John Cranston, Governor of Rhode Island

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John Cranston

Also Known As: "Governor John Cranston"
Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Death: Died in Newport, Aquidneck Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Place of Burial: Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Cranstoun and Elizabeth Cranston
Husband of Mary Stanton
Father of Samuel Cranston, Governor of Rhode Island; James Cranston; Caleb Cranston; Jeremiah Cranston; Mary Cranston and 6 others

Occupation: Physician ; Surgeon ; 2nd Attorney General of Rhode Island (1654-1656) ; 6th and 9th Deputy Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (1672-1673; 1676-1678) ; 9th Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Managed by: Tracy Lynn Fitzgerald
Last Updated:

About John Cranston, Governor of Rhode Island

John Cranston (1625–1680) was a colonial physician, military leader, legislator, Deputy Governor and Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations during the 17th century. Being sent to New England as a boy, he was put under the care of Jeremiah Clarke, who became an early President of the colony, and he eventually married Clarke's daughter, Mary. Elected a drummer in the militia of Portsmouth while a teenager, Cranston had several military positions of authority throughout his life, and during King Philip's War was the first member of the Rhode Island Militia to hold the rank of major (not, as some sources state, major-general), in charge of all of the colony's militia companies. He also became a physician and surgeon, being granted a license to practice by the General Assembly, and considered a great blessing to the colony.

Cranston died in office on 12 March 1680 and was succeeded as Governor by Peleg Sanford, the son of a former governor of Newport and Portsmouth, John Sanford. He was buried in Newport's Common Burying Ground. Rhode Island historian and Lieutenant Governor Samuel G. Arnold wrote of him, "Governor John Cranston had borne a distinguished part in the history of the Colony, and filled the highest military and civil positions in its gift. He was the first who ever held the place of major-general, having been selected to command all the militia of the Colony during Philip's War, and he was the father of a future governor, who became more distinguished for his protracted public service."[13] Gary Boyd Roberts gives the paternal grandmother of Cranston as Christian Stewart, and through her shows a descent from King Robert III of Scotland.[14] However, he also adds that another researcher, Andrew B. W. MacEwen, has doubts about Cranston's immediate ancestry.[15] Cranston's wife, Mary, was the daughter of former Rhode Island President Jeremy Clarke and his wife Frances, and sister of Rhode Island Governor Walter Clarke.[16] The Clarkes are descendants of King Edward I of England, and therefore all of Cranston's descendants are royally descended through the Clarkes, if not through the Cranstons as well.[10] Together, John and Mary Cranston had ten children, the oldest of whom, Samuel Cranston, became the longest serving governor in the history of both the colony and the state of Rhode Island.[6] allowing

Following Cranston's death, his widow married the widower Captain John Stanton, son of Robert and Avis Stanton of Newport, with whom she had one more child.[5]


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John Cranston, Governor of Rhode Island's Timeline

Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
August 16, 1659
Age 34
Newport, Rhode Island
February 1661
Age 36
Age 37
Age 38
January 27, 1665
Age 40
Age 43
Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Age 45
Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Age 46
Newport, Aquidneck Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations