was marked by unusual activity on the 
part of that continental power on the seas. Proclaimed in 
in the spring of 1699, ^^ Newport, the English settlements were 
thrown into consternation in July by the descent of a 
fleet of seven French privateers on the coast of New Eng- 
land, which captured Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Block 
Island. An armed sloop was sent out from Newport to watch 
their movements. Some of the French vessels attempted a sur- 
prise of the town but, finding it on guard, withdrew and sailed 
through the sound to New London, where they were driven off; 
bonfires lighted along the shore from Pawcatuck having given 
warning of their approach. They landed at Fisher's island and 
burned the only house on it. This party were surprised by 
some Stonington men, and their guide, a renegade Englishman, 
who had led them to Block Island, was killed. For eight days 
they hung about the neighborhood. 


On the 25th of July the governor and conncil commissionec 
Captain Thomas Faine (himself a privateer and later one o 
Kidd's friends), Captain John Godfrej^and others to pursue th. 
enemy. Two sloops and ninety men, Captain Paine command 
ing, fell in with five sail of the French near Block Island. Th^ 
enemy numbered two hundred men and were commanded b; 
Captain Fekar, who had sailed some years before under Pain^ 
in privateering expeditions. After a severe fight in which th 
French were worsted, they put to sea. Chased by Paine, the; 
sank one of their prizes laden with wines and brandies. Pain^ 
returned to Newport but the people were so alarmed that man; 
removed their valuables to the interior. 

Block Island, from its exposed position now became, a 
during the Indian wars, a favorite point of surprise. In May 
1691, a night attack was made upon it and cattle wer 
carried off. In the summer of 1692 the British frigate " Non 
such," cruising at the mouth of the sound, sighted a Frencl 
privateer which had already plundered Block Island and 
giving chase, captured it in Monument bay, near Elizabetl 
islands, and brought it into Newport. After the "Nonsuch' 
left the harbor another French privateer seized several ves 
sels, one of which, John Godfrey master, belonged to Rhod 
Island. Governor Easton at once sent out a brigantine un 
der command of Captain Peter Lawrence, who returned afte 
a fruitless search. A fourth attack on Block Island wa 
repulsed by the settlers in an "open pitched battle." Th 
Rhode Island authorities, in an address to the king thi 
summer (1692) liken their position to that of a border post 
" being frontiers at sea as your Majesty's fort at Albany is b; 
land" and therefore as "very great charge by watching an( 

warding," and not suitably fortified. These were the last o 
the French descents. Now for a time Block Island, Conanicu 
and even Rhode Island became the quiet refuge of English ani 
American freebooters. Block Island has been searched for Kidd' 
treasures and there is a tradition that the cave in the cliffs a 
Ochre point was the favorite landing place of this famou 
*' pirate king." 

The peace of Ryswick was but a lull in the great Enropea 
struggle. Four years later (1702) the war of the Spanish su( 
cession began. Queen Anne's declaration of hostilities agains 
France and Spain was proclaimed in May. The news of a stron 


French fleet cruising in the West Indies again alarmed Rhode 
Island and stimulated every measure of defense. The coast was 
watched by scouts and a garrison established on Block Island. 
In June a sloop laden with provisions was taken by a French 
privateer. Within twenty-four hours an expedition of two 
sloops was sent out after the intruder and the vessel and prize 
brought back in triumph by Captain John Wanton. The next 
day the general assembly voted the governor a gratuity of 
five pounds for his extraordinary trouble in setting out the 
sloops in the expedition, and empowered him to take up and 
improve any vessels to send out in case of invasion, and upon 
any sudden invasion within the precincts of the colony to press 
any vessel or vessels for the colony's service. In 1708 French 
privateers again made their appearance, this time at Martha's 
Vineyard, when they took two prizes. Again within three 
hours after the news came into Newport Major William Wan- 
ton and Captain John Cranston went out in pursuit with two 
sloops. The French destroyed their prizes but escaped after 
a twenty-four hours' chase. 

Queen Anne's War with France and Spain, 1702-13. — In 
May, 1702, while the assembly was busy in the fortification of 
the harbor and in arming the colony, news was received of the 
declaration of war by Queen Anne upon France and Spain. 
This war, which continued for eleven years, is known in En- 
glish annals as the war for the Spanish succession ; in those of 
the colonies as Queen Anne's war. In July following the brig- 
antine "Greyhound," of one hundred tons, mounting twelve 
guns and manned with one hundred men and boys, was fitted 
out at Newport and her command given to Captain William 
Wanton, with a four months' cruising commission and instruc- 
tions to keep within the banks of Newfoundland on the east 
and the thirtieth parallel of north latitude on the south, where 
the French and Spanish privateers were to be looked for. 

Wanton was of a Quaker family which came to Rhode Island 
from Plymouth. He was himself a shipwright at Portsmouth 
and with his brother John became famous for privateering 
exploits. On his return in September from a cruise in the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence he brought into port three French ships, 
one a privateer of two hundred and sixty tons, carrying twenty 
guns and forty-eight men, another, a vessel of three hundred 


tons with sixteen guns and a third of one hundred and sixty 
tons mounting eight guns. They had cargoes of dried fish. 

The sale of these prizes was the occasion of an attempt on 
the part of Dudley, the vice-admiral, to break up the admiral- 
ty court at Newport and substitute his own authority. It is 
not to be denied that there liad been great abuses and irregu 
larity in affairs of admiralty in Rhode Island. The queen's or- 
ders had annulled the colonial act of 1694. The authority of the 
judges appointed by the crown in 1697 had been disputed by 
the governor and his commission withheld. In 1699 the judge, 
Peleg Sanford, wrote the Earl of Bellomont that he had not up 
to that time been able to discharge his duty owing to the oppo- 
sition of the government which claimed admiralty authority, 
and that pirates and other suspected persons were countenanced 
and entertained and readily found bondsmen in the sums of 
two to three thousand pounds. 

Sanford died in 1701 without, as far as can be ascertained, 
having exercised his official functions. But the judges in ad- 
miralty held their power to be not only to govern the adminis- 
tration of prizes but to issue commissions to privateers. Dud- 
ley denied the validity of Wanton's commission and the entire 
subject was referred to the queen. Colonel Nathaniel Byfield 
was appointed by Dudley to the vacancy made by the death of 
Sanford, but the same opposition was made to his authority as 
to that of his predecessor. The authority of Dudley as vice- 
admiral had been established by the orders of the queen in 
council in 1703, which expressly declared that there was no ad- 
miralty jurisdiction in the charter of Rhode Island. 

In 1705 the brigantine " Charles," a private man-of-war, sent 
out from Newport under Captain John Halsey, with the gov- 
ernor's commission, returned with a valuable Spanish prize 
taken in the West Indies. Judge Byfield refused to condemn 
the prize on the ground that the commission was not valid. 
The affair caused great commotion until Dudley wrote to By- 
field, advising condemnation in order to save the cargo which 
would else b'e embezzled or lost. It had already been dis- 
charged. The vessel was condemned and strange to say the 
general assembly was convened to lay a tax of five hundred 
pounds, out of which one hundred and seventy was to go to the 
lord high admiral's tenths, due him from the colony for prize 


The question seems to have been whether the issue of com- 
missions or letters of marque was a privilege of the judge or a 
chartered right of the governor. In point of fact, being tanta- 
mount to a declaration of hostilities, it was a prerogative of the 
crown. These proceedings must have dampened the ardor of 
the privateers who would ill brook the nice questioning of an 
independent authority into their proceedings, and we hear no 
more of them during this war. But Captain Wanton again dis- 
tinguished himself in 1706 in the capture of French privateers 
which hung about the coast. Judge Sheffield, of Newport, in 
his interesting paper on this subject, says that while no records 
now exist to show the number that sailed out, "Fort Ann was 
built from the queen's tenths of the prizes during the war." To 
this purpose the colony devoted the proceeds of the "money, 
gold plate and goods " forfeited by one Munday, accused of 
piracy in 1699, and there were taxes laid also for the same. Peace 
being declared, the venturesome seafaring men men and the en- 
terprising traders turned their attention to the coast of Africa 
and the slave trade, an account of which elsewhere appears. 

War WITH Spain, 1739 ; Spain and France, 1744. — Informa- 
tion reaching Rhode Island in the course of the summer of 
probable hostilities between England and Spain, the colony 
began instantly to prepare for their share of the plunder 
which lay near at hand. Newport was now a port of some 
consequence, her seafaring men were just the material needed 
for officers and men in this kind of warfare, and her merchants 
were able to put their vessels into commission as fast as they 
could be manned. In August, before the English government 
issued the declaration of war, the king's warrant to commission 
privateers reached Rhode Island. The assembly at once ordered 
that Godfrey Malbone, John Brown and George Wanton should 
be loaned the colonys' small arms and ammunition of all 

War was declared in England in October and further pre- 
parations made by the colony ; beacons were ordered along 
the coast and a sloop not exceeding one hundred and fifteen 
tons, to be constructed for the colony's use and put under 
command of Colonel John Cranston for the first cruise. In 
July, word being brought in that a French schooner was off 
the coast on illicit trade, the "Tartar," as the sloop was 
called, went out after her and brought her into port, where 


she was condemned by the judge of vice-admiralty. The 
"Tartar" carried twelve carriage guns, twelve swivel guns 
and had a large deck room. In October she was dismantled 
and taken out of commission till the assembly should meet. 

In 1741 the ISTewport merchants sent out five vessels, the "St. 
Andrews," "Revenge," " Wentworth," "Victory" and "Tri- 
ton," manned together by four hundred men. In 1743 five ves- 
sels went out, of which four were new ; in 1743 seven, of which 
six were new. 

In 1744 new troubles arose in England. Charles Edward, the 
pretender, set up his standard and France declared war in his 
favor. In March war against France was proclaimed in England 
and in June the rumor came down the coast from the fishing 
banks even before the proclamation was received. The colony 
strengthened its defenses and doubled its number of vessels. The 
"Tartar" was at once put in commission, armed and sent to 
cruise between Martha's Vineyard and Long Island. The sol- 
diers on Block Island were ordered on board the sloop and en- 
listed at wages ranging from £25 per month to the captain to £8 
per month to the men. The food allowance was to each man per 
week : seven pounds of bread, four pounds of beef, two pounds 
of pork, two quarts of peas or beans and one pound of butter ; 
and for every day each man half a pint of rum. The cruise, 
however, was to be undertaken as a coast guard only on condi- 
tion of the colony of Connecticut fitting out a sloop to act in 
conjunction with it. 

The king's declaration of war against France arrived in Au- 
gust. In the spring of the next year (1745) men were pressed 
into the service, "transient sea-faring men, persons who have 
no certain place of abode and such as have no visible honest 
means of getting their living." The "Tartar" was placed un- 
der command of Captain Daniel Fones and attached to the ex- 
pedition against Cape Breton for an indefinite time, and news 
coming in of the capture by Commodore Warren, of the "Vigi- 
lante," a large French man-of-war, the colony offered a bounty 
of £17, old tenor, to all who should enlist; strict orders were is- 
sued to prevent any seamen leaving the island and to impress 
forty men for the "Vigilante." 

The "Tartar," while acting with the Connecticut sloop as 
convoy to the troop transports to Cape Breton fell in with the 
French frigate "Renommee" of thirty-six guns and received 


some damage, but was fortunately not pursued, the French ship 
having desjjatches on board. The "Tartar" did good service, 
dispersing a French fleet which was transporting troops from 
Annapolis to Louisburg. In October the " Tartar " was ordered 
home. Two of the guns carried by her on this memorable ex- 
pedition now show their grim muzzles at the foot of the Parade 
in Newport. 

At the close of this year a great disaster befell the colony in 
the loss of two large privateer ships biiilt and fitted out for a 
cruise on the Spanish main by Colonel Godfrey Malbone. 
Manned by four hundred men they went on the day set for 
them by the horoscope, as was usual, Friday the 24th of De- 
cember, 1745, in a violent snow storm which rose to a hurricane 
and blew for two days. The vessels were never heard from 
and two hundred Newport families were left without their 

In May, 1746, the " Tartar" was again fitted out to guard the 
coast from Martha's Vineyard to Sandy Hook in company with 
the Connecticut sloop, and in the next month was again ordered 
to accompany the new expedition for the invasion of Canada. 
In October Captain Fones received orders to Join to intercept 
Admiral Lestrok who was on his way to Nova Scotia with infor- 
mation of the presence of a powerful French fleet in the Canadian 
waters. It is evident that the "Tartar " was a vessel of uncom- 
mon speed. In the spring of 1748 she was again sent to cruise 
along the coast under the command of Captain James Holmes. 
The first day out he captured a schooner off Point Judith, laden 
with sugar from Hispaniola to a northern i:)ort. The vessel 
claimed to be a flag of truce. A committee of the assembly found 
the captain guilt}^ of imprudence in sending her in but he was 
not relieved of his command. On the news of the peace being 
signed at Aix-la-Chapelle (April 19th, 1748) the "Tartar" was 
taken out of commission but not dismantled, and ordered to lay 
at anchor in the road. A sale at auction closed the career of 
this adventurous vessel. 

The Newport privateers were busy in these years. In 1745, 
fifteen vessels, some of large size, were sent out. In 1746 two 
more were commissioned ; in 1747, ten ; in 1748, three. Some of 
them had eventful histories. In 1746 the "Defiance" and 
"Duke of Marlborough " captured a vessel and sold her crew 
of twenty- two Spaniards in the northern colonies. But in turn 


the nineteen of the crew of the " Defiance " were taken by the 
Spaniards and held at Havana for the release of the enslaved 
men. The Rhode Island assembly looked up the slaves and re- 
turned them by a flag of truce. In 1647 the French at Martin- 
ique sent out a vessel of fourteen guns and a hundred and forty 
men to capture Captain Dennis, a man famous for his ex- 
ploits ; but after an action of four hours the Frenchman struck 
his flag and was taken as a prize into the English island of St. 
Kitts. Sheffield, in his interesting monograph on this subject, 
gives the names of sixtj^-flve privateers commissioned or re- 
commissioned at Newport during the Spanish-French war, 1741 
-48, and of seventy-seven prizes, a part only of those brought 
in daring the same iieriod. 

The Old French War— Seven Years War, 1754-61.— It was 
soon found that the high contracting powers to the treaty of 
Aix-la-Chapelle in 1448, which closed the war of the Spanish 
succession, could not agree upon the boundary lines of their 
respective possessions in America. In 1754 the contest be- 
gan on the land, and in January, 1755, the assembly of 
Rhode Island, summoned for the purpose, made arrange- 
ments for raising troops, but it was some time before New- 
port privateers took a hand in the war. The Newport cap- 
tains were fully employed in the slave trade and perhaps 
sometimes combined the two classes of adventure. In 1759, 
nearly one fifth of the adult male population were engaged on 
board of private armed ships. It is rather amusing to find that 
Captain Joseph Wanton, who commanded the snow "King of 
Prussia," which was captured on the west coast of Africa, de- 
clares himself in his deposition of protest against the act of 
prize, that he was one of the " people called Quakers and con- 
scientiously scrupulous about taking an oath." More than 
fifty Newport vessels met the same fortune between 1758 and 
1762, and among others the "Fox," which Captain Dennis took 
out on a cruise to the Spanish main but was never again heard 

For the better despatch of the business the adjudication of 
prizes threw on the admiralty, the colony applied for the ap- 
pointment of a judge of vice-admiralty, and John Andrews was 
appointed by the admiralty commissioners in 1758. Mr. Shef- 
field's list gives seventy privateers newly commissioned or sent 
out a second time from Newport between 1753 and 1762, and of 


fifr,y-two vessels, part of the prizes brought in. Mr. Sheffield 
names as the merchants engaged in this business, the Malbones, 
Godfrey and Evan ; John and Peleg Brown ; John Bannister, 
William Mumford, Daniel Ayrault, Jr., John and Nathaniel 
Coddington, William and Joseph Wanton, Solomon Tovpnsend,' 
Isaac and Napthall Hart (Jews) ; and among the famous cap- 
tains, Benjamin Wickham, Charles Davidson, James Allen, 
Esek Hopkins, William Jackson Barfield, Charles Dyer, John 
Dennis, Simeon Potter, Benjamin Cranston, William Hopkins, 
Robert Morris, Peter Marshall, Thomas Conklin and others. 
Another of these captains, Abraham Whipple, is said to have 
taken twenty-three prizes in one cruise in 1759 and 1760. These 
privateersmen were not over particular as to the nationality of 
their enemy or the flag which was carried, and were as ready 
for a rich Spanish prize as though there were war with that 
country. An order of council was issued on the subject in Octo- 
ber, 1756, and in 1757 William Pitt, then secretary, warned the 
Rhode Island government of the determination of the king to 
stop the "scandalous disorders which, if not stopped, would in- 
volve him in odious disputes with all the neutral powers of 
Europe." ISTor does it seem that the privateersmen were over- 
scrupulous at home, as a law was passed in the same year fining 
every master who should take away a slave, the sum of £500. 
Their great success in this time of adventure came from the 
rule adopted since the capture of Spanish galleons at Porte 
Bello that the sailors had a share and a very considerable share 
of the prize money. The declaration of war against Spain in 
1761 gave a new impulse to hostilities at sea and the West In- 
dia waters again swarmed with privateers which swept French 
and Spanish commerce. from the seas. Martinique, and soon 
after Havana, fell into P^nglish power. The peace of Paris 
closed the war in 1763. 

Rhode Island Privateers in the War of the American 
Revolution, 1775-83. — The beginning of hostilities in 1775 
found Rhode Island ready for her favorite service and, on the le- 
galizing of privateering by act of congress, measures were imme- 
diately taken for an active part in this branch of offensive war. A 
prize court was established at Newport and a judge appointed. 
Arnold, in his history of Rhode Island says that " no less than 
sixteen vessels, heavily armed and well manned, were sent out be- 
fore October, 1776, by this colony alone," but Sheffield gives a list 


of fifty-seven vessels newly commissioned or sent out a second 
time from Newport in the course of the year 1776, of seventeen 
in 1777, of seventeen in 1778, of thirty-eight in 1779, of thirteen 
in 1780, of nine in 1781, of twenty-six in 1782 and of seventeen 
in 1783 ; in the seven years of one hundred and seventeen. The 
list does not contain all the names as the governor issued near- 
ly two hundred commissions. He gives also a list of prizes sent 
into Rhode Island : forty in 1776, four in 1777, eight in 1778, 
nine in 1779, seven in 1780, nine in 1781, twenty-five in 1782 ; in 
all one hundred and two ; but no doubt many were taken into 
other American ports and condemned. And this work was not 
only important but in everyway commendable. It was not a 
simple depredation on the commerce of individuals but the 
regular interception and cutting off of transports which brought 
provisions and amunition, under convoy of men-of-war, to sup- 
ply the British posts on the coast from Halifax to New York 
and Charleston; a different story from that of the bloody excur- 
sions on the Spanish main in the old wars. 

The old captains and the old vessels again appear. Esek 
Hopkins, who commanded a privateer in the French war, was 
piit in charge of a fleet of continental vessels as commodore. 
The " Revenge " and the "Defiance" went out again under 
new commanders. Captain Abraham Whipple, who made his 
fame in 1759-60, is said at one time in the revolution to have 
taken prizes to the amount of over one million dollars. Such 
was the popularity of this class of service that it was at the be- 
ginning of the war proposed to lay an embargo at all the ports, 
on outgoing vessels, until the quotas for land service should be 
filled. In February, 1783, news of the preliminaries of peace 
having been signed reaching Philadelphia, congress issued 
orders " to recall all armed vessels from the United States." 

Stamp Act. JSTon Importation Agreement, 1763-74. — The 
Seven Years' War prosecuted bj^ Pitt without stint of men or 
treasure left England in assured possession of the greater part 
of the dominions of the House of Bourbon in America, but with 
a public (English) debt doubled and amounting, at the time of 
the signature of the peace of Paris in February, 1763, to one 
hundred and forty millions of pounds sterling. 

The British ministry now turned its attention to the regula- 
tion of American affairs and an enforcement of the acts of trade 
and navigation which had been somewhat relaxed during the 


progress of hostilities. In April, 1763, Shelburne, president ot 
the board of commissioners of trade and plantations, notified 
the government of Rhode Island of the new regulations for the 
manner of their correspondence and issued instructions which 
were confirmed in September by his successor in ofiice, the Earl 
of Hillsborough. 

A new minister was now at the head of affairs. The incom- 
petent Lord Bute resigned in April and George Grrenville united 
in himself the offices of chancellor of the exchequer and first 
lord of the treasury. A man of routine and order in admin- 
istration, Grenville was neither a sagacious politician nor a 
wise statesman. This was shown in his first dealings with 
American affairs. On the 11th of October Hillsborough ad- 
dressed to the Rhode Island government instructions for the 
stringent enforcement of the revenue laws and enjoined it in 
the strictest manner to make suppression of the prohibited 
trade with foreign nations. The London custom house commis- 
sioned John Robinson, at Newport, as collector and surveyor 
for Rhode Island, and Temple, the surveyor-general at Boston, 
appointed William Taylor as comptroller of customs for the 
port of Newport, and in October the Earl of Colville placed his 
Majesty's ship " Squirrel" on the station at Newport " for the 
encouragement of fair trade by the prevention of smuggling." 

Parliament met in November but as the winter session was 
taken up with the Wilkes proceedings, which involved questions 
of parliamentary privilege as well as of personal liberty, it was 
not until March that Grenville brought forward his measures of 
finance. By the re-arrangement of the debt the ingenious min- 
ister contrived to avoid levying new taxes, meeting the interest 
on contracts by a careful collection of the revenue at home 
which, by the stoppage of smuggling, increased four hundred 
thousand pounds sterling on the article of tea alone. This pol- 
icy Grenville determined to extend to the colonies, but as the 
result of this plan was uncertain, he sought a more direct rev- 
enue by a measure to tax the bills of credit which the colonies 
had issued as legal tender during the war. On the 5th of 
March, in pursuance of this policy, he introduced the project 
of drawing revenue from America by stamps and announced his 
intention of bringing in a bill at the next session of parliament. 
In the development of his plan Grenville challenged the oppo- 
sition to deny the right of parliament to tax America. No 



voice was raised in denial and the next day it was unanimously- 
resolved that it was right and proper to impose certain stamp 
duties on the colonies. Grenville said in the course of his 
speech that he was not absolutely wedded to a stamp act if the 
colonies would provide some more satisfactory plan. 

But for the indefatigable exertions of Americans in London 
and especially of William Allen, chief justice of Pennsylvania, 
the measure would have been brought in and passed immedi- 
ately. Parliament was prorogued on the 31st of June. Mean- 
while the very first threats of strict enforcement of the acts of 
trade had caused a protest from Rhode Island. For thirty 
years the colony had been complaining of the unjust operations 
of the sugar act of George II, which was now expiring of its 
own limitation. This act, which levied a duty on sugar and 
molasses imported from any of the West India colonies into any 
of the North American colonies, would have been particularly 
onerous to Rhode Island' if she had paid much regard to it. 
Now that English power was supreme on the American conti- 
nent, and there was prospect of a rigid enforcement, which 
would destroy the most valuable industry of the colony, the as- 
sembly prepared a remonstrance against a renewal of the act, 
which they sent to Joseph Sherwood, the agent of the colony at 
London, with instructions to secure the joining with him in the 
remonstrance of the agents of at least three of the northern col- 
onies to the lord commissioner. Moreover, the governor was re- 
quested to write to the board of trade independently of the re- 

New York was the first of the colonies to make protest against 
the assumption of the king and parliament to levy taxes upon 
them, and " claimed the exclusive right of taxing themselves" 
in a petition addressed to the king and parliament on the 18th 
of October, 1764. The same day the New York assembly 
raised a committee of correspondence to confer with the sev- 
eral assemblies or committees of assemblies in the colonies. One 
of the members of the committee visited Boston and obtained 
the adoption of a petition of the same general nature from the 
Massachusetts colony on the 22d of the same month. 

In July the Rhode Island assembly met at Newport, took 
Into consideration the general subject of the objectionable duties 
and particularly that on stamps, and raised a committee to con- 
fer and consult with any committees appointed by the other 


colonies, and directed it to report at the next session. Tills 
seems to have been the first committee of correspondence ap- 
pointed, and though no practical action was taken by it until 
after New York adopted its own remonstrance and dispatched 
its committee to secure co-operation elsewhere, Rhode Island 
has the honor of priority in the scheme which has been con- 
sidered as the forerunner of union. At the next session its com- 
mittee was again continued, the assembly having meanwhile 
received a letter from the Earl of Halifax, requesting a list of 
all instruments used in public transactions. In November the 
assembly adopted a petition to the king and at the same time 
ordered an address prepared by Hopkins, the governor, entitled 
"The Rights of the Colonies examined," which they ordered 
to be sent to the agent in London for publication in print. 

The New York and Massachusetts petitions were laid before 
the privy council on the 11th of December, and the king was 
by it advised to send them to parliament. The king, how- 
ever, suppressed them. The Rhode Island protests were not 
presented, and Governor Hopkins' pamphlet reached London 
too late to warrant its publication. Parliament met on the 10th 
of January, 1765, and on the 7th of February, Mr. Grenville 
put the stamp bill on its passage, and it became an act by the 
king's signature on the 22d of March. Conway and Barr6 
opposed it vehemently in the commons but without making 
much impression on that body, and the lords passed it without 
debate or protest. 

Rhode Island was already in conflict with the revenue 
officers and his majesty's navy. Rear Admiral Colville, in the 
summer of 1764, sent out four armed vessels from Halifax to 
cruise along the coast to raise men. The officer of one of them, 
the schooner "St. John," while with his vessel at Newport, 
learned of a brig unloading in a creek near Howland's ferry. 
When he reached the spot he found a cargo of sugars unloaded 
but the vessel gone. Manning a boat he sent it in pursuit 
and brought back the vessel, which he reloaded. He was arrested 
and compelled to find bail in Newport, and on his going to 
Boston to consult the surveyor-general on the subject, a mob 
at Newport endeavored to destroy the schooner, stoning 
the crew. The schooner attempting to get under protec- 
tion of the guns of the man-of-war "Squirrel," the mob 
went to the battery and fired upon the schooner, which 


was only rescued by the "Squirrel" springing her cable and 
bringing the battery under her broadside. The captain of the 
"Squirrel" complained to the government but no redress was 
given or attempted. The captain of the " Squirrel" made a 
report in which he styled the government a "very ignorant 
council," and the lieutenant of the schooner prayed for "a 
change of government in this licentious republic." 

In March, 1765, the secretary of his majesty's council sent out 
papers to the government of Rhode Island particularly requir- 
ing a report as to "what was done by the government of the 
colony when the populace possessed themselves of the battery 
upon Goat Island." According to Arnold two of the magistrates 
gave the order to the governor at Fort George to lire on the 
boats. No explanation of this high-handed proceeding appears 
on the records, but it would seem that the offense of the officer 
of the schooner was his supposed intention to take the brig 
with the seized cargo to Halifax for condemnation. 

Rhode Island had always been tenacious about her relations 
with the customs and claimed the right of establishing the 
salaries for crown officers. The action of the British navy officers 
at Halifax in sending their cruisers down the coast in search of 
seamen was repeated in 1765. In May the "Maidstone," a 
British armed vessel, lay for several weeks in the harbor im- 
pressing seamen from vessels that came into port, from the 
coasters and even the small wood boats and river craft. The 
townsmen of Newport were let alone, but the commerce of the 
port suffered from the avoidance of it by trading vessels. 
Supplies to the town even became scarce. These outrages 
culminated in the boarding by English naval officers of a brig 
arrived from Africa on a June afternoon, and the impressment 
of the entire crew. Exasperated beyond measure, about live 
hundred Newport sailors and boys seized the "Maidstone's" 
boat at one of the wharves and dragging it through Queen street 
to the common, there burned it. 

During the summer all the colonies were in opposition to the 
Stamp Act. The house of burgesses of Virginia declared the 
measure unconstitutional; the people of Philadelphia spiked 
guns at the fort and barracks. In June and July news came 
that the act would be enforced in November. In June the 
Massachusetts house of representatives agreed to a meeting of 
committees from the several colonies at the city of New York 


on the first Tuesday in October. One after another the colonies 
appointed their delegates. The general assembly of Rhode 
Island named Metcalfe Bowler and Henry Ward commissioners 
to the New York congress. 

News came of a change in the British ministry. Gren- 
ville went out and Conway became secretary for the colo- 
nies. Bnt before this information arrived the colonies were 
in open revolt. Commissions had been received for the 
stamp officers, some of whom accepted the post. The office 
of Oliver in Boston was sacked, TngersoU in New Haven was 
forced to promise the reshipment of the stamps, Cone of New 
Jersey threw up his commission, McEvers in New York made 
formal resignation. Augustus Johnston, the attorney-general 
who had been appointed stamp distributor for Rhode Island, 
also resigned and notice was published in an extra of the 
"Providence Grazette," which bore the legend, '^Vox PopuU, 
Vox Dei'''' above its title. In many of the chief towns the stamp 
distributors were hung in effigy. The rage of the people ex- 
pressed itself in this way at Newport. On the 26th of August 
effigies of three leading citizens, Augustus Johnston, Martin 
Howard, Jr., a lawyer, and Dr. Thomas Moffatt, a Scotch physi- 
cian, were carted through the streets, hung on a gallows in front 
of the court house and at night cut down and burned. The next 
day their houses were plundered and they were driven to refuge 
on board the ' ' Cygnet ' ' sloop of war in the harbor. The revenue 
officers closed the custom house and sought the same protection. 
The lieutenant governor, Gideon Wanton, Jr., in the absence 
of the chief magistrate, invited them to return, but they demand- 
ed a guard and also the arrest of Samuel Crandall, the leader 
of the rioters, who had insisted as a condition of quiet that the 
custom house be managed in accordance with the acts of assem- 
bly, and that a prize sloop from the West Indies, with its cargo, 
held by the "Cygnet" for orders from the prize court of Hali- 
fax, be given up to the captors. There was even a plan by the 
citizens to take Fort George, cut out the prize sloop and to fire on 
the ' ' Cygnet ' ' in case of interference. 

The assembly, in September, condemned these violent pro- 
ceedings, and directed the governor to issue a proclamation for 
apprehending the rioters, and at the same time passed and 
made public certain declaratory resolutions concerning the act 
levying stamp duties and other internal duties, according in the 


main with those passed in Virginia and others of the colonies. 
These rested on the charter rights of Rhode Island, its custom 
of government by the assembly in matters of taxes and internal 
police, and declared the acts of parliament unconstitutional, 
and their intention to disregard all laws and ordinances except 
of their own making. This assembly, which Arnold styles one 
of the most important sessions ever held in Rhode Island, ap- 
pointed the commissioners to the congress. 

The Stamp Act congress, as it is known in history, met in 
New York on the 7th day of October,1765. Nine colonies, among 
which Rhode Island were represented; the delegates appointed 
in different forms and differently empowered but actuated by a 
similar spirit. They agreed upon a masterly declaration of 
rights and grievances and adopted memorials to the lords and 
commons. The congress adjourned on Friday, the 25th of Oc- 
tober, and the delegates were placed under an engagement of 
secrecy as to their proceeding until the petitions were presented. 
Immediately on their breaking up, a meeting of New York 
citizens was called at "Jones House in the Fields in New York" 
(the present City Hall park) for Monday the 28th, but the notice 
being too short for full attendance, it was postponed to the 31st of 
October at the City Arms (late the City Hotel), when over two 
hundred of the principal merchants solemnly bound themselves 
to a non-importation agreement. Philadelphia followed this 
example on the 7th of November. [Here it may be mentioned 
that there is a tablet in Philadelphia stating that this famous 
agreement originated in that city.] 

Meanwhile the 1st of November, the day fixed for the stamp 
act to take effect, had arrived. Grovernor Samuel Ward of Rhode 
Island had refused to take the oath to enforce the act. But the 
people took care that the instruments themselves should be want- 
ing. In New York the mayor himself, as the custodian of the 
people, received the stamps from the lieutenant-governor. In 
Newport the stamp officers placed them on board the "Cygnet," 
sloop of war, for safe-keeping; a town meeting was called at 
which the governor presided, which appointed a military guard 
and a night patrol to maintain peace and order in the excited 
town. No one has better stated the nature of the crisis than Mr. 
Arnold: " The wheels of every government in America were 
stopped at once. Commerce was crushed, law was annulled, 
justice was delayed, even the usages of domestic life were sus- 


pended by this anomalous and terrible act. Not a ship could sail, 
nor even a marriage take place that was not in itself illegal, so far 
as the British parliament could make it so; for every one of 
these acts required the evidence of stamped papers to establish 
its validity." 

No one in England, not even Franklin himself, who best 
of all the agents understood the temper ol the colonies, was 
prepared for such a universal spirit of resistance. At the 
opening of parliament in January, 1766, American affairs were 
the one engrossing subject of consideration. At the close of Feb- 
ruary the act was repealed, but at the same time an act passed 
declaratory of the right of parliament " to bind the colonies in 
all cases whatsoever." The king signed both documents on the 
18th of March. The first impulse given to home manufactures 
in America sprung from the determination of the people to free 
themselves from dependence on Great Britain. Societies were 
established to promote these industries and markets set up in 
the chief cities. Rhode Island was not behind in this enterprise. 
A premium was offered for the largest amount of flax raised dur- 
ing the year in the county of Providence. A paper mill was es 
tablished. The use of homespun garments became general. Lib- 
erty trees were planted in all the chief cities — in New York on 
the Fields; in Boston on the common; in Newport on a plot of 
land given by Captain William Read, one of the deputies for the 
town. A sort of reaction of loyalty followed the repeal of the 
stamp act. Statues were voted to the king and to Pitt. The 
king's birthday was celebrated with joy. There were rejoicings 
and balls in Providence and at Newport, where the assembly 
met in June and adopted an address to the king and resolutions 
of thanks to the merchants of London who had been zealous 
friends of the colonies. 

The whigs now came into power in England and parliament 
passed an indemnity to those who had incurred penalties under 
the stamp act, and an act regulating trade with the Wiest India 
islands with larger privileges. The Rhode Island colony was 
especially pleased by this legislation and the governor de- 
clared its satisfaction. The true state of public feeling was, 
however, not understood in England, or if understood disre- 
garded. A measure was brought into parliament to raise rev- 
enue in America by customs duties collected by oflBcers of the 
crown, Revenue commissioners were appointed with station nt 


Boston and John Robinson, collector at Newport, was appointe 
one of the new board. The collectors had nothing to do, as a 
orders for goods on which imports due were to be paid ha 
been countermanded, and committees of the citizens took caj 
to see that the non-importation agreement was enforced. 

The impossibility of collecting revenue in America for tt 
service of government was gradually brought home to tli 
British government, and in July, 1769, Joseph Sherwood, th 
agent of Rhode Island, was able to inform the governor thi 
the Earl of Hillsborough, one of the secretaries for America 
had informed the agents of several of the colonies that the legis 
latureand ministry had resolved to repeal the act levying dutic 
on paper, glass and colors. But before this news reached th 
colony Newport had again been the scene of a violent resistanc 
to the revenue laws. The "Liberty," a revenue sloop, had bee 
sent by the commissioners of the customs in Boston to cruis 
in the waters of Long Island. Her officers had taken an 
brought into Newport a Connecticut brig and sloop. In th 
night the townspeople cut the "Liberty's" cable, when sh 
drifted to shore near Long Wharf, where she was boarded an 
burned. The sloop escaped in the disturbance and the bri 
was duly cleared by thp authorities. Grovernor Wanton issue 
a proclamation from which it appears that the real purpose c 
these riotous proceedings was to enable the vessels to get awa 
with their prohibited goods. The commissioners offered a n 
ward of one hundred pounds sterling for the conviction of an 
of the offenders. 

The king, while yielding to the desire of his ministry in th 
'attempts to collect revenue, insisted on the right ; and " th 
three pence duty upon tea" was therefore excepted in the a( 
of repeal. 

In Newport, as has been seen, there was never much attentio 
paid to restrictive laws of any character, whether touching priv; 
teering, importations or collection of the revenue. In Marcl 
1772, the arbitrary conduct of the officers of his majesty' 
achooner " Gaspee," stationed with the " Beaver" in theNarn 
gansett waters to enforce the revenue acts, and the seizui 
on trivial pretexts of craft engaged in the daily trade of tli 
colony, brought on a correspondence between Governor Wanto 
and Lieutenant Duddington, in which the oificer expresse 
himself with the customary British insolence, and Governc 


Wanton answered with the independent spirit which was al- 
ready the tone of American communications. The interference 
of Lieutenant Duddington continuing, it was determined to put 
a stop to it. Word coming to Newport that the"Gaspee," 
while in chase of a trading vessel which had arrived in the har- 
bor of Newport and gone up the river to Providence, had run 
aground below Pawtuxet, volunteers were summoned in Provi- 
dence by beat of drum. Led by Captain Abraham Whipple 
and joined by a boat's crew from Bristol, they boarded the 
"Q-aspee" at night and after a short struggle, in which the 
saucy British lieutenant was wounded, the crew of his majesty's 
ship was driven below. At daylight the lieutenant was landed 
and the "Gaspee" was burned. 

Large rewards were offered in England for the arrest of the 
offenders and it was ordered that they be sent to England foi 
trial, but this was still another of those demands to which the 
colonies would not submit. The rewards were unavailing and 
alter many attempts on the part of the British government, the 
prosecutions were dropped. The friends of absolute govern- 
ment were inclined to peremptory measures and Hutchinson, the 
governor of Massachussetts, proposed the annulling of the char- 
ter of Rhode Island. The struggle was now rapidly approaching 
which was to determine whether England was to govern America 
or America to govern herself. 



By John Austin Stevens. 

Events of 1774. — First Continental Congress. — Military Preparations in Rhode 
Island. — Events of 1775.^The Army of Observation. — The Train of Artil- 
lery. — Depredations by Captain Wallace and his Fleet. — Events of 1776. 

NEWPORT was not included among the principal Ameri- 
can ports to which the East India Company sent the 
first tea ships. Her fidelity to the non-importation agreements 
was not, therefore, subjected to the same practical test as in the 
ports to which the consignments were made, but she left no 
doubt as to her attitude on the question. At a " very full 
town meeting" held on the 12th of January, 1774, Newport 
was the first of the Rhode Island towns to adopt stringent res- 
olutions forbidding the landing or bringing to land of any 
"dutied tea" belonging to the East India Company or any 
other person ; approving the proceedings of the people of Bos- 
ton, Philadelphia and ISTew York, and pledging themselves to 
join with the other towns of the colonies, and with the other 
colonies, in a resolute stand against every unconstitutional 
measure calculated to enslave America, and the tea act in par- ' 

A committee of correspondence, consisting of Colonel Joseph 
Wanton, Jr., Henry Ward, John Mawdsley, John Collins and 
William EUery, Esquires, was appointed to address the towns 
of the colony and to visit the importers of English goods, with 
notice of the resolutions and a request to countermand ship- 
ments of any dutiable merchandise ordered. 

The other towns followed in rapid succession : Providence 
on the 19th of January, Bristol and Richmond on the 28th of 
February, New Shoreham (Block Island) on the 2d of March, 
Cumberland on the 18th of March, Barrington on the 21st of 
March ; copies of the Newport resolutions having been sent to 


each. The published records of the colony name these towns 
and give all the resolutions in full, except those of Newport, 
which are represented to be in substance similar to those of 
Providence as here given. Arnold says that Warren followed 
Providence. Westerly met on February 2d, Little Compton 
February 3d, Middletown on the 9th ; then South Kingstown, 
Jamestown and Hopkinton— the others as above given. Gov- 
ernor Samuel Ward, of Westerly, the Samuel Adams of 
Ehode Island, one of the staunchest of the steadfast band who 
led the revolution, and second to no man in sturdy common 
sense, drew the Westerly resolutions, which were in the main 
the model of those which followed. 

The idea of a Congress was by no means new. The New 
■ York committee of inspection, discontented with the breach of 
the non-importation agreement by the Boston merchants, to 
their own detriment and the general injury, had, as early as 
August, 1770, urged a Congress on the colonies, to "unite them 
in one system for the whole Continent," which, as appears by 
the letter of the chairman of the New York committee pub- 
lished in Holt's "New York Journal," August 30th, 1770, was 
rejected. But now that the liberties of Massachusetts were 
directly menaced, the "rejected" measure became the corner- 
stone of the temple. John Hancock proposed it in a public 
meeting at Boston on the 5th of March, and with this endorse- 
ment it was at once received by New England and spread by 
the committees of correspondence through every town. 

The news from England of Lord North's measure of coercion ; 
the closing of the port of Boston against all commerce until it 
should give indemnity for the past and security for futuie 
obedience, the legalizing of quartering troops within the town 
of Boston, the appointment of General Gage, the military com- 
mander-in-chief for all North America, to the post of civil gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts, and the ordering to that colony of four 
regiments of British troops, left no doubt of the determination 
of Great Britain — king, ministers and parliament — to maintain 
their authority, of whatever nature and at whatever cost. 
Gage was ordered also to send to Great Britain the leaders of 
resistance — Samuel Adams, Hancock and Warren. The arrival 
of the Boston port bill on the 10th of May, followed by the 
landing of Gage at Castle William, hastened the measures of 


The general assembly of Rhode Island, at its May session 
(4t,h), ordered a census of the colony and appointed field offi- 
cers for the four counties : For JSTewport county, Mr. Daniel 
Dunham, colonel ; Mr. Isaac Dayton, lieutenant-colonel ; Mr. 
John Forrester, major. The census showed the population of 
the colony to be 69,678, including 54,435 whites, 3,761 blacks 
and 1,482 Indians. Newport county had 15,929, Providence 
19,206, Kings 13,866, Kent 7,888 and Bristol 2,789. The town 
of Newport had 9,209 inhabitants and Providence 4,321. 

The committees of the towns about Boston held a conference 
on the 12th of May, at which the speaker of the Rhode Island 
assembly, Mr. Metcalfe Bowler, of Newport, appeared with 
the news that the majority of the several colonies had made 
favorable answer to the circular-letter of the Rhode Island- 
house of deputies, the object of which was " a firm and close 
union of the Colonies," and that all were pledged to union. 
A great meeting was held at Faneuil Hall on the 13th, which 
was spirited in its resolves for resistance but had no word for a 
congress. On the 17th the people of Providence resolved 
heartily to Join with the province of the Massachusetts Bay 
and the other colonies in measures to secure tlieir natural 
rights and privileges, and directed their deputies " to use their 
influence at the approaching session of the general assembly 
of this colony (Rhode Island) for promoting a Congress." The 
people of Newport, Mr. Henry Ward, secretary of the colony, 
acting as moderator of the meeting, agreed to "unite with the 
other colonies in all reasonable and proper demands to procure 
the establishment of the rights of the colonies," and heartily 
to join in the measure to put a stop to trade with Great Britain 
and the West Indies. The meeting was very full and the 
spirit of it firm and determined. A number of gentlemen 
were immediately to form a company for carrying on the wool- 
en manufacture extensively in Rhode Island, there being wool 
enough raised on it to clothe all the inhabitants.^ 

The resolutions of the Providence meeting breathed the true 
spirit, but the claim of Mr. Arnold that it was the "first ex- 
plicit movement for a general Congress " cannot be sustained ; 
since New York had before then urged that as the only measure 
which would bring relief. The merchants and others of New 
York met on the 16th and appointed a large committee of corres- 
p6ndence. This committee organized on the 23d, when Paul 


Revere, the express from Boston to Philadelphia, brought in 
the official report of the Boston town meeting of the 13th, 
recommending strong non-importation resolutions. The New 
York committee instantly replied : "No remedy can be of any 
avail unless it proceeds from the Joint act and approbation of 
all. From a virtuous and spirited union much may be ex- 
pected, while the feeble efforts of a few will only be attended 
with mischief and disappointment to ourselves and triumph 
to the adversaries of our liberty. Upon these reasons we con- 
clude that a congress of deputies from the colonies in general 
is of the utmost moment ; that it ought to be assembled with- 
out delay and some unanimous resolutions formed in this 
fatal emergency, not only respecting your deplorable circum- 
stances but for the security of our common right ;" and close 
requesting "speedy opinion of the proposed Congress — that if 
it should meet with your approbation we may exert our ut- 
most endeavours to carry it into execution." 

To this the Boston committee replied, on the 30th of May, 
that the only measure was a "suspension of trade." New 
York answered on the 7th of June : " That (the suspension of 
trade) and every other resolution we have thought most pru- 
dent to leave for the discussion of the General Congress. Ad- 
hering therefore to that measure as most conducive to promote 
the grand system of politics we all have in view, we have the 
pleasure to acquaint you that we shall be ready on our part 
to meet at any time and place that you shall think fit to ap- 
point ; either of Deputies from the General Assembly or such 
other deputies as shall be chosen not only to speak the senti- 
ments but also to pledge themselves for the conduct of the 
people of the respective colonies they represent. We can un- 
dertake to assure you in behalf of the people in this colony 
that they will readily agree to any measure that shall be 
adopted by the General Congress. It will be necessary that 
you give a sufficient time for the Deputies of the Colonies as 
far Southward as the Carolinas to assemble and acquaint them 
as soon as possible with the proposed measure of a Congress." 

Massachusetts hesitated to bind herself to any common ac- 
tion. She wanted her own way and no other way. Rhode Is- 
land was more liberal. It is enough honor to her to say that in 
the movement for a congress she went hand in hand with New 
York. Indeed, since the happy result of the stamp act 


congress, it must have been plain that a congress with power to 
enforce its resolutions was the only manner to unite the forces 
of the colonies in a common action for redress of grievances or 
whatever ultimate result might be desired. 

The non-importation agreement originated in New York. It 
had been hailed with satisfaction by the other colonies but had 
not been adhered to by them. The southern colonies had in- 
creased their importations and, to quote the words of Bancroft, 
whogivesauthority for his statement, "New England and Penn- 
sylvania had imported nearly one half as much as usual; New 
York alone had been perfectly true to its engagement, and its 
imports had fallen off more than five parts in six. It was im- 
I)atient of a system of voluntary renunciation which was so un- 
equally kept; and the belief was common that if the others had 
adhered to it as strictly, all the grievances would have been re- 
dressed." Insult upon insult had been heaped upon New York 
because of her refusal to continue in the agreement, until she 
was resolved that she would make no agreements unless there 
was some power to compel compliance among the parties to it. 
That power was to be found and only to be found in a congress. 
Connecticut entreated Massachusetts to fix the time and place 
of meeting generously yielded to her by New York. 

On the 26th of May the legislature of Virginia was dissolved 
by Governor Dunmore, and on the 28th the committee of cor- 
respondence of that colony addressed the Rhode Island com- 
mittee approving the "appointing deputies from the several 
colonies of British America to meet annually in general con- 
gress." Here the idea of a permanent body is formulated. 
Rhode Island made a practical response and while the general 
court of Massachusetts, spurred on by Sam Adams, was cau- 
tiously arranging the day and place of meeting which, on the 
16th of June it finally named, the general assembly of Rhode 
Island had already, on the 13th, in a session held at Newport, 
appointed the Hon. Stephen Hopkins and the Hon. Samuel 
Ward to represent the people of the colony in a general con- 
gress of representatives, with instructions to join in a loyal and 
dutiful petition to his majesty for relief of grievances; to con- 
sult as to what measures to pursue in a united manner to pro- 
cure a redress of their grievances and to endeavor to procure a 
regular annual convention of representatives from all the col- 


Thus, stone by Stone, was laid and cemented the firm structure 
■of American government. On this day also, prompted by their 
solemn undertaking for their own rights and liberties, with an 
admirable fitness, this assn^mbly enacted "that for the future 
no negro or mulatto slave shall be brought into the colony and 
in case any slave shall be brought in he or she shall be and are 
hereby rendered immediately free so far as respects personal 
freedom and the enjoyment of private property in the same 
miinner as the native Indians." Exceptions were made, how- 
ever, in favor of travellers through the colony as to their ser- 
vants and to inhabitants of any of the British colonies who 
brought personal slaves in these colonies with intention to re- 
side with them for a term of years in Rhode Island. Other 
provisos protected the traffic in voyages not yet completed. 

Thursday, June 13th, began also the military arrangements. 
A lottery to raise six hundred dollars was granted to Benjamin 
Greene, one of the owners of Greene's iron works in Coventry, 
to rebuild the same. An independent company was chartered 
by the name of "The Light Infantry for the County of Provi- 
<ience." It was to consist of one hundred men and its station 
to be "in front of the left wing of the Regiment." Arnold 
gives this detail and says, " that the Providence County Artil- 
lery charter granted thirty years before was amended by a 
change of name to the ' Cadet Company ' and the right of the line 
assigned to it in express terms." Little more was done except 
the overhauling of the stores in Fort George pending the meet- 
ing of the continental congress set for the first day of Septem- 
ber at Philadelphia. 

That day Gage' s seizure of powder and cannon aroused all New 
England, and men marched toward Boston from all directions. 
While Gage fortified Boston neck the continental congress, the 
most remarkable body of men that ever met in this and per- 
haps in any country, fifty-five in number, passed a non-impoi'- 
tation agreement, forbade the importation of slaves, addressed 
the people of Canada to meet them by deputies at the next 
oongress and adopted a loyal conciliatory petition with a dec- 
laration of grievances to the king. Boston being in great dis- 
tress from the closing of the port, Rhode Island took her part 
in raising contributions in money and stock. Newport appears 
among the contributors as giving three hundred pounds or one 
thousand dollars. 


The continental congress dissolved October 26th, and the 
same day the general asserably met at Providence, and at once 
entered upon a consideration of various petitions for establish- 
ing independent companies. Acts were passed chartering in the 
county of Newport the Newport Light Infantry, in the town of 
Providence the Providence Grenadier company, the Kentish 
Guards, the Pawtuxet Rangers and the company of Light 
Infantry of the town of Glocester. The regiment in the 
county of Providence was divided into three regiments, each 
regiment to be a battalion, and the whole to be formed into one 
brigade. On the 3d of November the " Rose " frigate, Captain 
Wallace, came into port on the winter station. Newport, in 
November, appointed a committee of inspection in accordance 
with the recommendation of congress to insure non-importa- 
tion. In December (5th) the delegates to congress made report 
to a special session of the assembly held at Pro-vidence, were 
thanked and reappointed. 

A letter from Lord Dartmouth of the 19th of October offici- 
ally informed the governor and company of the order of that 
day of the king in council, prohibiting the exportation of gun- 
powder or any sort of arms or amunition from Great Britain, 
and his command to secure whatever might be attempted to be 
imported unless the master of the vessel had a license from his 
majesty or the privy council. The information was timely and 
acted upon in a manner little expected by the honorable secre- 
tary. All the cannon at Fort George (except two eighteen 
pounders and one six pounder) and powder and ball sufficient 
were ordered to Providence under supervision of Colonel Joseph 
Nightingale and to his care. The train of artillery for the 
county of Providence was supplied by purchase with four brass 
cannon. The North Providence Rangers was incorporated, 
and the act regulating the militia amended, musters ordered 
for April and October, and a general review every two years. 
It was also ordered that a major-general of the colony's forces 
be annually appointed by the governor and company, and 
Simeon Potter, Esq., was appointed and commissioned. Finally 
Jeremiah Hopkins, of Coventry, where the iron works were, 
was granted a lottery for the raising of two hundred dollars 
for an equipment of tools and instruments for his establishment 
as a gunsmith. The assembly adjourned on the 15th of De- 
cember. Firearms were now manufactured on an extensive 


scale, and sixty heavy cannon, besides field pieces, cast at the 
iron works. Orders poured in for arms from all quarters. 

The removal of the cannon from Fort George had been dis- 
creetly managed during the absence of Captain Wallace with 
the man-of-war " Rose" on a cruise to New London. He made 
a grievous report to Vice- Admiral Graves of his visit of inquiry 
to Governor Wanton. That gentleman informed him that "it 
had been done to prevent their falling into the hands of the 
king or any of his servants, and that they meant to make use 
of them to defend themselves against any power that shall 
offer to molest them." When he inquired as to whether the 
governor would lend assistance in case it was asked to carry on 
the king's service he was answered by him that as to himself 
he had no power; and in respect to any other part of the gov- 
ernment he (the captain) should meet with nothing but oppo- 
sition and difficulty." So much," he adds, " from Governor 
Wanton," and in fact at this time the governor was in anxious 
uncertainty as to his own course. 

The arrivals from England were now awaited with great in- 
terest and anxiety. A letter was received from Lord Dart- 
mouth, dated at Whitehall on the 15th of December, enclosing 
a copy of the king's speech opening the new parliament sum- 
moned in view of the increasing complications in American 
affairs, and also informed the assembly of the great majority 
by which both houses of parliament had voted the address en- 
gaging their support of the measures of repression. Later 
letters were received from London, December 24th, 1774, from 
the agents of the colonies. Franklin had placed in the hands 
of Lord Dartmouth, secretary of state for the American depart- 
ment, the petition of congress to the king, and they had 
been that morning informed by the earl that the king had 
graciously received and promised to lay it before parliament 
after the Christmas recess. 

During January and February of 1775 enlistments were con- 
stant. On the first of March, the day fixed by congress for the 
stoppingof theuseof tea, the Providence committee of inspection 
addressed a notice to the towns to remind them of the order. 
Tea was at once proscribed, and a large amount, estimated at 
three hundred pounds, was burned in the public square at 
Providence. On the 3d of April, in conformity with the act of 
assembly, a general muster was held of the militia. Two thon- 



sand men were under arms in Providence county and a troop 
of horse. In Kent county nearly fifteen hundred, without 
taking into account the several chartered companies. The next 
day the independent companies were reviewed. Details are 
unfortunately wanting of the action of Newport, but there is 
no doubt the island was fully represented. 

Massachusetts in provincial congress voted to raise an army 
on the 8th, and called on the other New England colonies for 
assistance. The march of the British ordered by Gage to seize 
the stores at Concord, and the news of the fight at Lexington 
on the 19th of April were known at Providence the same night. 
Expresses notified every town, and a thousand men marched 
the next day, but were countermanded by expresses from the 
eastwai'd. The men of Concord and Lexington had driven the 
invaders to the cover of their guns at Charlestown. The gen- 
eral assembly of Rhode Island met at Providence on the 22d 
day of April. A committee was raised to apportion among the 
towns twenty-five hundred pounds of the colony powder and 
one-quarter of the lead, bullets and flints. Mr. Thomas Free- 
body was named to receive NewiDort's share. By the report of 
the committee of apportionment it appears to have been by far 
the largest share, three hundred and eighty-nine pounds of 
powder, six hundred and twenty-three of lead and twenty-four 
hundred and ninety-two flints. South Kingstown came next 
with fourteen hundred and eighty-eight flints. Providence had 
nine hundred and forty-eight. The number of flints presumably 
represent the number of muskets in each town. Tlie company 
of the train of artillery and the company of fusiliers, both of 
Providence, were consolidated at their request under the name 
of "The United Company of the Train of Artillery." 

The 11th of May was set apart as a day of fasting, prayer 
and humiliation, and Governor Wanton was requested to pro- 
claim the same. The Hon. Samuel Ward and William Brad- 
ford were appointed to wait on the general assembly of the 
•colony of Connecticut to consult with them for the defense of 
the four New England colonies. In view of the " very danger- 
ous crisis of American affairs at a time when we are sur- 
rounded with fleets and armies which threaten our immediate 
destruction ; at a time when the fears and anxieties of the peo- 
ple throw them into the utmost distress, and totally prevent 
them from attending to the common occupations of life ; to 


prevent the mischievous consequences that must necessarily at- 
tend such a disordered state, and to restore peace to the minds 
of the good people of this colony, it appears absolutely neces- 
sary to this assembly," such w^ere the words of the resolution, 
" that a number of men be raised and embodied, properly 
armed and disciplined, to continue in this colony as an army of 
observation to repel any insult or violence that may be offered 
to the inhabitants —and also if it be necessary for the 
safety and preservation of any of the colonies to march out of 
this colony and join and co-operate with the forces of the 
neighboring colonies." The number of men was to be fifteen 

The introduction of this resolution brought matters to a head 
in the assembly itself. A protest appears on the record, signed 
in the upper house. Providence, April 25th, 1775, by Joseph 
Wanton, Darius Sessions, Thomas Wickes and William Potter. 
Wanton was the governor, Sessions the deputy governor, 
Wickes and Potter of the board of assistants of ten. They dis- 
sented from the vote for "enlisting an army of observation," 
because it would be attended with the most fatal consequences to 
the charter privileges, involve the country in all the horrors of 
civil war, and be an open violation of the oath of allegiance taken 
on their admission to office. At the close of the session, it 
being made known that Nathaniel Greene was going to the con- 
tinental congress, he was appointed in the place of Samuel 
Ward to consult with Connecticut. Finally, there appearing 
urgent occasion that the general assembly should meet at some 
other place than Newport, at the approaching annual election 
for 1775, the colony house at Providence was selected, and no- 
tices of the change ordered in the Newport "Mercury" and 
Providence "Gazette." The record of proceedings closes as 
usual, with "God save the King." 

The general assembly met as ordered at Providence on the 
first Wednesday (the second day) of May. Newport, instead 
of six deputies to which she was entitled, only returned one; or 
at least only one, Mr. John Wanton, appears on the record in 
the list of deputies from the towns. Some of the deputies 
chosen at the election for this assembly, which was held on the 
19th of April, the day of the Lexington fight, did not appear. 

A letter was laid before the assembly from Governor Wanton, 
stating that he was detained at Newport by indisposition, that 


he had since the last session received a letter from the Earl of 
Dartmouth, dated Whitehall, 3d March, 1775, "enclosing the 
resolutions of the House of Commons respecting the provisions 
they expect each colony or province in America to make for 
the common defense, and also for the support of the civil gov- 
ernment and the administration of justice in such, colony," 
and also a letter from the committee of the provincial congress, 
all of which he had directed to be laid before them. The gov- 
ernor then proceeds in a moderate, while earnest manner to en- 
treat the assembly as he held himself, "bound by every tie of 
duty and affection " to consider the resolutions of the house of 
commons and his lordship's letter with the temper, calmness 
and deliberation their importance demanded, and with that in- 
clination to a reconciliation with the parent state which would 
recommend their proceedings to the king and parliament. He 
reminded them that the prosperity and happiness of the colony 
was founded on its connection with Great Britain, and warned 
them of the danger of the forfeiture of their charter privileges. 
He stated his willingness to join them in every measure that 
would secure those invaluable charter privileges to the latest pos- 
terity, and prevent the colony from ruin, which must invariably 
come upon them unless the late orders to raise an army of ob- 
servation were speedily repealed, the expense of which would 
be insupportable, and unavoidably bring on universal bank- 
ruptcy. He closes with the engagement that if he should have 
the honor of being re-elected he would unite in every pro- 
ceeding consistent with the duty he owed the king and the 
British constitution. 

Either before this letter reached the assembly or after, in the 
hope that he might yet be won to the cause at heart, he was 
re-elected governor, and Darius Sessions, lieutenant-governor, 
but that gentleman declining to serve, Nicholas Cooke was 
elected in his place, "and duly engaged." There was a rad- 
ical change in the board of assistants, only four of the ten 
chosen in 1774 being re-elected. On the 3d the speaker of the 
assenibly despatched an express to Governor Wanton, inform- 
ing him of his election, and asking an immediate answer as to 
whether he would accept, and if so that he would at once at- 
tend. The governor replied on the 4th that he would accept, 
but could not possibly attend this session because of his indis- 
position. On receiving this answer the speaker sent the ex- 


press again to the governor enclosing a " blanli commission," 
proposed for the army of observation, and asking an immediate 
ansv^er whether he would, as commander-in-chief of the col- 
ony, sign them when presented to him. To this the governor 
replied that he eould not comply Avith the request. 

The issue thus squarely made, the assembly, in consideration 
of the governor having neglected to issue the proclamation for 
a fast day, as voted by the assembly, of his neglect to appear 
and take the oath of office under his late election, as required 
by law, and of his positive refusal to sign the commissions for 
the officers appointed to be raised, enacted a prohibition to the 
deputy governor to adminster the oath of office to him except in 
the presence of and with the consent of the assembly in open 
meeting. Henry Ward, the secretary of the colony, was empow- 
ered to sign the commissions, and the deputy governor to sum- 
mon the assembly in emergency. The naval officer, James 
Clarke, whose appointment was a privilege of the governor, 
was continued in office and ordered to account to the assembly. 
The committee of safety was ordered to equip the army of ob- 
servation and send an account of the expenses attending 
to the delegates of the colony in the continental congress, 
as a proper charge for the common defense. An embargo 
was laid on all provisions going out of the colony. It was also 
ordered that the sheriff of the county of Newport deliver to 
William Richmond, member of the committee of safety for 
JS'ewport county, " all the colony arms, pistols, cutlasses, &c., 
which are in the town of Newport." At this assembly Mr. 
Jabez Champlin was chosen sheriff for Newport county. The 
field officers for the several counties were also named ; Wil- 
liam Bradford, major-general of the forces of the colony. For 
Newport county : Mr. John Malbone, colonel ; Mr. George 
Champlin, lieutenant-colonel ; Mr. John Cooke, major. 

The act for embodying the army of observation provided that 
it consist of three regiments of eight companies, and be formed 
into one brigade ; the term of service till the last day of De- 
cember, 1775. The officers appointed were : Nathaniel Greene, 
Jr., brigadier-general. For the regiment of the counties of New- 
port and Bristol ; Thomas Church, colonel ; William Turner 
Miller, lieutenant-colonel ; John Forrester, major; William 
Ladd, captain lieutenant; Nathaniel Church, lieutenant; and 
Cornelius Briggs, ensign. For the train of artillery : John 


Crane, captain ; Joseph Balch, captain lieutenant. The com- 
mittee of safety nhn-.on for the colony were, for the county of 
Newport, Willium Riclidiond ; of Providence, John Smith and 
Daniel Tillinghiiyt; of King8, John Northrup ; of Bristol, Wil- 
liam Bradford ; of Kent, Jacob Greene. 

The address of parliament to the king, February 7th, 1775, 
communicated to this assembly, denounced the conduct of the 
Massachusetts bay as " a rebellion," and besought his majesty 
" to take the most effectual measures to enforce due obedience 
to the laws and authority of the supreme legislature." The 
king's answer assured them that "the most speedy and ef- 
fectual measures " would be taken. The further resolution of 
the house of commons of the 27th of February, 1775, was to 
the effect that should the government of any colony make 
provision " to contribute their projiortion to the common de- 
fense, that colony should for such time be relieved from levy 
of any duty, tax or assessment, except for the regulation of 
commerce, and the nett produce of these duties be carried to 
the account of each province." This conciliatory measure was 
Lord North's own, introduced with the written consent of the 
king, and because conciliatory would have driven him from the 
ministry but for the king's interposition. But even if he, 
forced from his new position, had not published a " paper de- 
claring his intention to make no concessions," the colonies 
would not have swallowed the sugar coated pill, under cover of 
which remained the body of the contention, the right of parlia- 
ment to tax without representation. 

The letter of Dartmouth of the 3d of March, covering these 
documents, dwelt earnestly and at length on the temper shown 
by the commons in this resolution, in the effect of which the 
king, he said, had the greater confidence because the colonies, 
"amidst all the intemperance into which a people jealous of 
of its liberties have been unfortunately misled, they have 
nevertheless avowed the justice and the propriety of sub- 
jects of the same state contributing according to their abilities 
and situation to the common burthen," and the earl claimed 
that the resolution held no proposition beyond that. He ex- 
jjlained the mode of contribution proposed "as one in which the 
colonies will have full security that they can never be required 
to tax themselves without parliament taxing the subjects of 
this kingdom in a far greater proportion." The earl especially 


applied himself to obtain the compliance with the resolution of 
parliament by the general assembly of Rhode Island which 
would be "most graciously considered by the majority not 
only as a testimony of their reverence for parliament ; but also 
as a mark of their duty and attachment to their sovereign," 
and indeed if there were any colony to whom the sovereign 
could appeal with any hope of favorable hearing it was to that 
of Rhode Island which the royal authority had alone preserved 
from absorption by its neighbors. 

But the die was already cast. Blood had been shed and 
Rhode Island was pledged to the common cause. The conti- 
nental congress, which was to meet again on the 10th of May, 
was the only body who had competency now over such ques- 
tions. The assembly does not appear to have made any ac- 
knowledgment of and certainly no response to Dartmouth's com- 
munication. Copies of the proceedings of this assembly were 
sent to Connecticut and New York. Yet the commissions 
issued, curiously enough, were all in the king's name. One of 
them has descended to the writer of these lines. There seems 
to be nothing in it that Governor Wanton might not have 
signed without peril. It reads: "By the Honorable the General 
Assembly of the English Colony of Rhode Island and Provi- 
dence Plantations in New England, America. To Ebenezer 
Stevens, gentleman, Greeting: Whereas, for the preservation 
of the Rights and Liberties of his Majesty's loyal and faithful 
subjects in this colony and America the aforesaid General As- 
sembly have ordered fifteen hiindred men to be enlisted and em- 
bodied into an army of observation, and the Committee of Safety 
have appointed you, the said Ebenezer Stevens, First Lieutenant 
of the Company of the Train of Artillery belonging to the said 
Troops. You are hereby in his Majesty's name George the Third 
by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, &c., authorized, 
empowered and commissioned to have, take and exercise the 
office of First Lieutenant of the company aforesaid, and to 
command, guide and conduct the same or any jjart thereof. 
And in case of an invasion or assault of a common enemy to 
infest pr disturb this or any other of his Majesty's Colonies in 
America, Yon are to alarm and gather together the Company 
under your command or any part thereof as you shall deem 
sufficient and therewith to the- utmost of your skill and ability 
you are to resist, expel, kill and destroy them in order to pre 


serve the interest of his Majesty and his good subjects in these 
parts. You are also to follow such instructions & directions 
and orders as shall from time to time be given forth either by 
the General Assembly or your superior officers. And for your 
iso doing this commission shall be your sufficient warrant. By 
virtue of an act of said General Assembly I, Henry Ward, Esq., 
Secretary of the said Colony, have hereunto set my hand and 
the Public Seal of the said Colony this Eighth day of May, 
A. D. 1775, and the fifteenth year of his said Majesty's reign. 

"Henry Ward." 

An account of the movements of this train of artillery may be 
properly inserted here. Stevens seems to have taken the place 
to which Joseph Balch was appointed. John Crane was its cap- 
tain. Crane and Stevens were both of Boston, where Stevens had 
belonged to Major Paddock's company of Massachusetts artil- 
lery, and probably Crane also. They had both been active in the 
destruction of the tea, and were of what is called the "Boston 
Tea Party," and, pursued by Governor Hutchinson, had taken 
refuge in Providence, Stevens, with Colonel Nightingale.* On 
the news from Lexington they at once set about raising this 
company. General Greene marched the Rhode Island army of 
observation as fast as it was raised to the camp forming before 
Boston on Jamaica Plains. Before the first of June one thou- 
sand of these troops joined the army, and with them the train 
of artillery with four field pieces and a siege battery of twelve 
eighteen and twenty-four pounders. 

The arrival of this artillery is noticed in a newspaper of the 
day " as a fine company with four excellent field pieces." 
These no doubt were guns taken up from Newport and placed 
in Colonel Nightingale's charge at Providence. The train was 
first posted on Jamaica Plains, the country seat of Governor 
Barnard, and afterward stationed at Roxbury, though Greene's 
brigade was posted at Cambridge. A return of its members on 
the 21st of July gives a total force of ninety-six. At the time of 
(lie battle of Bunker Hill Stevens' com'pany was jDOSted at the 
neck. During the siege of Boston it garrisoned the fort at Rox- 
bury. At the close of the year 1775 the Rhode Island com- 
pany vsras disbanded with the rest of the army of observation. 

* " Trials of the Tea Party,'' a memoir of Hewes, one of the last of the survivors, 
mentions a, Nathaniel Green as another of this band, but the writer has not 
ascertained whether he was the famous officer of the revolution. 


Crane and Stevens were commissioned in the regiment raised 
by Massachusetts in the beginning of 1776, and later transferred 
to the continental artillery commanded by Knox. 

Stevens was detached to the army of the north, and as major 
commanding in the Northern Department, was in command at 
Saratoga, and continuing uninterruptedly in service, was one 
of the three alternate officers who commanded this arm at the 
siege of York town, as lieutenant- colonel of the Second Conti- 
nental (New York) artillery, of which he was long the virtual 
commander, Colonel Lamb, an invalid, being assigned to cog- 
nate duties of a less active nature. 

The Rhode Island assembly met at East Greenwich by ad- 
journment on the 12th of June. Newport was no place for a 
deliberative assembly. Captain Wallace, of the king's ship 
•'Rose," was stopping vessels and his sailors were in collision 
with the townspeople. An affair on the 3d of June had nearly led 
to a serious result. Governor Wanton appeared at the first 
meeting of this assembly and demanded that the oath of office 
be administered to him. He handed in a written demand in 
which he quoted the charter, which directed that every gov- 
ernor shall give his engagement before two or more of the as- 
sistants, notwithstanding which they had required his appear- 
ance in open assembly and forbidden the deputy governor and 
assistants to administer the oath of office, and repeated that 
indisposition had at the last session prevented his appearance. 
He now appeared to take the oath prescribed by law. In his 
letter he explained and defended his conduct. The proclama- 
tion for a fast had been begun by him and would have been 
published but for their divesting him of the authority to issue 
it. Of his refusal to sign commissions he maintained the pro- 
priety. His demand was considered, and the assembly re- 
solved "that he hath not given satisfaction." The act de- 
claring all acts done by him in the pretended capacity of 
governor null and void was continued until the rising of the 
assembly at the next session, and publication was ordered in 
the Newport and Providence newspapers. 

Nicholas Cooke, the deputy governor, was directed to address 
Captain Wallace, and demand of him the reason of his conduct 
toward the inhabitants of the colony in stopping vessels, and 
also to require of him the packets he detained ; and the dep- 
uty governor the next day wrote a sharp note, which he closed 


by saying that as long as the captain "demeaned himself as 
became his office" he might depend upon the protection of 
the laws, but that the whole power of the colony would be used 
to " protect the inhabitants against any lawless invader." An 
immediate answer being demanded, Captain "Wallace made a 
curt reply, in which he said he was unacquainted with Mr. 
Cooke or what station he was in, but supposing he wrote in be- 
half of some body of people, he desired to know whether or 
7iot he, or the people in whose behalf he wrote, were not in open 
rebellion to their lawful sovereign and the acts of the British 

One of the packets detained had been armed as a tender to 
the "Rose." The very day of Wallace's saucy letter she was 
chased by a colony's sloop on to Conanicut and captured. 
Captain Abraham Whipple commanded the war sloop, and to 
him, says Arnold, "is thus due the honor of discharging the 
first gun upon the ocean at any part of his majesty's navy in 
the American revolution." Captain "Wallace, hearing that 
"Whipple burned the "Gaspee," wrote him that " he would 
hang him at the yard-arm." "Whipple answered, "Always 
catch a man before you hang him." 

At this session William Potter, the late assistant who joined 
in Governor Wanton's protest, excused his action as prompted 
by a fear that the passing of the act at that time would dis- 
tress the trade, particularly of Newport, which a little longer 
time might prevent, and lamented the unguarded expressions 
of the document, which he had only seen in a rough draft be- 
fore he signed it. He declared his readiness to embark with 
the friends of liberty in every difficulty and against every op- 
pression until the glorious cause was established on the most 
firm and permanent basis. This memorial being read, he was 
by vote reinstated in favor of the assembly. 

In the assignment of officers to command the trained bands 
or companies of militia, Portsmouth is included but Newport 
and Middletown are omitted; the reasons for which do not ap- 

The American postal system having been disturbed, if not 
broken up, by the removal of Benjamin Franklin as the super- 
intendent, by the British parliament, William Goddard, the old 
founder of the "Providence Gazette," undertook to re-organ- 
ize it through all the colonies on an American basis, independ- 


ent of the aid of parliament. The Rhode Island assembly- 
voted at this session to join with the other colonies in es- 
tablishing post offices and post riders and for the present to 
defray the expense of riders on the nsual post road in the col- 
ony. Post offices were established at Newport, Providence, 
Bristol, Warren, Tower Hill in South Kingstown, and Wester- 
ly, and postmasters appointed: for Newport Mr. Nathaniel Otis. 
For post riders, Mr. Peter Mumford from Newport to Provi- 
dence and Mr. Benjamin Mumford from Newport to New London. 
Newport was the connecting point or chief station. The assem- 
bly was careful to provide that air letters for Boston should 
be postpaid and submitted for examination by the command- 
er-in-chief of the American forces at Cambridge or by the com- 
mittee of the provincial congress of the Massachusetts Bay, and 
all letters arriving from Boston were also to be examined. 

The proceedings of this assembly were sent to the Rhode Is- 
land delegates in congress. On June the 15th Washington was 
by congress appointed commander-in-chief, and on the 22d four 
major generals, of whom General Nathaniel Greene was the 
fourth in order of nomination. The battle of Bunker Hill was 
fought on the 17th. No Rhode Island troops were in this 

The assembly met in extra session on the 28th. The act re- 
stricting Wanton from assuming the authority of governor was 
continued and again published. For the better commandment 
of the army of observation it was ordered that during the cam- 
paign it be under the direction of the commander-in-chief of 
the combined American army stationed in Massachusetts. Or- 
ders were issued to the committees of inspection to collect all 
the saltpetre and brimstone in the town and forward it to the 
provincial congress at New York, powder mills being in opera- 
tion there. A baker was appointed for the army of observa- 
tion; the governor and all the soldiers at Fort George were dis- 
charged; the fort boat was to be hauled up and the cannon, 
some of which it seems had been stolen, were ordered over to 
Newport. Six companies of troops were raised to recruit the 
regiments before Boston and officers appointed : Ebenezer 
Flagg, captain; Joseph Perry, lieutenant, and Noel Allen, en- 
sign of the Eighth company ; Thomas Grey, captain, Lemuel 
Bailey, lieutenant, William Southworth, ensign of the Ninth 
company ; both companies to be raised in the counties of New- 


port and Bristol. One fourth of the militia of the colony was 
ordered to be enlisted as minute men to drill half a day once 
each fortnight. The Newport enlisting officers were the cap- 
tains of the companies of militia. 

By the August assembly it was ordered to bring off and land 
on the continent all the neat cattle and sheep upon New Shore- 
ham (Block Island) except enough for the supply of the inhab- 
itants, and two hundred and fifty men were sent to secure the 
stock until it could be taken off. James Rhodes, Gideon Hox- 
sie and George Sheffield were entrusted with the delicate mis- 
sion of collecting, removing and appraising the stock. Two 
companies of Colonel Varnum's regiment were assigned to the 
duty and placed under the orders of Rhodes and Hoxsie, who 
were commissioned officers for the occasion. In pursuance of 
this order nineteen hundred and eight sheep were brought off 
from Block Island valued at £534, 9 shillings; from Conanicut 
eighfy-two cattle, four hundred and forty-four sheep at £850, 
9 shillings; and from Prudence fifty-six cattle and three hun- 
dred and eighty-four sheep at £530 ; the sums appraised 
being paid to the owners. An act was passed to punish all per- 
sons piloting armed vessels except American in or out of any 
of the waters of the colony, and one to purchase all the gun- 
powder imported from ports beyond sea at three shillings the 

A committee of Providence deputies and others named was 
raised to act upon sudden emergency in the recess of the as- 
sembly, and particularly empowered to employ the two armed 
colony vessels in such voyage and in such manner as they 
should elect. The ensigns in the forces encamped on Prospect 
hill were raised to be second lieutenants and their pay in- 
creased to bring them upon an equality with their Massachu- 
setts brethren. The old beacon on Prospect hill was tested, 
and the flames seen from Cambridge on the east and New Lon- 
don on the west, and as far as Pomfret. A choice of officers 
was made for the colony. For the regiment of militia in the 
county of Newport : Joseph Belcher, colonel ; John Cooke, 
lieutenant colonel; William Channing, major. Two roWgal- 
lies were ordered to be built, to carry sixty men, fifteen oars 
on a side, and to mount an eighteen pounder in the bow and a 
number of swivel guns. These were named the " Washington " 
and the "Spitfire." The ships-of-war having stopped the 


post rider who crossed the bay from Newport to the mainland 
and stripped him of his mail, John Lasell was employed as post 
rider on the old post road from Providence to New London, 
and ordered to set out from Providence for New London every 
Tuesday on the arrival of the post from Cambridge, and return 
at once ; he to receive one hundred and eighty-five pounds a 
year, find his own horses and pay his own expenses ; and Mr. 
Benjamin Mum ford was employed as a post rider from N ew- 
port to Cambridge ; that he set out from Newport on Monday 
afternoon at three o'clock to carry the Newport mail for the 
westward to Providence and proceed immediately to Cam- 
bridge with the mails for that post office, and set off from 
thence on Thursday in the afternoon for Providence, and there 
take the mail from the westward and proceed immediately to 

At this session, considering that, notwithstanding the hum- 
ble petition of congress to the king, the ministry, "lost to 
every sentiment of justice, liberty and humanity, continue to 
send troops and ships-of-war to America which destroy the 
trade, plunder and burn the towns and murder the good people 
of the colonies," it was voted that the colony "most ardently 
wish to see the former friendship, harmony aud intercourse be- 
tween Britain and these colonies restored and a happy and last- 
ing connection established between both countries upon terms 
of just and equal liberty, and will concur with the other col- 
onies in all proper measures for obtaining these desirable bless- 
ings, and for self preservation." 

Among other measures to bring the war to a haj)py issue, 
the assembly considered that the equipping of an American 
fleet as soon as possible was desirable, and therefore "in- 
structed their delegates to use their whole influence at the 
ensuing congress for building at the continental expense a 
fleet of sufficient force for the protection of these colonies and 
for employing them in such manner and places as will most 
effectually annoy our enemies and contribute to the common 
defence of thes(? colonies." This is justly held to be the first 
practical suggestion of a very obvious need of the colonies of a 
national navy. Eight field pieces were ordered to be prepared 
at the iron works in the colony. A bounty of three shillings a 
pound was voted on every pound of saltpetre made in the col- 
ony by the 26th of August, 1776. Stringent orders were passed 


to enforce the taking of the paper money issued by tlie con- 
tinental congress. 

The entrance to Providence harbor was fortified between 
Field and Sassafras points, and a battery of six eighteen 
pounders erected at Fox point. On the 22d of August the 
British fleet was in motion and an attack on F'rovidence was 
expected, but the vessels came up no farther than Conanicut 
point. The batteries and redoubts were manned and the mil- 
itary in arms; when the ships withdrew, after pillaging the island 
and the shores on the main near by of a quantity of live stock 
and the capture of a brig from the AVest Indies off Warwick 

The vessels of the British fleet were constantly occupied in 
Attempts to procure supplies. Cut off from the interior and 
holding in reality only the towns they occupied and the land 
on which they were encamped, their only resource for live 
stock was the number of fertile islands along the coast. The 
Cork fleets, which brought their main supplies to JSTew York, 
were not burthened with fresh meats. The Long Island supply 
was large, but precarious. The islands in Narragansett bay 
were a tempting field. The British navy officers were not more 
scrupulous about foraging for their sailors than they were in 
the press of the sailors themselves. There is an old phrase, 
"all's fish they get that cometh to net." The town author- 
ities nf Newport had made a sort of treaty with Captain Wal- 
lace of the " Rose," but this did not hinder the officers of many 
of the ships, which now began to swell the number of the fleet 
in the harbor, from stopping the market boats which plied 
their traffic between Newport and the neighboring shores. 
But this did not content them. 

On Monday, the 2d of October, a general movement of the 
ships, four more of which had lately come in, aroused suspi- 
cions that something unusual was intended. Fearing an at- 
tempt to carry off the stock from the southern part of the is- 
land called Brenton's neck, a number of the people of Newport 
went down in the evening and brought up about one thousand 
sheep and from forty to hl'ty head of horned cattle from sev- 
eral farms. There still remained, however, a number of sheep 
and hogs on the farms of the Brentons, which it was supposed 
had been collected by them for sale to the men-of-war, part of 
which the sliips took away the next day. The counties being 


informed of these matters, about three hundred minute men 
came into Newport from Providence, Tiverton and Little Comp- 
ton under the command of Esek Hopkins and William Rich- 
mond, who, after refreshing themselves in the town, marclied 
to the neck and brought off all the stock that was left, some 
sixty-six head of cattle, under the fire of the guns of the ships. 
The ofiicers were ordered to arrest one George Roome for aiding 
the enemy and any British officers or man they might find on 
shore and send them to Providence, to be dealt with according 
to their deserts. ,So runs the commission issued by Governor 
Cooke October 4th, whicli names William West as second in 
command to Hopkins. They seized eighty -four barrels of fiour 
from Roome' s store on the point and carried it for safe storage 
to the brick market in spite of the opposition of a guard of 

Upon this the men-of-war assumed such a threatening atti- 
tude that a great many of the inhabitants mOved part or all of 
their effects out of the town and many of the families also left. 
"The carts, chaises, riding chairs and trucks were so numerous 
that the streets were almost blocked up with them. Thursday 
and Friday being rainy and muddy, the poor women and chil- 
dren were much exposed in looking out for some place of 
safety; the people continued moving out very fast all Saturday 
and yesterday with their effects." The ships also seized that 
week a number of vessels laden with wood from Long Island 
which went out, it was said, with Captain Wallace's permis- 
sion. It is not probable that they risked the loss of their ves- 
sels by neglecting this precaution. Governor Cooke and Sec- 
retary Ward at this time visited the camp at Cambridge to con- 
fer with the committee of congress on the army establishment. 

October 7th, Captain Wallace, with the " Rose," " Glasgow" 
and " Swan" and several "transports, in all about fifteen sail, 
sailed up the' bay from Newport and formed a line in the har- 
bor before the town of Bristol. A barge was sent on shore to 
demand the presence of four of the magistrates or principal 
men on board of the "Rose." The inhabitants declined this 
invitation, but engaged to confer peaceably with any person 
that might approach the shore, and asked delay until the next 
morning. An hour after the ships and tenders began a heavy 
cannonade on the town. The night was dark and rainy and the 
people were in terror and confusion. For an hour one hundred 


and twenty cannon and cascades (fire guns) were discharged 
upon the town, and a tender near the bridge kept up a constant 
iire on the people who went out. One of the inhabitants hail- 
ing a man-of-war, was taken on board and inquired the reason 
of this attack. Captain Wallace demanded one hundred head 
of cattle, but engaged to stop tiring if forty sheep were deliv- 
ered, otherwise he would lay the town in ashes. The committee 
of inspection, in view of the condition of the town, where sick- 
ness was raging, consented and the sheep were delivered, where- 
upon the ships withdrew, Wallace sending a barge to plunder 
the neighboring farms of some smaller supplies. Sunday after- 
noon the fleet left Bristol and lay between Poposquash and 
Hog island, upon which they cut the corn. On Monday, pass- 
ing by Bristol Ferry on their return, a tender ran aground on 
the west muscle bed, and shots were exchanged between the 
ships and the minute men. On Wednesday the fleet returned 
to Newport. 

The assembly met at Providence on the 31st of October and 
ordered the raising of five hundred soldiers for the defense of 
the colony for one year. Esek Hopkins was appointed com- 
mander-in-chief of this regiment and of the regiments of militia 
in the county of Newport, with the rank and title of brigadiei'- 
general. Later it appears that William Richmond was made 
colonel of this organization, Gideon Hoxsie lieutenant-colonel, 
and Benjamin Tallman major. The troops in Jamestown were 
reinforced by men to be raised by John Northrup. The estates 
of George Roorae and the Brentons were left in charge of the 
men whom General Hopkins had assigned to this duty. A me- 
morial was presented from the town council of Newport setting 
forth their many distresses caused by their withholding fi'om 
the ministerial fleet in the harbor their usual supplies of beef, 
beer, etc., in consequence of which the ferry boats, market 
boats, fish boats and wood vessels with provisions and fuel were 
prevented coming to the town, the result of which was a stagna- 
tion of trade and a want of "the common necessaries of life. 
Upon which the assembly authorized them to negotiate with 
Captain Wallace for ship's supplies under the regulation of 
the commander-in-chief upon the island, to whom authority 
was also given to remove the troops from place to place as he 
should think best for the relief of the town, always with an eye 
and just preference to the general safety. Two hundred pounds 


was voted to the relief of the poor of the town of Newport, to be 
applied to those who were willing but not able to leave the 
town. William Vernon and John Read were added to the 
overseers to aid in this removal. 

An act was passed for the punishment of persons found guilty 
of holding traitorous correspondence with the ministry or their 
officers or agents, or of supplying the ministerial army or navy 
with munitions of war or army or navy stores, or of acting as 
pilots of any of their ships; the negotiation between the town 
council of Newport and Captain Wallace only excepted. 

The long-pending uncertainty with regard to Wanton, the 
governor elect of the colony, was brought to an end by a de- 
claration that the governor was "inimical to the rights and 
liberties of America, and thereby rendered totally unfit to sus- 
tain the said office," and a resolution declaring that he had 
justly forfeited the office of governor and that thereby the 
office had become vacant. While the governor was thus ousted, 
Darius Sessions, having in a memorial expressed his sorrow for 
his protest against raising the army of observation, craved 
forgiveness and declared his determination to unite witli his 
countrymen in defending their rights, was by vote received 
with favor and friendship. But Mr. Sessions was no more 
honored as before with the high office he so long held. An ex- 
amination of one Cleveland for working on the king's works at 
Boston, and of one Wi^ghtman charged with supplying the 
enemy, and of one Dennis of Prudence island for giving infor- 
mation by imprudence or otherwise, was a notice to the inhabi- 
tants that trifling was a crime in war time. A number of estates 
were sequestered by this assembly, among which were those of 
the late Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts, and of- Samuel 
Sewall, Gilbert Deblois, John and Jonathan Simpson, all of 
Boston, but having property in Rhode Island; and of Dr. 
Moffatt, Ralph Inman, George Roome and the Brentons, late 
residents of Newport. 

The assembly adjourned on the 10th of November. The day 
before there was a skirmish in the bay between two privateer 
sloops from Providence, and a British schooner, three tenders 
and a bomb ketch that came out from Newport to attack them, 
but were driven off. On the 26th the " Swan," sloop-of-war. 
Captain Ascough, which had been to the eastward, returned to 
Newport from Boston together with a large armed schooner, a 



small armed sloop and a large transport scow. Besides these 
vessels there were that day in the harbor the "Rose," " Glas- 
gow," a bomb brig of ten or twelve guns, an armed schooner 
and two armed sloops; making in all Jen sail. On the arrival 
of the vessels from Boston some of the officers came on shore 
at the Long Wharf and, bringing with them their instruments, 
took a survey of the harbor. 

Captain Wallace, unable to obtain supplies, now threatened 
the destruction of Newport, but offered to spare it if furnished 
with provisions. His proposal was referred to General Hop- 
kins, who consented, under authority of the late act of the as- 
sembly, on condition that the supplies were to be of stated 
quantities, and to be made by one person. To this Wallace 
assented, and agreed that his men should not land "unless the 
rebels enter." Hopkins, under the late recruiting act, had a 
large force gathered at Middletown. Charles Dudley, the 
British collector of customs for the port of Rhode Island, took 
refuge on the "Rose," sloop of war. 

Congress, which had already recommended privateering, 
now appointed a marine committee, and resolved to fit out four 
vessels and to put them under the command of Esek Hopkins 
as commodore. The committee which governed during the re- 
cess of the assembly gave Hopkins permission to accept the 
command of the continental fleet, and sent the " Katy," with 
Captain Whipple and one hundred men, to Philadelphia for 
that service. Officers were assigned to the row galley "Wash- 
ington," and an artillery company attached to the new regi- 
ment. In December Congress appointed a committee of one 
from each colony (Hopkins from Rhode Island) to organize a 
navy. They confirmed him as commander and Abraham Whip- 
ple as captain of the frigate "Columbus." Congress had or- 
dered the " Katy" to cruise on the southern coast. 

On the morning of Sunday, the 10th of December, at about 
one o'clock the British bomb brig, a schooner and two or three 
armed sloops left Newport harbor and landed two hundred ma- 
rines, sailors and negroes at the ferry on the east side of Co- 
nanicut, whence they marched directly to the west ferry, where 
they burned all the houses near the ferry place, and returning, 
fired the houses on the road, driving out the women and chil- 
dren, plundering them of furniture and even the clothes on 
their backs. Captain Wallace himself was in command. They 


gathered and drove off about fifty head of oattle and some sheep 
and hogs. They were safe back in Newport at noon. Wash- 
ington, in a letter to the president of congress on the 14th, 
written from Cambridge, speaks of " the barbarity of Captain 
Wallace on Conanicut Island." 

Barracks were built for the American troops on Wonume- 
tonomy (sometimes called Tonomy, and by corruption Tam- 
many) hill. The poor of Newport were, at the invitation of 
Providence, sent up to their charge. On the i9th of December 
all the minute men of the colony were ordered to the defense of 
the island of Rhode Island and formed into one regiment under 
Colonel William West and Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Lip- 
pitt. West succeeded Hopkins in command of the island. Intel- 
ligence coming in from Boston of the sailing of eigh t large and two 
small ships out of that harbor, on the 16th of December Gov- 
ernor Cooke wrote to Washington, then in camp at Cambridge, 
expressing the fears of the people of Rhode Island that these 
ships, which had sailed with some troops on board, were des- 
tined for Newport. Washington despatched General Charles 
Lee to point out to them such defense as he might think the 
place capable of. Washington wrote to the president of con- 
gress (25th December) : " I sincerely wish he may be able to do it 
with effect, as that place in its present state is an asylum for 
such as are disaffected to American liberty." 

On the 20th of December General Lee set off for Newport, 
attended by a guard and a party of riflemen. Arrived at Prov- 
idence, he was made commander-in-chief of all the forces on 
the island. On Sunday, the 22d, he set out from Providence 
for Rhode Island. The Cadet company, with a party of rifle- 
men and the general's guard, went on the island the same day. 
On Monday a number of minute men and others, eight hundred 
armed men altogether, were collected on the island when the 
general, preceded by the cadets, his guard and his riflemen, 
entered the town of Newport. 

He called before him a number of obnoxious citizens, to 
whom he tendered an oath of fldelity, which, was taken by all 
of them except Colonel Joseph Wanton, Jr., and Messrs. Nich- 
olas Lechmere and Nicholas Beale, two of the officers of the 
king's customs, who, refusing it, were put under guard and 
sent prisoners to Providence, where they were confined with 
the Lories captured by Hopkins and others. General Lee, after 


visiting the island and giving some general directions as to the 
fortifications, set out for Providence on Wednesday, where he 
arrived on Thursday, the 30th, and on Saturday returned to 
camp, fi"om which he had been absent about ten days. At 
Providence the committee voted that "one of the best beds 
with the furniture taken from Charles Dudley be presented to 
Greneral Lee." 

Washington wrote to the president of congress on the 31at : 
" General Lee is just returned from his excursion to Rhode Is- 
land. He has pointed out the best method the island would ad- 
mit of for its defence. He has endeavoured all in his power 
to make friends of those that were our enemies. You have en- 
closed a specimen of his abilities in that way for your perusal. 
I am of opinion that if the same plan was pursued through 
every province, it would have a very good effect." 

The "specimen of his abilities " was the oath, which, in our 
day, would be styled "iron clad." It reads as follows : "I, 
John Bours, here, in the presence of Almighty God, as I hope 
for ease, honour and comfort in this world, and ha^ipiness in 
the world to come, most earnestly, devoutly and religiously 
swear neither directly nor indirectly to assist the wicked instru- 
ments of ministerial tyranny and villainy commonly called the 
King's troops and navy by furnishing them with provisions or 
refreshments of any kind unless authorized by the Continental 
Congress or the Legislature as at present established in this 
particular colony of Rhode Island. I do also swear by the same 
tremendous and Almighty God that I will neither directly nor 
indirectly convey any intelligence nor give any advice to the 
aforesaid enemies so described, and that I xjledge myself if I 
should by any accident get the knowledge of such treason to 
inform immediately the Committee of Safety. And as it is 
justly allowed that when the sacred rights and liberties of a 
nation are invaded neutrality is not less base and criminal than 
open and avowed hostility, I do further swear and pledge my- 
self, as I hope for eternal salvation, that I will, whenever called 
upon by the voice of the Continental Congress or that of the 
legislature of this particular colony, under their authority take 
arms and subject myself to military discipline in defense of the 
common rights and liberties of America, so help me God. 

" John Bours. 

" Sworn at Newport, December 25, 1776." 


General Lee himself wrote to his friend, Robert Morris, from 
camp on the 3d of January that he had just returned from his 
tour through Rhode Island, made at the request of the governor 
and committee "in order to direct them in putting that Prov- 
ince in a state of defense, as Newport swarms with Tories 
and suspected persons. I from my own authority obliged three 
worthies to take a most solemn oath of allegiance to the Con- 
tinental Congress, as the measure was necessary for the common 
safety. I hope it will be approved of by our sovereign, for such 
now must the Congress be esteemed. The King's speech abso- 
lutely destroys all hope of reunion." 

A queer character was Lee, and there is a subdued touch of 
humor in Washington's words which reveals a side of his na- 
ture little known. Lee's conduct on this occasion was in har- 
mony with the sentiments he expresses. He behaved with 
great moderation and regard for the pride of the town. Leav- 
ing his troops behind him, he rode into the city with the escort 
only of his own guard, thirty riflemen and the cadet company 
of Providence, and he received the town council with "great 
politeness" and affability. 

That there were Tories elsewhere in Rhode Island than at 
Newport, or at least an impatience of authority, appears from 
the riotous proceedings at West Greenwich, on the main land» 
on the 23d of December, at the very time when Lee was march- 
ing through the island. TJie occasion was the attempt of the 
colonel to draft the one quarter of the militia ordered by the 
recess committee of the assembly to the defense of the island. 
The colonel was insulted, the adjutant's sword broken, and the 
enlistment of the quota of the first company broken up. The 
attempt was renewed on the 26th, and again prevented by a 
second riot. 

While General Lee was at Newport, or immediately on his 
departure, the inhabitants of the town addressed a memorial to 
congress which, dated the 26th of December, was signed on 
their behalf by William Coddington, the town clerk. It repre- 
sented their exposure, from their local and defenseless situation, 
to insults and destruction from the ships of war then and for a 
long time stationed in their harbor ; the necessary removal of 
the cannon from the fort by the assembly in their certain ina- 
bility to maintain the fort, the only place of defense against 
the attacks of the ships of war ; that the ships of war, availing 

326 nisTOEY OP Newport county. 

of their impotency had, with unparallelled wantonness and 
cruelty, interrupted their ferry, provision and wood boats, 
scuttling and dismantling them, thus breaking up their local 
trade ; that they had seized their West India vessels in the 
harbor and sent them to Boston to supply the ministerial troops 
there ; that they had laid a plan to rob Ehode Island and all 
the other islands of their stock, and collected transports to 
carry it away ; that, exasperated in the failure of this plot, 
Captain Wallace, with his fleet, had bombarded Bristol and ex- 
torted what he could from the inhabitants ; that he had can- 
nonaded the ferry at Jamestown, thus cutting off communica- 
tion between the town of Newport and the western part of the 
colony, whence they received the greater part of their supplies ; 
that expecting next to be bombarded themselves, they had sent 
proposals to Wallace engaging to supply his ships with fresh 
beef and beer if their boats were left unmolested, and on this 
occasion addressed a memorial to the committee of safety and 
sent a committee to the deputy governor of the colony, then at 
Cambridge, who took the advice of the committee of congress, 
and were by them counselled to make the truce with Wallace, 
which was done on the fourteenth day of November ; that on 
the ninth of December Wallace engaged to give fresh permits, 
yet nevertheless the next day devastated Jamestown ; that a 
few days after they received a message from Wallace " that if 
the town did not renew the Truce it would be attended with 
fatal consequences," and that on the fourteenth of December, 
with the knowledge of the deputy governor and the command- 
ing officer, the truce was renewed, but upon the committee in- 
forming the commanding officer of their proceedings, to their 
surprise they were told '' that he had positive orders from the 
committee of safety prohibiting all supplies to the ships of war 
in this harbour."' 

The memorial goes on to say that in view of the prospect of a 
large town in flames and five thousand men, women and chil- 
dren forced out of their habitations into the open fields to per- 
ish, numbers of them through the inclemency of the season, a 
town meeting was immediately called and at a full assembly a 
numerous committee was appointed to wait on the governor, to 
request the committee of safety to reconsider their resolution. 
This was done, the committee consenting to a renewal of the 
truce until the second Monday in January, the next session of 


the general assembly. The memoi-ial then recites the request 
to Washington to send a regiment with a general officer to the 
Island and details the interview of the town council with Gen- 
eral Lee. It appears that Lee informed them that he "intend- 
ed immediately to barricade the town," but on their represen- 
tations that such action would probably bring on a bombard- 
ment to their great distress in the inclement season, he had laid 
aside this idea. In the course of the conversation General Lee 
had said, as the memorial states, that '■'■letters had gone for- 
ward to the Honorable the Continental Congress on the subject 
of supplying the ships of war and that the town was placed, in 
an unfavorable light.'''' This conversation gave rise to the 
memorial. The memorial then states that in consequence of 
the truce the ships had lain in quiet in the harbor and thirty 
vessels had an opportunity to pass on the east and west side of 
the bay and to import military stores and provisions of every 
kind for the use of the continental army in the colony, and this 
state of things it might fairly be inferred would continue; and 
a stoppage of it might cause destruction wherever the depth of 
water in the river and bay would admit the ships. For all 
which reasons the inhabitants most earnestly request that they 
be still permitted to supply the ships at least for a season. 

This extremely interesting document contains two pieces of 
information of value to the historian. One is the number of in- 
habitants '■'■Jive thousand'''' above mentioned. The second is 
quoted in full: "Newport, the capital of this colony, consists of 
eleven hundred wooden dwelling houses and upioard, exclusive 
of stores, warehouses, etc., and is situated so near the shore that 
the ships of war may and often do approach within pistol shot 
of some of those buildings, and if this indulgence had not been 
granted the ruin and destruction of this town must have en- 
sued, and many of its inhabitants perished with it, and a severe 
wound been given to the cause in which America is engaged; 
for your memorialists beg leave to state that the town of New- 
port itself pays nearly one sixth part of the whole taxes of the 
colony and will probably (if not destroyed) pay that propor- 
tion of the charges and expenses which have already arisen or 
that shall arise in the present contest with Great Britain and 

The prayer of the memorial was in fact a prayer for life. The 
poor people were not, however, deserted in their distress. The 


town council published a notice on the 21st in the Newport 
"Mercury," that they had the assurance that Providence 
county would receive and provide for four hundred of the poor 
who should remove into that county and the council offered to 
make provision for the removal. 

The situation of the inhabitants of Newport at the opening 
of the memorable year of 1776 was certainly precarious. The 
status quo on which daily life depended might at any moment 
be disturbed, and its continuance depended not on any act of 
the town but vrholly on the determination of the American 
commanders or the caprice of the British naval officers. For 
the winter, however, they were reasonably secure. 

While the king's speech at the opening of parliament on the 
26th of October, which reached the colonies in the first days of 
the new year, left no doubt of his "rancor and resentment," to 
use Washington's words, against the colonies, the friends of con- 
ciliation, and there were many in the large ports which had 
close relations with Bristol, the most liberal of the English 
cities, who were in communication with their whig friends 
there, still had faith in an amicable settlement of the difficul- 
ties. Of such, among the merchants, the most powerful class 
in the colonies, all of which were a trading people, were John 
Cruger in New York, and enough in Boston to found a small 
colony in London on their expatriation later. Colonel Joseph 
Wanton was the best representative of this element in Newport. 
And there were quite as many, perhaps more, of this way of 
thinking among those of the professic^ns: John Dickinson in 
Philadelphia, Doctor Cooper in New York, Thomas Cushing, 
Harrison Gray and many others of like reputation in Boston. 

But Washington, after the king's speech, hadgiven up all 
hopes of a peaceful issue. The distinction the Americans had 
endeavored to maintain' between the acts of the ministry and 
the acts of the king under which subtlety they had issued 
commissions in the king's name to fight the ministerial fleet 
and army, was now idle. To Governor Cooke, who had referred 
him on the first of January to General Lee for " the particu- 
lars of his expedition to Rhode Island," Washington wrote on 
the 6th concerning the truce with the fleet, in terms which did 
not command its discontinuance, but left no doubt as to his opin- 
ion of its inexpediency. " When this treaty was first obtained 
perhaps it was right. There then might have been some hopes 


of an accommodation taking? place; but now, when every pros- 
pect seems to be cat off by his majesty's late speech, when the 
throne from which we had supplicated redress breathes forth 
vengeance and indignation and a firm determination to remain 
unalterable in its purposes and to prosecute the system and 
plan of ruin formed by the ministry against us, should not an 
end be put to it and every possible method be fallen upon to 
prevent their getting necessaries of any kind. We need not 
expect to conquer our enemies by good offices, and I know not 
what pernicious consequences may result from a precedent of 
this sort. Other places circumstanced as Newport is may fol- 
low the example and by that means their whole fleet and army 
will be furnished with what it highly concerns us to keep from 
them. This, however, with all deference I leave to your con- 

The regard in which both parties held the truce and their 
obligations under it, was shown within twenty-four hours of the 
leceipt of Washington's letter. On the 7th of January a mid- 
shipman and two seamen were decoyed from their ship by a 
party of minute men from headquarters on the island. They 
had procured a negro man to hail one of the British tenders 
and draw the officer and sailors ashore at Brenton's point 
under pretense of men being in waiting to enter the king's 
service. The British reply to this proceeding was summary. 
On Friday, the 12th, Captain Wallace, with his entire fleet of 
twelye vessels, sailed up the river from Newport harbor and at 
four o'clock in the afternoon landed two hundred and fifty men 
on Prudence island, where the Americans had from forty to 
fifty men under Captain Pearce. After exchanging fire Pearce 
retreated from the island. Some of his men were wounded and 
one^ taken prisoner by the enemy. At sunset the British 
burned seven houses on the island, on hearing which Deputy- 
Governor Cooke, General West, Colonel Richmond, Colonel 
Martin, Colonel Cook, Captain Allen and Captain- Wells set 
out to send forces upon Prudence Island from Warren and 
Bristol. Fifty men were ordered by General West from War- 
ren with orders to join those gathered at Warwick neck and 
proceed to the island. Governor Cook, with the general, then 
went to Bristol and sent off Major Tallman with eighty men in 
whale boats who landed at dawn. Captain Barton had landed 


from headquarters, but the men from Warwick could not join 
them for want of boats. 

At nine o'clock the next morning the British landed two 
hundred and fifty men and attacked a guard of forty men 
stationed to observe their motions. Fifty of the Americans 
joining this body, a smart engagement ensued which lasted 
three hours. The British finally retreated, leaving two dead 
and one wounded. The night before they had taken off one 
hundred sheep but no cattle. Three of the Americans were 
slightly wounded. Sunday evening the British burned two 
more buildings on Prudence island and on Monday cut a 
quantity of wood on Hope island, after which thej'^ returned 
to Newport. 

The assembly which convened at Providence on Monday, the 
8th of January, began its business by ordering an address to 
the continental congress, representing "the inability of the col- 
ony, from its situation, smallness and poverty, to defend 
itself," and praying for assistance. A committee was ap- 
pointed on the state of the colony — Deputy Governor Nicholas 
Cooke, Secretary William Ellevy, Joseph Brown, Henry 
Marchant, Sylvester Child and Gideon Mumford — who were 
charged with the preparation of the address, and a considera- 
tion of the places in which the troops in the service of the col- 
ony had best be stationed. The address was sent by Governor 
Cooke to the Rhode Island delegates, Hopkins and Ward, on 
the 21st of January. 

It represented the services of the colony in the " late glori- 
ous war" against the French and its zealous part in resistance 
to the stamp duties in 176.^, and the immediate share it had in 
the common defense by marching troops after the attacks at 
Lexington and Concord. It then gave a description of the 
physical situation of the colony, which is admirable in succinct- 
ness : " Unfortunately for the inhabitants this colony is scarcely 
anything but a line of sea coast. From Providence to Point 
Judith, and from thence to Pawcatuck river, is nearly eighty 
miles ; on the east side of the bay from Providence to Seacon- 
net point, and including the east side of Seaconnet, until it 
meets the Massachusetts line, is about fifty miles ; besides 
which are the navigable rivers of Pawcatuck and Warren. On 
the west side the colony doth not extend twenty miles, and on 
the east side not more than eight miles, from the sea coast 


above described. In the colony are also included the following 
islands : Rhode Island, about sixteen miles in length ; Conani- 
cut, nine ; Block Island, nine ; Prudence, seven ; and the 
smaller islands. Patience, Hope, Gould Island and several 
others ; all which are cultivated and fertile and contributed 
largely to the public expenses ; the greater part of the above 
mentioned shores are accessible to ships of war." 

The inhabitants, it said, derived their subsistence almost 
wholly from commerce. Ship building was a great branch of 
business. It gives as a reason for the great number of the 
king's ships stationed in the bay the convenient situation of 
the colony for receiving supplies for the continental army near 
Boston. The fleet stationed in the "bay for seven months 
past," is described as consisting of two ships of twenty guns, 
one of sixteen, a bomb-ketch and about eight tenders, whose 
depredations had put an end to commerce and reduced Newport 
to so deplorable a state that instead of contributing to the ex- 
penses of the war, the colony had been obliged to grant money 
out of the treasury for the support of the poor ; many of the 
wealthy inhabitants having left not only the town but the col- 
ony. The address then states the efforts already made and 
their utter inability to maintain the present force. Governor 
Cooke, in the letter to the delegates enclosing this interesting 
document, urged the importance of giving up "every idea of 
partial and colonial defence," saying that unless "the congress 
enter upon the defence of the colony it must be abandoned." 
The delegates were also requested to ascertain and inform the 
assembly as to letters written from the colony concerning the 
treaty with Wallace for the supply of the ships, in which it 
seems the patriotism of the people was questioned. They were 
also informed that the assembly had agreed to supply the 
king's ships. Governor Cooke sent a copy of this address to 
Washington, which he undertook himself to lay before con- 
gress. He was particularly impressed by the request that a body 
of forces should be procured on the continental establishment 
for the defense of the colony. He had satisfied himself of the 
truth of the representations of the address and the importance 
of Rhode Island in its extensive sea coast, and he particularly 
recognized the " zeal and attachment " of its people. 

Congress referred the petition of Newport to the assembly, 
every delegate who spoke in the debate having expressed the 


opinion that tlie"sliiiJS should be supplied with necessaries 
for their support," care being taken that the enemy elsewhere 
should not thus obtain provisions. The assembly under this 
recommendation authorized the town council of Newport to 
supply Captain Wallace, so long as he was peaceable and com- 
mitted no depredations on the island, with two thousand 
pounds of beef and with beer as usual, the delivery to be under 
the direction of the commanding officer of the forces and by 
the person appointed by him, but that "no member of either 
House of the Assembly be appointed to deliver the same or to 
go on board of either of the ships of war under said Wallace's 
command on any occasion whatever;" a precaution which 
shows how uncertain the state of public opinion was and how 
suddenly that of individuals veered at this period. Washing- 
ton's letter to the governor was laid before the assembly and 
had so great weight with them that, as the governor wrote the 
general, " no supplies would have been permitted to the ships" 
but for the opinion of the members of the continental congress 
that they should be continued. A discretionary power under 
order of secrecy was given to the committee on the close of 
the session to permit supplies in case of imminent danger of a 
cannonade or burning during the recess. 

The inhabitants of Newport were recommended to remove to 
some place of safety all their aged people, women, children and 
those unable to assist in the defense of the place, together with 
tlieir valuable eifects, and two hundred pounds were voted to 
move the poor who could not move themselves. The councils 
of the towns were ordered to call a town meeting within three 
weeks from the rising of the assembly, at which they were to 
present a list of all the inhabitants able to bear arms who had 
not supplied themselves, from inability, and to provide for the 
purchase of arms sufficient for such persons to be kept by the 
captains of the districts. One artillery company of ■ fourteen 
men was ordered for each of the towns, and that each town be 
supplied with two, three or four pound field pieces on carriages, 
except those already supplied, among which was Newport. 
They were to drill half a day every week to exercise the can- 
non. The connnittee of safety for each county was directed to 
see that the order for cannon was complied with. Colonel John 
Cooke was appointed on the committee for Newport in addition 
to Metcalfe Bowler. 


The regiment ordered at the last session was increased to 
seven hundred and fifty men exclusive of the artillery company, 
and to consist of twelve companies. Officers were named for 
the four new companies and the artillery company. A new 
regiment of twelve companies, seven hundred and fifty men, 
was raised. These two regiments were brigaded together and 
Christopher Olney appointed major of brigade. Henry Bab- 
cock of Westerly, a gallant officer of the French war, who had 
served on Amherst's staff, was appointed colonel, Christopher 
Lippitt, lieutenant colonel, and Adam Comstock, major. Offi- 
cers were named for the row gallies, each of which was 
manned by fifty men; Benjamin Page to the command of the 
first of the gallies. 

The commander-in-chief on the island was requested to put 
three hundred soldiers or minute men in Jamestown. A field 
piece was ordered to Warwick. Orders were issued for the pur- 
chase of all the shot and powder in the colony. An order was 
given for the Importation of thirty thousand bushels of salt, of 
which seven thousand was for the county of Newport; Metcalfe 
Bowler, George Irish and Thomas Corey were the committee on 
the purchases for Newport. A bounty was offered to encourage 
the manufacture of saltpetre and gunpowder. The committee 
of safety were directed to erect two barracks at headquarters on 
Rhode Island and one at Howland's ferry. The stock, corn, 
provisions and hay on Prudence island were ordered to be re- 
moved with all possible despatch under direction of Colonel 
Lippitt and by his regiment, and one of the colony's companies 
on the island was ordered to Bristol for the defense of that 
town. A company of fifty men and the Warwick artillery 
company were stationed a,t Warwick neck; minute men were 
attached to them. The neck was to be fortified by the troops 
who were to remain until the British fleet should go down the 

The commanding officer in Rhode Island was authorized to 
discharge Captain Earle's company of minute men within two 
days after the rising of the assembly, and it is pleasing to 
notice that on petition of Benjamin Brenton and George Farrish 
and their statement of good will to the colonies, they were re- 
leased from confinement and the sequestered estate of Brenton 
was restored. Farrish had been arrested on suspicion of serving 
beer to the king's ships at Newport. 


At the close of this month the colony was distressed by the 
tidings of the failure of Arnold's expedition against Quebec 
and the fall of Montgomery; New Years eve. Rhode Island 
was fully represented in this expedition. The first battalion 
of the men Arnold led out from Cambridge camp in September 
for the terrible march through the valleys of the Kennebec and 
Chaudiere, was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher 
Greene of Rhode Island and three of his captains, Ward, Top- 
ham and Thayer, and presumably the men in their companies 
were from this colony. They were all made prisoners. John 
Topham was later colonel, and Thayer major, in Rhode Island 
regiments. Samuel Ward, Jr., the son of the old governor, 
now delegate to the continental congress, then not nineteen 
years of age, had just graduated from Providence College. 

In February the town council of ISTewj^ort were authorized 
to continue the usual supply of two thousand weight of beef to 
Captain Wallace, under direction of the commanding officer. No 
member of either house of assembly was allowed to go on board 
the fleet, that privilege being confined to Messrs. Simon Pease, 
John Malbone and George Sears, or he failing to serve, John 
Mawdsley, a committee named for the purpose. The British 
fleet continued their depredations. Wood was cut from Hope 
island. On the 4th they made a descent on Point Judith 
and, as it was charged, by connivance of some of the inhabi- 
tants there, carried off a number of cattle and sheep. On the 
fifteenth they paid another visit to Prudence island, but finding 
that all the stock and grain had been taken off by the Ameri- 
cans, contented themselves with the burning of a few more 
houses and a windmill. This month the British vessels began 
to capture American vessels on the high seas, and at this time 
also Commodore Esek Hopkins sailed from Delaware bay with 
the first squadron of the American navy of one hundred and 
two guns. His second in command was John Paul Jones. The 
flag ship the "Clifford" of twenty-four guns, the " Colambus" 
of twenty. Captain Abraham Whipple, the brig "Cabot" of 
fourteen. Captain John B. Hopkins, son of the commodore, 
and the sloop "Providence'' of twelve were all fitted out in 
Rhode Island. 

Up to this time Governor Wanton, though he does not ap- 
pear to have attempted to exercise the authority of his office, 
, had maintained his right under the charter and held that pre- 


cious document, together with the chest and colonial records and 
papers deposited therein, in his safe keeping. Now, however, 
the assembly ordered the sheriff of the county of Newport to 
proceed to him and take possession of the chest and its con- 
tents, the charter and all other things appertaining to the 
colony, and bring them to the committee appointed to receive 
them, as was usual in all changes in this high office. In case 
of any resistance Mr. Wanton was himself to be brought be- 
fore the assembly by the sheriff" at East Greenwich, where it 
began its session the last Monday in February. 

Mr. Jabez Champlin was the sheriff of the county. In his 
official report of this affair he said that he went to Wanton's 
house and " in his absence took and carried away out of the 
said house the charter, a large number of bundles of papers, 
seventeen dies for counterfeiting dollars and half Johannes, an 
instrument for edge milling, and other implements for counter- 
feiting," all of which were delivered to the committee of the 
assembly. Complaint being lodged against Wanton, he was 
summoned before the assembly. He appeared and satisfied 
them as to his conduct, and there appearing no cause for de- 
taining him he was by resolution dismissed. Nevertheless, 
according to Arnold, he with many other persons was arrested 
by General West, whose headquarters were at Middletown, 
and detained by him for examination. The complaint against 
them was communication with the British fleet contrary to the 
act of assembly. 

The people of Newport, indignant at tliis invasion of their 
privileges, assembled in town meeting on the 23d of February 
and memorialized the assembly, jaraying it to forbid the en- 
trance of troops into the town and to leave the custody of the 
supplies to the British to the town council. West opposed 
this as a tory movement. The parties complained of, who had 
been sent up to Providence for safe keeping, were brought be- 
fore the assembly, examined and dismissed; the assembly at 
the same time passing a resolution declaring their belief that 
General West had acted as "an officer having the love of his 
country at heart," and that they should ever approve of their 
military commanders exerting themselves for the securing and 
bringing to trial all persons conducting in a suspicious man- 
ner as aforesaid, at the same time carefully observing not to 
encroach upon, infringe or supersede the civil authority by 


exertion of the military. General West sent to this meeting 
the evidence of Joseph Allen, of Newport, respecting Colonel 
Wanton, and on the dismissal of the prisoners whom he had 
arrested and their return to Rhode Island, he considered his 
influence as the commander impaired and sent in his resig- 
nation, which was accepted. 

Of Colonel Wanton it has been justly said that "during the 
occupation of Newport he led a quiet and unobtrusive life; 
and on their departure remained unmolested upon its re-occu- 
pation by the Americans. He was a man of amiable disposi- 
tion, elegant manners, handsome person and splendid appeai- 
ance. He enjoyed the esteem of all who knew him." He died 
at Newport July 19th, 1780, aged seventy -Ave, and was interred 
in the family vault in the Clifton burial place. 

In the letter m which General West sent to the assembly Allen's 
testimony, he informed them of a dispute as to rank between 
Colonels Richmond and Babcock. Colonel Richmond claimed 
precedence because appointed to the first regiment; Colonel Bab- 
cock because of his commission from the colony in the old war. 
The general refused to interfere. Congress applying for specie 
for the Canadian campaign, a large committee was appointed 
by the assembly to collect gold and silver coin in Rhode Island. 
The leading citizens of Newport were on this committee. Not 
twelve hundred dollars could be found or collected in the 

The continental fleet under Commodore Hopkins made a suc- 
cessful descent on New Providence, Nassau, which they found 
undefended. They captured a large amount of military stores 
and more than one hundred cannon, and with the governor, 
lieutenant-governor and one of the council as prisoners, sailed 
for home. 

The records of the month of February contain one notice of 
more general interest to-day than when it was first inscribed. 
This is the petition of " Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart, wife of Gilbert 
Stewart, late of Newport, in the colony of Rhode Island, snuff 
maker, setting forth that her husband is possessed of a tract 
of land in the township of Newi^ort in Nova Scotia under im- 
provement and upon which he hath some stock. That he, find- 
ing it impossible to maintain his family in the said town of 
Newport in this colony, did some time last summer remove to 
his said farm where he now is and purposes to remain. And 


that exclusive of the impracticability of her supporting herself 
and family in this colony, which strongly impels her to follow 
her said husband, she is very desirous of joining hira, which 
she is also bound in duty to do if possible." And therefore 
besought this assembly to permit the sloop "Nova Scotia," 
packet, David Ross master, to proceed to the said township of 
Newport in Nova Scotia with herself and family, she being 
willing to give the amplest security that nothing but the 
"wearing apparel and household furniture of the family and 
the necessary provisions for the family shall be carried in the 
said sloop." The assembly granted the petition and the sloop 
was permitted to sail under the inspection of Messrs. John 
Collins and George Sears of Newport. 

In the early days of March news was received of the closing 
of the American lines around Boston and of an intended as- 
sault in two divisions, one of which was to be led by Brigadier 
General Greene. On the 10th rumors came in of an evacua- 
tion of the town by the British. As there was no possibility 
of stopping them if such was their determination, there was an 
intense anxiety to know what destination they would take. 
The British plan of operations had included the seizure of 
Quebec and New York as bases of operations, and the holding 
of the rivers St. Lawrence and Hudson, and of the intervening 
waters of Lakes Champlain and George, as avenues of supply 
and separation of the eastern and northern from the middle 
and western provinces. 

The occupation of Boston was a political rather than military 
movement, and undertaken when the self-sufficient ministry of 
Lord North supposed that with four regiments of British troops 
General Gage could not only reduce Boston to subjection but 
march from one end of the continent to the other. The failure 
of Montgomery's expedition left them in secure possession of 
Quebec. The capture of New York was the second essential 
feature of this extensive movement. With the confirmation of 
the rurmor of evacuation by the certain information that Gen- 
eral Howe was embarking Ms troops, came the news of the de- 
sign of the British government to send over a large number of 
commissioners to offer j)ardon to the colonies separately, a plan 
calculated to disturb the peace of those in which there was a 
division of feeling or opinion. 

Recognizing New York as the key of the continent for ag- 



gressive war, Washington would hardly credit that Halifax 
was General Howe's destination, and determined at once to se- 
cure New York. On the 17th of March Washington wrote to 
Governor Cooke, informing him that the British troops had that 
morning evacuated Boston without destroying it and that he 
was in full possession ; that most probably the next attempt 
would be against New York or some southern colony ; and 
though he did not believe they had " any design against Rhode 
Island, that it will be advisable to keep a strict look out." He 
suggested the "calling in of the militia and to keep a strict 
look out." In a postscript written on the 19th he added: 
"The ileet is still in King or Nantasket roads." [This note, 
not in Spark's writings of Washington, appears on the Rhode 
Island records.] 

On the 18th of March the general assembly convened at East 
Greenwich and, the same day apparently, addressed a me- 
morial to Washington thanking him for "his timely notice of 
the late movement of the ministerial troops," stated that the 
necessary orders had been issued to the militia, and requested 
him in case any part of the American forces were ordered to 
any of the southern colonies that he would direct their march 
through the colony of Rhode Island by the sea shore, that 
they might be present in the case it were invaded, and also to 
station a considerable force there until the intentions of the 
enemy were known. Henry Marchant, William EUery and 
Thomas Greene were appointed to wait on Washington with 
this memorial and urge with pressing instances the necessity of 
a permanent force. 

To provide for their own defense they ordered the raising in 
Newport of a watch company of twenty-five men, and named 
Philip Moss captain, Augustus Newman lieutenant, and Jo- 
seph Crandal ensign ; all the troops quartered at Mr. George 
Irish's house and in all private houses to be at once removed, 
except those stationed at Dudley House and Straw Castle. 
A committee— Mr. John G. Wanton, William Ellery and 
Christopher Lippitt— was appointed to estimate the damages 
done to the house of Mr. John Bannister in Newport, and 
settle the same. The purchase of two thousand stand of 
fire arms was ordered and the town councils directed to deter- 
mine what persons should have the use of said arms, and they 
were duly supplied : For Newport, Colonel Jabez Champlin ; 


Portsmoutli, Metcalfe Bowler ; Middletown, Mr. Nicholas Eas- 
ton ; Jamestown, Benjamin Underwood. An act was passed 
anthorizing armed vessels "to defend the sea coast of America" 
under the joint provisions of King Charles the Second's charter 
and the resolution of the. continental congress, and a prize court 
was established to try and condemn all vessels infesting the 

The Massachusetts government having given information that 
they were willing to join with Rhode Island in the fortification 
of Bristol ferry, the Hon. William Bradford and Simeon Potter 
were empowered to confer on that subject, and also respecting 
fortifications at Howland's ferry. The committee on military 
■defenses reported the assignment of troops. Application 
was made to the general armj'^ headquarters -at Cambridge for 
forty pieces of cannon, from nine to twenr.y-four pounders. Col- 
onel Henry Babcock was continued in his command as com- 
mander of the colony's brigade, with discreet instructions for 
his government while upon the island of Rhode Island, drawn 
up by a committee consisting of Jonathan Arnold, Joseph 
Anthony and Henry Ward. 

On the 27th of March Washington notified Governor Cooke 
that the men-of-war and transports sailed that afternoon from 
JSTantasket harbor, and that he had in consequence ordered a 
brigade to march for New York, and that he would follow with 
the rest of the army the moment he had certain information of 
the fleet "being clear oflE the coast," leaving a small force to 
fortify Boston. On the 31st the governor advised Washington 
from Providence that an express had come in from Newport, 
that a ship-of-war had arrived in Newport harbor, and that 
twenty-seven ships were within Seconnet point, and that he 
had not more than seven or eight hundred men in the whole 
colony besides the militia, who were not more than half armed. 
On the 1st of April the governor sent word that this was a false 
alarm. The sheriff of Newport who sent up the express had 
been misinformed. A messenger sent down had satisfied him- 
self that the people had been deceived by the foggy weather, 
and had descried no fleet. Mr. Cooke' s son rode express to 
Washington with this contradiction of the report. 

Instantly on the receipt of the first despatch Washington 
hastened the march of Generals Greene and Sullivan to Provi- 
dence. They reached Providence on the 5th, and Washington, 


with General Gates, the adjutant-general of the army, and 
other general officers, arrived on the 6th of April. General 
Spencer, with five regiments, the Connecticut brigade, arrived 
on the 7th, and after a grand entertainment given to the com- 
mander-in-chief at Providence in the evening, the troops hav- 
ing already marched, Washington followed them. He passed 
through Norwich and New London to hasten the embarkation 
of the troops who had so far marched, to New York, and there 
he left General Greene with the Rhode Island regiments of the 
continental line ready to embark. 

At New London he saw Commodore Hopkins, and applied to 
him for thirty of the heavy cannon he had captured and 
brought from New Providence (Nassau) and was promised what 
could be spared; as many were wanting for the defense of 
Providence river and New London harbor ; a curious instance 
of the manner in which even Washington was hampered at 
that period. Washington was in New Haven on the 11th, and 
reached New York on the 14th of April, where General Put- 
nam, who had preceded him, was in command. 

On his arrival in New York Washington wrote to Commodore 
Hojjkins that he had just received information that the " Nau- 
tilus," sloop of war, had arrived at New York, " said to be senb 
express from thence for the 'Asia,' 'Phoenix,' and 'Savage,' 
and that they are intended for New London to block up your 
squadron." The "Phoenix," "Savage" and "Nautilus" 
sailed that morning. The "Asia" remained in the harbor. 
It may here be 'mentioned that Commodore Hopkins, on ap- 
proaching the New England coast from his cruise, captured, 
Thursday, the fourth of Apiil, the schooner "Hawke," of six 
guns. Captain Wallace, son of Commodore Wallace ; on Friday 
the bomb brig "Bolton," of eight guns; on Saturday he en- 
gaged the frigate "Glasgow," of twenty-foar guns, and her 
tender. The "Glasgow," after a three hours' action, by the 
seamanship of her commander got off and reached Newport in 
safety. The tender was taken, and Commodore Hopkins, with 
his vessels and prizes, went into New London. It was here that 
Washington met him, and to him here Washington sent his 
warning message. 

On the arrival of the "Glasgow," the British squadron went 
out to look for Hopkins. A battery planted on Brenton's 
point by Colonel Richmond ran the "Glasgow" up the bay, 


and forced her the next day to put to sea. On the morning of 
the 11th the brig "Cabot," of the continental fleet, brought 
down ten heavy pieces of cannon from the fort at Providence 
harbor for the defense of Newport. 

In the afternoon of the eleventh part of the Georgia fleet on 
its way to Halifax put in to Newport and came to anchor be- 
tween Rose island and the Dumplings; the "Scarborough," 
of twenty guns, having on board Governor Wright of Georgia 
and the refugees, apart of the fleet of eleven vessels which left 
Savannah on the 30th of March, the " Scymitar," a transport of 
eighteen guns with troops, and two American vessels which 
they had taken on the Georgia coast. The same night Commo- 
dore Grimes, who was then at Newport, attacked them with the 
Rhode Island gallies "Washington" and "Spitfire," each 
with an eighteen pounder in the bow, aided by a battery of two 
eighteen pounders planted by Col. Babcock at the north point. 
They were forced to slip their cables and make the shelter of Co- 
nanicut island, from which they were driven by a new battery 
and driven to sea, taking and returning the fire from a battery 
on Castle hill as she went out. In this action Daniel Jackson 
Tillinghast, of Newport, was wounded on one of the gallies. 
The anchors and cables were taken up by the Americans. The 
prizes were the American vessels captured on the Georgia coast 
by the " Scarborough." Seventeen English were made pris- 

The bay for the first time in many months was clear of 
British men of- war. The cannon taken by Hopkins at Nassau 
were distributed by order of congress. Thirteen were mounted 
on a new fort built at the point in Newport. Old Fort George 
was remodelled and a work constructed at Brenton's point. 
These made a reasonable defense for the harbor of Newport. 

On the 12th of April Hancock, the president of congress, 
ofiicially informed the Rhode Island assembly of the act of 
parliament authorizing the seizure of American vessels on the 
high seas, and of their resolution in retaliation, and enclosed 
bonds, commissions and instructions for the use of the assembly 
in "letters of marque and reprisal." 

Colonel Knox (to whom was assigned the command of the 
regiment of continental artillery in December, 1775) passed 
through Newport on his way from Cambridge camp to New 
York, and at the urgent request of Governor Cooke, took a 


view of the town and gave directions for the requisite fortifica- 
tion of the place, which he was (as Cooke wrote to Washington 
on the 25th of April) cleai'ly of opinion might be secured. The 
day of Cooke's letter a battery to command the north entrance 
to the harbor was about completed, and the next the fortifica- 
tions on Fort island were to begin. The completion of the works 
would, the governor believed, put an end to toryism in the 
colony. He entreated Washington to send him a competent 
engineer if only for a few days. 

Toward the close of April Commodore Hopkins, with the aid 
of two hundred men whom Washington detailed to him from 
the army, brought his vessels from New London to Rhode Island. 
He landed one hundred men sick, nearly all with the small pox, 
at Providence. This terrible scourge,' which decimated the 
American army in Canada, raged over the continent and added 
another to the terrible trials of the entire population, patriots 
and loyalists alike. Captain Whipple of the "Columbus," 
blamed for allowing the escape of the "Glasgow," demanded a 
court martial, by which he was acquitted. Captain Hazard of 
the "Providence" was censured for disobedience of orders. 
Later Hopkins was severely censured by congress for his return 
from New Providence instead of cruising along the southern 
coast as he was ordered. 

The last colonial assembly of Rhode Island met at Providence 
on the first Wednesday, the first day of May. After the re- 
election of Governor Cooke and the confirmation of the election 
of William Bradford (elected in November when, on the 
deposition of Wanton, Cooke was chosen governor) the as- 
sembly made some re-arrangement of the military. The regi- 
ment of the county of Newport w^s divided into two regiments: 
the first to contain all the companies of militia in the towns of 
Newport, Portsmouth, New Shoreham, Jamestown and Mid- 
dletown; the second, those of Tiverton and Little Compton. 
The companies of Providence were likewise divided and they, 
as well as those of Little Compton, by geographical lines by 
streets. The commanding officer of the colony's brigade was 
ordered to build a fort at Beaver Tail upon Conanicut to con- 
tain six or eight heavy cannon. Under the direction of Esek 
Hopkins, commander-in-chief of the continental tiavy, officers 
were chosen for the colony's brigade: major general of the 
militia, Joshua Babcock; for the county of Newport, First reg- 


iment, Colonel George Irish, Lieutenant Colonel George Sears, 
Major J. V. Almy; Second regiment: Colonel John Cooke, 
Lieutenant Colonel David Hilyard, Major Pardon Gray. The 
captains of the trained bands or militia are named for the sev- 
eral tovpns but those for the town of Newport do not appear on 
the record, though Portsmouth and Middletown do. The com- 
mittee of safety for the county of Newport were Metcalfe Bow- 
ler and Colonel John Cooke. 

Stephen Hopkins was again elected first delegate to the conti- 
nental congress. The commanding officer on the island was or- 
dered to remove the troops from the ferry house on the point 
belonging to Mr. Benjamin Ellery, that the ferrj^ might be kept 
open. The watchers ordered along the coast in January were sus- 
pended during the absence of the fleet. Watchers were to be 
continued only at Point Judith, Seconnet point, at Westerly, 
Charlestown, at the south ferry in South Kingstown and at 
North Kingstown. 

These preliminaries disposed of, the assembly proceeded to 
one of the most solemn and important acts in the history of the 
colony, and considering its geographical and physical condi- 
tion, one of the bravest in the history of the country. On the 
4th of May it repealed the act of allegiance to Great Britain, 
virtually declared its independence, because the king, "forget- 
ting his dignity, regardless of the compact entered into by his 
illustrious ancestors and till of late fully recognized by him; 
and entirely departing from the duties and character of a good 
king instead of protecting, is endeavoring to destroy the good 
people of this colony and of all the United Colonies by sending 
fleets and armies to America to confiscate our property and 
spread fire, sword and desolation throughout our country in 
order to compel us to submit to the most debasing and detesta- 
ble tyranny, etc., be it therefore enacted that an act for secur- 
ing allegiance is repealed, and that thereafter in all commis- ' 
sions, civil and military^ in lieu of the king's name the words, 
the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode 
Island and Providence Plantations be substituted, other- 
wise their tenor to be the same." The courts of law were no 
longer to be entitled or considered the king's courts, and no in- 
strument, public or private, was thereafter in the date thereof, 
to mention the year of the king's reign. The six deputies for 
Newport in this assembly were: John Wanton, Samuel Fowler, 


George Sears, Gideon Wanton, Thomas Freebody and Colonel 
Joseph Belcher. 

These instructions were at once issued in the new style to their 
delegates in congress. They were soon gratified to hear from 
their first delegate, Hopkins, at Philadelphia, that congress 
would soon throw ofl: all connection in name as in substance 
with Great Britain and that on the warm recommendation of Gen- 
eral Washington, congress had passed a resolution for taking 
into continental pay the two Rhode Island batallions. The 
commanding officer in each company of the Rhode Island bri- 
gade was ordered to prevent damage by travelling over ploughed 
lands and also to clear all the best houses in JN'ewport of the 
troops and station them in convenient empty houses, and to 
pursue the same course at Jamestown. 

The act to encourage privateering by "letters of marque" 
was enlarged. A gunner was ordered for Fort Liberty (old Fort 
George), upon Goat island. The maximum price of Bohea tea 
was fixed at three-fourths of a dollar the pound, all persons 
charging more to be considered as "enemies to the American 
cause and treated accordingly," congress desiring to exclude 
all tea except that taken in prizes. The inhabitants on Block 
island were exhorted to remove. A bounty of three shillings 
a bushel was voted on salt manufactured in the colony. En- 
gagement was entered into with Massachusetts Bay to assist in 
their defense if invaded. Cannon were purchased and twelve 
eighteen pounders mounted on carriages sent to Newport. To 
prevent supplies to the enemy, fishermen at Block island were 
restricted to the Newport market, and any inhabitant of the 
island found in any other part of the island saving Newport to 
be confined to jail. 

This assembly was also called upon to elect a second delegate 
to congress, in the place of Governor Samuel Ward, who died 
at his post in Philadelphia, on the 27th of March, of the small 
pox, in the fifty-first year of his age, in the very prime of his 
usefulness. He is Justly entitled to be held in grateful memory 
as one of the founders of the American Union. No one of this 
time did more perfect service than he ; uniting vigor with pru- 
dence, ardor with conduct, the highest statesmanship with un- 
swerving patriotism. The student of American history who 
turns the pages which recite the services of the illustrious dele- 
gates to the famous continental congress of 1774, and that more 


illustrious, because constituent, congress of 1775-6, cannot but 
regret that death deprived Samuel Ward of that which he 
would have, living, held to be the sum of honor, the inscription 
of his name as a delegate from Rhode Island to the declaration 
of independence of the United Colonies. His love for his 
country cannot be better expressed than in his own words, 
written to his brother, in 1775: "No man living perhaps is 
more fond of his children than I am, and T am not so old as to 
be tired of life ; and yet as far as lean now judge the tenderest 
considerations and the most important private concerns are very 
minute objects. Heaven save my country, I was going to say, 
is my first, my last, and almost my only prayer." 

The assembly, "in testimony of the respect due to his mem- 
ory, and in grateful remembrance of his public services, re- 
solved to pay his funeral expenses, and the delegates for the 
colony wer& instructed to erect a decent tombstone or monu- 
ment of marble, with such inscription as they shall think suit- 
able over the place where his body hath been deposited, at the 
expense of the colony." Samuel Ward was of an old New- 
port family. Thomas Ward, the first of the name in that 
town, came to it from Grlocester, England, married and died in 
Newport in 1698. The most ancient residence of the family 
was on the south side of Market square, about half way between 
the main street and the market house. 

William EUery, of Newport, was appointed to succeed 
him for one year, and to him fell the honor of signa- 
ture to the immortal scroll, the charter of liberty. The 
same day that he was elected the assembly also named 
the officers of the Second regiment in the colony's 
brigade: Colonel, Christopher- Lippitt ; Lieutenant-colonel, 
Adam Comstock ; Major, Christopher Olney ; Brigade-major, 
William Barton ; and it is noticeable that at the close of these 
proceedings, for the first time on the records, the formal prayer, 
" God save the King" is omitted. Where it was of custom in- 
scribed there is a blank. There was no sovereign authority as 
yet for whom the invocations could be made. 
- The assembly on the 10th of June, the second Monday, re- 
sumed its sessions in Newport, the town being free from the 
enemy. It proceeded to the confiscation of the entire estate 
of George Roome for the use of the colony. It must have 
been considerable, the records mentioning a tan yard in New- 


port with vats, leather and stock of hides and a lot of land with 
two dwellings on the south side of the Parade. In view of the 
" dreadful ravages made by the small-pox in the army before 
Quebec, which was a principal cause of raising the blockade 
of that city, and the danger of that dreadful distemper render- 
ing the city incapable of defense," the assembly passed an act 
permitting inoculation and establishing a hospital under sani- 
tary rules and isolated by heavy penalties. There was protest 
made by quite a number of leading men against this act for 
three reasons: because the consent of the people had not been 
asked, because it had not been permitted for any length of 
time and was now discontinued in the other New England 
colonies, and thirdly because no provision was made for the 
poor, the most numerous part of the community. Notwith- 
standing this the assembly were so satisfied of the importance 
of the measure as a protection, especially to the army, that 
they desired their delegates to move in congress that all com- 
mon soldiers and seamen thereafter enlisting be permitted to 
be inoculated at the expense of the united colonies in hospitals 
to be provided under proper restrictive rules. 

A census of the inhabitants was ordered and a committee 
appointed for each town. For Newport, George Sears, Wil- 
liam Coddington and Gideon Wanton. The assembly addressed 
a memorial to the continental congress justifying themselves 
in a refusal to re-deliver to Commodore Hopkins the twenty 
pieces of cannon, the loan of which had enabled them to put 
Newport in such a state of defense that it was now " capable 
of being defended against all frigates in the British navy." 
The order for the removal of the cannon they supposed to have 
been given under the idea that they were just landed, whereas 
by great exertion they were already mounted and in position. 
Moreover they said that on receiving the twenty-six cannon from 
the commodore they had consented that the owners of Furnace 
Hope, with whom they had contracted for sixty pieces, should 
first supply the continental ships. And as thirty-six heavy 
cannon had been landed for the defense of New London, which 
could be defended with one-quarter of the number of pieces 
needed for Newport bay, town and harbor, they suggest that 
if the twenty pieces must be removed they be taken from that 
port. A third of the inhabitants they say were already re- 
moved from Newport and if a majority of the remainder had 


been induced to temporize and " even to assiime an appearance 
rather unfriendly to tlie united colonies," it was to be attrib- 
uted to their peculiar situation and not to the want of spirit or 
love of their country. They hoped, now that they were fortified, 
Newport would " at all times afford a safe asylum to the conti- 
nental ships and to privateers and their prizes as well as to 
other vessels " in spite of all the British fleet. "Take them 
(the cannon) from us and we cannot answer for the event. The 
town of Newport and the island of Rhode Island are lost. * * 
It will be impossible for the inhabitants to defend themselves; 
they will not even attempt it. * * Leave us the cannon we 
can save Newport, which hath been induced in consequence of 
their arrival to take such steps as must bring upon them the 
British arms and who will be most cruelly treated in being de- 
prived of them." 

The thanks of the assembly were voted to Washington for 
his friendly offices in behalf of the colony. Offices were estab- 
lished at Newport and Providence for entering and clearing 
vessels and an act passed regulating trade, two intendants of 
trade to be annually appointed by the assembly, one for each 
port. The colony salt was distributed among the towns, New- 
port receiving two hundred bushels. A test oath was adopted, 
to be administered to all suspected males above sixteen. Sundry 
principal inhabitants of Newport town were ordered to be re- 
moved to Glocester, there to have the limits of the town on 
parole of honor. Two hundred spears were ordered for the 
Newport batteries. Officers were appointed to command the 
trained bands or companies of militia of the town of Newport, 
viz.: First company: captain, William Tripp; lieutenant, 
Caleb Carr, Jr.; ensign, Jonathan Simmons ; Second company : 
captain, Henry Wiles ; lieutenant, Robert Dunbar ; ensign, 
William Pendleton ; Third company : captain. Wing Spooner ; 
lieutenant, Stukely Wyatt ; ensign, Lee Langley ; Fourth com- 
pany : captain, William Downing ; lieutenant, John Nichols ; 
ensign, Benjamin Hammett. 

On the 20th of June Lord Howe, " one of the King's Commis- 
sioners for restoring peace to the Colonies," addressed a letter 
from on board the man-of-war "Eagle," off the coast of the 
province of the Massachusetts Bay, to the " Honorable Gover- 
nor Wanton, &c., &c., Rhode Island, or other Magistrate of the 
Colony," with a copy of his declaration that day issued. He 


notified his first object to be an early meeting with General 
Howe, who was joined with him in the commission, and re- 
quested a promulgation of his proclamation or declaration. 
There was no attempt to conceal this discreet document, which 
offered "free and general pardons to all those who, in the tumult 
and disorder of the times, may have deviated from their just 
allegiance, and promise of due consideration to the meritorious 
services of all persons who shall aid in restoring the public 
tranquility." But the door of conciliation was already and 
forever closed ; Rhode Island was an independent colony. The 
records -of the proceedings of this assembly close with the 
prayer, "God save the United Colonies." The entire subor- 
dination of Rhode Island to the common interest, and the under- 
standing of the leaders of opinion were clearly shown in the 
request of the governor to Washington to name such general 
ofiicers as he thought best to command the colony brigade on 
the continental establishment. 

The assembly, which seems to have felt full confidence in the 
ability of Newport to make successful defense of town and 
harbor, adjourned till August. In fact, on the sailing of the 
ministerial fieet for Halifax, hopes of a quiet summer were gen- 
eral. It was not supposed that the commissioners, who were 
expected with offers of conciliation, would be accompanied by 
menace of war. 

These and many other like delusions as to the spirit which 
possessed the king and the great body of the parliament, were 
dispelled by the news of the arrival at Sandy Hook, on Sun- 
day, the 30th of June, of the British fleet from Halifax, counted 
at one hundred and thirteen sail. The remainder arrived on 
the 2d of July, when the bay of New York swarmed with one 
hundred and thirty men-of-war, transports and tenders. They 
brought an army of ten thousand men, who were landed on 
Staten Island. This information of itself was enough to de- 
mand deliberative action, but further reason came a few days 
later, on the arrival of the news of the declaration of independ- 
ence. It reached New York on the afternoon of the 9th, and 
Newport probably on the 12th. 

Newport, on the 11th, was the scene of a decisive action on 
the part of the officers of the colony brigade stationed on the 
island, to determine the position of some of the inhabitants of the 
town thought to "be inimical to their country." They lodged 


a complaint against about twenty persons with Judge Metcalfe 
Bowler, one of the committee of safety of Newport county, re- 
questing him, as a member of the general assembly, to tender to 
these suspected persons the Test act passed at the June session. 
This they refused all but one, and were summoned to give their 
reasons the next day, which they did to the judge. Col. Chris- 
topher Lippitt then summoned about sixty more, but only two 
would subscribe, many no doubt induced by their friends the 
day before. As this action on the part of the military was 
based on no particular act but only general accusation, and, as 
was .admitted, for "information only," the colonel could do 
no more than disarm the suspected. This state of affairs Col- 
onel Lippitt, on the 13th, communicated to the governor and 
urged their removal. 

The general assembly met in special session at Newport on 
Thursday the 18th of July and " taking into the most serious 
consideration" the resolution of congress declaring independ- 
ence, approved the same and engaged their support to the 
general congress. The act of approval was published the next 
day at noon by the secretary, in the presence of both houses of 
the assembly. It was ordered that thirteen cannon be dis- 
charged from Fort Liberty (Goat island) upon reading the said 
proclamation, and that the brigade be drawn up on the parade 
in thirteen divisions, and immediately upon the discharge of 
the cannon make a discharge of musketry, each division firing 
one volley in succession. The day set for this proclamation 
was Friday the 19th but according to the newspapers (and 
Arnold concurs), the declaration was celebrated at Newport 
on the " twentieth before a great concourse of people assembled 
in and about the State House. It was read by Major John 
Handy from the Balcony in front of the State House." 

The style and title of the government was altered to " The 
State of Ilhode Island and Providence Plantations." The col- 
ony's new gallies, the " Washington" and " Spitfire," were or- 
dered to New York and their captains directed to take the 
orders of General Washington. They did good service during 
that eventful summer. The committee appointed to determine 
where cannon should be placed reported an assignment of can- 
non. There were one hundred and thirty-nine in the state, of 
which fifty-five were in Newport: five twenty-four-pounders, 
fourteen eighteen-pounders, twelve twelve-pounders, one nine- 


pounder, nine six-pounders, ten four-pounders and four three- 
pounders. The continental paper money was declared a legal 
tender, and an act passed to prevent its depreciation and that 
of all other current paper money of the stales. An act was 
passed to punish ijersons who acknowledge the king of Great 
Britain to be their sovereign and a fine imposed of one hun- 
dred pounds. Another was passed requiring a test oath as a 
condition precedent to voting at any town meeting. 

Eleven of the leading citizens of Newport who had refused 
to subscribe the required test, were ordered to be removed by 
the sheriff- at their own expense, each to a different town in the 
colony; Grovernor Wanton to Jamestown, with the liberty of 
that town under the inspection of that commanding officer, with 
privilege under permission to visit under guard his farm on 
Prudence island and that only. Three of these persons de- 
clined to pay the expense of removal and were lodged in the 
Providence jail. One was fortunate enough to escape on a ves- 
sel to the West Indies. The remainder went quietly to their 

Not forgetting their old-time courtesy, Henrj' Ward, the 
secretary, and Colonel Jonathan Arnold were directed to pre- 
pare an answer to the express from Lord Howe. This, signed 
by the governor, was a respectful acknowledgment and informa- 
tion to his Lordship, without comment, that copies of his letter 
and declaration would be transmitted to the " Most Honoura- 
ble the General Congress of the United States of America, to 
whom every application respecting the disputes between the 
said states and Great Britain ought to be addressed and must 
be referred." The records of the proceedings of this assembly 
close with the prayer " God save the United States." 

At the August session William Richmond was appointed 
colonel of the state brigade, and Christopher Lippitt recom- 
mended to congress for colonel of the Second regiment. Solomon 
Southwick was named intendant of trade under the recent act 
for the district of Newport. Dr. William Hunter, one of the 
eleven sent out of town at the last session, was authorized to re- 
turn from Smithfield to Newport and reside there during the 
pending illness of one of his children, but to return as soon as 
the situation of his family permitted. And here it may be prop- 
erly said that the student of this period makes a distinction be- 
tween those persons who, born in the old country, whether with 


relatives and connections there or without, held their loyalty to 
the king and preserved a strict neutrality in the contest, and 
those who were active enemies to the country which had har- 
bored them. 

The struggle now was for the possession of ISTew York. In 
July Lord Admiral Howe joined his brother, the general, with 
the fleet and army from England, and on the 12th of August a 
fleet of si:^ty more vessels, having on board nine thousand Hes- 
sinn mercenaries, brought up the British force on Staten Island 
and in New York harbor to twenty-two thousand men and 
twenty-five ships-of-war. On the 22d Howe began landing his 
troops on Long Island, and on the night of the 29th Washing- 
ton, unable to hold his position against the superior force, with- 
drew his army to New York. 

The Rhode Island assembly met on. the 2d of September 
and, receiving a request from General Washington, through 
Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, that a body of men should 
be thrown upon the east end of Long Island for the protection 
of the inhabitants and stock, ordered over the whole brigade of 
state troops, two regiments with a detachment of artillery and 
two gallies, under the command and direction of Colonel Lip- 
pitt. But on hearing of the evacuation of Long Island the 
movement was stopped. Great apprehensions were now felt 
for the safety of Newport, and the assembly sent a committee, 
consisting of Joshua Babcock, John Collins and Joseph Stan- 
ton, Jr., to confer with General Washington. All the cannon 
at Newport not mounted were ordered to the main for defense; 
the troops on Conanicut, and the cannon there, were brought 
over to Newport. There was correspondence between Rhode 
Island and Connecticut as to the feasibility of a joint movement 
to Long Island to bring ofi' the stock with the aid of the con- 
tinental whale boats collected in Boston harbor. Trumbull had 
this expedition greatly at heart. 

On the 3d of September congress wrote a pressing letter, ask- 
ing that aid be sent to New York. One of the continental bat- 
talions marched on the 14th, and Colonel Richmond had the 
other in readiness to proceed the moment the Massachusetts 
regiment of militia arrived to take their place. Orders were 
issued to raise seven hundred men to replace Colonel Rich- 
mond's battalion. Washington was gratified by the readiness 
of the assembly to meet his wishes. The Rhode Island com- 


mittee, which visifed him in camp and was witness of the re- 
treat from the city of Kew York to the Heiglits -ot Harlem and 
the clieering fight of tlae 16th of September in which the Rhode 
Island regiments were engaged, had expressed their fear that 
Newport and Rhode Island must be evacuated; but Washing- 
ton was not of that opinion— not at least under any imaginary 

The headquarters of the state forces was at Newport, and two 
regiments were constantly stationed on the island. But they 
were poorly supplied. Some of chose ordered to Long Island 
were " bare of clothes, having neither shoes nor stockings to 
wear," and there was naturally "much grumbling." Congress 
now, however, undertook to fit them properly with blankets 
and clothing for winter service. In the first days of October 
Rhode Island had two battalions in continental pay, troops 
originally raised by the state : Colonel Varnum's, Colonel 
Hitchcock's and Colonel Lippitt's with Washington, and Colo- 
nel Richmond's, who was under orders for New London. In 
November, the time of enlistment of Colonel Richmond's reg- 
iment expiring, and the commissions of the field ofiicers also, 
the organization was disbanded. A new regiment was ordered, 
and oflacers were appointed : Colonel, John Sayles, Jr. ; lieu- 
tenant colonel, Benjamin Talman; major, Thomas Potter, Jr. 
The surgeon, Stephen Wigneron, was a distinguished practi- 
tioner, of a Newport Huguenot family. 



By John Austin Stevens. 

British Occupation of Newport, 1777-9.— The Siege of Newport, 1778.— The Fleets 
oflf Rhode Island.— The Battleof Rhode Island.— Evacuation by the British.— 
The French in Rhode Island, 1780-81.— The Naval Engagement.— The March 
of the French. 

THE military occupation of Boston was dictated by x^oliti- 
cal, not by strategic considerations. The earliest English 
port in the northern colonies, it was necessary to maintain it if 
possible, and moreover, as the place where the first overt resist- 
ance to the measures of the government was made, it was politic 
that it should receive the first punishment. That it was un- 
tenable was soon practically demonstrated, and its evacuation 
was a military advantage to the British. 

New York, at the mouth of the great dividing river, was the 
natural key to the northern section of the inhabited country, 
and Newport the natural key to the New England portion of 
that section. New York and Newport, with their great harbors, 
in either of which vast fleets could find safe anchorage and easy 
defense, and Long Island sound, with its sheltered communica- 
tion between the ports, offered a base for military operations 
unequalled in its advantages for an offensive naval power. The 
English commanders quickly recognized this, and immediately 
after the reduction of New York turned their attention to 
Newport. The fall of Fort Washington, on the 16th of No- 
vember, 1776, securing the British position and leaving a large 
force disposable for offensive operations, the establishment of a 
post at Newport was resolved upon as a basis for the operations 
which Lord Howe contemplated against Boston in the spring 

On the 14th General Charles Lee, from the camp at North 
Castle, Westchester county, where he was in command, Wash- 



ington being with the main body of the army in the Jersies, 
informed Governor Cooke of Rhode Island that a considerable 
force was "being embarked or abont to embark on Staten 
Island," and that though South Carolina was given out as the 
place of their destination, it was "not impossible or improbable 
that they may have some designs against Rhode Island either 
on a pillaging scheme or perhaps with a view of establishing 
winter quarters for a part of the troops, as they find them- 
selves straightened at New York." This letter Governor Cooke 
enclosed to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut on the 18th, with 
a request for assistance. 

The general assembly met at East Greenwich on the 21sk 
(November), and among their various orders for the government 
of the military, directed that in order to keep open the passage 
at Bristol and Howland ferries two strong fortifications be 
erected at each and sufficient cannon taken off from Rhode 
Island to arm the batteries. It was directed that one eighteen 
pounder and two twelve jjounders be left in the fort at Bren- 
ton's point; that one twenty-four pounder, two eighteen pound- 
ers and two twelve pounders be left in Port Liberty; and that 
one twenty-four pounder, two eighteen pounders and two 
twelve pounders be left on the North Battery; that all the 
cannon mounted on field carriages be also left on Rhode Island; 
and that all the rest of the cannon be removed to the main land; 
namely three of the heaviest cannon to Biistol ferry and three 
to Rowland's ferry. The remainder were ordered to the battery 
on Fox point, near Providence; a committee was appointed to 
distribute the shot and cartridges. 

The British preparations completed, the expedition was made 
up at the watering place off Staten Island, where the heavy 
ships lay, and on the 25th and 26th of November, sixty-five 
hundred troops, British and Hessian in about equal proportions, 
were embarked on sixty transports, mostly East India Com- 
pany's ships. The command of the expedition, Lord Howe 
assigned to Sir Henry Clinton. Admiral Sir Peter Parker was 
in command of the fleet. On the 27th the expedition left New 
York, and sailed down the sound in three divisions, each es- 
corted by three men-of-war, one in advance and one on either 
flank. Commodore Hotham covered the rear. Sir Peter Par- 
ker, with seven men-of-war and four frigates, took the outside 
passage, and appeared off Block Island on the 2d of December. 


Turning westward he sailed up the sound to meet the incoming 

Alarmed by the movement of the ships, Governor Cooke, on 
the 3d, sent a despatch to Governor Artemas Ward, of Massa- 
chusetts, asking immediate help, and was at once answered that 
marching orders had been given to the militia of three counties. 
The committee of safety, consisting of the governor, three of 
his council, and eleven members of the assembly, which had 
full power in the recess of the assembly, on the 4th advised 
Commodore Hopkins, who commanded the continental fleet, 
to get all the vessels which belonged to it out of the harbors of 
the state to sea as quickly as possible with safety; but he re- 
plied that it was impossible, as he could not enlist sufficient 
men. An embargo was laid on all the privateers and merchant- 
men in jiort to help the manning of the navy. On the 5th or- 
ders were issued to draft another regiment, of which Joseph 
Stanton was appointed colonel. A regiment of Providence 
county militia volunteered for service on the island pending the 
drafts, and was placed under command of Col. Chad Brown. 
General West was made brigadier of the troops on the island. 
The women and children were advised to move with their fur- 
niture from Newport and the other towns on the bay to the 
interior for safety. The prisoners of war were sent on board 
of Commodore Hopkins' vessels, or into the country, for safe 
keeping. The stock on Rhode Island and Conanicut was 
driven off. 

Colonel Waterman's regiment was ordered to Warwick neck, 
Colonel Aborn to Pawtuxet, and Colonel Noyes' to Tower hill. 

These arrangements were hardly completed when, on the 7th, 
the British fleet entered the bay, sailed up the West or Narra- 
gansett passage, and rounding the iiorth end of Conanicut 
island, anchored off Stoddard's shore in Middletown. In their 
passage through the sound they had made several feints of 
landing. As they passed through the waters of Narragansett ^ 
they saw red flags waving from every fort and battery. Resist- 
ance at Newport, however, was impossible, the total force on 
the island not exceeding seven hundred men. 

On the morning of the 8th the troops were disembarked from 
the transports which lay at anchor in Weaver's bay, at^ the 
southern end of Prudence island. One regiment landed at Long 
Wharf; the main body at Greensdale in Middletown (the resi- 


dence of the family of General Greene). The British regiments 
were the Twenty-second (Colonel Campbell), the Forty-third 
(ColonelMarsh),the Fifty-fourth (Colonel Bruce), the Sixty-third 
(Colonel Sell), all infantry, and Colonel Ennis' regiment of 
artillery. The Hessians were the Brigade of Huyne, the Guards 
and a part of Losberg's regiment. The brigade of Huyne seems 
to have been composed of the regiment of Banau, the Anspach- 
Bayrexith regiment, and the Guards of Landgraf (Prince) 
Charles Ditfurth. After landing, the light infanty and grena- 
diers went up the island to Bristol ferry at nearly its northern 
end, and bivouacked in the open air until their tents and bag- 
gage were unladen. 

The American forces had already retreated, and carrying with 
them thirty guns left the island and withdrawn to Bristol and 
Providence an hour before the disembarkation. According to 
the account sent by Governer Cooke to Washington, at ten 
o'clock on the night of the 8th, the fleet consisted of seventy- 
eight ships of war and transports. The British, on landing, 
marched in three divisions, one toward Newport, the second 
toward Howland's ferry, the third to Bristol ferry, where 
they arrived in time "to fire upon the boats that brought over 
our last men, but without doing much damage." The governor 
says that the retreating troops had to leave behind "about fif- 
teen or twenty heavy cannon." 

The main body bivouacked about the country or in the farm 
houses, which they pillaged, but with little more result than the 
capture of a few head of cattle. The next morning, 9th Decem- 
ber, Clinton marched on Newport, which he entered without 
resistance. He waS accompanied by Earl Percy and M^ijor- 
General Prescott, and by Prince Charles Ditfurth, with the 
Hessian Guards and a company of light horse. The Hessians 
who went in with Clinton were quartered on the town. On the 
13th the force was distributed in permanent cantonments, and 
the next day were joined by the Ditfurth regiment. TheNew- 
I)ort garrison then consisted of one battalion of light infantry, 
one grenadier battalion, four British regiments, a detachment, 
of English artillery, a company of light dragoons, the Seven- 
teenth regiment, and the Hessian regiments. General Richard 
Prescott was put in command of the post, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Campbell was the next in rank within the town, and General 
Smith commanded the troops outside. Two yager or light 


infantry companies were made up from the Hessian regiments. 

Mr. Rosengarten, in his monograph on "The G-erman Soldiers 
in Newport," made up in the main from Max Von Biking's 
"Account of the German soldiers in the war of the Revolution," 
thus describes the appearance of the town at the time of the 
occupation : "Newport town contained eleven hundred houses, 
mostly small wooden ones; the large and handsome residences 
of the well to do were built so as to show on the street front 
great iron gates, but in the rear there were large gardens sur- 
rounded by stables, houses for the negroes, etc. Within there 
were the handsomest carpets, hangings and furniture. The 
rich people had a great love of pleasure and luxury. The sol- 
diers quietly set to work to make themselves comfortable, in 
spite of the unfriendly welcome from the ' Patriots,'' to whose 
numbers most of the people belonged. The officers were quar- 
tered in the houses of the few royalists who remained, the sol- 
diers in those of a large n^^mber that had fled. The empty ap- 
pearance of the streets as the troops marched in was due to the 
great numbers of the inhabitants who had left. The greatest 
need was firewood. Detachments were sent in all directions to 
gather it, and in one instance as fai; as Staten Island. The offi- 
cers who went there reported that most of the people there, too, 
had fled from fear of the Hessians; it was indeed currently be- 
lieved that even the little children would fall victims to the 
barbarity of these foreign troops. The people generally were 
very ignorant, credulous and timid; no assurance that no harm 
should come to them could persuade them that they were safe. 
The colored people were much less anxious about their fate, 
and a few Indians were met, mostly day laborers employed in 
the fisheries." 

The general assembly of Rhode Island met at Providence on 
the 10th, and in view of the invasion ordered the raising of two 
regiments of infantry, seven hundred and fifty men each, to be 
brigaded under the command of a general, and a regiment of 
artillery of three hundred men, "for the defense of the United 
States in general and of this State in particular." James 
Mitchell Varnum was appointed brigadier general and Monsieur 
Frangois Lellorquois de Malmedy, chief engineer and director 
of the works of defense, with the rank of brigadier general. 
The colonels of infantry were John Cooke and Joseph Stanton, 
Jr.; the colonel of artillery, Robert Elliot. Joseph Nightin- 


gale was appointed major general of the militia in the place of 
Joshua Babcook, who was appointed one of the council of war. 
Jonathan Clarke was assigned as " linguist" to M. de Malmedy, 
with the rank of major. 

M. de Malmedy was a Fi-ench gentleman who, in September, 
1776, had been "appointed in the continental service." Gen- 
eral Charles Lee wrote from Chatham, New York, to Washing- 
ton, on the 8th of December, that on hearing that the British 
troops had embarked and directed their course to the eastern prov- 
inces, sailing one half through the sound and the other turning 
the southwestern end of Long Island and steering eastward, he 
had " detached Colonel Varnum and Monsieur Malmedie to take 
the direction of the Rhode Island troops who are without even 
the figure of a general." Malmedy reached Providence on the 
6th, and at the request of Governor Cooke "viewed the lines of 
circumvallation which were opened on the right bank of the 
[Providence] river." He thought them too far out, and changed 
them, bringing the posts in. In his letter reporting the condi- 
tion of affairs he said that he had then been given the rank of 
colonel, and entreated Lee to have him commissioned by con- 
gress before the 1st of January, that he might rank others. 

On the 25th Malmedy wrote that he had examined the ground 
about Warwick neck, which the committee of safety proposed 
to defend, but found it untenable in case of a descent, and 
urged the evacuation of the post already begun. He was sur- 
prised at the inactivity of the British and the lethargy of the 
people of Providence. Malmedy was modest as to his ovfn abil- 
ities. He busied himself diligently finishing the open lines, be- 
cause "there was only one man here who knows that kind of 
work;" but, he wrote, he was himself "no engineer by profes- 
sion," and was anxious for a different line of service, though 
glad to do what he could in any line of duty. Heavy snow was 
falling on the 2Qth and there was no trav^elling. In this letter 
of the 25th he announced the arri\ral of Major General Lincoln, 
who had been appointed to the chief command. There were 
rumoi's of an intention of the British to march on Boston by way 
of Providence. On the 23d of December the agreeable news 
came in of the arrival of "an immense prize ship" at New 
Bedford, and General Varnum went down at once to save itfrom 
the hands of Clinton. 

A convention of the New England states met in Providence 


on the 25th, when it was advised to concentrate the several 
quotas to the number of six thousand men in the state of 
Rhode Island, which was called upon to supply eighteen hun- 
dred. A thousand continentals were to be added. 

The records of the assembly for the 23d report the request 
of one James Joseph Halleen, a French gentleman, who had 
purchased a schooner in Rhode Island, to be permitted to go 
out in the vessel with a French crew only and a cargo of 
hoops, shingles and "shaken casks," to the French West In- 
dia islands. Permission was granted. This assembly also de- 
termined against the issue of any more paper money, and 
adopted resolutions for borrowing at five per cent, and for taxa- 
tion. Regulations were made " to prevent monopolies and op- 
pression by excessive and unreasonable prices for many of the 
necessaries and conveniences of life, and for preventing en- 
grossers and for the better supply of the troops in the army." 
A committee reported the act which regulated the prices of 
labor, goods, wares, merchandize, &c. : labor not to exceed 
three shillings and four pence a day, wheat seven and six pence 
per bushel, pork four pence per pound, grass fed beef three 
pence, salt ten shillings per bushel. West India rum seven shil- 
lings and eight pence by the gallon, New England rum three 
shillings and ten pence, sugar eight pence per pound, cheese 
six pence, potatoes one shilling and four pence per bushel, 
coffee one shilling and four pence the pound. These were all 
retail prices. At the same session two lire ships were ordered 
to be prepared and put under command of Captain Silas Tal- 
bot, and the row galley at Providence to proceed to Pawtuxet 
to receive the orders of Commodore Esek Hopkins. 

The last Wednesday of the month of January was recom- 
mended to be observed as a fast day by the general convention 
and an act requesting observance was approved by the assem- 
bly which adjourned on the 2d of January, 1777. On the 10th 
the British frigate "Cerberus," which lay at Fogland ferry, on 
the East or Seconnet passage, was driven from her moorings by 
the troops of Little Compton with two pieces of artillery and 
lost in killed and wounded several of her crew. On the 12th 
General Arnold, sent by Washington to assist in the defense, 
arrived at Providence and with him came the inspiring news 
of the landing of Lafayette to offer his sword to the new nation. 
On the 14th the English, in revenge for the attack on the 


"Cerberus," sent a party to Prudence island which burned 
the few buildings spared in the raid of the preceding winter. 

The day before, Sir Henry Clinton sailed for England on the 
" Asia," "" saluted on going aboard by a discharge of cannon," 
the command devolving upon the Honorable Hugh Earl Percy. 
Clinton left to Percy six Hessian and four British regiments in 
the country, and two British regiments and Losberg's Hessian 
regiment in the town. The notice of his departure appeared in 
the first number of the Newport Gazette published by John Howe 
" at the Printing House in Thames street near the Parade." This 
number, issued Thursday, January 16th, 1777, contains Lord 
Howe's proclamation from New York of November 30th, 1776, 
granting pardons to all who "shall promise to remain in a 
peaceable obedience to His Majesty," and also the address to 
Sir Henry Clinton by the loyalists of Newport, described by 
the Gazette ^■s, "four hundred and forty-four of principal in- 
habitants of the town." The address expressed the " truly 
grateful sense of his majesty's paternal affection and tender- 
ness for his unhappily deluded American subjects exhibited in 
the proclamation of November last," with which the subscribers 
were penetrated, deplored " the baleful influence of factious 
and designing men through his majesty's American colonies," 
congratulated Sir Henry upon his arrival among them, thanked 
him for his many instances of humanity and benignity dis- 
played since his arrival and solicited his influence with the king's 
commissioners. The subscribers sum up their dutiful address 
witli the statement of their conviction "that to be a subject of 
the British empire with all its consequences, is to be the freest 
member of any civil society in the known world." Another 
address seems to have been addressed to Lord Howe and* the 
commissioners on the 12th of January, 1777, and signed by the 
inhabitants of Newport— Joseph Wanton, Jr., John Maudsley, 
Stephen Ayrault, Augustus Johnston, James Keith, Walter 
Chaloner, William Wanton and Francis Malbone. Prom this 
Gazette it appears that the English fleet had brought in 
quite a number of prizes. Seven vessels are named, some with 
valuable cargoes. On the 13th of January the inhabitants of 
Jamestown addressed Earl Percy in terms similar to those of 
the loyal addressers of Newport. 

On the 22d an American galley under cover of a fire upon 
the British force at Dutch Island ferry, landed four hundred 


men but were driven back to their boats by Huyne's brigade and 
the fire of two English six-pounders and two Hessian three- 
pounders with some loss. In the last week of January the 
"Merlin" sloop of war convoyed in two transports with Hes- 
sian troops on board, and the " Cerberus " went out again from 
Newport for the Seconnet passage. On the 28th of January the 
row galleys made a demonstration upon the "Sphynx" off 
Warwick point but did not attack. 

On the 5th of February the marine committee sent orders to 
Commodore Hopkins to despatch four vessels under Captain 
John Paul Jones, of the "Alfred," on an expedition, but it 
was found impossible to man or get them to sea. On the 14th 
the sloop "Providence" went down to capture a Britsh 
schooner of eight guns which had grounded between Pru- 
dence and Patience islands, but the crew set her on fire and blew 
her up. On the 21st the row galley "Spitfire," rigged as a 
schooner, covering a party landed to bring off hay from Rhode 
Island, exchanged fire for several hours with a battery on 

While the enterprise of the patriots kept the army of occu- 
pation constantly on the alert, the officers amused themselves 
with organizing subscription balls. Captain d'Avant and Cap- 
tain Mahlsburg, the latter one of the most distinguished of the 
Hessian officers, were "Masters of the ceremonies." The balls 
were given on Monday evenings. The regulations as to the 
comings and goings of the inhabitants were strict. N"one were 
allowed to leave the island for the main without permission, 
and no inhabitant was permitted to admit any person into his 
house without reporting him to Prescott, the commandant, " on 
pain 'of military execution." Percy had his own views on the 
subject of the small-pox, and on the 13th of February ordered 
that no person within the island "presume to inoculate for the 
small pox." At this time the colony authorities were legalizing 
this sanitary precaution. 

On the 13th of February the Newport Gazette reported the 
arrival of a " brig with upwards of thirty masters of ships who 
have been taken at different times by American pirates. These 
freebooters are fitted out by men who have made their for- 
tunes from the credit of British merchants and who have 
chosen this method most gratefully to repay them." There 
was an exchange of prisoners at this timie going on between 


Earl Percy and Governor Cooke, under the general cartel and 
by Waghington's recommendation. 

On the 1st of March the assembly met at Providence, ordered 
the declaration of independence of the United States of America 
of the 4th of July, 1776, to be "entered on the public records" 
of the State. This was done on the request of congress of the 
18th January, 1777. The Oneida Indians sent a deputation to 
this assembly to pledge their neutrality if not active aid, and 
one of the chiefs received the present of a gun. This and other 
presents to the amount of about seventy-eight pounds were 
paid for by the state. The Quakers or " persons of tender con- 
sciences were relieved from their fines." At the same session 
also Major-G-eneral Spencer was "strongly recommended (if in 
any way consistent with prudence)" to make an attack on the 
enemy at Rhode Island; the assembly considering it a great 
disgrace to New England in general and Rhode Island in par- 
ticular that no attempt had as yet been made. Rewards 
were promised by the assembly for the capture of British 
officers, ranging from one thousand dollars for a British or 
foreign general oflicer to twenty dollars for each private soldier 
brought off within fifteen days. Regulations were prescribed 
for the formation of companies of volunteers who were to choose 
their own officers; the governor was requested to summon the 
militia, and a rendezvous was fixed for Wednesday the 12th of 
March at Providence, East Greenwich and Bristol; those of 
Newport county to meet at Howland's ferry. The selectmen of 
the neighboring Massachusetts and New Ham]Dshire towns were 
asked to send in volunteers. The plan, however, fell through. 

On the 15th of March another attack was made by the Amer- 
icans with a fire ship and two galleys on an English man-of- 
war, which, according to the German account, ended in the loss 
of one of the galleys, burned to save it from the Hessians, and 
the escape of the other, with the force of the burning vessel. 

At the adjourned session on the 24th of March General Var- 
num, having been appointed by congress brigadier-general in the 
continental army, and General Washington having directed two 
generals of the continental army to take command of the troops 
on Rhode Island, Generals Varnum, West and Malmedy, ap- 
pointed by the assembly, were dismissed from service with 
thanks, and the latter voted a gratuity of fifty pounds for his 
"abilities, activity and zeal." 


At this session tlie assembly, considering that the freemen of 
the towns of Newport, Portsmouth, Middletown and James- 
town were deprived of meeting at their usual places for the 
choice of representatives in general assembly, authorized per- 
sons known to be freemen in either of those towns to the num- 
ber of seven to meet for such choice on the third Wednesday 
in April ; those of Newport in Providence at the state house ; 
those of Portsmouth and Middletown in Tiverton ; those of 
Jamestown in North Kingstown. 

On the 2d of April the row galley " Washington" blew up 
near Bristol and eight men perished. On the 5th of April Lord 
Percy leit his command and returned to England. The Hessian 
accounts describe him as " very popular with both troops and 
people, a good soldier, a kindly man, full of tenderness for the 
sick and suffering, the poor and needy." He was succeeded in 
his command of the post by General Prescott. 

On the 17th of April the assembly ordered the raising of five 
hundred effective men to fill up the continental battalions. The 
men were to be raised by draft; the towns of Newport, Ports- 
mouth, New Shoreham and Middletown being excepted. Large 
bounties were offered without much success, and.the draft created 
such disaffection in Exeter that General Spencer was recom- 
mended by the assembly to march troops into the town to cor- 
rect the unruly and pi'otect the quiet citizens. Washington 
was urging Governor Cooke to press the enlistment, and ordered 
him to forward every man who had recovered from the small 
pox at once, and those who had not as soon as they were re- 
covered (of course inoculation is here meant). 

Washington was of opinion that the number of troops on 
Rhode Island was greatly exaggerated if, as he was informed, 
they only consisted of six Hessian and two British regiments. 
"The Hessian regiments when they came out complete (he 
writes) did not exceed six hundred men each, and the British 
two hundred and fifty each." With the casualties they should 
not exceed " three thousand ; a number too small to make any 
attempt upon the main." He adds that he was "convinced that 
they intend to leave Rhode Island, where they have wintered 
comfortably and kept up a considerable diversion, and join 
their main body " in the Jersies. 

To congress he wrote on the 10th of April that "an attack on 
the King's troops at Rhode Island was certainly a desirable 


event could it have been conducted with, success, or upon equal 
terms. It being an object of great moment and involving in its 
issue many important consequences, I am led to believe the 
practicability of it has had much consideration, and the meas- 
ure was found to beunadvisable under the circumstances of the 
troops collected for the purpose. If the enemy have not evac- 
uated the Island I suppose the matter willbe further weighed." 
This letter was in answer to the resolutions adopted by congress 
on the 16th of April recommending the general assembly of 
Rhode Island to collect their whole force, and with the militia 
of Massachusetts bay and Connecticut "attack and destroy 
the enemy on Ehode Island." The resolutions further directed 
Washington to appoint the general officers, and he and the 
three states concerned were notified by express. Washington's 
judgment as to the British inability to make any further ad- 
vance on the main was soon justified. 

After Percy's departure there was so much movement in 
Newport that oflrensive operations were expected, but this idea 
was abandoned when it was learned that the Hessian Guards 
had been returned to New York. The garrison, however, was 
not further diminished. At the May meeting of the general 
assembly Captain John Hopkins or any officer of the ship 
" Warren" was empowered to impress men for a contemplated 
cruise, "being seamen — transient foreign persons and not inhab- 
itants of this or any of the United States and not enlisted in the 
service of this state on the continent." The same authority was 
given to Captain Abraham Whipple of the ship "Providence," 
the number of men being limited to sixty. 

At the assembly meeting in June the new gallej^ "Wash- 
ington," having been repaii-ed and rigged as a schooner, was 
assigned to the command of Joseph (Charles) Mauran, an 
Italian from Villafranca, who had commanded a privateer be- 
fore Sir Peter Parker blockaded the harbor. The " Washing- 
ton " carried ten four pounders, fourteen swivel guns and 
eighty men. It does not appear, however, that any of these 
enterprising officers were able to run the blockade through the 
long passages, well guarded by batteries and hostile ships of all 

A journal kept by one Fleet Green, who lived in Newport 
during the occupation, gives many details of the daily life from 
June, 1777, to October, 1779. In June the Hessians were in- 


suiting and the streets were dangerous after dark. The fisher- 
men were obliged to haul up their boats. On the 31st of June 
he records that a flag sailed " for Providence with one hundred 
and thirty women and children belonging to the town; their 
trunks were all searched and some things taken from them, 
such as tea, pins, linen and men's clothes by the Provost 
Marshal and Hessian Town Sergeant." 

In July occurred the capture of General Prescott by Colonel 
William Barton of the Rhode Island militia, who was then 
stationed at Tiverton. An account of this daring exploit is 
given in the history of the town of Portsmouth in this work. 

The British post being thus deprived of its commander, 
General Sir Richard Pigot was ordered from New York to take 
his place. He arrived on Monday, the 21st of July, on the 
"Swan" sloop of war, and landed at noon upon the Long 
Wharf, where he was received by the principal officers of the 
army and navy. A detachment of Hessian troops, accompanied 
by a band of music, escorted his excellency to the house pre- 
pared for his reception. On the 26th the town school house 
was taken for the use of the bake houses. 

On the 28th Governor Cooke wrote a letter to General Pigot 
complaining that the mutual courtesy established at the re- 
quest of Earl Percy, of allowing ladies to pass from the main 
to the island and the island to the main had been stopped. 
The governor reminded the general that " women and children 
are not the proper objects of war," and added "that the com- 
manding officer upon Rhode Island appeared to him to have de- 
parted from the common dictates of humanity." General Pigot 
answered on the 30th, expressing his regret that the application 
had been neglected, and while, as in duty bound, he defended 
his predecessor against the charge of inhumanity, he informed 
the governor that he had ordered a flag to be ready to carry as 
many of the women and children as chose to go. From this 
it is reasonable to infer that the date in Green's journal has 
been misprinted. Such a complaint could hardly have been 
made at the close of July if a flag had gone out in June. Pres- 
cott was taken in July. 

In August the assembly, to encourage such brilliant actions 
as the capture of Prescott, although the time fixed in its offers 
of reward had expired, voted the sum of eleven hundred and 
twenty dollars for the officers and men concerned in that expe- 


dition. This assembly repealed the monopoly act on the ad- 
vice of the New England convention, but ordered that the con- 
tinental soldiers in camp from the state be supplied at the 
prices fixed thereby. 

The convention which met at Springfield in July had resolved 
that an army of four thousand men should be mainfained by 
tlie New England states for the defense of Rhode Island. Con- 
gress approved this action. There were occasional affairs of 
slight importance in themselves, but sufficient to keep both 
sides wide awake. On the 2d of August Colonel Elliott, by his 
artillery fire, drove the " Renown," a fifty gun ship, from her 
moorings off Dutch island, and in the night a raid was made 
on the island, when some stock was captured, and the same 
party, crossing to Conanicut, brought off two prisoners. On 
the 5th the militia in Narragansett drove off with some loss a 
foraging party of two hundred British soldiers; and the same 
day Captain Dyer, with sixty men, crossed from Tiverton to the 
island, attacked a party of twenty who had fired on some fish- 
ing boats, and compelled them to beat a retreat to the cover of 
their works. 

Arnold informs us that " the battle of Bennington checked 
the contemplated advance of Burgoyne into New England, 
where he proposed a junction at Springfield with Pigot's forces 
from Rhode Island." Baum's march into Vermont with his 
Hessians was absurd enough, but there does not appear to be 
any evidence that Pigot had any thought that he could break 
through the cordon by which he was held with any such force 
as he had under his command, though no doubt his Hessians 
would have been glad enough to try the venture to meet their 
countrymen. The defeat of Baum on the 16th of August set 
all such mad schemes at rest if ever there were such entertained. 

On the 2d of September a new privateer of twenty guns, from 
Providence, attempting to run the blockade, was chased ashore 
by the British vessels and burned. Surprise parties were the 
order of the day. Colonel Cornell landed on Prudence island, 
at night, lay in cover, and the next morning carried off an 
officer and fifteen men who had landed from a frigate for fresh 
water. The same night an officer and two men were taken from 
Rhode Island by a party from Seconnet. 

The assembly met at South Kingstown on the 22d of Septem- 
ber. On the petition of Samuel Carr, Benjamin Underwood 


and Christopher Ellery, Esqs., who represented for themselves 
and many of the late inhabitants of Newport and the other 
towns of the county, that they had been driven from their island 
homes to the mainland, had ijerformed all their duties in de- 
fending the shores, as well as supplied their quotas to the fif- 
teen months' men and continental battalions, but tliat their 
charges were so great that they were unable to paj^ the taxes 
now levied, the assembly exempted them from all rating except 
for their stock. 

The news of Gates' victory at Stillwater stimulated the 
eastern states to an attempt to recover the island. Massachu- 
setts resolved to send three thousand men in addition to the 
two regiments she already had in Rhode Island, and in addi- 
tion some artillery. The Rhode Island assembly on the 22d 
ordered that one-half of the militia alarm, independent and 
artillery companies be drafted from the militia within the state 
on the 27th day of September, and rendezvous at the order of 
Major General Spencer on the 1st of October; the militia thus 
drafted to be formed into one brigade of six regiments, Ezekiel 
Cornell to be brigadier. It was left to the option of General 
Spencer to form two brigades, however, and appoint a second 
brigadier general. A bounty of forty shillings was voted for 
a month's service. Connecticut promised fifteen hundred men 
to further the plan. 

The British force on the island was estimated by General 
Spencer to be nearly four thousand men, four Hessian and 
three British regiments; two of each on Windmill hill, a corps 
of grenadiers and light infantry at Fogland ferry, one regiment 
on Butt's hill and two near Newport. On the 2d of October 
• General Pigot ordered all the furniture and wearing apparel in 
Newport to be siezed, and on the 17th, word coming in of the 
threatening movements. of the Americans on the mainland to 
the eastward, all the inhabitants were ordered to the forts to 
work the next day. There was cause for alarm. On the 16th 
nine thousand troops were gathered, and a large number of 
boats was in readiness at Tiverton under charge of Major 
Nathan Munro; but on the night fixed for the attack the prep- 
arations were not complete. A heavy stoi'm set in and delayed 
the movement, and when it was at last made the wind was con- 
trary and some of the boats were fired upon. The attack was 
postponed and the objective point changed to a landing place 


above Fogland ferry. Again the weather was against them. 
The troops became uneasy and numbers marched off. 

On the night of the 26th of October, finally assigned, hardly 
five thousand men remained. A council of officers was held, 
and it was resolved to abandon the expedition. And here again 
was justified the complaint often made by Washington of the 
utter unreliability of militia for offensive movements. Admir- 
able often in defense, always in the finish of a successful bat- 
tle, they were not to be depended upon for a concerted action, 
which demanded coolness and intrepidity combined. There 
was a general disgust at the failure, and Spencer was blamed 
for incapacity. But the discouragement which would have en- 
sued was greatly modified in the general delight at the sur- 
render of Burgoyne and his army at Saratoga on the 17th of 
October, which reached them in the midst of their disappoint 

The assembly met at Providence the day after the failure at 
Fogland ferry and api>ointed a committee to meet with any 
committees that Massachusetts and Connecticut should raise, 
to inquire into the grounds of the miscarriage. At the same 
meeting a council of war was again appointed to act in the re- 
cess, and the remaining half of the militia called out at the last 
session was ordered to be drafted into two divisions on the 6th 
day of November, and to march at the order of General Spen- 
cer or his successor in command on the 6th day of December, 
for thirty day's service. 

The committee appointed to inquire into the late failure, 
after considering a statement made by General Cornell, decided 
on the request of General Spencer to refer the matter to a joint 
committee from the New England states interested. A court, 
of inquiry was held in pursuance of this resolve, at Providence, 
and a report was made exonerating General Spencer and ascrib- 
ing the miscarriage to the failure on the part of Palmer's bri- 
gade to have the boats in readiness the first night set for the 
attack and to the bad weather afterward. An inquiry insti- 
tuted by congress later resulted in a similar verdict. Spencer, 
however, resigned his command on the 21st of December. 

On the 5th of November the British ship " Syren," of twenty- 
eight guns, was stranded at Point Judith and captured by the 
artillery men of the battery at that station. Her crew, one 
hundred and sixty-six ofiicers and men, were carried x^risoners 


to Providence. Arrangements for winter quarters were now 
made by General Pigot. The Presbyterian meeting houses 
were stripped of their pews and turned into barracks, and the 
keys of the Baptist meeting houses were taken by the barrack 
master for the same purpose. At some time during the alarm 
caused by the American movement from Tiverton two legiments 
of loyalist Americans were raised on the island. On the 17th 
of November these organizations were disbanded, the colonels 
and officers dismissed, the non-commissioned officers and men 
tnrned into the British regiments, and on the evening of thig 
day the lines that separated the town of Newport from the 
country were manned with guards for the first time and the 
gate locked; forty men stationed at each redoubt and two sen- 
tries on each flank. On the 1st of December the Landgraf 
regiment and a company of Hessian chasseurs were brought 
into the town and quartered. 

Among the resolutions adopted by the continental congress 
was one appointing Thursday the 18th day of November for a 
general thanksgiving for the signal blessings and victories of 
the year. The general assembly which met at Providence on 
the 1st of December ordered the issue of a proclamation by 
the governor confirming the same and directing that "all 
servile labor and recreation be forbidden on that day." 

Meeting again on Friday, December 19th, the day after this 
solemn act, they appointed a committtee to draft a bill in con- 
formity with the recommendation of congress for the confisca- 
tion and sale of the estates real and personal of the tories of the 
state. This was a terrible blow to many rich merchants and 
large landholders in Newport who had adhered to the crown. 
The signature of the loyal addresses supplied sufficient proof 
for forfeiture. The gentlemen charged with this delicate 
business were Henry Ward, Henry Marchant, Rouse T. Helme 
and William Channing, Esquires. Ward was deputy for New- 
port in the general assembly and secretary of that body; 
Marchant delegate to the continental congress; Helme deputy 
for South Kingstown and clerk to the council of war; Chan- 
ning attorney-general to the state. The articles of confedera- 
tion proposed for the United States and the general tax re- 
commended by congress to be assessed on all inhabitants of 
the United States in 1778 was referred to the next session. 

Before this assembly met Rhode Island had fresh cause for 



alarm. The extent of the barracks fitted up at Newjiort, the 
taking of tlie meeting houses and the building of chimneys in 
them left no doubt that large reinforcements were expected. 
On the 14th of December Governor Cooke had represented 
these fears strongly to the council of the state of Massachu- 
setts and was at once answered that great encouragements had 
been extended to the regiments of Colonels Robinson and 
Keyes to extend their terms of service till January, 1779. 

On the 5th of December the British man of- war " Eaisonable" 
arrived off the mouth of Newport harbor with twenty-six trans- 
ports under convoy from the Delaware, general Burgoyne, in 
accordance with the terms of convention or surrender at Sara- 
toga, had marched his army to Boston where he expected to 
embark them for England. On the 25th of November he 
wrote to Washington from Cambridge, near Boston, expressing 
his doubts as to whether the transports destined to carry the 
troops would be able to make the port of Boston at that ad- 
vanced season of the year, and asking consent from him, or 
from congress through him, to march the troops to Providence 
or pass them by small craft to Newport or some port on the 
sound when the transports should arrive at the point desig- 
nated; asking at the same time permission to go at once to 
Newport with his suite, there to take passage on a separate 
frigate. On the arrival of the transports, eight of them having 
come into port. General Pigot sent an open letter to General 
Burgoyne under cover to General Spencer, the American com- 
mander of Rhode Island, notifying him that the vessels were at 
hand and recommending him to apply to the council at Provi- 
dence for permission to obtain supplies of sheep, fowls and other 
live stock from the Seconnet or Narragansett shore, as the island 
did not abound in live stock. 

This letter was sent to Governor Cooke, who, on the 7th, noti- 
fied the council of Massachusetts that by the convention it was 
evidently the intention of General Gates that " Mr. Burgoyne' s 
troops should not intermix with the other British troops serv- 
ing in America, as the port of Boston was assigned for their 
embarkation;" that it was the intention of the Rhode Island 
government to fulfill that convention, and that " they could 
not prevail with themselves to admit Mr. Burgoyne's late army 
within the state in order to proceed to Newport." The Massa- 
chusetts council wholly agreed with this view, and answered 


the governor that the matter laid wholly with congress. But 
the Rhode Island assembly had not been discourteous in their 
relations with the British officers, and gave permission to 
General Pigot (Dec. 1st, '77) to send wine, sugar and tea by a 
cartel vessel to Mr. Ward for transmission to Burgoyne at 
Boston. Congress had its reasons for declining to permit the 
departure of Burgoyne' s troops. 

Although this correspondence explained in part the presence 
of the large squadron from the Delaware, the assembly was 
alarmed at the powerful armament and their exposure to 
"still more hostile attacks," and ordered, on the 19th of Dec- 
ember, the raising of two battalions, each of six hundred men, 
and a regiment of artillery of three hundred men, for the " de- 
fense of the United States in general and of Rhode Island in 
particular;" the three formations to be brigaded together. 
Ezekiel Cornell was appointed brigadier-general; Robert Elliott, 
colonel of artillery; Archibald Crary and William Barton (the 
hero of Prescott's capture), colonels of infantry; and the council 
of war was given power to call out such part of the militia, 
independent and alarm companies as would supply the delin- 
quencies in the quotas of the Massachusetts Bay, the ISTew 
Hampshire and Connecticut contingents in case of emergency. 

In January, 1778, Greneral Pigot issued an order dividing the 
town of Newport into five districts, and appointing a " nightly 
watch." The tories on the island who, since the confiscation 
act, had no longer any reason for hesitancy, were now organized 
into a corps known as the Newport Loyal Association. It con- 
sisted certainly of two, possibly of three companies. The 
officers were appointed by General Pigot. As the appointments 
of January 1st, 1778, included the name of one captain, Joseph 
Durfee vice Simon Pease, deceased, it is probable that this was 
a revival or continuation of the regiment disbanded in Novem- 

In the American camp the process of organization was making 
headway. The recruiting was slow, but the commands were 
made more homogeneous. On the recommendation of General 
Varnum the Rhode Island battalions in camp at Valley Forge 
were united by Washington , and' the officers of one, Colonel 
Greene, Lieutenant Colonel Olney and Major Ward, were sent 
home to enlist a negro battalion for the continental service. 
The assembly which met in February at East Greenwich re- 


sponded to this suggestion. The preamble to their resolution, 
which authorized the enlistment of "every able bodied negro, 
mulatto or Indian man slave in the state into either of the 
two battalions," bases it on high grounds: " Whereas history 
affords us frequent precedents of the wisest, the freest and 
bravest nations having liberated their slaves and enlisted them 
as soldiers to fight in defense of their country." A further 
resolution allowed them the usual bounty; a third, absolute 
freedom on passing muster before the enlisting officer; a fourth, 
an engagement to maintain them in case of sickness; a fifth 
gave a compensation to their masters at a rate not higher than 
one hundred and twenty pounds for the most valuable. Six of 
the upper house dissented from this vote for various economic 
reasons, but the resolution was sustained and Colonel Christo- 
pher Greene was empowered to draw one hundred pounds for 
bounties to slaves enlisting before him. 

This assembly also instructed their delegates in the continen- 
tal congress, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery and Henry 
Marchant, respecting the proposed articles of confederation and 
perpetual union, and suggested some alterations, the chief of 
which was the first formalizing of a claim or demand which, 
persisted in uncompromisingly, survived the war and kept 
back Rhode Island from the union completed in 1788. This 
was the claim that the lands and revenues of the crown 
were forfeited to the United Colonies as a whole and not, to the 
states within whose limits such lands lay; that the forfeiture 
ought therefore to be vested in all the United States, and the 
lands be disposed of and appropriated by congress for the ben- 
efit of the whole confederacy. It was not meant by this, they 
represented, "that congress should claim jui^isdiction of the for- 
feited lands; but that the same shall remain to the state in 
which it lies." This claim, it will be observed, did not alone re- 
gard the great unoccupied territory which the great states 
claimed to be theirs under charter to the Pacific ocean, but also 
the quit-claim crown rents within the established jurisdictions. 
Yet the assembly instructed their delegates to accede to the 
articles of confederation notwithstanding this claim, which they 
were, however, directed to enter upon the records of congress 
before signing the articles and to give notice that " the State 
intends to renew the motion for them." 

The destitution of the patriot refugees from Newport was so 


great in this month of January, more than two hundred and 
fifty persons being then in Providence without means of liveli- 
hood, that an appeal was made throughout the states in their 
behalf and, as with Boston at the time of the F'ort Bill, abund- 
antly responded to. On the 18th of January congress urged 
the New England states to keep up the force in Rhode Island 
agreed upon by them, and the assembly in consequence ap- 
pointed Solomon Southwick, deputy commissary general of 
issues within the state. The great scarcity of wood, even at 
this time, in Rhode Island constantly appears. Even the.troops 
about South and North Kingstown found it so difficult to ob- 
tain a supply that the quartermaster general was given authority 
to enter on the wood lands and cut what they needed. 

In February another gallant action relieved the monotony of 
the tedious winter. Captain John Rathbone, with the United 
States sloop "Providence," of twelve guns, landed a party of 
thirty men at New Providence, the most important of the Ba- 
hama islands, under Lieutenant John Trevitt, of Newport, with 
fifteen of whom he scaled the walls and captured the fort at 
night. The remainder of the party landed on an island oppo- 
site the town of Nassau, which they held for three days, made 
prizes of six vessels in the harbor, drove off a British war 
vessel which attempted to enter, and after spiking the 
guns of the batteries brought off the military stores without 
the loss of a man. On the 16th of February the frigate " War- 
ren," Captain John B. Hopkins, taking advantage of a snow 
storm, ran the blockade of the British squadron, giving and 
taking fire as she passed, and got safely out to sea. The frig- 
ate "Columbus" made a similar attempt on the 27th of March, 
but was unable to get through and, driven on shore at Point 
Judith, was burned by the British the next day. On March 
14th Green notes (hat "the Hessian troops appear in their 
uniforms for the first time," and not to be behind them in ele- 
gance, the Assembly ordered the purchase of silk for two stand- 
ards for the hew regiments. On the 15th of April General Bur- 
goyne, by leave of congress, came down from Boston and 
sailed from Newport for England on parole. The convention 
troops surrendered by him at Saratoga, and since quartered at 
Cambridge, were marched into Vermont. - 

On the 17th General Sullivan, appointed by Washington to 
succeed General Spencer, whose resignation had been accepted 


by congress on the 13th of January but who was still in command, 
arrived at Providence and was placed in command of Rhode 
Island by the council of war. The treaty of Paris, secured by 
the instrumentality of Lafayette and signed on the 6th of Feb- 
ruary, reached Boston on the 19th of April and Providence on 
the 21st, when salutes were fired from the battery at Fox point 
and from the frigate " Providence," and repeated at sunset with 
military honors. The 22djw;as a day of fast by appointment of 
congress, but became a day of thanksgiving throughout the 
land as far as the news had reached. On the 25th General Pigot 
enclosed to General Sullivan copies of the bills of conciliation 
adopted by parliament under the alarm caused by the French- 
American alliance. They were burned by the public hangman 
on the demand of the people. On the night of the 30th Cap- 
tain Abraham Whipple took out the frigate "Providence," in 
the dark and a heavy storm, and ran the blockade of the Brit- 
ish squadron, firing his broadsides as he passed and sinking 
one of the tenders. He carried despatches to France and re- 
turned safely to Boston. 

At the May election Governor Cooke retired and was suc- 
ceeded by William Greene, son of the late Governor Greene, 
who held the important post throughout the war and for some 
years after its close. Rhode Island was certainly happy in her 
chief magistrates in this troublous period of her history. 

On the night of Sunday, the 25th of May, General Pigot sent 
a fleet of small vessels up the bay from the Newport anchorage 
to break up the preparations which were making for a descent 
on the island. Six hundred men were embarked under com- 
mand of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, and landed at day- 
break between the towns of Bristol and Warren. They marched 
at once through Warren to Kickemut river, where they burned a 
number of flat bottomed boats and a galley, which were being 
repaired. On their return through Warren they entered the 
houses, plundered the inmates of clothing, bedding and furni- 
ture, and then set fire to the meeting house, parsonage and 
other houses and destroyed a magazine of military stores. 
They also set fire to a new privateer sloop in the harbor, which 
was not, however, seriously injured. They then retreated by 
the road through Bristol, where they pillaged and burned in 
the same fashion all that their haste admitted, not excepting 
the Episcopal church in the center of the town which, with 


eighteen others of the most elegant dwelling houses, were 
burned to ashes. In some of the houses they tore the women's 
aprons and handkerchiefs from their persons, their buckles 
from their shoes, their rings from their fingers. 

Word of this raid reaching Providence in the morning, vol- 
unteers marched at once toward Bristol. Colonel Barton went 
forward nnder orders from General Sullivan to rally the people 
and delay the retreat of the party till the troops could reach 
them. With twenty men he pursued them and fell on their 
rear near Bristol ferry. Badly wounded, he was compelled to 
leave the fight. The enemy's boats arrived in time for the 
party to get off before Sullivan's arrival, but Barton's attack 
saved the carrying away of the live stock, which were already 
collected on the shore. A number of inhabitants were carried 
away prisoners. A captain and nine men were also taken on 
Popasquash neck, and a galley with some of the crew cut out 
from Taunton river. Fleet Green's journal records that the 
next day, May 26th, "wearing apparel of all sorte, necklaces, 
rings and paper money, taken as plunder in a recent raid at 
Bristol and Warren, were offered for sale by the soldiers at 
Newport." That night, he says, there was an alarm of fire in 
Newport, and the inhabitants who went to the assistance of the 
owners were "greatly abused, knocked down and beat." 

The state was in a miserable condition of defense at this time. 
Sullivan wrote that he had not five hundred men under his 
command, and that there were less than two hundred from the 
other New England states. A special meeting of the assembly 
was held on the 28th of May, and orders given for the raising 
of eight hundred and thirty-nine effective men by all the towns, 
except Newport and the other island towns, to fill up the bat- 
talions of infantry and the artillery regiments before the 10th 
of June ; and the conduct of the governor, who had already 
summoned into actual duty one-sixth of all the militia com- 
panies, was approved. Little Compton and Barrington were ex- 
empted from the militia call, but one-half of their force of this 
nature was continued in service. General Sullivan was fur- 
ther empowered to call out the entire force of the state in his 

On Sunday morning, the Slst of May, the British made a 
dash at Fall river. One hundred and fifty men, under Major 
Ayres, were landed at daybreak at the mouth of the river and 


burned a mill and house on the shore, but were prevented from 
going inland, where they proposed to burn Freetown and the 
mills, by Colonel Durfee, who, with twenty-live men covered 
the bridge from behind a wall until the militia came up. Two 
British vessels, a galley and sloop, covering the retreat, were 
driven on the Rhode Island shore and abandoned. The boats 
and vessels were warmly received as they passed down the river 
by a hot fire from the fort on Bristol neck. 

Generals Sullivan and Pigot had a sharp correspondence 
concerning the prisoners taken at Bristol. Pigot declined to 
release them except on the usual terms of exchange. On the 
first of July the Landgrave regiment was marched to Ports- 
mouth and encamped at Windmill hill, relieving the Bunau 
regiment, who were marched into town and encamped on the 
fields west of the town near the mills. The Huyne regiment 
was camped on the east side of the road leading into the neck, 
and threw up woi'ks for a battery of two guns fronting the road. 
General Pigot, in July, rebuilt the forts on Brenton's point 
and Goat island, and also on Rose island and Conanicut. The 
king's stores were removed from the wharves to the rope walk 
at the back of the town. These operations were caused by the 
news of the arrival of a French squadron ofi: New York. 

On the morning of the 29th of July the signal from the ware- 
house reported "a Fleet in Sight," and at a little after one in 
the afternoon it was known to be the French squadron of 
d'Estaing. At five o'clock the Newport Associators, the loyal 
townsijeople, were in arms on the parade. The town crier 
summoned all the inhabitants to join them. The British frigates 
hauled in under the North battery. The troops on Conanicnt 
were ferried over, leaving only a few in a battery on Watch 
hill. The French fleet lay at anchor ofl' the reef. July 31st 
Fleet Green records: "Early this morning the fleet weighed 
and took to sea, which revived the spirits of the people. The 
town still remains in confusion." Some evolution must have 
been made by the French, of which there is no mention in the 
general histories. That no British vessels got out is certain. 

On the 2d of August all the live stock which had been driven 
in from Portsmouth and. Middletown, and all carriages, carts, 
wheelbarrows, shovels, pickaxes, axes, and saws were this day 
and the next taken from the inhabitants. Trees were cut down 
and thrown across the road to delay the march of the enemy. 


Six ships were sunk from the north end of Goat island to the 
town to obstruct the entrance to the harbor on that side. Three 
others were held ready to sink at the south entrance. The gar- 
rison, Green writes, was "said to consist of seventy-two hun- 
dred soldiers and fifteen hundred sailors." On the 5th of 
August four transports were sunk in the morning on the west 
side of Goat island, and on the appearance of the French fleet 
four frigates were blown up near Coddington point and two 
transports burned. On the 6th the army overrun the island, 
cutting down orchards and tearing down houses, while the work 
of sinking vessels went on in the harbor. On Saturday, the 
8th of August, the houses on the heights of Middletown were 
set on fire by the general's orders, and the inhabitants were 
plundered by the soldiers and sailors in the streets. The houses 
at Easton's beach were burned the night before all this destruc- 
tion and pillage, and before the French had attempted to force 
the passage. 

Fleet Green thas describes the movement: ^^ Saturday, 
August 8, 1778. Two o'clock this morning the fleet appears 
under sail. Three o'clock they stood in for the harbor. Half 
past three the battery on Brenton's Point begins to fire. The 
ships return the fire and pass the battery under a heavy can- 
nonading. Four o'clock all three of the batteries continue the 
firing. The headmost ship is up with the North battery. The 
harbour is one continual blaze ; the shots fly very thick over 
the town. August 8. At ten this morning a fleet appears in 
sight, standing from the eastward, with the wind S. W., to the 
great joy of the army and the Tories, excess of joy and grief seen 
in the faces of difl'erent parties. A number of people flock on 
the heights on the Neck to welcome Lord Howe and his fleet to 
their deliverance. August 10. The French fleet passed the 
forts under heavy fire for over an hour, standing out to sea in 
pursuit of the English fleet." 

The Siege oe Newport, 1778.— On the 3d of May General 
Sullivan sent to congress a return of the troops at his post. 
Unfortunately Amory, in his monograph on the siege of New- 
port, while he quotes the letter in full, does not give the 
return. Sullivan, however, informs congress that three regi- 
ments were to leave him that day and his force would consist 
only of the residue mentioned in the return; " not a man from 
Connecticut and but part of two companies from Massachusetts 

378 insTOUY OF Newport couNTr. 

Bay; some few have arrived from New Hampshire and about 
half their quota are on the march." With this small force he 
had " to guard a shore upwards of sixty miles in extent from 
Point Judith on the west, and from Prudence to Seconniet 
Point on the east," against an enemy who could bring all their 
strength to a point and act against any point they chose. He 
asked the assignment to him of the two state galleys to guard 
the entrance to the rivers of Taunton andWarren and that Gen- 
eral Stark be ordered to him, as he should need two brigadiers. 
On the 26th he wrote that he had not five hundred men at his 
command and that there were less than two hundred men 
from the other New England states. On the 19th of June, at 
the instance of Sullivan and Grovernor Greene, congress directed 
Washington to send home the Rhode Island troops if prac- 
ticable and the Navy board to provide three galleys for the 
defense of Providence, Warren and Taunton rivers. 

French assistance followed quickly the recognition of Amer- 
ican independence and the treaty of alliance. Marie Antoi- 
nette, the queen, herself persuaded the king, Louis XVI, to or- 
der a naval expedition to the American coast. The squadron, 
consisting of twelve ships of the line, four frigates and four 
thousand troops of the line, was placed under the command of 
the Count d'Estaing, an ambitious and promising officer. He 
hoisted his Hag on the " Languedoc " and was accompanied by 
Gerard de Rayneval, a diplomatic agent with power to concert 
a scheme of offensive war, and by Silas Deane, one of the com- 
missioners of the United States to the court of France. 

The fleet left Toulon the 13th of April, 1778, and passed the 
Straits of Gibraltar on the night of the 17th to 18th of May. On 
the 20th the captains of the vessels opened their sealed instruc- 
tions and learned their destination. Hostilities were to be opened 
at forty leagues distance to the westward of Cape St. Vincent. It 
was hoped that the great secrecy with which the expedition had 
been organized would result in the surprise and defeat of Lord 
Howe's squadron which held the mouth of the Delaware to 
cover Sir Henry Clinton's position at Philadelphia. But the 
French fleet was badly composed for concerted action, the 
vessels being of unequal speed, and land was not seen until 
July. On the 8th of this month, eighty-seven days after their 
departure from Toulon, and forty-nine from their opening of 


orders (when two days out from Gibraltar), the French fleet 
anchored off the mouth of the Delaware. 

Clinton, under orders from England, had evacuated Phila- 
delphia on the 22d of June, and both army and fleet were safe 
in the harbor of New York. Pilots were sent on board the 
French vessels by order of congress, and d'Estaing set sail and 
dropped anchor off Shrewsbury. The American pilots were un- 
willing to venture with the larger vessels which drejv from 
twenty-three to twenty-five feet of water across the New York 
bar, and in spite of a very large offer of money by d'Estaing 
absolutely declined the undertaking. The alternative offen- 
sive operation was an attempt to capture the British garrison 
on Rhode Island. A plan was concerted between Washington 
and d'Estaing, and Sullivan was notified to be prepared. He 
was directed to form the American troops into two divisions, to 
the command of which Generals Greene and Lafayette were 

On the 22d of July the French fleet raised anchor and set 
sail to the southward, but soon changed their course. The 
plan agreed upon was that General Sullivan should land on 
the north of Rhode Island under cover of the guns of the 
French fleet, while d'Estaing should also force the passage of 
the main channel and take the fortifications of the town of 
Newport in reverse. On the 29th of July the French fleet ar- 
rived off Brenton's ledge, three miles below Newport, and 
dropped anchor at the mouth of the great middle channel. 
The twelve sloops of the line were the "Languedoc," " Mar- 
seillais," "Provence," "Tonnant," " Sagittaire," "Guerriere," 
"Pantasque," "Cesar," " Protecteur," "Vaillant," "Zele," 
"Hector;" the four frigates, the "Chimere," " L'Engageante," 
"Aimable," " Alcmene ;" and with these latter a corvette 
the " Stanley." The next day General Sullivan, who had 
already exchanged letters with the French admiral, went on 
board the "Languedoc," and a plan of operation was agreed 
upon. The "Fantasque" and "Sagittaire" were ordered to 
watch the Narragansett or western passage while the frigates 
"Aimable," "Alcmene" and the corvette "Stanley" should 
anchor in the eastern passage where the water was too shallow 
for the heavier ships. The retreat of the English vessels ly- 
ing in the bay was thus cut off. 

The frigates, pushing up the eastern or Seconnet passage, 


anchored in front of the battery at Fogland ferry, but before 
fire opened from the guns, the British man-of-war, the "King- 
fisher," of sixteen guns, and two galleys were set on fire by 
their crews ; their shotted guns went off in all directions, and 
their magazines exploded to the confusion and consternation of 
friend and foe. A company of Ditfurth's Hessian regiment at 
Black point were witnesses of this strange scene. 

At daylight on the 5th of August the " Sagittaire " and 
"Fantasque" sailed up the western passage, doubled the 
point off Conanicut island and dropped anchor in the middle 
channel. Four British frigates, the "Lark," "Orpheus," and 
"Juno," thirty-two guns, the "Cerberus," twenty-eight, and 
the corvette "Falcon," sixteen, were run ashore on Rhode Is- 
land and burned on their approach near Tammany Hill. The 
two Hessian regiments, Bayreuth and Prince of Wales, had al- 
ready been brought over from Conanicut where they were 
camped. Besides the men-of-war, other vessels were desti'oyed 
to keep them out of the hands of the French. The German ac- 
counts say eight were sunk and thirteen burned. Commander 
Suffren abstained from firing upon the boats which landed their 
crews. The "Protecteur" and the "Provence" then took the 
positions of the "Sagittaire" and "Fantasque" at the mouth 
of the Narragansett passage. 

On the 8th of August, General Sullivan announcing himself as 
ready to cross from the mainland to Rhode Island, Count d' 
Estaing forced the middle passage with eight ships under a 
heavyfire from the Bi'itish batteries. The English then destroyed 
their two remaining ships, the "Grand Duke," a transport of 
forty guns, burned, and the frigate "Flora," thirty-two, sunk. 
Altogether the English lost two hundred and twelve guns. A 
heavy fog settled on the island that aftern'oon; when it cleared 
the next morning the French were comfortablysheltered between 
Gould island and Conanicut, and d' Estaing began landing the 
troops intended for co-operation with the Americans on Conan- 
icut island with material of war ; for preliminary drill and or- 
ganization. Pigot, the English commander, had withdrawn 
his troops from Fogland ferry. Windmill and Quaker hills, and 
posted them on Bannister's hill and across the island and under 
the shelter of Tonomy hill. That afternoon a British fieet, 
thirty strong, was descried in the offing. The wind fell and 
they did not attempt to enter the harbor. In the night 


d'Estaing re embarked his troops and material, and the next 
morning, the 10th, the French ileet cut their cables and stood 
out for sea ; raked for an hour by the British batteries at Fort 
Greorge, Goat island and Brenton's point at easy range. 

Meanwhile Sullivan was in motion. He had been joined by 
Major-General Greene from the army, on the 31st of July, and 
shortly after by Brigadier- General Glover, who volunteered for 
the expedition, and on the 2d of August by the Marquis de La- 
fayette. On the 3d two continental brigades, Varnum's and Glov- 
er's, and two companies of artillery, from the army at White 
Plains, arrived. On the the 7th, volunteers flocking into camp, and 
the Massachusetts contingent coming in also, General Sullivan 
proceeded to the American camp at Tiverton and took command. 
On the 8th the cannonade announced that d'Estaing had forced 
I the passage. On the 9th, while the French troops were landing 
at Conanicut, Sullivan, with about ten thousand troops, began 
to cross from Tiverton to the north end of Rhode Island by 
Fogland ferry, the British fort at Butt's hill being evacuated, 
and Lafayette was despatched to inform d'Estaing of the move- 
ment. He arrived as the disembarkation was still going on, 
when a frigate from below signalled the arrival of the British 

Sullivan, while waiting events, took possession of the de- 
serted forts at the north end of the island. On the 11th 
a detachment of light troops, with supports, under Colonel 
Livingston, was pushed to within a mile and a half of the 
enemy, who had thrown up a new line of earthworks. On the 
11th orders were given for a general advance ; the right under 
General Greene, the left under General Lafayette, the second 
line of Massachusetts militia under Major-General John Han- 
cock, and the reserve under Colonel West. On the night of 
the 12th a terrible storm arose which lasted for two days and 
caused anxiety as to the safety of the French fleet, of which 
nothing as yet had been heard. It is remembered in Rhode 
Island as the "great French storm." On that night the ele- 
ments played their parts in the war. 

On the morning of the 15th the English pickets could easily 
descry the American camp stretching its front for nearly five 
miles across Honeyman hill and Peckham hill. The British 
lines extended from Tonomy hill to Easton's point, near the 
beach. The distance between the armies was about two miles. 


The American detachment which held Honey man's hill to the 
right of the British was within half a mile of their front works 
on Bliss's hill, which it commands. 

On the 17th the Americans opened fire, and Pigot threw up 
a second line of defense and shortened his front. The Ameri- 
can artillery was better served than the British, and shot and 
shell dropped thick and fast among the British tents and in 
•their overcrowdeci line. Pigot withdrew his men into the de- 
fenses behind Tonoray hill on his left, but on the 20th they 
were driven from this shelter by two new batteries planted by 
the Americans. Slowly forced from position to position the 
English kept eager watch seaward from Brenton's neck for some 
sign of the fleets. On the evening of the 20th the French 
squadron appeared again off Point Judith, though in a shat- 
tered state. The British were in despair, the Americans in 
glee ; neither with reason. The movement of the fleets now 
demands attention. 

The Fleets off Rhode Island, August, 1788.— Large bod- 
ies move slowly, and it must not be forgotten, also, that the 
Frenchmen were in strange waters and in the first flush of an 
alliance with a race whom they had looked upon for centuries 
as their hereditary foes. They had certainly done good work 
between the 29th of July, when they appeared in the Newport 
offing, and the 9th of August, when, every vestige of the na-. 
val force of the British in the harbor destroyed, they were land- 
ing their men for further service, to be interrupted by the news 
that the enemy were at hand. Lord Admiral Howe had not 
wasted his time and he was certainly favored by fortune. In 
the July days that followed the departure of d'Estaing's fleet 
from Shrewsbury harbor four British men- of- war reached 'New 
York from different quarters. Thus reinforced, Howe was again 
able to put to sea, and on the 6th of August sailed from Sandy 
Hook with thirteen shi]js— one of seventy-four, seven of sixty- 
four, five of fifty guns, seven frigates and a number of trans- 
jjorts, with troops, arms and provisions. 

But he was hardly prepared for the sudden swoop which 
d'Estaing made upon him the morning after his arrival. He 
hastily signalled such of his vessels as were at anchor, and 
crowding sail, stood out to sea. He no doubt relied upon the 
unequal sailing qualities of the enemy and upon the superior 
speed and rapidity of manoeiiver of his own vessels. The 


French could not force him to action. The next day the wind 
blew to a gale, which not only separated the Frenchmen but 
so badly damaged the "Languedoc," d'Estaing's flagship, that 
on the morning of the 13th he found her bowsprit broken, 
her rigging down and the helm of her rudder gone. At sun- 
set she was attacked by the "Preston," one of the enemy's ves- 
sels, and badly raked from the rear. She defended herself 
with her stern batteries till night brought relief. In the morn- 
ing all the vessels except the "Cesar" rallied to the admiral's 
flag, the squadron was anchored and the damages repaired. 
The "Marseillais," also attacked, lost her mizzen mast and 

The "Tonnant," attacked by the "Renown," had driven her 
off, but was herself dismasted. After the storm of the 11th 
the "Vaillant" took the bomb ketch "Thunder." On the 
15th the "Hector" defeated the "Senegal." The "Cesar" 
engaged the "Iris" of sixty-four guns, but she was rescued by 
two of her British companions. In the action the French ship 
lost seventy killed and one hundred wounded, her captain los- 
ing his arm. 

On the 17th sail was again hoisted, and on the 20th the fleet 
came to anchor off Rhode Island. Here d'Estaing was informed 
by Lafayette of a new peril. On learning of the sailing from 
Toulon of d'Estaing's squadron, the British admiralty ordered 
Admiral Byron to the American coast to reinforce Admiral 
Howe. Byron left Plymouth on the 12th of June with thirteen 
vessels. Heavy weather dispersed the squadron. The admiral 
put into Halifax, others made their way to New York. The 
British were now in superior force in American waters, while 
two of the best of the French vessels were badly crippled. At 
a council of war called by d'Estaing on board the ''Langue- 
doc" on hearing this news, it was unanimously agreed that 
there should not be an hour's delay in making the port of 
Boston, where damages could be securely repaired. Lafayette 
was present at the council and, it is said, urged the French ad- 
miral to land his troops at Conanicut, but he declined to sep- 
arate his expeditionary force in this manner. The next day, 
the 21st, the entire French fleet set sail for Boston, the admiral 
taking his ship through a channel between Nantucket and the 
banks. The squadron reached Boston on the 28th, whilst Lord 


Howe, after pursuing d'Estaing for a time, returned to New 

General Sullivan, informed of this sudden change of plans, 
was greatly aggrieved, and at his instance tlie American officers 
drew uj) a protest which Lafaj'ette declined to sign. This 
paper was dispatched on the 22d by a fast vessel with orders 
to overtake the admiral, who had already sailed. In fact the 
last of the French vessels had weighed anchor and was out of 
sight before the close of the day. Sullivan added to the im- 
prudence of the protest by a general order expressing the 
hope " that America with her own arms could achieve the suc- 
cess which her allies declined to help in obtaining," but on the 
representations of Lafayette and de Fleury that such com- 
ments would give offense to France, the general modified his 
expressions by a general order on the 24th in which our obliga- 
tions to our ally were acknowledged. But the consequences of 
his ill-advised censure were not thus easily averted, and it may 
here be added that the strong feeling aroused against the 
French culminated in a riot in Boston, in which two of the 
officers of the fleet. Messieurs de Saint; Sauveur and Pleville de 
Pelej^, were dangerously wounded, the former mortally. 

Left to his own resources, General Sullivan asked the opinion 
of his officers in writing as to the future course of operations. 
Greene advised pressing the siege and attempting a surprise by 
boats from Sachuest beach upon the cliffs. Three New Hamp- 
shire officers, sent out as scouts to look into the feasibility of 
the plan, were captured, and it appears from the Hessian ac- 
counts, gave the enemy an exaggerated idea of the American 
forces. In truth, however, Sullivan's forces were already re- 
duced and somewhat demoralized. The thousands of volun- 
teers whp had flocked to the camp, as was the habit through- 
out the war on the eve of a great action, as at Boston, at Sara- 
toga, and later at Yorktown, had already disappeared and left 
the brunt of the war to the regular continental troops. Pro- 
visions were scarce, bread at Providence hardly to be had at 
all, and corn selling at eight dollars the bushel. Three thou- 
sand men left within twenty-four hours and others were fol- 
lowing. What with the withdrawal of the volunteers and de- 
sertions of the militia, Sullivan's army was reduced on the 27th 
of August to fifty-four hundred men. The enemy's works were 
too strong to be stormed with this force, and at a council of 


war held the next day it was resolved to fall back on the hills at 
the north of the island, Butts, Turkey, Anthony's and Quaker's, 
which had been carefully fortified early in the movement by 
de Gouvion, a capable French engineer, with the aid of Crane 
and Gridley of the American artillery. Here it was determined 
to hold the army. 

Battle of Rhode Island. — Lafayette was sent to Boston to 
urge d'Estaing to hurry down the French troops to the north 
end of the island. The army began to withdraw on the night 
of the 28th at ten o'clock and by two o'clock in the morning 
the main body was in position at Butt's hill, the right wing on 
the west road, the left on the east road, both with their flanks 
covered. Colonel Henry B. Livingston, with the light corps, 
held the east road, Colonels Laurens, Fleury and Major Talbot 
ohe west road, each stationed three miles in advance of the camp. 
Colonel Wade supported them with the picquet of the army. 

At daylight the next morning the British discovered that the 
American front was withdrawn and a rumor prevailed that they 
were leaving the island. Pigot dispatched Prescott and Brown 
to occupy the abandoned works. Smith with two regiments, 
the Forty-second and Forty-third, and flank companies of the 
Twenty-second and Fifty-fourth, was sent up the east road. 
Losberg, with the Hessian Anspach chasseurs and Huyne's Ger- 
man regiment, moved up the west road. At seven o'clock the 
converging roads brought them upon the American advance and 
skirmishing began. The first hot action it is said was at Wind- 
mill hill which Amory considers to mean Slate hill; this was on 
the west road. Smith, with the king's troops, struck Livingston 
at Windmill hill on the east road. Livingston fell back fight- 
ing to Quaker hill, closely followed by Smith who, at its base, 
found himself confronted by two regiments. Colonels Wiggles- 
worth and Sprout of Glover's brigade, and one, Colonel William 
Livingston from Varnum's brigade. Smith attacked twice and 
was twice repulsed; after which the Americans fell back under 
orders on the main body. Smith, again pushing on, came 
upon Glover's command and under range of his guns, where- 
upon he in turn fell back and went into position behind the 
lines on Quaker and Turkey hills, both of which werr 
strongly protected by bastions. Losberg moved up the west 
road. Contemporary accounts say that they attacked "on the 
road" but were beaten off with great loss by the light corps 



under Major Talbot and Laurens, who no doubt fell back after 
the skirmish on the main body. 

Comparing the various reports of the day's fighting it would 
seem that Colonel Campbell, with his Twenty-second flank 
companies, moved up the east road and at the cross road con- 
necting the east and west roads near the Gibbs place, about 
live and a half miles from Newport, divided his men. The party 
which turned into the cross road fell into an ambush. Captain 
Wade had here concealed his picket guard which, rising sud- 
denly up behind the stone fence of the field, poured two volleys 
into the forces of the surprised men at close quarters, destroy- 
ing one-fourth of the entire force. They were quickly sup- 
ported by the H-essians who were moving on the west road, and 
Wade also withdrew his pickec to the main body, which was 
now drawn up in three lines; the first in front of the works on 
Butt's hill, the second in its rear and the reserve near a creek 
about half a mile to the rear of the first line. 

The distance between Butt's hill and Quaker hill is about a 
mile, the ground between wooded and marshy. Smith's line 
covered Quaker hill, the Hessian line covered Anthony's hill. 
The skirmishing had been rapid. At nine o'clock a cannonade 
began which was interrupted by the arrival of two British ships 
of war and some light craft which began a fire on the American 
right and sujDported an attempt to turn the flank and storm 
a redoubt in advance of that wing which Gfeneral Greene com- 
manded. Twice the English and Hessian columns swept down 
the slope of Anthony's hill, which is merely a continuation of 
Quaker hill, and were repulsed with heavy loss by Varnum's, 
Glover's, Cornell's and Greene's brigades, which also suffered 
severely. A third assault was nearly successful, when Sullivan 
put in two batallions of continentals who quickly restored the 
day. On this occasion the newly raised black regiment, led by 
Colonel Greene, behaved with great coui^age, repulsing three 
separate charges of the Hessians with great slaughter. The 
ships of war were driven off by the American batteries. 

At four o'clock, when Colonel Trumbull took in a brigade of 
Massachusetts militia to meet an expected attack on the right, 
the enemy had disappeared. The action was over. Repulsed 
fi'om all their assaults, the British and Hessians were driven 
back to their fortified lines, losing one of their batteries on the 
retreat. The American loss was two hundred and eleven, that 


of the British one thousand and twenty-three, including pris- 
oners. The British had a force superior in numbers and thor- 
oughly trained, while not more than fifteen hundred of the 
Americans had ever been under fire. 

The " battle of Rhode Island " maybe fairly held, as it is 
said Lafayette styled it, " the best fought action of the war.-' 
There seems to have been no error either in the plan or execu- 
tion of the masterly movement of retreat ; and the secure re- 
sult was the holding of the strongest position on the island, 
equally available for a renewal of attack or to cover a safe 
withdrawal to the main land. 

The 30th of August, Sunday, both armies spent the early 
part of the day in burying the dead and caring for the wounded. 
Colonel Campbell, of the Twenty-second, came out for leave to 
look for the body of his nephew, who fell at his side. At 
noon despatches were received from Washington that Lord 
Howe was on his way with five thousand troops from New 
York for the relief of the Newport post. A council of officers 
was held, and it was resolved to evacuate the island. Under a 
feint of pitching tents and fortifying the camp and a heavy 
cannonade, the stores, 'munitions and heavy baggage were 
moved. At nightfall the tents were struck and the troops were 
crossed over the ferry to Tiverton, the Providence regiment 
acting as rowers. 

At eleven o'clock Lafayette came in from Boston. He had 
ridden seventy miles in seven hours on Friday to Boston, and 
now returned sixty miles in six and a half. He brought with 
him the promise of d'Estaing to march his men immediately 
overland from Boston to join in an attack on the island. La- 
fayette now aided in superintending the transports, and under 
his personal supervision the pickets and last covering parties 
were brought over without the loss of the smallest alrticle of 
baggage. Sullivan's barge was the last to leave the island. 
Four of his life guards were wounded by the enemy, who ap- 
peared on the hills as they were crossing. The next morning 
the British fleet, with Sir Henry Clinton's forces on board, was 
seen off Newport from Tiverton heights. 

The army of Sullivan was now reduced~to twelve hundred con- 
tinentals and two thousand state troops with some militia whose 
time was about expiring, while the British force, with the re- 
enforcements brought by Clinton, reached eleven thousand men. 


Congress voted thanks to Sullivan and his army for their signal 
service, and Washington issued a general order in commenda- 
tion. Congress, moreover, passed a resolution showing "its 
appreciation of the zeal and attachment the Count d'Estaing 
had shown to the cause of the United States on several occa- 
sions and especially in the noble and generous offer to march 
from Boston at the head of his troops to co-oi)erate in the re- 
duction of Kliode Island." D'Estaing was of too noble a spirit 
to bear any malice and in the course of the next year showed 
his zeal and his mettle, but gained little fame as a naval com- 

The condition of the inhabitants of Newport during this pe- 
riod of hostilities was not to be envied. The French shot flying 
over the wooden town was alarming but the sufferings war 
brings in its train were not confined to terror. " Sixteen 
buildings," says Mrs. Almy in her journal, "were destroyed 
to clear the field of action," while the blazing vessels and 
burning buildings threatened the whole closely built wooden 
town with total ruin. On the retreat of the Americans Ports- 
mouth and Middletown were plundered. By the report of an- 
other journal, that of Fleet Green, "some families were desti- 
tute of a bed to lie on." 

After Sullivan's retreat the island was held with rigorous 
military care, the great extent of water line subjecting the out- 
lying posts to constant danger of surprise. On the 17th of 
September Admiral Byron, who had been sent out in June by 
the British admiralty to re-enforce Lord Howe, came into New- 
port harbor with two ships of the line and on the 25th Howe 
followed in his flagship the "Eagle," andtui-ning over the com- 
mand of the American station to Byron, sailed for England. 
On the, 28th he was followed by Greneral Pigot whom General 
Prescott succeeded. On the 12th of October four hundred men 
arrived for the Anspach Bayreuth regiment and one hundred 
light cavalry under Major Von Dieskau. They had been twenty- 
six weeks at sea and were in poor condition. The entire regi- 
ment was brought into the town and half went into winter 
quarters in the abandoned buildings, the assignment between 
camp and houseing being settled by lot, and in November the 
Landgrave and Ditfurth regiments were also marched in to the 
southern part of the town. Huyne's and Bunau's regiments 
were marched from the camp at the lines to barracks at Wind- 


mill and Quaker hills; Huyne's on the east road, Bunau's on 
the west, and detachments of men sent from each to guard 
Rowland's ferry. 

In October the town was startled by a daring exploit — the 
cutting out on the night of the 25th, from the east passage, of 
the "Pigot" galley, a vessel of two hundred tons, strongly 
armed and manned, by Major Talbot in a little sloop with two 
three pounders. The "Pigot" was carried into Stonington, 
and later served as guard ship in Providence river. In Novem- 
ber Admiral Byron, who had left port in September, came into 
the harbor with twelve ships of the line. He had been cruising 
for the French fleet off Boston, but without success. Byron's 
ships lay for a month to refit and then went to the West Indies. 
In December the town was visited by a storm of intense sever- 
ity — a heavy fall of snow, and cold so intense that many of the 
Hessians perished, frozen to death. More than fifty people are 
said to have lost their lives on this fearful night, chiefly sol- 
diers. This was long known as the Hessian storm. Fuel was 
everywhere scarcce. A few days later a brig bound to New 
York was taken by Lieutenant Chapin with six men and a 
whale boat. The troops and the inhabitants had to depend now 
wholly upon the army supplies, as they were prevented from 
any communication with the mainland. Many of the towns- 
people were obliged to remove. After January, 1779, rations 
were cut down to one-half bread and one-half rice. The bread 
was oatmeal and rice mixed. Fuel now became so scarce that 
turf was burned, the old houses destroyed, and the wharves 
stripped of their timbers. A week or two later the meat ra- 
tions were cut down one half, and salt or dried fish took its 

At last the famine was relieved by the arrival, on the 25th of 
January, of seven British ships with supplies obtained from a 
great fleet with provisions from Ireland to New York. A raid 
was made by the loyalists on the mainland and three hundred 
head of cattle were brought in. But this was dangerous busi- 
ness, no quarter being given those taken on such forays. In 
May provisions grew scarce again, and there was a great deal 
of scurvy among the troops. Fifteen sail came in with wood 
from Long Island, and fish fell so low in price that men could 
hardly be persuaded to go out. 

In the arrangement for the summer two of the German regi- 


ments remained in the town and the others were posted on 
Tonomy hill and at Turkey hill. In June two of the Hessian 
regiments were sent to joinTryon's force in its operations along 
the sound. On the 21st of June Major Arnbach, of the Land- 
grave regiment, was buried with the honors of war. Quiet was 
only disturbed during the summer by the forays of the tories 
and the sharp reprisals of the patriots. In July a murderous 
raid was made on the house of Major Taggart at Little Comp- 
ton, but under the system of whale boats organized by General 
Grates, who at this time commanded the "Providence," ven- 
geance was quick and sure. In August Talbot took the tory 
privateer "King George," belonging to Newport, which he 
boarded without losing a man, and in the course of a month 
four other valuable prizes. 

In October the repulse of the Americans and French at 
Savannah, when Pulaski fell and d'Estaing was wounded, in- 
duced Sir Henry Clinton to attempt the subjection of the South- 
ern colonies. To effect this he needed to concentrate his forces. 
On the 11th of October the town was thrown into consternation 
by the arrival of the order to get ready for the evacuation of 
the island. The next day fifty-two transports arrived to take 
off the garrison, seven thousand men with the military stores. 
The refugees were also permitted to embark and the merchants 
hastened to move their stores. Forty-six of the royalists, says 
Arnold, with their families, and a large number of slaves whom 
the occupation had liberated, embarked at the wharves. The 
vessels were hauled out to Brenton's point and moved as fast 
as loaded. The barracks at the point and the lighthouse at 
Beaver Tail were burned. The north battery was razed but the 
Goat Island fort spared. 

On the 25th the inhabitants were warned to keep within 
doors on pain of death while the embarkation of the troops was 
being made. All day long the troops were marching to Bren- 
ton's point, whence they were taken by boats to the ships. 
"Newport," says an eye witness, "looked as if everybody was 
dead, for doors and windows were shut, not a soul was to be 
seen, and this was done to guard against desertion." Strange 
to say, this seems to have been the motive of Prescott's order, 
which was especially that no woman should be allowed to be 
seen at the windows or on the street. At ten o'clock at night 
the fleet, one hundred and ten sail, convoyed by three men-of- 


war, sailed out of the harbor. On the 31st they arrived in New 
York. Governor Greene had issued a proclamation on the 16th 
forbidding any person landing on Rhode Island or Conanicut to 
molest the inhabitants after the withdrawal of the enemy. 

It is not probable that the English garrison or the Hessian 
contingent were especially rough to the townspeople during 
this occupation. Indeed, in some things those that remained 
fared better than those that went away. Tliough at times 
pinched for food and fuel, they were generally well and reason- 
ably supplied from the British stores. The property owners 
suffered most. All the empty private houses were used as bar- 
racks, and the troops were quartered upon the inmates of those 
which were inhabited, with little regard for their own accom- 
modation and comfort. The artillery officers carried off all the 
bells from the houses of worship except Trinity. The meeting 
houses except Trinity and the Sabbatarian were turned into rid- 
ing schools. The Redwood was thrown open to all. The state 
house was used as a hospital. The forage yard was on the 
Quaker field; the wood yard on the north side of Church street. 
General Prescott had his headquarters in the Bannister house, 
and it is said that his spacious sidewalk in front, from Mill 
street to Prospect Hill street, was made out of stepstones taken 
from private houses, and the whole of the south fl.ight of steps 
from the state house. The general aspect was of decay and 

The interior of the island presented an appearance not less 
melancholy. The groves of forest trees and many of the or- 
chards even had been cut down for fuel and military purposes, 
the farms were broken up, the gardens destroyed and the fertile 
meadows torn up. And as with the homes so with the avoca- 
tions of the people. More than half the population had left 
the island, the wharves were deserted, commerce and trade 
abandoned. The Jewish merchants were gone. 

Among the acts of vandalism committed by the retiring troops 
was the taking off of the records of the town from its settlement; 
a favorite habit of British commanders. The vessel which 
carried them was sunk at Hurlgate. Three years later the frag- 
ments were fished up and returned to the town and copies made 
of what remained legible. 

On the 26th of October, the morning after the departure of 
the British, General Stark crossed from Tiverton with the troops 

392 HisTOEr OF newpoet county. 

quartered there, and marched into Newport; Colonel Barton 
being sent on in advance with orders to prevent any boat landing 
withoutaspecial permit. The losses sustained by the town during 
the occupation were estimated at over one hundred and twenty- 
four thousand pounds by a committee of the legislature in 1782, 
and more than five hundred houses were destroyed; but this was 
trifling compared with the interruption of commerce, which, 
notwithstanding her magnificent harbor, never returned to her 
wharves and merchants. N"o sooner were the Americans in 
possession of the city than they took measures to raise the 
sunken British men-of-war and to take possession of the estates 
of the tories. 

The winter of 1779 80 set in with intense severity. The bay 
was frozen over for six weeks, and ice formed into the ocean as 
far as the eye could reach. Wood sold for twenty dollars a 
cord ; corn at four silver dollars a bushel ; potatoes at two. All 
the troops who could be spared were sent home, and the New- 
port garrison, at first five hundred strong, was reduced to one 
hundred and eighty men. In February, 1780, the Newport 
'•'Mercury,'''' which had been for three years removed to E.e- 
hoboth, was revived at its birthplace by Henry Barber. In 
May the spirits of the depressed inhabitants were revived by 
the news that a French fleet would soon arrive with a contingent 

The Frewch in Rhode Island, 1780-1. —Lafayette, disap- 
pointed in the result of the expedition under d'Estaing and still 
hopeful of the active co-operation of a land force of the French 
army in the next campaign, after the failure at Rhode Island, 
applied to congress for an indefinite leave of absence from the 
army, in which he was a full major-general. This he received 
on the 20th of October, 1778, and on the 11th of January, 1779, 
sailed from Boston for France in the frigate "Alliance," which 
the king had placed at his disposal. During the year he confined 
himself to earnest efliorts for assistance from the French govern- 
ment in money and material of war. It had been understood 
before he left America that he should not apply to the ministry 
for assistance in troops, and this coincided with his own judg- 
ment, but as the year wore on he changed his mind on this 
point, and, assuming the responsibility early in 1780, made an 
application of this nature, and in a letter of the 20th of Febru- 
ary, submitted a plan of operations for an expeditionary 


corps of thirty-six hundred men to be under his personal com- 
mand. He had already received from the king the appoint- 
ment to a regiment of dragoons. 

Later, on mature consideration, he decided to resume his 
command in the American army and, charged with private 
dispatches to congress, he sailed from Rochefort on the 6th of 
March on the frigate "Hermione,"and reached Boston on the 27th 
of April. Thence he went to Washington's headquarters at Mor- 
ristown, which he reached on the 10th of May. The news he 
brought was of the intention of the French ministry to send 
over a fleet and of the present oiganization of an expeditionary 
corps. Notwithstanding the secrecy attempted on all sides, 
the British government was aware in March of the equipment 
of the squadron at Brest for America, but uncertain of its des- 
tination. On the 17th of May Rivington's Royal Gazette, pub- 
lished in New York, gave a detailed account of the composition 
of the French force. 

It was arranged with Lafayette in his interview with the 
French minister at Paris that officers should be posted at Cape 
Henry and on the coast of Rhode Island to watch the arrival 
of the fleet and convey to the admiral of the French squadron 
and the general commanding the troo^DS all necessary informa- 
tion as to the position of the enemy and the wishes of General 
Washington. These dispatches were prepared in duplicate by 
Lafayette on the 19th of May, 1780. The originals were handed 
to Galvan with instructions to proceed to the mouth of the 
Chesapeake where the fleet was expected first to appear, and 
copies were sent by trusty messengers to Point Judith and 
Seconnet. It being later learned that the fleet would "in the 
first instance touch at Rhode Island for the purpose of landing 
their sick and suxjernuraerary stores and to meet the intelli- 
gence necessary to direct their operations," General Heath 
was ordered to Providence to present himself to the French 
commanders on their arrival. Heath, who was at the time at 
his home in Roxbury on a leave of absence, went at once to 
Providence. Congress hastened to fill up the army and Mon- 
sieur de Corny, a lieutenant-colonel of cavalry in the United 
States army, whp had received at Versailles the appointment 
of commissary-general of the French forces, visited Rhode 
Island, escorted by a troop of horse, to arrange for hospitals. 

The French squadron on the night of the 20th of May lifted an- 

394 HISTORY OF Newport countt. 

chor and set sail from the roadstead of Brest. The fleet consisted 
of seven ships of the line, three frigates, a corvette orflute fitted 
as a hospital ship, and a cutter; in all twelve ships carrying six 
hundred and eighteen guns. The transports, thirty-two in 
number, carried the expeditionary corps of five thousand men. 
The fleet was commanded by Monsieur de Ternay, chef d'esca- 
dre, the troops by Count de Rocliambeau. The fleet was de- 
tained some days in the Bay of Biscay by contrary winds, but 
gained an offing from the continent without meeting a hostile 
cruiser, although it was known that Admiral Graves was fitting 
out at Portsmouth to intercept and force them to action. 

On the 20th of June the French fieet fell in with five British 
vessels to the southward of the Bermudas, a part of the squadron 
of Commodore Cornwallis, returning to the Antilles. Line of 
battle w^as formed by the French, but Cornwallis changed his 
course and bore away. The squadron held a similar course 
during the day but at night the English commodore turned to 
the southward and de Ternay held on to the American coast. 

On the 4th of July, towai'd nightfall, he made the mouth of 
the Chesapeake, where his frigates signaled ten or twelve sail at 
anchor in the bay. Fearing that these vessels might be part of 
the squadron of Arbuthnot, who was on the American station, 
or of Graves who was expected, de Ternay changed his course 
several times during the night and the next day steered straight 
for Rhode Island. They came upon the coast in a dense fog. 
At four o'clock on the afternoon of the 9th of July, land was 
descried from the masts of the " Conquerant." It proved to be 
Martha's Vineyard. The crews, who had suffered greatly from 
the warm weather and confinement, were in great glee. On the 
morning of the 10th anchor was again weighed; at noon pilots 
came on board from the island. The fleet again anchored at 
ten o'clock. On the morning of the 11th sail was made but the 
weather being still foggy and a danger signal being hoisted by 
one of the convoy, the fleet again came to anchor. At eight 
o'clock the fog lifted and the shore line opened into view; 
Point Judith, a league distant, beyond the Newport point, and 
most welcome, the French flag on each of the points of the 
land. This was the signal agreed upon by Lafayette that Rhode 
Island was safe in American hands and the French would be 
well received. 

General de Rochambeau and his staff went at once on board 


the frigate "Hermione" and sailed for Newport, where he 
landed at noon. De Ternay had cause for congratulation. 

Admiral Graves left Portsmouth in pursuit of the French 
early in May with seven vessels. Meeting in the channel the 
same westerly gale which detained de Ternay in the gulf, he 
was forced to put back to Plymouth, where he was held by con- 
trary winds fifteen days. Putting to sea again he crowded sail 
and on the 13th of July, only forty-eight hours after the arri- 
val of de Ternay at Rhode Island, reached Few York where he 
found Arbuthnot with four ships. A few days later the French 
would have found their course to Rhode Island blocked by 
eleven men-of-war without the impediment of a helpless fleet of 

The French squadron which now anchored in the Newport 
harbor, consisted of the "Due de Bourgogne," eighty guns, the 
"Neptune" and "Conquerant" of seventy-four; the "Prov- 
ence," "Eveille," "Jason" and "Ardent," of sixty-four; three 
frigates, the " Surveillante," "Amazone" and "Gentille," of 
thirty guns. Besides, there was the corvette "Fantasque" 
which had made the expedition with d'Estaing and was now 
fitted as a hospital ship and carried the heavy artillery and the 
cutter "La Gruepe." As soon as the ships were anchored the 
troops of Rochambeau were landed. One third of them, sick, 
were removed to the interior. The fortifications were placed in 
charge of the French who proceeded at once to remodel and put 
them in a posture of defense. 

The troops disembarked, five thousand and eighty-eight men, 
consisting of the regiments of Bourbonnais, Soissonnais, Sain- 
tonge, Royal deux Ponts, an Alsatian corps and six hundred 
men of Lauzun's Legion, three hundred of whom were intend- 
ed to be mounted for a troop of horse. All the officers of these 
corps belonged to the best of the old French nobility and 
many of them had served with distinction in the wars of 
the continent. The Count de Rochambeau, a gentleman of an 
old Vendome family, was a veteran of nearly forty years ser- 
vice, who had spent his life in camps and had won high merit in 
the campaign of the low countries for the prudent qualities 
which became a commander, while equally remarked for his 
bravery and tenacity. Just such qualities were needed for the 
delicate position of controlling a hot headed band of young of- 
ficers in a country jealous of its customs and among a popula- 


tion proud in individual freedom. Among liis aids were the 
Count de Fersen, a young Swedish gentleman high in favor with 
the French court and esteemed one of the handsomest and most 
elegant of this age of courtesy, Chevalier Charles de Lameth 
and the Counts de Damas and de Dumas. The household of 
Rochambeau was fully mounted in French state and his major- 
domo, in his solemn dignity and magnificent array, was a per- 
petual wonder to the plain provincials. 

The other high general officers were the Baron de Viom^nil, 
the Chevalier de Chastellax, a distinguished member of the 
French Academy, and the Chevalier de Viomenil, who disputed 
the palm of manly beauty with the fair Swede. As aids to the 
Baron de Viomenil, the Chevalier d'Olonne, a scion of an old 
historic family, and the Marquis de Vauban ; and serving in the 
same capacity as the Chevalier de Chastellux, Monsieur de Mon- 
tesquieu. On the general staff, among those whose later lives 
were eventful in history, were the Chevaliers Alexandre de La- 
meth and de Berthier. The Regiment Bourbonnais was com- 
manded by the Marquis de Laval Montmorency, as colonel, and 
the Vicomte de Rochambeau, son of the general commanding, 
as colonel-en- second; the Soissonnais by the Count de Saint- 
Maime, a most sensible and practical officer, with the Vicomte 
de ISToailles, brothei-in-law of Lafayette, who married his sister; 
the Royal Deux-Ponts by the Marquis des deux Fonts, Count 
de Forbach, as colonel, and his brother. Count des Deux-Ponts, 
as second officer (they belonged to the family of the Counts 
Palatine); the Saintonge by the Comte de Custine, with the 
Comte de Charlus, son of Marechal de Castries, the minister 
of war, as second. The Legion was the proi)rietary regiment 
of the Duke de Lauzun, of the famous family of Biron, which 
had given several marshals to France. As an auxiliary to the 
Legion, attached to it bal; under independent command, was 
the Regiment Dillon, with Count Arthur de Dillon colonel, and 
Bartheleray Dillon lieutenant colonel. The Dillons were of a 
high born Irisli family who, following the fortunes of James 
the Second, crossed with him into France where their ancestor 
entered the military service in which his sons succeeded him. 

The park of artillery was large and there was an abundance 
of munitions of war for all arras. M. de Menonville commanded 
the artillery, a corps of five hundred thoroughly trained men, 
and de Berthier was at the head of the topographical engineers. 


A more perfectly appointed corps, in the quality of its officers, 
in the composition and discipline of its men, and in its general 
equipment, could not have been devised; and it would iDe diffi- 
cult to find record of any similar army which, in a foreign land 
of different customs and religion, so won the attachment of the 
population on whom it was quartered. 

On the appearance of the fleet in the offing Q-eneral Heath was 
at once notified. The next morning a despatch was sent to 
Washington, who was then in the Jersies, and Heath came 
down the bay. The day being calm, the packet did not reach 
the wharf till midnight. Rochambeau was that night on shore. 
In the morning General Heath waited upon him, and after 
breakfast visited the Admiral de Ternay onboard his flag ship, 
the "Due de Bourgogne." At ten o'clock the admiral saluted 
the town with thirteen guns, which were returned with a like 
number. On the evening of the 12th the town was illuminated 
and thirteen grand rockets were fired from the parade ground 
in front of the state house. A contemporary letter says of this 
occasion that "the brilliant appearance of the numerous gen- 
tlemen, officers of the fleet and army of our illustrious ally, 
who were on shore, with that of the ladies and gentlemen of 
the town, and the joy which every friend to liberty expressed 
on the happy occasion, afforded a pleasing prospect of the 
future felicity and grandeur of this country in alliance with the 
most polite, powerful and generous nation in the world." 

The equipment, uniform and accoutrements of the French 
were worthy of the most martial race of Europe. The infantry 
wore long waistcoats and coats of white cloth ; the uniform of 
the officers differed from that of the men in the color of the 
cloth. The regiments were distinguished by the colors of the 
trimming. Thus part of the Bourbonnais wore crimson lappels 
with pink collars and white buttons, the Fores, which had been 
consolidated with it, but kept their own distinctive uniform, 
crimson lappels with green collar and white buttons ; the Sois- 
sonnais red laj^pels, sky blue collars and yellow buttons ; Sain- 
tonge sky blue collars and yellow buttons ; Royal Deux Fonts 
blue uniform and collars and lemon color for the lappels. The 
buttons were marked with the numbers of the regiment. The 
non-commissioned officers and soldiers wore a panache of white 
plumes ; the grenadiers red plumes ; the chasseurs white and 
green. The artillery wore iron gray coats with lappels of red 


velvet. The perfection of arms of precision had not in the last 
century destroyed the picturesqueness of armies. War was still 
a glorious pageant. 

For several days there was an exchange of entertainments 
by the commanders. Meanwhile the French army was 
busy. The troops on their disembarkation were encamped 
across the island to the northward and covering the town, their 
left resting on the sea, their right on the ships at anchor, which 
lay under protection of the batteries which de Rochambeau 
erected in the commanding positions, flanked with earthworks. 
These were manned with great and small artillery, brass cannon 
of from four to forty-eight pounds calibre, beautiful pieces of 
ordnance garlanded, and bearing babtismal names, which were 
the delight of the American artillerists and the wonder of all 
who saw them. 

In twelve days the port was in a state of reasonable defense, and 
it was well that there was no delay. Before the works were quite 
finished the arrival of Admiral Graves at Sandy Hook on the 13th 
was known. On the 21st the united squadrons of Graves and 
Arbuthnot appeared off the harbor. Eleven vessels, one of 
ninety, six of seventy-four ; a total weight of metal of seven 
hundred and seventy-six guns, a force in nttmber equal, and in 
armament fully a quarter superior to the French. And the 
next day the squadron was increased to nineteen vessels, of 
which eight or nine were line of battle ships. The French held 
their station, stretching from Rose island to Goat island har- 
bors. The English squadron hung cruising on the coast, afraid 
to run the fire of the French, and awaiting the arrival of the 
land force which Clinton was preparing at New York. 

While awaiting the signal for active service, the French offi- 
cers were rapidly winning the affection of the Americans. Their 
courtly polish was in striking contrast with the overbearing ar- 
rogance which was the rule of British officers, and the coarse 
brutality of the Hessians, with all of which Newport was fa- 
miliar. " The French officers of every rank," says a letter of 
that period, "have rendered themselves agreeable by that po- 
liteness which characterizes the French nation" ; and adds, "the 
officers and soldiers wear cockades of three colors, emblematic 
of a triple alliance between France, Spain and America." This 
seems to have been the first use of a tri-color. It was Lafayette, 
it will be remembered who, in 1784, adding Ihe king's color to 


the colors of Paris, made the tri-color the national banner of 
France, and predicted that it wonld make the tour of the 

Newport was by no means an unattractive residence at this 
time, as the memoirs and letters of the French officers abund- 
antly show. Trading with all parts of the world which the 
British navigation laws left open to its commerce, and to some 
in seci'et disregard of their restrictions, and the natural port of 
refuge and supply on the New England coast, it had become, 
before the middle of the last century, quite a cosmopolitan 
town. Their British trade was with Bristol, the most liberal of 
English cities, the Jews had brought in something of Spanish 
and Portugese splendor, the Huguenots had leavened the mass 
with the amenity of their race, and the Newporters themselves, 
by their many voyages, had acquired something of that knowl- 
edge of the world, the absence of which is termed provincial. 
In no town in America could more intelligence, refinement and 
elegance be found than here. Spanish, the medium of commer- 
cial correspondence during the entire ceiitury, was understood, 
and French also in the upper class of- society, being then held 
indispensable to a polite education. 

The French visitors were reminded of their Normandy coast 
by the irregularity of the country and the quality of its fruit?, 
the fame of which was Eui'opean. They were surprised by the 
wide stone fences and the long line of the villages miles in ex- 
tent, with scattered houses. Count de Bonrg, an aid of Rocham- 
beau, a careful observer, writes that "Rhode Island must be- 
fore the war have been one of the most agreeable spots in the 
world, as in spite of the disasters it has been subjected to, its 
houses destroyed and all its woods cut down, it is still a most 
charming residence." The land seemed to him very much 
cut up. Before the French revolution there was but little 
subdivision of the French soil and the difference attracted his 
notice. The policy of the English settlers was from the begin- 
ning a limitation of land to individuals. The original distribu- 
tion in the Plymouth colony was "an acre to each in propriety 
besides their homesteads or garden plots." This kept them 
together for defense. Later, in 1627, "every one in each 
family was allotted twenty acres to be laid out five acres in 
breadth by the water side and four acres in length," a mean 
being kept in distribution; and in Rhode Island, though the 


soil was bought by a few i^roprietors, there was never an at- 
tempt to hold large tracts, but on the contrary to promote 
settlement by sale or hire on moderate terms. 

Newpoi-t. the French officers described as the "only town on 
theisland.with but two principal streets but still a pretty town. 
Three-fourths of the houses are scattered at a distance and are 
in them.selves small farms." In the construction of the houses the 
French found little to admire, the summit of architecure being 
a building of brick, but they were delighted with the interior 
comfort. There is still in existence. In the possession of Mr. 
Henry T. Drowne of Rhode Island the Hat or chart of the 
quartermaster-general of the French army with a complete list 
of the houses occupied by the French during the winter of 
1780-1. The Count de Rochambeau was quartered in the 
Vernon house, the residence of William Vernon in New Lane, 
which still stands, a charming specimen of colonial architec- 
ture, on the corner of Mary and Clarke streets; the Baron de 
Viomenil, his marechal de camp, at the house of Joseph Wan- 
ton in Thames street; Desandrouins, colonel of engineers, at that 
of Colonel John Malbone in the same street; the Count de 
Fersen with Mr. Robert Stevens in JSTew Lane; de Choisy, briga- 
dier, with Jacob Rodriguez Riviera in Water street; the 
Chevalier de Lameth and the Count de Dumas together at 
Joseph Anthony's in Spring street; the brothers de deux Fonts 
at George. Scott's and jSTathaniel Mumford's in Broad street; 
theVicomte de Noailles with Thomas Robinson in Water 
street; the Chevalier de Chastillux with Captain Maudsley in 
Spring street, and the gay Lauzun at the house of Deborah, 
the widow of Dr. William Hunter, who lived with her young 
daughters on the corner of Thames and Mary streets in a house 
still standing, though higher by a story, well known to the 
last and present generations as the pharmacy of the Taylors, 
father and son. The high officers of the fleet had also their 
residences assigned on shore: Admiral de Ternay at the 
(Colonel) Wanton house at the Point, convenient to the ship- 
ping, with a boat house and wharf at the foot of the garden; 
to-day the most interesting of all the buildings remaining from 
the last century, and the Chevalier des Touches at William 
Redmond's in the same street. The provost marshal opened 
his office at the town prison and the paymaster at the counting 
house and elegant dwelling of the Jewish merchants Seixas and 


Levy in Rapperfc street, which still preserves some remains of 
its once rich and elaborate interior decoration. 

Here in the attractive