Travel to the UK with the RIHS & John McNiff

The Rhode Island Historical Society is excited to announce that we will be going global this November with a fundraising trip to the United Kingdom to explore the early life of Roger Williams with John McNiff!

This specialized trip will see guests walk in the footsteps of Williams and his associates (as well as other famed Rhode Island influencer Samuel Slater) as we visit Scotland, England and Wales on a 10-day adventure accompanied by Williams expert and former National Park Ranger John McNiff.

In addition, to visiting the stomping grounds of Roger’s youth in London and Cambridge, guests will experience Guy Fawkes Night in Edinburgh, as well as visit York, Caernarfon, Betws-y-Coed, and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Learn more about the trip by viewing the full itinerary, registering for upcoming programs, or signing up to join us in the UK today! Have immediate questions? Contact Sarah Carr, Director of Advancement & Public Engagement at or 401-331-8575 ext. 135.


Day 1 + Day 2: Edinburgh, Scotland

Your tour opens in Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland, where rocky hills tower in the distance and the shadows of history can be seen around every corner. Discover Scotland’s capital and see how medieval crossroads blend seamlessly with a vibrant modern energy. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Edinburgh

Today visit Edinburgh Castle, home to the Scottish Crown Jewels. Then it’s your choice! Get acquainted with this regal city on a locally guided tour of the Old Town and New Town via motor coach -OR- join a local expert and explore the Old Town and Royal Mile on foot. Whichever you choose, you can enjoy the rest of the day to explore the city independently.

Day 4: Edinburgh – Borders Region – York, England

Visit Durham Cathedral, a picturesque Anglo-Saxon cathedral, the resting place of the Venerable Bede, considered to be the Father of English History. Then travel on to Raby Castle, the seat of Henry Vane the Younger, former governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who supported Roger William’s Rhode Island Colony and defended Anne Hutchinson.

Day 5: York – Chester

Journey to Worksop, the birthplace of Mary Bernard Williams, wife of Roger Williams and daughter to Richard Bernard, who wrote the book on the prosecution of witches. It is also home to Creswell Crags, where the largest collection of witches’ marks in Britain were discovered in 2019. Then, venture on to Belper, the birthplace of Samuel Slater. Join a tour focused on his time in Belper. Visit the North Mill, old town, and the Unitarian Chapel, where Samuel would have attended on Sundays. Tonight, meet a local with many tales about life in Chester past and present.

Day 6: Chester – Caernarfon, Wales – Betws-y-Coed – Chester, England

Today, visit a royal town in Wales, where it’s your choice! Visit Caernarfon Castle to discover the history behind one of Edward I’s most imposing castles -OR- take a leisurely stroll around the town with your Tour Manager, seeking out local shops, cafes, and markets. Then take a scenic drive through the best of the Welsh landscape over the mountain pass to the quaint and picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed. This magical landscape holds a distinctly alpine feel and breathtaking natural beauty.

Day 7: Chester – Stratford-upon-Avon

Step back in time on a journey through the English countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon – the Bard’s birthplace. After touring the childhood home of William Shakespeare, take time to explore this historic market town on your own. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner.

Day 8: Stratford-upon-Avon – Cambridge – London

Bid farewell to Stratford and travel to the city of Cambridge. Enjoy a city tour, including an in-depth visit to Pembroke College, Roger William’s alma mater. Take in key sights in the historic center of Cambridge before stopping at Castle Hill. Enjoy lunch on your own before continuing on to All Saint’s Church. Your day concludes in London, England’s storied capital city and your home for the last two nights on tour.

Day 9: London

Take in the sites of London on a tour of the city’s quintessential sights, while learning about Roger Williams early years living in the city. Begin with a walking tour of Westminster, where you see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Continue to Buckingham Palace and make your way to Trafalgar Square. This afternoon is yours to discover more of London independently and make memories to treasure.

Day 10: London – Tour Ends

Your journey through Britain comes to a close today. Return home to Rhode Island with a new appreciation for our state’s history and connections to new friends made on your travels!

Upcoming Promotional Programs

John McNiff Historical Portrayal of Roger Williams

Tuesday, March 19, 6pm

John McNiff returns for an engaging talk and dramatic depiction, including period dress and dialect, exploring Roger Williams’s early life in England. While many are well-acquainted with Roger Williams’s story in New England, his beginnings before setting foot in the United States are not as widely known.

Retired National Park Ranger and historical reenactor John McNiff will share the lesser-known details of Williams’s early life in England, covering aspects such as his upbringing, education, and the factors that led him to leave England for the so-called New World.

Mary Williams and Anne Hutchinson: From England to Rhode Island

Wednesday, March 27, 6pm

Join us at the Aldrich House for a talk with Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, an Associate Professor of History at Roger Williams University. Carrington-Farmer specializes in Rhode Island history and has a forthcoming article on Mary Williams

She will be connecting Mary Williams and Anne Hutchinson from England, to Rhode Island. These women both made significant contributions to Rhode Island history. Hutchinson in helping to found Portsmouth after her dramatic banishment from Massachusetts Bay and Williams in confirming a vital land evidence for Providence This talk will explore the early lives of Anne Marbury and Mary Bernard before they crossed the Atlantic and became Anne Hutchinson and Mary Williams.

Sir Henry Vane the Younger, oil on canvas from the studio of Sir Peter Lely. Raby Castle Collections. Image of Raby Castle (credit David Forster)

Sir Henry Vane 1613-1662; Discovering an Extraordinary Life and Legacy

Tuesday, April 16, 6pm

Join Raby Castle curator Julie Biddlecombe-Brown at the Aldrich House on April 16th, as she puts the almost-forgotten figure of Sir Henry Vane into context, a man who briefly served as an early Governor of Massachusetts Bay.

As Governor, he developed friendships with the Hutchinsons, the Dyers, and Roger Williams, who later described him as “an Instrument of God” for procuring and confirming the Rhode Island Charter. His radical beliefs, however, put him at odds with King Charles II, who had Vane executed in 1662. Biddlecombe-Brown will explore his life and legacy in Old, and New England.