Williams, Roger(redirected from Roger Williams)
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Williams, Roger,c.1603–1683, clergyman, advocate of religious freedom, founder of Rhode IslandRhode Island,
smallest state in the United States, located in New England; bounded by Massachusetts (N and E), the Atlantic Ocean (S), and Connecticut (W). Its official name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
..... Click the link for more information. , b. London. A protégé of Sir Edward CokeCoke, Sir Edward
, 1552–1634, English jurist, one of the most eminent in the history of English law. He entered Parliament in 1589 and rose rapidly, becoming solicitor general and speaker of the House of Commons. In 1593 he was made attorney general.
..... Click the link for more information. , he graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1627 and took Anglican orders. He early espoused PuritanismPuritanism,
in the 16th and 17th cent., a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a profound influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Origins
Historically Puritanism began early (c.
..... Click the link for more information. and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1631. Williams became a teacher (1632) and, after a stay at Plymouth, minister (1634) of the Salem church. However, his radical religious beliefs and political theories—he denied the validity of the Massachusetts charter, challenged the Puritans to acknowledge they had separated from the Church of England, and declared that civil magistrates had no power over matters of conscience—alarmed the Puritan oligarchy, and the General Court banished him in 1635.
In the spring of 1636 he founded ProvidenceProvidence,
city (1990 pop. 160,728), state capital and seat of Providence co., NE R.I., a port at the head of Providence Bay; founded by Roger Williams 1636, inc. as a city 1832.
..... Click the link for more information. on land purchased from the Narragansett. To Providence, a democratic refuge from religious persecution, came settlers from England as well as Massachusetts. There were four settlements in the Narragansett Bay area by 1643, when Williams went to England. Through the influence of powerful friends such as Sir Henry VaneVane, Sir Henry,
1613–62, English statesman; son of Sir Henry Vane (1589–1655). Early converted to Puritanism, he went to New England in 1635 and became governor of Massachusetts in 1636.
..... Click the link for more information. (1613–62), he obtained from the Long Parliament a patent (1644) uniting the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth, Newport, and Warwick with Providence. In 1651, William CoddingtonCoddington, William,
1601–78, one of the founders of Rhode Island, probably b. Boston, England. He came to America in 1630 as an officer of the Massachusetts Bay Company and was its treasurer from 1634 to 1636. He supported Anne Hutchinson in the antinomian controversy.
..... Click the link for more information. secured a commission annulling the patent, but Williams, with John ClarkeClarke, John,
1609–76, one of the founders of Rhode Island, b. Westhorpe, Suffolk, England. He emigrated to Boston in 1637 and shortly thereafter joined Anne Hutchinson (with whom he had sided in the antinomian controversy) and William Coddington in founding (1638)
..... Click the link for more information. , hastened again to England and had the patent restored. (Its grant of absolute liberty of conscience was later confirmed by the royal charter of 1663.) On his return in 1654, Williams was elected president of the colony and served three terms. Always a trusted friend of the Native Americans (he wrote Key into the Language of America, 1643), he often used his good offices in maintaining peace with them, but he was unable to prevent the outbreak of King Philip's WarKing Philip's War,
1675–76, the most devastating war between the colonists and the Native Americans in New England. The war is named for King Philip, the son of Massasoit and chief of the Wampanoag. His Wampanoag name was Metacom, Metacomet, or Pometacom.
..... Click the link for more information. (1675–76), in which he served as a captain of militia.
Williams, though he remained a Christian, disassociated himself from existing churches. His writings, reprinted in the Narragansett Club Publications (1866–74), reveal the vigor with which he propounded his democratic and humanitarian ideals. The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience (1644) was condemned by John CottonCotton, John,
1584–1652, Puritan clergyman in England and Massachusetts, b. Derbyshire, educated at Cambridge. Imbued with Puritan doctrines, he won many followers during his 20 years as vicar of the rich and influential parish of St. Botolph's Church, Boston, Lincolnshire.
..... Click the link for more information. , who was answered with The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy (1652). Other works include Queries of Highest Consideration (1644), an argument for complete separation of church and state; The Hireling Ministry None of Christ's (1652); and George Fox Digg'd Out of His Burrowes (1676), a polemic against Quaker teachings. Of great personal charm and unquestioned integrity, Williams was admired even by those who, like both the elder and the younger John Winthrop, abhorred his liberal ideas.
See biographies by S. H. Brockunier (1940), P. Miller (1953, repr. 1962), O. Winslow (1957, repr. 1973), E. S. Morgan (1967), J. Garrett (1970), and E. S. Gaustad (2005); see studies by E. S. Gaustad (1991) and J. M. Barry (2012).