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John Clarke

Clarke, John, 1609–76, one of the founders of Rhode Island, b. Westhorpe, Suffolk, England. He emigrated to Boston in 1637 and shortly thereafter joined Anne Hutchinson (with whom he had sided in the antinomian controversy) and William Coddington in founding (1638) Portsmouth on Aquidneck (Rhode Island). The next year, he and Coddington withdrew to found Newport, where he was both physician and Baptist pastor. Clarke favored the 1647 union of the Aquidneck settlements with Providence and Warwick and in 1651 went with Roger Williams to England to defend the union against Coddington's attacks. They were successful, and Williams soon returned. Clarke remained in England and was influential in securing the liberal charter of 1663. On his return to Rhode Island he served (1664–69) in the general assembly and was thrice elected deputy governor. His Ill Newes from New England (1652) was an arraignment of Massachusetts authorities for their hostility to religious liberty.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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