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Williams: the Roger Williams collection

Reference Code: GBR/1058/WIL


  • 1889-2013 and undated

Biographical / Historical

Roger Williams (c.1606-1683) was a Puritan minister, theologian, and author who founded Providence Plantations, which became the Colony of Rhode Island. He was born in London, though little is known of his very early life. He was granted a scholarship in 1621 to study at Charterhouse School in London, and in 1623 was admitted at Pembroke College, though he did not matriculate in the university until a year later. Williams graduated B.A. in January 1627 and remained in Cambridge for another year and a half. In 1631 Williams and his wife arrived in Massachusetts. He would go on, in spring 1636, to build homes at the headwaters of Narragansett Bay on land he purchased from the Narragansett sachems Cononicus and Miantonomo. He then transferred this land to the new community that he named Providence. To secure Providence he sailed back to England in 1643 to secure a patent for what would later be known as Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Upon his return to Rhode Island he concentrated on adminstration, serving from 1644 to 1647 as the chief officer, and then as deputy president of the colony. In September 1654 Williams was elected president of Providence Plantations. He retired in 1657. When King Philip's war broke out, Williams tried to negotiate with the native Americans but after Providence was attacked he joined a militia to defend the settlements. He died in 1683, though the exact date is not known. Useful sources: 'Roger Williams ans the creation of the American soul: Church, state, and the birth of liberty' by J. M. Barry (2012).


0.01 cubic metre(s) (1 small archive box)

Language of Materials



Custodial History

These papers were formerly part of the Pembrochiana series of the College Archives. In December 2020 they were moved to form their own standalone collection.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Pembroke College Library Repository

Pembroke College
Cambridge CB2 1RF United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 764151