William Coddington, Gov. of Rhode Is. and Providence Plantations

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William Coddington

Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Death: November 1, 1678 (77)
Newport, Aquidneck Island (Present Newport County), Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Place of Burial: Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Stockdale Coddington; Stockdale Coddington; Sarah Coddington and Sarah Coddington
Husband of Anne Coddington; Mary Burt; Mary Moseley and Ann Coddington
Father of Ann Willets; William Coddington, Jr.; Mary Sanford; Thomas Coddington; Noah Coddington and 3 others
Brother of Susan Coddington; John Coddington; Elias Coddington; Elizabeth Coddington; James Coddington and 4 others
Half brother of Ann Coddington; Henry Coddington and Thomas Coddington

Occupation: Governor of Rhode Island
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Coddington, Gov. of Rhode Is. and Providence Plantations

William Coddington, 1601-1678 was the founder of Portsmouth and Newport, and three-time Governor of Rhode Island. He was a shrewd politician and merchant, and had a large Newport Estate on which he bred livestock.


OCCUPATION: Magistrate.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admitted to Boston church as member #92, whichwould be during the winter of 1630-1 [BChR 14].

FREEMAN: 25 May 1636 [MBCR 1:372]; this was merely a formality, sincehe was a freeman by virtue of his office of Assistant in Englandbefore 1630. Rhode Island freeman at Newport, 1655 [RICR 1:300].

EDUCATION: In his letters to John Winthrop, his turn of phrase isclever, his spelling better than average [WP 4:160-61, 245-47, 278-79,393, 5:118, 149-50, 224]. His command of English law was considerable,as he displayed in his statement blasting William Dyer's illegalproceedings to seize his cattle during Coddington's absence inEngland, January 1651/2 [WP 6:176-79].


  • Elected Massachusetts Bay Assistant 18 March 1629/30 (at Southampton), 9 May 1632 (in absentia), 29 May 1633, 14 May 1634, 6May 1635, 25 May 1636 [MBCR 1:95, 105, 118, 145, 174].
  • Massachusetts Bay treasurer 14 May 1634 (for two years) [MBCR 1:118, 182].
  • Magistrate, 25 May 1636 [MBCR 1:175].
  • Deputy for Boston, 17 May 1637, 26 September 1637, 2 November 1637 [MBCR 1:194, 204, 205; BTR 1:18].
  • Boston selectman, 1 September 1634 [BTR 1:1].
  • Committee to divide common lands, 18 December 1634 [BTR 1:3].
  • Commissioner to schedule work, 23 January 1635[/6] [BTR 1:8].
  • Committee to lay out land for Mr.William Hutchinson, 9 January 1636[/7],
  • Committee to lay out land for Mr. John Wheelwright, 3April 1637 [BTR 1:14-15, 17].
  • Signer to the 1638 compact at Portsmouth [RICR 1:52].
  • Elected Judge at Portsmouth, 7 March 1637/8 and continued in this office after the move to Newport (this title was for a brief period, presumably on a Biblical model, for the position of Governor or President) [RICR 1:52,100].
  • Took oath to administer law, 7 March 1637/8 [RICR 1:53].
  • Governor at Newport, 1640-42; 1678 (elected in the place of Benedict Arnold, deceased, Coddington did not fill out the term and at his death, Major John Cranston was chosen) [RICR 1:101-110, 112, 120,3:17, 24].
  • Deputy Governor, 5 May 1674 [RICR 2:516].
  • Committee topetition for patent [RICR 1:125].
  • Assistant from Newport, 1647, 2 May1666 [RICR 1:148, 147].
  • President of Providence Plantations, 16 May1648 [RICR 1:208].
  • Commissioner for Newport, 17 March 1655/6 [RICR1:327].
  • Deputy, 27 March 1666 [RICR 2:139].
  • Judge at Newport, 28 April1639 [RICR 1:87].
  • Rater for Conanicutt Island and the towns, 1663,1671 [RICR 1:506, 2:413].

ESTATE: On 14 December 1635 five prominent men went to view the landat Mount Wollaston to bound out the farms for Mr. William Coddingtonand Edmund Quinsey [BTR 1:6]. On 9 April 1639, William Coddington of"Aquednecke", gentleman, sold to William Tyng of Boston, merchant,"all that my dwelling house situated in Boston ... with the garden andthe orchard ... and all my land in the Forte Field in Boston-necke,and all my right in Spectacle Island, and my farm house at MountWollaston ... and two acres of ground near adjoining to the barn ...and all my land, meadow, pasture, and woody ground containing fivehundred acres ... at Mount Wollaston aforesaid in two parcels ... andalso a parcel of land, woody ground and pasture containing thirtyacres" [Lechford 61-63; SLR 1:26]. William Tyng mortgaged the MountWollaston property back to Coddington 10 April 1639 [Lechford 64-65]and Coddington and Tyng came to mutual agreement about egress andliberty to cut corn, etc., 9 April 1639 [Lechford 65-67]. Tyng set itup so that John Reade actually occupied the house and ran the property[Lechford 94].

"Sergeant Collacot" of Dorchester acknowledged owing "Will[ia]mCoddington, gentleman, £123 5s. 9d. on 12 April 1639 [Lechford 67]. Hewas ordered to have his garden fences set up by 14 April 1646 or pay afine [BTR 1:88]. He gave 30s. for the support of a schoolmaster, 12August 1636 [BTR 1:160].

On 14 April 1652, William Coddington acknowledged that he had held theproperty deeded by the sachems in Rhode Island and agreed to deliverthe deeds of the purchases and other records to the other purchasersand freemen or their representatives [RICR 1:50].

On 20 May 1638, Mr. Will[iam] Coddington was granted a Portsmouthhouselot of six acres, eight poles in breadth and one hundred andtwenty poles in length by the great pond [RICR 1:55]. On 5 June 1639he was granted six acres for an orchard [RICR 1:89]. The bounds of Mr.William Coddington's property were extended in "regard of some naturalbounds lying near the farm," 3 December 1639 [RICR 1:95].

His purchase of Dutch Island with Benedict Arnold is alluded to atcourt in 1658 [RICR 1:403].

A fragment of the will of Ann Coddington, William Coddington's thirdwife, survives, in which she refers to her deceased husband WilliamCoddington and makes bequests to her son Nathaniel Coddington [NewportTown Council 17:13; RIGR 14:36].

BIRTH: About 1601 (deposed aged "about seventy-six years" on 27September 1677 [RICR 1:51]).

DEATH: Buried Newport 6 November 1678 [RIMM, Deaths 5].


  • (1) By 1626 Mary _____; died Boston during the winter of1630-1, and before 28 March 1631 [Dudley 72].
  • (2) Terling, Essex, 2 September 1631 Mary Moseley; she was admitted toBoston church as member #158, which would be before 6 August 1633 (seeAnne Newgate, wife of JOHN NEWGATE); buried Newport 30 September 1647[RIMM, Deaths 1].
  • (3) By about 1650 Ann Brinley, born about 1628 (calculated from age atdeath); died Newport 9 May 1708, aged 80 [RIMM, Deaths 16]. (On 19February 1673/4 Francis Brinley of Newport sold to William Mays landwhich was in part "bounded on the north by land of my sister Ann Coddington, on the west by land given to my cousin William Coddington"[RILE 226-27].)


With first wife (all at Boston, Lincolnshire)

  • i MICAH, bp. 8 March 1626/7 [Boston PR 2:124]; bur. 22 March 1626/7[Boston PR 2:127].
  • ii SAMUEL, bp. 17 April 1628 [Boston PR 2:134]; bur. 21 August 1629[Boston PR 2:144].

With second wife

  • iii Child, b. England about 1632; no further record.
  • iv MARY, bp. Boston 2 March 1633/4 [BChR 278]; likely the daughterthat went to England with him in 1648; no further record.
  • v BEDAIAH, bp. Boston 1 May 1636 [BChR 281]; not mentioned when hisfather returned to England for three years; no further record.

With third wife (all born Newport [RIVR 7:51])

  • vi WILLIAM b. 18 January 1651; d. Newport 4 February 1688[/9], "agedabout 37 years" [RIMM, Deaths 9], unmarried.
  • vii NATHANIEL b. 23 May 1653; m. 19 April 1677 Susannah Hutchinson,daughter of Edward and Katherine (Hamby) Hutchinson [NEHGR145:263-64].
  • viii MARY b. 16 May 1654; m. 1 December 1674 as his second wife PelegSanford, son of JOHN SANFORD [NEHGR 103:273; Austin 278 (this marriagehas not been found in Newport or Portsmouth records)].
  • ix THOMAS b. 5 November 1655; m. Newport 22 January 1689[/90] "MaryHoward late of New Yorke" [RIMM, Marriages 1:13].
  • x JOHN b. [blank] December 1656; d. 1 June 1680 [Austin 278 (thisdeath not found in Newport records)]; apparently unmarried.
  • xi NOAH b. 12 November 1658; d. Newport 12 December 1658 [RIMM, Deaths1].
  • xii ANN b. 6 June 1660; d. Newport 26 June 1660 [RIMM, Deaths 1].
  • xiii ANN b. 20 July 1663; m. 30 May 1682 Andrew Willett, son of THOMASWILLETT [Austin 278, 428 (this marriage has not been found in Newportrecords)].

ASSOCIATIONS: It has been suggested that William Coddington was son of Robert Coddington of Marston, Lincolnshire, who died 1615, leaving abequest to his son, William [NYGBR 72:5; TAG 20:185].

In a letter to John Winthrop dated 22 May 1640, William Coddingtonrefers to a letter "sent by my cousin Burt," evidently supplying thefodder for speculation that Coddington's first wife was a Burt [WP4:160].

COMMENTS: William Coddington was one of those who resisted the royalloan of 1626, the so-called Forced Loan, and is so recorded on a listof 7 March 1626/7 [NEHGR 36:139].

At the end of March 1631 William Coddington was one of those whosailed for England on the Lion [WJ 1:60]. He remained in England fortwo years, during which time he courted Elizabeth (Fones) Winthrop,widow of HENRY WINTHROP [WP 3:22, 34]. In the end, Coddington married Mary Moseley, and Elizabeth married ROBERT FEAKE, and then went on toher notorious career. While in England Coddington wrote on 4 June 1632to John Cotton, then still at Boston, Lincolnshire, and a fragment ofthis letter survives: "I am, I thank God, in bodily health; yet not enjoying that freedom of spirit, being withheld from that place whichmy soul desireth, and my heart earnestly worketh after; neither, Ithink, shall I see it till towards the next spring" [Young's First Planters 337]. Coddington and his second wife sailed for New Englandon the Mary & Jane, arriving at Boston in May of 1633 [WP 3:119; WJ1:121].

William Coddington received the sachems' deed to "The Island of Acquedneck" 24 March 1636/7 [RICR 1:45, 48-49]. On 27 September 1677

William Coddington, Esq., aged about seventy-six years, testifieth ...that when he was one of the magistrates of the Massachusetts Colony hewas one of the persons that made a peace with Caunnonnicus andMianantonomy in the Colony's behalf of all the Narragansett Indians... a little before they made war with the Pequod Indians. Not longafter this, deponent went from Boston to find a plantation to settleupon, and came to Acquidneck, now called Rhode Island, where was a sachem called Wonnumetonomey; and this deponent went to buy the Islandof him, but his answer was that Caunonnicuss and Miantonomy were thechief sachems, and he could not sell the land; whereupon thisdeponent, with some others went from Aquidneck Island into the Narragansett to the said sachems, Caunonicus and Miantonmy, and boughtthe Island of them [RICR 1:51].

In January 1637/8, John Winthrop wrote to William Coddington, John Coggeshall and William Colburn, telling them that he considered their"published writing" (presumably about Wheelwright) was a great mistake[WP 4:8-9]. William Coddington was one of those given a license todepart on 12 March 1637/8, along with three of his servants [MBCR1:223]. He appointed Mr. Jer[emiah] Gould, 23 November 1640, again 26April 1641, and 23 August 1641 his attorney to recover debts inMassachusetts Bay after his departure [SLR 1:15, 18].

In his letter from Newport 5 August 1644 to John Winthrop, William Coddington remarked that "the Lord hath begun to let me see byexperience that a man's comfort doth not depend in the multitude ofthose things he doth possess, the Lord having this last winter takenfrom me a large corn barn ... my farm house, 12 oxen, 8 cows, 6 otherbeasts ... the fire breaking forth in the night, neither bedding norhousehold stuff, nor so much as my servants' wearing cloth, nothingbut the shirts off their backs was saved, and lives" [WP 4:489-91].

In 1648 charges were brought against President-elect Coddington and hefailed to appear to clear himself, so Mr. Jeremy Clarke, the assistantof the town "wherein the President was chosen" was ordered tosubstitute for the President until the next election or untilCoddington was cleared [RICR 1:211]. Mr. William Dyer brought chargesagainst Mr. William Coddington, but they were deferred, 25 May 1649 [RICR 1:219]. The litigants were hoping for John Winthrop Jr.'sintercession in June of 1653 [WP 6:176-79]. The matter was still beingside-stepped 25 October 1665 [RICR 2:130]. By 1667, the matter of Mr.Dyer killing a mare of Mr. Coddington's had been heard even by theKing's commissioners, and Dyer's appeal was set aside [RICR 2:144].

At the end of September 1648 William Coddington was makingpreparations to go to England, and on 14 October 1648 about to leaveNewport for Boston, "whither I am now hasting to take passage forEngland with my daughter" [WP 5:262, 270], but his actual departurewas apparently delayed until late January 1648/9 [WP 5:309; RW Corr269, 271, 273-75]. He remained in England for two years, during whichperiod he married for a third time. By August 1651 he was back inRhode Island, with a commission naming him governor of AquidneckIsland for life. In a letter to John Winthrop, Jr., about early August1651, Roger Williams says "It hath pleased God to bring (Sir) yourancient acquaintance and mine Mr. Coddington in Mr. Carwithy hisship.... He is made Governor of this Colony for his life" [RWCorr 333;WP 6:131].

On 18 May 1653, two men were sent to "demand of Mr. Coddington thestatute book, and book of records." He was fined for failing to returnall of them, but the fine was remitted in 1656 [RICR 1:330]. "Diverspresentments" later, it was ordered that Mr. Coddington should not beprosecuted over any of them, "except by order from his Highness theLord Protector" [RICR 1:333, 357]. In spring of 1656, William Coddington freely submitted "to the authority of his Highness in this colony as it is now united, and that with all my heart" [RICR 1:327].In that year he was appointed a commissioner, and instructions wereasked for from England regarding whether this was appropriate or not [RICR 1:328].

In 1656 it was suspected that the guns showing up in the hands of various Indians were much like "those Mr. Coddington brought over"[RICR 1:332].

William Coddington submitted a paper dated Newport, 9 March 1664/5, tothe commissioners, and the return, dated 13 March 1664/5, wascommunicated to Mr. Coddington and those concerned "called Quackers"[RICR 2:118].

At his death, a committee was sent by the Assembly to "Mrs. AnnCoddington, widow to our late deceased Honored Governor" to demand theCharter and all "other writings that were in the late Governor'scustody and belonging to this Colony" and Mrs. Coddington obliged themwith not only the Charter, but its duplicate, 15 November 1678 [RICR3:24-25].

Hope, the negro servant of Mr. William Coddington, was whipped forfornication with James Parr, May 1673 [RICT 3:22].


  1. Birth: 4 FEB 1601 in Boston, Lincolnshire, England
  2. Death: 4 JAN 1677 in Newport, Ri
  3. Burial: Coddington Burial Ground, Newport, Newport Co., Rhode Island
  4. Note:

Coddington died in office on November 1. He is buried in a smallgraveyard on Farewell Street in Newport. His grave is marked not onlywith the original, almost illegible marker, but a taller monumenterected some years after his death.

  1. Emigration: 1630 Southampton, England
  2. Immigration: 1630 Salem, Massachusetts


From Dee Dee NeSmith Bonds, bonds006@home.com at Rootsweb

Gov. of RI. He moved with his family from Boston, England - the same community as the Hutchinsons, Marburys, and Sanfords. Arrived in Salem, Jun 12, 1630.

From Frank Dyer, FrankD1075@aol.com at Rootsweb: aka Codington, Cottington. William was one of the assistants of the MA Bay Colony before coming to New England. He held numberous offices and was made freeman May 25, 1636. In 1637, He became an adherent of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, during the Antinomian controversy, and was banished. He followed her to RI in 1638. His wife died in July, 1630, in Boston, and he married, in England, Mary Moseley (his 2nd wife). Mary was a member of Boston Church 1632/3. His first wife probably was Mary Burt of Alford.

The Great Migration Begins

Governor at Newport, 1640-42; 1678 (elected in the place of Benedict Arnold, deceased; Coddington did not fill out the term as he died - Major John Cranston was chosed to take his place). It has been suggested that William Coddington was son of Robert Coddington of Marston, Lincolnshire, who died 1615, leaving a bequest to his son, William. In a letter to john Winthrop, May 22, 1640, William Coddington refers to a letter "sent by my cousin Burt," evidently supplying the fodder for sepculation that Coddington's first wife was a Burt. At the end of Mar 1631, William was one of those who sailed for England on the Lion. He remained in England for two years, during which time he courted Elizabeth (Fones) Winthrop, widow of Henry Winthrop. In the end, Coddington married Mary Moseley, and Elizabeth married Robert Feake, and then went on to her notorious career. William and his second wife sailed for New England on the Mary & Jane, arriving at Boston in May of 1633. Sep 27 1677, William Coddington, Esq., aged about seventy-six years, testifieth...that when he was one of the magistrates of the Massachusetts Colony he was one of the persons that made a peace with Caunnonnicus and Mianantonomy in the Colony's behalf of all the Narragansett Indians...a little before they made war with the Pequod Indians. William returned to England late Jan 1648/9 where he remained for two years, during which period he married for a third time. By Aug 1651, he was back in RI, with a commission naming him governor of Aquidneck Island for life.

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William Coddington, Gov. of Rhode Is. and Providence Plantations's Timeline

Boston, Lincolnshire, England
January 18, 1650
Age 49
March 23, 1652
Age 51
May 16, 1654
Age 53
Newport, Newport Colony, (Present Rhode Island)
November 5, 1655
Age 54
Newport, Newport, RI, USA
December 1656
Age 55
November 12, 1658
Age 57