Stukely Westcott

One of the thirteen original proprietors of Providence Plantation and the Colony of Rhode Island


There is no definite proof identifying the origins of Stukely Westcott. It's been postulated that his grandparents were Edward Westcote and Damaris Stukely. It is also speculation that his forename was derived from the (unproven) surname of his grandmother, and gave his grandmother's first name to his eldest daughter, Damaris. (There were actually several girls given the name Damaris in Yeovil at this time, as witnessed by entries in St John's parish registers. The name is still found today, albeit not so much in Yeovil).

Stukely Westcott was born about 1592, possibly in Ilminster. His marriage and two of his childrens' baptisms are recorded in St John's parish registers. On Saturday 5 October 1619, Stukely married Julian Marchant (1595-1670) at St John's church; their entirely illegible marriage entry in St John's parish register apparently indicates that he came from Ilminster (this information must have come from the Bishop's transcripts), while she was originally from Stoke St Gregory. Julian was the daughter of John Marchant (1571-1612) of Yeovil and (possibly) Marie Montague. She had two sisters; Rachel (b1603) and Joan (b1605). John Marchant was recorded as a Warden of Woborn's Almshouse in 1603. He died in 1612 and was buried in St John's churchyard.

Stukely and Julian possibly lived in Ilchester for a while. They were to have at least six children;

  • Damaris - baptised on 27 January 1620 at St John's church. She later married Benedict Arnold (1615-1678), who was born and raised in Ilchester. He later became president, and then governor, of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, serving for a total of eleven years. They were the great-grandparents of Major General Benedict Arnold (1740-1801) who served during the American Revolutionary War with the American Continental Army, before infamously defecting to the British in 1780.

  • Samuel - baptised on 31 March 1622, at St John's church. He was recorded at Salem, Massachusets in 1636, but died before the spring of 1638, when the family removed to Providence, Rhode Island.

  • Robert - born around 1625, probably in Yeovil. He married his wife, Catherine Rathburn (1644-1692), in Providence Plantations. They had six children; Catherine, Zorobabel, Robert, Dynah, Mary and Samuel. Robert Westcott first appears on the public record as an inhabitant of Warwick, Rhode Island on 5 June 1640. In 1651, he was chosen as a Deputy to the Colonial Assembly. In 1652, he was chosen to be Surveyor of bridges; and elected by the Assembly as "General Sarjeant" (High Sheriff) to attend the sessions of the Court. On 16 May 1654, he was recorded as having lately been at the Dutch settlements, where he went about to buy beavers and liquors, according to the testimony of Giles Glover before the Assembly. He was made a Freeman in 1655, and a Commissioner to the General Court in 1659. He was accused by the General Attorney "that he hath indeavored to submit parte of the jurisdiction" (Hog Island in Bristol Harbor) "to another Collowny, namely Plymouth." and he was suspended from acting as Commissioner at the Court. In 1661/2, he and Zachery Rhodes purchased large tracts of land from the Indians in the westerly part of the state. One purchase alone, of the Sachem Tohamin, was 20,000 acres on the east side of the Poquontuct River. He was killed, aged 44, on 19 December 1675, in "King Philip's War" (see below).

  • Amos - also born around 1631, in Yeovil. He married Sarah Stafford on 13 July 1667 at Warwick, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. On 9 January 1670, also at Warwick, he married Deborah Stafford. He was father to seven children; Amos, Solomon, Sarah, Penelope, Marcy, Luranah and Rosanna. He died in Warwick in January 1686, aged about 55.

  • Mercy - born in April 1632 at Yeovil. She married Samuel Stafford in 1660 in Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, New England. They had ten children; Stukely, Amos, Mercy, Patience, Sarah, Samuel, Freelove, Elizabeth and Thomas. She died, aged 67, in Warwick, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in March 1700.

  • Jeremiah - born about 1633 at Yeovil. Jeremiah was married on 27 July 1665, in Warwick, to Eleanor (also known as Ellen) England by Capt. John Greene. They had at least eight children; Jeremiah, Eleanor, Persis, Stukely, Josiah, Samuel, William and Benjamin. Josiah, William and Benjamin married three sisters; Hannah, Abigail and Bethiah Gardiner. Jeremiah died in 1686; he left no will. As they had done for Jeremiah's father, the Warwick Town Council probated his estate.

The internet, in its wisdom, attributes a further five or six children - all of which appear spurious.

Stukely Westcott and his family emigrated to New England in 1635, during the 'Puritan Great Migration' of 1621 to 1640. This was documented in some notes made by his future son-in-law Benedict Arnold. "My father [William Arnold] and his family set sayle From Dartmouth in Old England the first of May, Friday and arrived in New England (Thursday) June 24, 1635." On board were "Stukeley Westcott, 43, of Yeovil and his wife name unknown with children, Robert Westcott, Samuel Westcott 13, born [sic, actually baptised] at Yeovil March 31, 1622, Damaris Westcott, later wife of Benedict Arnold, Amos Westcott 4, Mercy Westcott and Jeremiah Westcott."

Stukely Westcott and his family first settled at Salem (now in Massachusetts), among some four hundred people who had preceded him to America. The little colony had been formed at Naumkeag, the name by which Salem was called by the Indians. It was the oldest settlement in New England, excepting Plymouth.

In 1636, Stukely Westcott, was recorded as a grantee of land, although the extent of this grant is not named. At a town meeting of Salem, on 25 December 1637, one acre of land was granted to "Stuky Wesket". At the time, his family consisted of eight persons. His "house lot of one acre" is described in a colonial deed of 1643, as being bounded on one side by "the salt water", indicating that his plot faced the shore of the peninsula. He was made freemen of Salem in 1636 and on 25 October 1637 his "house lot" had been granted to him as "one of the inhabitants and freemen".

 Between 1628 and 1630, many emigrants came from England and settled in Salem. They formed a church, disencumbered by their public worship of "superfluous ceremony", but forgetting that others had a right to the enjoyment of the same Christian liberty as themselves. Those who would not conform to their church ritual were expelled from the colony. Although Stukely was not excommunicated by the church at Salem until 1639, he and his wife were ordered by the General Court to leave the jurisdiction of the colony and remove his family before the next sitting of the court.

Stukely was a friend and supporter of Roger Williams who, among other reasons, was banished from Salem in 1636 for advocating separation of Church and State. Reverend Hugh Peters of Salem wrote to the church at Dorchester that Williams' supporters had "the great censure passed upon them in this our Church" and that "they wholly refused to hear the Church, denying it and all the churches in the Bay to be true churches, etc.".  On 12 May 1637, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court affirmed that dissidents were granted permission to remove from the Colony. "Stewkely Wascote" and others were warned to appear at the next Court if they "bee not removed."

In 1636, and two years later, Roger Williams had purchased land from the Indians and begun a settlement. These two purchases formed the greater part of what is now the county of Providence in Rhode Island. On 8 August 1638, nearly five months after Stukely Westcott had been ordered to leave Salem, Williams "freely admitted twelve loving friends and neighbours" into equal ownership with himself of the lands he had purchased. Stukely Westcott was among these twelve. When the total number of settlers reached fifty-two, they made a first division between them of a portion of the lands upon which the city of Providence and its immediate suburbs are located, allotting to each a "home lot" and in outlying six-acre lots. The home lots each contained about five acres, as shown on the map below.

The first Baptist church to be organised in America, the old First Baptist Church of Providence, was founded in March 1638-9 by Roger Williams, Stukely Westcott and others. Stukely and his wife were both received into its membership at the time of its organisation, after baptism by Roger Williams. This baptism of adults who had previously been baptised by sprinkling, gave great offence to the mother church at Salem when they heard of it. The Salem Church then excommunicated the eight re-baptised members that had belonged to them, Stukely and his wife being among them.

After several years at Providence, religious differences began to surface, with some residents supporting Puritan dissident Samuel Gorton. Gorton purchased land at Shawhomett, but political and religious struggles prevented successful settlement there. Finally, with assistance from the Earl of Warwick, the town of Warwick was chartered in March of 1648. At least one record shows that Stukely may have been an early resident who was subjected to the Massachusetts Bay Colony's attempts to exercise control. On 17 October 1643 it was recorded; "If the souldiers did kill Stewkley Wasket's lamb, the Treasurer is to alow for it.".

From 1647, Stukely's name is recorded as a member of Warwick's Town Meeting and from 1649 he was recorded several times as a juryman. In May 1651, Stukely "of Warwick" sold meadow land in Pautuxett and the following March he purchased land owned by John Warner (who had lost the land for treachery). On 2 May 1653, Stukely was appointed as member of a committee "to agree with the Indians about Nawsaucut and there away about fencinge in their fields." On 12 May 1652, he sold his Providence house and lot to Samuel Bennett. 28 May 1653, was one of many times he was chosen as a Commissioner to the General Assembly.

In 1655, Stukely and his sons Robert and Amos, were made Freemen of Warwick. In 1659, Amos Westcott, on behalf of his father, relinquished all rights of his father to land in Providence that was sold to William Carpenter of Pautauxett.

Stukely, for years, was involved in the politics of Warwick. On 8 August 1647, he was second and his son Robert, sixth, on a list of eight, comprising the town council of Warwick. In November 1651, again in February 1662, and December 1662, Stukely was chosen as deputy to represent Warwick in the Colonial Assembly. On 10 May 1652, Stukely was chosen as a juryman, in which capacity he frequently served for years. In 1653, he was chosen to be a member of Warwick's town council, and on 28 May 1653 he was elected as general assistant to the governor; two from each of the four settlements forming the Governor's Council. He served in this capacity for a number of years. In 1656, he was a member of a committee to restrict the sale of liquor to Indians, and to regulate excise and sale in in the colony. In 1670, together with his son, Amos, he was elected as representative from Warwick to the Colonial Assembly. In April 1671, he was elected deputy to the Colonial Assembly; this is the last public service recorded of him.

On 19 February 1665, Stukely was allotted 7,850 acres of the common lands lying west of the 7-mile limit. On 12 April 1675, he was allotted a further 7,350 acres of common lands lying west of the 7-mile limit. On 24 May 1675, he was assigned 4,580 acres of common lands lying between the 4-mile and 7-mile lines. That's a total of 19,780 acres, roughly 31 square miles. During his life, Stukely conveyed to his sons by deeds of gift, a considerable part of his landed estates.

During 1670, Stukely's wife Julian died.

In 1675, Stukely was driven from his home by Indians during "King Philip's War", and went to stay with his daughter, Damaris Arnold. (King Philip's War was an armed conflict in 1675-6 between a group of indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands and the English New England Colonies and their indigenous allies.) Robert Westcott, son of Stukely, and a lieutenant of the militia, was killed on 19 December 1675 during "King Philip's War", in which bands of marauding Indians were routed by the troops of the united colonies, killing or scattering them.

Now homeless, wifeless, and aged eighty-four, he was driven to seek refuge on the island of Rhode Island. At the home of his grandson, Caleb Arnold, he sickened and died. He had prepared a will (see below) on 12 January 1677, making his son Amos his executor, and left specific bequests to Amos, his grandsons Amos Westcott and Amos Stafford. The will was unsigned and never probated. He died the same day. Shortly after Stukely's death, his sons Amos and Jeremiah petitioned the Town Council to settle the estate. The five members drew up a will, naming Amos executor and giving bequests to: Jeremiah, Damaris Arnold, Mercy Stafford, Robert Westcott's oldest son Zerobabell, grandson Amos Stafford and grandson Amos Westcote.

His remains, born by his sons across the bay to its western shore near to which the last thirty years of his life had been passed, were laid at rest beside those of his wife, in the first public burial ground of Warwick, adjoining his home lot and former residence.

Much of the above is adapted from the Stukely Westcott page on WikiTree.





The following is by J Russell Bullock, of Bristol, Rhode Island.


"What manner of man Stukely Westcott was, can be gathered only from the known incidents of his life. From his known religious views in America, he must in England have been a Separatist (the extreme wing of the nonconformists). To entertain such views during the reign of either the first James or the first Charles, was to close to him every avenue of social or political preferment. Arriving at Salem, his zeal gathered new strength, for he declared that he wished the churches of Massachusetts to be true churches, and to hold no communion with the Church of England.

He agreed with Roger Williams, that it was needful to confess to the wrong done in communing with that church while there. In crossing the ocean at this early day, bringing with him his wife and his children; in leaving Salem after a residence of two (three) years, and traversing with them on foot the uninhabited forest and swamps that then stretched from the Bay of Massachusetts to the Narragansett - shows that he was no dissembler, no man who to gain his peace would affect opinions he did not entertain; that he had deep convictions of duty, and a determined will to go where and do what duty demanded, at any sacrifice.

His following Roger Williams to Providence, and with him labouring to organise their form of government whose earliest legislation declared that no man should be holden to answer before the civil law for his religious opinions, shows that the same freedom of conscience he claimed for himself he was willing to allow two others.

That Stukely Westcott was a man of good character and of upright life, is apparent. He was a freeman of the colony of the Massachusetts Bay at a time when none were received as such but members of the church. He was an intimate friend of Roger Williams, and as such was first named by him in the deed of gift of lands at Providence to his associates. He was one of the founders of the First Baptist Church there. On settling at Warwick, he with five others united in forming a church there, whose simple yet comprehensive creed was "to support in faith and practice principles of Christ's doctrine".

That he was esteemed, a man of sound judgement, and worthy of the confidence of his fellow men, is evidenced by his having repeatedly been chosen a member of the Colonial Assembly, and twice selected as one of the General Assistants to the Governor, retiring from public life only when he had nearly attained the allotted years of man.

Religious, and not worldly considerations, undoubtedly led Westcott to leave England and come to America. But he soon found that he had fled from the "lord bishops" only to fall into the hands of the "lords brethren". It was not enough that he had left the home of his youth and the graves of his ancestors, and had crossed the ocean and reached a distant and almost unknown continent. It only remained to him to suffer the degradation of imprisonment or to pass beyond the remotest limits of both of Massachusetts and Plymouth patents.

And it was not until, weary with long and pathless journeying, he had crossed the 'Seakonk' and reached the 'Whateheare' (Welcome) shore, already consecrated through all the coming time to the cause of religious freedom, that he was permitted in peace and safety to worship God according to the convictions of a matured, and it would seem also, of a thoughtful and earnest life."


The 1677 will of Stukely Westcott


I, Stukely Westcott of Warwick in the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, now residing in Portsmouth in Rhode Island aforesaid; being aged about eighty-five years, and in my right senses and perfect understanding and memory, doe make this my last will and testament, to the disposing of my estate which is as follows, to whit:

In the first place, I bequeath my body to the dust to be buryed, and my soul unto God who gave it.

Item. I make ordain and appoint my eldest [iving] son Amos Westcott my lawful and sole executor or to see this my will performed, and also to pay and receive all my debts as belonging to me.

Item. I give and bequeath to my said executor all my movable estate as Cattel goods and chattels, and also my land lying in Potamet Neck, and my meadow lying at Toskownk in the township of Warwick aforesaid. Also two-fourths of my land at Coewsit; all of which said lands together with all privileges thereunto belonging or appertaining I give to him his heirs and assignees for ever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grandson Amos Westcott, my town lot in Warwick aforesaid which I formerly lived on, with orcharding fencing and all things thereunto belonging; and also my thirty-acre lot and meadow lot lying in Shawomet aforesaid, and also my share of land lying on the south side of Patuxet River which I purchased together with Mr Samuel Gorton, Mr Holding, Mr Collins and John Potter; all of which aforesaid lands or parcels with all and singular the privileges appertaining I doe give grants and confirm to my aforesaid grandson his heirs and assignes for ever.

In confirming of all of the above written presents, I set my hand and seal this twelfth day of January, 1677.

Note: this will was not signed and was never executed. He was dissuaded from signing it by his grandson, Caleb Arnold, until his sons, Amos and Jeremiah, who were then upon the neighbouring island of Prudence, could be sent for. However, before Caleb could reach them, Stukely died.


The almost illegible entry of the 5 October 1619 marriage of Stukely Westcott and Julian Marchant in St John's parish register.


The entry of Damaris Westcott's baptism in St John's parish register. The entry reads "Damaris Daughter to Stweklie Westcott the 27 of January".


The entry of Samuel Westcott's baptism in St John's parish register. The entry reads "Samuell sonne to Stukly Westcott bap the 31 March".


A map of the United States with Rhode Island highlighted.


On 8 October 1638, Stukely Westcott was recorded as one the twelve original partners who founded the Providence Plantation. Stukely's plot is shown in pink.


The memorial to Stukely Westcott in the southeast corner of 6-acre Home Lot, Warwick, Rhode Island. The inscription reads -

1647-1677, OF

JUNE 24, 1935