27 09 2011

The anonymous author of this letter to the Providence Evening Press signed his name as Canonicus. Like Tockwotton, Canonicus is a name with local Rhode Island significance.

Canonicus was a Narragansett sachem, or chieftain, born sometime around 1565. When Reverend Roger Williams and his followers left the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636 Canonicus granted them permission to reside on a large tract of land that became the beginnings of Providence Plantation. Today the agreement is referred to as a deed. Opinions vary. Here’s a depiction of the signing of the agreement, Williams in the pointy hat, Canonicus making his mark:

Today Canonicus lends his name to an avenue in Newport, a Baptist Camp in Exeter, and over the years there have been four, count ’em, four USS Canonicuses (Canonici?). Here’s one, commissioned in 1864:

Canonicus’s grandson was Canonchet, and his name would later grace the home of Rhode Island Governor William Sprague and his wife, Kate Chase. Before that Canonchet was the leader of the Narragansett during King Philip’s War.

Canonicus died in 1647. Rev. Williams wrote that without the sachem, there would have been no Rhode Island.



2 responses

27 09 2011
“Canonicus”, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry (?), On the March to Manassas (1) « Bull Runnings

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28 09 2011
Brian Kammerer

Good post…Kate Chase Sprague is probably the type of the girl and later the woman Scarlett O’Hara was fashioned after. Sprague was a cad yes but typical of this period of some if not many successful men. He did put his money where his mouth was and went into battle without rank to support the regiment he raised and equipped. For that he should be always commended. Lucky for him he escaped unscathed only to wound himself through inappropriate behavior. Very “Greek” of him as modern politician continue to follow his example. History repeats itself.


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