Monday, February 5, 2018

Roger Williams arrived in New England 387 years ago today. #52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, week 6

Dear Great Grandfather Roger,
Today we celebrate the 387th anniversary of your arrival in Massachusetts. Honestly, I would not have remembered but this morning it was listed in our newspaper as one of the notable things that happened on 'This Day in History'. Not bad for someone who passed from this life some 300 years ago.

When we studied 'Roger Williams: Champion of Religious Freedom and Founder of Rhode Island' in school, I was attracted to your story but had no idea that you were my 11th great grandfather. If I'd known our relationship, I promise I would have paid more attention.  We know much more about  your life today than was covered in that long ago history class.

Born circa 1603 in London, England, you were the son of James Williams a tailor and merchant and his wife Alice (perhaps Pemberton). Evidently you were quite precocious taking shorthand notes of sermons and speeches in the Star Chamber. Noticed by Sir Edward Coke, he sent you to Sutton's Hospital (Charterhouse School) in 1621. Your progress was such that you then entered Pembroke College of Cambridge University in 1625, completing your bachelor of arts degree in 1627.
Pembroke College, Cambridge University from,_Cambridge
It is supposed that you took the orders to become a minister of the Church of England. A record of your ordination has not yet been found. We know that by 1629 you were serving as chaplain to Sir William Masham of Oates in Essex. Was it your dislike of the Anglican liturgy or Bishop Laud who impelled you to immigrate to Massachusetts? I wish you could provide that answer.
All Saints Church at High Laver, site of Roger and Mary Williams marriage.
by Charles01 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Oxyman using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,
We know you married Mary Barnard December 15, 1629 at High Laver, Epping Forest, Essex. What an adventure for a newly married couple to travel to Bristol and board the ship Lyon and sail for New England December 1, 1630. Crossing the north Atlantic in the dead of winter must have been terrifying. It must have been a hellish 65 days. The Lyon also brought food stores to the famished colony at Plymouth. The arrival must have been the cause of quite the celebration.

The North Atlantic painting (circa 1900) by Charles H. Woodbury 1864-1940
from the Library of Congress Collection
It is written that you were invited to fill the pulpit of John Wilson who was visiting in England. You declined the offer because his Puritan church in Boston had not formally separated from the Church of England. You felt more comfortable with the Pilgrims of Plymouth who were 'separatists' having formed their own church when they fled England for Holland in 1607. Your determination to achieve the separation of church and state as well as your friendship with Native Americans and your role in the founding of Rhode Island are stories for another day.

Today we are thankful for the courage of you and your wife. We owe our existence to that courage.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Our descent from Roger and Mary (Barnard) Williams is as follows:
Their daughter Mary Williams married John Sayles
Their daughter Mary Sayles married John Holmes
Their daughter Susannah Holmes married Rev. Valentine Wightman
Their daughter Mary Wightman married Capt. Joshua Rathbone
Their daughter Martha Rathbone married Uriah Stephens
Their daughter Martha Stephens married George Hornell
Their son George Hornell, Jr. married Sarah Thacher
Their daughter Lydia Hornell married 2nd John Champion Clarke
Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton
Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Their son Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynon Allen
Their son Charles Newton Cone, Jr. is my father.

Interesting that most of this descent is traced on the female line.