Name: Robert Coles
Birth: ABT 1605 in Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Death: BEF 18 OCT 1654 in Warwick, Kent Co, RI
FIRST RESIDENCE: Roxbury
REMOVES: Ipswich 1633, Salem 1635, Providence 1638, Pawtuxet, Warwick 1653
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admitted to Roxbury church as member #8, "he came with the first company, 1630" [RChR 74]. Excommunicated at some later date [RChR 75].
FREEMAN: Requested 19 October 1630 (as "Mr. Roberte Coles") and admitted 18 May 1631 [MBCR 1:80, 366]). Disenfranchised 4 March 1633/4, but apparently readmitted 14 May 1634 [MBCR 1:112, 118].
EDUCATION: He signed his name to his deed, but his wife Mary made her mark [PrTR 20:82].
OFFICES: Representative for Roxbury to General Court, 9 May 1632 [MBCR 1:95]. He helped write the arbitration law, 27 July 1640 [PrTR 15:2].
ESTATE: On 28 December 1635 Salem "granted unto Rob[er]t Cole his heirs and assignees three hundred acres of land whereof forty acres is marsh fit to be mowed lying and being about 3 miles from Salem westward upon a freshwater brook called the North Brook" [STR 1:11; presumably the same land included under his name in the 1636 town grant, STR 1:20]. By 16 July 1638 Emanuel Downing had purchased this three hundred acres [STR 1:71, 72, 76]. On 25 December 1637 "Mr. Cole" was granted one acre of marsh and meadow, for a household of eight [STR 1:103].
Robert Cole was one of the principal men of Providence on 22 December 1666 when Roger Williams sold his Indian deed to the town's inhabitants [PrTR 3:90].
He received a share of meadow as a Patuxett proprietor, 8 October 1638 [PrTR 15:31]. He paid a town rate at Providence on 2 September 1650 totalling £3 6s. 8d., placing him among the five richest men in town [PrTR 15:33]. On 3 January 1652/3, Robert Coles sold his house and houselot to Richard Pray and his wife Mary [PrTR 2:13]. On 27 February 1653/4, "Robert Coles of Warwick by and with the consent of Mary his wife" sold to Zachariah "Roades" their interest in a dwelling house and homeshare of land and one share of land more "which the said Robert Coles bought of his son-in-law Henery Townsend," also a parcel near the fall and a parcel once in the use of Fraunces Weston, also all the land belonging to Robert Coles in the common near Pawtuxett, excepting only his Mashapauge meadow and an adjoining twenty-four acres [PrTR 1:87-90].
On 27 April 1655 Robert Coles sold a meadow and twenty-five acres of upland to Vall. Whitman [PrTR 2:15].
On 28 October 1654 [sic - probably intended to be 1655] the Warwick town council met to "agitate and order concerning the estate of Mr. Robert Coles of this town of Warwick late deceased and intestate"; the inventory showed that the estate totalled £501, with debts of £112 13s. against the estate; "Mary Coles the wife of the late deceased Robert Coles" was named administrator, and distribution of the estate was ordered as follows: to "his eldest son John Coles" £80 and a mare; to "Daniel Coles the second son" £50 when he is twenty-one; to "Nathaniell the third son" £40 when he is twenty-one; to "Robert Coles the fourth son" £40 when he is twenty-one; and to "Sarah Coles" £40 at marriage or at twenty-one; the "said children which are under age shall be under the tuition of the said Mary Coles their mother" [MacDonough-Hackstaff 455-57, citing Warwick Town Council].
On 5 December 1655 John Coles of Warwick, having "agreed before the Town Council to receive fourscore pound and a mare of my mother-in-law of my portion and accordingly it is ratified by writing bearing date the 25 of October 1655, relinquished any claim he might have "unto any of my deceased father's estate, housing or lands belonging to me in New England" [WarTR 226-27].
On 20 January 1655[/6] Mary Coles of Warwick, "widow of Robert Coles late deceased," confirmed a deed wherein "my husband before his death sold unto my son-in-law Henry Townsend a certain parcel of meadow being 3 acres" [WarTR 227-28]. On 5 April 1656 "Mary Coles widow of Robert Coles late deceased" of Warwick granted to "my son-in-law Richard Townsend 8 acres of meadow" [WarTR 278].
Long after his death he continued to draw land from his rights in Providence. In the 19 February 1665[/6] lottery for land on the east side of the Seven Mile Line he drew lot number 4 [PrTR 3:72]. In the 12 April 1675 lottery for land on the west side of the Seven Mile Line, "Robart Coles" drew lot number 75 [PrTR 4:45]. In the 24 May 1675 lottery for land on the east side of the Seven Mile Line, he drew lot number 79. In the 17 March 1683/4 lottery for land on the west side of Seven Mile Line, he drew lot number 70.
BIRTH: By about 1605 based on approximated date of first marriage.
DEATH: Warwick between 27 April 1655 and 25 October 1655. (The settlement of his estate as published is dated 28 October 1654, but Robert Coles appears to have made a deed on 27 April 1655, and son John Coles says he signed an agreement on 25 October 1655, which would be three days before the Town Council meeting if were on 28 October 1655 and not 1654. Also, the deeds of confirmation made by the widow of Robert Coles all come within a few months after October 1655.)
MARRIAGE: (1) By about 1630 Mary _____; "Mary Cole, the wife of Robert Cole," was admitted to Roxbury church as member #34, along with many others who arrived in 1632, and Eliot notes that "God also wrought upon her heart (as it was hoped) after her coming to N.E., but after her husband's excommunication & falls she did too much favor his ways, yet not as to incur any just blame, she lived an afflicted life, by reason of his unsettledness & removing from place to place" [RChR 75]; she died by about 1637.
(2) By about 1637 Mary Hawkshurst; she married (2) after 5 April 1656 [WarTR 278] and probably before 5 February 1656/7 Matthias Harvye of Warwick and Oyster Bay [NYGBR 123:12-13].
With first wife
i JOHN, b. about 1630 (deposed aged about thirty-three years, eldest son of Robert Coles, on 8 September 1663 [PrTR 14:258]); m. Ann _____, who was his widow on 1 January 1683 [Oyster Bay Town Records, Volume I - 1653-1690 (New York 1916), p. 177-78].
ii DELIVERANCE, b. say 1632; m. by about 1652 Richard Townsend.
iii ANN, b. say 1634; m. by 1653 Henry Townsend [PrTR 1:87-90].
With second wife
iv DANIEL, b. say 1637; m. by about 1662 Mahershallalhashbaz Gorton, daughter of Samuel Gorton [RILE 134-35].
v NATHANIEL, b. say 1642; m. (1) Warwick 30 August 1667 Martha Jackson [RIVR 1:Warwick:34].
vi ROBERT, b. say 1644; said to have m. 1 January 1670 Mercy Wright [MacDonough-Hackstaff 455].
vii SARAH, b. say 1646; said to have m. Thomas Townsend [MacDonough-Hackstaff 455].
COMMENTS: On 16 August 1631 fined five marks for being disorderly with drink [MBCR 1:90]. On 6 March 1631/2 "Rob[er]te Coles, of Rocksbury," was fined 20s. for "being drunk at Charlton in October last" [MBCR 1:93], and on 3 April 1632 he confessed his fault in attempting to excuse himself at the previous court, and had his fine remitted [MBCR 1:94]. On 3 September 1633 Robert Coles was fined £10 for "abusing himself shamefully with drink, enticing John Shotswell his wife to incontinency, & other misdemeanor" [MBCR 1:107]. On 4 March 1634/5 it was ordered that Robert Coles "shall not pay more of his fine of £10, for drunkenness, &c, than hath been already levied in strong water" [MBCR 1:139]. All of these fines were remitted or discharged in the general amnesty of 6 September 1638 [MBCR 1:243-44].
On 4 March 1633/4 the General Court ordered that Robert Coles "for drunkenness by him committed at Rocksbury, shall be disfranchised, wear about his neck, & so to hang upon his outward garment a D, made of red cloth, & set upon white; to continue this for a year, & not to leave it off at any time when he comes amongst company, under penalty of 40s. for the first offense, & £5 the second, & after to be punished by the Court as they think meet; also, he is to wear the D outwards, & is enjoined to appear at the next General Court, & to continue there till the Court be ended" [MBCR 1:112]. On 14 May 1634 the General Court ordered that the "sentence of Court inflicted upon Rob[er]te Coles, March 4th, 1633, for drunkenness, &c, by him committed, is now reversed, upon his submission, & testimony being given of his good behavior" [MBCR 1:118].
On 1 April 1633 the General Court gave permission for ten men, including Robert Coles, to settle Agawam (Ipswich) [MBCR 1:103].
Robert Coles was one of those who in 1640 and 1642 attempted to bring Pawtuxet under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay Colony [SLR 1:33, 124-25; MBCR 2:26-27].
In June 1649 when Nanheggen was accused of being a thief, he professed his innocence and described his whereabouts and activities, having been at work at Mr. Coles he met with Wenontupe and offered him wompum to work, but "Mrs. Cole would not have him to work there, because he had the name of a thief" [PrTR 15:24].
That Robert Coles had two wives, both named Mary, is indicated by the release made by John Coles on 8 December 1655, when he called his father's widow "my mother-in-law." The identity of the second wife is revealed by Nathaniel Coles, when on 18 December 1683 he participated in a transaction with "my uncle Christopher Hoackshurst [Hawkshurst]" [Oyster Bay Town Records, Volume I - 1653-1690 (New York 1916), p. 177].
Based on this information and the settlement of the estate of Robert Coles, Harriet Beach came to the reasonable conclusion that son John and the two daughters who had already married by the time of their father's death were with the first wife, and the other four children, still under age, were with Mary Hawkshurst [NYGBR 123:12-13].
BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: In 1901 Rodney MacDonough published an excellent account of Robert Coles, citing many original documents [The MacDonough-Hackstaff Ancestry (Boston 1901), cited above as MacDonough-Hackstaff]. In 1992 Harriet Beach prepared a careful study of Matthias Harvye, second husband of the widow of Robert Coles, which contains much of interest to descendants of Robert Coles ["Matthias Harvye, A Very Public Man," NYGBR 123:11-16, 87-93].
The Records of The Coles family go back to Richard Colles of Pickwick Co., Warwick, England ,who sprung from the family of Collefern of Co.
Somerset. ------Research by Robert Coles of Glen Cove LI. NY. ----- 22 Dec. 1980
Robert came from England in the fleet with Govenor Winthrop in 1630 to either Ipswich or Roxbury (Massachussetts Bay Colony) , and October of
that yr requsted to be a Freemanof Roxbury. He was made a Freeman in 1631. He was fined several times for intoxication. These fines were remitted
possibly with the understanding that he was to leave the colony. He came to Rhode Island in 1637. (possibly forced out of town becaused of drinking), reformed in earnest and was one of the founders of the First Baptist Church along with Roger Williams and William Carpenter.
When he died, he did not leave a will, his property was distibuted by the town " the same as it should have been had he left a will. He may have been Welch from near Bristol England Migration: 1630
First Residence: Roxbury
Removes: Ipswich 1633, Salem 1635, Providence 1638, Paxtuxet, Warwick 1653
Church Membership: Roxbury Church member #8. Excommunicated at some later date. In 1639, he was in Providence ,RI and was one of the twelve original members of the First Baptist Church.
Freeman: admitted 5/18/1631. Disenfranchised 3/4/1633/4, readmitted 5/14/1634.
Education: Signed his name.
Offices: Representative for Roxbury to General Court 1632. Helped write arbitration law 1640.
From public records:
August 16, 1631: Fined 5 marks, for drinking too much aboard ship "Friendship"
May 9, 1632: Appointed on a committee to confer with the court about raising of a public stock.
March 4, 1633: "The court orders that Robert Coles, for drunkenness by him committed at Roxbury, shall be disenfranchised, weare about his necke and soe to hange upon his outward garment a D made of redd clothe and sett upon white; to contynue this for a yeare, and not to leace it off at any tyme when he comes
amongst company, under penalty of XLs. for the first offense, and V pounds for the second, and after to be punished by the court as they think meete; also he is to weare the D outwards, and in enjoyned to appear at the next general court, and to contynue thise until it be ended."
April 1, 1633: Among those who had gone to Agawam (Ipswich) to plant a colony.
1639: Providence. He was one of the twelve original members of
First Baptist Church.
1640: He was appointed with three others to form a committee on all matters of difference regarding the dividing line between Providence and Pawtuxet, and on July 27 of that year , he and 38 others signed a agreement to form a government. He was one of the 17 who purchased the Pautuxet meadows, and he made his home there. Three others were appointed with him to arbitrate disputes and make rules of government, and their report was the compact signed by all the settlers. He became a friend of Samuel Gorton when he came to Providence, driven from Massachusetts by the intolerance of the authorities of that colony, and
gave him part of his land.
The actions of Gorton and his followers were such, however, as to cause the older settlers to wish to be free of them, and he, with four others, in September 1642, appeared before the general court at Boston and yielded themselves up to the Massachusetts Colony, which accepted jurisdiction and appointed them magistrates. In the formal complaint of the Indians to the Plymouth colony in September 1652, the seventh article is as follows:
"7th. Ninigrett bought a mastiff dog of Robert Cole, and gave 40 shillings for him, which dog ran home to Robert Cole, who killed the said dog; wherefore, Ninigrett requires 40s. of said Cole."
The commissioners found the charge true, and promised to write Mr. Cole to return the money.
January 2, 1653 he sold his house & lot in Providence,RI to Richard Pray.
Feb. 27, 1654 he & his wife sold to Zacharoah Rhodes for 80 pounds his dwelling house at Pawtuxet and certrain land.
He married Mary Hawkhurst. He died previous to October 18, 1654, when his property was distributed by the town, "the same as it should have been had he left a will." After his death, Mary married Mathias Harvey and moved to Oyster Bay, NY where she died.
" COLES, Robert (1598-before 1655), from Eng. to Roxbury, Mass., 1630; removed to Ipswich 1633; a founder of Providence, R.I.; dep. Gen. Ct."
(Source: "Abridged Compendium" by Vircus, p 3468)
"COLES, ROBERT, Roxbury, came in the fleet with Winth. req. to be made freem. 19 Oct. 1630, and was adm. 18 May foll. rem. perhaps to Salem, and to Ipswich, was oft. punish. for drunken. yet in 1638 seems to be reform. if remis. of fines may just. be thus understood, tho. it may only have been act of policy to ensure his rem. from our jurisdict. But at last he went to Providence, was reform. in earnest, and bec. one of the found. of the first Bapt. ch. there. By w. Mary he had John, beside Daniel, Nathaniel, Robert, and ds. Sarah, perhaps youngest; Ann, wh. m. Henry Townsend; Eliz. wh. m. John Townsend; both from L. I. where Quakers were persecut. by the Dutch. He d. bef. 18 Oct. 1654, when the town counc, exercis. their duty of mak. distrib. of his prop. in the way he should have made his will. The wid. m. Matthias Harvey, and rem. to Oyster Bay, L. I. with hers. Nathaniel and Daniel, and the two ds. that m. Townsend foll."
(Source: Savage, "First Settlers of NE Vol I", p 17)
ROBERT COLE was born in England; time and place so far unknown, probably in the early 1600s; (Anderson, in the Great Migration Begins,. guesses 1605), and died in Warwick, Rhode Island between April and October of 1655. It is now thought he married twice, the first time in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 16 30 to MARY (----); the second time in Roxbury by 1637 to MARY HAWXHURST, sister of Christopher, daughter of Samson Hawkshurst, Vicar in England. Until very recently it has been supposed that Robert had just one wife, but now, due to the reasoning of Harriet Beach, because of the wording in the settlement of the estate of Robert and the reference of his son John to Mary Hawxhurst as his "mother-in-law:", it has been decided that there were two (Anderson, !:437) .The fact that he had two wives would also either explain, or follow from, his change of behavior.
Robert came to America in the Winthrop fleet of 1630 with a group from Essex under the leadership of William Pynchon of Springfield who was an early backer of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was called Mister when he applied to be made freeman in October in 1630.and was sufficiently well educated to write his name, but he got off to a very bad start. For his first years in this country Robert was a drunk; a real one, even forced to wear a large red "D"on a placard which he had to hang around his neck went he went outdoors. He was first fined for drinking in August of 1631; again in March 1632, once more in September 1633, this time for "abusing himself shamefully in drink and enticimg John Shotswell his wife to incontiency", culminating in the shameful penaltly of the red D in March In March of 1634 he was disfranchised and ordered to wear the "D" for a year. This was all duly recorded in the Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. His wife was not much better. The minister of their church, Reverend Eliot said "after her husband's excommunication & falls she did too much favor his ways, she lived an afflicted life." (Anderson) One possibility is that he had picked her up in a tavern and that they reenforced each other's carousing, another is that she was an innocent victim.
Before his punishment had run more than a few months, he was one of ten men given permission to settle at Ipswich with John Winthrop, Jr. (Savage says maybe the Boston authorities just wanted to get rid of him) and there he was given 200 acres of farm land. He seems to have been of a discontented, restless disposition", said Rodney MacDonough in MacDonough/Hackstaff Ancestry. We know he had three children between about 1630 and 1636, because they were no longer minors when he died in about Oct 1654 and his property was distributed., and then his wife must have died. After that he made a surprising change; he went to Providence, Rhode Island and joined forces with the saintly Roger Williams; this was when he must have married Mary Hawxhurst, and after that his behavior, at least in public, was exemplary, although it should be mentioned that he was the one who sent the complaint to Boston about Samuel Gorton that resulted in troops being sent to take him to prison.. They. had four children before he died in 1655. Mary then married Mathias Harvey and accompanied him to Long Island with her unmarried children.
Robert Cole, born ca. 1598 (ca. 1605 per The Great Migration Begins) in England (said to be variously from: Berghold, County Suffolk; Sudbury, County Suffolk; or Navestock, County Essex, England), came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with the Winthrop Fleet in the spring of 1630. He was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, when he requested to be made a "freeman" 19 Oct 1630 and was granted that status by the General Court on 18 May 1631, but was disenfranchised 4 Mar 1633/34 for a short time on account of his drinking problem; however, was reinstated by 14 May 1634. Also while at Roxbury, he and John Johnson served as the two deputies from Roxbury to the General Court in 1632, when he helped draft the arbitration law. He lived for a time at Ipswich (first known as Agawam) and also at Salem, Massachusetts where he sold 300 acres of land, granted to him by the town, in order to follow Roger Williams to Rhode Island. In 1638 his name appears on records as one of the 12 original proprietors of the Providence Plantation. On 2 Sept 1650 he paid a town rate of £3 6s. 8d., which indicates he was among the five richest men in the colony. In a record of the Roxbury church members made by Rev. John Eliot he speaks of Robert Coles' "unsettledness and moving from place to place," and the necessity of disciplining him by excommunication, but in later years after his removal to Rhode Island he appears to have become a more law-abiding citizen. In 1639, there is a record that he was one of the 12 original members of the First Baptist Church in Providence, which was the first Baptist church established in America.
It was once thought he married his wife, Mary Hawkshurst (Hauxhurst) (daughter of Samson Hawkshurst, Vicar of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, and also a sister of Christopher Hawxhurst, who came with her from England in 1630) about 1637 at Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York; however, it now appears that he may have had two wives, both with the first name of Mary, but the first one probably died about 1637, and was the mother of his first three children, John, Anne and Deliverance, who had already married by the time of their father's death, and Mary (Hawkshurst) Cole was the mother of his other children: Daniel, Nathaniel, Robert Jr. and Sarah Cole. This conclusion was made because in a document filed by his eldest son, John Cole, with the Warwick Town Council during the settlement of his father's estate, dated 8 Dec 1655, refers to the widow of his father, Mary (Hawkshurst) Cole, as his "mother-in-law." Source: Vol. 1, p. 439, The Great Migration Begins by Robert Anderson, © New England Historic Genealogical Society. Additionally, this book has no record of Robert Coles having had a daughter named Elizabeth Coles, nor does the book The MacDonough-Hackstaff Ancestry, by Rodney MacDonough, published 1901, have a record of Elizabeth Cole as a daughter of Robert and Mary Coles; however, her name was included in the book The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island . . ., by John Osborne Austin, first published in 1887, with additions published in 1969, 1978 and 1982 by the Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore, Maryland, so I have kept that information in my listing here.
In the book, Annals of the Town of Providence, From Its First Settlement to the Organization of the City Government, in June, 1832, by William R. Staples, published 1843 by Knowles and Vose, Providence, there are a few references to Robert Cole: (1) pp. 32-33 on the original initial deed for the Providence Plantation, originally dated 7 Oct 1638, written by Roger Williams many years later in 1666, memorializing his "grand purchase of Providence" in the Narragansett Bay from the Narragansett Indians, and his tranfer of it "unto my loving friends and neighbors, . . . Robert Cole, . . ." and (2) on a report dated 27 5th mo. 1640, wherein his name is listed as one of a committee of four men, Robert Cole, Chad Brown, William Harris and John Warner, who drew up a document whereby the settlers agreed upon a form of government, and it was signed by the then 39 heads of families of Providence. Staples said of this document on p. 44:
"From a perusal of this document, it is quite evident, that there existed in this little community, a great distrust and jealousy of delegated power. Experience had forced them to have recourse to it, and they endeavored to provide against its abuse, by the frequency both of the general meetings of the whole body, and of the elections of their officers. Though but a small remove from the perfect democracy of their first organized government, still it forms an epoch in the history of the Town."
In 1652, Robert Cole removed to Warwick, Rhode Island where he died intestate sometime prior to 25 Oct 1655, the date an inventory of his estate was filed with the Warwick Town Council, leaving an estate worth £501 with debts totaling £112.13s. After his death, his widow married Matthias Harvey, and moved to Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, along with her children, Nathaniel, Daniel and her daughters who had married Townsends. On 27 Sep 1677, Daniel Cole and his brothers, Robert and Nathaniel, received from Governor Andros confirmation by patent of their lands at Oyster Bay.
- Ann Coles b: 1638
- Sarah Coles
- John Coles b: 1630
- Deliverance Coles b: 1634
- Daniel Coles b: ABT 1635
- Nathaniel Coles b: 1640
- Robert Coles b: 1642