Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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0LDHAM, John, pilgrim, born in England, about 1600; died on Block island, Rhode Island, in July, 1636. He came to Plymouth in 1623, and attempted in 1624 to set up a separate manner of worship and alter the form of government, but was driven out of the colony, and went to Nantasket and afterward to Cape Ann. He did not remain long in either place, but engaged in trading between New England and Virginia. He was an enterprising merchant, purchasing a grant of the lands between the Charles and Saugus rivers, and carrying on a large trade with the Indians. He went to England in 1628 to lay a commercial scheme before the Massachusetts company, but they, fearing that he would interest others in his opinions, refused to treat with him, denied his title to the land that he had purchased, and forbade his trading for beaver with the Indians. He subsequently made Watertown his residence, and was elected a representative in the general court in 1632, when the popular branch was first instituted. In 1633, with three companions, he journeyed from Boston to the Connecticut river, following the Indian trails and lodging in their cabins. He was re-elected as representative from Watertown in 1634. Captain Oldham traded chiefly with the Narragansett Indians. While visiting Block island he was murdered by some Narragansetts that happened to be among the Pequots there. The Indians seized his vessel and sailed away, but they were overtaken by Captain John Gallop (q. v.), and all were slain except those who leaped overboard and one who was made a captive. The murder of Oldham was a chief incident in bringing on the Pequot war.
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