Join the Rhode Island Historical Society on Tuesday, January 30, at 6pm, at the Aldrich House for a talk by retired National Park Ranger and historical reenactor John McNiff on Roger Williams’s early life in England.
The story of Roger Williams in New England is a well-known aspect of the founding of the United States. What is often left out from the tale is what it was like for Roger to grow up in England, be educated there, and the forces that led him to leave his native land for a so-called New World. By piecing together what we know about Williams, and what we know about England in the early 17th century, Roger Williams (portrayed by John McNiff) will relate his adventures in England prior to coming across the ocean to this land.
Guests can register for the talk here.
McNiff was born and brought up in RI. He attended Rhode Island College and received his BA in History with a minor in Anthropology in 1979. He spent the summer of 1980 studying archaeology in England, and then came back to the US where he worked as a commercial fisherman, in sales, and advertising. He has been an historical re-enactor since the mid-1970s and has almost 50 years’ experience with black powder weapons. He has been an actor, theatrical producer, and stage combat instructor for many, many years. He has also consulted, worked on, done voice over work for, and appeared in several films, many about the colonial period. In 1996 John began working with the National Park Service and in 1997 was stationed as a Park Ranger at the Roger Williams National Memorial on North Main Street in Providence, RI. McNiff’s research into 17th Century New England and English history, not only made him a respected authority on Roger Williams, but also helped uncover significant new issues regarding women’s rights and religious rights in early Rhode Island. Most recently, with covid affecting every aspect of what we all know, John created a series of one-minute videos called Ask Roger, now in its third season.