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More Historical Facts

Rhode Island Attorneys General: 1640 - Present

In 1643, Roger Williams obtained a patent (charter) from the English Parliament.  The towns of Providence and Warwick elected a Chief Officer under the authority of this Parliamentary Patent of 1643.  In 1647, the towns of Newport, Portsmouth, Providence, and Warwick formed a united colony under the Parliamentary Patent.  In May 1650, the offices of "Attorney General for the Colonie" and "Solicitor" were created.

Attorney-General (General Attorney) under the Patent of 1643

William Dyre, of Newport May 1650 - 1651 

Solicitor (General Solicitor) under the Patent of 1643

Hugh Buit May 1650 - 1651 
In 1651, Newport and Portsmouth broke with the mainland towns of Providence and Warwick.  No Attorney-General was selected for the latter.

1 Attorney-General of Newport and Portsmouth under the Coddington Commission

John Easton, of Newport May 1653 - May 1654

2 In 1654, the union of the four towns was re-established.

Attorneys-General Under The Patent of 1643

John Cranston, of Newport May 1654 - May 1656
John Easton, of Newport May 1656 - May 1657
John Greene, Jr. of Warwick  May 1657 - May 1660
John Easton, of Newport  May 1660 - May 1663
John Sanford, of Portsmouth May 1663 - November 1663 

3 The Royal Charter was granted by King Charles II on July 8, 1663.

4 John Sanford, of Portsmouth

November 1663 - 1664
John Easton, of Newport 1664 - 1670 
John Sanford, of Portsmouth  1670 - 1671 
Joseph Torrey, of Newport  1671 - 1672 
John Easton, of Newport  1672 - 1674 
Peter Easton, of Newport  1674 - 1676 
Weston Clarke, of Newport  1676 - 1677 
Edward Richmond, of Newport 1677 - 1680 
Weston Clarke, of Newport  1680 - 1681 
Edmund Calverly, of Warwick  1681 - 1682 
John Pococke, of Newport  1684 - 1685 
Weston Clarke, of Newport  1685 - 1686 
John Pococke, of Newport 1684 - 1685
Weston Clarke, of Newport  1685 - 1686 
John Williams, of Newport  1686 - 1686 

5 The Royal Charter was suspended from 1686 - 1689

6 Sir Edmund Andros, at Boston:  Governor of New England

June 3, 1686 - April 18 - 1689 
7 John Pococke, of Newport May 1690 - ????
8 John Smith, of Warwick May 1696 - 1698
John Pococke, of Newport  1698 - 1700 
John Rhodes, of Warwick  1700 - 1701 
John Pococke, of Newport 1701 - 1702 
Nathaniel Dyre, of Newport 1702 - 1704
Joseph Sheffield, of Newport 1704 - 1706
Simon Smith, of Warwick  1706 - 1712 
Richard Ward, of Newport  1712 - 1713 
John Hammett, of Newport  1713 - 1714 
Weston Clarke, of Newport  1714 - 1721 
Henry Bull, of Newport  1721 - 1722 
9 Daniel Updike, of North Kingstown 1722 - 1732 
James Honeyman, Jr., of Newport  1732 - 1740 

10 King's Attorneys

James Honeyman, Jr., of Newport Country    1741 - 1743
John Wanton, of Providence County  1741 - 1742
11 Daniel Updike, of King's County 1741 - 1743
John Andrew, of Providence County  1742 - 1743

12 Attorneys-General

Daniel Updike, of North Kingstown 1746 - 1747  
Augustus Johnston, of Newport  1758 - 1766  
Oliver Arnold, of Providence  1766 - 1771  
Henry Marchant, of Newport 1771 - 1777  
William Channing, of Newport 1777 - 1787  
Henry Goodwin, of Newport  1787 - 1789  
David Howell, of Providence  1789 - 1790  
Daniel Updike, of North Kingstown 1790 - 1791  
13 William Channing, of Newport 1791 - 1793  
14 Ray Greene, of Providence 1794 - 1797  
James Burrill, Jr., of Providence  1797 - 1814  
Samuel W. Bridgham, of Providence 1814 - 1817  
Henry Bowen, of Providence  1817 - 1819  
Dutee J. Pearce  1819 - 1825  
Albert C. Greene, of East Greenwich 1825 - 1843  
Joseph M. Blake, of Bristol   1843 - 1851  
Walter S. Burges, of Cranston  1851 - 1854  
Christopher Robinson, of Cumberland 1854 - 1855  
Charles Hart, of Providence  1855 - 1858  
Jerome Kimball, of Providence 1858 - 1860  
Walter S. Burges, of Cranston  1860 - 1863  
Abraham Payne, of Providence  1863 - 1864  
Horatio Rogers, Jr., of Providence  1864 - 1867  
Willard Sayles, of Providence  1867 - 1882  
Samuel P. Colt, of Bristol 1882 - 1886  
Edwin Metcalf, of Providence  1886 - 1887  
Ziba O. Slocum, of Providence  1887 - 1888  
Horatio Rogers, of Providence  1888 - 1889  
Ziba O. Slocum, of Providence  1889 - 1891  
Robert W. Burbank, of Providence  1891 - 1894  
Edward C. Dubois, of East Providence 1894 - 1897  
Willard B. Tanner, of Providence  1897 - 1901 [R]
Charles F. Stearns, of Providence  1901 - 1905 [D]
William B. Greenough, of Providence  1905 - 1912 [R]
15 Herbert A. Rice, of Pawtucket  1912 - 1923 [R]
Herbert L. Carpenter, of No. Smithfield 1923 - 1925 [D]
16 Charles P. Sisson, of Providence  1922 - 1929 [R]
17 Oscar L. Heltzen, of Providence  1929 - 1930 [R]
18 Benjamin M. McLyman, of Providence 1930 - 1933 [R]
John P. Hartigan, of Cranston  1933 - 1939 [D]
Louis V. Jackvony, of Providence  1939 - 1941 [R]
John H. Nolan, of Newport  1941 - 1949 [D]
William E. Powers, of Cumberland  1949 - 1958 [D]
19 J. Joseph Nugent, of Providence  1958 - 1967 [D]
Herbert F. DeSimone, of Providence  1967 - 1971 [R]
Richard J. Israel, of Providence  1971 - 1975 [R]
Julius C. Michaelson, of Providence  1975 - 1979 [D]
Dennis J. Roberts II, of Providence  1979 - 1985 [D]
Arlene N. Violet, of Providence  1985 - 1987 [R]
James E. O'Neil, of Narragansett  1987 - 1993 [D]
Jeffrey B. Pine, of Providence  1993 - 1999 [R]
Sheldon Whitehouse, of Providence  1999 - 2003 [D]
Patrick Lynch, of East Providence  2003 - 2011 [D]
Peter Kilmartin, of Pawtucket 2011 - Present [D]
Notes:

1. In 1651, a separation occurred between the towns of Providence and Warwick on the one side, which continued the government under the Parliamentary Patent of 1643, and Newport and Portsmouth on the other, which formed a new government under the authority of a commission that had been granted to William Coddington, appointing him proprietary Governor-for-life of the islands of Rhode Island (Aquidneck) and Conanicut (Jamestown). This commission was granted on April 3,1651 by the Council of the State of the Commonwealth of England. [Top]

2.Late in 1651, Roger Williams and John Clarke sailed to England. Williams was seeking the re-affirmation of the 1643 Parent, and Clarke had been asked by residents of Newport and Portsmouth to obtain and annulment of William Coddington's Commission. On October 2, 1652,the Council of State granted their requests. [Top]

3. On July 8, 1663, Dr. John Clarke obtained for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations a Royal Charter from the Court of King Charles. II. [Top]

4. First Attorney-General elected under the Royal Charter, November 25, 1663. [Top]

5. On June 3, 1686, King James II appointed Sir Edmund Andros to be Governor of New England, and on September 13, 1686, instructed him to demand the surrender of Rhode Island's Royal Charter.  The Charter was suspended and the government of Rhode Island swore allegiance to Sir Edmund Andros, but managed to avoid the surrender of the Royal Charter. [Top]

6.  King James II was deposed on December 10, 1688. King William III and his wife, Queen Mary, were crowned as joint sovereigns of England on April 11, 1689.  The governorship of Sir Edmund Andros was overthrown on April 18, 1689.  On May 1, 1689, the Rhode Island Assembly met in Newport and ordered that the persons elected in May of 1686 should resume their offices. [Top]

7. The first election for Attorney-General after the restoration of the Charter was on May 7, 1690.  John Pococke was elected. [Top]

8.  There is a gap in the colony records from 1690 - 1696. [Top]

9.  Longest service as Attorney General (1722 - 1732 and 1743 - 1758). [Top]

10. In December 1740, the act providing for a colony wide attorney general was repealed, and a king's attorney was chosen for each county. [Top]

11.  King's County later renamed as Washington County. [Top]

12. In September 1742, the act providing for king's attorneys was repealed, and the election of a colony-wide general was re-instated. [Top]

13. Died in Newport, September 17, 1793. [Top]

14. Resigned, have been elected United States Senator. [Top]

15. Longest term as an Attorney General; 11 years. [Top]

16.  Resigned on June 10, 1929. [Top]

17.  Appointed by the Governor on June 10, 1929, replacing Charles P. Sisson. [Top]

18. Elected by the General assembly on January 16, 1930 replacing Charles P. Sisson and was re-elected at general Election on November 4, 1930. [Top]

19. Elected by Grand Committee, January 21, 1958 replacing William E. Powers and was elected at the General Election on November 4, 1958. [Top]

[TOP OF PAGE] Sources: Rhode Island Colonial Records, 1636 - 1792, the Rhode Island Acts & Resolves, and the Rhode Island Manuals 1867 - 2004, all published by the Secretary of State of Rhode Island.