337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2353
Fax: (401) 222-3199
Open to the public
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Prior to the unification of the colony in 1663, each of Rhode Island’s four original settlements —Newport, Warwick, Portsmouth, and Providence— utilized its own treasurers to keep track of finances, and usually only as the need arose. For example, a General Assembly document of March 16-19, 1641 called for two treasurers to oversee the accounts and report to the general court, and also stipulated that the individual towns’ treasurers each needed to keep accounts and “towne books”. Explicit mention of officers for the “whole colonie” first appears in the 1647 Patent for Providence Plantations. This document variously refers to the office of “Treasurer” and “Publick Treasurer,” and describes the duties of the office.
The Royal Charter of 1663 does not mention a general treasurer, but the colony passed a law in March of that year specifically affirming the establishment of the office along with that of governor, lieutenant governor, and other offices for the colony. (“…There shall be chosen and elected, one general recorder, who shall be the secretary of the colony, one sheriff, who shall have the care and custody of his majesty’s goal in Newport, one general attorney, and one general treasurer; for the better regulating and managing the affairs of government.”) In 1842, the first state constitution was ratified and, with it, the confirmation of duties for the general treasurer previously established in 1663; the length of term for the office was set at one year. In 1912, however, the general officers’ terms of office, including the General Treasurer’s, were increased from to one to two years.
Today, besides heading the Treasury department, the general treasurer also serves as a member of several other bodies, including the Rhode Island State Employee Retirement Board, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation, the Higher Education Assistance Authority, the Public Finance Management Board, and the Refunding Bond Authority.
The people of Rhode Island elect a General Treasurer every four years.
This sub-group includes the records of individual general treasurers.