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History and Facts of Rhode Island Counties

Today’s Rhode Island counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Colony of Rhode Island Counties

Roger Williams (theologian) founded Providence Plantations  in 1636 as a free proprietary colony. 

In 1644, the settlements of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport was Chartered as an English colony named the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

On June 22, 1703 the Rhode Island Colony created two counties: Rhode Island and Providence Plantations counties to cover all non-county area.

The last county to be formed was Kent County in 1750. All Rhode Island counties were established before the Declaration of Independence.

The Colony of Rhode Island was Disestablished in 1776. 

The State of Rhode Island entered the union as the 13th state on May 29, 1790.

Rhode Island Counties Today

Today, Rhode Island is divided into 5 counties. States bordering Rhode Island are Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Rhode Island is divided into counties, it does not have any local government at the county level.

Rhode Island Counties have had no governmental functions since 1846 other than as court administrative which are part of state government.

Fun Facts about Rhode Island Counties

Rhode Island has second-fewest counties in the U.S. (Delaware has fewer, with three counties)

Rhode Island counties contain eight cities and thirty-one towns.

Counties by Year

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

Rhode Island City Facts

Rhode Island’s 8 largest cities (2010) are:

  1. Providence (Capital) (178,042) is in Providence County
  2. Warwick (82,672) is in Kent County
  3. Cranston (80,387) is in Providence County
  4. Pawtucket (71,148) is in Providence County
  5. East Providence (47,037) is in Providence County
  6. Woonsocket (41,186) is in Providence County
  7. Newport (24,672) is in Newport County
  8. Central Falls (19,376) is in Providence County

List of Rhode Island’s 31 Towns

List if Rhode Island’s 31 towns are  BarringtonBristolBurrillvilleCharlestownCoventryCumberlandEast GreenwichExeterFosterGlocesterHopkintonJamestownJohnstonLincolnLittle ComptonMiddletownNarragansettNew ShorehamNorth KingstownNorth ProvidenceNorth SmithfieldThe Town PortsmouthRichmondScituateSmithfieldSouth KingstownTivertonWarrenWest GreenwichWest Warwick and Westerly.

Boundary Changes of Rhode Island Counties from 1643 to 1963

This Interactive Map of Rhode Island Counties  show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Rhode Island from 1643-1963.

List of Rhode Island Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Rhode Island Counties

There are some Rhode Island counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below Rhode Island counties no longer exist:

King’s County, Colony of Rhode Island

Created on June 16, 1729 from Providence CountyKing’s County was renamed to Washington County on October 29, 1781.

Providence Plantations County, Colony of Rhode Island

Created on June 22, 1703 as one of two original counties; consisted of the the Rhode Island mainland. Providence Plantations County was renamed to Providence County on June 16, 1729.

Rhode Island County, Colony of Rhode Island

Created on June 22, 1703 as one of two original counties; consisted of Block Island and the islands in Narragansett Bay. Rhode Island County was renamed to Newport County on June 16, 1729.