Rhode Island Historical Chronology

1636-1799

Date Event
1636, June Providence settled by Roger Williams
1638, March 24 Date of first know written deed from Cononicus and Miantinomi
1638, March 24 Aquidneck purchased and Portsmouth settled.
1638-39, March 16 First Church organized at Providence
1639, May 16 The Plantation now begun at the southwest end of the Island shall be called Newport
1640, March 12 Union of Portsmouth and Newport first general court of election held at Newport; William Coddington elected Governor
1640, August 20 First Public school established at Newport
1641, March 16 "State" seal ordered: a sheaf of arrows, with the motto "Amor vincet omnia." This was an official seal for the town of Newport.
1641 Richard Smith settles at what is now Wickford.
1641, September 17 Mr. Robert Jeffreys authorized by the town of Newport to "exercise the funcation of Chirurgorie."
1642, October Samuel Gorton and his company purchase Shawomet (Warwick) from Miantinomi. Settled in November.
1642, October 8 Fourt freemen at Pawtucked submit themselves and their lands to the jurisdicition of the Massachusetts Colony. See anno 1658, Oct. 22.
1642-43, January 12 Dates of Shawoment Deed.
1643, May 19 Rhode Island sought admission into the New England Confederacy but was refused by the other New England Colonies.
1643, September Miantinomi murdered by order of a synod of Massachusetts clergymen.
1643-44, March 13. Name Aquidneck changed to the Isle of Rhodes or Rhode Island.
1643-44, March 14 Date of Parlimentary (or the Earl of Warwick's, as it is sometimes called) charter. Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport incorporated by commissioners of Paliment under the name of "Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the Narragansett Bay in New England."
1644, September 17 Roger Williams arrived at Boston with the "Warwick" charter.
1644, November 8 Plymouth Colony warned the Portsmouth and Aquidneck settlements agains the exercise of the authority by virtue of the "Warwick" charter. Union of the towns thus prevented for three years.
1645, May 14. Massachusetts Colony join Plymouth in forbidding the settlements at Pawtuxet and Shawoment from the exercise of any authority by virtue of the Parlimentary or "Warwick" charter. Union of the towns thus prevented for three years.
1647, May 19-21 First General Assembly convened at Portsmouth; a code of laws adopted; and an order passed that the seal of the province shall be an anchor.
1647. June 4 Canonicus died.
1651 The Coddington ursurpation caused a separation of the towns of Providence and Warwick on one side and Portsmouth and Newport on the other.
1652. May 18 Law against human slavery enacted.
1654, August 31. Union of the four towns re-established by the efforts of Roger Williams.
1657, October 13 Rhode Island refuses the request of Plymouth Colony, to banish or exclude Quakers on account of their religious belief.
1658, October 22 Massachusetts relinquished her pretence of jurisdiction over any portion of Pawtuxet or Shawoment.
1659 June 8. Richard Smith makes a lease of land for one thousand years from the Indians.
1663, May. Land set apart by the proprietors of Providence for the maintenance of a school.
1663, July 8 Charter granted by King Charles II.
1663 November 25 Organization of the government under the charter.
1663-1664, March 1 Captayne John Cranston "lycenced and commissioned to adminester physsicke and practice chirurgery."
1664, May 4 Block Island admitted a part of the Colony of Rhode Island.
1664, May 5 Seal of the colony established--"Mottoe, Rhod Island and Providence Plantations, with the word Hope over head of the anchor.
1664. Voting by Proxes authorized by law, in order to save the journey of every Freeman to Newport at each election.
1664-65, March 20 The name King's Province give by the King's Commissioners to the Narraganset country.
1665 May A property qualification prescribed for the admission of Freemen (or voters) to the elective franchise--suggested by the King Charles II. Made to be land by act of anno 1723-4, Feburary.
1672, Jan. 1. The Devil's Foot, or John Fones purchase of land from the Indians. In which is now Wickford.
1672. April 3 War declared between England and Holland
1675, May 26 William Blackstone died.
1675 John Wickes killed by the Indians at Warwick
1675, December 19 The great Swamp Fight in Kings Towne (now South Kingstown) between the Narragansett Indians and the Massachusetts soldiers.
1675-76 King Phillip's War
1676, March 26 Capt. Pierce and a company of Massachusetts soldiers exterminated by the Indians between Pawtucket and the Blackstone's settlement.
1676, March 30 A few houses and out buildings in the notherly of Providence burned by the Indians.
1676, April 20 John Clark, the chief agent in the procuation of the charter of 1663 died.
1676, July Pumham killed.
1677, August 12 King Phillip killed near Mt. Hope.
1683 Death of Roger Williams, date unknown, but sometime between January 16 and April 25.
1684, June 24 Order passed for the protection of Jews in their liberty of conscience.
1685, September 21 Edward Randolph commissioned by King James II, Secretary and Sole Register of our Governor and council for the governemnt of the Narragansett country, called the King's Province, and the other New England Colonies.
1686, June 3 The Kind gives Sir Edmund Andros a commission as Governor of the New England colonies, including Rhode Island
1686, June 23 The name of the town of Kingstowne changed to Rochester of Westerly to Haversham, of Greenwhich to Dedford.
1686, July 3 The government of Rhode Island acknowledged service of the writ quo warranto, issued by command of James II, at the request of Edward Randolph.
1686, December 22 Sir Edumund Andros assumed the government of Rhode Island, and technical possession of the charter.
1689, April 18 Sir Edmund Andros deposed and imprisoned at Boston.
1689-90, March 1 Declaration of war between France and England proclaimed.
1693, June 9 First postal route from Boston to Rhode Island established by Massachusetts Colony.
1694 Privateers, or privately owned armed vessles, first commissioned by Rhode Island
1696, May 6 The two houses of the General Assembly separated.
1702-13 War of the Spanish succession; also known as Queen Anne's war.
1703, May 12 Boundary between Rhode Island and Connecticut agreed upon by commissioners of the two colonies, but not finally adjusted until Sept. 27, 1728, after sixty-five years of quarrelling and litigation.
1705, October General Assembly enacts itself into a court of equity or chancery.
1708, December 5 First census taken. Total population of the colony 7,181.
1709, March 22 Printing press proposed to be set up in Newport, and on "Bradford son to Bradford yet printer of New York" appointed public printer. The project did not succeed. See anno 1727.
1710, July 30 First act for issuing bills of credit passed.
1711-12, February 27 Statute of limitations quieting land titles twenty years' posession passed.
1719. First printed digest of laws printed.
1723, July 19 Twenty-six pirates hanged on Gravelly Point, Newport.
1723, July 31 First almshouse in Rhode Island erected to Newport.
1723-24, February Quallifications of freemen of the towns restructed to freeholders of lands to the value of £100 or forty shillings per annum, or the eldest son of such a freeholder.
1726-27, February 8 Western boundary line settled by royal decree. See ante A.D. 1703
1727 First printing press established at Newport
1728-29, Feburary Roman Catholics, Jews, Mohammedans, and Pagans, guaranteed liberty of conscience in religious concernments but denied political rights. See anno Feburary 1783.
1729-30, February Freehold qualification changed to £200, or £10 per annum.
1730, June 15 Census ordered by request of the Board of Trade, England. (Total population of the colony 17,935)
1730 The title Secretary of State, first given, or assumed by the officer now so called.
1731 Colony House in Providence completed. (Destroyed by fire Dec. 24, 1758 and in May 1759, new Court House ordered, which is the present State House [1897])
1732, September 27 First newspaper published in the State (The Rhode Island Gazette) commenced by James Franklin. It continuted seven months; see Hammett's Bibliography of Newport.
1732-33. January Lotteries forbidden. In 1744 lotteries were authorized. The First Lottery bears date this year (1744).
1738-39, February 20 Colony House, Newport ordered built, and is the State House now standing. [1897]
1739, October 19 War declared between England and Spain.
1744, March War declared between England and France.
1745, June 17 Capture of Louisburg and Cape Breton.
1746, August Freehold qualifications changed to £400, or £20 per annum.
1746-47, January Eastern boundary adjusted under a decree of the King of England. Bristol, Tiverton, Little Compton, Warren and Cumberland restored to the colony.
1746-47, February Superior Court of Judicature established.
1748, October 26 Census ordered, pursuant to inquiries from the Board of Trade, England. Total population 32,773.
1749-50, Feburary 27 Light-house ordered built at Beaver Tail. Said to be the first light-house build on the American coast. Destroyed by fire in 1753 and rebuilt in 1754. Burnt by the British October 16, 1779, during their evacuation of Newport.
1752, September 3-14 The Gregorian, or New Style of calendar put in operation; eleven days being stricken from the current month. September 3d to September 13 (both days included) were omitted, the days being numbered 1, 2, 14, 15 &c; and the new year was to begin January 1, instead of March 25.
1754-63 The "Old French War."
1754, June 25 Stephen Hopkins and Martin Howard, Jr. appointed commissioners to a colonial congress at Albany.
1755, December 22 Census ordered, pursuant to inquiries from Board of Trade (Total population 40, 414)
1758, June 12 First number of the Newport Mercury issued.
1762, September Freehold qualifications changed to £40 or 40 shillings per annum.
1762, October 20 First printing press established at Providence. "The Providence Gazette and Country Journal" established by William Goddard.
1764, March 3 An Act for the Establishment of a college, called subsequently Rhode Isaldn College was enacted by the General Assembly. In 1804 the Trustees named this institution Brown University.
1765, September Resolutions adopted denying the right of any power but the General Assembly to levy taxes upon the colony. Metcalf Bowler and Henry War appointed commissioners to atend the general congress of the colonies at New York, to prepare an address to the Crown in opposition to the Stamp Tax.
1766, February 14 Dedication of a Liberty Tree at Newport.
1768, July 25 Dedication of a Libtary Tree at Providence.
1769, July 19 British revenue sloop Liberty destroyed at Newport, being the first overt act of violence offered to the British authorities in America.
1770, March 3 Petition sent to the General Assembly for a division of the town of Providence; that portion lying on the west bank of the river to be called Westminster. Petition refused.
1772, June 10 The British revenue schooner Gaspee burned in Narragansett Bay.
1774, May 4 Census ordered by the General Assembly (Total population 57,707).
1774, May 17 A Continental Congress proposed in town meeting in Providence, and subsequently other towns.
1774, June 15 Stephen Hopkins and Samuel West elected delegates to the Congress.
1774, June Importation of slaves prohibitied
1775, March 2 Tea burned in Market Square Providence; the town crier urged every citizen to bring an cast into the fire the "needless herb."
1775, April 22 A thousand militia either started or were ready to start for the seat of war on the reception of the news of the battle of Lexington
1775, April 22 Army of observation of 1,500 men voted by the General Assembly. Gov. Wanton protested.
1775, May 3 Gov. Joseph Wanton, the last of the Colonial Governors suspended by act of the General Assembly, on account of Tory proclivities.
1775, June Postal system organized throughout Rhode Island.
1775, June 15 First Naval engagement of the Revolution; between a colonial sloop commanded by Capt. Abraham Whipple and a tender of the British frigate "Rose", in which the tender was chased on to Conanicut shore and capture.
1775, June 22 Nathaniel Green chosen Brigadier General and on August 9, 1776 made a Major General by Congress.
1775, October 7 Bristol bombarded by Capt. Wallace.
1775, November 5 Esek Hopkins appointed by Congress Commodore of the navy.
1775, November 7 Gov. Winton formally deposed by act of the General Assembly
1776 April 5 Gen. Washington in Providence.
1776 May 4 The General Assembly formally renounces alliegance to Great Britain.
1776, June 10 Census ordered on recommendation of Congress (Population 55,011)
1776, June 10 Hospitals for inoculation for the small-pox ordered established in each county.
1776, July 18 Declaration of Independence formally approved by a vote of the General Assembly.
1776, December 8 British Army under General Clinton take possession of Newport.
1777, July 9 Capture of General Prescott by Colonel Barton, on the Island of Rhode Island.
1778, February 9, Regiment of negro slaves ordered to be raised by the General Assembly. It never exceeded a hundred men in numbers. Articles of confederation between the thirteen original States accepted.
1778, May 25 Bristol and Warren pillages and partly destroyed.
1778, July 29 Arrival of the French fleet off Newport.
1778, August 29 Battle of Rhode Island.
1778, Oct. 28 The British galley, "Piggot" captured by the "Hawk" under command of Major Silas Talbot.
1779. October 25 Newport evacuated by the British.
1780, May 19 "The Dark Day"
1780, July 10 Arrival of Count Rochambeau with 6,000 French troops.
1781, March 6-14 Washington at Newport, Bristol, Warren and Providence.
1781, October 14 Storming of redoubts at Yorktown--Rhode Island troops, under Captain Stephen Olney, at the head of the column.
1782, January 28 Census ordered. (Population 52,347 a decrease in eight years of over 7,000).
1783, February Roman Catholics restored to their political privileges.
1783, April 25 Cessation of hostilities celebrated.
1784, February 23 Emancipation act passed. It provided for the gradual abolition of slavery--all children of slaves born subsequent to March 1, 1784 were free.
1784, June 1 Newport incorporated as a city (Charter repleased at March sesssion, 1787. Re-incorporated May 6, 1853.)
1785, July 13 Death of Stephen Hopkins at the age of 78 years.
1786, June 19 Death of Gen. Nathaniel Greene in Georgia at the age of 44 years.
1786, September 25 "Papermoney" case of Trevett vs. Weeden"
1787 First spinning jenny constructed in the United States in Providence.
1790, May 29 Federal Constitution adopted.
1790, July 4 An ox roasted on Federal plain in celebration of the adotpion of the U.S. Constitution by nine states.
1790, December 21 Cotton factory started at Pawtucket by Samuel Later.
1791, October 3 Providence Bank established.
1792 Elijah Ormsbee constructs a steam-boat, the "Experiment" and makes successul trips in Providence river.
1793, February A memorial for a State Constitution was rejected by the General Assembly.
1795 The name Upper House was changed to House of Magistrates, but never came into use; the term "Senator" supplanted the term "Assistant" in May, 1799.
1797, July 4 George Burrill urged the adoption of a Constitution for Rhode Island.
1797, October A proposition relative to calling a convention to form a Constitution for the state failed, and again in 1799.
1798 Freehold qualification fixed at $134 or $7 per annum. It was simply changed from the colonial currency to the decimal system; thus, Forty pounds=800 shillings; six shillings=one dollar; hence $133.33+
1799 Free school system of Providence inaugurated.
1799, February Providence Insurance Company incorporated. United with the "Washington," February 1820.

Submitted by Monica Erickson December 4, 1998

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Last Updated September 24, 2000

Copyright September 2000 by Sherrye Woodworth