John Clarke & Portsmouth Compact
John Clarke (8 October 1609 - 20 April 1676) immigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1637. Clarke immediately sided with the Antinomians and was one of those forced into exile by Massachusetts Bay. He learned from Roger Williams that Aquidneck Island (Rhode Island) was available, and he, William Coddington, and other settlers purchased it from the Narragansett Indian Tribe. They left Massachusetts and established Portsmouth in 1638. Clarke is the second of the 23 signers of the Portsmouth Compact, the text of which reads:
These Bible citations are in the right margin of the document: Exodus 24:3-4, 2 Chronicles 11:3, 2 Kings 11:17.
- "The 7th Day of the First Month, 1638.
- We whose names are underwritten do hereby solemnly in the presence of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick and as He shall
- help, will submit our persons, lives and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and to all those perfect and
- most absolute laws of His given in His Holy Word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.
In late 1638, Roger Williams, Clarke's compatriot in the cause of religious freedom in the New World, had established America's first Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island, and Clarke established the second Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island in 1644.
John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and John Crandall, members of the Newport Church were arrested in by Massachusetts authorities on July 20, 1651 as they visited William Witter, a sick friend, in Lynn, Massachusetts around 75 miles away. Clarke protested their heavy fines and Governor John Endecott replied that Clarke "deserved death" and "was worthy to be hanged." Holmes refused to pay his fine, nor would he allow others to pay it on his behalf. Holmes was severely whipped (thirty lashes) and carried his scars for life. Holmes said later about the whipping: "... having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance ... I told the magistrates, 'You have struck me as with roses.'" This event (and others like it) served as the basis for Clarke's "Ill Newes from New England, or a Narrative of New England's Persecutions" (1652). After his release from jail, Holmes returned to Newport and in 1652 succeeded Dr. John Clarke, and remained it's Elder for more than thirty years until his death.
John Clarke, M.D.
The Forgotten Patriot
John Clarke (Baptist minister)
Dr. John Clarke