Baby born in Providence, named Providence

"The Banishment of Roger Williams" by Peter F. Rothermel
Roger Williams

English clergyman Roger Williams and his wife, Mary, migrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631.

Williams was pious and good-natured, but also outspoken about his unorthodox views. He believed, for instance, that church and state should be separate, and that Native Americans should be compensated for their land. These and other “dangerous opinions” led to Williams being banished from the colony in October of 1635.

To evade punishment (i.e., being sent back to England and imprisoned), Williams fled the colony — alone, on foot, during a blizzard in January of 1636. It was a particularly harsh winter, but he was able to survive with the help of the Native Americans.

That spring, after making his way southward, Williams acquired land from the Narragansett and established his own settlement. He wrote:

…having made covenant of peaceable neighborhood with all the sachems and natives round about us, and having, in a sense of God’s merciful providence unto me in my distress, called the place PROVIDENCE, I desired it might be for a shelter for persons distressed for conscience;

In September of 1638, he and his wife welcomed their third child (and first boy). They named him Providence, after his birthplace.

Williams went on to establish the colony of Rhode Island in the mid-1640s. By then, all six of his children (Mary, Freeborn, Providence, Mercy, Daniel, and Joseph) had been born.

P.S. Virginia and Bermuda are two other New World babies named after their birthplaces.


Image: The Banishment of Roger Williams (c. 1850) by Peter F. Rothermel

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