The buck stops here (on the way to a pocket).

The following is adapted from the Rhode Island Manual, 1989-1990, compiled and distributed under the direction of the Secretary of State.

Seal of the Governor of Rhode Island.
Image Source: wikimedia.

Rhode Island originally consisted of four towns: Providence (founded in 1636), Portsmouth (1638), Newport (1639), and Warwick (1642). The Executive heads of Portsmouth and Newport were called Judges until 1640; then those two towns united, and the chief officer thereafter was called Governor.

Judges of Portsmouth:

1638-1639, William Coddington
1639-1640, William Hutchinson

Judge of Newport:

1639-1640, William Coddington

Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island (Portsmouth and Newport):

1640-1647, William Coddington

Providence and Warwick had no executive head until 1647 when they were united with Newport and Portsmouth under a parliamentary charter or patent obtained by Roger Williams in 1643.

Chief Officer under the Charter of 1643:

1644-1647, Roger Williams

Presidents of The Providence Plantations in the Narragansett Bay:

1647-1648, John Coggeshall of Newport
1648-1649, Jeremiah Clarke of Newport
1649-1650, John Smith of Warwick
1650-1651, Nicholas Easton of Newport

In 1651 a separation occurred between the Towns of Providence and Warwick on the one side, which continued the government established under the patent (and thus had Presidents) and Newport and Portsmouth on the other, with a new government under the Coddington Commission (which first had Coddington as Governor and then Presidents).

Providence/Warwick Presidents:

1651-1652, Samuel Gorton of Warwick
1652-1653, John Smith of Warwick
1653-1654, Gregory Dexter of Providence

Newport/Portsmouth Governor and President:

1651-1653, William Coddington
1653-1654, John Sanford of Portsmouth

In 1654 the union of the four towns was re-established.

Presidents of The Providence Plantations in the Narragansett Bay:

1654-1654, Nicholas Easton of Newport
1654-1657, Roger Williams of Providence
1657-1660, Benedict Arnold of Newport
1660-1663, William Brenton of Newport

Starting with the Royal Charter of 1663 the executives were all called Governor.

Governors of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations under the Royal Charter of 1663:

1663-1666, Benedict Arnold of Newport
1666-1669, William Brenton of Newport
1669-1972, Benedict Arnold of Newport
1672-1674, Nicholas Easton of Newport
1674-1676, William Coddington of Newport
1676-1677, Walter Clarke of Newport
1677-1678, Benedict Arnold of Newport (died in office June 20, 1678)
1678-1678, William Coddington of Newport (died in office November 1, 1678)
1678-1680, John Cranston of Newport (died in office March 12, 1680)
1680-1683, Peleg Sanford of Newport
1683-1685, William Coddington, Jr. of Newport
1685-1686, Henry Bull of Newport
1686-1686, Walter Clarke of Newport

The Charter was superseded by Sir Edmund Andros in 1686, but restored in 1689.

1689-1690, Henry Bull of Newport
1690-1695, John Easton of Newport
1695-1695, Caleb Carr of Newport (died in office December 17, 1695)
1696-1698, Walter Clarke of Newport
1698-1727, Samuel Cranston (died in office April 26, 1727)
1727-1732, Joseph Jenckes of Pawtucket
1732-1733, William Wanton of Newport (died in office December 7, 1733)
1734-1740, John Wanton of Newport (died in office July 5, 1740)
1740-1743, Richard Ward of Newport
1743-1745, William Greene of Warwick
1745-1746, Gideon Wanton of Newport
1746-1747, William Green of Warwick
1747-1748, Gideon Wanton of Newport
1748-1755, William Greene of Warwick
1755-1757, Stephen Hopkins of Providence
1757-1758, William Greene of Warwick (died in office February 22, 1758)
1758-1762, Stephen Hopkins of Providence
1762-1763, Samuel Ward of Newport
1763-1765, Stephen Hopkins of Providence
1765-1767, Samuel Ward of Newport
1767-1768, Stephen Hopkins of Providence
1768-1769, Josias Lyndon of Warren
1769-1775, Joseph Wanton of Newport
1775-1778, Nicholas Cooke of Newport
1778-1786, William Greene, Jr. of Providence
1786-1790, John Collins of Warwick
1790-1805, Arthur Fenner of Providence (died in office October 15, 1805)
1805-1806, Henry Smith
1806-1807, Isaac Wilbour of Little Compton
1807-1811, James Fenner
1811-1817, William Jones of Newport
1817-1821, Nehemiah R. Knight of Cranston (elected U.S. Senator, January 9, 1821)
1821-1824, William C. Gibbs of Newport
1824-1831, James Fenner
1831-1833, Lemuel H. Arnold of Kingston

In 1832 there was no election for governor, lieutenant governor, or senators. Elections were successively ordered for May 16, July 18, August 28, and November 21, 1832, resulting without choice. At the January session, 1883, the officers who had not been re-elected in 1832 were continued in office, until the next session.

1833-1838, John Brown Francis of Warwick
1838-1839, William Sprague of Cranston
1839-1843, Samuel Ward King of Johnston
1840-1840, Thomas Wilson Dorr, elected extralegally.

The Constitution of 1842 limited Rhode Island governors to two consecutive four-year terms.

Governors of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations under the Constitution of 1842:

1843-1845, James Fenner, Law and Order party
1845-1846, Charles Jackson, Liberation party
1846-1847, Byron Diman, Law and Order party
1847-1849, Elisha Harris, Law and Order party
1849-1851, Henry B. Anthony, Whig/Law and Order party
1851-1853, Philip Allen, Democrat (resigned July 20, 1853, to become U.S Senator)
1853-1854, Francis M. Dimond, Democrat
1854-1857, William W. Hoppin, Whig/Republican
1857-1859, Elisha Dyer, Sr., Republican
1859-1860, Thomas G. Turner, Republican
1860-1863, William Sprague, 2nd, Unionist/Republican (resigned March 3, 1863, to become U.S Senator)
1863-1863, William C. Cozzens, Republican
1863-1866, James Y. Smith, Republican
1866-1869, Ambrose Everett Burnside, Republican
1869-1873, Seth Padelford, Republican
1873-1875, Henry Howard, Republican
1875-1877, Henry Lippitt, Republican
1877-1880, Charles C. Van Zandt, Republican
1880-1883, Alfred H. Littlefield, Republican
1883-1885, Augustus O. Bourn, Republican
1885-1887, George P. Wetmore, Republican
1887-1888, John W. Davis, Democrat
1888-1889, Royal C. Taft, Republican
1889-1890, Herbert W. Ladd, Republican
1890-1891, John W. Davis, Democrat
1891-1892, Herbert W. Ladd, Republican
1892-1895, D. Russell Brown, Republican
1895-1897, Charles W. Lippitt, Republican
1897-1900, Elisha Dyer, Republican
1900-1901, William Gregory, Republican (died in office December 16, 1901)
1901-1903, Charles D. Kimball, Republican
1903-1905, Lucius F. C. Garvin, Democrat
1905-1907, George H. Utter, Republican
1907-1909, James H. Higgins, Democrat
1909-1915, Aram J. Pothier, Republican
1915-1921, R. Livingston Beeckman, Republican
1921-1923, Emery J. San Souci, Republican
1923-1925, William S. Flynn, Democrat
1925-1928, Aram J. Pothier, Republican (died in office February 3, 1928)
1928-1933, Norman S. Case, Republican
1933-1937, Theodore F. Green, Democrat
1937-1939, Robert E. Quinn, Democrat
1939-1941, William H. Vanderbilt, Republican
1941-1945, J. Howard McGrath, Democrat (resigned to become U.S. Solicitor General)
1945-1950, John O. Pastore, Democrat (resigned to become U.S. Senator)
1950-1951, John S. McKiernan, Democrat
1951-1959, Dennis J. Roberts, Democrat
1959-1961, Christopher Del Sesto, Republican
1961-1963, John A. Notte, Jr., Democrat
1963-1969, John H. Chafee, Republican
1969-1973, Frank Licht, Democrat
1973-1977, Philip W. Noel, Democrat
1977-1985, J. Joseph Garrahy, Democrat
1985-1991, Edward D. DiPrete, Republican
1991-1995, Bruce G. Sundlun, Democrat
1995-2002, Lincoln C. Almond, Republican
2003-2010, Donald L. Carcieri, Republican
2011-2015 Lincoln Chafee, Independent
2015- Gina Marie Raimondo, Democrat

This article last edited April 19, 2017

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