William Blackstone (1595-1675) was an English Anglican priest who, unable to abide by ecclesiastic requirements that ran counter to his religious beliefs, joined Ferdinando Gorges’ expedition to the New World in 1623. Though the mission was a failure that ended with most of the would-be settlers returning to Britain, Blackstone's craving for personal freedom guaranteed that he remained. He traveled alone to Boston — or Shawmut, as it was then called — where he erected a solitary home on what is now Boston Common, making him the first colonist to settle in the area. His only companions were his books and the roses and apple trees he planted.
His peace was shattered by the arrival of John Winthrop and his fellow voyagers in 1630. Initially he welcomed the newcomers and, since they were in need of potable water, invited them to join him on his land which was rich in natural springs. However, he soon found that their harsh rule was no more palatable to him than that of the English bishops had been, and he departed for Rhode Island where he preached his tolerant brand of Christianity to settlers and Native Americans alike. Among his endearing idiosyncrasies is the fact that, when he grew too old to travel on foot, he tamed a bull and trained it to let him ride on its back.
Below is a poetic rendering of Blackstone's life and experiences.