James #5618

English St George flag animationWilliam James (1613-1683)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts probably in 1630 and later settled in Rhode Island and

Unknown Spouse

James #5618

There is not much reliable information available on William James, who is reported by most sources to be the father of Joan James, my 9th g-grandmother.  However, there were at least two men by the name of William James in Rhode Island at the right time to have been her father, and no one seems to know with certainty which one (if either) is the right man.  The two men in question are:

  • William James, who arrived at Salem with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630.  This man was accompanied by his wife (Mrs. Elizabeth), Edmond James (and Mrs. Reana James) and Thomas James (and Mrs. Elizabeth James).  All of them were from Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, England, but the relationships among these individuals is unknown – possibly a father and two sons, with their wives, possibly all brothers, or possibly related in some other way.
  • William James, bound for Boston on the Lyon, which sailed from London on 22 Jun 1632 with 123 passengers aboard.  This man was from Walthamstow, Essex, England.  According to some sources, this is the same ship that brought Roger Williams[1], John Coggeshall[2] and John Throckmorton[3], but this is not correct.  Williams, Coggeshall and Throckmorton arrived on a different Lyon voyage , which left Bristol, England in February 1630/31.  Supposedly, this William James for religious reasons (i.e., for pride and diverse other evils in which he remained obstinate) was turned out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony with Roger Williams, who went on to found Providence, Rhode Island.  Some sources report that the expulsion occured in 1639, but if true, this would have occurred a few years after Roger Wiliams was exiled.

One of these men is thought to be the father of Joan James, who married Henry Brightman.  It is possible, however, that this is a different man, or even that the two Williams mentioned above are actually one and the same person, whose biographical details have become confused over time.  There doesn’t seem to be any proof one way or the other, however, I am inclined to believe that my ancestor is the man who arrived with the Winthrop Fleet in 1632.  For one thing, the Winthrop Fleet party of 700 or so was much larger, making it more probable that our man was among their number.  In addition, if William James was expelled from Massachusetts along with Roger Williams, why did he not become a Freeman at Newport until 1655?  He could have settled first in Portsmouth and removed later to Newport, however, his name is not among the known early settlers of Portsmouth.  For now, I will leave this question as a subject for future research, but the truth may never be known with certainty.

William was made a Freeman at Newport in 1655.  He died in 1683 and was reportedly buried in the Coddington Cemetery[4] on Farewell Street, Newport, Rhode Island, but no stone has survived.  There is, however, a stone marking the grave of his son, known as William James Sr. (1639-1697).

The passenger lists of the Winthrop Fleet indicate a wife for William James by the name of Elizabeth.  However, this woman is not necessarily the mother of William’s daughter Joan, who was born over 20 years later in Rhode Island.  Some sources report that Elizabeth died in 1632, but I am not aware of documentation to support this claim.  If so, William probably remarried to the woman who became the mother of his daughter Joan, but her name is lost to us.

The daughter of William James is Joan James.  She is thought to be the wife of Henry Brightman (1650-1728), my 9th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.  Joan was born about 1655 at Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 1716 at Newport.

Grave marker for William James Sr. (1650-1697) in the Coddington Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island.  He is the brother of Joan James, my 9th g-grandmother.

Grave marker for William James Sr. (about 1639-1697) in the Coddington Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island. He is the brother of Joan James, my 9th g-grandmother.

More is known regarding a son of William James, known as William James Sr., tanner, who was born about 1639.  Some sources provide a date of birth for William Sr. as 1650.  However, a birth date of about 1639-40 has been established from two manuscripts, one by George H. Richardson and the other by Dr. Henry Turner, both at the Newport Historical Society, which record the inscription on William’s stone as stating he had died 19 Oct 19 1697, age 58.  He was buried in the Coddington Burial Ground, Newport.  On 10 Dec 1677 at Newport, he married Susannah Martin, the daughter of Joseph Martin and Mary Coggeshall of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

The lineage of Joan James and Henry Brightman (1650-1728) is continued under his heading.

[1] Roger Williams (1603-1683) is my 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[2] John Coggeshall is the father-in-law of my 7th g-grand uncle: John Coggeshall (1618 – 1708) – Patience Coggeshall (1669 – 1747) – Samuel Rathbun (1672 – 1757), brother of John Rathbun (1629 – 1702), my 8th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[3] John Throckmorton is the maternal grandfather of wife of my 7th g-grand uncle: John Throckmorton (1600 – 1687) – Patience Throckmorton (1640 – 1677) – Patience Coggeshall (1669 – 1747) – Samuel Rathbun (1672 – 1757), brother of John Rathbun (1629 – 1702), my 8th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[4] The Coddington Cemetery, located at 34 Farewell Street in Newport, Rhode Island, is a very old colonial cemetery with 93 known interments, and has the largest number of interred colonial governors of any cemetery in the state.  The six governors buried here are William Coddington, Nicholas Easton, William Coddington, Jr., Henry Bull, John Easton, and John Wanton, all Quakers.  None of the six governor graves has a governor’s medallion like those found at the gravesites of most other colonial governors.  The first known interment in this cemetery was that of Mary Moseley Coddington, the wife of Governor William Coddington, who died in 1647, and the last interment was that of James Easton who died in 1796.  The cemetery has been designated as Rhode Island Historic Cemetery, Newport #9, and is located on Farewell Street between Baptist and Coddington Streets in Newport.  Within the cemetery is a monument honoring Governor William Coddington, erected on the 200th anniversary of the founding of Newport.


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