Ninigret, Thomas

Variant last names: Ninegrett; Ninnegrett
Other namesSachem; King
Birth: 1738 in Niantic Land, RI
Death: 1769 or 1770 in Niantic Land, RI
Affiliation:

Narragansett Indians

Education:

Thomas' family paid for him to receive schooling in England.

Nationality:

Narragansett

Occupation:

Tribal Leader

Marital status:

Married Mary Whitfield of Newport in 1761 and divorced her in 1769.

Biography:

Thomas Ninigret was the grandson of George Ninigret, the 17th-century Narragansett sachem made famous by his relationship with Roger Williams, the English minister who founded Rhode Island. In 1746, Thomas Ninigret became the Sachem of the Narragansett tribe, a position he would hold until his death. Like his predecessors, Ninigret sold large amounts of historically Niantic land (which the Narragansett sachems took possession of when the Niantics and the Narragansetts merged in 1680) to the colony of Rhode Island. Ninigret also accrued vast amounts of personal debt; his legendary spending is accredited to the time he spent in England receiving education, a period which many of his tribe believe made Ninigret a stranger to the Narragansett way of life. As a result, some Narragansetts attempted to convince the Rhode Island legislature to slow the land sales, and even petitioned for Ninigret's removal from the Sachemship. Wheelock took note of Ninigret's destructive behavior and wrote Governor Hopkins in 1767 to appeal for a moratorium on the sale of Niantic/Naragansett land. Ultimately, land sales did slow as the Narragansett people continued to petition the Rhode Island legislature, but only a small amount of Narragansetts remained living in Rhode Island by 1812. Ninigret, often sarcastically referred to as "King Tom," is remembered as the most costly ruler in the Ninigret line.

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Sources:

"Ninegret." Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: 1887-9. Genealogy.com. "Lineage of the Ninigrets." http://genforum.genealogy.com/ai/messages/25271.html Accessed 7/11/14. Simmons, William Scranton. "'The Reservation Period'." Narragansett, Indians of North America. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989. (Updated 2008.) American Indian History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp? ItemID=WE43&iPin=INAnar04&SingleRecord=True Accessed 7/11/14. PA-Roots.com "Ninegrett, Thomas;Mary Whitefield." http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?3519,805492 Accessed 7/11/14.