Gorton, Samuel

Gorton, Samuel founder of a sect called Gortonians, was born at Gorton, England, about 1600. He says himself, in one of his letters, "I have never studied in the schools of human learning, and I bless God for it." He was first in the employ of a linen-draper in London, but left that city in 1636 and went to Boston, U.S., in, the hope of enjoying religious liberty; but the Church there not being disposed to put up with his extravagant ideas, he went to Plymouth, where he fared still worse, being fined, imprisoned, and finally expelled in the midst of winter. In June 1639, he became an inhabitant of Aquidneck, or Rhode Island, where fresh persecution befel him. Driven from place to place, he finally bought some land at Pawtuxet, Rhode Island, where he settled. Complained of by his neighbors as encroaching on their property, he refused to appear before the court of Massachusetts, and in 1642 settled at Shawmut, where he had bought land of the sachem Miantonomoh. His claims under this purchase were, however, contested by two, inferior sachems, who appealed to the general court of Massachusetts for assistance. Gorton and ten of his disciples were captured soon after and taken before the court, where the land question soon gave place to a trial for their lives as "damnable heretics," and they were condemned to hard labor at Charlestown for an unlimited time. In 1644 the sentence was changed into banishment. Gorton then returned with his partisans to Rhode Island, where he persuaded the Indians to put themselves under the protection of England, and to abandon to that country a part of their territory. He then proceeded to England, where, in consideration of this service, he received letters patent guaranteeing to him the peaceful possession of his property at Shawmut. He called the place Warwick, in remembrance of services rendered him by the earl of Warwick. Gorton died about 1677. His sect became soon extinct. He wrote, Simplicities' Defence against seven-headed Policy (1646, 4to): — An incorruptible Key, composed of the cx Psalme, wherewith you may open the rest of the holy Scriptures (1647, 4to): — Saltmarsh returned from the Dead (1655, 4to): - An Antidote against the common Plague of the World. See Mackie's Life of Gorton in "Sparks's Amer. Biography;" Duyckinck, Cyclop. of American Literature, 1:78; New American Cyclopedia, 8:384; Bartlett, Bibliog. of Rhode Island, 134 sq.; Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts, 1:117. (J.W.M.)

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