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Rhode Island Founders
Rhode Island Founders
Christopher Smith was a relatively late arrival to Providence, residing there by 1649. He would have been one of the wealthier man of the town since he paid one of the highest taxes of all the citizens of Providence. He was well thought of by his peers and served in small ways as juror and as constable for one term. He went to Newport at the time of King Phillip's War when so many other Providence people took refuge there. While he was at Newport in 1676, his house in Providence was burned by the Indians. He died shortly thereafter, as is recorded by Newport Friends records, which call him an "ancient Friend" of Providence, presumably meaning that he was a practising Quaker. His wife was Alice______.
No certain facts are known of the English ancestry of Thomas Angell despite extensive research by many genealogists. He may have come to New England on ship Lyon with Roger Williams, who was reputed to be his cousin. Some family traditions assert that he was a servant or hired man of Roger Williams, but there is little documentary proof of this. He first resided at Salem from 1631-1635. Next he fled from Massachusetts as a religious dissenter with Roger Williams in January 1636 to Sowams, where Massasoit lived. He was one of the original settlers of Providence in June of 1636. He had one of the original home lots in the town of Providence. He was a forceful and opinionated man and held many office in Providence, including Town Council, surveyor, commissioner and constable, despite the fact that he was illiterate.
He was constable at the time of a confrontation with the Massachusetts colony about the jurisdiction over a prisoner being taken by deputy Richard Wright from Providence. At the confrontation there were several Cary ancestors involved - Thomas Angell, Richard Wright, Arthur Fenner, Roger Mowry. He and Thomas Harris were charged with treason by Roger Williams over a question about the nature of "liberty", but the charges were eventually dismissed. His home, along with all the others in Providence, was burned by the Wampanoags in the hostilities of King Phillip's War after the neutrality of Providence had been violated. The leader of the attack, Canonchet, was later captured and taken to Stonington, where he was shot and dismembered. Thomas was one of five men chosen to determine the fate of Indian captives after the war which was that there were committed to servitude (slavery) for a number of years. This was more lenient treatment than that of other colonies at the time which either executed their captives or sold them into permanent slavery. He acquired a considerable amount of property during his life, having begun it as a relatively poor man. In his will he gave to his five daughters two shillings in silver apiece, the rest to his wife and sons.
She was baptized February 1,1617/18 at St. Albans Abbey. She may have come to New England with her sister Marie and brother-in-law Thomas Olney. The sister's family was one of the first settlers to Providence and it is likely that Alice came with them or with her brother, James Ashton who came before 1642. In her will of 1695, she bequeathed to her daughters all her wearing apparell both wollen and linen and "so much of my pewter as may be for a remembrance of me." Alice was the wife of Thomas Angell.
Family tradition suggests that Roger Mowry and Roger Williams were related in some way, but it is not known how. They both lived successively in the same New England towns together. Roger first settled in New England at Salem where he was on a list of freemen in 1631. He was the "neat herd" of Salem, meaning that he daily herded all the cattle of the town for which he was paid. By 1638, he had more than fifty acres of land granted to him at Salem. All of his children were baptized at the church at Salem. He may have lived in Lynn for a while in the 1640's, but eventually settled in Providence by 1652 when he was on a tax list. He was appointed by the Court of Providence to keep a "house of entertainment" - an inn and tavern from which he sold spirits. Town meetings were recorded as being held at his public house and family tradition says that Roger Williams held prayer meetings there. One confrontation with deputy Richard Wright occurred at the tavern when the Providence authorities took possession of a prisoner from the Massachusetts Colony officers. His house survived for many years in Providence at the corners of Abbott and N. Main St. When it was eventually torn down in 1900, it was the last surviving house of an original settler of Providence. In 1655 he served as constable for Providence. The administration of Roger Mowry's estate in 1666 was refused by his widow Mary because the estate was insolvent.
After Mary's second marriage to John Kingsley in Rehoboth, there is evidence that she suffered much from the hostilities with the Indians during King Phillip's War. In a letter from her husband, Kingsley, he tells of the burnings of their buildings, the slaughter of their livestock, the destruction of their grain mills. He begs that the readers of his letter will send corn and wheat to relieve him and his townfolk of the general famine that was facing them after the destruction of their farms. Mary was first married to Roger Mowry.
He was possibly the Edward Inman who was baptized on March 5, 1619/20 at St. Margaret, Westminster, London. He was a wealthy fox glover in early Providence. He originally settled in Warwick, RI by1648 and lived for a short time in Braintree, MA. He obtained a land grant of 25 acres in Providence in 1645 and had definitely settled there by 1651. He was an accepted and well-respected citizen of Providence and was called upon for civil service on many occassions. He seems to have been of average wealth for the citizens of Providence at the time, buying and selling small parcels of land until, in 1666, he bought 2,000 acres from Wiliam Manannion, aWampanoag Indian. This enormous purchase exceeded the autonmomy that most ordinary citizens had at that time in dealing with the Indians. It was not purchased with the permission of Providence officials and was disapproved of by the leaders of the town. In 1667 he sold his remaining land in Providence and purchased 500 more acres from the Indians, this one was confirmed by King Phillip, so called, chief of the Wampanoags and son of Massasoit. In 1675, he entered into a joint venture agreement with the Mowrys and others to mine silver on his property, but there is no indication of how the venture turned out. The controversy over Inman's purchase of lands from the Indians was settled when the town of Providence granted him 3,500 acres of land upon which he had already settled. He was married to Elizabeth Hopkins, daughter of William Hopkins and Joane Arnold.
Edward Smith was an active all of his life in the affairs of the town of Providence and was relatively prosperous. Edward was born in Providence, Rhode Island on April 3, 1636, the son of Christopher and Alice Smith .He became a Freeman of Providence on May 13, 1658 and is called a husbandman in the early records. Edward owned 5 cows, 4 yearlings, 2 oxen and 2 horses. His land consisted of 200 acres in 5 parcels. He served the town in many roles during his life including, hayward 1656, Town Sergeant 1661, Deputy to the General Court 1675-85 and Town Councilor in the 1670's and 80's. On February 19, 1665 he drew Lot 22 in Providence, and paid a tax of 6s 3d on July 1, 1679. Edward married Amphillis Angell, daughter of Thomas Angell on May 9, 1663 in Providence. Edward and Amphillis were the parents of five sons and 3 daughters. Edward served as Assistant Governror in 1691. On October 3, 1681, he sold the right of commoning to Eleazar Whipple for 5 pounds "which did in the original belong to my father Christopher Smith, now deceased." He paid 7s tax on September 1, 1682.
His will was written on September 8, 1693. He died quite unexpectedly in his sixties while serving as Providence Magistrate in 1693. Edward was married to Amphillis Angell, daughter of Thomas Angell, one of the founders of Rhode Island.
It is possible that Nathaniel Mowry was a Quaker since he refused to take an oath when he was called to serve on the jury of trials. He was fined 5 shillings for this refusal. His involvement in town affairs of Providence was typical of prosperous young man. He settled at a place in Providence now known as Sayle's Hill. On December 7, 1687, he brought in the head of a wolf that was killed by his teenage son, Joseph. Nathaniel Mowry and his brother John were associates of his father-in-law Edward Inman when he broke with the townsmen of Providence in 1682 and negotiated a large land purchase of 3,500 acres directly with the Indians. The town eventually acknowledged the validity of the land purchase. He was one of three Providence town constables chosen in 1693. In his will of 1718, he bequeathed to daughter Patience Smith and her five sisters all his cattle and all his household goods after the death of his widow. He was married to Joannah Inman, daughter of Edward Inman.
John Field, son of William Field and Jane Sotwell, was born in Thurnscoe, Yorkshire, England in 1616. He married Ruth Fairbanks in 1639. He was active in the affairs of the town, and lived in the area known now as Field's Point. John died in Providence, Rhode Island in March of 1686 when he was 70. He had at least 5 children, Hannah, John, Daniel, Zachariah and Ruth. Ruth is our ancestor. She married John Angell, the son of Thomas Angell of Providence.
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John Smith, the founder of the Rhode Island family was born in England about 1595. He arrived in New England sometime before 1635. His first residence was in Dorchester, part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which extended almost to the Rhode Island line. John's home was in Ponkapog, in the southern foothills of the Blue Mountains. Captain John Whipple may have been a neighbor, as his name appears once on the records of Dorchester in connection with a small tract of land "about the mill." In later years, Captain Whipple's daughter became the bride of John Smith's son.
John, being a spirited fellow, soon found himself at odds with the New England Puritan church. He was exiled soon after. The General Court of Massachusetts, ordered "that John Smyth shalbe sent within theis 6 weekes out of this jurisdiccion for dyvers dangerous opinions, wch hee holdeth, & hath dyvulged, if in the meane tyme he removes not himselfe out of this plantacion."
Roger Williams stated on November 17, 1677: " I consented to John Smith, Miller, at Dorchester [banished also] to go with me."
In the spring or summer of 1636, John joined Roger Williams and four others as they made their way to the shores of the place they would call Providence. These pioneers began to build homes in the new settlement. John served as Town Clerk in 1641, and he also built a mill.
Henry C. Dorr states:
It was fortunate for Williams that one of his earliest companions was a millwright. So soon as they were able, the townsmen availed themselves of his services. In 1646, the 1st day of the 1st month, they made a grant of land to John Smith, in the valley where the falls of the Mooshasssc invited the erection of the Town Mill. The memory of his obsolete machinery, for breaking up grain by an operation similar to that of a pile driver, has been preserved in the name of "Stampers Street".
Long before jail or meeting-house, the Town Mill was the earliest institution in the Plantations. It received much careful oversight from the Town Meeting. The miller was to build and repair it at his own cost, and the town promised to erect or to permit no other. At the Town Meeting, 3rd day, 9th month, 1649, it was agreed that "every second and fifth day of the week shall be for grinding of the corn of the town."The other day's were the miller's own. "The sixteenth part of every bushed (with allowance for waste according to the custom of the country) is to be allowed for grinding." The mill fixed the center of the town at the North end, and long kept it there.The population became densest in its neighborhood. Sixty years later on October 27, 1705, the water power which moved the Town Mill was not yet fully employed. The Proprietors then granted to John Smith, the son of the old miller, and to Richard Arnold, the land next south of the grist mill for a sawmill, which they were to build within three years. During one hundred and eighty years, the Town Mill fulfilled it's office, and was one of the last memorials of primitive times. It was destroyed at last, the Blackstone Canal, through which some over-sanguine citizens, fondly hoped that the old locality would regain something of its primitive importance. They gained nothing but experience. The Town, now that its once favorite mill was silenced and deserted, endeavored to repossess itself of the acres which it had granted to the old miller.
His descendants maintained their possession with a sturdy perseverance worthy of their ancestor. During ten years the contest claimed the attention of the courts. The Town gained nothing but a better knowledge of the vagueness and inaccuracy of its own early grants and records. The estate, once the most valuable in the Plantations, ended by becoming an inheritance equally unprofitable to those who held or who sought its possession.
[From "The Planting and Growth of Providence.." 1882]
Time has obliterated the site of the old grist mill, but it was in the vicinity of Mill and Charles Streets at the Falls of the Moshassuck River, now a fading industrial area.
The Town Meeting of May 24, 1673 recorded the grant of land made in 1647 to John Smith, Sr. of "tenn acors mor or Lese At or about the place wheer the mill now standeth, sixe Acores mor or Lese of meddow Lieng at the upear End of that which is Caled the Great meddow on the southwestard sid of the River Called Moshucsuck six Acors of meddow at the plac comonly Caled wainscote meddow lieing and being part of it on the south side and part of it on the south side and part of it on the North side of the River..."
[From the Early Records of the Town of Providence....Vol. 3, Page 239, Providence, 1893]
John Smith's wife was Alice, her surname is unknown. He died before 1649, for in that year, his widow, who died in 1650, and her son John, Jr., administers of the estate of John the Miller, signed articles of agreement with the inhabitants of Providence. They gave the widow and John, Jr. exclusive rights to maintain a mill as long as they provided satisfactory service in grinding corn for the townsmen.
The children of John the Miller and Alice were John Jr. who was born about 1630 and Elizabeth who married Shadrack Manton of Providence.