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number of these accessible bedrooms, we may perceive that
our ancestors did not like to climb stairs. In the open
attic, weaving and spinning were carried on. There was

*7 S. K. MSS. Records, Vol. IV., p. 335. Robinson, " Hazard
Family," p. 34.

172 King's County, the Patriarchal Condition

ample bedding, and two beds and bedding at £150. stood
in the " Great Room Bedroom." A clock at £145. and a
large looking glass at £15. 11 chairs at ££0. helped the
furnishing. The silver plate " in the bowfatt" of the
Great Room was worth £374. 8., the largest so far re-
corded. The table outfit was sufficient, but not equal to
that of the better sort of neighbors. " Chane " ware £25.
Pewter plates £36. 10. Knives and Forks £4. Tin ware
£1. 10. Iron £22. Earthen £5. Note four "small
mapps " and one set " bruches " at £3., while the library
and an old desk were appraised at £5. Evidently this
planter and statesman did not trouble himself with book

There were 4060 lbs. of cheese at £558. 5. and a good
line of cattle and horses in the stables. He bred the
pacers largely and always rode one when he superintended
his farming. These fleet creatures took water readily.
There were many streams to be forded, and after a storm
the Pettaquamscutt especially would change its fords.
If a slave could not find a safe footing, a good woman
rider would swim the turbid stream. The Governor had
20 negroes, the largest number found in King's or the
South County. The highest value for a negro was £500.,
and two more were £450. each, the highest woman stood
at £320. There were debts on his books due him for
£1316. The funeral charges of this magnate were £269.

The wearing apparel of the respectable citizen in 1725
to 1750 cost from £14. to £40. in the depreciating cur-
rency. It very rarely dropped below the first sum. As
prices expanded under the inflation the amount went up
to £75. and £95. ; for the Governor £130. and two of the
well-dressed Hazards appropriated £142. and £184. The
women dressed less expensively, expending generally less

1750] Slaves and Paper Inflation 173

than £25. The most extravagant only spent £59. and
£70. We have noted the estates of George Hazard and
his widow, for relative expenditure of the man and woman.
This outlay for dress was materially lower than that pre-
vailing in Providence at the same time. Books were
scarce and little used among the people at large.

The price of slaves in King's County responded to the
inflation of the paper currency in the second quarter of
the century, quite as rapidly as any kind of property.
There were more men than women enslaved, and descend-
ants of the old Indian captives often appear. The rough
average value of men and women was curiously equivalent,
running from £107. to £108. for either sex. The number
of slaves has been greatly exaggerated by tradition. Mr.
Updike 48 says about 1730, " families would average
from five to forty slaves each." Tfhe greatest number I
have found in any inventory was twenty — in Governor
Robinson's. Other wealthy estates had about a dozen
each, never more.

The whole scale of living in the Narragansett country
at this period has been equally exaggerated by tradition.
They hunted foxes occasionally, raced their pacers on
the smooth beaches and had good times as compared
with Puritan colonists. They lived handsomely, even
luxuriously, if we consider other agricultural communities
in New England. But tradition has outrun the facts.
Mr. I. P. Hazard and Shepard Tom having a fine romantic
vein in their imagination, sketched freely. We should
imitate their admirable romantic spirit, as far as we are
able, in contemplating this interesting social period. But
for digits and calculations, we must study the inventories
and such absolute facts as remain-
48 Goodwin, Vol. I., p. 208.




THE inherent fundamental right of religious liberty,
for which Roger Williams had striven so earnestly,
found also in the seventeenth century its official recogni-
tion in law, first in the laws of 1647 of Rhode Island and
then in the charter which Charles II. granted the colony
of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1663.
The wide separation of the colonies from the mother-
country did not make this liberty appear dangerous,
though it was in such contradiction to the conditions in
England. " Charles II. sought further in his aversion to
the Puritans to favor as much as possible the colonies
that had separated from Massachusetts." 1

The English commonwealth did much for our colony,
but perhaps the easy-going King Charles did more. The
definite promulgation of religious liberty in the charter
adopted in 1663, with practical provisions for maintain-
ing it as a common right of the citizen, placed the colonial
government on a new basis. The crown being the neces-
sary center in the course of legitimate government, it had
come to be regarded as the source of polity. In Rhode
Island, loyalty to the crown carried the right of freedom
of conscience as well. This great principle gave power
and progress to the little community. Whatever might
be the defects in organization of such a heterogeneous
people, they were gradually overcome by the new unify-

i Jellinek, " Rights of Man and of Citizens," p. 69.


1663] Freedom of Conscience Supported by Law 175

ing principle. 2 The results of the visit of the Royal Com-
missioners in 1665 justify this statement. Their wel-
come was better here and they found a more concordant
administration than in the neighboring colonies. The
constant pressure of the neighbors on Rhode Island had
been severe. The legitimate authority of the crown
seemed light in comparison with the Massachusetts effort
for dominion, regarded as tyranny.

Prosperous Newport was moving on. Coddington in
his " True Love " mentions the good business of the
Island shipping carried on with the Barbados. The
enforced immigration of the Quakers gave economic prog-
ress to Newport, as the direct result of persecution in
Massachusetts and antipathy in Connecticut. A vigorous
and thrifty element in the population, they " set up "
their Yearly Meeting as early as 1661. By 1666 they
received John Burnyeat, a distinguished missionary, and
by 1672 George Fox and others 3 came to look up these
prosperous brethren. In 1672 one of their number,
Nicholas Easton, was elected governor.

Better houses of the type of Coddington's were being
erected in 1665 to 1670. The pioneer or end-chimney
design was giving place to the central chimney or more
prosperous Connecticut form, with two or four rooms on
each floor. The population of the colony in 1675 was
2500 to '3000. Providence and Portsmouth had about
200 houses each, Newport having as many as both.

2 Up to 1663 Rhode Island had been only a confederation of
towns; Clarke now made it a kind of federal republic under the
name of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

3 The point of view controlled the conception and portrait of a
Quaker in those days. Roger Williams set forth one Edmundson,
an ex-soldier, then a Quaker preacher, " a flash of wit, a face
of Brass and a Tongue set on fire from the Hell of Lyes and

176 Period Under Charter of Charles II.

About the same time Pardon Tillinghast was building the
first wharf in Providence; the beginning of an important
commerce a generation later. Meanwhile the rich fields
of the Island and afterward the Narragansett country
were furnishing large exports for the West Indies and
even for Europe. In 1674, Governor William Brenton
bequeathed 1500 sheep. As William Harris reported, 4
Newport could furnish wool to Europe. The Brentons
farmed on a large scale, and the larger proprietors lived
in a manner more manorial than was customary in New
England. Elizabeth C. Brenton describes the outdoor
equipment of the family in the spring of 1675. Six
large riding-mares came to the door, three bearing side
saddles. Three tall young women, daughters of the late
Governor Brenton, prepared for the mount. Each lady
wore a broadcloth riding habit, with high-heeled shoes.
Her beaver hat was adorned with black ostrich plumes,
and was turned up to show roached and powdered hair.

We have more detailed information of the smaller way
of living among the farmers at Portsmouth. In 1667, 5
Restand Sanford, a bachelor, with five brothers and one
sister, makes his brother Samuel and sister Eliphel Straton
his heirs. He gives legacies to Samuel, the executor, one
mare, one silver cup, a bed and bolster, to sister Sara
wife of Samuel a mare-colt and a five-shilling piece of
gold, to each of her children a ewe lamb. To his brother
Esbon, absent, he gives 4 ewe sheep ; but if he is not heard
of in one year, the ewes should go to brother Samuel and
sister Eliphel. Should Esbon finally return, he was to
receive the ewes. The inventory summed up £35.3.10.
Among the items were Indian corn on the ground £2.,
ten ewes and four lambs £5.16. Woollen apparel stood

4 Ante, p. 88.

5 Records Portsmouth, p. 405.

1668] Way of Living at Portsmouth 177

at £5., three hats at 16s., four neckcloths and a cap at 7s.
The library consisted of three books at 6s. 8d. One old
bed and bolster was worth £3. and three small sheets and
two shirts 4s. A bridle and saddle were valued at 16s.,
a mare and colt £7. One silver cup and spoon stood at

Silver utensils came into use on the Island earlier than
they were used in the Plantation of Providence.

Joseph Wayte, who was drowned, left a better estate
amounting to £89.15.10. His woollen and linen clothes
with his hats were appraised at £10. In pewter ware he
had £1.10., in tin and brass £1.2., in iron £1.5., in wooden
ware £1. A smoothing iron was 7s., a spinning wheel
8s., and four pounds of cotton yarn 10s. The com-
fortable feather bed and bedding was worth £16., and a
cup and six spoons 4s. Two guns and a pair of " Banda-
leers " stood at £2., and two peaceful scythes at £2.16.

The bequest of Alice Conland 6 shows the growing in-
terest in the Society of Friends, Ninth month, 1664. Her
husband approving, she gave a stone house and land for
" friends in the ministrey Cauled Quakers by the world,
that they may be entertained therein, in all times to come
Even for Ever." She gave also a featherbed, two pillows,
three blankets and one coverlet, two pairs of sheets, two
" pillowbers," two towels, one basin, one candlestick and
one chamberpot.

Apprentices of both sexes were bound under conditions
of all sorts. Mary Holson in 1668 was not to " keep com-
pany with deboyst or vncivell Company," and at the end
of five years was to receive a new suit of apparel suitable
for holidays or other days. Henry Straight in 1667
contracted with a most particular master, Gershom Wod-
dell. There were all the customary stipulations for six
s Records Portsmouth, p. 403.

178 Period Under Charter of Charles II.

years ; moreover he was " neither to buy or sell " nor to
" Commit fornication nor Contract matrimony." Wod-
dell contracted for the usual support and to give " next
Spring one ewe lamb and all increase," but Woddell was
to retain the wool. These provisions conveying increase
of animals are interesting, for they strengthen the social
bonds between the haves and have nots.

Woddell was an omnivorous buyer of labor. He bought
in 1676 7 an Indian woman, Hannah, condemned to per-
petual slavery by New Plymouth. The bill of sale to her
original proprietor, Adam Right, of Duxbury, was " un-
der the hand of Captain Benjamin Church." It would
seem that the town had reversed its policy. For in 1675,
several persons having purchased Indians " which may
prove very prejuditiall " were given one month to dispose
of them.

In 1665, William Earle and William Correy were
granted 1^ acres of land to maintain a wind-mill. In
1668, the lot was increased to 2 acres. This was the
customary method for encouraging industries. In 1670
Thomas Brooke received a grant of land " for his trade
beinge a Lether dresser."

Alas ! all these simple people were not industrious, for
a sufficient pair of stocks were ordered by the town.

There were occasional votes admitting " an Inhabitant "
without conditions. In 1672 8 the prices fixed for prod-
uce to be received for taxes were, corn at 3s., peas at 3s.,
pork at 3d., beef at 2d., wool at 12d., peage at 16 per
penny for white, cheese as agreed upon. In 1675, the
rate assigned to Newport and Portsmouth amounted to
£400., and the share of the latter was £120.

We must consider larger matters, for Rhode Island and

i Records Portsmouth, p. 434.
s Ibid., p. 173.

1686] Government of Andros 179

Providence Plantations was to feel now a ? stronger hand
„nd to come under immediate control of the Ciown ot
Enrfand The Provisional Government of New England
!ndt Dudley, of Massachusetts and "^<^°
accomplished much in the way of executive effoit. June
3 1686 Sir Edmund Andros, formerly governor of New
York was appointed Governor of all these provinces, m-
cludmg ours^ He was directed to demand surrender of
our charter, but this was not effectively carried out

Mr. Brigham properly points out," though he attempts
to prove too much in consequence, that Rhode Island suf-
fer^ more in the seventeenth century, from the fierce
differences between her own parties than from attempted
oppression on the part of the neighboring colomes. At
the time of this new movement, six factions were sending
memorials to London ashing for something especial as a
privilege. Naturally so many opposmg varmnces neu-
tralized themselves. , ,

However, this new period was to open practical rule by
the home government in the colonies. Theocracy might
dread this, but representative government would not sui-
te so much. Theocratic advocates have always treated
the movements of such times, as if they were the expression
of the people. But in fact, the theocratic functionaries
represented a small, though able, functmn of the state
Progressive government has been constantly expanding
to embrace all, as well as the wiser or better portions „f
the people. In Rhode Island then, the governing foic
£ue P d from the very basis of the towns Turbulent and
often irregular as it was, it came nearer to representation
than anything the world had known previously. Ihe
action of thefe towns as well as their aberrat.ons were
civic and politic ; they were not theocratic.
8 " Rhode Island," p. 141-

180 Period Under Charter of Charles II.

Notwithstanding disorderly factions and powerful op-
pressive neighbors, an incipient state was being formed
around Narragansett Bay. The population was nearly
equal to that of Plymouth, amounting in 1686 to about
4000. 10 Of these, some 2500 were on the Island, 600 in
Providence, and the remainder settled in the other towns.

Andros established himself in Boston in December, wrote
a very friendly letter and demanded our charter of Gov-
ernor Walter Clarke. The reply was urbane enough for
a more polite community, though it did not answer directly
to the autocratic deputy. The charter " was at their
Governor's house in Newport, and that it should be forth-
coming when sent for, but in regard to the tcdiousness and
bad weather, it could not then be brought." The precious
document was never obtained by the Royal Governor,
though he took the colony seal and broke it. He at-
tempted to collect taxes, excise on liquors and occasional
quit-rents on lands; 11 little money was received. When
William invaded England in 1689, Massachusetts was
quite ready for revolution and drove out Andros.

Rhode Islande resumed her charter government, and
adopted a new colony seal with the motto of " Hope."
The charter was finally confirmed under the opinion of the
English attorney-general in 1693, and the governor was
appointed by the Crown. A small party, chiefly of land-
holders in Narragansett, led by Francis Brinley, who hated
the towns and democratic government, opposed as far as
possible. Brinley threatened to remove and withdraw
from the control of the " Quaker mob government." As
his land could not move with his ideas, he remained and
bitterly opposed the government.

While these great political changes were occurring, the

io " Rhode Island," p. 142.
ii Ibid., p. 145.

1686] Life at Portsmouth 181

commerce of Newport was going ahead on an enlarging
scale. In 1682 a naval office was opened there to register
all " deck vessells." This was concurrent with an exten-
sion of commerce throughout New England. Salisbury
on the Merrimac became a port of entry in 1681, and
Ipswich in 1685. The Navigation Acts abhorred by many
American historians injured the Dutch, but actually
helped the commerce of New England; which traded
largely in smuggled goods, carried in ships of its own
building. Boston had much more wealth and established
trade, but was not as enterprising. Maverick wrote in
1669, " shipg & stirringe merchts are the only want
heare." 12 John Hull would not even receive wines on
consignment nor ship lumber and fish to the Canaries,
preferring the West Indian trade.

We may note some items from the interesting records
of Portsmouth. The power and scope of domiciliary
supervision was beyond any civic function conceived of
in our day. We have given instances, as it was exerted
over the household. With travelers and interlopers it
was even more remarkable. The stranger, if not suspected,
must be watched and attended carefully in any sojourn.
An ordinance in 1671 13 provided that " Islands prudence
& patience shall not receive nor entertaine any Strainger
without the consent and aprobation of the Towne (Ports-
mouth "). William Cadman was to be notified of the order
forbidding entertainment for more than one month, and
to be forewarned in the case of William Maze to apply
the restriction. On the other hand, hospitality must not
be affronted. " Several countrymen " in a particular in-
stance had arrived " exposed to some present hardships."
Anybody was authorized to entertain these, orders to the

12 4 M. H. C, VII., p. 318.

13 Records Portsmouth, p. 158.

182 Period Under Charter of Charles II.

contrary notwithstanding. Anyone not especially licensed
to sell strong drink to Indians was liable to a fine of 20s.
Ordinary tavern licenses were 10s. per annum.

Regulation of the common lands was a fertile source
of trouble, as it was elsewhere. The " Newport men "
were particularly debarred from cutting and carrying
wood away. In the troublous times of 1675, 100 acres
of the common was set off for those driven from their
homes by Indians. The land was " lent for two years,"
to be sowed or planted. The customary industrial privi-
leges were allowed. Richard Knight, a weaver, was
granted a residence for four months. Land was awarded
one acre in extent to W. Ricketson and liberty given for
dams and trenches for a " water mill for public use."

Prices for rates were fixed in 1680, land at 40s. per
acre, horses and cattle over one year old 40s. ea. Swine
over one year 6s. each, sheep £4. the score. In 1688
Indian corn was at 2s. per bushel, barley 2s. 6d., oats 12d.
and wool 74d. per lb.

Pay in kind for all sorts of public service often appears
in these times, when actual money was a very scarce arti-
cle. T. Jennings was awarded six pounds of wool to pay
him for " warning of a town meeting." A register of mar-
riages was kept. In all the towns, recorded cattle marks
were important factors in regulating this species of prop-
erty. Fancy and caprice were freely put forth, in getting
some characteristic mark, which might assure possession.
For example, let us look in upon Thomas Cook, Senior, as
he wrought at the ears of his cows. He made a crop
on the left ear and " a hapeny " under the lower side of the
same ear and a slit on the right ear. This was entered
March 9, 1667-8, having been in use about twenty-six

If Nature was bountiful, giving soil and sunshine for

1699 ] Bellomont and Piracy 183

the corn, she sent her own busy blackbirds to .exercise their
privilege and take toll away from _ the toihng arm-
The town compelled every honseholder to Ul 12 black
birds before May 10 or to forfeit two shdhngs. Those
killing more were to receive a bounty of one penny each.

fo 1699 Newport was to be brought to account by
lid Beilomont-one of the few active and senile roya
governors-for transactions with pirates The Boaid o
Trade two years before had cautioned Rhode Island that
I was "a place where pirates are ordinarily too kmdly
entrained." Probably these diplomatic words « P ™>
an exactly just view of the situation. Plunder ontheh£
seas then ran along with irregular commerce. Govemois
in America and in the West M- ™^f ^
sometimes were interested and implicated. The people
wanted to buy the prize cargoes "-cheap m the sudden
abundance-the sailors wanted the prize money. So an
•regular traffic throve; and whatever the moral principle
involved, it enriched the colonial ports, especially a New-
port and New York. No port was exempt. If caught
on the wrong tack an enterprising rover might be con
demned as a pirate. Or if lucky, he m,gh t hve out hi
days in the character of a « rich privateer hke Thomas
Cromwell of Boston. 15 , ..

Bdlomont inspected and reported," severely condemn-
ing the administration of Rhode Island, and the whole
character as well as conduct of the people. The ass,rt-
ants are generally Quakers, illiterate and of hit e or no
capacity." Bellomont, if able, was a courtly official, and
sojourned with the small aristocratic element, chiefly rcpre-

„Cf. Weeden, «B. and S. N. E,» Vol. I., p. 342, for an
example of a pirate's cargo.

^f M BH g hl, C pp V ° 1 ^ "' "*»«■• Pr ° CMdingS -

184 Period Under Charter of Charles II.

sented by Brinley. The virtues of a democracy would
appear to Lord Bellomont not much better than its de-
fects and vices. Mr. Brigham holds that our government
though censurable for irregularity and laxitude was never
absolutely at fault. " Actual complicity between the col-
ony as a government, and the pirates, as so often
charged, was never shown by any letter or report sub-
mitted to the English authorities." 17

The next distress our vexed colony suffered from a
royal governor, befell at the instance of Joseph Dudley, of
Massachusetts. This Puritan with the royal power at
his back, naturally was not a friend of Rhode Island, nor
an easy ruler. His report ran that " the government of
Rhode Island is a scandal to her Majesty's Government."
The Board of Trade did not consider the colony's direct
denial of many of Dudley's charges, but sought from the
attorney-general his assistance to obtain revocation of our
charter. That official held that the matters proven did
not warrant a forfeiture of the charter. The bureau offi-
cials of the Board of Trade were firmly convinced of " the
advantages that may arise by reducing the chartered
government " in the colonies. They strengthened their
movement in 1706 by a bill for " regulation." By good
fortune the measure was lost between the two Houses.

We bring out these details in that they are essential
parts of our history. The charter was obtained through
the fact that both the English Commonwealth and the
sagacious Charles II. comprehended the large personality
of Roger Williams and of John Clarke. When the irreg-
ular and inconstant government of the colony two gener-
ations later was misrepresented by virulent parties and
tenacious officials in London, there was still welfare and
prosperity enough realized in our little territory to con-
» Cf. Brigham, p. 160.

1707] National Responsibility Recognized 185

vince the more sensible statesmen of England that the
colonial government should be let alone. The pressure
against the charter helped to enlarge the spirit of our
colony and force her out of narrow provincialism.
Though she as well as Connecticut was not exposed like
Massachusetts and New York to French and Indian at-
tack, she began to recognize a national responsibility.
In 1707 and 1710 she acted efficiently, sending ships and
soldiers for the expedition against Canada at heavy ex-

In 1712 Dudley reported about 2500 fighting men in
the colony.

The English law of primogeniture was repealed in
171 8. 1S It was readjusted ten years later. The sub-
stantially equal distribution of estates has continued to
the present day. The change of the eldest son's position
most affected the ways of the Narragansett country.

Online LibraryWilliam Babcock WeedenEarly Rhode Island; → online text (page 14 of 29)