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The Publisher, in issuing the present book, would say that he has long contemplated the consummation of this undertaking, and feels flattered that the opportunity of publishing the first Newport Directory has been embraced by him. Newport, of late years, has become an important and fashionable watering-place, both for invalids and those seeking retirement from the busy scenes of the world. The many strangers sojourning here for the season, and the city itself having grown so rapidly, has created the necessity for the present work, which the publisher feels confident will supply a want long felt by the business men of the place, and be a source of convenience to visitors.

Few are aware of the labor necessary to compile a Directory, especially a first one, where there is no data to work from, but all the information must be obtained from actual canvass from door to door; and here, too, a great difficulty is frequently found in eliciting from servants correct answers, through fear of giving information that will prove detrimental to their employers. But the Publisher is pleased to say that he believes he has as complete a return as could be collected at this season of the year, and under the circumstances, taking into consideration that many of the citizens have given up their own houses to strangers, and board for the season. From this cause, no doubt, duplicates will be found; for at the business place of a merchant he naturally gives his permanent abode, while the canvasser finds his family at some temporary place.

In addition to the names of the citizens will be found a Business Directory of all persons in business on their own account, carefully arranged under appropriate headings; also, a list of city officers, banks, charitable and benevolent institutions, churches, societies and associations. For any errors or omissions in the work the Publisher would claim the indulgence of a generous public, and would tender his thanks to the merchants and citizens generally for their cooperation and liberal patronage and encouragement, but more especially would be mention Rev. Dr. Henry Jackson, for his personal friendship and assistance; also Rev. Dr. Dumont, Rev. S. Adlam, Col. Wm. H. Cranston, Mr. N. H. Gould, Mr. Albert Hammett and Mr. A. J. Ward, for their many kindnesses and courtesy; and he promises the public that in his next issue he will give much valuable and statistical information which could not be prepared for the present edition.

He also contemplates giving engravings of prominent building, private mansions, &c., from time to time, thereby making his Directory worthy of being preserved, to show posterity what their ancestors have done. He will be thankful for any historical information for his future issues; and as this contains Rev. Mr. John Callender’s Centenary Discourse, being the only recognized history for the first century of Rhode Island, he hopes to be able to follow up his historical articles, thereby adding value to his Directory as a standard work, and worthy of a niche in the family library and a place on the table. Respectfully, WM. H. BOYD.

New York, Aug. 12, 1856.


The Stone Mill is situated near the centre of Touro Park, between Mill and Pelham Streets. It is an ancient ruin, and from its antiquity it has of late years excited much inquiry. The first mention of it occurs in the will of Governor B. Arnold, senior, July, 1678, in which he calls it "my stone built wind-mill." It is referred to in a deed of life-lease of Edward Pelham, son-in-law to Gov. A., to his son Thomas, Feb. 18, 1720, and the income of which, in that instrument, he gives to him; also in his will, May 21, 1741, he styles it "his wind-mill."

Collections of the mortar used in building the mill have been made by Rev. Dr. Jackson from the mill, Arnold's tomb-vault, the Bull-house of 1640-1, built for a garrison, the Easton-house, the Atkinson-house, the Vernon-house, and the Easton-house, (now Southwick), built in 1642-3; and on comparing these several specimens one with another, no one, without the labels, can tell which of them was taken from the mill; and hereby it is seen that they were all erected about nearly the same time.

It was unquestionably built by Gov. Arnold for the ususal purposes of a corn mill, some time from 1655-60. Structures similar exist at this day in great numbers in the river Oporto, Portugal, and in other parts of Europe. It is a beautiful specimen of masonary, having eight arches, intended to prevent the flapping of the sailing arms in their circuit, and therefore philosophically arranged, and being in height 25 fee, and in diameter, externally, 23 feet, and internally 18 feet 9 inches.

This structure, with the adjacent lands, forming an entire square, has been purchased by the legacy of Mr. James Touro and the city, and has become the property of the city, and will therefore remain a permanent ornament of the city. 

Additonal information and a picture of the Mill are at: The Navy & Rhode Island: A History (This site emphasizes the Navy in the City of Newport), the Redwood Library, and Bert Shankle's Old Stone Mill

Vol. V January 1898 No. 4
Whole Number, 20
[This editorial is on pages 222 through 226]

“The 1st Book of the Town Recors [sic] of Portsmouth, R. I.,” is, for a few months, in the keeping of the R. I. Historical Society, having been borrowed from the Portsmouth Town Council in order that an exact copy of its contents might be made by a person qualified for such a task.

It is an interesting old volume, piquant in its very aspect, for many of its earlier and later pages are so mutilated by much handling and exposure, that the broken lines appeal to the imagination and judgement of the reader for their completion.

The record begins April 30, 1639, [Footnote: As may be seen in the introduction to Bartlett’s “Colonial Records,” there is a volume in the archives of the State which begins with the settlement of Portsmouth in 1638. But the book under consideration is the oldest town record in the State of Rhode Island.] when upon the separation of Newport from Portsmouth, twenty-nine men of the latter community reorganized themselves into a “Civill body Politicke” after acknowledging themselves “the Loyall subi[ects of his majesty][Footnote: Page torn.] King Charles.”

The extracts from these entries give in Bartlett’s Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” are limited and extend only to 1646. At the time when they were transcribed microscopic accuracy was not insisted upon, and various errors were made. For example, on page 75 of the Colonial Records, we read:

But the more careful modern reading discovers that the true remnant of the original statement is as follows: With quaint spelling and expression, with hand-writing sometimes elegant and sometimes slovenly, the town clerks jotted down bits of information that are of distinct value to the student who tries to-day to reconstruct the Rhode Island life of the 17th century. We see the freemen of the town choosing several of their number to go “to the mayne” and treat with Indian sachems that “thay Come not upon the Jland but accordinge to order giuen.” a public watch is ordered. Arms are to be repaired. Presently the sale of liquors to Indians is prohibited. There is dissatisfaction as to the disposal of land, and a new allotment is made. One man has “libertie to sitt downe” on a certain house plott “upon his wife’s peacabl and good behauiour towards hir neighbours.” Stocks and a whipping-post are erected. In 1657, “It is ordered that the towne Clarke Shall write to Newport to inform them, that we have information of A woolfe beinge on the Jsland, and to desire their helps to drive the Jsland, one munday next if it be fayre wether, & if not then on the next fayre day.”

In October, 1658, “Roger williams shall haue liberty of the Towne for to liue in william woodel house till the 5th of nouembar in-seuen the date heare of: and no longer by the Towne order.”

In June, 1660, there is record of a challenge from William Dyar of Newport as to “ye proporiety of our lands and libarties of yepeople.” Later, Charles the Second “wos in a most sollem maner proclaimed in the towne of portsmoth: upon the 24th day of Octobar and in the 12th yere of his Magesties Raine.                       God Saue the Kinge.”

Thus, be it observed, were the dozen years of the English Commonwealth ignored by the Portsmouth town clerk.

Frequent reference is made to the Rate that shall be gathered “for the suply of mr John Clarke our Agent in England.” While sympathy with this project was evident, there was a choice as to methods. An entry dated “march the 16th 1662 or 63” states that “The Towne for sume months past hauinge made diuers orders for the makinge of a Rate, and findinge that which is brought forth for a Rate to be dissagreable to the minds and intents of the towne, doe forbid it to pass any further, and doe here by giue order, that whot hath bin paid in vpon the accoumpt there of, shall be Returned to them that haue paid it.”

Having thus gracefully acknowledged their mistake, this freemen proceed to new endeavor. The next paragraph in their record is a follows:

“Ordered and voted that for as much as wee the free inhabitants of Portsmoth doe finde that there is a deffect in the Rate, ordered the last meetinge about mr Clarkes suply to the Barbados, wee doe Repele the afore said order, and votte and agree, that there shall be an other Rate made of 76l.o2s.o3. for the suply of mr John Clarke in England, which Rate is to be Equally Leuied vpon all the inhabitants of Portsmoth or the presinqus of the said Towne and vpon the townes Stock, to make vp the said Rate, and this Rate is to be made with in fower months after the date here of.”

Five men are then “Chosen to make the aboue said Rate-- thay or the mayior part of them.” And, with a sudden change of style, the clerk adds: “yee are to take the towne Stock in to your hands to make vp the said Rate.”

This naïveté is one of the charms of the old book. So late as 1663, there was “very greate distruction of sheep by wolues or other vermin for ye preuention of which it is Ordred that vpon Satharday Next if it be faire wether, if not then vpon ye Monday followinge and if yt be foule wether then vpon ye Monday Next the Jland shall be driuen.”

Every allusion to the payment of debts is “wompom” or “peage” is a vivid reminder of the primitive conditions under which the “free inhabitants,” as they liked to call themselves, were living. In 1659 the General Recorder was paid in “wompom at 8 peny.”

The attentive reader perceives that “by a writinge upon the publicke post, or at the mill,” notice was sometimes given to whom it might concern. He follows with interest the gradual development of comfort as highways are improved, precautions are taken against the destruction of wood in the Commons, a grant of land is made to encourage the building of a windmill, a similar allotment is made to a leather-dresser, and the tiny salaries of town officers are increased.

While there are various indications that these sturdy pioneers often had occasion to protect their own rights, there is also proof of their consideration for the rights of others. Rent was paid to the Indian Osamekin for grass “at the maine,” but in June, 1669, it was considered necessary to take action against the encroachments of Philip by voting “that wheras it is informed to this meetinge that phillip Sachim of mount hope hath putt Several Swine on hog-Jsland therein intrudeinge on the Rights of this Towne. Jt is Ordered that a letter Shall be drawne up by the Towne clerke to forewarne the Sayd phillip from any further proceeds in that nature, and also forth-with to remove Such Swine or other Catle he hath putt on Sayd Jsland, or other-wise the Towne doe Conceive he deales unjustly with them, and he will Constraine them to further proceedes to defend their Legall Rights against him: And the Sayd Letter is to be Signed by the majestrats with the Towne Clerke, and a Copie thereof left on Record for the Townes use.”

While a shrewd care was often evinced lest persons who might become a charge upon the town should be allowed to settle within its limits, a note of hospitality was struck on June 4, 1666, when it was “Ordered that where as by the providence of god there are seuerall of our Contrymen are Arriued one our Jsland, and Exposed to sume hardships for ye present, There fore it is allowable for any inhabitant with in this towne to Entertaine the affore mentioned pearsons in his family as he shall See good, Any order to the Contrary not with Standinge Relatinge to this present Cace and present occasion only.”

In the provision made for the care of the poor, in the good advice given by the Town Fathers to a quarrelsome woman, and by means of other graphic touches on the part of successive scribes, one may certainly gain a pleasant impression of the amenities that tempered the rigors of early life at Portsmouth.

From the foregoing extracts some idea of the character of these records may be gained, and when it is remembered that they cover the period from 1639 to 1697, their value to the student of Rhode Island history will be understood. Moreover, the volume contains many deeds, wills, inventories, records of births and marriages, coroners’ verdicts, and indentures of apprenticeship, to say nothing of the “ear-marks” distinguishing the ownership of stock, which are recorded up to a much later date.

In view of these facts it is certainly to be hoped that this, the oldest book of town records in the State, will be printed in full by order of the General Assembly. Expressions of interest which have already been offered to the secretary of the society encourage the belief that such action would be heartily welcomed.

The early Portsmouth records furnished with a good index and printed with type, page and binding like the “Early Providence Records” would, according to our best information at this time, constitute a volume of 350 pages, the cost of which, for an edition of 500 to 1000 copies, can be readily estimated. 

This document is made available to the public for non-commercial purposes. If you wish to incorporate this document into any commercial product, you must first obtain permission from the author of the material.

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