GaspeeVirtual Archives
Rehoboth, Massachusetts:  the Curious Ancestral Home of Many Gaspee Raiders
by Jim Bullock
Littleton, CO
Webmaster, Rehoboth Roots at

Early RehobothLeft: Map of Rehoboth, Massachusetts showing extent of original boundry lines.  From Rehoboth Through the Years.  Click on map to see larger, detailed map.

The original Rehoboth settlement was in today's Rumford (part of East Providence), RI.  The towns of Cumberland and Pawtucket, RI, were also part of early Rehoboth.  Also parts of Swansea, MA (which was founded by Rehoboth families) are now in Bristol County, RI.  The boundary changes between the two states were not finally settled until 1861.  When you see that someone came from Rehoboth or Swansea before that time, he may have lived in what is now RI.

There are some numbers in Bowen's Early Rehoboth that show that Rehoboth was comparable to Providence at the time of the Gaspee Raid in 1772.  The Massachusetts census of 1763-65 shows that Rehoboth had 617 families and a population of 3,637.  The Rhode Island census of 1774 shows Providence with 655 heads of families and a total of 3,950 persons.

The towns of East Providence and Pawtucket, then part of Rehoboth, are right there on the river across from Providence, and right where the action was. It is reasonable to expect that the Rehoboth men might have been just as involved in the raid as the Providence men.  Even though they were on the other side of the river, Rehoboth folks surely were aware of what was taking place.  Some of the Rehoboth men may even have been in Providence at the time of the alarm. The Rehoboth people had more dealings in many affairs with the Rhode Islanders than with those of their own colony in Plymouth.  They bought and sold land between each other, traded in goods and services, and attended each others' churches.

So, in summary, it is not surprising that a number of Rehoboth men were involved in the incident for the following reasons.

  • Much of early Rehoboth is now part of Rhode Island.
  • The close proximately of Providence to early Rehoboth.
  • Many marriages between Rehoboth & neighboring RI couples.
  • Common dealings between Rehoboth & RI citizens.

The following men associated with the attack on the Gaspee have either hailed from Rehoboth or had close relatives that did.
My interest in Rehoboth area genealogy stems from the fact that my father's paternal ancestor, Richard Bullock (1622-1667), first settled in Rehoboth; and my mother's paternal ancestor, John Medbury (ca. 1655-1694), first settled in Swansea.  Their descendants frequently married someone from RI or even relocated to that state.  Among my direct ancestors are 12 of the first settlers of Providence:  Roger Williams, William Arnold, Thomas Olney, William Hawkins, Chad Browne, John Brown, Richard Pray, Edward Inman, Roger Mowry, Epenetus Olney, Joshua Winsor, and John Whipple.  All are related to me through my Rehoboth-Swansea ancestors.


Bowen, Richard LeBaron. Early Rehoboth:  Documented Historical Studies of Families and Events in This Plymouth County Township. Vol. I. Rehoboth, MA, Privately Printed, 1945.

Rehoboth Through the Years:  A Chronological History of the Town From its Founding in 1643-1992. Rehoboth, MA, Anawan Historical Society, 1993.

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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 2003    Last Revised 07/2009    Rehoboth.htm