A graduate of Cambridge and an ordained minister in the Church of England, Roger Williams moved into Puritanism and became alienated from the Church of England. In 1631, the first year of the Puritan migration to New England, Williams left England for Boston. Although welcomed, Williams refused the ministry of the Boston congregation because it had not formally separated from the English church.
He moved to Salem, to Plymouth, and back to Salem. Wherever he went, however, his opinions aroused controversy. In 1635 he was expelled from the colony by the Massachusetts General Court Williams fled with a few acquaintances to live with natives on Naragansett Bay. He bought land there and named the tiny settlement Providence, the first settlement in Rhode Island. In 1644 Williams obtained a patent for the colony from the English parliament. He was governor of the colony from 1654 to 1657. In 1663 King Charles II granted Rhode Island a royal charter confirming all of its liberal institutions.
Although Williams helped found the first Baptist congregation in American in 1639, he left it a months later to become a Seeker, opposed to all sects and creeds. He denounced the Quakers, but, consistent with his principles, provided them shelter.