A River Ran Between Them

February 28, 2016   Sunday

I found something very interesting as I entertained myself late in the night at the Whitney Turning Point house.  Remember that John Peckham–your John Peckham, first Peckham in America–as best as it is understood, married first to a Mary Clarke that was the sister of John Clarke.  John Clarke was basically the Roger Williams of Aquidneck Island.  He was at the head of all the developments over Newport/Portsmouth for several decades, not only founding the First Baptist Church, but serving later as an agent in England on behalf of Rhode Island.  Remember too that throughout the 1640s to 1670s RI is getting squeezed from the North by Puritan magistrates like Samuel Symonds, and also from the west by more of my family, Gov. Winthrop the Younger in New London, Connecticut.  So imagine this story below:

An unforeseen emergency occurred in the spring of 1662 when the governor of the Connecticut Colony, John Winthrop, Jr., was given an audience with the king ahead of Clarke, and got a new charter approved for his colony. While Winthrop was on good terms with many Rhode Islanders, he also had a stake in the Atherton Company, which undermined the sovereignty of Rhode Island by buying large tracts of land of the natives west of the Narraganset Bay, where Rhode Island claimed the territory.[79] Clarke regarded Winthrop’s conduct as treacherous, and the Connecticut governor did his utmost to keep Rhode Island in the dark about his intentions by sailing to England from New Amsterdam instead of the usual route from Boston. Furthermore, Winthrop avoided Clarke while in England, and was able to get his charter approved in May 1662.[80]

Recognizing conflict between Connecticut and Rhode Island, the Earl of Clarendon (grandfather of Queen May II and Queen Anne), representing the king, summoned Winthrop and Clarke in July 1662 to settle the boundary dispute between the two colonies. Both colonies claimed the territory between the Pawcatuck River to the west and the Narragansett Bay to the east. Following months of negotiations involving lawyers and arbitrators on both sides, the boundary line between the two colonies was set as the Pawcatuck River, favoring Rhode Island in the dispute. Those who had settled on Atherton Company lands were allowed to choose whether to be governed by Connecticut or Rhode Island. Once the agreement was reached, Winthrop returned to New England while Clarke made his final push for Rhode Island’s charter.[81]

So  there they are, May, your family vs. my family before royalty to decide the borders of Connecticut and Rhode Island.  You won.  (I picture it something like the scene in John Adams that you like, except with three men in the room)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s