William Babcock Weeden.

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their work. William Harris was far unlike the men bred
at Cambridge or the new order being formed at Harvard ;
but he had grown up in the school of affairs, and had
been much in England, engaged in large transactions.
He read not only law, theology and medicine, but turned
the pages of the " Gentleman Jockey." There was some-
thing cosmopolitan in this hearty pioneer. Most planters
read Scripture and concordance, but Thomas Olney, man-
ager of meetings and incipient ruler of men, could unbend,

123 Dorr, " Planting and Growth of Providence," p. 77.

124 Ibid., p. 212.



132 The Colony and the Town of Providence

while soothing lus politician's spirit with the Independent
Ainsworth's " Annotations " on the Psalms and Song of
Solomon.

Coddington was on the whole the largest and most effec-
tive link between the practical life of the Old World and
the forming growth of the new community on Narragan-
sett Bay. Commerce at Newport, introduced by him and
powerfully conducted by the Quakers, was opening the
way for the very best colonial life of the next century.
The most casual survey of this developing commonwealth
should include the remarkable outgrowth of the judiciary.
It moved on the old lines of established law, but adminis-
tered penal measures in a humane spirit — far advanced
over the olden courts or ecclesiastical procedure.

Meanwhile the poorer agriculture of Providence Planta-
tion was painfully expanding toward a larger develop-
ment, as commerce should widen out the little community
in the early eighteenth century. The forming period had
passed with scanty help from the learning of Europe;
such as this was, it would be had no more in the expanding
period next to come. Men like the cooper-preacher Par-
don Tillinghast carried over the average citizen until new
American life could produce the Hopkinses, the Browns,
and their fellows.



CHAPTER V

KING'S COUNTY, THE PATRIARCHAL CONDITION.

1641-1751

rilHE southwestern portion of our mainland contained
A the larger part of the Narragansett nation. Roger
Williams, whose instincts for business were better than his
political understanding, early saw the economic impor-
tance of the Narragansett x Country, and he built a trad-
ing-house near the present Wickford. It is claimed by
some 2 that his adventure was even earlier than that of
the actual settler, Richard Smith, who afterward added
Roger Williams' possessions to his own, when the proprie-
tor needed the funds for his expenses in London, as he
was getting the first charter.

About 1641, Richard Smith, who had been a resident
of Taunton, bought land from the sachems and began
" Howsing lands and meadow." In the words of Francis
Brinley, " among the thickest of the Indians (computed
at 30,000) he erected a house for trade, and gave free
entertainment to travelers ; it being the great road of the
country." 3 The " Pequot Path " became a bridle path in
the seventeenth century; in the eighteenth it was a link
in the " Post Road," then the most traveled way between
Boston and New York. Smith's settlement did not attain
a permanent character, until the Pettaquamscutt pur-
chase made by John Hull and others of Boston in 1658.

i For the name cf. Rider, " Indian Lands," p. 203.
2 Brigham, p. 98n.

s Updike, " Narragansett Church," Goodwin's Ed., Vol. I., 13.

133



134 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

The next year Major Atherton and his partners acquired
the second purchase, covering Quidnesset and Boston Neck,
the southeastern corner of our mainland-
Richard Smith deserves notice from his association with
Roger Williams, and in that he was an important pioneer
in the settlement of Rhode Island. In the words of his
memorial tablet, " He lived near Wickford at Cocum-
scussuc commonly called Smith's Castle and there Roger
Williams often preached to the Indians and William
Blackstone held the first regular services in the colony of
Rhode Island." 4

At this period, contemporary with the coming of num-
bers of Quakers to Newport, our colonists were firmly
established in the Narragansett country, until the Indian
war of 1675 and 1676 should harass and interrupt them
for a time. The " Swamp Fight " abolished this constant
if latent source of peril. The Narragansetts were de-
stroyed as an organized nation or political force, though
the individual barbarians lived alongside our colonists.
TJiis early interim of occupation — peaceful so far as the
red proprietors were concerned — did not mean that aggres-
sive Puritans would leave the government of Rhode Island
in peaceful possession. Massachusetts reached through
Warwick, and down to Pawcatuck, arresting the citizens,
Burdick and Saunders, for imprisonment in Boston in
1661. On the other side, the strong colony of Connecticut
claimed jurisdiction by the King's grant as far eastward
as Narragansett Bay. John Crandall and others were
seized and imprisoned in Hartford in 1671.

Misquamicut or Westerly had been purchased from
Sosoa, chief of the Niantics, in 1661 by William Vaughn
Stanton and others of Newport.

Proprietors from Newport bought lands across the
4 Updike, "Narragansett Church," Goodwin's Ed., Vol. L, p. 330.



1671] Seventh Day Baptists 135

Bay, and the estates improved under their care developed
a social atmosphere differing from that of other parts of
the colony. The merchants— as in the fable of Anfaeus—
enjoying their return to mother earth were not quite like
citizens of towns struggling to establish a new civic life.
We shall see early in the eighteenth century how this
social life affected the community at large.

Along with this patrician culture, there was another
element in the life of the Seventh Day Baptists, a denomi-
nation very strong in Hopkinton and Westerly The
meeting of John Clarke and of Henry Collins, who was
called a " Medici," waned in Newport, in the latter eigh-
teenth century ; but it waxed strong in the western towns
and by emigration into western New York. Seven persons
seceded from the First Baptist Church at Newport in
1671 and organized the first Sabbatarian Church. A few
of these soon joined the first freemen at Westerly. Their
first meeting house was built about 1680, between Shat-
tuck's Weir and Potter Hill in the present town of Hop-
kinton.

When Mr. Prince of Cambridge visited Westerly in
1721, he reported "the Sectaries here are chiefly Bap-
tists that keep Saturday as a Sabbath." They were very
liberal and catholic in their treatment of Prince. Earnest
and conscientious, excellent citizens, the main tenet of this
division of Baptists was separative rather than concilia-
tory, and they were protestants of the Protestants, tend-
ing toward isolation.

The Indian and negro population — well mixed after
the abolition of slavery — was a drag on the best life of
the time. Some colored families emerging from the mass,
became landowners or mechanics and were most helpful
citizens.

When Winthrop and Clarke negotiated in London for



136 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

agreement in securing the charters of both colonies, the
latter obtained a favorable position for Rhode Island,
which Winthrop undoubtedly yielded lest he might lose
the Connecticut charter altogether. Connecticut claimed
that he exceeded his powers and asserted her sovereignty
over the Narragansett country as has been noted.
Twenty of her armed men crossed the Pawcatuck. On
her part, Rhode Island seized John Greene of Quidnesset,
who favored Connecticut, and carried him to Newport,
threatening others with arrest.

The Narragansett proprietors, including Richard'
Smith and Increase Atherton, met July 2, 1663. 5 They
recorded that as " Poynt Juda " had no harbor and could
not be improved for farms and plantations, for the present
it should lie common to the twenty-two proprietors for
their " Drye Cattle " and that two houses should be built.
The next day they voted to place themselves under the
protection of Connecticut Colony in preference to that of
Rhode Island.

King Philip's War in 1675 and 1676 laid waste the
dwellings of the Narragansett Country, but the settlers
soon recovered from these disasters. Industries were
started in Westerly on the Pawcatuck River before the
eastern part of the county had advanced so far. Joseph
Wells at that point, built vessels for buyers in Connecti-
cut as early as 1681.

We have details of the schooner " Alexander and
Martha," built by him and which sailed from New Lon-
don, and the builder was to own at least one-eighth part.
She was forty feet long, her deck falling by the main
mast, and had a cabin, cook room and forecastle. 6

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes sent out an emigra-

g " Fones Record," p. 23.

e Field, " Providence," Vol. III., p. 579.



1686 J Huguenot Culture I37

tion, which became an important element in the population
and ,n the life of America. No community then existing
more effectually developed arts and crafts with cor-
responding culture than the Huguenots. Rhode Island
gained much thereby and might have profited more had
not the turbulent neighbors oppressed the first Hugue-
not settlers In 1686, some forty-five of these French
families settled m northern Kingstown and southern East
Greenwich, buying a large tract of the Atherton pro-
prietors.' Unfortunately this land was claimed by ad-
joining English settlers, with some show of right. In
1687, these contestants carried off forty loads of hay
from the meadows of Frenchtown, as the hamlet was
called. Governor Andxos could not finally adjudicate
the matter and ordered a division of the hay, half to the
English and half to the French. Two dozen dwellings
had been occupied and a church built. Such oppressive
treatm ent crushed this settlement and scattered the in-
habitants. The Ayraults went to Newport. Many of
the names, slightly Anglicized, remained in the South
Country, and we may note the Mawneys (LeMoines),
Chadseys, Tourgees, Tarboxes, Frys, and Nicholses!
Remains of the original French orchard on the Mawney
farm were visible in the nineteenth century. « Current
tradition attributed to the French the introduction of
many fine varieties of the apple, pear, peach, plum and
cherry and of choice flowers. The influence of these in-
teresting pilgrims was an abiding one

A horse-ferry was established between Kingstown and
Conanicut, continuing to Newport in 1700. A new ferry
from Kingstown to Conanicut was instituted in 1707
The Queens, afterward the "Post Road," was laid out"



7 Brigham, " R. I. » p . 150

8 Updike, Goodwin, Vol. I., p. 365.



138 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

about 1703. It was still a bridle path when Madam
Knight went over it in 1704. This indicates the settle-
ment and improvement of the South County. The first
bridge over the Pawcatuck at the old ford " Shaw's " on
the " Indian Trail " was built by contribution about
1712 ; the next in 1735, was one-half at the charge of
the Rhode Island colony, and one-half was paid for by the
town of Stonington. The fact that Stonington did so
much, shows how important was this communication with
New York and Boston.

Proprietorship in lands by the seashore influenced the
community and carried it along lines differing somewhat
from the ordinary town in New England. The Puritan
element existed, but it proceeded differently. Prior to
1700, there came to this region, families attached to the
worship of the Church of England. They were few in
number, but " They were very earnest " 9 for that faith.
According to Doctor MacSparran, Trinity Church was
built at Newport in 1702, and St. Paul's, his own, in Nar-
ragansett in 1707. 10 The first existing record of the lat-
ter is dated April 14, 1718, 1X and Gabriel Bernon was a
vestryman. He was a Huguenot refugee from Rochelle
and, soon removing to Providence, became very prominent
in founding King's or St. John's Church there. He pos-
sessed a keen intellect, was liberal minded for his time
and a firm believer in self-government. His positive views
were formulated according to the time, but they were ex-
plicitly free and adumbrated the modern citizen. " Roger
Williams and all those, that have settled in our Provi-
dence town, have been persecuted, bruised and banished
out of Massachusetts government, for not submitting

9 Updike, Goodwin's Ed., Vol. I., p. 337.
io Ibid., p. 31.
ii Ibid., p. 38.



1718] Gabriel Bernon the Cosmopolitan 139

themselves to the arbitrary power of the Presbytery and
we fear nothing more than this arbitrary power of the
clergy. Power before Popery did ruin the world, and,
since Popery, the arbitrary power of the clergy hath
ruined Europe." 12 An early effort to aid the woollen in-
dustry dates from 1719, when Col. George Hazard gave
Thomas Culverwell one-half acre of land for a fulling-
mill for "Promoting ye Wooling Manufactuary which
may be for my benefit and the Publick Good." 13 The land
was to be " drowned " in making the dam. These central
fulling mills were essential for converting the homespun
fabrics into substantial cloth. A fulling mill was estab-
lished at Hamilton, then Bissell's Mills, in 1720. 14

One of the earliest inventories recorded is that of George
Cook Feb. 3, 1703-4. 15 His wearing apparel and arms
stood at £14. Of the great household staple, the feather
bed, he had two at £40, together with one silk grass and
one wool bed at £.. Six pair sheets and one pair pil-
low beers at £6.10. One dozen napkins and one table
cloth were appraised at £1.10. Brass, iron and pewter
appropriated £8. In silver plate there was one cup and
six spoons at £4.6. A fair line of cattle and sheep with
ten of horsekind worth £40.16 comprised his stock; cared
for by one negro at £30. The personal estate was
£342.19.

There seemed to be a large proportion of horses in the
different estates, caused by the demand for export prob-
ably. James Wilson with personal property at £367.7, in
the following year had 31 horsekind at £74. Cattle and
sheep at £187.5. He spent £20 on wearing apparel,

12 Updike, Goodwin, Vol. I., p. 60.

is " So. Kingstown Rec, Vol. I., p. 101.

i* " Hazard Family," Robinson, p. 29.

i5 Council Records So. Kingston, Vol. I., p. 3.



140 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

while his household furnishing was narrow; the pewter,
earthern ware and three candlesticks being worth only
£3.10. One negro woman £15.

Robert Hannah in 1706 held the same tenets concerning
corporeal immortality, we have noted elsewhere in the
colony. " Nothing doubting but at the general Resur-
rection I shall receive the same (my body) again by the
mighty power of God." He was a thrifty man with
£378.12 personal estate, and having left his sons pro-
vided with lands, cattle and negroes. His stock was worth
£157.14. A negro woman and five children were valued
at £110; three feather beds and one flock with furniture
£26.

Almost everybody had spinning wheels and cards or
combs, for woolen, worsted or linen yarns. There were
many personal estates about £360 to £375. Young negroes
appear to have been valued at prices relatively low. In
1710, one negro of 17 years, one boy of 4 years, one girl
of 2 years, were lumped with a cart ; yokes and tools at
£93.18. A different class of society is represented in the
property of Bethiah Collvill, widow, altogether £28.15.
Her cow, swine, mares and eight sheep were worth £16.17.
She had one bed and 7s. in pewter; two wheels and one
pair cards at 8s. And in 1713, Katharine Bull had one
new " sute uper clothing " £4.12. In head linen and rest
of the wearing apparel £7. In pewter and tin £1.14, in
iron and brass 9s., in wooden ware, etc., 7s. Her total
personal estate was £30.16.

There were very few books mentioned. Rowse Belme in
1712, with personal estate of £284.17.1, had one bible and
small books at 10s. His outfit indicates the slightly bet-
ter style of living which was creeping in. Four feather
beds, bedsteads and furniture stood at £30.9. One table
cloth, 7 napkins, 1 sheet were valued at £1.11 ; nineteen



1716] Comforts Increase 141

napkins and two table cloths at £1.7; one bolster and
nine pillow cases at £1. In pewter there was £4.1.
There was £1.17.6 in 12^ yards new " flannen " and some
cotton and woolen yarn. A negro man at £30, a woman
at £15.

Samuel Perry in the year 1716 16 marks a social lift in
the various items of his personal estate £730.16. He not
only dressed better but he displayed a watch and cane in
his outfit of £53. The household furnishing was decid-
edly better; five feather beds and hangings with furni-
ture at £100, one flock bed and fittings at £6, three beds
and bedding for servants at £13.10. In cattle and cows
£129.10. In horses, one three years old, five two years old
and a yearling represented £62, with six mares and three
colts at £52. The table and cooking service showed con-
siderable betterment; £6.11 in tin ware, £11.5 in pewter,
in brass ware including a warming pan £2.8 ; a bell metal
skillet, a teapot and quart pot in copper £1.10; four
brass candlesticks and snuffers £1.16. A chafing dish
with box iron and heaters. One chest " draws " one
" ovel " table (so much prized in Providence) all at
£5.10. Chairs, two tables, joynt stool £2.16. One clock
£18, (the first mentioned). One dozen silver spoons 8s.
All his books £7. Smith's " voyce and gleaszer's " tools
£5.5. Two negro slaves £130.

Perry was a considerable manufacturer for the time,
having 8 looms and tackling at £20 ; two coppers one pair
clothier's shears, two press " plaits " and press papers,
all at £21.15. If we compare the style of living indicated
here, with that prevailing in Providence at the same
period, we shall find it similar except in the table service
of china and glassware.

Rowland Robinson, the father of Governor William,

is Council Records So. Kingston, Vol. I., p. 79.



142 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

was a large landholder in the tract extending from Sugar
Loaf Hill to the present Narragansett Pier and into
Point Judith Neck. His house was on the site now oc-
cupied by Mr. Welch as " Shadow Farm " easterly from
Wakefield by "Kit Robinson's Pond." The Robinson
inventory was dated in 1716, the will having been made in
1712. He bequeathed his wife for life the house and 80
acres of land. To three married daughters he gave £40
each in money.

At his home farm, there were 462 sheep, 266 lambs,
valued at £304.12. Fifty cows and a bull at £254, four
oxen at £27. Horsekind worth £142, and 53 swine at
£33.5. At the Point Judith farm there was £304.2 in
cattle, sheep and horsekind. Nine negroes at £375, fur-
nished the labor.

The feudal proprietor dressed about as well, expending
£31.19, as the incipient manufacturer Perry, though he
did not affect a watch and cane. The house furnishing
was moderate, in four feather and two wool beds and
furniture £47.6, in servant's bedding £7. In table linen
£4.18, and £24.19 for 21 sheets and 21 bolster and pil-
low cases. £5.9 was in 12 chairs, 1 table, 1 wheel, etc.
Again 6 chairs stood at 14s. and one looking glass at 8s.
There was an entire absence of the better class of fur-
niture appearing elsewhere in the estates of wealthy men.
In pewter ware, there was the respectable and usual sup-
ply, costing £10.16, and there was £5.12 in silver spoons.
The great bible, other books and a desk were appraised
at £2.16. The total personal estate was £2166, the
largest recorded as yet.

Robert Hazard in 1718, left a personal estate of
£748.9, and had expended £17 for wearing apparel.
There were the usual moderate comforts.

In the case of Nathan Jakwise, 1722, we have an ex-



1718] How Poor People Lived 143

ample — difficult to trace — of the laborer's condition in
an estate of £28.19- Wearing apparel was 12s., about
the lowest recorded. A woolen wheel 9s., a linen do. 7s.,
and one pair of cards 2s. A beetle ring indicating a
chopper's work out of doors 12s. Some wool and 8s. in
woollen yarn. In linen he had 4s., and £2.14 in pewter;
£1.13 in iron ware, and 10s. in wooden vessels. He had
one cow at £5 and thirty bushels of Indian corn at the
same value.

Ephraim Smith in 1722 left a moderate estate and
farming outfit. He had one loom and tackling at £1.15.
Looms were not as common as spinning utensils. Though
he had expended only £13. in wearing apparel he had
11 oz. of plate at £4.8, in buttons, buckles and money.
He enjoys the distinction of wearing the first recorded
silver shoe buckles. Most people had a few silver spoons
and 1718-9 there appears a silver drinking cup and spoons
at £8.7. Another cup is found in 1721.

There were records duly kept of ear marks of cattle, and
of births and deaths among the people. The wearing
apparel of the citizen — excluding laborers generally —
ran from £10. to £20., with an occasional outlay of £30.
to £40. We have not enough data to average the ex-
penditure of the fair sex, even if such mathematical
adjustment were proper.

Slavery was closely intertwined with life on the planta-
tion or farm, and with domestic service. About every
person living comfortably had more or less slaves, if
only one woman. There were a few independent white
laborers, and we have cited some instances, but the work —
especially out-of-doors — was done by slaves The average
price of a mature and able negro man was about £50. ;
of a woman, about £40. The largest number so far
was the nine men owned by Rowland Robinson. Proba-



144 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

bly he had given away his women slaves. There were all
sorts of fractional ownerships and time valuations. The
service of a negro boy for six and a half years was
appraised at £19.10. Three Indian children servants were
worth £23. Two-thirds part of a negro boy was put at
£15. Indian slaves appear under various conditions, and
they must have been descended from the captives in King
Philip's War.

This period in Narragansett corresponds with the
third social condition in Providence, though nearly a score
of years behind in its development. Necessaries in the
colonial home were served by means of earthen ware and
wooden trenchers ; comforts by the useful pewter ; luxuries
came in with silver, china and glass. There were few
forks used until after 1700. In the seventeenth century
a family beginning to live comfortably increased its sup-
ply of napkins.

Madam Knight in 1704 complained of the familiarity
with slaves along the Connecticut shore. 17 The horse-
woman struck the poorest homestead 18 at Shaw's Ford,
now Westerly, " This little Hutt was one of the wretched-
est I ever saw a habitation for human creatures." It was
clapboarded, with no windows and an earthen floor. No
furniture, but a bed with a glass bottle hanging at the
head, an earthen cup, a small pewter " bason." A board
" with sticks to stand on " served for a table, and a
block or two for chairs. This was a poor evolution from
a loghouse. " Notwithstanding both the Hutt and its

it " They Generally lived very well and comfortably in their
famelies. But too Indulgent (especially ye farmers) to their
slaves: suffering too great familiarity from them permitting ym to
sit at Table and eat with them (as they say to save time), and into
the dish goes the black hoof as freely as the white hand." — " Jour-
nal," p. 53.

is Ibid., p. 40.



1721] Doctor MacSparran 145

Inhabitance were very clean and tydee." The philosoph-
ical traveler depicted in verse the relative lot of mortals :

" Tho' ill at ease, a stranger and alone,
All my fatigues shall not extort a grone.
These Indigents have hunger with their ease,
Their best is wors behalf than my disease."

Dr. MacSparran settled at Narragansett in 1721, was a
man of parts and of ardent Celtic temperament, a strong
ecclesiastic. He was not as considerate of the unchurched
at Newport or Providence, as Rev. Mr. Honeyman, of
Trinity, or Gabriel Bemon ; but he was much respected
as a man, and was quite a factor in the life of early Nar-
ragansett. Mr. Updike considered him "the most able
Divine sent over to this country by the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel."

In 1722, Mr. MacSparran was sent for to visit twelve
men of the Church of England imprisoned by the Bay
Government at Bristol for refusing to pay rates for sup-
port of the Presbyterian minister. 19 Bristol, R. I., was
then under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. This year
the worthy rector confirmed and extended his social oppor-
tunities by marrying Miss Hannah Gardiner, of a large



Online LibraryWilliam Babcock WeedenEarly Rhode Island; → online text (page 11 of 29)