Samuel Greene Arnold.

History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 53)
Online LibrarySamuel Greene ArnoldHistory of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 53)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

-" u


A^ "^.




.X> -.




■:o 0^

U 1


../-■-' ■?■-



\0 o.



■J- ■\-


V- ^





^1 V


'-.'^ , ^ ■



,x^ ■'




'■j- V


vv^' ->..

./. .\



o5 -r,^



o"^ '''

-.. .,x^^






o-. d .









S A M l^ K L (; Pv E E N E ^A R K O L B






H-> 1-

EsTEEED, according to Act of Congress, in the j-ear In^S,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of tlio United States for Rliode Island.








%\p fistorii



BY T II K I R F K L L O \V - C I T I Z E N ,



The work, of which the first volume is now presented, is the result
of many years' labor. T(j trace the rise and progress of a State, the
offspring of ideas tliat were novel and startling even amid the pliilo-
sophical speculations of the seventeenth century; whose birth was a
protest against, whose infancy was a struggle with, and whose maturity
was a triumph over, the retrograde tendency of established Puritanism ;
a State that was the second-born of persecution, whose founders had
been doubly tried in the purifying fire; a State whicli, more than any
other, has exerted, by the weight of its example, an influence to shape
the political ideas of the present day, whose moral power has been in
the inverse ratio with its material importance, and of which an eminent
historian of the United States has said that, had its territory " corre-
sponded to the importance and singularity of the principles of its early
existence, the world would have been filled with wonder at the phenom-
ena of its history," is a task not to be lightly attempted or hastily per-

The materials for Rhode Island history are more abundant than
many have supposed. They are widely scattered and difficult to col-
lect or arrange, and hence the opinion has seemed to prevail that too
much was lost to render the preservation of the remainder an object of
interest. But some persons have thought otherwise, and three attempts,
prior to this, have been made to write the hi.story of the State. The
first was by Governor Stephen Hopkins, one of the signers of the Dec-
laration of Independence, who, in 1765, commenced to publish "An his-
torical account of Providence," since reprinted in the second series of


Massachusetts Historical Collections, volume ix. Ouly one chapter was
completed when the struggle for intlependcuce iuterrupted the work,
which was never resumed. The second was by Hon. Theodore Foster,
a Senator in Congress from Rhode Island, who collected a large number
of original papers and made copies of nearly the whole of the colony
records. But one chapter of this work was ever written. His death pre-
vented its completion. The third attempt, by the late Henry Bull of New-
port, was more successful. He published in the Illiode Island llepub-
licau, 1832-6, a series of articles entitled " Memoirs of Rhode Island,"
embracing the principal events of each year from the settlement of the
State down to 1799. The care taken in the preparation of these arti-
cles leads us to regret that 31 r. Bull did not extend his labors still
further, and embody them in a more permanent form. These, with the
five volumes of the Rhode Island Historical Collections, with the valua-
ble notes of the editors aud authors of each, the more than thirty vol-
umes of the Massachusetts Historical Collections, the lately published
Colonial Records of Connecticut, of Massachusetts, and now those of this
State in the course of publication under the admirable supervision of
the Secretary of State, the later editions of early Massachusetts authors,
jMorton, Prince, and others, but particularly the Journal of Winthrop
witli the copious notes of its liberal and learned editor, Hon. James
Savag'o, the life of the founder of Rhode Island by Professor Knowles,
a perfect magazine of important facts, — these are some of the principal
printed authorities most accessible to the general reader. There are
also a great number of books in the libraries of Harvard and Brown
Universities, and more than all in the unrivalled collection of works on
American history in the possession of Mr. John Carter Brown, of this ,
city, which shed much light upon the annals of Rhode Island. Besides
these there arc several religious discourses, following the plan of Cal-
lender, also liistorical addresses, and some local narratives, that contain
interesting facts bearing upon the general history of the State.

The unpublished materials are the records of the several towns,
those of this and the neiuhborins States that have not been included in


the printed volumes, the private collections of Hutchinson, Trumbull,
Hinckley, Prince ami others, in possession of the Massachusetts His-
torical Society, of Foster and Backus in the Rhode Island Historical
Society, and yet more important, the hitherto undeveloped resources in
the British archives, at London, which clear up many points never be-
fore explained. These are the chief sources of information that have
been consulted in preparing this work, and will be found referred to in
the notes.

Several months were spent abroad in 184G-7, in the examination
of government archives, chiefly in England and France, in search of
materials not to be found in America. The kindness of gentlemen in
oflieial station, particularly in Her Britannic -Majesty's Government,
in securing permission to examine their records, and of those in the
State Paper Offices at London, Paris and the Hague, in facilitating his
labors, should receive the grateful acknowledgments of the writer.

Copies of the English documents herein referred to are now in Mr.
Brown's library, he having given orders, previous to the author's visit
to Enfflfiiid, to have every thing pertaining to llhode Island, and much
more besides, copied for his private collection ; which was done under
the supervision of Henry Stevens, Esq., a gentleman whose experience
eminently qualified him for the task.

Many of these authorities extend beyond the limits of this volume,
and with a large number of new ones, both local and general, will be
used in the later portions of the work.

The thanks of the writer are due to many friends who have ren-
dered assistance in various ways to lighten his labors : to Mr. John
Carter Brown, to Hon. "William E. Staples, late Chief Justice of the
State, the editor of Gorton, and author of the Annals of Providence, to
Judge George A. Brayton of the Supreme Court, to Dr. David King
and Rev. Henry Jackson, D. D. of Newport, to Hon. John R. Bartlett,
Secrctai-y of State, to William J. Harris, E-q., and othor.s, all deeply
interested in whatever pertains to the history of their State, who have
given efficient aid by the loan of books and manuscripts.


The first object attemptt'd in tliis work has been to jnake it reliable
both as to facts and dates ; that it should be a standard authority upon
the subject and period of which it treats. To accomplish this design
no pains have been spared, and it has been kept steadily in view even
at the risk of making the book less readable than it might have been.
Many subjects are mentioned that, to the general reader, can have little
or no interest, the value of which can only be understood by those who
consult history for a specific purpose. For the benefit of this latter and
more limited class of readers, the reference notes are made more nume-
rous than they would otherwise have been. The most important dates
have been verified by a tedious mathematical process, unnecessary here
to describe, but which is essential to accuracy in many cases, owing to
a strange diversity that existed in the mode of dating under the Julian
calendar before the adoption of the Gregorian or New Style in 1751.
The Julian year began on the 25th of March. February was the 12th
month and March the 1st month of the year. Many papers between
tlie first and twenty-fifth of March, bear date as of the coming year,
while others are dated correctly, according to the Julian system, as of
the expiring year. This diversity of course throws a doubt upon the
true date of all correlative documents throughout the year, and has led
many writers into error. That the reader need not be misled on this
point the double date of the year, between January 1st and Jlarch 25,
is given in the margin. If it is desired to reduce the day of the montli
to New Style, eleven days are to be added to the marginal date.

That, notwithstanding the labor and care bestowed upon these
pages, they contain some errors of fact or date, perhaps important
ones, it would be presumptuous to deny. The more one explores the
labyrinth of historical investigation, the less positive will he become
of the entire accuracy of his conclusions. A conscientious desire to
arrive at the truth is all that the author dares to claim in submittin*^
this work to the judgment of his peers. That it will grate harshly upon
the ears of some, whose views upon the questions of politics and theol-
ogy involved in the settlement of this State, differ from those of itg


founders, be is well aAvarc. That some may assail it upon these grounds
is not improbable, and for such he is prepared ; while at the same time
he courts a generous criticism that may aid his future labors.

So far as was compatible with the above mentioned object, he has
endeavored to make the work interesting to those who read simply for
the sake of reading ; but he can claim nothing upon this score. The
minutiaD of local or of State history, demand an attention to details
which broader fields do not require, and limit, in the same proportion,
the power of the pen. To make a State history both authentic and
popular, where the ground has not already been occupied, would require
it to be too voluminous. To enlarge upon the philosophy of the funda-
mental principles involved in the settlement of Rhode Island, would
afford a pleasing relief from the labor of critical research ; but this can
be better done by the reflecting reader, or it may furnish a theme for
some future historian, more fitted for the task than tlae writer feels
himself to be, who will reap the laurels that he must forego.

Pkovidknck, May 17, 1858.


R. I. II. C. — llhode Island Historical Collections, in 5 vols.

J\. I. Col. Rec— ^Rhode Island Colonial Records, 3 vols, now published, 163G-

Conn. Col. Rec— Connecticut Colonial 1 .ds, 2 vols, now published, 1630-

M. C. R. — Massachusetts Colonial Records, 6 vols, now published, 1628-lGSG.
'M. II. C. — ^Massachusetts Historical Collections, in series of 10 vols. each, of

which 3 series are completed, and 4 vols, of the fourth. The

figure before the letters denotes the series.
Br. S. P. O.— British State Paper Office.


CHAPTER I. 1G20— 1G3G.

Introduction — rroni the Settlement of New England to the Banishment

of Roger Williams, . . . . . . .1

Appendix A.— Early Life of Roger "W-'^iams, .... 47

CHAPTER II. 1030— 1038.
Tlie Antinomian Controversy, . . . . . ,51

The Aborigines of Rhode Island — Peouot War, . . . .72


Ilistoi'y of Providence from its Settlement, 1 03 G, to tliu Organization of

the Government under the Parliamentary Charter, May, 1G47, . 97


History of Aqucdneck from its Settlement, March, 1038, to the Organi-
zation of the Government under the First Charter, ^lay, 1047. . 124


History of "Warwick and Narraganset down to the Formation of the

Government under the First Patent, ^May, 1G47, . . 103


CHAPTER VII. 1647—1651.

History of the Incorporation of Providence Plantations from the Adop-
tion of the Parliamentary Charter, May, 1647, to the Usurpation
of Coddington, August, 1651, . . . . .200

CHAPTEIl VIII. 1051—1603.

From the Usurpation of Coddington, August, 1651, to the Adoption of

the Royal Charter, November, 1663, . . " . . 237

Appendix B. — Proceedings in the case of John Warner, . . 287

CHAPTER IX. 1003—1075.

From the Adoption of the Royal Charter, November, 1063, to the Com-
mencement of King Philip's "War, June, 1675, . . . 290
Appendix C. — Errors of Grahame and Chalmers, . . . 370
Ai)pendix D. — Atherton Company Correspondence, . . . 378
Appendix E. — Conspiracy against John Clarke exposed, . . 383

CHAPTER X. 1075—1077.

From the Commencement of Philip's War, June, 1075, to the Trial of

the Harris Causes, November, 1677, .... 3S7

CHAPTER XI. 1678-1080.

From the Renewal of the Struggle for the Soil of Rhode Island, 1077-'8,

to the Susj^ension of the Charter, June, 1086, , ' , , 439

Appendix F. — Answers of Rhode Island to the Board of Trade, . 488

CHAPTER XII. 1686—1700.

From the Commencement of the Andros' Government to the Close of

the Seventeenth Century, ..... 492

Appendix G. — Foundmg of Trinity Church, Newport, . . . 559






1620— 163G.

The direct causes which led to the settlement of New chap
England, had been in active operation for nearly seventy
years hefore that event transpired. The more remote in-
fluences that led to this result date back to the com-
mencement of the English Keformation. The spirit of re-
sistance to clerical authority and papal aggression, was
first inculcated in Great Britain by John Wicldiffe, Pro-
fessor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. It soon
spread to the continent of Europe, where the teachings of
Huss and Jerome, in opposition to the claims of the
hierarchy, roused the vengeance of the Council of Con-
stance, and led to their martyrdom.

A period of quiet succeeded the Bohemian struggle,
until the laxity of the pontifical court, under Leo X.,
gave rise to the Keformation of Luther. From that time

VOL. I. — 1


CHAP, the history of Europe presented a continuous scene of ac-
^^^.^ tion and reaction upon the fundamental principles of re-
ligion and politics. Tlie inquisitive mind of Germany
was occujned in speculations which were to open a new
and brighter era to humanity. England, already in some
degree prepared for the mighty movement, soon asserted
her sovereignty by severing her allegiance to the church
of Kome. The spell of the Papacy was broken ; the first
great result of the Ecforniation was acliieved. A spirit
of inquiry Avas awakened, which could neither be quelled
by the fire of persecution, nor controlled by the decrees of
princes or parliaments. During the reign of Edward VI.,
the English Liturgy was completed and promulgated as
the ecclesiastical law of the land. The priestly vestments
were retained in the service, although strenuously opposed
by many of the reformed clergy. The more resolute Prot-
estants resisted at the outset all attempts to fasten upon
them the livery of a church from whose communion they
had withdrawn. Uniformity was the rock upon which
the early Keformers split. The first demonstration of
nonconformity occurred at Frankfort, The virulent per-
15 54. secution of the Protestants, which commenced upon the
accession of Queen Mary, caused great numbers of them
to seek refus-e on the continent. A small church was
gathered at Frankfort, who objected to the use of some
portions of Kmg Edward's service book. These w^ere sup-
planted the next year by a party of their countrymen
under Dr. Cox, who restored the English forms in full as
prescribed by King Edward, and were hence called " Con-
formists." Most of the others went to Geneva, where
they were kindly received by Calvin, were there organized,
and adopted a liturgy agreeable to that of the French
churches. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth was the
signal for the return of the exiles, and the permanent
though gradual establishment of the Protestant Faith.
The reign of Elizabeth was emphatically the age of prerog-


ative in England. Never did the authority of the crown cuap.
maintain itself so ahsolutely. Although some of the Stuarts .^_;^
afterwards attempted to exercise arhitrary power in repeat- i -^ 5 -t.
ed instances, yet none of them wielded so uncontrolled
a sceptre, or conducted with the firmness or the success
that characterized the last of the Tudors. Mary had been
a bigot in religion ; Elizabeth became a tyrant in prerog-
ative ; and because theology was the prevailing topic of
the times, she seized upon that as the most convenient
medium for confirming and manifesting her authority.
The earliest enactments of her first parliament were to
this end. The act of uniformity, prescribing the regula-
tions of church service, preceded by a single day the act
of supremacy, which vested in the queen the right of
ecclesiastical control. Immediately upon the passage of
these acts two parties arose in the Protestant Church, one ^.^ ^.^
favoring the royal prerogative, the other, somewhat more
true to the spirit of the Reformation, maintaining that in
things indifierent, liberty should be allowed. Both were
at this time pretty nearly agreed in points of doctrine,
in the necessity of uniformity in public worship, and in
the right of the civil power to enforce it. The prerogative
party, or Conformists, held that the will of the queen was
the only guide in church afiairs ; the Puritans, that coun-
cils or synods were the proper tribunals. The idea of
freedom of conscience as applied to the individual was un-
known, or unrecognized, by either party. It was reserved
for another age and a distant land to develop in its full
significance the grand result of the Reformation.

The passion of Elizabeth for pageantry of every kind,
together with her inordinate love of power, were the chief
causes which distracted her reign. The one inclined her
to retain as far as possible the gorgeous ceremonial of the
church of Rome, the other led her to punish those who
desired a simpler ritual and plainer robes. The severity
of her measures against the Puritans at length resulted in


the separation, ■\vliicli commenced in 15GG. The jiress had
already been closed against them by a decree of the Star
15 5 9. Chamber. The oi:)position of a large jiortion of the peo-
ple to the Romish vestments, and to certain ceremonies, of
trifling import in themselves, which could easily have been
assuaged by temperate policy, was increased by the exercise
of arbitrary power. Accordingly, after solemn dehbera-
tioD, a number of the deprived ministers, with their friends,
determined to witlidraw from the -communion of the
established church, and laying aside the English Liturgy,
they adopted the Geneva forms. Henceforward there was
to be no longer a cordial union of Protestants against
Popery, but rather a union of the prerogative and papal
parties against the Puritans. This Avas less apparent
during Elizabeth's reign than in that of her successor.
But the Reformation in England, so far as the government
was concerned, had attained its culminating point. The
breach thus commenced rapidly widened. The doctrinal
articles of the church, some of which, in the opinion of
many learned and pious men, were too strongly tinctured
with Erastian princii^lcs, began to be questioned. Other
sects arose, distinct in many respects from the Puritan
church, and carrying the principles of the separation to a
greater extent, but all who were zealous for the Reforma-
tion, were indiscriminately branded with the same invidi-
ous epithet. In vain did the Puritans seek to appease
the resentment of their enemies by disowning the sec-
taries. Papists, Familists, Baptists and Brownists, were
denounced by the Puritans with equal zeal as by the Pre-
latists, and alike held up as wortliy of persecution ; ' but
the attempt thus made to ingratiate themselves with
their rulers was without success. In proportion as the
ranks of non-conformity were augmented, the severity of
government increased, and exile, or death, for crimes of

' Neal, 312.


conscience, became more frequent as tlie long reign of chap.
Elizabeth drew to its close.' -^ - ^-^

The union of the crowns of Scotland and England, 1 o 5 9.
in the person of James I., inspired the Puritans with a
new but delusive hope. This fickle prince, whose con-
summate vanity as a man, was the source of his weakness
as a monarch, very soon forgot the precepts of the Scottish
church, which he had sworn to support, and became the
tool of ambitious prelates and designing courtiers. Six
months after he came to the throne, occurred the celebrated
conference at Hampton Court, between the bishops and
the Puritans, at which the king himself presided, and
made his first public display of that combination of pedan-
try with tyranny which has made his character, when
viewed in the light, of history, the object of mingled aver-
sion and contempt. The result of that conference crushed
the hopes of the Puritans. The triumphant bishops, no
longer doubtful of their position, at once proceeded to urge
severe measures against the whole body of Protestant
non-conformists, and secretly to court the favor of the
papal party. At the death of Archbishop Whitgift,
Bancroft, bishop of London, was raised to the See of Can-
terbury. This haughty prelate revived the persecution of
the Puritans, and conducted it with unparalleled rigor,
excommunicating many who would not receive a set of
canons prepared by himself and passed by an obsequious
convocation, although not confirmed by parliament. He
it was who first asserted in England the divine right of
the order of bishops, and prepared the church for the
usurpations of Laud, wliich afterwards involved the United
Kingdom in civil war.

To bring the kirk of Scotland under the dominion of
the Enghsh hierarchy was a favorite project of James, and
was actively promoted by the intrigues of Bancroft. This
was a bold design, against which the armorial bearings and

' For the last three years of her life she became more tolerant.


CHAP, motto of Scotland might have furnished a significant warn-
^ ins. It was an index of that aggressive and intolerant

15 5 9. spirit wliich drove a large nnmher of the Enghsh non-
conformists into voluntary exile. Holland became a refuge
for those whom persecution deprived of their native home.
The larger portion of the refugees were rigid Separatists,
whose views, crude as they might appear at the present
time, were very much in advance of those held by the
mass of non-conformists in respect to the essential objects
of the Reformation. These were the men who, with their
descendants a few years later, made the first permanent
settlement of New England. The Puritans for the most
part remained in England, still clinging to the slender
chance of some favorable current of affairs. The succes-
sion of Archbishop Abbot to the high position vacated by
the death of Bancroft, gave them renewed hope. He is
described as a thorough Calvinist, a sound Protestant,
and as being suspected of Puritanism, But his views, al-
though they served for awhile to mitigate the asperities
of the times, failed to effect permanent relief. The
worthy primate soon became unpopidar at court, and fell
into disgrace. The pretensions of King James to arbi-
trary power increased, and all who opposed the preroga-
tive, although friends of the established church, were de-
nounced as Puritans, as well as those who were Calvinists
in theology, or reformers in church government and wor-
ship. The former were called State' Puritans, the latter
Doctrinal Puritans. The two, when united, comprised
a majority of the nation. The Arminian party, of whom
most of the newly appointed bishops, with Laud at their

Online LibrarySamuel Greene ArnoldHistory of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 53)