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DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF
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DOCIMNIRY

HISTORY of
Rhode Island



VOLUME TWO

BEING THEHISTORY OF
THE TOWNS OF PORTS-
MOUTH AND NEWPORT
TO 1647ANDTHE COURT
RECORDS OF AQUIDNECK



BY

HOWARD M. CHAPIN



PROVIDENCE;

PRESTON AND ROUNDS CO.

1919



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No

EDITION LIMITED TO

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY

COPIES






THE PLIMPTON PRESS
NORWOOD, MASS.



PREFACE

The previous volume contained a history of the
towns of Providence and Warwick to 1649 and of the
Colony to 1647. This volume covers the towns of
Portsmouth and Newport. As the early Portsmouth
town records have been carefully printed and are easily
accessible, those after the reunion of the two towns
(1640) have not been included in this volume.

The court records which are printed in this volume
have been transcribed from a manuscript volume
entitled "Rhode Island Colony Records 1646-1669."
This volume is in the custody of the Secretary of the
State. It contains the minutes of the General Assem-
bly, the minutes of the Aquidneck circuit courts, the
minutes of the Colony Court of Trials, a large number
of deeds, and a few vital records. The entries are not
in chronological sequence, but seem to have been
entered somewhat at random. The minutes of the
General Assembly were transcribed in 1822 by Charles
Gyles and subsequently printed in Bartlett's "Rhode
Island Colonial Records." The minutes of the Aquid-
neck court are printed in the present volume. The
minutes of the Court of Trials are being transcribed by
the Rhode Island Historical Society. The land records
have not as yet been printed, transcribed or even
abstracted, except in a few isolated instances.

H. M. C.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. The Visit of Verrazzano i

II. The Voyage of Block — The Early Use of the

Name Rhode Island 12

III. The Organization of the Government — The

Search for a Location — The Adoption of

A Dating System 16

IV. The Deed of Aquidneck — The Gift of Dyre

Island 24

V. PocASSET Under the Judge 32

VI. PocAssET Under the Judge and Elders ... 47

VII. The Coup d'Etat of 1639 55

VIII. Portsmouth Under the Hutchinsons .... 62

IX. The Settlement of Newport 69

X. Religious Affairs at Aquidneck 84

XI. The Union of Newport and Portsmouth . . 94

XII. The Acquidneck Government in 1641 . . . 107

XIII. Early Residents of Aquidneck 116

XIV. The Aquidneck Government from 1642 to 1644 121
XV. Aquidneck Quarter Court Records . . . . 132

XVI. Contemporary Letters 166



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

Page of " John Clark Bible " 22

William Coddington's House 44

Henry Bull's House 64

Title Page of John Clark's Book 82

Roger Williams' Compass 90

Window from the Coddington House (outside) . . . . no

Window from the Coddington House (inside) . . . . 124

Balusters from the Coddington House 140

William Coddington's Gravestone 168



ABBREVIATIONS

Aspinwall=Aspinwall Notarial Records. (Printed.)

I.R. = Records of the Island of Rhode Island.

M.C.R. = Massachusetts (Colonial) Court Records.

M.H.S.C. = Massachusetts Historical Society Collections.

P.C.R. = Plymouth Colony Records.

Po.R. = Portsmouth Records. (Printed.)

R.I.C.R. = Rhode Island Colonial Records.

R.I.H.S.P. = Rhode Island Historical Society Proceedings.

R.I.L.E. = Rhode Island Land Evidences.

Winthrop=The History of New England by John Winthrop.



Documentary History of
Rhode Island

I

THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO

ALTHOUGH the history of the political entities of
Newport and Portsmouth begins with the visit of the
Antinomian leaders to Aquidneck in March, 1637/8, yet
there is an interesting prelude in the contemporary accounts
of two earlier visits to the island.

On Thursday, 21 April, 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano, a
French corsair, then perhaps better known as Juan Florentin,
a name derived from his ItaHan birthplace, sailing in the
"Delfina" under the banner of Francois I of France,
dropped anchor in Newport Harbor. Verrazzano, on board
the "Delfina" at Dieppe, 8 July, 1524, writing in ItaHan,
but signing his name in Latin, Janus Verazzanus, gave
the following description of his visit to Newport.

**We weied Ancker, and sayled towarde the East, for so
the coast trended, and so alwayes for 50. leagues being in
the sight thereof wee discovered an Ilande in forme of a
triangle, distant from the maine lande 3. leagues, about the
bignesse of the Ilande of the Rodes, it was full of hills
covered with trees, well peopled, for we sawe fires all along
the coaste, wee gave the name of it, of your Maiesties mother,
not staying there by reason of the weather being contrarie.
And wee came to another lande being 15. leagues distant



2 DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF RHODE ISLAND [cHAP. I

from the Ilande, where wee founde a passing good haven,
wherein being entred we founde about 20. small boates of
the people which with divers cries and wondrings came
about our shippe, comming no nerer then 50. paces towards
us, they stayed and behelde the artificialnesse of our ship,
our shape i^ apparel, tha they al made a loud showte
together declaring that they rejoyced: when we had some-
thing animated them using their geasters, they came so
neare us that wee cast them certaine bells and glasses and
many toyes, whiche when they had received they lookte on
them with laughing i^ came without feare aborde our ship.
There were amongst these people 2. kings of so goodly
stature and shape as is possible to declare, the eldest was
about 40 yeeres of ag, the second was a yong man of 20
yeres old. Their apparell was on this maner, the elder had
upo his naked body a harts skin wrought artificialie with
divers branches like Damaske, his head was bare with the
haire tyed up behinde with divers knottes: About his
necke he had a large chaine, garnished with divers stones of
sundrie colours the young man was almost appareled after
the same manner. This is the goodliest people and of the
fairest conditions that wee have found in this our voyage.
They exceed us in bignes, they are of the colour of brasse,
some of the encline more to whitnes : others are of yellowe
colour, of comely visage with long ^ blacke heire which
they are very carefuU to trim and decke up, they are blacke
and quicke eyed. I write not to your Maiestie, of the other
parte of their bodie, having all suche proportion as apper-
tayneth to anye handsome man. The women are of the like
conformitie and Beawtie, verie handsome and well favoured,
they are as well mannered and continente as anye women,
of good education, they are all naked save their privie partes
which they cover with a Deares skinne braunched or em-
brodered as the man use: there are also of them whiche
weare on their armes verie riche skinnes of leopardes, they



lAP. ij THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO 3

iorne their heades with divers ornamentes made of their
>vne heire, whiche hange downe before on both sides their
restes, others use other kinde of dressing them selves like
nto the w^omen of Egypt and Syria, these are of the elder
)rte: and when they are married they weare divers toyes,
:cording to the usage of the people of the East as well man
! women.

Among whom wee sawe many plates of wrought coper,
hich they esteeme more then golde, which for the colour
ley make no accompt of, for that among all other it is
)unted the basest, they make most accompt of Azure and
id. The things that they esteemed most of al those which
e gave them were bels, cristall of Azure colour, and other
)ies to hang at their eares or about their necke. They did
Dt desire cloth of silke or of golde, muche lesse of any other
)rte, neither cared they for thinges made of Steele and
on, which wee often shewed them in our armour whiche
ley made no wonder at, and in beholding them they onely
;ked the arte of making them: the like they did at our
asses, which whe the behelde, they sodainely laught and
ive them us againe. They are very liberal for they give
lat which they have, we became great friendes with these,
id one day wee entred into the haven with our shippe,
here as before wee rode a league of at sea by reason of the
)ntrary weather. They came in great companies of their
nail boates unto the ship with their faces all bepainted with
ivers colours, shewing us yt it was a signe of ioy, bringing
3 of their vidluals, they made signes unto us where wee
light safest ride in the haven for the safegarde of our shippe
eeping still our companie: and after we were come to an
ncker, we bestowed fifteene dayes in providing our selves
lany necessary things, whether every day the people
ipayred to see our ship bringing their wives with them,
hereof they are very ielous: and they themselves entring
arode the shippe and stayinge there a good space, caused



4 DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF RHODE ISLAND [cHAP. I

their wives to stay in their boates, and for al the intreatie
we could make, offering to give them divers things, we
could never obtaine that they would suffer them to come
aborde our ship. And oftentimes one of the two kings com-
ming with his queene, and many gentlemen for their pleasure
to see us, they all stayed on the shore two hundred paces
fro us, sending a smal boate to give us intelligece of their
comming, saying they would come to see our shippe, this
they did in token of safetye, and assoone as they had answere
from us they came immediately, and having stayed a while
to behold it, they wondered at hearing the cryes and noyes
of the marriners. The queene and her maids stayed in a
very light boate, at an Hand a quarter of a leage off, while
the king abode a long space in our ship uttering divers
conceites with geastures, viewing with great admiration, all
the furniture of the shippe, demaunding the propertie of
everie thing perticularly. He tooke likewise great pleasure
in beholding our apparell and in tasting our meates, and so
courteously taking his leave departed. And sometimes our
men staying for two or three dayes on a little Ilande nere the
ship for divers necessaries, (as it is ye use of seamen) he
returned with 7. or 8. of his gentlemen to see what we did,
and asked of us oft times if wee meant to make any long
aboade there, offering us of their provision: then the King
drawing his bowe and running up and downe with his gentle-
men, made much sporte to gratifie our men, wee were often-
times within the lande 5. or 6. leagues, which we found as
pleasant as is possible to declare very apt for any kinde pf
husbandry of corne, wine, and oyle: for that there are plaiiies
25. or 30. leagues broad, open and without any impediment
of trees and such fruitfulnerse, that any seede being sowne
therein, will bring forth most excellent fruite. We entred
afterwards into the woods which wee found so great and
thicke, that any armie were it never so great might have hid
it selfe therein, the trees whereof are okes, cipres trees, and



CHAP, f] THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO 5

Other sortes unknowen in Europe. We found Pomi appii,
Damson trees, and Nutte trees, and many other sorts of
fruits differing fro ours: there are beasts in great abundance,
as hartes, deares, leopardes, and other kinds which they take
with their nets iff bowes which are their chiefe weapons, the
arrowes whiche they use are made with great cunning, and
in steade of iron, they head them with smeriglio, wt jasper
stone, y hard marble iff other sharp stones which they use
in stead of iron to cut trees, and make their boates of one
whole piece of wood, making it hollowe with great and
wonderfull art, wherein lo or 12 men may be comodiously,
their oars are shorte and broad at the ende, and they use
them in the sea without anye daunger, and by maine force
of armes, with as great spedinesse as they lifte them selves.
We sawe their houses made in circuler or rounde fourme, 10
or 12 foote in compasse, made with halfe circles of timber,
seperate one from another without any order of building,
covered with mattes of strawe wrought cunningly together,
which save them from the winde and raine, and if they had
the order of building and perfect skil of workmaship as
we have: there were no doubt but yt they would also make
eftsoones great and stately buildings. For all the sea coastes
are full of cleare and ghttering stones, and alablaster, and
therefore it is full of good havens and harbarours for
ships. They moove the foresaide houses from one place
to another according to the commoditie of the place and
season wherein they will make their aboade, and only taking
of the cover, they have other houses builded incontinent.
The father and the whole famihe dwell together in one
house in great number: in some of them we sawe 25 or
30 persons. They feede as the other doe aforesaide of
pulse whiche doe growe in that countrey with better order
of husbandry the in the others. They observe in their
sowing the course of the Moone and the rising of certaine
starres, and divers other customs spoken of by antiquitie.



6 DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF RHODE ISLAND [cHAP. I

Moreover, they live by hunting and fishing, they hve long,
and are seldome sicke, and if they chaunce to fall sicke at
any time, they heale them selves with fire without any
phisition, and they say that they die for very age. They
are very pitiful and charitable towardes their neighbours,
they make great lamentations in their adversitie iff in their
miserie, the kinred reckon up all their felicitie, at their
departure out of life, they use mourning mixt wt singing,
wc continueth for a log space. This is asmuch as we coulde
learne of them. This lande is situated in the Paralele of
Rome, in 41 degrees iff 2 terces: but some what more colde
by accidentall cause and not of nature, (as I will declare unto
your highnesse els where) describing at this present the
situation of the foresaide countrie, which lyeth East and
West, I say that the mouth of the haven lyeth open to the
South halfe a league broade, and being entred within it
betweene the East and the North, it stretcheth twelve
leagues: where it wareth broder and broder, and maketh a
gulfe aboute 20 leagues in compasse, wherein are five small
Islandes very fruitfuU and pleasant, full of hie and broade
trees, among the which Ilandes, any great Navie may ryde
safe without any feare or tempest or other daunger. After-
wardes turning towards the South and in the entring into
the Haven on both sides there are most pleasant hilles,
with many rivers of most cleere water falling into the Sea.
In the middest of this entraunce there is a rock of free
stone growing by nature apt to builde any Castle or For-
tresse there, for ye keeping of the haven. The fift of May
being furnished with all thinges necessarie, we departed from
ye said Coast Keeping along in the sight thereof. . . ."

(London 1582 ed. of Hakluyt's Divers Voyages.)

The Italian, as printed in Ramusio, is as follows:

"Leuata I'anchora nauigamo verso leuante che cosi la
terra tornaua, y cosi leghe cinquanta sempre a vista di



CHAP. l] THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO 7

quella discoprimo un'isola in forma triangulare, lontana

dal continente leghe dieci, di grandezza simile all'isola di

Rhodi, piena di colli, coperta d'arbori, molto popolata,

perche si vedeuano continui fuochi per tutto intorno al lito.

Battezzamola in nome della vostra Serenissima madre non

sorgendo a quella per la contrarieta del tempo, l^ peruenimo

ad vn'altra terra distante dall'isola leghe quindici, doue

trouamo vn belissimo porto, entrati in quello vedemo

circa. XX.barchette di gente, che con varij gridi ^ marauiglie

veniuano intorno alia naue, non approssimandosi a piu di

cinquanta passi, fermauansi guardando I'artificio, la nostro

effigie y gliha biti: dapoi tutti insieme metteuano vn'altro

grido, significando rallegrarsi assicuratigli alquanto, imitando

li lor gesti: tanto s'approssimorono che gettamo loro alcuni

sonagli ^ specchi ^ molte fantasie, lequali prese con riso

riguardandole sicuramente entrarono nella naue. Erano

fra queste genti duoi Re di tanto bella statura ^ forma

quanto narrar sia possibile, il primo d'anni .40, in circa,

I'altro giouane d'anni venti, I'habito de quali era di questa

maniera. II piu vecchio sopra il corpo nudo haueua vna

pelle di ceruo lauorata artificiosamete alia damaschina con

varij ricami: la testa nuda con li capelli auolti a drieto con

varie legature. Al collo vna catena larga, ornata di molte

pietre di diuersi colori. il giouane era quasi nella medesima

forma. Questa e la piu bella gente, ^ di piu gentili costumi

che habbiamo trouata in questa nauigatione, eccedono noi

di grandezza, sono di color bronzino, alcuni pendono piu in

bianchezza, altri di color giallo: il viso profilato, ^ capelli

lunghi y neri, ne quali pongono grandissimo studio in

adornarh: gliochi neri y pronti: I'aria dolce y soaue,

imitando molto I'antico, dell' altre parti del corpo non dico

a Vostra Maesta, tenendo tutte le proportioni che s'appar-

tengono ad ogni huomo ben composto. Le donne loro sono

della medesima conformita ^ bellezza, molto gratiose, di

piaceuole aria ^ grato aspetto, di costumi ^ continentia



8 DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF RHODE ISLAND [CHAP. I

secundo I'uso feminile quanto ad ogni persona di buona
creanza sapartiene: vanno nude fuor che le parte vergognose,
lequali cuoprono con vna pelle di ceruo ricamata, come gli
huomini, vene sono di quelle anchora che alle braccia portano
pelli di lupi ceruieri molto ricche, adornano il capo con varij
ornaventi di treccie, composte de medesimi capelli, che pen-
dono dall'uno iff I'altro lato del petto. Alcune hanno altre
aconciature come vsano le donne d'Egitto iff di Soria, iff
queste sono quelle ch'eccedono I'altre di eta: i^ essendo ma-
ritate all'orecchie tengouo pendenti di varie fantasie, come
gli orientali costumano cosi gli huomini, come le donne, a
quali vedemo molte lame di rame lauorate, da quelli tenute
in pretio piu che I'oro, il quale per il colore nom stimano,
imperoche fra tutti e da loro tenuto il piu vile, I'azzuro i^
il rosso sopra ogni altro esaltano, quello che piu tenessino in
prezzo delle cose che da noi gli erano donato, erano sonagli,
cristalhni azzuri, iff altre fantasie da metter all'orecchie 6
al collo. Non pregiauano drappi di seta, o d'oro, iff manco
d'altra sorte, ne si curauano hauerne di simili a quelli, de
metalli come e acciaio iff ferro, (che piu volte mostramo loro
delle nostre arme) non ne pigliauano admiratione, iJ quele
riguardando, solo dimandauano I'artificio: delli specchi il
simile faceuano, che riguardandoli, subito ridendo, ce li
restituiuano: sono molto liberali, perche donano cio che
hanno: facemo con loro grande amista. iff vn giorno con la
naue entramo nel porto, standoper li tempi contrarij vna
lega al mar surti. veniuano con gran numero di loro bar-
chette alia naue tutti dipinti iff acconci il viso con varij
colori: mostrandoci ch'era segno d'allegrezza, portandoci
delle lor viuande, ci faceuano segno doue nel porto hauessimo
a sorgere per saluatione della naue, di continuo accom-
pagnandone. poi che fumo forti posamo quindici giorni,
prouededoci di molte cose necessarie, la onde ogni giorno
veniuano genti a veder la naue menando le lor donne,
dellequali sono molto gelosi: imperoche entrando essi nella



CHAP. l] THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO 9

naue, ^ dimorandoui per lungo spacio, faceuano aspettar le
loro donne nelle barchette: iff con quanti preghi facemo
loro, offerendo donarli varie cose, non fu mai possibile che
volessero lasciarle entrar in naue. Et molte volte venendo
vno delli duoi Re con la Reina, iff molti gentilhuomini per
suo piacere a vederci, tutte si fermauano ad vna terra
distante da noi dugento passi: mandando vna barchetta ad
auisarci della sua venuta, dicendo volar venire a vedere la
naue: questo facendo in segno di sicurezza. ^ come da noi
habbano la risposta, subito venono: iff stati alquanto a
riguardere, si marauigliauano, sentendo il gridi iff strepiti
delli marinari. madama la Reina con le sue damigelle in vna
barchetta molto leggiere resto a riposar ad vna isoletta
distante da noi vn quarto di lega, in dimorado il Re lunghis-
simo spatio nella nostra naue, con ragionare per canni iff
gesti varie fantasie, riguardando, con marauiglia tutti li
apparati iff fornimenti della naue: dimandando in par-
ticulate la proprieta di quelli. prendeua ancho piacere di
vedere li nostri habiti, iff gustare li nostri cibi: dipoi cor-
tesemete presa licetia da noi, si parti, iff alcuna volta stando
le nostre geti due e tre giorni ad vna isoletta vicina alia naue
per varie necessita, come e costume de marinari, torno con
sette o otto de suoi gentillhuomini per vedere quello che
faceuamo, iff piu volte ci dimando se voleuamo quiui restate
per lungo tepo, ofFeredoci de le sue faculta: dipoi tirando il
Re con I'arco iff correndo faceua con li suoi gentilhuomini
varij giuochi per darne piacere. fumo piu volte infra terra
cinque o sei leghe, laquale trouamo tanto amena, quanto
dir si possa, atta ad ogni sorti di cultura, di frumento, vino,
lolio: imperoche in quella sono capagne larghe .25. in .30
eghe, aperte iff senza alcuno impedimento d'alberi: di.
tanta fertilita, che qual si voglia semeza in quelle produrebbe
ottimo frutto. Entramo dipoi nelle selue, lequali trouamo
tanto grandi iff folte, che vi si potrebbe ascondere ogni
numeroso esercito, gli alberi di quelle sono quercie, cipressi



lO DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF RHODE ISLAND [cHAP. I

iff altri incogniti nell'Europa. trouamo pomi appij, susine iff
nociuole, iff molte sorte di frutti dalli nostri differeti: vi
sono animali di gradissimo numero, come cerui, daini, lupi
ceruieri, iff altre sorte, quali pigliano co lacci iff archi, che sono
el loro principal! armi. le freccie che vsano sono con grande
eccellentia lauorate. iff neU'estremita di quelle pongono
per ferro smeriglio, diaspro, duro marmo, iff altre taglienti
pietre, dellequali si seruono per ferro in tagliar alberi, iff
fabricar le loro barchette d'un sol fusto di legno con mirabile
artificio cocauo, nellequali comodamente vanno dieci iff
dodici huomini: i lor remi sono corti, iff neU'estremita larghi,
iff adoperangli in mare senza pericolo alcuno, iff solamente
con forza di braccia, con tanta velocita, quanto a lor piace.
Vedemo le loro habitation! in forme circulare, di dieci in
dodici passi di circuito, fabricate di semicircoli di legno, sepa-
rate I'una dall'altra senza ordine d'architettura: coperte con
tele tessute di paglia, sottilmente lauorate, che da vento iff
pioggia si difendono. iff non e dubbio che se hauessero lordine
del fabricare iff la perfettione delli artificij come habbiamo
noi altri, non e dubbio dico che ancho loro no con ducessero
grandi iff superbi edificij, imperoche tutto il lito maritime
e pieno di pietre vine trasparenti, iff alabastri, iff per tal causa
e copioso di porti iff recettacoli di nauilij. mutano le dette
case d'uno in altro luogo, secodo la comodita del luogo iff
tempo che in quelle vogliono dimorare, iff leuando solamete
le tele, hano in vn istate fabricate altre habitation!, di-
morano in ciascuna padri iff famiglia in grandissimo numero.
in alcuna vedemo .25. iff .30, anime. II viuer loro e come de
glialtri, di legumi, che quelle terre producono, con piu ordini
di coltura de ghaltri. osseruano nelle semenze il corso della
luna, iff il nascimeto d'alcune stelle iff motli modi detti da
gli antichi. oltre di cio viuono di cacciagioni iff pesci.
Viuono lungo tepo, iff rare volte si amalano, iff se pur alle
volte sono oppress! de qualche infermita, senza medico, col
fuoco da lor medesimi si sanano. iff la loro morte dicono



CHAP. l] THE VISIT OF VERRAZZANO II

venire da vltima vecchiezza. sono de loro prossimi molto
pietosi y charitatiui, facedo nelle aduersita loro gran lament! ;
y nelle miseria, i parenti luno con I'altro ricordano tutte
le lor felicita. Nel fine de la lor vita vsano il pianto misto


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Online LibraryHoward M. ChapinDocumentary history of Rhode Island (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 14)