Gov William Coddington, Sr. was born circa 1601 in Marston, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom to Robert Coddington (1575-1615) and Margaret Bunworth (1575-) and died 1 November 1678 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States of unspecified causes. He married Mary Mosely (1604-1630) 1630 in England, United Kingdom. He married Anne Brinley (1628-1708) 16 January 1649 in Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island.

William Coddington was an early magistrate of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He served as the judge of Portsmouth and Newport, governor of Portsmouth and Newport, deputy governor of the four-town colony, and then governor of the entire colony. Coddington was born and raised in Lincolnshire, England. He accompanied the Winthrop Fleet on its voyage to New England in 1630, becoming an early leader in Boston. There he built the first brick house and became heavily involved in the local government as an assistant magistrate, treasurer, and deputy.

1630 Winthrop Fleet

Arrival of the Winthrop Colony, by William F. Halsall

He was a passenger on the in the Winthrop Fleet in 1630, part of The Great Migration. It was the largest fleet ever assembled to carry Englishmen overseas to a new homeland. It was a well planned and financed expedition comprising eleven ships that carried 700 immigrants from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The group, led by Governor John Winthrop, sailed from April to July of 1630. The fleet landed at Salem. Of the 700 on board, 200 died during the voyage, and 100 returned to England soon after arrival. Some of the 400 remaining settlers stayed in Salem, but many moved on to Boston, Watertown, or other settlements.

William Coddington was a ranking officer in the Winthrop Fleet.

1636: Antinomian Controversy


In 1636-1638, Massachusetts Bay Colony, this family were Free Grace Advocates (AKA: Antinomian Controversy) which caused great religious and political strife in the colony. It pitted most of the colony's ministers and magistrates against some adherents of the Free Grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. The most notable Free Grace advocates, often called "Antinomians", were charismatic Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law Reverend John Wheelwright, and Massachusetts Bay Governor Henry Vane. In the summer of 1637 their opponents led by Gov John Winthrop won back political control of the colony. The following trial led to the banishment many of the leaders of this movement.

1637 Portsmouth Compact Signer

Plaque commemorating the Portsmouth Compact 1638-1936

He was one of the signatories of the 1637 Portsmouth Civil Compact founding Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the 2nd settlement in the new colony of Rhode Island. This group, most of were caught up in the events of the Antinomian Controversy from 1636 to 1638, had followed the family of dissident preacher Anne Hutchinson and her family from Massachusetts Bay Colony seeking religious freedom. This document was the first compact to declare both political and religious separation.

Coddington was a member of the Boston church under the Reverend John Cotton, and was caught up in the events of the Antinomian Controversy from 1636 to 1638. The Reverend John Wheelwright (1593-1679) and dissident minister Anne Hutchinson were banished from the Massachusetts colony, and many of their supporters were also compelled to leave. Coddington was not asked to depart, but he felt that the outcome of the controversy was unjust and decided to join many of his fellow parishioners in exile. He was the lead signer of a compact to form a Christian-based government away from Massachusetts. He was encouraged by Roger Williams to settle on the Narragansett Bay. He and other supporters of Hutchinson bought Aquidneck Island from the Narragansetts. They settled there, establishing the town of Pocasset which was later named Portsmouth. Coddington was named the first "judge" of the colony, a Biblical term for governor. A division in the leadership of the town occurred within a year, and he left with several others to establish the town of Newport at the south end of the island.

In a short time, the towns of Portsmouth and Newport united, and Coddington was made the governor of the island towns from 1640 to 1647. During this period, Roger Williams had gone to England to obtain a patent to bring under one government the four Narragansett towns of Providence, Warwick, Portsmouth, and Newport. This was done without the consent of the island towns and these two towns resisted joining the mainland towns until 1647. Coddington was elected president of the united colony in 1648, but he would not accept the position, and complaints against him prompted the presidency to go to Jeremy Clarke. Coddington was very unhappy with Williams' patent; he returned to England where he was eventually able to obtain a commission separating the island from the mainland towns, and making him governor of the island for an indefinite period. He was initially welcomed as governor, but complaints from both the mainland towns and members of the island towns prompted Roger Williams, John Clarke, and William Dyer to go to England to have Coddington's commission revoked. They were successful, and Dyer returned with the news in 1653. However, disagreements kept the four towns from re-uniting until the following year.

With the revocation of his commission, Coddington withdrew from public life, focusing on his mercantile interests, and becoming a member of the Religious Society of Friends. After nearly two decades away from politics, he was elected deputy governor in 1673, then governor the following year, serving two one-year terms. The relative calm of this period was shattered during his second year as governor of the colony when the King Philip's War erupted in June 1675. It became the most catastrophic event in Rhode Island's colonial history. He was not re-elected in 1676, but he was elected to a final term as governor of the colony in 1678 following the death of Governor Benedict Arnold. He died a few months into this term, and was buried in the Coddington Cemetery on Farewell Street in Newport.

Marriage & Family

  1. William Coddington (1651-1688) - Son - also served as governor. His oldest son William Coddington, Jr., born of his third wife, was the governor of the colony for two terms from 1683 to 1685.
  2. Nathaniel Coddington (1653-1723) married Susanna Hutchinson, a daughter of Edward Hutchinson, and a granddaughter of William Hutchinson (1586-1641) and Anne Marbury (1591-1643).
    1. His grandson William Coddington, the son of Nathaniel, married Content Arnold, the daughter of Benedict and Mary (Turner) Arnold, and granddaughter of Governor Benedict Arnold.
  3. Mary Coddington (1654-1693) married Peleg Sanford, a colonial governor from 1680 to 1683, the son of earlier governor John Sanford with his second wife Bridget Hutchinson (1619-1698), and a granddaughter of William and Anne Hutchinson.


Offspring of Gov William Coddington, Sr. and Mary Mosely (1604-1630)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Micah Coddington (1627-1627)
Samuel Coddington (1628-1629)
Baby Coddington (1630-1630)

Offspring of Gov William Coddington, Sr. and Anne Brinley (1628-1708)
Name Birth Death Joined with
William Coddington (1651-1688) 18 January 1651 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island 4 February 1689 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island
Nathaniel Coddington (1653-1723) 20 May 1653 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island 5 February 1723 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island Susannah Hutchinson (1649-1718)
Mary Coddington (1654-1693) 16 May 1654 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island March 1693 Peleg Sanford (1639-1701)
Thomas Coddington (1655-1694)
John Coddington (1656-1680)
Noah Coddington (1658-1658)
Ann Coddington (1660-1660)
Ann Coddington (1663-1751)


See Also

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General