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Full text of "First-[fifth] report of the Record Commisssioners relative to the early town records"

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1892.] 



CITY DOCUMENT 



[No. 18. 



FIEST EEPORT 



RECORD COMMISSIONERS 



ItELATIVK TO TIIK 



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Early Town Records. 



[Presentfd March 7, 1802.] 



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S;^£ |!robiL>cncc ^^rcss! 

Snow & Farniiam, City Printers, 

.■^7 Custom House Street. 

1S92. 




2361 



REPORT. 



To THE Honorable the City Council of the City 
OF Providence. 

Gentlemen : In accordance with the joint resolu- 
tion of the City Council, which was approved March 
6, 1 89 1, and which reads as follows, viz. : 

''Resolved, That Horatio Rogers, George M. Car- 
penter and Edward Field are appointed record com- 
missioners, who shall serve without compensation, for 
the purpose of collecting and printing the early re- 
cords of the town of Providence, and said commis- 
sioners are authorized to expend the sum of one thou- 
sand dollars for collecting and printing said records, 
said sum to be charged to the appropriation for print- 
ing," the undersigned respectfully submit a volume 
of the early records of the town of Providence, 
which they have caused to be printed. The report 
presented to your honorable body by the Joint Com- 
mittee on Education recommending the passage 
of the aforegoing resolution contains this clause : 
" On the completion of this volume the commis- 
sioners will be able to report much more definitely 
than can be estimated the probable extent and cost of 
the work, and the city council can better decide when 
and how far it is advisable to continue." The commis- 



CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 



sioners therefore present for your consideration the 
following report and recommendations. 

A brief review of the action taken by this town and 
city from time* to time towards the preservation of its 
ancient records, will show that much consideration 
has been given to this subject. The earliest effort in 
this direction was made Aug. 12, 1678, when Daniel 
Abbott was elected town clerk, to succeed John 
Whipple, Jr. At this time Roger Williams and 
Daniel Abbott were appointed a committee " to take 
a list of what they received, and to give to ye sayd 
John Whipple a cleare and full discharge for the 
same." 

This action was taken shortly after the Indian war 
[1675-76], when the town suffered so severely from 
its effects, and when the records passed through a se- 
vere ordeal. The original document, a copy of which 
is hereto annexed and marked "Appendix A," is pre- 
served in the files of the Rhode Island Historical 
Society, and is among the manuscripts of the Foster 
papers, and from it is derived much information as to 
the extent and number of the earliest volumes of the 
town records. From it we also learn how much of 
the books yet remain intact, and what portions have 
been lost or effaced during the years that have elapsed 
since that time. The next account is embraced in a 
schedule found by the commissioners among a lot of 
loose papers in the store room at the city hall, and 
sheds much light on the condition and number of the 
records nearly ninety years later than the list pre- 
viously mentioned. It is of peculiar value in many 
respects, especially in showing the advance and growth 



1^^2.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 



of the town in the number of volumes of land trans- 
actions which had taken place during these years be- 
tween the date of the previous list and the date of this 
schedule. 

A copy of this document is annexed, marked "Ap- 
pendix B." It is to be regretted that certain of the 
books and papers contained in these lists or schedules 
are not to be found in the possession of the city, hav- 
ing doubtless been lost, as too little care was exercised 
in the preservation of old papers in the early years of 
the town. The late John Howland, a man of intense 
fondness for antiquarian research in Rhode Island 
history, often lamented the recklessness with which 
the papers of the early settlers of Rhode Island had 
been destroyed. " From a quantity thrown into the 
street, which he gathered up and carried to his place 
of business, he recovered several ori<rinal letters of 
Roger Williams," a fact painfully illustrating how lit- 
tle the value of these ancient papers and documents 
was regarded in years gone by. 

June 6, 1796, a committee was appointed for the 
purpose of examining the town records and ascertain- 
ing " what record books it may be necessary to cause 
to be transcribed, indexed or otherwise amended, and 
that said committee make report of their proceedings 
herein at the next town meeting." "Appendix C." 
That committee reported June 23, 1796, recommend- 
ing that the work be done, and a resolution was 
adopted in town meeting authorizing it. "Appendix 
D." The outcome of this action was the Book of Tran- 
cripts, so called, which has been used and referred to 
from that time to this, in place of the earliest books of 



CITY DOCtJMENT. [No. 18. 



record, except, perhaps, by a comparative few who 
wished to examine the original records themselves. 
This volume is valuable in some respects, although its 
accuracy is questionable. Of it Judge Staples in his 
"Annals " says, " It would have been more valuable had 
the committee who superintended the work, and the 
clerk who performed it, been a little more careful and 
a little less anxious to compress it in one volume." 
The original books from which this transcript was 
made remained in their worn and mutilated condition 
for many years without any attempt being made to 
have them preserved. The inaccuracies of the tran- 
script and the continued deterioration of the old vol- 
umes seems to have become a matter of serious con- 
sideration, and September ii, 1865, a committee was 
appointed by the common council " to examine the con- 
dition of the early records of the town of Providence 
to the year 1800; and the committee was authorized 
to employ a suitable person to transcribe and print the 
same, and to take such measures as might by them be 
deemed expedient for a proper preservation of the 
records," the sum of five hundred dollars being ap- 
propriated for this purpose, "Appendix E." No- 
vember 13th, of that same year, a committee, slightly 
different in its composition from the previous one, 
was appointed "to examine the early records of the 
town of Providence prior to the year 1800, and re- 
port what in their opinion is the best manner of pre- 
serving the same, and in case they may deem it 
expedient to have them printed to report the probable 
expense thereof." "Appendix F." 

In May, 1 881, the Library Committee of the Rhode 
Island Historical Society, in a communication to 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 7 

Mayor William S. Hayward, called attention to the 
damaged condition of the early records, and urged 
upon the city council the importance of their preser- 
vation. In accordance with this recommendation a 
resolution was approved June 7, 18S1, authorizing the 
recorder of deeds " to cause the first volume of the 
records of the town of Providence to be suitably re- 
bound and the leaves to be inlaid in new paper, the 
expense to be paid from money in the treasury not 
otherwise appropriated." "Appendix G." In July, 
1884, Mayor Thomas A. Doyle in a message to the 
city council, stated that " By a resolution of the city 
council, approved June 7, 1881, the recorder of deeds 
was authorized "to cause the first volume of the re- 
cords of the town of Providence to be suitably re- 
bound and the leaves to be inlaid in new paper, the 
expense to be paid from money in the treasury not 
otherwise appropriated. The work proposed in this 
resolution has never been accomplished, and very little 
progress has been made in regard to it." The city 
council again passed a resolution similar to those that 
had previously been adopted, instructing the "joint 
committee on printing to inquire into the matter of 
printing the first four books of the records of the town 
of Providence, with the probable cost thereof and all 
matters connected therewith, and to report thereon to 
either branch of the city council." "Appendix H." 
It will thus be seen that the matter of preserving the 
public records has had consideration by the authori- 
ties, and their value and importance have been many 
times acknowledged by resolutions, recommendations 
and special messages ; but beyond the fact that a few 



CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 



of the earliest books of record have been repaired 
and re-bound, no step whatever has been taken to- 
wards the only safe means of preserving permanently 
these priceless writings until the action of the city 
council in March last, in pursuance of several peti- 
tions presented by persons and societies interested in 
this matter. 

The subject of preserving ancient records in print 
is one which has received most serious consideration 
by many of the states, cities, towns and parishes in- 
cluded in the thirteen original colonies. The city of 
Boston, in the year 1875, appointed a commission for 
this purpose, and upwards of twenty volumes of re- 
ports have been issued from their hands, bringing the 
printed records of that city up to the year 1800. The 
city of Worcester has also given pecuniary encourage- 
ment to the publication of their town records, and 
among the smaller towns and cities in New England 
having a similar object in view, are included Braintree, 
Cambridge, Danvers, Fall River, Salem, Amherst, 
Brookline, Dedham, and others that either have the 
subject under consideration, or have already placed 
their copies in the printers' hands. 

The reason for this care in the preservation of 
records will be apparent, even upon a brief considera- 
tion. In the first place these records are highly im- 
portant as furnishing evidence by deeds, lay-outs, wills 
and many other documents of the greatest conse- 
quence, in tracing and proving the ownership and de- 
scent of property, furnishing material for the history 
of the towns themselves, and preserving the records 
of the births, deaths and marriaores. 



"1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 



The loss of this material, so extremely valuable if 
not priceless, would be deplorable, and yet while in 
many instances these records have withstood the rav- 
ages of time for more than two hundred and fifty 
years, they are to-day in greater danger of destruction 
than they were during that period of their existence 
when they were kept in the home or shop of their cus- 
todian without any unusual care on his part to guard 
their contents. In the report of the record commis- 
sioner of Massachusetts in 1885, it is stated that some 
of the public records " have resisted decay for more 
than two hundred and fifty years, but it is only too evi- 
dent their powers of resistance are now in many cases 
nearly at an end, and that the time is not far distant 
w^hen these records will have entirely disappeared. 
Perhaps if we had continued in the simple ways of 
our forefathers, the evil day might have been still fur- 
ther postponed." 

With the modern equipments of public offices has 
come a new danger, although remote yet still liable to 
occur at any moment. Steam heat, gas, and electricity 
are a constant source of danger to public records. 
Steam heat seriously affects books and papers, and the 
danger of fire from gas and electricity is not an un- 
common one; indeed, the probate office for the county 
of Suffolk, in the city of Boston, has been on fire 
within the past year from electric wires, but happily 
in the day time, when it was seasonably discovered. 
Public records of any character are constantly in dan- 
ger of destruction, and a long list of such casualties 
could be enumerated. All the records in the registry 
of deeds for the county of Barnstable, Mass., were 
2 



10 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

destroyed by fire October 22, 1827, and all the probate 
records for the county of Cumberland, which although 
now in Maine was formerly a part of Massachusetts, 
were destroyed in the great Portland fire, July 4, 1866. 

In our own state the records of all kinds of the 
town of North Kingstown were seriously injured, if 
indeed, not practically destroyed, in the same way in 
1870, for their condition now is such that they are of 
little use. The old records of Newport were so badly 
damaged during the Revolution that they are well 
nigh valueless. During the Indian war [1675-6], the 
records of the town of Providence were in imminent 
danger of destruction. An attack was made on the 
town March 30, 1676, and thirty houses were de- 
stroyed, one of which says Staples "was the house of 
John Smith, the miller. Mr. Smith was at that time 
town clerk, and the records of the town were then in 
his possession. They were thrown from his burning 
house into the mill-pond to preserve them from the 
flames, and to the present day they bear plenary evi- 
dence of the two-fold dangers they escaped and the 
two-fold injury they suffered. After they were res- 
cued from the mill-pond they were carried to Newport, 
and were not returned again to Providence until after 
the war was at an end." 

The Proprietors' Records of Providence were con- 
sumed by fire in 1888, when the Aldrich House and 
other adjacent buildings in the city of Providence 
were burned. 

The state of Maine has committed to print their 
early probate records, including all the wills from 1640 
to 1760, and the deeds of York county, from 1642 to 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. I'l 



1699. ^ The early deeds of Suffolk County, Mass.,havc 
been similarly treated. In this connection is presented 
the following abstract from the report on the dangers 
to which public records are exposed and the proper 
method of preserving them, made by the committee 
of the council of the New England Historic Genea- 
logical Society, at the meeting of the society held in 
Boston Jan. 2, 1889: "Some of our ancient towns," 
says the report, " have lost all their records by fire, and 
the same is true of many parishes. Indeed, the loss 
from this cause alone of town, county or church record 
is in the aggregate little short of appalling. Under 
these circumstances it is almost criminal nefrlisrence 
to allow any book of record to exist only in a single 
copy. Its life then hangs by a single thread. Now 
what is the remedy for this state of affairs.? It is not 
far to seek, but is made manifest to every thinking 
man. Not even the crumbling of the paper, the cor- 
rosion or fading of the ink, not even a sweeping con- 
flagration can utterly destroy records whose custo- 
dians have taken proper means to preserve them. 
How can this be done-f^ In one way only. Simply 
by the multiplication of copies. The invention of the 
art of printing has made great changes in the modern 
world. In no direction has the advance been sfreater 
than in this. Copies, instead of being made toilsomely 
and laboriously by hand, can now be produced almost 
with the quickness of thought; and the great reduc- 
tion in the cost of printing of late years has placed it 
in the power of every town and parish, however poor 
and feeble, to put into imperishable form its records, 
at least the earliest of them. And the work cannot 



12 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

be begun too soon. Nor is this all. The greater use 
made of stereotyping now-a-days, for even newspapers 
are printed from stereotype plates, has given us an 
additional safeguard. The printed volumes, being 
widely distributed, could not all be destroyed by fire, 
and being subject to different atmospheric conditions, 
could not all crumble to pieces at once. Some would 
certainly survive. But even if they should not, the 
stereotype plates would remain. From them other 
copies could be printed at the mere cost of press-work 
and paper. This would forever set at rest all fear of 
a total loss of records, a fate which hangs over most 
town and county records to-day. 

" Where an ancient town has remained intact from 
its first settlement until now, the necessity of preserv- 
ing in print records of such great historical value is 
readily apparent. Yet where other towns have been, 
in more modern times, set off from an ancient town, 
the need becomes still more evident. The safety of the 
records and the convenience of the public alike require 
it. Some towns have been repeatedly sub-divided. 
In one instance some seventeen or eighteen towns 
have been, in whole or in part, formed from the terri- 
tory granted by the general court to the original town. 
And other instances equally striking can doubtless 
be cited. Although the newer municipalities have a 
history in common with the older towns of which 
they once formed a part, their records are defective, 
inasmuch as they extend back only to the time of sepa- 
ration, the books prior to that date remaining in the 
hands of the clerk of the parent town. This works 
serious inconvenience. Matters are continually com- 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 13 



ing up which necessitates reference to the earlier 
records, and they are not at hand. Each new town 
should have a complete set of the records, j)rior to 
separation of the original town of which it then 
formed a part. They belong as much to it as to the 
other. A new town should not be forced to see such 
invaluable documents placed beyond its control and 
in the keeping of officials not responsible to it, sub- 
jected to all the vicissitudes and dangers which records 
are continually running. Now the art of printing 
enables us to obviate all these difficulties. It solves 
the problem completely. When once the records are 
in type extra copies can be had merely for the cost of 
press-work and paper, and each is an exact duplicate 
of the other. No copyist's errors need be feared 
where the work is done with such mechanical accu- 
racy. A printed copy is vastly superior to any manu- 
script copy that can possibly be made. 

" But it must not for a moment be supposed that 
the people who live in any given town are the only 
persons interested in its records or concerned for the 
preservation of them. All of our towns, both ancient 
and modern, have contributed no small portion of 
their population to build up and develop the other 
parts of our rapidly growing country. There is hardly 
a remote corner of any one of the states and terri- 
tories of the West where representatives of our New 
England families are not to be found. They naturally 
feel a peculiar pride in the place of their birth, and the 
children of these exiles should be encouraged to keep 
constantly in mind the home of their fathers. The 
publication of these records, therefore, interest a 



14 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

much larger number of people than are to be found 
within the limits of any single town, and these printed 
volumes reach more readers than we can easily imag- 
ine." 

In the preparation of the volume which is herewith 
submitted and accompanies this report, the commis- 
sioners have devoted much personal attention. The 
commissioners met for organization April 25, 1891, 
and Horatio Rogers was made chairman, and Edward 
Field secretary. The work authorized under the reso- 
lution was at once commenced, and it was determined 
that the book known as the " First Book " should be 
printed. This book was evidently the first one used 
for records by the early settlers, for in it were recorded 
the earliest orders and votes of the town meetings, 
though it seems to have been discarded for this pur- 
pose after a time, and then to have been solely used 
for the enrollment of deeds, lay-outs of lands and 
other instruments. 

The transcribing of this book and the other cleri- 
cal work of the commission were intrusted to Miss 
Huldah D. Sheldon, her services in recording offices 
for a number of years past peculiarly fitting her for 
the work in hand. 

The commissioners desire to testify to the interest 
she has manifested, the care with which she has inves- 
tigated the many perplexing questions involved in 
copying, and to the general excellence of the work 
which she has performed. The course pursued in 
this respect has been to cause to be made a manu- 
script copy of the original, preserving the orthogra- 
phy, punctuation, and in fact every feature so far as 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 15 



practicable that appears in connection with the re- 
corded matter in the book. Upon the completion of this 
work the commissioners together examined the written 
copy and compared it with the book called the Book of 
Transcripts, made by order of the town council in the 
year 1800, as well as with the original record. 'Die 
proof sheets as received from the printer's hands were 
carefully corrected from the original record, or, where 
such record was defective, from the Book of Tran- 
scripts, so called. The pagination of the original has 
been preserved by placing each of its page numbers 
in a bold faced type, as the leaves are now arranged 
in the printed book, in brackets, in that part of the 
printed page where each page of the original begins ; 
the pagination of the printed book, however, is the 
one referred to in the index. The types from which 
the book has been printed have all been stereotyped 
for the many advantages which are derived from this 
course. In the first place fewer copies need be printed, 
as subsequent editions can be struck off at any time 
when needed, which effects a saving in many particu- 
lars. The stereotype plates can be easily corrected if 
errors are found, which will obviate a list of " errata," 
so often met with in publications of a similar nature. 
Criticism may be directed towards the appearance 
of the printed pages of the volume submitted, but 
appearance was not the end which the commissioners 
sought to attain. It is not within the power of any 
one to decide which of the several matters appearing 
in old records is of the most value ; what may be valu- 
able for a certain purpose to one may be of little or no 
value to another, and vice versa ; and therefore it is 



16 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

important that each item, mark or figure contained in 
the original should be reproduced or represented. 
Nothing has been omitted or garbled, and the recorded 
volume has been as faithfully and accurately repro- 
duced in type as the most painstaking care the com- 
missioners were possessed of would enable them to do 
it. The cost of the books and the amount of time 
and labor required for their preparation make them 
too valuable for an indiscriminate distribution. The 
commissioners would recommend that they be gratui- 
tously distributed by a method similar to that pursued 
by the city of Boston. A blank form of request such 
as is there used, a copy of which is herewith sub- 
mitted, "Appendix I," might be used, and such per- 
sons as apply to a member of the city council or to the 
commissioners should be given a copy of the book, 
and their names kept on record for subsequent vol- 
umes, should the city council see fit to have them 
issued. 

Public libraries and similar institutions in this and 
neighboring states should, of course, be furnished with 
copies when desired. The indiscriminate free distri- 
bution of public documents, too often pursued, wastes 
many copies, for experience has shown that in a short 
time the book thus distributed is considered of little 
value, and sooner or later is thrown aside and finds its 
way into the junk shop and the pulp mill. The course 
adopted by the city of Boston has been found to work 
well, and the commissioners are informed that their 
volumes have seldom been found out of the hands of 
those who received them or of those who were enti- 
tled to them. 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 17 



The commissioners have examined the ancient 
books, papers and documents relating to the town of 
Providence in the possession of the city, and submit 
a statement of their number, kind and condition, 
which is as follows : 

1. The First Book town of Providence. 

2. The Old Burnt Book or Book with the Brass 
Clasps. 

3. An ancient book of miscellaneous records in 
two volumes as now arrano^ed. 

These volumes are included in the Book of Tran- 
scripts, heretofore referred to, inaccurately transcribed 
and unreliable, and contain all of the earliest meas- 
ures adopted by the town, besides a vast amount of 
information of the greatest value. By authority of 
the city council they have been bound and inlaid in 
heavy paper, and are now in the custody of the re- 
corder of deeds. 

Vol. I. Town Council Records, 1692-1714, con- 
taining seventy-two pages. 

Vol. 2. Town Council Records, 1715-1732, con- 
taining seventy-eight pages. 

Vol. I. Town Meeting Records, 1692-1715, con- 
taining one hundred and two pages. 

Vol. 2. Town Meeting Records, 1716-1721, con- 
taining sixty-two pages. 

These volumes are rapidly becoming worn and mu- 
tilated, the edges of the leaves being broken and torn 
by handling for many years, and each day only adds to 
their liability to destruction. Save the fact that they 
were cheaply bound many years ago, nothing has ever 
been done to preserve them. 



18 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

Will Book I [so called,] 1670-1716, containing two 
hundred and eighty pages. 

This book is in the custody of the clerk of the Mu- 
nicipal Court, and is the first book now known to be 
in existence which was particularly used for recording 
documents relating to the estates of the first inhabi- 
tants of the town. There was a book of an earlier 
date than this, and it is mentioned in the schedule of 
1678 "Appendix A," but as no reference is made to it 
in the schedule of 1755 "Appendix B," the book was 
evidently lost or destroyed between those dates. This 
book has been repaired from time to time, and is in as 
good condition as these many years of usage would 
leave it. 

In addition to the books of record, there are stored 
in cupboards in a room in the city hall a large num- 
ber of papers and documents, tied up in bundles and 
partly classified, dating back as far as 1678. These pa- 
pers contain information of great value, which would 
be gladly welcomed by our citizens could they be 
privileged to examine their contents. Included in 
these papers are depositions, indentures, documents 
relating to the Revolutionary war, tax-lists, a mass of 
records relating to the colonial monetary system, and 
many other varieties of records too numerous to par- 
ticularize. 

The effort to preserve ancient records already ex- 
isting in their proper depositories should not be the 
sole aim of a commission of this kind. There are 
to-day stored and packed away in attics, old chests, 
trunks and boxes, papers and documents as valuable 
as the old records themselves, which shed light on the 
history and development of this town and city. 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 



H> 



These are not particularly valued by those in whose 
hands they are, but if it were known that there was 
competent authority to exercise a watchful care over 
such matters, the present owners and custodians 
would often gladly transfer them to such an authority 
that they might forever be secure against destruction. 
Indeed, the influence of this commission has already 
been felt in this respect, and there have been placed 
in their hands a number of orifjinal documents and 
papers bearing date from 1642 to 1774, consisting of 
wills, deeds, agreements and other writings which have 
been handed down through six generations to the 
present donor. Miss Ann Elizabeth Arnold, of Paw- 
tuxet. Such gifts as these add additional links to the 
chain of evidence which surround our early history, 
and appreciation should insure their careful preserva- 
tion and perpetuation. 

In consideration of the value of the papers, books 
and documents herein referred to, and after giving 
the subject attentive investigation, the commissioners 
would make the following recommendations: That 
the work already inaugurated be continued until the 
early records of Providence are placed beyond the 
possibility of destruction. A small appropriation 
from time to time will accomplish this object, and the 
cost to the city will hardly be apparent. The amount 
required for the whole work cannot be satisfactorily 
estimated, but by pursuing the course herein recom- 
mended the city council wull be informed of the cost 
and nature of the work from time to time as it pro- 
o-resses, and can continue or discontinue the same m 
its discretion. 



20 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

The commissioners herewith present a statement of 
the expenditures made from the appropriation placed 
at their disposal by the aforegoing resolution of the 
city council : 

Amount paid H. D. Sheldon for transcribing 

First Book, ^36 00 

Amount paid H. D. Sheldon for transcribing 

Second Book or book with Brass Clasps, y8 00 

Amount paid H. D.Sheldon for transcribing 

First Book or Town Meeting Records, 90 00 

Amount paid H. D. Sheldon for transcribing 

First Book of Town Council Records, 56 00 

Amount paid Snow & Farnham for printing 

500 copies First book, including electro- 
type plates, ...... 383 64 

Amount paid Snow & Farnham for printing 

application blanks, . . . . . 3 50 
Amount paid Akerman Co. for binding 500 

copies First Book, . . . . • 76 75 
Amount paid J. C. Thompson for cuts for 

First Book, . . . . . . 6 84 

Amount paid sundry persons for stationery, 

index cards, etc., . . . . . 16 18 
Amount paid H. D. Sheldon for preparing 

index for First Book, . . . . 139 00 
Amount paid H. D. Sheldon for listing old 

papers and type writing, . . . . 69 00 
Amount paid G. H. Richter & Co. for use of 

typewriter, 16 00 



Total expenditures, .... $970 91 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 21 



Recapitulation. 

Amount of appropriation by City Council, 

March 6, 1891, $1,000 00 

Amount of expenditures as above stated, 970 91 

Balance on hand, .... 29 09 

The Commissioners would respectfully recommend 
the passage of the accompanying resolution. 

Respectfully submitted, 

HORATIO ROGERS, 
G. M. CARPENTER, 
EDWARD FIELD, 

Record Commissioners. 
March 7, 1892. 



No. 138. Resolution Appropriating a Further Sum 
of $1,500 for the Collecting and Printing of the 
Early Records. 

[Approved April 2, 1S92.J 

Resolved, That the First Volume of the Early Records 
of the Town of Providence already printed and such volumes 
as may be hereafter printed be distributed in accordance 
with the recommendation of the Record Commissioners ; 
and that the sum of fifteen hundred dollars be and the same 
is hereby appropriated for the purpose of continuing the col- 
lecting and printing of said records, said sum to be charged 
to the appropriation for printing. 



22 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 



APPENDIX A. 



Book VII. Collections R. I. Hist. Society. Page 103. 

Early Attempts at Rinode Island History. 
The Original Records of the Town of Providence- 

Where as the Towne of providence did upon ye : I2th : of 
August : 1678 : at a Towne meeting upon Ajornement, or- 
der and Appoynt mr. Roger Williams, and Daniell Abbott, 
Gierke, to receive of John Whipple junr the former Towne 
Gierke, the Townes Bookes, and recordes belonging to the 
Towne now in ye handes of the sayd John Whipple, and to 
take a List of what they Receive, and to give ye sayd John 
Whipple a cleare and full Disscharge for the same, the which 
wee have Done, Vizt 

Impri The Towne old Booke : Gontaineing of : 70 : leaves, 
and one not wrott upon, .... 

[Item]. The longe Booke with parchment Govers Gheifely 
Consisting of recordes of Deedes, and of landes, 
Gontaineing of : 69 : leaves, and 7 peces of leaves 
all wrott upon, besides two leaues pinned to an 
other, ....... 

" The Booke with Brass Glapses, Gontaineing of: 

164 pages wrott upon besides fower leaves wrott 
upon which are not paged, as also : 18 : leaues 
wrott upon at that end of ye Book where the Al- 
phabett is, ...... . 

" Papers of Generall Asserablys Acts to ye num- 
ber of : 24 : Each of them haveng the scale of ye 
Gollony affixed, the scales being all of them in 
Good Condition nott defaced, saucing one which 
is an Assemblys Acts beareing date may ye : 4 : 
166- . 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 



23 



The new Booke, for ye entry ol iuwne Acts 
and orders, with eight pages wrott upon besides 
part of the ninth wrott upon, 
The new Booke for ye entry of land euidences, 
with nine pages wrott upon, and part of ye tenth 

page wrott upon, 

The new Book for ye entry of ye Towne Coun- 
sells Acts, there being part of one page of ye 
sayd Booke wrott upon. .... 

A small paper Book Containcing the Enrolenient 
of wills ....... 

Courts Acts sewed to geather, in ye manner of : 
2 : Books, As also seuerall Courts Acts made up 
in roules to the number of : i8 : with noe scales 
Afixed, ....... 

Seuerall Coppies of William ffeildes and William 
Carpenters papers ..... 

A Deed of Gift from Richard Waterman to his 
Grand Chilldren the Chilldren of Resolved 
Waterman [Deceased] .... 

The old Deed called the Town T^uidence 
The Deed of Confirmation from Cussuckqunsh, 
and nenekelah with Richard Smith junr Testi- 
mony pinned thereto. 

The deed of Confirmation Scattupp, and Quequa- 
gonuett. ....... 

The deed of Confirmation from Caujanaquant, 

being alsoc subscribed Aiaquaomitt. the three 

Deedes of Confirmations being all indorsed with 

Testimonys on the back sides 

The Deed in parchment from mr. Roger Williams 

to the Towne of providence 

The inuentory of the Estate of John Clawson, 

Assalsoe an account in a paper by Thomas olney 

senr of ye Disspossition of John Clawsons : 

Goodes, .....-• 

The Indenture of Daniell Comstock . 



24 CITY DOCLfMENT. [No. 18. 

" The Bond of Joshua Winsor and James Ashton, 
as also the Award of Arbetration upon a deffer- 
ance betweene ye sayd Winsor, and James Ash- 
ton, ........ 

" As alsoe seuerall papers wherein was the Com- 
ittys Act, to ye number of: 15: Delivered by 
mr. Williams to John Whipple the former Gierke 

" As alsoe a roule of papers, being most of them 
bills, some of them being Answered and some of 
them reffered . . .... 

" As also seuerall other papers. All the rest of the 
Towne Recordes not here perticularized with a 
linning Bagg in which they are In Closed 

We whose names are here under 
subscribed, being impowered by an order of this 
Towne as before sayd, have this Twenty third day 
of August : 1678 Receiued of John Whipple 
Junr the former Towne Gierke, all the sayd 
Books, papers, parchments, and writeings herein 
before mentioned and perticularized, which be- 
long to ye Towne, And Doe thereof in the 
Townes behalfe fully, clearely, and absolutely, 
Acquitt and Disscharge the sayd John Whipple 
Junr of and from all papers that Gonscerne this 
Towne, 

In wittness whereof wee doe here unto sett our 
handes the day and yeare aboue sayd : 

[Signed] 

ROGER WILLIAMS 
DANIELL ABBOTT Gierke- 
Memorandom, the wordes Twenty Third were 
enterlined before these presents were Delivered 
as wittness our handes .... 

[Signed] 
ROGER WILLIAMS 
DANIELL ABBOTT Gierke. . 



1892.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 25 



APPENDIX B. 



An Acco* continued of the liooks of Records & Papers, on 
file found in y*^ Office of Richard Waterman Esq' Late Town 
Clerk of the Town of Providence Dcceas.'' and D'' to Nich" 
Tillinghast the present Town Clerk of said Town by Dan' 
Abbott Esq'' Elisha Brown Merch.' and George Taylor 
Esq.^' a Committee appointd at a Town Meeting of S**. 
Town Specially Called by Warrant : and held on Saturday 
the 2G'^ April 1755. vizt 

1 Town Old Book many of the Leaues schorcht and 
partly burnt 

2 The Long Book parchment Couer with many leaues 
torn and partly lost 

3 The Book with brass Clasps, sundry Leaues torn out 
and others Defaced 

The Books of Deeds & Land luiidcnces N" i begun. 1677- 
Do No 2 begun 1705. Do No 3 with a Loose platt therein 
begun 171 7 

Do 4 begun 17 19 Do 5 begun 1720 Do No 6 .-1723 
Do 7 begun 1725/6 Do 8 begun 1728/9 Do 9 1731 
Do 10 begun 1735/6 Do small No 10 Do No 11 1741. 
Do No 12 1746 
a book with a blue paper Couer something shattered begun 

1692 
The Town Book of Acts and orders with a parchment 

Couer 

Two Paper Schedules relating to Town Affairs somewhat 

shattered 

Two Books & a shattered Schedule of Town Council af- 
fairs with sundry Loose papers in one of them 

A Small Sticht Schedule of Town Meeting Affairs begun 

1717/8 , ^ 

Book for Registring Marriages, P.irths &c 

4 



26 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

Town Meeting Book with a Cloth Couer begun June 7. 
1725 with some Loose papers in it pinn'' 

The Town Council book No 2 begun 17 16. Do No 3 be- 
gun 1726 

Do No 4. 1 74 1 with a bundle of Coppys of Letters Ad- 
ministration 

Do No 5 with Tho^ Waterman's Will and Inuentory 
[Loose] 

Do begun Aug^*^ i743- with sundry Loose papers therein 
A small blue Couer** paper Schedule of Town Council Af- 
fairs 

A Colony Law Book 

A Draught of House Lotts at Pawtuxet made 1752 
A Copy of the platt of Wesconaug Land 
a plan & papers relating to the back Street, in Proui- 
dence 

A plan and papers of Pawtuxet Highway 
A Deed of the Land where the Goal, and Courthouse 
Stands 

Do of the Highway and Training Field 
A Plan of Highway a Cross Watermans Marsh 
A Plan of Highway from Power's Lane Southward 
Schedules of the Acts of Assembly in Number . . 135 
Ten Bundles of Mortgages Deeds of the seueral Banks 
Eleuen Small Bundles Do of the Eighth Bank 
Six Bundles Do of the Ninth Bank 
One Book of Mortgage Deeds of the third Bank 
seueral Loose Deeds of the Ninth Bank 
Thomas Patey's Deed, and Sundry papers belonging to the 
same 

Return of a Landing place at Ruttenburgh with Jnvento- 
ry's and other papers in a bundle 

Return of a Highway. Potters & Bakers 
West Riuer, Thurbers Highway plan thereof, by Burrows 
Bridge so Called 

Platt of a Thatch Bed and papers relating thereto Jos 
Brown & Co plan of the Road to Pawtuxet 



1^92.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 27 



an Old Rate Bill 

fine Baggs of Old papers 

I Bundle Deeds, and returns of Highways 

The Jury Box 

Coppy of the Receipt giucn to the Committee 

!x a bundle of Bonds 
X a bundle of 
X 2 Bundles of Jndentures 



APPENDIX C. 



TOWN MEETING RECORDS. 
Book 7, Page 371. June 6, 1796. 

Resolved : That Moses Brown, Zephaniah Andrews and 
Benjamin Reynolds be and they are hereby appointed a 
Committee for the purpose of examining the Town Records 
and ascertaining what Record Books it may be necessary, to 
cause to be transcribed, indexed or otherwise amended and 
that said Committee make Report of their Proceedings here- 
in at the next Town Meetinor. 



APPENDIX D. 



TOWN MEETING RECORDS. 
Book 7, Page 375. June 23, 1796. 

Whereas the Committee appointed on the si.\th Instant 
to examine the Town Records have submitted the following 
Report thereon to Wit - 

Agreeable to Appointment We have examined the Anticnt 
Records in the Town Clerk's Office and it is our Opinion, 



28 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 



that it is necessary the three first Books be transcribed in a 
Book or Books for the purpose and that an Index or Indexes 
be made to the same, and that several other Books appear to 
require Indexes to be made and some others to be amended : 
and it appears to us proper that a Committee be appointed 
to have the same done in the most legible Manner and to 
compare and see that the Transcripts be fairly and accurately 
made. 

which is submitted by Moses Brown 

Providence June 22d 1796 Zep'^ Andrews 

Benj* Reynolds 

And said Report being duly consider'd it is thereupon Re- 
solved that the same be received and that Mess" Jabez 
Bowen, Moses Brown, Zephaniah Andrews, Benjamin Rey- 
nolds & the Town Clerk be and they hereby are appointed a 
Committee for the purpose of procuring such of the Town 
Records to be transcribed as have become defaced or illegi- 
ble, that they procure suitable Blank Books for that pur- 
pose and agree with an Amanuensis on such Terms and 
Conditions as the Nature of his Service may require. 



APPENDIX E. 



PROCEEDINGS OF COMMON COUNCIL. 
September ii, 1865. Book ii, Page 297. 

Resolved :- That Messrs. Coggeshall, Paine and Stone 
with such as the Board of Aldermen may add, be and they 
are hereby appointed to examine the condition of the earlv 
Records of the Town of Providence to the year 1800, 

That said Committee be and they are hereby authorized to 
employ a suitable person to transcribe and print the same, 
and to take such other measures as may by them be deemed 
expedient, for a proper preservation of said Records. 



1892.] I^AKLY TOW.X llECOKDS. 



20 



Resolved :-that the sum of five hundred dollars be, and 
the same is hereby appropriated for this inn-pose to be' paid 
from any monies not otherwise appropriated. 

[Concurred & Alderman Barker added] 



CITY COUNCIL AND BOARD OP ALDERMEN. 
September ii, 1865. Journal 10, Page 161. 

A Resolution appointing a joint special committee to cause 
the early Records of the town to be transcribed and printed 
came from Common Council. 

Read and Concurred. Aid. liarker added. 



CITY COUNCIL RECORDS. 

September ii, 1865. Book 5. Page 314. 
No. II. 

Resolved :- That Messrs Coggeshall, Paine, and Stone, 
with Alderman Barker be and they are hereby appointed a 
committee to examine the condition of the early Records of 
the Town of Providence, to the year 1800: That said Com- 
mittee be and they are hereby authorized to employ a suita- 
ble person to transcribe and print the same and to take such 
other measures as may by them be deemed expedient, for a 
proper preservation of said Records. 

Resolved: -That the sum of five hundred dollars be and 
the same is hereby appropriated for this purpose ; to be paid 
from any moneys not otherwise appropriated. Passed Sep- 
tember II, 1865. 

[Returned by the Mayor to the Common Council, October 
9, 1865, without approval.] 



30 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 



APPENDIX F. 



CITY COUNCIL RECORDS. 
Book 5. Page 326. 
No. 10. 

Resolved : - That Messrs. Coggeshall, Thomas, Sweet and 
Harris with Alderman Barker be appointed a committee to 
examine the early records of the Town of Providence, prior 
to the year 1800, and to report what in their opinion, is the 
best manner of preserving the same and in case they may 
deem it expedient to have them printed, to report the proba- 
ble expense thereof. 

Passed November 13,1865. 
Approved the same day. 

THOS. A. DOYLE, Mayor. 



APPENDIX G. 



IN CITY COUNCIL. 

No. 219. Message of the Mayor relative to the First Book 

of Records of the Town of Providence. 

[Presented May 19, 1881.] 

City of Providence, 
Executive Department, City Hall, 
May 19, 1881. 
Gentlemen of the City Council : 

A communication from the library committee of the 
Rhode Island Historical Society, a copy of which is herewith 
transmitted, calls attention to the condition of a most valua- 
ble relic of the early days of the town of Providence, the 
the loss of which would be greatly deplored by all. 



18^2.] EARLY TOWiN REOOKDS. 



31 



The damao-ed state of these records, the natural result of 
age and former usage, is such as to justify the desire of the 
Historical Society, that more than ordinary pains be taken 
to restore so far as possible, and preserve them for future 
generations. I therefore recommend the passage of the ac- 
companying resolution. 

WILLIAM S. HAYWARD, Mayor. 



COMMUNICATION. 

Providence, May 3, 1881. 
To His Honor the Mayor of the City of Providence : 

Sir : The library committee of the Rhode Island Histori- 
cal Society having recently learned of the condition of the 
earliest book of records of the town of Providence, feel it 
to be their duty to call your attention to its character and 
condition, and to state what in their judgment is necessary 
to be done in order to preserve it. This book contains, be- 
side its records of titles and tranfers of real estate, the origi- 
nal agreement under which the second comers to the 
settlement joined the first proprietors and were by them ad- 
mitted to become inhabitants. It was the establishment of a 
government, a pure democracy, wherein men bound them- 
selves to be obedient to the majority of masters of families 
only in civil things. The entire separation of church from 
state was made, and perfect religious liberty guaranteed. 
This document, written by the hand of Roger Williams, the 
founder of this state, stands at the top of the first page of 
this book and bears the signatures of thirteen of the second 
comers. 

As to its present condition, it is entirely removed from its 
binding, it now having no covers whatever. Its leaves are mis- 
placed, ragged and torn. Its first and most valuable leaf is 
torn entirely asunder. The name of one of the signers 
has been torn apart, and is now illegible, and some words 
have been torn from the edges in sundry places. 



32 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

It has seemed to us that unless immediate measures are 
taken to preserve this unique and precious volume from fur- 
ther ruin, that it will soon be among the things of the past. 
Hereon Roger Williams, with his own hand, wrote the doc- 
trine of religious liberty, a principle which has since become 
the corner-stone of every civilized government on earth, but 
which, when he wrote it, was a thing unknown to men. 
This, we say, deserves preservation at our hands. 

Our remedy is, that each of these precious leaves be inlaid 
in paper of the strongest and most durable texture by a 
workman cunning in this art, of whom there are several in 
this country. Every irregular edge and every letter to be 
carefully preserved as now, and then that the volume be 
strongly, even elegantly bound. This can all be done with- 
out removing the volume from the city hall, where it now is, 
to be kept over night, and at a cost which is small as com- 
pared to the intrinsic worth of the precious relic. 

Thus will be preserved to our remotest posterity this me- 
mento of the wisdom and foresight of our ancestors. 

SIDNEY S. RIDER, ^ Library Committee 
HORATIO ROGERS, V RJwde Island 
THOMAS DURFEE, ) Historical Society. 



No. 220. Resolution relative to the First Book of Records 
of the Town of Providence. 

[Approved June 7, 1881.] 

Resolved, That the recorder of deeds be hereby author- 
ized to cause the first volume of the records of the town of 
Providence to be suitably re-bound and the leaves to be in- 
laid in new paper, the expense to be paid from money in the 
treasury not otherwise appropriated. 



1892.] EAllLY TOWN KECOItDS. 



33 



APPENDIX H. 



No. 352. :\Icssage of the Mayor relative to Priiuin- the first 

four Records of the Town of Providence. 

[Presented July 2, 1884.] 

City of Pkovidknce, 
Executive Department, City Hall, 
July 2, 1884. 

Gentlemen of the Citv Council : 

By a resolution of the city council, approved June 7, 1881, 
the recorder of deeds was authorized " to cause the first vol- 
ume of the records of the town of Providence to be suitably 
re-bound and the leaves to be inlaid in new paj^er, the ex- 
pense to be paid from money in the treasury not otherwise 
appropriated." 

The work proposed in the resolution has never been ac- 
complished, and very little progress has been made in regards 
to it. Some other course must be adopted in order to pre- 
serve the record contained, not only in the first book, but in 
three other books, two of which are in the office of the re- 
corder of deeds, and one in the office of the clerk of the 
municipal court. 

The work of preserving, by printing, the early records of 
Suffolk county, Massachusetts, has been for some time in 
progress, and I recommend that a similar course be pursued 
in regard to the first four books of the records of the town of 
Providence. 

I therefore suggest that this matter, the importance of 
which to future generations can hardly be estimated, be re- 
ferred to the committee on printing, to inquire into and 
report thereon. 

THOMAS A. DOYLE, Mayor. 



34 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 18. 

No. 353. Resolution Instructing the Joint Committee on 
Printing to report upon the matter of Printing the first 
four Books of Records of the Town of Providence. 
[Approved July 5, 1884.] 

Resolved, That the joint committee on printing be and 
they are hereby instructed to inquire into the matter of 
printing the first four books of records of the town of Provi- 
dence, with the probable cost thereof, and all matters con- 
nected therewith, and to report thereon to either branch of 
the city council. 



APPENDIX I. 



Boston, . . . 189 
To THE Record Commissioners : 
Gentlemen : 

I hereby apply for the volumes of your Reports hitherto 
published, and ask to be put on the list for future issues. 

Applicant, .... 

Address, .... 

Boston, . . 189 

I hereby certify that I believe the above application should 
be granted. 

Member of City Council. 

City Hall, . . . 189 
To the City Messenger : 
Dear Sir : 

Please comply with the above request. 
Yours very truly, 

For the Record Commissioners. 



1892.] 



( ir V DOCUMENT. 



FiKbT lilLL^OilT 



RECORD COMMISSIONERS 



liELATIVE TO THB 



Early Town Records. 



[rreseuled Miiich 7, 18U2.] 




She ^robihiujt ^Ksst 
Snow & Farnham, City Printers, 

.^7 Custom I louse Street, 
1892. 



J 



li 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 




0014 1102199 #