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Coddington, William ( October 1603–01 November 1678), founder of Newport and governor of Rhode Island, was born in rural Lincolnshire, England, the son of Robert Coddington, a prosperous yeoman, and Margaret (maiden name unknown). As a result of his mother’s advantageous remarriages, William Coddington entered the uppermost commercial circles of the nearby city of Boston and learned some law. Steadily, his ambition and prosperity boosted his estimate of his importance, ultimately to gentry level. In 1625 or earlier, he married Mary (probably Burt), who bore two sons, both of whom died in infancy. He also heard the preaching of ...

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Codrington, Christopher, Jr. (1668–07 April 1710), scholar, soldier, and governor general of the Leeward Islands, was born in St. John’s parish, Barbados, the son of Christopher Codrington, a plantation owner and governor general of the Leeward Islands, and Gertrude (maiden name unknown). Codrington’s grandfather was one of the first English settlers of Barbados. Codrington spent his early years studying with a tutor, but his early education was also influenced by the unique social environment in which he lived, surrounded by and in regular contact with a substantial slave majority, not only on his father’s plantation, but across the island. At age twelve Codrington was sent to England to continue his education, entering a private school near London. In 1685 he began his studies as a gentleman-commoner of Christ Church in the University of Oxford. By 1690 Codrington was formally elected as a Fellow at All Souls College, and he earned his master of arts degree in 1694. While at Oxford, Codrington earned a reputation as a scholar and as a wit....

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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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Lamothe Cadillac, Antoine Laumet de (05 March 1658–15 October 1730), founder of Detroit and governor of French Louisiana, was born at Les Laumets, department of Tarn-et-Garonne, France, the son of Jean Laumet, a provincial magistrate, and Jeanne Péchagut. Born a commoner, Antoine Laumet invented a noble pedigree, complete with the particle ...

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Menéndez de Avilés, Pedro (15 February 1519–17 September 1574), captain general of the armada of the Indies and adelantado of Florida, was born in northern Spain, in the Asturian seaport of Avilés, the son of Juan Alfonso Sánchez and María Alonso de Arango. A descendant of minor hidalgos, he was connected by blood and marriage to several noble families, but as one of the youngest of twenty children, he could count on little else. Raised by relatives after his father died and his mother remarried, Pedro married a distant cousin, María de Solís, with whom he would have four children; invested his patrimony in a small, rapid sailing vessel; and became an unlicensed privateer....

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Oglethorpe, James Edward (22 December 1696–30 June 1785), founder of Georgia, philanthropist, and soldier, was born in London, England, the son of Theophilus Oglethorpe and Eleanor Wall. Having gone into exile with James II in 1688, the Oglethorpes named their last child for his son, James Edward Stuart. Even after Oglethorpe’s father gave up on the Jacobite cause, his mother and sisters provided intelligence and courier services for efforts to restore the Stuarts. Their reputation shadowed Oglethorpe, for whom no overt adult Jacobitism is known....

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Pierson, Abraham (1609–09 August 1678), colonial minister, missionary, leader of Branford, Connecticut, and cofounder of Newark, New Jersey, was born in Yorkshire, England. Nothing is known about his parents or his youth. He prepared for the ministry at Trinity College, Cambridge University, graduated in 1632, and was subsequently ordained as pastor at Newark, Nottinghamshire, before emigrating to America in 1639 or 1640. Pierson settled in Southampton, Long Island, which at the time was part of the Connecticut Colony. However, he preferred the religious climate of the New Haven Colony, which required prospective church members to present evidence of spiritual conversion and undertake a public profession of faith. Consequently, sometime after 1643 he, his wife, Abigail (Wheelwright), and their children crossed Long Island Sound to the New Haven Colony, which, under the influence of Puritan divine ...