Av-v-.rviv 1 n i
A Rhode Island Pioneer, 1677
By THOMAS HAMILTON MURRAY,
Sccf ctar y ssGcner al Amcr ican*If ish Historical Society ; Author
of Papers on ''Some Patricks of the Revolution,'' '*The Irish
Chapter in the History of Brown University," ''Rambles in
Rhode Island's South County," "The Irish Soldiers in King
Philip's War," "The Libraries of Boston," "The Old School-
Masters of Boston," "Reminiscences of Life Along Narra*
gansett's Shores," etc. ^ < ^ ^ < <
Reprinted from the RoSJtRV MMC^IME of Nov., I90I,
CHARLES MacCARTHY, A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER.
Thomas Hamilton Murray.
RISH settlers are found in Rhode Island at a very early
period. They were contemporaneous with Roger Will-
iams, John Clark, William Coddington and other lead-
ing men and proved sturdy, energetic members of the
Some of these Irish pioneers doubtless came to
Rhode Island as soldiers in the Indian wars, and when
the latter were over "remained and went not away."
Others in all probability, came as settlers from St. Kitts,
Jamaica, Montserrat and Barbadoes. During Cromwell's atrocious
regime in Ireland thousands(i) of Irish were transported not only
to the continent of North America but also to the West Indies.
Other thousands followed them, forced from home by the iniquitous
English policy of extermination.
It is not at all unlikely that Rhode Island received many of
these hardy refugees and became to them a land of asylum and .'i
permanent home. Nor can it reasonably be doubted that Con-
necticut, Plymouth and "the Bay" likewise contributed Irish settlers
to Rhode Island at early periods and in goodly numbers. In Win-
throp's Journal, under date of 1635, is an entry indicating that even
as early as that a considerable immigration from Ireland to New
England was under way. Thus readeth the entry :
"Another providence was in the voyage of Mr. Winthrop, the
younger, and Mr. Wilson into England, who, returning in the win-
ter time,* in a small and weak ship, bound for Barnstaple, were driven
by foul weather upon the coast of Ireland, not known by any in the
I See Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, (London, 1865);
Thebaud's Irish Race in the Past and the Present, (New York, 1883);
McGee's Irish Settlers in North America, (Bostoii, 1851 and 1855); Con-
don's Irish Race in America; McGee's Catholic History of North Amer-
ica, (Boston, 1855); Cullen's Story of the Irish iij Boston, (Boston, 18^);
Walpole's History of Ireland, (London, 1882)1 Lingard's History of
England; Morison's Threnodia Hiberno-Cathouca, ('Innsbruck, 1659);
Haverty's and other histories of Ireland. (
2 A RHODF. ISLAND PIONEER.
ship, and were brought, through many desperate dangers, into
Gallovvay(2) [Gahvay] where they parted, Mr. Winthrop taking his
journey over land to Dubhn. and Mr. Wilson by sea. His ship was
forced back by tempest to Kinsale. Mr. Wilson being in Ireland,
gaye much satisfaction to the Christians there about New England.
Mr. Winthrop went to Dublin, and from thence to Antrim in the
North and came to the house of Sir John Clotworthy, the evening
before the day when divers godly persons were appointed to meet at
his house, to confer about their voyage to New England, by whom
they were thoroughly informed of all things and received great
encouragement to proceed on their intended course."
Sometimes immigrants from Ireland were welcomed(3) to New
England and at other times the contrary was the case. In the
records of Massachusetts, 1652, we find that one David Sellick hav-
ing craved pardon "for his offence in bringing some of the Irish
men on shoare, hath his fine remitted, so as the first optunite be
taken to send them out of this jurisdiction." But where could they
be sent? Only to some place where they would be likely to get a
better reception. In this connection, Rhode Island, the refuge(4)
of so many oppressed by "the Bay," would naturally suggest itself,
at least to a portion of the Irish immigrants thus proceeded against.
The writer inclines to the belief that numbers of these Irish, being
refused permission to reside elsewhere in New England, finally
located in Rhode Island.
Charles Macarte (MacCarthy), the pioneer to whom this paper
is specially devoted, was a resident of Rhode Island in 1677. When
he came to the polony is unknown. He resided on the island of St.
Christopher, otherwise known as St. Kitts, before arriving in Rhode
Island, a fact mentioned in his will(5). Some of the recordinj^
2 Evidently not Galloway in Scotland.
3 Under date of Sept. 25, 1634, the Massachusetts records have this
entry: "It is ordered that the Scottishe and Irishe gentlemen wch intends
to come hither shall have liberty to sitt down in any place V'pp Merimaclce
Ryver, not possessed by any." In the Massachusetts Records (vol. i,
p. 295), under date of 1640, is another interesting entry, to-wit: "It is
ordered that the goods of the persons come from Ireland shallbee free
from this rate [tax]." And a marginal heading reads: "Irish goods no«v
land free from ye rat[e]."
4 Maryland and Rhod > Island early enacted legislation providing for
liberty of conscience, Maryland leading the way.
5 The greater part of the will was reproduced in the Narragansett His-
torical Register, James N. Arnold, editor, Providence, April, 1891. It was
A I. It h or.
A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER. 3
clerks of those days were not particularly brilliant in writing proper
names, Irish or otherwise. They appear to have, in a way, adopted
the phonetic idea of spelling, that is according to sound.. But it
frequently happened that some names sounded differently to differ-
ent clerks and thus, as in the case of Charles MacCarthy, we have
a variety of spelling.(6) At the same time it should be said, in jus-
tice to the clerks, that there were instances, no doubt, when they
should not be held responsible for variations that appear. Orthog-
raphy was not fixed then as now.
The Rhode Island pioneer of whom we are treating has had
his name rendered as Macarte, Macarta, Macarty, Mackarte and
Mccarty. In his will it is "Macarte," but whether that was the form
authorized by him, or whether it was the work of the clerk who
drew up the will, cannot now be determined. The same name
applied to other early Rhode Island people is also recorded as Mac-
cartee and McCartie. The style "Mac Carthy" used, for the sake of
uniformity, in the caption of this paper, and in the text, is that com-
mon(7) to the MacCarthys Mor, the MacCarthys Reagh, the Mac-
Carthys Glas and other grand divisions of this great Irish clan.
Charles, the Rhode Island settler, had a brother who went from
Ireland to Spain. This brother had been exiled and may have been
among the Irish troops who, in 1652, after surrendering to Crom-
well and Ireton, were allowed to depart and enlist in the Spanish(8;
probably copied from the East Greenwich probate records. The origina'
draft of the will is not known to be now in existence.
6 This applied not only to Irish names, but to English, Scottish and
jDthers as well.
7 MacCarty was likewise a common form of the name. It also fre-
quently appears in Ireland as Carty, and Carthy, without the Mac.
8 Many persons of Irish birth or extraction became distinguished in
the armies of France and Spain. Among those in the French service were:
Justin MacCarthy, (Lord Mountcashel), Colonel Proprietor, 1691, regi-
ment de Mountcashel; Owen MacCarthy, Lieut. Colonel, 1715, regiment
de Athlone; Daniel O'Brien, (Viscount Clare), Knight of the Orders of
St. Louis and St. Lazarus, Colonel Proprietor, 1690, regiment de Clare;
Arthur Dillon, Colonel Proprietor, 1690, regiment de Dillon; Gordon
O'Neill, Colonel Proprietor, 1692, regiment «le Charlemont; Charles
O'Brien, (sixth Lord Clare), Colonel Proprietor, became a marshal of
France;' Dominic Sarsfield, (Lord Kilmallock),/Colonel Proprietor, 1693,
Kilmallock's Dragoons; Jeremial^Mahony, Lie it. Colonel, 1694, regiment
de Limerick; John O'Donohoe, Lieutenant, i6b. Garde du Corps; Pat-
rick Nugent,' Lieut. Colonel, 1706, regiment delBerwick; Daniel O'Mad-
den Lieut. Colonel, 1703, regiment de Fitzderald; Jacques Francois
4 A RHODK ISLAND PION^EER.
service. These troops embarked for Spain at Kinsale, Waterford,
Galvvay, Limerick and Bantry. With them also went many of the
Irish nobihty and gentry who had been ruthlessly dispossessed of
their estates. In more propitious times some of these exiles
returned from Spain. Charles's brother did so and from Kinsale
wrote to Charles whom he sui)posed to be still in St. Christopher,
urging him to return to Ireland. But Charles had, in the meantime,
left. St. Christopher and was probably then in Rhode Island.
Though long delayed, the letter finally reached its destination, but
Charles never went back nor, it is believed, did he antl his brother
ever meet again.
In 1677, Charles was one of a party of 48 settlers to whom
a grant of 5,000 acres, to be called East Greenwich, (q) was made
by the General Assembly of Rhode Island. The grant was awarded
largely for services rendered during King Philip's war, (1675-76).
This would seem to indicate that Charles MacCarthy had been a
participant in that war and it is quite within the bounds of proba-
bility that he had seen military service, too, in the Old Land. At
a session of the General Assembly held at Newport, R. I., May,
1677, it was
Ordered that a certain tract of land in some convenient place
in the Narragansett country, shall be laid forth into one hundred
acre shares, with the house lots, for the accommodation of so many
of the inhabitants of this Colony as stand in need of land, and the
General Assembly shall judge fit to be supplied.
Edward Sarsfield, (Earl of Lucan), Colonel, 1715, and Knight of the Golden
Fleece; Arthur Lally, Knight Grand Cross of St. Louis, Lieut. General,
1746; Maurice MacMahon, Knight of Malta, Captain, 1761, Fitzjames'
Horse; Count Patrick Darcy, Knight of St. Louis and of St. Lazarus,
Colonel, Major General, died 1779. In our own day MacMahon, of Irish
blood, became President of France.
Irish names met in the Spanish service include: Don Florencio
Macarthy, Cornet, 1705, Dragones de Dublin; Don Felix Macarthy, Cap-
tain, 1718, regimento de Limerick; Don Justinio Macarthy, Sub-Lieuten-
ant, 1718, regimento de Hibernia; Don Carlos Macarthy, Lieutenant, 1724,
regimento de Hibernia; E>on Carlos MacMahon, Captain, 1718, regimento
de Ultonia; Don Juan O'Sullivan, Captain, 1724; Don Dionisio O'Sullivan,
Captain, 1724; Don Deir.etrio Mahony, Lieut. Colonel, 1735; Don Cor-
nelio MacMahon, Captain, 1771, regimento de Hibernia; Don Miguel
O'Reilly, Captain of Gr.?nadiers, 1777; Don Josef O'Donnell, Lieut.
Colonel, 1777; Don Hugo O'Connor, Captain of Grenadiers, 1777; Don
Pedro O'Daly, Commander and Colonel, 1803, regimento de Irlanda.
9 Records of the General Assembly. Arnold's Vital Record of Rhode
Island. Greene's History of East Greenwich.
A RHODE ISLAXD PIONEER. 5
It was likewise enacted that the said tract be laid forth to con-
tain 5,000 acres. Of this, 500 were to be laid in some place near
the sea, as convenient as may be for a town, which said 500 acres
shall be divided into 50 house lots and the remainder of the 5,000,
being 4,500, shall be divided into 50 equal shares or great divisions.
It was further decreed that the persons to whom the grant was
made have the rights, liberties and privileges of a town ; also that
they, or so many of them as shall be then present, not being fewer
than twelve, on the said land, [are] required and empowered to meet
together upon the "second Wednesday in April next" and constitute
a town meeting, by electing a Moderator and a Town Clerk, with
such constables as to them shall seem requisite ; and also to choose
two persons their Deputies to sit in General Assembly, and two per-
sons, one to serve on the Grand Jury, and one on the Jury of Trials
in the General Court of Trials.
Thus was launched the town of East Greenwich. The found-
ers, no doubt, included "men from all parts" and if names may be
taken as a criterion several of them, in addition to Charles Mac-
Carthy, were from Ireland. The date of the incorporation of the
town was Oct. 31, 1677, the year following the close of King Philip's
war and the overthrow of the Narragansetts. Later, the boundaries
of the town were enlarged by addition of 35,000 acres on the west-
ern border. Facing a great bay, it was hoped by the founders that
the town might in time equal or surpass Newport or Providence.
In 1 741, the town was divided and the western part incorporated
as West Greenwich. Both towns exist to-day. East Greenwich with
a population of about 3,000 and West Greenwich with a population
of between 600 and 700.
The most thickly settled part of East Greenwich is built mainly
on a hillside and fronts a safe and spacious harbor. The town is a
favorite summer resort. Some of the early settlers engaged in ship-
building, and when the town was laid out two locations were set
apart for shipyards. The persons named as incorporators of East
Greenwich, including Charles MacCarthy, were each required to
build within a year, on his lot, a house suitaible for habitation, under
pain of forfeiture. It was also required that highways be provided
"from the bay up into the country" convenient for settlement. In
addition to IVlacCarthy, the founders included Philip Long,(io)
10 Long, — a frequent name among people of Irish blood. It is derived
from O'Longain, from whence we have O'Lomx-
6 A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER.
Thomas Dungin(ii) and Jolin Strainge(r2) — all three names typ-
ically Irish. Among the proprietors in 1700 was Anthony Long.
About 1732, the town possessed stocks and whipping post, pillory,
irons for mutilating ears, branding faces, cropping, etc., and sim-
ilar appliances rife at that period.
The records of the "General Assembly held at Newport, the 6th
of May 1679" show that "Charles Mecarte" and two others "being
freemen of the towne of East Greenwich, are admitted freemen of
the Collony." It does not appear that Charles ever married, at
least the writer has met no record to that effect. Neither wife nor
child arc mentioned in the copy of the will extant. It is, of course,
possible that he may have had both wife and children in the Old
■Land and that he survived them, but of that nothing definite is
known. His will is dated "the i8th day of February, 1682" and was
witnessed by John Knight and Thomas Fry, Jr. It was the first
will to be recorded in the probate record book of East Greenwich
where it was entered by "John Spenser, Town Clark." Written
over 200 years ago, its quaint phraseology is a source of much inter-
est at the present time. The will thus begins :
Unto all christian people unto whome these pents [presents] may
com know yee that I Cliarles Macarte now of the towne of Est grenwich
in the Colony of Rhod Island and providance planteteons Being in parfact
memory but weake in body doe meakc this my lastt will and testiment.
First, he requests that all his debts be paid. Then he makes
John Spenser, Jr., his lawful heir and bequeaths him "my house
and Land or Lands in this Towne." He designate John Spenser,
Sr., "father to the aforesaid Spenser, Guardian to his sonn to teak
cere that my will be parformed."
One Pasco Whitford owed Charles a debt. This debt the latter
cancels and, in addition gives Whitford "halfe the sheepe of mine
in his keeping." The other half he gives to Edward Carter, to
whom he likewise bequeaths his arms, i. c. two guns and a sword
and also his chest "with the lock and cea." To Charles Heseltun,
11 Dungin, — another name of Irish origin whatever its Rhode Island
bearer may have been. It derives from O'Donnegan, and MacDonnagain,
anglicized Donegan, Dunnegan, Dongan, Dungan, etc. O'Donnegans were
chiefs of "Muskry of the Three Plains" in Cork. MacDonnagains were
chiefs in Limerick. Walter, Lord Dungan, (Irish), was prothonotary of the
Exchequer in Ireland in loSg. Thomas Dongan, an Irish Roman Catholic,
became governor of the province of New York, 1683, and rendered a wise
and just administration.
12 Strange is a well-knciwn name in Ireland.
A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER. 7
Jr., he bequeaths a young horse "that will be two yere old next
Spring branded with IS on the shoulder." To John Andrew is given
^'my biggest yron poot" [pot] and four narrow axes. His pewter
"he bequeaths Susanna Spencer, the same to be delivered to her when
she is of age. All his carpenter and joiner tools are given by tes-
tator to William Spencer(i3) "which shall be resarved for him till
hee i^ capable unto mak youse of them," or of age. After disposing
of certain clothing and household goods to Susanna Spencer, Sr.,
he mentions "One piece of brod cloth that I had to make mee a
wascoat" ; this he gives to his heir. Unto Hannah Long,(i4) the
younger, is given "one heffer of three yere" old, to be delivered
her at his decease, and to "John Garard(i5) a poor Country man
of mine" he gives "three bushels of corne to be paid him presently
after my desese." But one of the most striking passages of the
entire will is the following:
I have a letter that came from my Brother from Kingsile(i6)
[Kinsale] after his return from Spaine Being fersed from home in the
war in which Letter he sent for mee home; but the troubles in Cristifars
at that time fersed me from thence to New England and soe hee
Tierd not of mee nor I of him. * * * j i^[\i that that letter with another
[which] within it is, be sent unto him with a letter to signifie unto him
how it hath been with mee since and when and where I end my dayes.
Charles then provides that Richard Dunn(i7) of Newport, R.
I., be added unto John Spenser, Sr., the first mentioned guardian,
to carry out the provisions of the will, and "if aither of these soo
Before men'oned betrusted should die before that my haire is of
•edge [age] ; then he that doth survive shall heve power; and my
will is that hee chuse one to him it being one that my haire doth
approve of." The will goes on to say that "My ould mere [mare]
I give to Samuel Bennet and hir foule [foal] or my young mere I
•give unto Mychell Spenser * * * and the rest of my Chatle
-Goodes and catten [cattle] I give unto John Spenser Senior and all
13 This name appears to have been spelled both Spenser and Spencer.
14 Probably the daughter of Philip and Hannah Long; Philip, who was
one of MacCarthy's associates in the founding Qf the town.
15 The names Gerard and Gerrard are foun(il in Ireland. This name
Garard, mentioned by MacCarthy, however, may have been Garratt or
Garrett, and therefore derived from Garritty or MacGeraghty.
16 This was also at one time written "Kingsa|e." It is in the County
17 Dunn, — a typical Irish name; from the IriJh O'Duin, and anglicized
O'Dunn, Dun, Dunn, Dunne and Doyne. The s^pt was prominent, in the
olden time, in Kildare and Queen's.
8 A RHODK ISLAND PIONEER.
the deapts dowe to mee * * * /i^g Concaning [concerning] the
Land that I Give nnto my haire and the house my will is that the
land and house [be] unto him and his lawful haires for-ever * * *
and for the Conformation of this my will and that it may apere unto
all parsons [persons] unto whome it may come I have sett to my
hand and scale this psent i8th day of February 1682." Charles died
soon after, his will being entered in the town records in 1683-4.
The orthography of Charles MacCarthy's will must not be
severely criticised. It was as correct as that found in the average
document of the period in which he lived. Whether it was wTitten
by Charles or by someone acting for him, due allowance must be
made for the times and conditions and for the fact that educational
facilities were very meagre then as compared with those available
at the present day.
It is a source of deep regret that so little is known about this
Rhode Island pioneer. That he was a man of sturdy character,
cannot be questioned. That he was worthy to rank as a founder
of a town or a state must also be admitted. He plainly possessed
traits and qualities entitling him to a place in the front rank of
Rhode Island settlers.
And here we may indulge briefly in a retrospective glance at
the status of the MacCarthys(i8) in the land of Erin. For from
these, unquestionably, the Rhode Island pioneer was descended.
Then, we will touch upon certain "troubles in Cristifars" which may
have been the same as those to which Charles MacCarthy alludes
,as having forced him to New England.
18 For interesting mention of the MacCarthys, see Burke's Dormant,
Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, (London, 1866); O'Hart's Irish
Pedigrees, (Dublin, 1881); Burke's Vicissitudes of Families, (London,
1859-60); Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, (Dublin, 1789); Burke's Landed
Gentry, (London, 1871); Burke's General Armory, ('London, 1884); Wash-
bourne's Book of Family Crests, (London, 1882); the Royal Book of
Crests, London, (Macveigh); O'Hart's Irish Landed Gentry, (Dublin,
1877); Howard's Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica; Nichols' Topog-
rapher and Genealogist (London, 1853); the Complete Peerage (edited by
G. E. C), (London, 1893); the Book of Dignities (London, 1894);
Cusack's History of the jZity and County of Cork, (Dublin and Cork, 1875);
Prendergast's Ireland fr(f)m the Restoration to the Revolution (1660 to 1690),
(London, 1887); Amory's Transfer of Erin, (Philadelphia, 1877): John
O'Kane Murray's Prose and Poetry of Ireland, (New York, 1882); Doug-
las Hyde's Literary History of Ireland, (London, 1899); A Historical
Pedigree of the McCartlilys ,by D. McCarthy, (Exeter, Eng., 1880); Low-
er's Patronymica Britani[iica, (London, 1S60).
A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER.
Burke, Ulster King- of Arms, the great authority on the British
and Irish peerages, declares that "Few pedigrees in the British
empire can be traced to a more remote or exalted source than that of
the Celtic house of M'Carty." The learned Dr. O'Brien says that
it was "the most illustrious of all those families whose names begin
with Mac." It has also truthfully been declared that "The Mac-
Carthys may proudly defy any other family in Europe to compete
with them in antiquity, or accurate preservation of the records of
their descent." Their patrimony was chiefly in Cork and Kerry
where they had strongholds for many centuries. They built over
twenty castles there, many of them overlooking "the pleasant Ban-
don, crowned with many a wood." These castles were massively
constructed, the towers and battlements being equal in grandeur
and strength to those elsewhere in Europe. For generation after
generation they defied the attacks of time and the elements and
proudly reared aloft their stately walls. The ruins of some of them
still remain, crowned with ivy, and frequented by appreciative tour-
ists. The MacCarthys have been Princes of Carberry, Earls of
Clancarty(i9), Earls of Muskerry, Earls of Mountcashel, Viscounts
of Valentia and have also held other titles. Their history has been
replete with chivalrous deeds, brave men, handsome women, noted
clerics, generous benefactors, whole-souled hospitality.
The MacCarthys were the dominant family in Desmond, (20)
(South Munster), at the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion.
The MacCarthy Mor, lord of the elder branch, was generally inau-
gurated in Kerry. The O'Sullivan Mor(2i) and the O'Donoghoe
Mor (22) presided at the ceremony. The hereditary judges of the
MacCarthy Mor were the MacEgans ; his captains of war, the
O'Rourkes ; and his poets and antiquaries, the O'Dalys and
19 Clancarty, from Clan Carty; the latter derives from Cartach or Car-
tagh, progenitor of the family.
20 Desmond, or South Munster, comprised the whole of Cork and the
greater part of Kerry, together with a part of Waterford and South Tip-
perary. North Munster constituted the territWy known as Thomond.
21 O'Sullivan Mor, Lord of Dunkerron. (p'Sullivan Beara, Lord of
Beara. Some of the O'SuUivans went to Spaki, and were styled Counts
of Bearhaven. Gen. John Sullivan of the Amenican Revolution, and Hon.
James Sullivan, Governor of Massachusetts, Avere descended from this
22 Chiefs of the O'Donoghoes were Princed of Lough Lein, and Lords
of Glenfesk. The first bearer of the surname \lied A. D. 1057.
10 A RHODE ISLAND PIONEER.
O'Quinns. His feudatories also included the 0'Donovans(23) and
O'Hurleys. Charles who died in 1770, was styled "the last Mac-
Carthy Mor." The arms of the family are thus described : "Arg. a