William Wanton (c.1670 - 1733)

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Birthplace: Scituate, Plymouth, Mass
Death: Died in Newport, Newport, RI
Managed by: CJ Clark
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About William Wanton


William Wanton (15 September 1670 – December 1733) was a governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, serving a short term prior to his death. He spent most of his adult life in the civil and military service of the colony, and commanded a sloop for chasing privateers.


Wanton was the son of Edward Wanton who was a ship builder, and who became a Quaker after witnessing the persecution of these people, also becoming a preacher of that religion. His father had lived in York, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; and Scituate, Massachusetts before coming to Rhode Island.

Civil and military affairs

Wanton was a merchant who was made a freeman of Newport, Rhode Island in 1698, and was thereafter very active in the civil and military affairs of the town and colony. In all but two years from 1705 to 1732, Wanton was either a deputy or an assistant, and for many of those years he was the Speaker of the House of Deputies. From 1705 to 1709 he was the Major for the island of Aquidneck, and from 1719 to 1720 he was Colonel of the island's militia regiment. Wanton commanded a sloop that he used to chase privateers, and in 1709 the General Assembly voted to buy his new sloop Diamond for 400 pounds, and also buy another sloop of which he was partial owner. In 1726 he was one of four commissioners from the Rhode Island colony selected to meet with commissioners from Connecticut to settle the boundary line between the two colonies.

Wanton was elected governor of the Rhode Island colony in 1732, but only served one full term, dying in office during his second term. He was buried in the Clifton Burying Ground in Newport.


Wanton was twice married, first to Ruth Bryant, the daughter of John and Mary (Hiland) Bryant, and by this marriage had nine children. In 1717, at the age of 46, he married a second time to 15-year old Mary Godfrey (b. 23 March 1702), the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Carr) Godfrey, and granddaughter of Governor Caleb Carr. There were no known children by this marriage. Long after his death, his widow married in 1745 Daniel Updike. Wanton's brother, John Wanton, succeeded him as governor, his nephew Gideon Wanton was later governor, and his son Joseph Wanton, who had loyalist sympathies, was deposed as governor at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.

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William Wanton's Timeline

September 15, 1670
Scituate, Plymouth, Mass
August 16, 1705
Age 34
Newport, Newport, RI, USA
December, 1733
Age 63
Newport, Newport, RI