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More Historical Facts

Rhode Island Secretaries of State: 1640 - Present

List of all persons who have held the office of Recording Secretary or Secretary of State, 1640 to the Present.

Secretary for Pocasset

William Aspinwall March 1637 - 1638

William Dyre elected clerk in 1638 and Secretary of Portsmouth and Newport on March 12, 1640. Held office until May 19, 1647.

Under The Parliamentary Patent

Secretary

Henry Walton 1645

General Recorders

William Dyre, of Newport May 19, 1647 - May 16, 1648
Philip Shearman, of Portsmouth May 16, 1648 - the separation

Providence and Warwick

John Greene, Jr. February 1652 - May 1654

Portsmouth and Newport

William Lytherland, of Newport May 1653 - May 1654

Union of the Four Towns

Joseph Torrey, of Newport May 1654 - September 1654
William Lytherland, of Newport September 1654 - May 1656
John Sanford, of Portsmouth May 1656 - May 1661
Joseph Torrey, of Newport May 1661 - November 1663

Under the Royal Charter of Charles II, 1663

Joseph Torrey, of Newport 1663 - 1666
John Sanford, of Portsmouth 1666 - 1669
Joseph Torrey, of Newport 1669 - 1671
John Sanford, of Portsmouth 1671 - 1676
John Coggeshall, of Newport 1676 - 1677
John Sanford, of Portsmouth 1677 - 1686

[Charter was suspended until 1689]

Weston Clarke, of Newport 1691 - 1691
John Coggeshall, of Newport 1691 - August 1692
1 John Easton, of Newport August 1692 - Unknown
Weston Clarke, of Newport July 1695- May 1714
Richard Ward, of Newport 1714 - 1730

Secretaries

Richard Ward, of Newport 1730 - 1733
2James Martin, of Newport May 1733 - February 1746
2 Thomas Ward, of Newport February 1746 - December 1760
3 Henry Ward, of Newport December 1760 - November 1797
Samuel Eddy, of Providence December 1797 - May 1819
Henry Bowen, of Providence 1819 - 1843

Secretaries of State Under The Constitution

Henry Bowen, of Providence 1843 - 1849
Christopher E. Robbins, of Providence 1849 - 1851
Asa Potter, of South Kingstown 1851 - 1854
William R. Watson, of Providence 1844 - 1855
John R. Bartlett, of Providence 1855 - 1872
Joshua M. Addeman, of Providence 1872 - 1887
Edwin D. McGuiness, of Providence 1887 - 1888
Samuel H. Cross, of Westerly 1888 - 1890
Edwin D. McGuiness, of Providence 1890 - 1891
George D. Utter, of Westerly 1891 - 1894
4 Charles P. Bennett, of Providence 1894 - 1909 [R]
5 J. Fred Parker, of Providence 1909 - 1924 [R]
6 Ernest L. Sprague, of Cranston 1924 - 1933 [R]
Louis W. Cappelli, of Providence 1933 - 1939 [D]
J. Hector Paquin, of Woonsocket 1939 - 1941 [R]
7 Armand H. Cote, of Pawtucket 1941 - 1957 [D]
John A. Notte, Jr., of Providence 1957 - 1959 [D]
August P. LaFrance, of Pawtucket 1959 - 1973 [D]
Robert F. Burns, of Pawtucket 1973 - 1983 [D]
8 Susan L. Farmer, of Providence 1983 - 1987 [R]
9 Kathleen S. Connell, of Middletown 1987 - 1993 [D]
Barbara M. Leonard, of Providence 1993 - 1995 [R]
10 James R. Langevin, of Warwick 1995 - 2001 [D]
11 Edward S. Inman, of Coventry 2001 - 2003 [D]
Matthew A. Brown, of Providence 2003 - 2007 [D]
A. Ralph Mollis, of North Providence 2007 - Present [D]

Notes:

1. The records are incomplete from August 1692 - July 1695. [Top]

2. Died in office. [Top]

3. Longest term as Secretary, 37 years. Died in office; November 25, 1797. [Top]

4. Died in office; August 25, 1909. [Top]

5. Resigned [Top]

6. Elected by Grand Committee; January 16, 1924. [Top]

7. Longest term as Secretary under state Constitution; 16 years. [Top]

8. First woman elected as a state general officer. [Top]

9. First Democrat woman elected as a state general officer. [Top]

10. Resigned upon election as U.S. Representative. [Top]

11. Elected by the General Assembly. [Top]


Sources: Rhode Island Colonial Records, 1636 - 1792, the Rhode Island Acts & Resolves, and the Rhode Island Manuals, 1867 - 2004, all published by the Secretary of State of Rhode Island.