Town Historian

Our Town Historian, G. Timothy Cranston, has published several non-fiction books giving readers extensive insight and information on places of historical and cultural significance in North Kingstown’s history. They have garnered high reviews from readers and are available online, here.

G. Tim Cranston, Town Historian, can trace his Rhode Island roots back to 1635. It was then that his ancestor John Cranston, a young boy of 12, left Scotland as a ward of Jeremy Clarke, traveling aboard a sailing vessel bound for Rhode Island. He was sent to the "colonies" by his father, a chaplain to King Charles, as he feared retribution would be rained down upon the boy by Cromwell during the long period of turmoil in England.

Upon arrival, John walked down the gangway to the young streets of Portsmouth and Newport and would later become colonial Governor. His son Samuel would one day marry the granddaughter of Roger Williams, and eventually would become the longest standing governor in history. The Cranston family eventually went on to settle in North Kingstown; in the villages of Wickford and Swamptown.

Today that long standing lineage, and inherent Rhode Island sense of place, is personified by Tim Cranston, self-proclaimed arbiter of all things "Swamp Yankee," and local historian of Ye Old North Kingstown and South County, and all of Rhode Island.

Tim's popular local history newspaper column has run in the NorthEast Independent for more than eleven years and has won two RI Press Association "Spirit of RI" Awards as well as two PreserveRI Education Awards. His work as a historian and preservation advocate through his non-profit corporation, Swamptown Enterprises, has garnered education and advocacy awards. The South County Tourism Council awarded Tim its South County ‘Starlight Award' for his entertaining and educational walking tours and guided bus tours of the region. Tim has also been honored by the North Kingstown Arts Council as the inaugural recipient of the Skog Award.

Tim has worked closely over the years with groups such as Historic Wickford, the Newport Historical Society, the RI Black Heritage Society, North Kingstown Arts Council, and North Kingstown Free Library on projects that honor the contributions that our predecessors have made to the history of this great place - Roger William's Lively Experiment - the State of Rhode Island.

Tim has spent countless hours delving into the history of the area - researching and interviewing "those who remember," and he has spent many more volunteer hours sharing his knowledge with this community. Without his work, the North Kingstown Community would have lost much of our history and our knowledge of the lives of the people before us. Tim tells the community why he preserves and cherishes North Kingstown history in the way he does by saying, "I was brought up understanding that we all have an obligation to give something back to our community. In each generation of Cranston's, someone has stepped up to the plate and done this. Lenore did it the generation before me, and her father (and my grandfather) the generation before that. An unbroken line of service to community extending back to the original George T. Cranston, the man I was named after. I think that we who live in this marvelous community owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us; they cleared the way for us, each of them did their part to make North Kingstown the place that it is now. We honor them by remembering their lives. In attempts to understand their trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, we can learn something of who we are as a community. I try to point out that all of them, from textile kings like Robert Rodman and Syria Vaughn, to slaves and former slaves like Thankful Onion and Pero Roome, the farmers and the farmers' wives, and the mariners and their widows alike, are equally important parts of that story- we owe them our attention; in learning about them we bring them back to life, even if only for an instant."