John Clarke, one of the founders of Rhode Island, born in England, Oct. 8, 1609, died at Newport, April 20,1676. He was a physician in London, and came to Massachusetts soon after its first settlement; but being one of the friends of Anne Hutchinson, he was obliged to flee with her and her associates from that colony. Proceeding to the south, they were welcomed by Roger Williams to his vicinity, formed themselves into an organization, and obtained from the Indians an island to which they gave the name of the Isle of Rhodes or Rhode Island. The settlement commenced in 1G38 atPocasset, and Mr. Clarke began to employ himself as a preacher. In 1644 he founded at Newport the second Baptist church in America, and became its pastor. Venturing a few years later to preach in the vicinity of Boston, he was arrested by an officer of the government, was called first before a parish meeting and then before the court, and was condemned for what were adjudged false teachings to pay a fine of £20, or to be publicly whipped. He was obliged to pay his fine and leave the colony.
In 1651 he was sent to England in company with Roger Williams as an agent of the colony of Rhode Island, and published there a book entitled "111 News from New England, or a Narrative of New England's Persecution." He remained in England after the return of Williams, till at the end of a 12 years' mission he had procured a second charter for the colony, which secured to every person at all times his own judgment and conscience in matters of religious concernment. Bancroft in his history calls him "the modest and virtuous Clarke, the persevering and disinterested envoy." Upon his return in 1663 he resumed the pastorate of his church at Newport, which he retained till his death. In his will he left his farm for charitable purposes, the income of it only to be expended; and it has since produced annually about $200.