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Rhode Island


Historical Soci e; t Jf r^
Collections^ \, jl


APRIL, 1931


From i7 painting by G. Clausen in the Richard W . Cnmstod-:, Jr.,
Memorial Collection in the Society's Mnsetnu.

AnotluT picture of the Cnrea, in which the ship's name is spelled Korea, was
printed in the Rhode Island Historical Society Collections XVI, op. p. 37.

Issued Quarterly

68 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island




Ship Corea Cover

President's Annual Address

by Addison P. Munroe .... 65

The Walter Newbury Shipping Book

by Bruce M. Bigelow .... 73

First Settlers in East Pro\'idence

by W. LeRoy Wood .... 92

The Esther Willett Thimble .... 97

New Publications ...... 97

Notes 99

Report of Membership Committee

by Henry C. Dexter . . . . 100

Treasurer's Report

by Gilbert A. Harrington . . . . 101






April, 1931

No. 2

Addison P. Munroe, President Gii.bp;rt A. Harrington, Treasurer
Howard W. Preston, Secretary Howard M. Chapin, Librarian

The Society assumes no rcsponsihilitv for the statements or the opinions
of contributors.


President's Annual Address

To the })ie))ibeys of the Rhode Island Historical Society:

The President's annual address takes a different form
this year from addresses heretofore delivered.

The present Executive believes that his annual mes-
sage, instead of being an historical address, should take
the form of an annual report of the work and activities of
the Society, to the end that the members may be niade
more familiar with the work that the officers and the mem-
bers of the Executive Committee are endeavoring to
accomplish. In other words, a report of the President to
the stockholders of the corporation — the members of the
Society being so regarded.

Charter of the Organization

First, a few words as to the Society itself. The Rhode
Island Historical Society was chartered at the June session
of the General Assembly, 1822, and is now entering upon


the 1 09th year of its existence. The Society was chartered,
to quote from the Act of Incorporation, "For the purpose
of procuring and preserving whatever relates to the topo-
graphy, antiquities, and natural, civil and ecclesiastical
history of the State."

Since its organization it has had fifteen presidents, as
follows: James Fenner, John Howland, Albert Gorton
Greene, Samuel Greene Arnold, Zachariah Allen, William
Gammell, Horatio Rogers, John Henry Stiness, George
Taylor Paine, Albert Harkness, Wilfred Harold Munro,
Howard W. Preston, G. Alder Blumer, Claude R. Branch,
and the present incumbent.

The State of Rhode Island is exceedingly wealthy in
historic material and the Rhode Island Historical Society
itself may well be considered as being an important part

While enjoying a long life of constructive usefulness,
naturally, in accordance with its purpose, dealing with the
lives and deeds of those who have gone before, neverthe-
less it is in no sense a dead organization, but, on the con-
trary, is a live twentieth century society catering to the
needs of the present life and present conditions.

Financial Condition

While there has never been a time in the long life of
the Society when it could not have used more funds advan-
tageously, nevertheless our financial condition at the pres-
ent time, as far as operating expenses are concerned, is
very satisfactory, as has been shown by the report of the
Treasurer. The income from the invested funds and from
the annual membership dues, is carefully budgeted each
year and the budget strictly adhered to. The large
increase in membership during the past year has materially
increased the annual income. The Society has also been
fortunate the past year in having been bequeathed the
sum of $4,000 by the late Miss Emily J. Anthony,

president's annual address 67

although the bequest has not yet been paid in to the
Society's treasury.


Numerous gifts have been received during the past year,
among them being the valuable collection of Providence
stamps presented by Mr. A. B. Slater, and two oil paint-
ings by Mr. Henry D. Sharpe.


It is extremely gratifying to state that our membership
shows a greater increase during 1930 than in any previ-
ous year, as shown by the report of the Membership Com-
mittee, and that the total membership as of December 31,
1930, is the largest ever reported at an annual meeting,
as shown by the report of the Secretary. The Member-
ship Committee has functioned admirably, and I am sure
I am expressing the sentiments of the Society when I
extend its members our sincere thanks for their efficient
work, I trust the growth in membership will continue
during the coming year.


The report of our efficient Librarian and of the Library
Committee shows that department of our organization to
be in excellent condition. A recognized authority on library
conditions recently stated in a published article that "The
library of the Rhode Island Historical Society is the most
complete for its subject of all the State Historical libraries
in America. That is, it has more nearly all the books,
pamphlets, and other historical material relating to its
State than has any similar institution."

Our genealogical library is not growing as rapidly as it
should, and a special fund for the purchase of genealogical
books would solve this problem.

68 rhode island historical society


We have been very fortunate in securing able speakers
for our 1930 courses of lectures, all of which have been
most interesting and well attended. All of our lecturers
have volunteered their services and the members of our
Society have indeed been fortunate to have had the privi-
lege of enjoying these instructive talks. The matter of
lectures has been more fully covered in the report of the
Lecture Committee.


The matter of our publications has been reported on by
the Publication Committee, and does not require any fur-
ther extended comment, except to say that they have been
kept up to the high standard of previous years, and that
they are in keeping with the dignity of the Society. The
quarterly "Collections" in particular have been of out-
standing merit.

Grounds and Buildings

Thanks to the efficient Committee on Grounds and
Buildings our property is in excellent condition and has
required but little outlay for upkeep and repairs.



The report of the Necrology Committee shows that we
have lost a number of our valued members during the past
year, some of whom have been members of many years
standing. Included in this list is the first Vice-President
of the Society, Hon. Charles Dean Kimball, a faithful and
efficient officer, whose passing is a great loss to the Society.
A committee representing the Society was appointed to
attend the funeral and at the Executive Committee meet-
ing following, appropriate resolutions were adopted and
a copy of the same forwarded to his family.

president's annual address 69

Finance and Audit Committees

The efficient work of these important committees is
covered by the report of the Treasurer.

Special Committees

The Committee on Marking Hisroric Sites has not been
particularly active during the past year, owing, in part, to
the illness and death of Chairman Kimball. Recommenda-
tion is made that a meeting of this important committee be
held in the near future at which a Chairman should be
elected. The State of Rhode Island, that assists the work
of this committee by an appropriation, as well as this
Society and the community at large, looks to this committee
for the appropriate marking of the many important his-
toric sites within the boundaries of the State, and more
activity should prevail. It is not sufficient to discuss things
that ought to be done; the business motto "Do it now"
should be followed.

Following the instructions of the Society, your Presi-
dent appointed, last spring, a Committee on the Celebra-
tion of the 300th Anniversary of the Founding of Provi-
dence, which has taken the name of the Providence Ter-
centenary Committee. The work accomplished to date
by the Committee has been very satisfactory, and has been
covered by the report of the Recording Secretary, Mr.
John W. Haley.

Believing that an organization functions better when
individuals composing that organization are in closer touch
with each other, your President, immediately after the last
annual meeting, appointed a Hospitality Committee to
serve during the year 1 930. This action was in accord with
the trend of live modern organizations, and has resulted
satisfactorily. At the close of each lecture this Committee
serves light refreshments, and gives opportunity to the
members for closer social contact and to meet the speaker.


Formerly, after the close of a lecture, the building
would be vacated inside of five minutes, where now the
members spend an hour in social intercourse to the mutual
benefit of all concerned. Much credit is due to the Hos-
pitality Committee of 1930, for its efficient work. This
plan will be continued during the coming year.

Official Representation

Your President has had the honor of representing the
Society at several official functions, and at meetings and
dinners of other organizations. He has accepted all such
invitations unless previous engagements have prevented.

The Society's Building

In connection with the 250th Anniversary of the Found-
ing of the City of Providence, a book was published en-
titled "The Providence Plantations for 250 Years," by
Welcome Arnold Greene.

Writing of the Rhode Island Historical Society and its
building, Mr. Greene said:

"The capacity of the building is insufficient for the
proper display of these objects of interest . . . The
contents of the building may be described as con-
sisting of: (1) a library of 16,000 bound volumes,
40,000 pamphlets, files of newspapers, and individual
manuscripts; (2) a cabinet comprising, not merely
curiosities, but articles that illustrate the domestic,
social, commercial, and military life of an age unlike
our own j ( 3 ) portraits of the prominent men in the
colonial and early history of Rhode Island, together
with other historic pictures."

Notwithstanding the fact that additions to the building
have been made since the writing of the above, in 1886,

president's annual address 71

the building is even more crowded now than it was at that
time. In fact, it is so crowded that many of the priceless
possessions of the Society cannot even be displayed.

We have at the present time, over 100,000 books and
pamphlets, besides over 200,000 manuscripts, while news-
paper files have increased by the accumulation of 50 years.

If we are to continue to grow, function properly, and
serve the citizens of Providence, it is imperative that we
have more room in the very near future.

Much time and thought has already been given to the
matter, and at the present time, it seems as though one
of two solutions will eventually have to be adopted.

1. Acquire an entirely new site and erect a modern
building thereon, selling the present land and building,
and using the proceeds thereof toward the cost of the new

2. Build an addition on the front of the present build-
ing, covering, as far as possible, all of the landj the addi-
tion to be of fireproof construction with waterproof

The Executive Committee has considered the matter and
has appointed a committee to investigate the possibilities
of the first plan. Although the committee so appointed has
spent considerable time on the matter, very little progress
has been made, and it is doubtful if the proper location
can be secured at a cost that would be deemed at all

The second plan has also been considered. In order to
erect an addition that would be large enough to serve the
purposes of the Society, permission would have to be
secured from the Zoning Board to build upon more land
than is allowed to be covered in a residential district. Inas-
much, however, as our Society is a semi-public institution,
and the building is open to the public each day of the week,
it is believed that the necessary permission would be


While a number of our members think that an entirely
new building, modern in every respect, should be acquired,
an equally large number express reluctance to leave the
building thalt has been the home of the Society for so many
years, and support the second plan, which would entail
but a small cost compared to the cost of the first plan.

The whole matter is receiving the consideration of the
officers and members of the Executive Committee, and, I
have no doubt, the proper solution will finally be found.

Officers and Committees

I want to express my appreciation of the manner in
which the officers and committees have functioned during
the past year. The attendance at committee meetings has
been noteworthy, frequently being 100 per cent.

We are fortunate in having officers and committee mem-
bers who realize that they are not elected for the honor,
but for the purpose of real service to the Society.

Members also have duties, other than paying their
annual dues. They owe it to the speakers, to the Lecture
Committee, and to the Society, to support the lectures by
their attendance, and thus give their moral as well as their
financial support.


In presenting this brief resume of the activities of the
Society for the past year, your President trusts that the
membership has a better idea of what the Society is accom-
plishing. History need not necessarily be a dry matter,
and when presented properly, is not. Our Society, in the
second century of its existence, should, and I believe has,
reached the age of mature and sound judgment j if it has
not, it never will.

Although it is proper for us to look back upon the past
work of the Society with pride, nevertheless, it is the


future we are facing, and I am confident that with the
continued co-operation and support of our members, we
will continue to function as well or better in the future
as we have in the past.

Addison P. Munroe,


Providence, Rhode Island,
January 13, 1931.

The Walter Newbury Shipping Book

By Bruce M. Bigelow

Documents on seventeenth century American commerce
are rare historical nuggets. Only occasionally does the
historian find one of these precious records which describes
the nature of our early trade — a commerce which led
to the Golden Age of Newport, and the industrial era of

We have known that Narragansett Bay was a part of
the seventeenth century commercial world. Indeed, even
before Roger Williams had founded the town of Provi-
dence, the ubiquitous Dutchman, who tried all ports, had
there bartered his knives, trinkets, tools, and firearms for
the Indian furs, hides, and produce, and had even estab-
lished a trading post there for the Dutch West Indian

^Broadhead, History of Necv Yor/c, I, VIII, 268. Cited by Arnold,
History of Rhode Island^ I, 15 5. There is an island in Narragansett Bay
still called Dutch Island.


We have also known that the early colonists who settled
Newport and Providence were prompt to continue this
intercourse with the Dutchmen of Manhattan. Further-
more, we are aware that besides this coastwise commerce
between Newfoundland on the north, and Manhattan on
the south, these early Rhode Island merchant adventurers
soon looked for a market in the Caribbean. In this early
period of the seventeenth century there was some small
commerce with Barbados, but exactly how much there was
may never be known. Among the meagre evidence is a
report to the Board of Trade made by Governor Peleg
Sanford in 1680, forty-four years after the founding of
the colony.' Sanford wrote that "we have nine towns or
divisions within our Colloney." As to the commercial pos-
sibilities the answer was, "wee have several good Harbors
... of very good depth and soundings, navigable for any
shippings." He reported further in reference to trade, "the
principall matters that are exported amongst us, is Horses
and provisions and the goods chiefly imported is a small
quantity of Barbadoes goods for supply of our familyes."

The extreme meagreness of the actual commerce of the
period is indicated in this same document when the gov-
ernor announced, "wee have severall men that deale in
buying and sellinge although they cannot properly be
called merchants, and for the Planters wee conceave there
are about five hundred and about five hundred men
besides." Again he stated, "That as for merchants wee have
none, but the most of our Colloney live comfortably by
improvinge the wildernesse . . . that we have no ship-
pinge belonginge to our Colloney but only a few sloopes."

This report of the governor in 1680 is somewhat unsat-
isfactory, but it does at least indicate the extent of early
Rhode Island commerce. It should have restrained the

-Arnold, History of Rhode Island, I, 488-491. From the original in
the British State Paper Office, New England Papers. B. T., Vol. Ill, 121.


popular historians who would have us believe that an active
port of Providence existed in the seventeenth century. Too
frequently the Sanford report was forgotten. Neverthe-
less, although this evidence relating to the extent of Rhode
Island commerce was extant, there was nothing available
for many years to tell us about the nature of this early

Then came the Peleg Sanford Letter Book, found in
the Massachusetts Archives, and published by the Rhode
Island Historical Society in 1928. This priceless docu-
ment shows the business practices of Peleg Sanford between
1666 and 1669. To supplement this account, the Society
now prints an abstract of the Walter Newbury Shipping
Book which was located by the writer in the Newport
Historical Society Library. This unusual document indi-
cates the actual export trade of Walter Newbury between
1673 and 1689.

Walter Newbury was born in 1648, and died in 1697.^
He is first heard of in Newport in 1673 when he shipped
goods to Barbados. In the following year the Friends'
records identified him as a "London merchant, residing in
Newport," and show that he purchased a house from Wil-
liam Richardson, mariner and owner of the Ketch May-
flower. In 1675 he was listed as a Freeman, in 1684 as a
Deputy, and from 1686 to 1696 as an Assistant.* In 1675,
he married a former London resident, Ann Collins, and
had eight children by the union. Newbury was apparently a
very active Quaker. The famous itinerant Friend, William

^Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island^ p. 137. See also
Turner, Geneological Manuscript, p. 1 5 1, in Newport Historical Society.
A note on Newburv's death and estate is in Rhode Island Colonial Records,

^Rhode Island Colonial Record, III, 186, 220, 312.


Edmundson/' in the journal of his own life described visits
to the West Indies, a passage to Rhode Island in a "Yatch
that Joseph Bryer, a Friend was master of," and his stay
during an illness at the home of Walter Newbury.

The Newbury document is a shipping book of a stand-
ard type. For the convenience of merchants English
printers sold bills of lading bound together in book form.
The bills were printed forms with spaces into which the
name of the shipper, the vessel, the master, and the con-
signee would be written. The cargo, of course, was also
included along with the freight rate, and then too the
date. The master's signature appeared at the bottom of
each bill."'

It is interesting that the first bill of lading was not made
out in Newbury's name. Hope Borden made the first
shipment, and the cargo, consisting of horses and provi-
sions, was consigned to Joseph Borden. The bill was dated
November 18, 1673. In this case shipper and consignee
were husband and wife. Joseph Borden had moved from
Portsmouth to Barbados j his wife Hope remained in New-
port with her mother until the Borden's third child was
born.' The second bill of lading, dated December 30, 1673,
reveals Walter Newbury as the shipper and Joseph Borden
as the receiver. The story is clear enough. Joseph Borden
had probably carried on a previous correspondence with
Barbados. After his departure to the West Indies his wife

^A Journal of the Life Trat>els, Sufferings and Labour of Love in the
Work of the Ministry of that Worthy Elder and Faithful Servant of Jesus
Christ, William Edmundson, pp. 71-82. (London, 1712.)

*^The signatures indicate how unimportant spelling was considered by
colonists of the seventeenth century. Even the name of the shipper,
Newbury, appears as Newberry and Newbery. A very Interesting signature
in this book is that of Sam Cranston. This is the only actual record that
seems to exist which proves that he was the master of a vessel. Many stories
of his ventures, however, have survived.

^Austin, Geneological Dictiotiary , p. 24.


SHifp€dini9oJorder,aniweSeon0'itmtil \] f4XUl^^^ f^JP^*^/^^
in and upon tht Shif calltU tht Ld^/t^ri ,A- fffl^^A
wkerffi$ Majlerfor ihii t't^*^Vojait^/fit/p^f¥^iyrttr^yr'n, «

Wl/ 'y'^X marked and numbred at in the margtnt, tindarrt^ he deVmrtd in the !';'•>■ food orja mi' i

U^ _. ■** VillcimJitMnedatthcMforejaid Pvrtvj C^^n/jg^fiCC^^f^ y, ~ - ^ ^^

W ^thi dt,n^tt efthe S(tij onely fxcepcetl) untol^fijyj^^ Qt^^^^i^ ytn^irc^^^y^

^ — «rt<i ACf' pfgmi^hei,rlbcf{ajii;^fraightfortk'faU;s.<^S'ls^^in^^^

mth prlmaie and avara^e (ueujionud. l„ ^Unefs whereof, tht A^er or Furf,r iftUQid ShiA
ftt^ifot^hjk-dj tbti>t,;,r two toJl4n4vvfd. - Daudin-fl^^ef-^y'^ fi^ ^

\ • - "•"••Ttfmiriiii I • Hmm ■• irrii j in


In Newport Historical Society Library


continued his shipments until her own departure when
Newbury, a recent arrival in Newport, took over the busi-
ness. The other bills of lading in the old Borden shipping
book all belonged to Newbury and cover the period from
December 10, 1673 to April 13, 1689.'

Newbury employed vessels not very different in type
from those used by Peleg Sanford. The majority were
sloops and ketches. It is unfortunate that the word "ship"
was printed on the form of the bills. Frequently the mer-
chant forgot to cross out this word and write in the actual
rig of the vessel. As a rule, however, the descriptive name
of the craft was given. Newbury, in 1688, employed a
brigantine, and even before this there is no doubt that ships
were actually used. In general, however, sloops, ketches,
and brigantines were most common. Like Sanford, New-
bury doubtless had an interest in several of these vessels,
perhaps owning one outright, but that is quite doubtful. As
one of the leading merchants in Newport, Newbury per-
haps had shares in several vessels of that port. There is
evidence that he was concerned in at least forty-seven voy-
ages: nineteen to Barbados, five to Jamaica, two to Nevis,
and one to Antiqua. One vessel went to London, eight to
New York, and seven to Boston j Shrowsberry, Philadel-
phia, and Burlington-on-the-Delaware are also each mem-
tioned once. Barbados was naturally the chief objective.
It is of considerable interest and some significance that as
early as 1678, Newbury tried a shipment to Jamaica, which
became the leading market a half century later.

One of the most important characteristics of this period,
which is evidenced by methods of both Sanford and New-
bury, is that cargoes were consigned to definite individuals.

*'It is important to remember that the Julian Calendar was not replaced
bv the Gregorian or New Style until 1752. The Julian year began on the
25th of March. February was the twelfth month and March the first
month of the year


Sanford used this practice most regularly. Newbury
employed it too, but occasionally took a chance on a con-
signment to the master, who was charged to dispose of it
as best he could. It was this method of shipment which
became so popular in the first half of the next century. At

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