William Arnold (settler)

William Arnold (settler)

William Arnold (24 June 1587 – c. 1676) was one of the founding settlers of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and with his sons was among the wealthiest people in the colony. He was raised and educated in England where he was the warden of St. Mary's, the parish church of Ilchester in southeastern Somerset. In 1635, along with family and associates, he immigrated to New England, where he initially settled in Hingham in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but soon relocated to the new settlement of Providence with Roger Williams. He was one of the 13 original proprietors of Providence, appearing on the deed signed by Roger Williams in 1638, and was one of the twelve founding members of the first Baptist church to be established in America.

After living in Providence for about two years, Arnold moved with his family and other relatives and associates to the north side of the Pawtuxet River forming a settlement commonly called Pawtuxet, later a part of Cranston, Rhode Island. He and his fellow settlers had serious disputes with their Warwick neighbors on the south side of the river and as a result separated themselves from the Providence government, putting themselves under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This separation from Providence lasted for 16 years, and as the head of the settlement, Arnold was appointed as the keeper of the peace. He died sometime during the great turmoil of King Philip's War in 1675 or 1676. Arnold's son, Benedict Arnold, succeeded Roger Williams as President of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1657, and under the royal charter of 1663 became the first Governor of the colony.

Highly unusual for a 17th-century American settler, Arnold began a family record based on entries from the local parish registers in England and brought this with him to New England; this family record would eventually span more than 200 years and six generations. Nearly 300 years after his birth, a fabricated pedigree for Arnold was published, claiming his descent from 12th century kings living in Wales. Three and a half decades later, in 1915, his correct ancestry was published, but not before the misinformation had been printed in an important source for Rhode Island genealogy.

Read more about William Arnold (settler):  Early Life, Voyage To New England, Settling Providence and Pawtuxet, Difficulty With The Gortonites, End of Life, Ancestry, Children, Notable Descendants, See Also, Notes

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