2007-04-19 / Island History

Jamestown purchase 350 years ago this week

Plans are already underway for a weeklong summer celebration of the 350th anniversary of the purchase of Conanicut Island from the Narragansett Indians. This week, specifically April 17, was the actual anniversary of the signing of the purchase agreement between the Colonials and the Indians.

Following is the actual text of the agreement signed April 17, 1657.

"Know all men by these presents that I Cashanaquont (Indian) and a Chief Sachem and Commander of the Indians of Narragansett and Quononaqutt Island in Narragansett Bay aforesaid etc. For and in consideration of several gifts of value beforehand received, and also for and in consideration of ye full and just sum of one hundred pounds Sterling in hand also received, in name and nature or a fine or purchase money I say that I ye aforenamed Sachem, for the aforesaid considerations have and by these presents do fully bargain for, make over, and make lawful sale of all and every part and parcel of the aforenamed Island Quononaqutt. Together with all ye appurtinances, benefits, profits, commodities and privileges thereof thereupon and thereunto properly belonging, or appertaining unto William Coddington Esq. and Benedict Arnold (Senior) both of Newport on Rhode Island in ye aforesaid Bay of Narragansett, for themselves and such other of ye free inhabitants of Rhode Island aforesaid and other their friends as are in covenant with them (the said William Coddington Esq. and Benedict Arnold Senr) by writings about ye premises, which writings beareth date March the 10th 1656/57. And furthermore ye foresaid Island of Quononaqutt is hereby avouched and declared by me ye forenamed Sachem that it is the proper right and inheritance of ye parsons before premised themselves, their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns for all and every and wither of them, to hold, use, possess, use and enjoy quietly without any lawful let or hindrance as their & every and wither of their true rightful and lawful inheritance forever according to each his proportion as mentioned in ye premised covenants written between themselves as aforesaid. And furthermore I the aforenamed Sachem Cashanaquont do hereby own myself obliged to clear and satisfy all ye other Sachems or others pretending, or that shall or may hereafter pretend or lay claim and interest in the premises to the disturbance of the premised purchasers. And moreover I hereby engage, that upon my own proper charge to satisfy them and every of them so claiming. And also in time convenient as shall be required by ye aforenamed purchasers I do engage upon my own proper charges to remove all ye Indian inhabitants, and clear them off from ye foresaid island Quononaqutt, and cause them to leave free and full possession of said Island wholly to ye said Purchasers, without putting ye said purchasers to any further charges, either for the Indians Corn fields or any other labours of the said Island. And in witness of this my free and considerate bargain and sale I the above named Cashanaquont do set my hand this the 17th of April 1657 as first above is mentioned ye date of these presents."

Source of Document: Jamestown Town Hall. Land Evidence. Book 1, Page 11.

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