John Gardner (Rhode Island governor)

John Gardner (September 17, 1697[1] - January 1764[2]) served for more than eight years as the deputy governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and was also a Chief Justice of the colony's Superior Court.

John Gardner
35th & 37th Deputy Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
In office
GovernorWilliam Greene
Preceded byJonathan Nichols Jr.
Succeeded byJonathan Nichols Jr.
In office
GovernorStephen Hopkins
William Greene
Samuel Ward
Preceded byJonathan Nichols Jr.
Succeeded byJoseph Wanton Jr.
6th Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court
In office
May 1756 – May 1761
Preceded byStephen Hopkins
Succeeded bySamuel Ward
Personal details
BornSeptember 17, 1697
Newport, Rhode Island
DiedJanuary 1764
Newport, Rhode Island
OccupationMerchant, Assistant, General Treasurer, Chief Justice, Deputy Governor


John Gardner was the son of Joseph and Catharine (Holmes) Gardner of Newport, and the grandson of George Gardiner who was an early settler of Portsmouth in 1638.[3] One of his great grandfathers was Obadiah Holmes, a Baptist minister in Newport, who was severely whipped in Boston for his religious views and activism; and another was Randall Holden who was a supporter of the dissident minister Anne Hutchinson and who signed the Portsmouth Compact establishing the first government in the Rhode Island colony. One of his great great grandmothers was Frances Latham, the wife of William Dungan, who has been called "the mother of governors," reputed to have had 14 descendants who were governors, deputy governors, or spouses of governors.

Political lifeEdit

Gardner became a freeman in Newport in 1722 and was an assistant from 1732 to 1737. In 1737 he was on a committee with members from other colonies to help settle the disputed boundary line between New Hampshire and Massachusetts.[2] Four years later he was on another committee to ascertain if two additional companies could be raised for the defense of the colony, and to determine if a fort should be erected on Goat Island for defense of the port.[2] In 1744 he had the rank of Colonel, and was appointed commissary-general.[2] In 1743 he was elected general treasurer, and held this office until 1748, when he once again became an Assistant.[2] In 1754 he was elected to the office of Deputy Governor of the colony, serving for one year, after which Jonathan Nichols Jr. was elected. Nichols died during his second year in office, and Gardner was selected to replace him. Gardner then served in this office for seven more years until his death in January 1764.[2] Simultaneously with his role as Deputy Governor, Gardner was also chosen as the colony's sixth Chief Justice of the Superior Court, a position he held for five years.[4]


Gardner married on October 23, 1720 Frances Sanford (born January 13, 1702), the daughter of John Sanford and Frances Clarke. The couple had 11 children.[5] Frances Sanford was a great granddaughter of two early Rhode Island governors. One of these was John Sanford, who served briefly as governor of the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth and Newport, just prior to the reunification of the colony following the Coddington Commission.[6] The other great grandfather was Jeremy Clarke who served for one year as President of the colony from 1648 to 1649.[7]

Ann Gardner, the daughter of John Gardner and Frances Sanford, was married twice. Her second husband was Solomon Southwick, the publisher of the Newport Mercury and a prominent advocate for the Patriot cause in the American Revolution.[8]


Most of the given ancestry of Gardner is found in John O. Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Austin 1887, p. 82.
  2. ^ a b c d e f National Cyclopedia 1898, p. 41.
  3. ^ Austin 1887, pp. 81-2.
  4. ^ Smith 1900, pp. 185-219.
  5. ^ "Gardner genealogy". Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  6. ^ Austin 1887, p. 171.
  7. ^ Austin 1887, p. 44.
  8. ^ James Moore Caller, Maria A. Ober, Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, 1881, page 97
  9. ^ Austin 1887, pp. 12,67,81-2,100,103-4.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit