Gorton, Samuel

Gorton, Samuel, c.1592–1677, Anglo-American religious leader, founder of Warwick, R.I., b. near Manchester, England. Seeking religious freedom, he emigrated to America (1637) but, because of his unorthodox religious teachings, was banished successively from Boston and Plymouth. At Portsmouth, R.I., he joined Anne Hutchinson in ousting William Coddington (1639) but on Coddington's return to power was himself turned out. In 1642, Gorton bought Native American land south of Providence and founded Shawomet. Massachusetts authorities, with designs on that territory, jailed him (1643) for holding erroneous religious opinions. The earl of Warwick finally obtained for Gorton freedom from molestation on his land, which he renamed (1648) Warwick and on which he preached to colonists and Native Americans. His followers called themselves “Gortonites” for many decades after his death. His tenets included denial of the Trinity, denial of actual heaven and hell, and a belief that every man should be his own intercessor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies