William Baulstone, Sr. was a colonial New England innkeeper, who was very active in the civil and military affairs of both the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He was a founding settler of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was continuously elected to the highest positions in the colony, and was one of the ten Assistants named in the Rhode Island Royal Charter.

William Baulstone was born circa 1605 in England to Hugh Baulstone (1557-) and Sarah Agnes Parker (1557-1637) and died 14 March 1678 Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island of unspecified causes. He married Elizabeth Potter (1609-1683) 1626 in England.

1630: Winthrop Fleet Migration


This family were some of the 700+ Passengers of the Winthrop Fleet which sailed from England to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Salem in 1630 under the guidance of Gov. John Winthrop. It is reported that during the first year nearly 200 of these colonists died and another 100 returned to England. The remaining settlers either stayed in Salem or moved on to Boston or Watertown.

Born by about 1605, William Baulston arrived in Boston with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630, and was made a freeman on 19 October of that year. By 1634 he had become involved with the colonial militia, and was designated as Sergeant. In 1637 he was given a license to keep a house of entertainment, and given permission to "sell such claret and white wine as is sent for."

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.

When the Reverend John Wheelwright was censured by the General Court in March 1637, Baulston was one of nearly 60 men who signed a petition in support of the minister. As the events of the controversy came to a head, Baulston was brought into court on 2 November 1637, fined 20 pounds, disfranchised, and prohibited from bearing any public office.[1] A few weeks later, further action was taken against Baulston and many others when they were ordered to turn in all their "guns, pistols, swords, powder [&] shot" because "the opinions and revelations of Mr. Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson, have seduced and lead into dangerous errors many of the people here in New England."[1] Despite the November order, he continued as a Boston selectman until April 1638.[2]

Summary: 1637 Portsmouth Compact Signer

Plaque commemorating the Portsmouth Compact 1638-1936

He was one of 23 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.

On 7 March 1638, Baulston was one of 23 men who signed a compact to establish a new government outside the jurisdiction of the Bay Colony. He was present at a general meeting of the Pocasset residents on 13 May 1638, and a week later he was granted six acres of land, and also given permission to establish a house of entertainment for strangers, to sell wines, and to brew beer. In 1639 the town of Pocasset was renamed Portsmouth.

Rhode Island Royal Charter

Once established in Portsmouth, Baulston became very active in the military and civil affairs of the colony. In June 1638 he was selected as Sergeant of the Train Band, and in 1642 became Lieutenant.[1] Meanwhile, in 1640 he was the Treasurer for both towns of Portsmouth and Newport, and in 1643 held the same role for Portsmouth only.[3] In 1641 Baulston was elected as the Assistant to the Governor from Portsmouth, a position he held for 20 of the next 33 years.[1] He was one of the ten Assistants named in the Royal Charter of 1663, which provided the framework for Rhode Island's government for nearly two centuries. He was also a commissioner for seven years between 1654 and 1663, and in 1664 he was one of four special commissioners chosen to meet with their counterparts from the Plymouth Colony to settle the boundary line between the two colonies.

Portsmouth Training Band

In 1667 Baulston provided a "horse, furniture and rider" for a troop of horse.[4] He continued to hold public office until 1672 when he was chosen overseer of the poor, but his absence from a meeting suggests that he was becoming infirm. He wrote his will on 11 March 1677, and died three days later according to Austin, but Anderson doesn't find evidence for this.


Offspring of William Baulstone and Elizabeth Potter (1609-1683)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Baulstone (1629-1700) 1629 Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island 1 October 1700 Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island John Coggeshall (1624-1708) John Coggeshall (1624-1708) John Gould (1627-1693)
James Baulstone (1628-1681)
Pittee Baulstone (1630-1677)
William Baulstone (1633-1677)
Mary Baulstone (1634-1677)
Mehitable Baulstone (1637-1677)
Meribah Baulstone (1637-1677)



See Also

Footnotes (including sources)


  1. ^ a b c d Austin 1887, p. 16.
  2. ^ Anderson 1995, p. 136.
  3. ^ Austin 1887, pp. 16-17.
  4. ^ Anderson 1995, p. 134.