Rhode Island's first permanent settlement Providence Plantations, was established at Providence in 1636 by English clergyman Roger Williams and a small band of followers who had left the repressive atmosphere of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to seek freedom of worship. Canonicus and Miantonomi granted Williams a sizable tract of land for his new village. [1]

"Providence Plantations" refers to the mainland portion of the state wich was originally all part of the town of Providence and "Rhode Island" referring to Aquidneck Island on which Newport is located.


1. "The Colonial Era" http://www.state.ri.us/rihist/earlyh.htm