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History of Providence County, Rhode Island

Edited by Richard M. Bayles.
In two volumes, illustrated. Vol. I.
New York:  W. W. Preston & Co., 1891.


Chapter V, pp. 134 - 170.

Town of Providence - Settlement and Early History.

The site of Providence selected by Williams and his Companions. - The title secured. - The Settlement begun. - Building and Planting. - The Settlement named. - Williams and the Indians. - Signing the Civil Compact. - The Town Government. - Plot of the Settlement. - Brief notice of the Settlers individually. - Divisions of the Land. - Establishing the Bounds. - Delegating Town Powers. - The Town Constitution. - Organization of Government under the Charter. - Appointing Delegates. - The 'Towne Streete.' - Conditions of the Early Settlers. - Internal Improvements. - Military Officers chosen. - Fort on 'Stamper's Hill'. - Discord in the Settlement. - Proprietors distinct from Inhabitants.  - New Charter in 1663. - Changes under it. - A double Town Meeting. - Discord in the Town. - King Philip's War. - Burning of the Town. - Indians taken Prisoners and sold as Slaves. - Under Edmond Andros. - A Prison built. - Training Ground. - Weybosset Bridge. - The Small-pox. - Growth of the Town. - Bridges, Lotteries, Fire Apparatus. - Alarm by the French and the Indians. - Market House built. - Lotteries, Printing Office, Theatrical Exhibitions.

The history of the life and adventures of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, and the detailed events connected with the first settlement here, are subjects which concern the whole county, hence are treated with more detail in another section of this work.  In that section we have already seen that Roger Williams in the latter part of the year 1635 fled from Salem to evade the edict of banishment which had been pronounced upon him, and after a sojourn of privation and exposure in the wilderness during the wild months of winter, having spent much of the time on the east side of the Seekonk, in the spring of the following year crossed the river and began the settlement which has grown to be one of the great cities of the Atlantic seaboard.  The time and the scene is thus graphically described by a native historian, Mr. Henry C. Dorr:

'During Williams' sojourn on the east side of the Seekonk he had not been inattentive to the resources of the unclaimed region on the opposite shore.  He must have known the spring toward which he directed his canoe and where he made his first landing.  When he had built his wigwam and refreshed himself by the waters, he climbed with Harris and Olney, the first surveyors of our primitive wilderness, to the summit of the eastern hillside, directly above his dwelling place, for a wider view of their new home.  From an eminence of nearly 200 feet they looked westward, through the openings of the oak woods, over an estate which, to an unbiased observer, must have seemed more picturesque than promising.  'The Great Salt River' flowed far below, broad and unconfined.  On the east it was bordered by ancient forest trees, and on the west by deep marshes, studded with islands overgrown with coarse grass and nearly covered by every spring tide.  At the head of the bay the channel widened into a cove, with a broad, gravelly beach on the east and north, and a border of salt marshes on the west.  It received on its northern side two small and sluggish rivers, each with its own environment of swamp and woodland.  One of these, the Meshassuck, gave its name to the adjoining region.  Still further westward, low sandhills scantily covered with pines rose above the marsh.  Beyond these, unpromising ridges of rock and gravel stretched along the western horizon and shut in the view.  On its western side, the hill upon which our explorers stood ascended abruptly from the very margin of the 'Salt River', but sloped with an easy descent to the Seekonk nearly a mile away in the east.  Both its eastern and western hillsides were thickly wooded with 'eminent trees' of oak and cedar.  Both declivities were well watered, but the rains of centuries had well nigh washed away whatever fertilizing principles the soil of the western hillside once possessed, and it promised only a scanty return to the labors of the settlers. But when our eager observers turned their steps northward toward the streams which poured their turbid waters into the Cove, enjoyed their first view of the natural meadows, 'upstreams without limits for the use of cattle', and thence looked southward over the Pawtuxet valley, ready to be converted into corn lands and pastures, a sense of relief came over them as to the prospects of the new plantation.  Descending among the rocks and through the pine woods, for a closer inspection of the shore, the hearts of the exiles were made glad by the discovery of great beds of clams, bordering the east side of the 'Salt River', and of the Cove, and of oysters whose flavor took away any lingering regret for the shell-fish of Massachusetts.  Still further observation showed ample supplies of pigeons and other wild birds, and of fish, some varieties of which were unknown to the waters of Massachusetts Bay.  Yet more cheering prospects were afforded by the salmon ascending the river, and by glimpses of deer in the uplands.  The settlers took heart.  Banishment from the society of Puritan elders and magistrates was not without its alleviation.  With cheerful courage they laid the foundation of a town - without capital, without aid, with little good will or assistance from England, and with none whatever from their neighbors.'

The documentary evidences of the processes by which title was secured from the Indians and transferred to the individuals who joined in the settlement, are incomplete, as are also the plans and record of progress of the settlement.  It is uncertain whether any complete record of the proceedings of the first settlers was kept or not.  It is evident, however, from existing records that others were kept which are not now to be found.  They are supposed to have been destroyed when the town was sacked and burned by the Indians in 1676.  It appears that on some occasion previous to his memorable landing on the west side of the Seekonk, Williams had engaged in negotiations with the Indians who held jurisdiction, in regard to the purchase of the tract of their land.  To what extent these negotiations were previously carried we do not know, but the understanding between the parties appears to have been harmonious and satisfactory.  The settlement proceeded, and in March, 1637, the following deed was given:

'At Nanhiggansick, the 24th of the first month, commonly called March, in ye second yeare of our Plantation or planting at Mooshawsick or Providence.

'Memorandum, that we Cannaunicus and Miantunomi, the two chief sachems of Nanhiggansick, having two yeares since sold vnto Roger Williams, ye lands and meadowes vpon the two fresh rivers, called Mooshausick and Wanasqutucket, doe now by these presents, establish and confirme ye bounds of those lands, from ye river and fields at Pautuckqut, ye great hill of Notquonskanet, on ye north-west, and the town of Maushapogue on ye west.

'As also, in consideration of the many kindnesses and services he hath continually done for us, both with our friends at Massachusetts, as also at Quinickicutt and Apaum or Plymouth, we doe freely give unto him all that land from those rivers reaching to Pawtuxet river; as also the grass and meadowes upon ye said Pawtuxet river.

'In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands.
Ye mark of + CANNONNICUS.
Ye mark of + MIANTUNNOMI.

'In ye presence of
The mark of + SOTTAASH.
The mark of + ASSOTEMEWEIT.

'1639.  Memorandum 3 mo. 9th day.  This was all again confirmed by Miantounomi; he acknowledged this his act and hand, up the streams of Pautuckqut and Pawtuxet without limits, we might have for use of cattle.

'Witness hereof, ROGER WILLIAMS.  BENEDICT ARNOLD.'

This deed is the earliest document the purport and effect of which is to convey lands, in the records of Providence.  It is in the hand-writing of Williams, and the memorandum appended to it and signed by him and Arnold is in the handwriting of Thomas James.  The first conveyance, to which this has reference, and of which it appears to be a confirmation, is supposed to have been only a verbal one. The land thus acquired was at first the property of Mr. Williams, but he soon made it over to his associates, for the sum of  £30.  These associates, who joined him in the settlement, were Stukely Westcott, William Arnold, Thomas James, Robert Cole, John Greene, John Throckmorton, William Harris, William Carpenter, Thomas Olney, Francis Weston, Richard Waterman and Ezekiel Holyman.  The transfer of title from Williams to them was made about the year 1638, but its exact date is unknown and uncertain.  A record of it was made at the time, but it bore no date, and was further unintelligible in names therein referred to, and some 28 years afterwards a duplicate was given in which the names were expressed in full and an approximate date given.

But the settlers did not stop to secure a written confirmation of their title to the land before going to subdue the wilderness and plant seeds of civilization in this virgin soil.  We are told that Williams had five companions with him in the canoe on that spring morning when he left Seekonk, and paddled around Fox point and up the Providence river to find the new landing place concerning which he had doubtless already had interviews with the Indian sachems.  They are supposed to have been William Harris, John Smith, Joshua Verin, Thomas Angell and Francis Wickes.  After calling to exchange friendly salutations with the natives at the rock which ever since has been hallowed by historic remembrance of the occasion, they passed on to a final landing place near a spring of sparkling water, a little south of the present site of St. John's church.  This spring, in remembrance of the event, has ever since borne the name of Williams's spring.

They now began to plant and build.  Williams gave the place its name, as he himself declares, from a sense of God's merciful providence to him in his distress.  He also desired that it might be for 'a shelter for persons distressed of conscience'.  He recognized the rights of Indians to their lands, and obtained those lands of them without doubt by their free consent, which seems to have been a matter entirely of good will, as no consideration is mentioned and it does not appear that any price was paid.  Having obtained this consent of the Indians that they might build and occupy some of their lands, Williams lost no time in making known to his 'loving friends' who were selected from among his 'distressed countrymen', the favorable opening which Providence had made for him and them, and he was soon joined by the twelve whose names we have already given.

We can perhaps give no more faithful representation of Roger Williams' position in the land transaction than to quote his own words: -- 'And whereas, by God's merciful assistance, I was the procurer of the purchase, not by monies nor payment, the natives being so shy and jealous, that monies could not do it; but by that language, acquaintance, and favour with the natives and other advantages which it pleased God to give me, and also bore the charges and venture of all the gratuetyes which I gave to the great sachems, and other sachems and natives round and about us, and lay ingaged for a loving and peaceful neighborhood with them all to my great charge and travell.  It was, therefore, thought by some loveing ffriends, that I should receive some loving consideration and gratuitye;  and it was agreed between us, that every person that should be admitted into the ffellowship of injoying landes and disposing of the purchase, should pay thirtye shillings into the public stock; and ffirst about thirtye pounds should be paid unto myself by thirty shillings a person, as they were admitted.'

Further light on the relations of Williams with the Indians, as the means by which he was able to secure the lands upon which the settlement was made, is best given also in his own words.   Speaking of his first appearance here he says:  'coming into the Narragansett country I found a great contest between three sachems, two (to wit, Cononicus and Miantonomy) were against Ousamaquin on Plymouth side, I was forced to travel between them three, to pacify, to satisfy all their and their dependents' spirits of my honest intentions to live peaceably them.  I testify that it was the general and constant declaration that Cannonicus his father hhad three sons, whereof Cannonicus was the heire, and his youngest brother's son Miantonomy (because of his youth) was Marshal and Executioner, and did nothing without his unkle Cannonicus' consent.  And therefore I declare to posterity that were it not for the favor that God gave me with Cannonicus, none of these parts, no, not Rhode Island had been purchased or obtained, for I never got any thing out of Cannonicus but by gift.  I also profess that being inquisitive of what root the title or denomination Nahiganset should come, I heard that Nahiganset was so named from a little Island between Puttisquomscut and Musquomacuk on the sea and fresh water side.  I went on purpose to see it, and about the place called Sugar-Loaf Hill, I saw it and was within a pole of it, but could not learn why it was called Nahiganset.  I had learnt that the Massachusetts was so called from the Blue Hills, a little Island thereabout:  and Cannonicus' father and anchestors living in those southern parts, transferred 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:  And I desire posterity to see the gracious hand of the Most High, (in whose hands is all hearts,) that when the hearts of my countrymen and friends and brethren failed me, his infinite wisdom and merits stirred up the barbarous heart of Cannonicus to love me as his son to his last gasp, by which means I had not only Miantonomy and all the Cowesit sachems my friends, but Ousamaquin also, who, because of my great friendship with him Plymouth and the authority of Cannonicus, consented freely (being also well gratified by me) to the Governor Winthrop's and my enjoyment of Prudence, yea of Providence itself, and all the other lands I procured of Cannonicus which were upon the point, and in effect whatsoever I desired of him.  And I never denyed 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 men know not, nor care to know, yet the all-seeing eye hath seen it and his all-powerful hand hath helped me.'

Returning to our notice of the movements of Williams and his company of loving friends in the early  summer of 1636, we find that they entered into a compact soon after settling themselves, and began the exercise of town functions.  The compact ran as follows:

'We whose names are hereunder, desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to subject ourselves in active and passive obedience to all such orders or agreements as shall be made for public good of the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the Town fellowship, and others whom they shall admit unto them only in civil things.'

This is dated August 20th and the names appended to it are supposed to be those of a subsequent addition to the company who began with Williams in the spring.  This second or additional company thus subscribing to the compact in August were as follows:  Richard Scott, William Reynolds, Chad Brown, John Warner, John Field, George Rickard, Edward Cope, Thomas Angell, Thomas Harris, Francis Wickes, Benedict Arnold, Joshua Winsor and William Wickenden.

The corporate business of the settlers was conducted in frequent meetings of their number, called together as occasion required to act upon any question that came up.  It does not appear that the matters of this town were managed by any materially different scheme from that generally followed by the New England towns of that period, except that there was here no dabbling with or attempt to regulate ecclesiastical matters.  The town assumed jurisdiction only over civil affairs.  One of the first corporation  orders that has been preserved to the present time, is one requiring a fine of one shilling and sixpence from every delinquent who should delay his appearance at the time and place of a duly warned town meeting for more than a quarter of an hour.  The same fine was repeated at a subsequent meeting.  Fines were also imposed on some members for neglecting to improve their ground by preparing to fence, build and plant.  As in other towns it was deemed necessary to appoint commissioners to have charge of the timber on the common lands, and to prevent a wholesale appropriation of public property to private uses.

Settlement by individual members was at first made conformably to the taste and desire of each, as far as they could be accommodated.  The cornfields which had been cleared by the Indians were doubtless utilized.  But circumstances soon developed the necessity for a more systematic division of lands and settlement of the people.  The 'Town Streete' was laid out along the east bank of the river, and this has been substantially preserved to the  present time on Main Street, now divided into two sections distinguished respectively as North and South Main.  The land east of the street and running up the slope and over the ridge was divided by lines running east and west into lots of about five acres each.  The rear of these lots bordered on 'the highway', which ran along the valley nearly identical with the present Hope street.  This division began at the north end near the spot where Williams and his companions landed, now nearly the site of Olney street, and extended about the present site of Wickenden street, where it takes its east and west course.  Beginning at the north end, according to the plot which has been restored by that careful and laborious student of the subject, Mr. Charles W. Hopkins, whose researches have thrown much light upon it, the home lots of the settlers lay in order proceeding southward as follows:  -- Gregory Dexter, Matthew Waller, Thomas Paintor, Edward Manton, John Greene, Jr., Benedict Arnold, Francis Wickes, William Arnold, Thomas James, John Greene, Sr., John Smith, Widow Reeve, Joshua Verin, Roger Williams, John Throckmorton, William Harris, Alice Daniels, John Sweet, William Carpenter, Robert Cole, Thomas Olney, Thomas Angell, Francis Weston, Richard Waterman, Ezekiel Holyman, Stukely Westcott, William Reynolds, Daniel Abbott, Chad Brown, John Warner, George Rickard, Richard Scott, William Field, John Field, Joshua Winsor, Thomas Harris, Adam Goodwin, William Burrows, William Mann, William Wickenden, Nicholas Power, Widow Joan Tiler, Widow Jane Sears, Thomas Hopkins, Edward Hart, Matthew Weston, John Lippitt, Hugh Bewitt, Robert West, William Hawkins, Christopher Unthank and Robert Williams.

Thus it will be seen the ground selected for the initial town plot was that now embraced by Main street on the west, Hope street on the east, Olney street on the north and Wickenden street on the south.  In the north part of the plat the lots were laid out about 122 feet wide.   Nineteen of them averaged about that width, and they covered the ground as far down as the present Meeting street, which perpetuates an old highway separating the home lots of William Carpenter and Robert Cole.  These lots contained about 5 1/2 acres.  The 21 lots which lay between Meeting street and Power street were somewhat longer and consequently not as wide.  They had an average width of about 107 feet, and contained a little more than five acres each.  The 12 remaining lots at the south end were shorter than those in the middle section, had an average width of about 120 feet and contained about 4 1/2 acres.  The present Halsey street runs nearly between the lots of Edward Manton and John Greene, Jr.    Jenckes street runs through what was the lot of William Arnold.  St. John's church stands on the lot of Widow Reeve, and Church street runs between that and the lot of Joshua Verin, while Allen's lane is upon Roger Williams' lot, which lay next south.  Bowen street runs nearly between the lots of Roger Williams and John Throckmorton.  Cady street is about the middle of the lot of William Harris.  The state house stands on the lot of John Sweet, and North and South Court streets are substantially on the same lot.  Meeting street runs along the north side of Robert Cole's lot.  Arsenal lane is upon the lot of Thomas Olney, while Thomas street and Angell court are upon the of Thomas Angell.  The First Baptist church stands on the lot of Francis Weston, and Angell street is upon the same lot.  Waterman street leaves North Main nearly on the lot of Richard Waterman, after which it veers away southwardly across the lot of Ezekiel Holyman and then resumes its easterly course on the lot of Stukely Westcott.  Jackson court is  upon the same lot.  The State Normal school is on the lot of Richard Waterman.  Brown University occupies the width of several lots, being upon those of William Reynolds, Daniel Abbott, Chad Brown, John Warner and George Rickard.  College street is substantially between the lots of Daniel Abbott and Chad Brown.  George street is in part upon the lot of Richard Scott.  Benevolent street is between the lots of John Field and Joshua Winsor.   Charles Field street crosses the line from the lot of Adam Goodwin to that of William Burrows.  Power street runs between the lots of William Wickenden and Nicholas Power.  Arnold street is on the lot of John Lippitt, while the Tillinghast burying ground is upon the lot of Hugh Bewitt.  Transit street is on the lot of Robert West and Sheldon street is on the lot of Christopher Unthank.

A brief notice of the settlers who occupied these lots may not be out of place here.  Gregory Dexter, a native of London, a printer by trade, came to Providence about 1644, and a few years later, having joined the Baptist church, became its pastor.  He was also an active man in civil affairs, was town clerk a number of years, a commissioner to represent the town in general assembly, and served as president of Providence and Warwick in 1653-4.  He was a man of admirable and accomplished parts.  Of Matthew Waller we know but little.  His name appears on the compact of 1640.  His home lot was afterward in the possession of Gregory Dexter.  Thomas Painter appears to have been but a transient resident.  His home lot soon reverted to the town and was granted to Pardon Tillinghast.  Of Edward Manton we know but little beyond the fact that his name appears on the compact of 1640, and he received a home lot in this plat.  A school house belonging to the city now stands upon the west end of his lot.  John Greene, Jr., was a transient resident here, and soon became a resident of Warwick, where he served in several public positions of trust.  Benedict Arnold was scarcely identified with Providence.  His home was soon changed to Pawtuxet, and shortly afterward to Newport.  He had the reputation of being the second wealthiest man in the colony, Roger Williams being the first.

Francis Wickes, one of the five who came hither with Roger Williams on his first landing, remained here but a short time, his home lot in 1663 being the property of John Whipple..  On this lot the old 'Whipple Tavern' was located, which was at 369 North Main street.  William Arnold came from England to Hingham, Mass., in 1635, and the following year removed to Providence.  In 1638 he removed to Pawtuxet, and his home lot became the property of John Whipple.  Thomas James was an ordained minister, and received a grant of land here in 1637.  He sold his home lot to William Field, in 1639, he becoming a purchaser at Pawtuxet.  John Greene, Sr., was an educated surgeon, and came with his family from Hampton, England, in 1635.  He was one of the thirteen original proprietors of Providence.  His second wife was Alice Daniels, a widow who had received a home lot here.  His lot was soon after cast at Warwick, where he became prominent in affairs.  He sold his interest in Providence to his son John, in September, 1644.

John Smith, a miller, was banished from Massachusetts (Dorchester) and came hither with Roger Williams in 1636.  He was allowed a grant of land in the valley, where he first built a house, on condition that he would set up a mill for grinding corn, which he appears to have done, though the exact site of that mill is not at present known.  He died about the year 1648, and about half a century later his home lot appears in the possession of the heirs of Major John Dexter, deceased.  Widow Reeve removed from Salem to Providence and  received a home lot.  This lot afterward fell into the hands of Richard Scott, by what means we are not informed, and by subsequent sales came into the possession of Nathaniel Brown, by whom the western part of it was, with the lot originally belonging to Joshua Verin, lying next south of it, given to the 'Church of England', in the early part of the eighteenth century.  St. John's church was erected upon it.

Joshua Verin was one of the five who came in the traditional canoe with Roger Williams on the first recorded voyage.  He received a home lot in this division and settled here, but soon became involved in a development of the liberty of conscience idea which has coupled his name with history in a way to preserve it to future ages.  It appears that religious meetings were held with such frequency, and in such manner that Verin, who may not have been a religious man, objected to having his wife attend them, and even forbade and restrained her from doing so.  The town considered him a proper subject for censure, but in his defense it was urged that he had acted on the prompting of his conscience, which taught him that a wife should be obedient to her husband, and that she ought not to frequent meetings called by men under cover of religion, the good design or effect of which he questioned.  The popular sentiment, however, was against Verin, and the following record appears under date of May 21st, 1637:

'It was agreed that Joshua Verin, upon the breach of a covenant, for restraining of the liberty of conscience, shall be withheld from the libertie of voting till he shall declare the contrarie.'

It does not appear that Verin declared to 'the contrarie', but it does appear that he left the settlement and removed to Salem.  In 1650 he addressed a letter to the town of Providence setting forth his claim to his share in the lands of the town as one of the six original explorers and purchasers.  His prayer for their serious consideration and his own reasonable satisfaction was answered by the reply that if he should come into court and prove his right they would do him justice.  He appears to have proved his claim and lands were allowed him on it.  He afterward sold his home lot to Richard Scott.  In 1674 he was represented here by John Whipple, Jr., who held a power of attorney from Verin, he having gone to Barbadoes to reside.  In the year mentioned 94 acres of land were laid out to him as 'part of his purchase right in ye first division', the other part of his right being the home lot already alluded to and a share of salt meadow which he also had sold to Richard Scott.

Of Roger Williams we need not speak here, since a more extended notice of his career is given in another part of this work.  John Throckmorton came from England with Williams in 1630, having been engaged somewhat in the practice of law.  He resided awhile at Salem, and became one of the first settlers at Providence, as well as one of the original members of the church here.  He served as a deputy for this town in 1664, 1665 and 1666, and became one of the earliest converts to the preaching of George Fox.  William Harris came to Salem in 1635, and served as commissioner of the town in 1657-8, and 1662-3.  He was a surveyor, and had also studied law to some extent.  He was an assistant in 1667, from which office he was deposed for calling a meeting of the assembly without sufficient cause.  A fine of £50 was also pronounced upon him, but his was remitted.  His position in regard to the proprietorship of lands brought him into pronounced opposition to Roger Williams.  In 1679 he sailed for England, and died in London in 1680.

Alice Daniels received a grant of land the second year of the plantation.  She married John Greene, Sr., and her home lot was sold to Valentine Whitman.  John Sweet received a home lot in the first division, but after a few years' residence here he removed to Warwick, and his home lot became the property of Edward Manton.  William Carpenter was the son of Richard, of Amesbury, Wiltshire, England, and came to Providence in 1636.  He served as commissioner from 1658 to 1663, and as assistant for several years.  Robert Cole is supposed to have come to this country with the first settlers of Massachusetts.  He appears there as early as 1630, and was among the early proprietors here in 1637.  He was one of the arbiters on a form of government in 1640, and afterwards became one of the original proprietors of Pawtuxet, and an inhabitant of Shawomet, and died about 1655.  Thomas Olney came from Hertford, England, in 1635.  After residing awhile at Salem he removed to Providence about 1638.  He was the first treasurer, also served as commissioner and as assistant for several years.

Thomas Angell, one of the companions of Williams on his first landing, was a native of London.  There were indications that he was a member of Williams' family, before coming hither.  Besides his own home lot he afterward acquired possession of that of Francis Weston, which lay next on the south.  Francis Weston was admitted as a freeman in Massachusetts in 1633.  In the following year he has a deputy from Salem to the general court.  He was not long a resident of Providence.   Joining in the purchase of Warwick, he was with others seized by the Massachusetts soldiers in their descent upon that colony, whom they regarded as trespassers.  Subjected to labor in the prison at Dorchester, and exposed to privations and inclement weather, he fell a victim to consumption, and about or before 1645 died from the effects.

Richard Waterman became a resident of Salem in 1629.  He removed to Providence about 1638.  He was one of the town council in 1651, and was a commissioner in 1650, 1652, 1655 and 1656.  He also acquired possession of the lot of Ezekiel Holyman, next south of his own, and  upon this lot his remains were buried after his death, which occurred in 1673.  Although concerned in the purchase of Shawomet, he did not remove thither but retained his residence here.  He also resided at Newport for a time.  Ezekiel Holyman or Holliman, as the name is variously spelled, was a native of Hertford county, England, came to this country about 1634, became a resident of Salem in 1637, and about 1638 removed to Providence.  Here, on the formation of the First Baptist church, he became the assistant pastor.  About 1642 he removed to Warwick, where he held for successive years different offices of responsibility.  Stukely Westcott removed from Salem to Providence in April, 1638,and received a home lot, which he soon after sold to Samuel Bennett, himself removing to Warwick, where he died in 1677.  William Reynolds, in the second year of plantation, received a home lot, which a few years later he sold to Robert Williams, a schoolmaster of Newport.  Daniel Abbott held for a time the position of town clerk.  In 1679 he urged the building of a town-house, but without avail.

Chad Brown, born in England about the year 1600, came to America in 1638 and settled in Providence soon after his arrival.  He was a surveyor, and also had the honor of being the first elder of the Baptist church in Providence.  He was ordained pastor of the church here in 1642, and performed the duties of the office until his death, which occurred about 1663.  He was at various times entrusted with the performance of important public commissions.  Roger Williams spoke of him as 'that wise and Godly soul'.  He was the ancestor of Nicholas Brown, the liberal patron of the University.  John Warner appears to have been a man of clerical aptitude, and his talents were sought for the benefit of the embryo settlement.  But the charms of Warwick drew him away from here and he sold his home lot to William Field.  Besides holding various offices in the local government he was clerk of the general court of Providence Plantations in 1648.  He probably removed Providence about the year  1845 [sic].  George Rickard purchased of William Field the home lot formerly belonging to John Warner.  His residence here was but a few years, as he died previous to 1663.  Richard Scott, a brother-in-law of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, removed with her from Massachusetts, became a Quaker, and was one of the early settlers of Providence.  His name appears among the freemen of this town in 1655, and he served as a deputy in 1666.  He became the owner of the home lots of Widow Reeve and Joshua Verin.

William Field was a man of prominence in his day.  He was an assistant in 1650 and from 1658 to 1665, and commissioner from this town in 1656 and 1663.  His family were among the chief landholders of the town, and one of them is honored in giving the name to Field's point.  The house of William Field stood a little east of where the Providence Bank now stands, and during King Philip's war was used as a garrison house.  It was one of the largest houses of that time, and when the citizens set about fortifying themselves this was, among others of the strongest houses, strengthened with iron gratings at the windows.  By that means this part of the town was saved from the conflagration of 1676.  The house mentioned stood 40 or 50 feet from the street and there remained until 1772.  John Field removed from Bridgewater to Providence soon after its settlement, received a home lot and became one of the early inhabitants.  Joshua Winsor came from Windsor, England.  He had one son, Samuel, by whom his home lot was, in 1691, sold to Gideon Crawford.  Five descendants of his surname were settled Baptist ministers in the state.  Thomas Harris, a brother of William Harris, was a commissioner from Providence for a number of years.  He appears to have been here as early as 1637, and in 1665 was one of the committee appointed to run the 'seven-mile line'.  He died about 1686.

Adam Goodwin was among the early settlers of Providence.  He received a home lot, which he sold to Richard Osborne in 1648.   William Burrows was an early inhabitant and received a home lot, but he was unsuccessful in financial matters, and had to receive public help.  His home lot has become historic ground on account of being the site of the house in which the capture of the "Gaspee" was planned.  That house stood on the corner of South Main and Planet streets.  William Mann was an early settler of whom but little is known.  William Wickenden removed hither from Salem, becoming a purchaser here previous to August 20th, 1637.  He filled  the offices of town councilman, commissioner, committeeman to form a plan of government in 1647, and to run the boundary line in 1661.  He also filled the pastoral office at different times, being for a time colleague with Chad Brown in the Baptist church of Providence.  He died February 23d, 1670.  Nicholas Power received a home lot at an early date, which he retained until his death in 1657, after which it became the property of his widow, Jane.  Joan Tiler received a home lot among the early inhabitants, which in 1663 was in the hands of her subsequent husband, Nathaniel Dickens, and Ralph Earl and John Sayles.  Jane Sears was another woman who received a home lot in the early distribution of lands in Providence.  By some means now unknown to us, her lot came into possession of Daniel Williams, a son of Roger Williams.  Thomas Hopkins, a native of England, received a home lot and was a member of the church here.  He was a commissioner for several years and a member of the town council in 1667 and 1672.  He died at Oyster Bay, Long Island, in 1684.

Of Edward Hart we have no information, beyond the few facts connected with his receiving a home lot, and that the lot was, previous to 1679, in the possession of Robert West.  From this we infer that Edward Hart, like so many others of the first settlers, did not long remain a resident of Providence.  Mathew Weston was another transient resident.  He received a home lot in 1643, on condition of occupying it.  He evidently occupied it a short time, but abandoned it previous to 1650.  John Lippitt was among the early inhabitants and served on the committee to draft a plan of government in 1647 and served on the committee to draft a plan of government in 1647.  In 1652 he sold his real estate here to Arthur Fenner, excepting his home lot.  He afterward removed to Warwick, where his name appears on the roll of freemen in 1655.  Hugh Bewitt was a resident of Massachusetts, whence he was banished in December, 1640, on a charge of heresy.  He was by that decree pronounced dangerous in his person and errors and threatened with death by hanging, should he refuse to obey the decree of banishment.  He came to Providence, where he was received into the church and the civil compact, and given some land.  He, however, did not remain here many years.  By sales in 1644 and 1650 he appears to have disposed of all his rights here.

William Hawkins was one of the early settlers.  He is represented as being faithful in his place during the troublous times of King Philip's war.  In recognition of his firmness at that time the assembly, in 1677, gave him with others a grant of land in Narragansett.  Christopher Unthank was a weaver who joined the settlers at an early date and received land.  About the year 1658 he appears to have moved to Warwick, and sold his home lot in Providence to Thomas Roberts.  He was one of the first commissioners from Providence, being appointed in 1758.  He also held the same office in 1651 and 1652, was a member of the town council in 1655, justice of the peace in 1664, and general solicitor in 1673 and 1674.  About 1665 he appears to have removed to Newport, where he was engaged in the occupation of a schoolmaster, and sold his house and lot in Providence to John Scott.

Of Edward Hart we have no information, beyond the few facts connected with his receiving a home lot, and that the lot was, previous to 1679, in the possession of Robert West.  From this we infer that Edward Hart, like so many others of the first settlers, did not long remain a resident of Providence.  Mathew Weston was another transient resident.  He received a home lot in 1643, on condition of occupying it.  He evidently occupied it a short time, but abandoned it previous to 1650.  John Lippitt was among the early inhabitants and served on the committee to draft a plan of government in 1647 and served on the committee to draft a plan of government in 1647.  In 1652 he sold his real estate here to Arthur Fenner, excepting his home lot.  He afterward removed to Warwick, where his name appears on the roll of freemen in 1655.  Hugh Bewitt was a resident of Massachusetts, whence he was banished in December, 1640, on a charge of heresy.  He was by that decree pronounced dangerous in his person and errors and threatened with death by hanging, should he refuse to obey the decree of banishment.  He came to Providence, where he was received into the church and the civil compact, and given some land.  He, however, did not remain here many years.  By sales in 1644 and 1650 he appears to have disposed of all his rights here.

William Hawkins was one of the early settlers.  He is represented as being faithful in his place during the troublous times of King Philip's war.  In recognition of his firmness at that time the assembly, in 1677, gave him with others a grant of land in Narragansett.  Christopher Unthank was a weaver who joined the settlers at an early date and received land.  About the year 1658 he appears to have moved to Warwick, and sold his home lot in Providence to Thomas Roberts.  He was one of the first commissioners from Providence, being appointed in 1758.  He also held the same office in 1651 and 1652, was a member of the town council in 1655, justice of the peace in 1664, and general solicitor in 1673 and 1674.  About 1665 he appears to have removed to Newport, where he was engaged in the occupation of a schoolmaster, and sold his house and lot in Providence to John Scott.


Continued

These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project.
Transcription 2004 by Beth Hurd, Images by Beth Hurd 2004
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