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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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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....