© 2014 Christy K Robinson
|Same photo, but rotated 135 degrees for your comfort.|
Ruth Taylor, Executive Director at Newport Historical Society, wrote: “This is likely a transcription of a boundary setting-agreement. The document features the names of Roger Williams, Benedict Arnold, and Miantonomi, but none appear to be original signatures. It is interesting that the transcriber copied not just Miantonomi's name, but also the small boat pictograph he used when signing.”
In 1636, Rev. Roger Williams was the founder of the township of Providence Plantations, which added Portsmouth in 1638, and Newport in 1639, to form the Colony of Providence Plantations and Rhode Island. Benedict Arnold, one of Providence's first 13 settlers with Williams, was one of the wealthiest landowners there, and was the ancestor of the infamous General Benedict Arnold of the American Revolution. Miantonomi was a Narragansett Indian sachem (chief) who was executed by approval of the United Colonies in 1643.
The handwriting on the discovered document shown in the photo is almost surely that of William Dyer, Mary Barrett Dyer's husband. He was appointed Secretary of the colony from 1639-1647, when he became Recorder. Those d's with the back loop are much like William's. I have a number of images of his handwriting to compare with.
|NHS photo again, enlarged. Notice the backward-looped d's, and the W on Roger Williams' name, |
which looks like the W on William Dyre's signature.
|1638: Portsmouth Compact of founders of Rhode Island, in William Dyer's hand. |
Notice the W at the beginning of the paragraph.
|1660: Portion of William Dyer's letter to Massachusetts General Court |
appealing his wife's death sentence. Notice the backward loop on the d's at the ends of words.
Document courtesy of Massachusetts State Library
|1659: William Dyre (Dyer)'s signature. |
The W is drawn in four continuous strokes.
Related article: A peek at William Dyer's handwriting