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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.
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
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
- Newport and Providence Plantations Counties was the original 2 counties created on June 22, 1703.
- Kent County was the last county created on June 11, 1750.
County Size Facts
- Providence County (409 sq mi) is the largest county in Rhode Island.
- Bristol County (24 sq mi) is the smallest county in Rhode Island.
County Population Facts
- Bristol County (49,875) is the least populated county in Rhode Island.
- Providence County (626,667) is the most populated county in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island City Facts
Rhode Island’s 8 largest cities (2010) are:
- Providence (Capital) (178,042) is in Providence County
- Warwick (82,672) is in Kent County
- Cranston (80,387) is in Providence County
- Pawtucket (71,148) is in Providence County
- East Providence (47,037) is in Providence County
- Woonsocket (41,186) is in Providence County
- Newport (24,672) is in Newport County
- Central Falls (19,376) is in Providence County
List of Rhode Island’s 31 Towns
List if Rhode Island’s 31 towns are Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Charlestown, Coventry, Cumberland, East Greenwich, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, New Shoreham, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, The Town Portsmouth, Richmond, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, West Greenwich, West Warwick and Westerly.
Boundary Changes of Rhode Island Counties from 1643-1963
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 1643 to 1963.
List of Rhode Island Counties
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
|Bristol County||17 Feb 1747||Newport County||The city of Bristol, England||Bristol||Created from land gained from Bristol County, Massachusetts after resolution of a boundary dispute between the two colonies|
|Kent County||11 Jun 1750||Providence County||the county of Kent, England||East Greenwich|
|Newport County||22 Jun 1703||Original County||The town (now city) of Newport, Wales||Newport|
|Providence County||22 Jun 1703||Original County||Divine Providence||Providence|
|Washington County||03 Jun 1729||Part of Providence Plantations||In honor of George Washington (1732-1799); commanding general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, a Founding Father, and the first President of the United States (1789-1787)||Wakefield|
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
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.