Williams Blackstone and the early settlement of Pawtucket, RI

A 28-year-old ordained Anglican priest, William Blackstone left England in 1623 to join the Wessagusset colony (now Weymouth) but by 1625 had left for today’s Boston Harbor and the Shawmut Peninsula. (Above) Blackstone is pictured riding his white bull upon which it is said he often traveled while reading his books. Click here for a 12-minute video about Blackstone and the settlement of Pawtucket, RI.


He built a house on the west slope of Beacon Hill, between today’s Beacon and Charles Street, where he remained the sole resident until the arrival of the Puritans in 1630. Annoyed by the restrictions placed on him by Governor Winthrop and the Puritan Church, he decided to leave for Rhode Island, either alone or with his servants, in 1634, taking his tools, clothing, seeds, cuttings, cattle and his precious books.


He built a house on what he called Study Hill in what today is known as the Lonsdale section of Cumberland, RI, and established his kitchen garden, planted his Yellow Sweeting (now known as RI Greening) apple trees, and raised his roses. William died at the age of 80 a month before the outbreak of King Philip’s War. On June 2nd, King Philip’s warriors invaded his plantation and burned everything, including Study Hall and all of its books. A monument to him stands in Cumberland, RI.


In 1671, Joseph Jenks moved to Pawtucket—then northern Providence—where he erected a forge and sawmill on the west side of present-day Blackstone River at Pawtucket Falls. Jenks built his home on the south side of today’s Main Street at East Avenue in Pawtucket. Jenks’ Pawtucket forge and home were burned down In 1676 during King Philip’s War.


John Daggett erected a house around 1685 for John Daggett, Jr. near the previous site of his father’s house. The father’s house is said to have been destroyed during King Philip’s War  The house, now in Slater Park, Pawtucket, RI was restored by the Daughters of the American Revolution starting in 1902 and opened as a museum in 1905.

Click here for a 2014 ProJo article by Barry Bayon about William Blackstone.

Click here for a 30-minute video about interpretation and William Blackstone produced by the National Park Service in 1997.