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  • Pilgrim Village Families Sketch: Roger Williams

    Robert Charles Anderson

    Birth: Roger Williams was born about 1606 in London.

    Death: He died after January 27, and before March 15, 1682/3, in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Ship: Lyon, 1631

    Life in England: He was the son of James and Alice (Pemberton) Williams, one of four children. He received his degree from Pembroke College, Cambridge University, in 1626–7. Mary Bernard, daughter of Reverend Richard Bernard, was baptized at Worksop, Nottinghamshire on September 24, 1607. Roger Williams was the chaplain of Sir William Masham of Otes in High Laver, Essex, when he married Mary Bernard.

    Life in New England:  Roger Williams and his wife settled first in Massachusetts Bay. He refused to join the church there due to some differences of religious opinion. He was briefly in Salem, and then came in 1631 to Plymouth. After a promising beginning there, according to William Bradford, he “began to fall into some strange opinions, and from opinions to practice,” which led finally to his return to Salem in 1633. He was chosen teacher for the church in 1635, and then pastor. Controversy again erupted, and in 1636 he left the colony, traveled south and founded Providence, Rhode Island. In 1643–4, he returned to England and obtained a government charter for Providence Plantations, governing the colony for many years.

    Family: Roger Williams married Mary Bernard on December 15, 1629, at High Laver, Essex and had six children. She died soon after 1683.

    Children of Roger and Mary Williams:

    • Mary was born in August 1633 in Plymouth. She married John Sayles by 1652 and had six children.
    • Freeborn was born on October 1635 in Salem. She married (1) Thomas Hart about 1661 and had three children. She married (2) Walter Clarke on March 6, 1683, in Newport, Rhode Island, as his third wife but had no children. She died December 10, 1709.
    • Providence was born on September 1638. He died, unmarried, in 1686.
    • Mercy was born about July 15, 1640, in Providence. She married (1) Resolved Waterman and had five children and She married (2) Samuel Winsor on January 2, 1676/7, in Providence and had three children.
    • Daniel was born about February 15, 1641/2. He married Rebecca (Rhodes) Power on December 2, 1676, and had seven children.
    • Joseph was born in December 1643 in Providence. He married Lydia Olney on December 17, 1669, and had six children.
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