Back to England (1637 - 1644)

Engraving of Roger Williams on his return from England with the Patent
Engraving of Roger Williams' return from England with the Patent - 1644
In 1637, Massachusetts Bay Colony charged Anne Hutchinson with heresy and banned her from the colony. Hutchinson challenged the Puritan clergy and preached her own religious views. She made her way south. Roger Williams helped her purchase a portion of Aquidneck Island that was established as Portsmouth in 1638. Hutchinson’s choice to settle in Rhode Island affirms the colony's importance as a refuge for religious freedom.

Roger sailed to England in pursuit of a royal charter in 1643. He hoped this charter would include the settlements in Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport. On the two-month voyage, Roger wrote down what he had learned about the Narragansett culture and language. The book that resulted, A Key into the Language of the Americas, is one of the first studies of Native American culture. He also finished The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, a book that argued for the separation of church and state.

Arriving in England, Roger found an ongoing conflict between King Charles I and Parliament. Despite this civil war, Roger Williams obtained a Patent from Parliament for "the Providence Plantations in Narragansett Bay.” This Patent incorporated Providence, Newport, and Portsmouth into a single English Colony. While in England, he published his two books. English authorities banned The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for its religious and political views. In 1644, Roger returned to Providence.

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Last updated: January 7, 2023

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