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Fenner Family 


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[Reprinted from the Rhode Island Historical Magazine.] 



MARCH 23 AND APRIL 6, 1886, BY REV. J. P. ROOT. 

fLYMOUTH had its valiant Capt. Miles Standish. Prov- 
idence could boast of its brave and wise Capt. Arthur 
Fenner. If the former became more noted for his military 
exploits, the latter was more distinguished for commanding 
ability in the conduct of civil affairs. The Providence Cap- 
tain was less hasty and imperious in spirit than Standish, not 
so quick to buckle on the sword, but he may be pardoned 
for the possession of a more peaceable frame of mind. He 
certainly did not seek to make occasion for the practice of 
his military skill. It is generally admitted that Williams 
and the other colonists of our own plantation adopted and 
quite steadily pursued a more liberal and humane policy to- 
wards the Aborigines than prevailed in either of the colo- 
nies about her.( Fenner was not only a soldier, but was pos- 
sessed of statesmanlike qualities of no mean nature. He 
was also an expert engineer and^urveyDr. In his varied re- 
lations to town and colonial ^ife he shewed himself a man of 
admirable genius, with a mind well balanced and sagacious. 
His comprehensive qualities made him an energetic, shrewd 
and trustworthy leader in practical affairs. His age, midway 
between the older and the younger inhabitants, brought him 
into sympathy with men both of the first and second gen- 
erations. He deeply impressed himself upon a strangely 

2 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fanner. 

mixed community, the members of wiiich, so diverse in 
every other sentiment, were drawn together by a common 
love of freedom, and by his efficiency and broad common 
sense gained for himself a high place of respect and regard. 
The Hon. Theo. Foster, who married a sister of Gov. Arthur 
Fenner, a great-grandson of the original Arthur, and whose 
antiquarian tastes led him to collect genealo;>ical notes of the 
Fenner family, conveys the information in his writings, that 
Capt. Arthur was of a highly respectable family, and that 
he was a lieutenant in Oliver Cromwell's army. This hon- 
orable position must have been g lined quite early in his ca- 
reer, as he was born in 1622, and as he appeared in Provi- 
dence in 1649. On the 27th of the 2d month of this year 
he was included among the six men for the Trial of Causes, 
and -on the 3d of the 10th month Robert Williams and 
Thomas Harris gave him a receipt in full for l)is purchase 
money, being thirty shillings, he having full and equal right 
in the plantation. Those were stiniug years in English his- 
tory between 1643, when Fenner gained his majority, and 
iX\Q date of his settlement on this side of the water. The 
famous battle at Naseby occurred June, 1645, and he may 
have taken part in that fight. Three msmbers of this Fen- 
ner family were among the early settlers of the town of 
Providence, and bore their share of the labor privations and 
honors which marked the history of the early founders of 
the state. In the year 1646 William and John Fenner, who 
are proved by the records to have been the brothers of Capt. 
Arthur (and a single record is of more historic value than 
many traditions) signed the noted compact in Providence, 
promising "to yield active and passive obedience to 
the Authority of King and Parliament established in this 
colony according to our Charter and to all wholesome laws 
and orders that are or shall be made by the major consent of 
this town." William Fenner, after a residence of several 
years here, removed to Newport in 1659, and from thence to 
Saj'^brook, Conn., where he died, leaving no children, his 
two brothers being executors of his will. Capt. John Fen- 

Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 3 

her resided liere' for a few years, was Town Sergeant in 
1657, and among the jurymen in 1660, but finally exchanged 
his property in Providence with his brother, Capt. Arthur, 
for land in Saybrook, which last had been inherited by the 
children of John and Arthur from William Fenner. Capt. 
John died in 1709, leaving his wife an estate of X500. His 
only son John died unmarried. His four daughters married 
respectively into the Palmer, Starkey, Buell and Hazle 
ton families. These ''three brothers who came over from 
England" {for once verifying the common, but generally un- 
reliable tradition existing in almost every family), were 
without much doubt children of Thomas Feinier, an Indian 
trader, who died in Branfurd, Ct., May 15, 1647* It was 
but following the ordinary custom of that period for Capt. 
xArthur to name one of his first sous Thomas, thus honor- 
ing his own father's memor3\ 


His first purchase of property now on record was in 1650, 
when Nathaniel Dickens deeded him six acres of upland and 
two spots of meadow. He bought of John Lippitt, of War- 
wick, in 1652, all his lands in Providence except a five acre 
lot. From some defaced records, dated about 1654, it ap- 
pears that he bought of William Barrows, meadow land at 
Neotaconkonett. In 1657 and 1659 William Field and 
Richard Waterman, surveyors, laid out the one hundred and 
fifty acres which he had bought in 1652 of John Lippitt and 
Hugh Bewitt, bordering on "■Newtocouenett", or Faucha- 
sett river, on Tabanapauge pond, and Aushanduck pond, so 
called by the ludiuns. Also some fourteen acres on Provi- 
dence Neck.f 

*His inventory included many articles which only an Indian trader 
would possess, as violet and damask, blue and green and red colored truck- 
ing cloths, jews-harps, &c. — [bee Conn. Colonial Records.] 

trie afterwards increased his farin at Xeotaconkanut to 218 acres, his 
land lying to the south and west of the hill. He settled, however, first 
near Wackamaquitt Point, on the borders of the Seekouk, having bought 
the property known as "What Cheer, in lOoO, from James Ellis, vvho two 
years before had purchasad it of Roger Williams. The original deed given 
by Williams is a characteristic document, in which he speaks of his meth- 
od and motive of purchase from the Indians. Mr. A. F. Dexter now occu- 
pies this property. 

4 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 

Dec. 27, 1664 he was to have the "raeere bank, (probably 
the bluff formerly existing along the river) from the corner 
of his fence around the point unto a little creek or covg 
lying next Wackamaquitt Point, on condition of his laying 
dov^n as much land in another place for towne's use, and 
also to make three stile?, one by hi.^ house, another at the 
hollow, and another at aforesaid creek, with liberty to peo- 
ple to pass through on foot or upon occasion to land Goods 
upon said land." From this document it is evident that in 
1664 he lived near the Seekonk river, at Wackamaquitt 
Point, probably his first place of settlement.* 

He received in 1665 a lot in the division of land, and in 
1668 some land one-half mile west of "Hunter's Rock.'' 

In 1673 he enlarged his boundaries at Neotoconkonitt, and 
as late as 1693 purchased three acres salt marsh on the cove 
on Seekonk river. It is estimated that Capt. Fenner held the 
title of over five hundred acres of land, including tlie Neoto- 
conkonitt purchases, and all other lots in Johnston, Cranston 
and Providence. He was interested as a proprietor, perhaps 
as one of the heirs of Richard Waterman, in the territory 
between the Pawtuxet river and the bounds of Providence 
town, respecting which there was a long and bitter coutro- 
versey among some of the leading settlers. In 1661 and 
1663 Mr. Fenner was appointed one of a committee of three 
to meet with three Pawtuxet men, with reference to the 
surveying of lines and fixing of boundaries, and the com- 
plications that had arisen, and in 1667 with Roger Williams 
and Gregory Dexter, he defended the interests of Provi- 
dence before the Arbitration Court of Commissioners. Con- 
fusing questions involving the title, and finally the jurisdic- 
tion of Pawtuxet lands were agitated, William Harris being 
especially active as agent for the Pawtuxet proprietors, and 
possibly watchful over his own interests. 

In 1682 the proprietors made "a loving and^mutual agree- 
ment to divide all ye foresaid lands equally to all that are 

*Tliis Wackamaquitt Point has been identified as being near the Red 

Sketch of Cajyt. Arthur Fanner. 5 

now concerned in the purchase of Pawtnxet aforesaid." 
This document was signed by A. Fenner, Stephen Arnold, 
Joseph Williams, etc. There was more love in word, how- 
ever, than in feeling, and the question of jurisdiction had to 
be finally settled by the legislation in 1696, and that of the 
title was compromised as late as 1712. 

Capt. Fenner, before the year 1675,* had left the neigh- 
borhood of Wackamaquitt Point and What Cheer, as a place 
of residence, and was established in that part of Providence 
afterwards included in the town of Cranston upon his 
Neotoconkonitt purchases, not far from Gallows' Bridge, 
on the Pochasset river. The younger men, like John Steere, 
John Sayles, the Winsor, Arnolds, Mowrys and Whitmans 
pushed out, some in a northerly and north-westerly direction 
into the newly settled districts of the far-reaching township 
of Providence, erecting their cabins in the forests, clearing 
land, opening highways, building bridges, and becoming the 
advance guard of civilization. Capt. Fenner went west 
about four miles. The original house^said to have been built 
by him in 1662 at this location ,was burnt before Jan. 14, 
1676,t by the Indians. If it was ever selected as a garrison 
house during the Indian wars, to which the terror stricken 
inhabitants might flee for refuge from their savage foes, 
as tradition affirms, its burning rendered the position untena- 
ble, and Fenner doubtless removed to Stamper's Fort, as 
his headquarters. 

In his letter to the commissioners from the United Col- 
onies assembled at Hartford in 1678, Roger Williams 
writes over date of Aug. 25, that year : 

"I am requested by my dear friend and neighbor, Capt. 
Fenner, of Providence, to be your remembrancer, praying 
your Effectual consideration of his case. It pleased the 
Most High to stir up the spirit of the noble General Wins- 
low and his army to adventure to pursue the Barbarians in a 

♦As it appears by Roger Williams' letter to Gov. Leverett Nar. Club 
Pub. Vol. 6, p. 376, 

tlSTar. Club Pub. Vol. 6, p. 379. 

Sketch of Capt. Arthur Feyiner. 

(New England) Bittev Winter. Capt. Fenner had lost his 
bousing and Cattle, but his Stacks of hay (twenty-two) and 
his fencing, &c. God suffered the Pagans not to destroy, but 
your Army (against their wills) found it necessary to fodder 
their Horses and make themselves Lodging with the twenty- 
two Stacks, and to make themselves fires with all his fencing, 
and with whatever was about the farm Combustable. Capt. 
Fenner addressed himself to the Gen'l and Major Treat, and 
others of the honourable Gentlemen, who gave some hopes of 
some recruits and satisfaction, and so have the Gov. Winslow 
and your Gov. Leiverret, (to whom I wrote in this matter) de^ 
clared their sense that it is unchristian and inliuman that 
anyone of the King's subjects should (after his great losses 
by the Pagans) bear so great a burden alone, to which the 
whole Country ought to put the Shoulder. Capt. Fenner (in 
hopes of some relief) hath laid his demand so low that it 
speaks him wise and moderate and sensible of your Count- 
ry's Burthens." 

We may believe that his ancient house, the ruins of which 
still remain, but only as a refuge for the beasts of the field, 
was built immediately after the war of 1675-6, probably on 
the site of his burned house, nearly opposite to the locality 
where the "Red Mill" in Simmonsville now stands, and on 
the Cranston side of the road, close by the burial place 
where the tombstones of his son Thomas and others of his 
descendants may still be found. It has for generations been 
known as "Fenner Castle." 

Nothing is left of the house as originally built, but the in. 
mense and well built chimney about forty feet high and fiftee'i 
feet broad at the base, which is, thanks to colonial masonry, m 
a good state of preservation, besides a portion of the decaying 
framework, which shows what was the height of the build- 
ing. The size of the house at first was about twenty feet 
square, there being two stories and one room in each story. 
Later two or more rooms were added to the house, en- 
larging its proportions. No well was ever dug here, but re- 
freshing water was drawn from the Oequockomaug (or 

Shetch of Cupt. Arthur Fenner. 7 

Muckamog) Brook running close hy. A veteran white mul- 
berry tree, and a huge elm over one hundred fifty 3'ears old, 
spread their, protecting branches near the old ruins. This 
house was owned and occupied, since the days of Capt. 
Arthur, by his son Arthur, then by Thomas, son of Maj, 
Thomas, then b}' Daniel Fenner the conjurer, and last 
by Samuel Fenner and his children, Samuel, Benjamin 
and Polly (who were very peculiar people, it is said) al- 
together covering a space of one hundred and sixty 
years from the death of Capt. Arthur down to the 
death of Polly in 1861. With repairs and paint and proper 
care, this historic house might have been preserved with its 
massive timbers as a relic and memorial for future genera- 
tions to gaze upon with curious interest. Capt. Fenner and 
wife were taxed in 1687, 15s. and 4d. We may suppose, 
without much stretch of imagination, that the earlier set- 
tlers dreaded taxation, light as it seems to have been, as 
much as their descendants. 

Capt. Fenner, in 1688, reported a rateable estate of 300 
acres woodland, 20 acres wild pasture, 10 acres English pas- 
ture, 3 acres orchard and meadow, 5 acres planting, with 
oxen, &c., to all which he quaintly adds as a hint to the as- 
sessor: "This is a just account, I pray be not unmindful of 
the Golden Rule." The landed property of the Capt. was 
ample, yet there were seasons of scarcity in the new settle- 
ment. He had relief granted to him by order of the Coun- 
<jil in Hartford, Ct., March 11, 1670, as follows : "Mr. John 
/enner had liberty to transport twenty bushels of corn to 
]..'iode Island for the supply of his brother. Captain Fenner." 


Cpt. Arthur Fenner was for the greater portion of fifty 
yeai in public life, having been one of the principal magis- 
trates '>f the Colonial Government of Rhode Island, first un- 
der tht- Charter obtained from the Council of State in Eng- 
land in 1314, and afterwards for a number of years, between 
1663 and 1689. He occupied the offices of Commissioner 
for eight years, of Governor's Assistant for nineteen years, 

8 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 

and Deputy for nine years, besides being Town Treasurer 
for a short period, and a very frequent member of the 
Town Council, of which body he was moderator more often 
than any other member, especially at the annual meetings 
for the election of officers and the quarterly meetings 
where most important business was transacted. 

. ^ Probably no 

e//W-^^e^ teracquainted 

(y (^ with that whole 

territory known in the early colonial period as Providence 
Plantations, a township including, not only the vicinity of 
Providence, but Smithfield, Cranston, Johnston, Scituate 
and the other towns to the northern border. His firm, yet 
elastic step had trodden the wilderness in all its bridle paths 
and Indian trails not only, but through the thickest woods 
and underbrush he had pushed his way with eighteen foot 
pole or chain, or compass, engaged as he was so constantly 
in surveying claims and laying out the rights that had been 
granted by the town. As early as 1657 he, with others were 
empowered "to treat with the Indians that lay claim to the 
meadow of Lohusqussuck and clear it for the Towne and 
that the above mentioned be accommodated therein."* 

In 1659 he was one of the committee "to make out the 
western boundary of the colony."! 

As a leader of public sentiment Fenner had the good for- 
tune to represent the Rhode Island feeling^ which has always 
been exceeding strong. He was for Rhode Island first, last 
and all the time. When in 1656-7 Marshal Waite came or 
sent from Massachusetts Bay to Warwick to arrest one Rich- 
ard Chasmore, as the constable and his prisoner were re- 
turning through Providence, as night came on they were 
compelled to remain at the tavern of Richard Pray before 
proceeding with their journey. After the oppressive meas- 

*Prov. Eecords, 1657. This tract in Smithfield was afterward called 

tRev. E. M. Stone's Burning of Providence, 

Shetch of Capt. Arthur Fenner, 9 

tires pursued by the Massachusetts government towards the 
Warwick settlers, the people of Providence were in no mood 
to allow the slightest infringement upon their rights. The 
news of the arrest soon spread through the settlement. As 
the prisoner had been bound over to answer to the Court 
in this Colony, and as he was no subject of the Bay, and as 
the constable was not willing to show his authority, it was 
deteiniined to prevent Chasmore being carried away. The 
curious old document which nai-rates this affair brings vivid- 
ly befoi'e us the '"personnel" of the hastily assembled town 
couiicil, not convened by legal warning, but rather under the 
stress of present necessity and the inspiration of personal 
liberty. The old record reads : 

"Haueinge a commission from aulhoiity to goe vnto Pawtuckittsitt for 
to seaze vppon the body of Richard Chasmor, the which I did: but in our 
returne baclce againe vnto Providence, teatcinge vp our quarters that night 
by reason of the nigiits approaehinge vpon us:* about eight or nine a ciocii 
in the night, as wee conseue, there comes in three men, ajid brouglit a war- 
rant from Arthors Fenner of Pi'ouidence for to show to the Townes men 
my warrant or a coppie of itt, but I denied them eilher for to lett them see 
my warrant or to giue them a coppie of itt vnless they wculd lett me know 
by what power they did demand such a thinge of me: about two bowers 
after or thereabouts comes in Thomas Angell the cunstabel of Prouidenco 
and a sergant with foure men more for to apprehend my body and Kich: 
Cashmor whoe then was my prisoner for to appere before the townes 
men that was mett at Kogers Mories, Arthro Fenner sitting in chiefe 
amongst them: the said Fenner said I in the townes name and with there 
consent sent a warrant for to see your warra:it or a coppie of itt wherein 
you had seazed the body of Rich: Chasmore but you resisted vnless you 
did know by what power wee did itt, therefore I haue sent for you in his 
hineses name to answer for the afront you have put vpijon us in takeiuge 
away our prisner from vs: he beinge bound over to answr in or Colii- 
nie: then I replied I must say as I sayed before, I desire to know by what 
power you doe question me whoe am a passenger returninge backe to 
the bay: desir'nge to molest noe other man woman nor child: then rises 
up oneDextert and said I desire to speake my consence and to stand for our 
liberty: Pawtucksitt is in our liberties and not in the bays: William Har- 
ris, he said, wee had noe right to seaze a man art Pawtucksitt and if wee 
had yett wee could not answr what wee had douu for he was there pris- 
ner and had given in bayle for to answer in there CoHoney: Dexter he 
stands vp againe j^nd said Mr. President as he is our prisnor 1 stand for 

*They stopped at the tavern of Richard Pray, as appears by Sayles' letter. 
tThe Rev. Gregory Dexter, Pastor of 1st Baptist CliurcH. 

10 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Feyiner. 

our libertye deliuer him to the cunstabl: so herevppon Fenner he com- 
manded the constahl to can-ry him away: Naysaith Dexter thett there be 
a mitimus maid and send liim to ISTue Port prison ; wherevppon Fen- 
ner writt a mitimus and gave it to the constabl: then seinge they were 
resolued to rescue the prisnor out of our hands I desired them as they were 
Inglisli men to give rae the grounds of this there rescue tlie which Fenner 
and John Sayls* did promis tlie wliicli they did and because there were 
soe importenat to see my warrant: I tould tliem I had lett there president 
Mr. WlHiams see itt: What, saith William Harris Eoger Williams what is 
he he is but our fellow creture and one of vs and hath no more power 
than any of vs here, neitlier shall he although he liath written to the 
Gouernor in the bay but wee will call him to an account for his soe doe- 
ing, and this he spoke in a slighty and jering maniK^r. 

Marchal Wait: retour and Rich. Wrighfs Depos, 1656-5T. — Conrt of As- 
sistants, March 1656[7]." See Hist, and Genealog. Register, 1854, page 

The account here narrated 1) rings out the telling points 
and the individual traits. Dexter appears as the stickler for 
conscience and "our liberty", Harris now as ever, pursuing 
Hoger Williams with his caustic sarcasm and relentless oppo- 
sition, and Arthur Fenner actively controlling the issue. 
The Marshal went off without his prisoner, and Roger Wil- 
liams addressed to Arthur Fenner, as one of the Towne Dep- 
uties a "solemn protestation against such disorderly and 
■dangerous Courses^'t assuming his duty as Chief Magistrate 
of the colony called upon him thus to protest, and giving 
various reasons against the action of the town couuciL 
John Sayles seems to have taken a clearer view of the case 
than Williams, as he addressed a very conclusive and pun- 
gent letter to the Warwick people, fully Justifpng the course 
taken J 

The commissioners of the United Colonies did not invite 
or permit Rhode Island a place in their Councils at this 
period, but were quite urgent that she should unite with 
them in the persecution of the Quakers, but the Assembly, 
through its committee, of which Fenner was one, answered 

*John Saj^les, the founder of the family of this name, married Mary, the eldpst 
daughter of Roger Williams, 

tPrinted in R. I. Historical Society Proceedings, 1S83-4. 

$See Hist, and Gen. Register, 1854. 

ShetcJi of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 11 

the demand by a letter dated Oct. 13, 1657, maintaining the 
rights of conscience, and shewing the impolicy of persecu- 

Capt. Fenner's political life was not altogether a smooth 
one. For a period his party fortunes were more or less link- 
ed in with those of William Harris, who was a man of the 
• strongest intellectual ability and indomitable will, and wlio 
made his power felt at home and abroad, far and wide, but 
who for the want of a genial spirit and by I'eason of his ob- 
stinacy was continually losing the leadership he had gained. 
Harris' legal knowledge was extensive and accurate, above 
that of any of his associates, and a volume of "Statutes in 
Frequent Use", folio, London, 1661, owned and indexed by 
him, and afterwards the property of Capt. Arthur Fenner, 
is in the possession of the R. I. Historical Society. Roger 
Williams, in a letter dated 1661?, refers to Fenner and Wick- 
enden as being among "the many plucked out of the horrible 
pit in which others yet lay bewitched'', (i. e. by Harris) in- 
dicating that there had arisen a breach of harmony between 
them. In the political controversy which divided tiie town 
in 1667, and led to the election of two sets of delegates and 
two sets of town officers, each claiming to be legal, the 
Fenner party were recognized by the General Assembly, as 
against the Harris party. Paitizan feeling found expression 
in the statement of the Fenner faction entitled "The Fire- 
brand Discovered", a very caustic document which was sent 
to the other three towns by the authority of the town of 
Providence. The counter statement of William Harris 
was brought before a special session of the Assembly call- 
ed on complaint of Harris to the Governor, especially to 
try the case against Fenner. He charged Fenner with 
making a "rout" in the town of Providence. The contro- 
versy, transferred to this body, was for the time being settled 
rather summarily, by the fining of Harris to the amount of 
X£0, (which sentence was, however, rescinded the next year) 
and his expulsion from the office of assistant ; but the fires 

*KuowIes' Life of Williams, p. 295. 

12 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Feriner, 

of political discord still lingered ixi the Providence settle- 
ment. We have sometimes complained of the rancour of 
party spirit within the period of our observation, but tlie 
quadrennial excitenient of our wliole country, though on a 
wider scale, hardlv the boiling <3au]dron of intemper- 
ate partizansliip that prevailed in earlier days. A renewed 
rivalry arose to the election of 1670 between Fenner and 
Harris, and Roger Williams was pressed into the public ser- 
vice on the declination of both, which was a practical victor)* 
for Fenner. The feud re-appeared in 1672, and might have 
continued for a much longer period, had not the imminent 
danger attending the Indian War of 1675-6, introduced a 
more important issue, and united the settlement in opposi- 
tion to the common foe. 


This brings us to the consideration of Arthur Fenner's 

distinctively military career in Rhode Island. None will 

doubt from the glimpses into his character that have been 

afforded us that he possessed 

'•The stern self-sacrifice of souls afire, 

For perill'd altar's, and for hearths profaned; 

The generous chivalry, which shields the weak." 

The history of the colony had been free thus far from the 
alarms of war, though the horizon had sometimes been dark- 

The Indian policy which had been practised by the lead- 
ers of sentiment in Rhode Island, notably by Roger Wil- 
liams, had made the native tribes generally friendly with the 
colonists, and had it not been for foreign interference and 
aggression, much of the sad desolation that swept in the 
train of this conflict would have been avoided. But the die 
was cast ; the struggle was inevitable and fierce. As early 
as January, 1676, "Traine bands" having been established, 
Fenner, at the head of a force, had a skirmish with one 
Joshua Teffb and a few Indians who accompanied him in a 
marauding expedition, capturing the former and sending 
him to Wickford, where shortly he was executed. Feu- 

Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. IS 

ner''s house "in the woods" at this time, had been burnt. 
Providence, so open to the attacks of the infuriated savages, 
made application to the General Assembly for protection. 
We can understand how Gov. Walter Clark, who at that time 
belonging to the Society of Friends, was naturiilly averse to 
all forms of war. Severe criticisms had been passed upon 
him, because the assistance needful for tlie protection of 
Providence was not speedily granted. Capt. Fenner smart- 
ing under a sense of his losses by the Indians, had joined 
freely in these censures, as the Governor addressed him and 
his friends a letter, dated 28 day 1*2 m, 1675-6* which failed 
to satisfy the ardent and reasonable desires of the Provi- 
dence community for the supply of a defensive force. In 
this the Governor speaks very temperately of their "■evil 
suggestions concerning us in authority, especiallj'' myself, as 
if not worth}'- to live," intimating that "they might be able 
to secure their persons, but for their out-houses he never had 
hopes to secure" and plainly informs them of the inability of 
the colony to keep soldiers under pay. The Assembly passed 
resolutions ojuch in the same vein, speaking of Providence 
as an "out-plantation," and inviting the inhabitants of the 
same to take refuge in Portsmouth and Newjoort. Most of 
the inhabitants, thus left without hopes of a sufficient mili- 
tary force at home to protect them, accepted the invitation, 
as leading to immediate safety, and doubtless were hospita- 
bly received on the island, and provided for according to 
their need. Some plans of defence, however, at the sugges- 
tion of Roger Williams, had meanwhile been carried into 
execution. As early as 1656 a fortification of a rude nature 
had been constructed on Stampers' Hill, and this at the up- 
per end of the "Towne Street," with Wm. Field's house situ- 
uated near where the Providence Bank now is, were now 
made as secure places of refuge as possible as garrison houses. 
Those "who staid and went not away" as the record of the 
twenty-eight men reads, must have gathered within these 

*See Staples, Providence, p, 162. 

14 Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 

fortifications when the savages, fresh from the bloody victory 
over Capt. Pierce and the smouldering ruins of Rehoboth, 
first made their appearance from the north. Though the 
details are but few, and the campaign a short one, the scene 
may be vividly pictured before the mind. Roger Williams, 
risking his personal safety, crossing the Moshassuck at the 
ford to meet the red men in the spirit of peace, with the 
vain hope that he might reason with them as he had formerly 
done, and induce them for their own sakes to adopt measures 
of peace. His humane policy rejected, soon after his retir- 
ing footsteps, comes the rush of the invading foe, their fag- 
gots making quick work with the cabins of the settlement, 
but the enemy not venturing too near the garrison houses 
where the brave Fenner and his troops finding it impossible 
to do more, were waiting an assault in breathless expectation. 
Most of the houses being laid in ashes, the government con- 
sented* to bear the charge of seven soldiers on the colony's 
account, and Gov. Clark issued a commission dated 19th 4th 
mo. 16761 to Capt. Fenner as ''Chiefe Commander of the 
King's Garrison at Providence, and of all other private gar- 
rison or garrisons there (not eclipsinge Capt. Williams power 
in the exercise of the Traine Band there, &c.), and have here- 
by full power and sole command of the souldiers belonging to 
that garrison." This tender reference to the aged founder 
of Providence is to be connected with the fact that he had 
already been appointed a captain in the military service. 
We cannot think that Fenner did anything or desired to do 
anything to eclipse the lustre of the great Rhode Island 
luminary, whose beneficent rays had shone so brightly for 
so many years upon all around. 

*In April. 

tDr. H. E. Turner, infers from the fact that Gov. W. Clarke signed 
Fenner' s commission, that the latter was not at this time a convert to 
the tenets of George Fox, This was his first act as Governor. The 
Governors of K. I. from 1670 to 1698, except for one year, were members 
of the Society of Friends, and military commissions or other warlike 
acts were issued by subordinate oflficers. [See Newport Hist. Mag. Vol. 
1, p. 83.1 

Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 15 

Further danger from Indian warefare ceasing within a 
few months, the officers and men of the King's garrison were 
discharged from further duty, but the next year on the com- 
ing into office of Gov. Benedict Arnold, and the war party, 
the gariison was re-establislied witli its foroaer officers. 
Fenner was a memlyer of the Court Martial held at Newport 
to tr}^ certain Indians, and one of those at Providence, who 
consented to th<3 selling of the captives into slavery. When 
we consider the great provocation afforded by the loss of 
their houses and a large share of their personal property 
we cannot wonder that the colonists adopted repressive, and 
even punitive measures towards those, who, if suffered to 
roam at large, might at any time, in the revengeful spirit 
they w«re wont to cherish, have inflicted further and serious 
damage and loss upon the settlers. 

That the brave captain was obliged in this campaign to as- 
sume responsibilities, for which no settlement was made 
by the government for some time, appears by a vote of the 
General Assembly, O-ct. 31, 1677, that he should "have one 
barrill of that powder now in the Commissary, Mr.Wra. Brin- 
1-ey's custody, and the same he is to have in part of pay for 
the charge of the garrison called the King's garrison at 
Providence, and if lead buUitts or shott be in the Collony's 
store he should also have on the same account not exceeding 
one hundred weight"* 

After the war Fenner continued to receive the confi- 
dence of his fellow-citisens. In 1678 we read of his choice 
by the town of Providence "to make his humble Adress, to 
his majesties much Honor'd Court of the Comitioners from 
ye Collony Sitting at Boston upon Ajournement ye 23d of 
this Instant, May and ye sd Towne doth humbly pray the 
Honor'd Court to vochesafe ye sd Capt. ffenner Creadit and 
leave to speak and Answer in ye sayd Towne: behalfe as 
if the said Towne were personally present." 

As even New Hampshire attempted to stretch its author- 
ity over a part of our little colony, Sept. 10, 1683, he and 

♦Colonial Records, Vol. 3, p. 591. 

16 Sketch of Oapt. Arthur Fcnner. 

Peleg Sandfoj'd were chosen as "Agents to go to England 
as Colony Officers in Regard to Gov. Cranfield. of N, Hamp- 
shire and the Commissioners who had lately been at Kings 
Towne, but would show no commission from the King for 
holding Court." It does not appear that the agents went. 
Probably the danger of further interference had ceased. 

That Capt. Fenner had some legal and literary attain- 
ments would appear from his appointment. May 5, 1680, as 
a Committee "to put the laws and acts of the colony into 
such a method that they may be put in print", as well as in 
his appointment in 1687'8 as Justice of the Quarter Ses- 
sions and Inferior Court of Common Pleas. 

In 1695, July 2, he in company with two others were 
chosen by the Assembly to run the northern boundary of the 

Family Life. 

The household experience of Capt. Fenner, though he 
came of a good family, could not have been widely different 
from those of the community about him. Life in the early 
settlement of the town presented but rude aspects and few 
attractions, as we would view them by the standard of our 
own age Narrow accommodations, plain diet with little 
variety, continuous toil were the common domestic experien- 
ces. The imperious necessities of pioneer life drove the col- 
onists to hard, yet healthy labor within doors and without. 
There were no labor-saving machines at hand. The refine- 
ments of home according to the modern idea were utterly 
wanting. The habits of the people were simple and unos- 
tentatious, productive of the rugged virtues that truly adorn 
life. The thrifty housewife who presided for many years in 
the Fenner home was a daughter of Richard Waterman, Sen., 
one of the earliest settlers with Roger Williams. Her name 
was Mehitabel, and she was the mother of six children, (four 
daughters and two sons) five of whom were married and 
left a numerous progeny. We have no record to tell when 
Arthur and Mehitabel were married or at what time she died. 

Sketch of Ca-pt. Arthur Fenner. IT 

but it is probable that she lived till about 1682 or 3 ; if so, 
for nearly forty years she "looked well to the ways of her 
household and ate not the bread of idleness." We may 
readily imagine the one family room which constituted 
kitchen, sitting room^ parlor, and probably bed room, where 
the iron dogs in the wide fire place supported the huge logs 
from which the flames shot roaring up the chimney, and the 
smoke went curling after, where she who gave "meat to her 
household and a portion to her maidens", superintended the 
culinary operations, "strengthening her arms", as the great 
iron pots were lifted on and off the hooks, and making cook- 
ing a fine art by the Daking of the Rhode Island Johnny 
cake. We are captivated by the graceful attitude of the 
younger Mehitabel as she turns the spinning wheel, and 
sings in unison with the whirr of its revolution. Young 
Freelove, too, who afterwards married the Scotch laddie, 
Gideon Crawford, (a descendant of James Lindsay, 1st Earl 
of Crawfurd, and a relative of Gov. Cranston) very scriptu- 
rally "layeth her hand to the spindle and her hands hold the 
distaff", preparing herself unwittingly to lay her hand to 
great mercantile enterprises when her husband should have 
deceased. Phebe or Bethiah spreads the table with the 
homely feast in the wooden trenchers, or upon the pewter 
plates, drawing up the wooden settle, and all within are 
contented and happy. Thomas and Arthur, the boys of the 
family, when not engaged in the toils of the farm, or in ac- 
quiring the rudiments of a good education from William 
Turpin, the town schoolmaster, were doubtless ranging the 
wilds, gun in hand, setting the traps beneath, and watching 
the branches above, anxious to secure the bounties paid for 
wolf's heads, and squirrel's heads by the town or colony. 

Capt. Fenner took for for his second wife, 16th December, 
1686, Howloug Harris, daughter of William Harris, formerly 
his political antagonist, but then [deceased. Her mother, 
Mrs. Susan Harris, had peremptorily forbidden her marriage 
with one Mr. Pococke,* but her alliance with Capt. Fenner, 

*Foster Papers, Vol. 13. 

18 Sketch of Capt. Arthut Fenner. 

we ma}' hope, was a sufficient honor to give some ease and 
comfort to her wounded heart, though she had waited "how 
long". That she made an affectionate mother to Capt. Fen- 
oer's children, would appear, on the surface, at least, from a 
letter addressed b}' her in tlie year 1706 to her son Thomas, 
after the father's decease, which has come down among the 
Fenner papers. This document urges the two sons to im- 
mediate action in carrying out their father's wishes, that 
they should divide the property inherited from him, and was 
evidently written in a very kindly spirit. 

Capt. Fenner's last public act, before making his will, was 
the signing of a confirmatory deed, on the 25th of Decem- 
ber, 1702, alluding to an agreement made in' 1688, for the 
exchange of land between himself and his brother John, as 
as executors of their brother William's estate. His will 
was made September 3, 1703, providing for his wife, and 
<lividing his landed property equally between his two sons, 
and he died October 10th of that year. His inventory of 
personal property was taken November 2, 1703.* 

The tradition came down in the branch of the family 
living nearest to the old dwelling place, that Capt. Fenner 
cut his initials in a stone which was to be set up at his grave, 
and that his children placed it there. A search within a few 
years resulted in the discovery of such a stone in the ceme- 
tery back of the "Simmons Mansion", near the old house 
once occupied by Richard Fenner, son of Maj. Thomas. 
On high ground upon the edge of the slope was found a 

*The inventory ©f his personal estate amounted to £166 8 0, and 
showed him to be a well-to-do farmer, in the j)ossession of five cows, 
six calves and four heifers, and abundant farm utensils, while the econo- 
my of the household was well represented in the brass kettles, money 
scales, warming pan, twelve trenchers and five spoons, with the two 
spinning wheels and cards. The library consisted of one great Bible, a 
book called statutes, (already mentioned as belonging to William Harris) 
and seven small books. The cellar department was thoroughly English, 
and stocked with twelve bbls. of cider, two bbls. peach juice, and five 
bbls.beere,not to say anything about the twelve empty barrels. Temper- 
ance societies were not in existence, and of course had not yet contribu- 
ted to the reduction of the number of family cider barrels. 

Sketch of Cayt. Arthur Fenner. 19 

stone with the monogram AF plainly marked. It is also 
claimed, however, by others, that this stone marks the grave 
of another Arthur Fenner, son of Richard, who died in 1793,^^1'' n^-^' '^'^'^ 
f\ri\ Arthur was buried in the old cemetery near site of "Fenner 
Castle." Mrs. Howlong Fenner died November 19, 1708. 

Children of Capt. Arthur and Mehitabel Fenner : 
I. Freelove, married April 13, 1687, Gideon Crawford. 
She died June 1, 1712. He died October 10, 
II. Bethiah, married Robert Kilton. 

III. Phebe, married Joseph Latham. They lived in Say- 

brook, Con. He died 1705. 

IV. Thomas, born about 1653; married 1st, Alice Realph ; 

2d Dinah Borden. He died February 27, 1718. 
She died December 18, 1761, in her 98th year. 
V. Sarah, buried November 7, 1676. 
VI. Arthur, married Mary Smith, daughter of John Smith 
the miller. He died April 24, 1725. She died 
December 13, 1737. 

This paper will be followed by other articles, giving an 
account of many of the descendants of Capt. Arthur Fenner. 

.. -s . ' ?j -1. 

Major Thomas Fenner's House — Built 16 7T. 

[From J. A. & R. A. Reid's History of Providence.] 

'''">, /'-• -V-- 

Capt. Arthur Fenner's "Castle." 

[From J. A. & R. A. Ried's History of Providence,] 



§NE of the interesting peculiarities of genealogical re- 
search is the fact that one can never be perfectly satis- 
fied that the last storehouse of records relating to family his- 
tory has been reached. When it might be assumed that 
every available source had been diligently sought and drawn 
from, every nook and corner explored for old letters and 
documents, every drawer rummaged and trunk ransacked, sud- 
denly there will turn up from an unexpected quarter new- 
material which supplements the facts already gained, and 
possibly introduces some changes in the narrative hitherto 
prepared. Knowing this fact, one is tempted to withhold 
the family history from publication, however carefully it 
may have been prepared, lest he may be caught by one of 
these sudden surprises in some error of statement, but over 
against such a possibility must be set the benefits that will 
accrue by the issue of the great body of facts, even if some 
may afterward be subject to slight corrections. There is al- 
ways such risk of the destruction of Mss. by fire, that it is 
desirable that no one should wait for absolute perfection be- 
fore committing his work to the press. 

Since the publication of the first article on the Fenner 
family, an old will has come into the possession of the R. I. 
Historical Society, through the favor of Mr. Pardon Fenner 
Brown, a copy of which it is our privilege to present here. 

22 The Femur Family. 

It is the original will of William Feiiner, probated at New- 
port, Sept. 6, 1680, as attested by Nathaniel Coddingtou, 
Council Clei'k, and was the same will, dated Aug. 30. 16S0, 
presented to the Town Council of Providence by Capt. Ar- 
thur Fenner on the 5th of January, 1680-81*, although not 
recorded there. The will does not give his residence, but it 
was presumably at the time of his death at Newport. Not 
being a man of family, he may have spent part of his time 
in Connecticut, where a poition of liis property lay, and he 
was also found at Providence at different periods, where also 
he had property rights. f From this will it appears that 
there were two sisters of the Fenner brothers married in 
this country. One was married to a Lay who had died pre- 
vious to 1680, and was undoubted!}' Sarah, first wife of Rob- 
ert Lay of Saybrook, Conn., who died 21st May, 1676, se 59, 
and who was consequent!}' born in 1617, leaving children — - 
Phebe, who mar. 1667, Jolin Denison of Stoningtf)n, and 
Robert Lay of Saybrook, who mar. 22d Jan. 1680, iVIary 
Stanton. Tlie other sister was Phebe Ward, who piobably 
was the wife of the John Ward (ancestor of Governor Samuel 
Ward)) who came to Newport and died there April 1698, 
86 79; or she may have been the wife of Marmaduke Ward, 
another early settler. Jno. Ward is sup[)Osed, like Arthur 
Fenner, to have been in the Parliamentaiy Army. Another 
interesting fact brought to view in tliis will is, that Capt. 
Arthur had a son Samuel. He is nowhere else mentioned 
and must have died young. 

Will of William Fennee,. 
In the Name of God Amen. 

I William ffenner Being very Sick and Weake In Body 
but of perfect Memory and vnderstanding and Knowing the 

*Book 1 — Council Kecords — Providence. 

tin the year 1658, Nov. 22d, "William Fenner landed 5 Anchorr and a 
halfe of Liquors and one anker of wine" in Providence. The "anker" 
was a Dutch liquid measure formerly used in England and equal to tei> 
■wine gallons. 

The Fenner Family. 23 

Certainty thatt I must Dye and Being Willing to Sett my 
house In Order Doe Make this my Last Will and Testamentt 
Nulling and Making void All former and Other Wills what- 

Imp*^. I Comitt my Soul Into the Armes of Jesus Christ 
my Blessed Savior and Redeemer, and my Body to the 
Dust to be Desently Buried Att the Discretions of my Ex- 
ecutoi's or either of them. 

And after my Just Debts I Ow to any pV)n and ffuneral 
expenses be Justly and Truly Paid I Giue and Bequeath 
that Estate y" Lord hath giuen me As ffolloweth : 

Item : I Giue and Bequeath that estate y** Lord hath 
giuen me As ffolloweth : 

Item: I Giue and Bequeath to my Two Sisters Children 
viz : my Late Sister Lay her two Children She left and my 
Sister Phebe Ward ther Children Each of them twenty shil- 
lings a peece to be paid to them by my Executors In money 
or pay Equiuelent to money as the}' Shall Come to Age. 

iTTe. I Giue and Bequeath to my Brother Arthur ffen- 
ners two children Samuell and Phebe Venner, tenn pound a 
peece Besides an Equall Share of my whole Estate both of 
Lande and Chatles. 

Item. I Giue and Bequeath my whole Estate (after my 
Debts and Legasces are paid to my two Brothers Children) 
Arthur and John ffenner, to be Equally Diuided Among 
them, and the Estate to be vallued at my Death and to Re. 
maine In my Two Brothers hand till ther Children Come of 
Age, and as they Come of Age to be by them paid to there 

Lastly. I make Ordaine and Appoint my Louing Broth- 
ers, Arthur And John ffenner Executors of this my Last 
Will and Testament In Testimony Whereof I haue herevnto 
Sett my Hand and Scale this : 30th : Day of August 1680, 

Signed And published 

In the presence of vs: ^q") ' po . 0(7 

Robert Carr ^tiit^T^MeWZQ^ 
John Williams ^^ 

24 The Fenner Family. 

Robart Carr and John Williams appeared 
before y^ Counciil and attested the aboue 
written to be y^ Last Will of William ffen- 
ner deceased and that he was in perfect 
memory at y® insealing and decleareing 

Taken on their oathes in Counciil this 6th 
of September, 1680 p Natha'll Coddington 
Clerk to y^^ Coun'll 
Placed on Record in 
the 52 page of y^ 
register of will y® 20 
of Septem'r 1680 
pr Nath'll Coddington C : C 
The following Deposition seems to have had special refer- 
ence to the age of Capt. Arthur Fenner: 

Whereas I Nath'll Goue, now inhabitant of Lebanon, in y* year 1603, 
begine to board at Capt. Arthur ft'enner's House in Prouidence within 
y' Collony of Rhoad island and prouidence Plantations, And Lived 
there about Eleven or Twelve year, in Which time I heard y^ Gentleman 
tell Much of his comeing into y* Country first and also of Lis Relations, 
And in spetiall manner of his brother John ffenner That lived in Conet- 
ticutt on y* Great River at a place Called Potapogue ; some years after 
I came to a place called Lebanon Where I am now. The 2d year after I 
came, one Nath'll porter, formerly Desceased, had occasion to Go to 
Killingworth to se a Childe of his at old Mr. Sam' 11 Benets and wold 
have me to Go with him. Which also I did. And in our Travel wee Came 
to y« House of Capt. John ffenner, And in Discourse I told him That 
he could not Go so Nimble as his Brother Arthur could he replyed he 
was Lame I told That his Brother Arthur was y« oldest Man as I always 
understood. To y^ Which Capt John ffenner replyed and said that Arthur 
was old enought to be his Father and said also that Arthur belonged to a 
Troop of Horse under Lord Crumwell when he was a Boy. 

Nath'll Goue 

Connecticutt Ss'' ) Lebanon, 

Windham County Ss<i ) March 29, 1743 

Mr. Nath'll Goue The above Gamed Deponent personally appeared and 

made Solemn Oath To the Truth of the foregoing Deposition, &c., 

Coram Jon Trumble, Assis. 

Justice of y« peace, <fec. 
With reference to the burial place of the first Arthur Fen- 
ner, Mr. Pardon F. Brown furnishes the following further 

The Fenner Family. 25 

Aunt Polly Fenner, who lived with her brothers Benjamin and Samuel 
in the old Fenner Castle, the three constitutiu<T the last relics of that 
branch of the family, was a woman ot very retentive memory and well 
versed in the traditions of the family. She strongly affirmed that a 
rough stone on the South East Corner of the ancient Maj. Thomas bury- 
ing ground, near the site of the "castle" marks the grave of Capt. Ar- 
thur Fennen, the tomb stone of Maj. Thomas being found on the 
South west corner of the plat. Miss Polly Fenner was born Nov. 18, 
1766, and died Sep. 14, 1861. 

Since the first number of this Genealogy was is.sued the 
ancient chimney of the Capt. Arthur Fenner house, being 
found to be in a dangerous condition, has been pulled down 
and removed. The frontispiece of this number gives quite 
a correct view of the building as it once appeared. 
Children of Arthur^ & Mehitable Fenner: 
The order of birth is uncertain. 

2— I. Thomas, born Oct. 27, 1652.>(^ 

Samuel, died 3^oung, 

8— VII. Sarah, buried Nov. 7, 1676.* 
There may have been other children who died young. 

Major Thomas Fenner, son of Capt. Arthur and Mehita- 
ble Fenner, born Oct. 27, 1652. He swore allegiance to the 
English government in May, 1671, about which time, being 
of age, he probably married. He undoubtedly married as 
his first wife Alice Ralph, daughter of Thomas Ralph, who 
was born Jan'j'- 13, 1657. An ancient town record in the 
Foster Mss., under date of the "11th of ye first month 
(March) 1676", makes mention of a son born to Tho. Fen- 
ner (that date). Thomas Ralph in his will mentions his 
grandson William Fenner, who could have been none other 
than son to Maj. Thomas. He died earl}'', as he has no 
other record in the family history. 

*See Towu Record in Foster Mss, 








■ V. 



20 The Firmer Family. 

Maj. Thomas was married, 2d, July 26, 1682, to Dinah 
Burden, [or Borden] born Oct. 1664, daughter of Thos. & 
Mary (Harris) Borden, by Joseph Jencks, assistant. Dur- 
ing the time of the Indian war in 1676 Maj. Fenner was 
one who "staid and & went not away." Maj. P'enner be- 
came possessed of considerable property besides that inheri- 
ted from his father's esiate, who divided his land between 

his two sons. 


Tiiere was laid out to him 1683 fifteen acres of land upon 

the right of VVra. Fenner; in 1687 fifty acres upon the 

original right of Jno. Lippitt ; also in the same year six and 

a hall acres on the right of Lippitt, and twenty acres upon 

the right of Jno. Sheldon of Pawtuxet, which land Arthur 

Fenner bought of him. These lands lay "adjoining to the 

land whereon the now Dwelling House of the aboue said 

Thomas ffenner standelh." 

The house referred to was that built by him near the 
present Johnson line about a quarter of a mile west of his 
father's residence upon rising ground on the same side of 
the road. Part of this building with the original chimney 
remains as a fine historic relic of the past. This part, the 
end nearest the public highway, has inscribed high up on 
the chimney the date when it was first built, 1677. The 
other end of the house was rebuilt in 1835. The old chim- 
ney measures on the outside thirteen feet and two inches in 
width. On the inside the size has been curtailed by the 
building of an inner wall of brick. It was originally eight 
feet wide, four feet deep and five feet high. The chimney 
with its ancient tr'Bmmels and pot-hooks opens its generous 
space into the one "great room", where Maj. Fenner, as 
justice, held his court, and where the immense girders about 
the ceiling, and the summer or central floor timber above 
still speaks of "ye olden tyme." 

Maj. Fenner gave frequent notice of courts "to be held 
in his new house in Providence Woods", and evinced con- 

The Fenncr Family. 27 

scieuliousness and high sense of honor in the decisions he 

This nncient edifice is in a fine state of pieservation, 
and has been occupied successively by Major Thomas 
Fenner, his son Hon. Joseph Fenner, James Fennei-, (who 
inherited it from his grandfather Joseph), and Thomas 
Fenner, his son in company with his step-father, Job Shel- 
don. Since then it has descended to the Joy and Hazard 
families who are in ■ the Fenner line. Samuel Joy, himself 
a descendant of Capt. Fenner, occupied this house till his 
death in July, 1881. A good representation of this build 
ing is given in the fi'ontispiecc. 

Major Fenner had a sixty acre lot lying near ''Hipse's 
Rock'\ in the lands of Pawtuxet, containing eighty-eight 
and one-half acres by standard measure, and also fifteen acre 
lot containing eighteen and three quarters acres. Sept. 20, 
1708, he addressed a communication to the purchasers and 
proprietors of Fi-ovidence with reference to the running 
a line midway between the Pawtuxet River and the Wonas- 
quatucket as far as Hipse's Rock. 

June 26, 1701, Stephen Williams for £80 deeded to 
Thos. Fenner one-half part of a farm of upbiud swamp and 
meadow containing three hundred acres upon and adjoining 
to Neutaconkonett hill, bounded north by land of John 
Thornton, east by land of Arthur Fenner, Sen,, and on the 
west partly by land of Tiios. Fenner and partly with the 
common, with one-half part of houses thereon. 

27 March, 1703, Zachariah Jones for five pounds deeded to 
Thos. Fenner one-eighth part in all the lands lying on the 
western side of Pocasset River, called Pawtuxet lands. 

Nathaniel Tliomas of Marshfield sold to Thomas Fenner 

*A paper illustrating his sensitive regard for duty with reference to 
the marriage of Edward Potter in 1711 with Jane, iKe widow of his de- 
ceased brother John might be quoted. The old question of the legality 
of such a marriage and the kindred union of a man with his deceased 
wife's sister was a troublesome one then as it has been since in England. 
Major Thomas refused to marry them and they married themselves in a 
kind of Quaker style. 

28 The Fenner Family. 

and Daniel Abbott in the year 1713 for .£100, one four- 
teenth part of undivided hind belonging to the proprietors 
of Pawtuxet in the thirteenth pui'chase. Ninety acres of 
land was laid out April 1, 1710 to Thomas Fenner on the 
east side of the seven mile line at a place called Sukahan- 
kanot, partly on the original right of Wm. Fenner, and 
partly on that of John Lippitt. 

Maj. Fenner is ii^aid to have had about four hundred and 
iift}'^ acres, which he distributed among his family. 

Maj. Thomas was a valuable cilizen, a faithful public 
officer, and exerted a wide influence in the Providence Plan- 
tations, being also very active in colonial affairs. 

He was a Deputy in 1688, '91, '95, '97, '99, 1704 and 1705. 
He was in the Town Council quite frequently between the 
years 1698 and 1706. He held the office of Governor's 
Assistant 1707, '8, '9, '10, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16 and '17. In 
1712 he held the commission of "Major for the Main." 

On the 22d of February, 1714-5 Maj. Thomas entered in- 
to an agreement with his brother Arthur Fenner concerning 
the division of the lands of their father on the west side of 
the seven mile line. The former was to have all the origi- 
nal right of land which was their uncle William Fenner's, 
and Arthur was to have all the original right which belong- 
ed to his father. 

Maj. Fenner died Feb. 27, 1718, ae. 65 years and 5 months, 
his will having been made Feb, 19, of same year. 

In this document he makes, due provision for his wife 
Dinah, and his "poor helpless child Eleazar,'' bestows £b 
apiece on his three daughters Freelove Westcotte, Mehit- 
able Starkweather, and Mary Abbott, and divides his remain- 
ing property between his five sons Thomas, Richard, Joseph, 
Arthur and John. 

His inventory of personal property amounting to X43o. 

19. 09.* 

*In his inventory are enumerated 8 pewter plates, 10 porringers, 2 
quart potts, a pint pott, and pewter cup. Also 24 spoons, one silver 
spoon and a silver cup, (the latter two, great rarities in that period). 
These with several books, warming pan, 3 brass kettles, and 5 chairs, 
two horses, and 4 mares and a youngling colt, bo cows, a bull, 26 young 
cattle, 8 swine, showed a large degree of wealth. His instruments of 
surveying indicated that he followed closely in the steps of his father. 

The Fenner Family. 29 

Mrs. Dinah Fenner died Dec. 18, 1761, in her 98th year. 
Their tombstones together with that of their son Eleazer, 
may be found with others recording the deaths of their de- 
scendants in the old Fenner graveyard, near the ruins of 
Capt. Arthur's "castle," not far from the Pochassett River. 
Mrs. Dinah Fenner's gravestone has the following obituary 
upon it. 

"During the course of a loiiQf life she praecuised all the 
relative Duties and died a SINCERE CHRISTIAN." What 
better could have been her eulogy. 


Child of Thomas and Alice Fenner : 
9. William, — probably the son born March 11, 1676, who 
evidently died young. 
Children of Major Thomas and Dinah Fenner: 

10. I. Mehitabel, m. 1st, Timothy Starkweather; 2d, 

Samuel S terry ; 3d, Dr. Wra. Blodgett. f. 

11. II. Freelove, m, Samuel Westcott. f. 

12. III. Thomas, m. 1710, Mary Abbott, f. 

13. IV. Mary, b. 1692, m. Daniel Abbott, f. 

14. V. Joseph, b. 1693, m. 1st, Wait Harris ; 2d, Amy 

Kinnicnt. f. 

15. VI. Richard, b. 1695, m. 1st, Abigail Sheldon ; 2d, 

Abigail Thornton, f. 

16. VII. Sarah, b. 1698, m. 1st, Dr. John Jenckes ; 2d, 

William Antram. 
J^ 17. VIII. Arthur, b. Oct. 17, 1699, m. Mary Olney. f. 

18. IX. Eleazar, b. Sept. 4, 1702, unmarried, d. July 31, 


19. X. John, b. Sept. 16, 1705, unmarried. He was a 

Captain : died Oct. 12, 1725, se 20. The two 
last are buried in the Maj. Thomas burying 

30 The Fenner Family. 


Arthur Fenner, son of Capt. Arthur (1), married Mary 
Smith, dan. of John Smilh, the Miller, and his wife Sarah. 

He is spoken of as a yeoman, followed agricultural pur- 
suits, and seems to have attained no celebiity. Many of 
his descendantui have resided in the town of Cranston, and 
have been esteemed as useful citizens. He lived in the 
township of Providence in the house erected by his father, 
and died April 24, 1725. His inventory amounted to 
£411-19-0, his will having been made July 23, 1723. She 
made her will May 30, 1728, and died Dec. 13, 1737. 


20. 1. Mary, died unmarried, Oct. 7, 1745. 

21. II. Marcy, m. Oct. 13, 1726, Solomon Solomon Ruten- 

burg. f. 

22. in. Arthur, m. f. 

23. IV. John, m. Nov. 1, 1724, Amy Col well. f. 

24. V. Edward, m. Apr. 11, 1728, Amy Thornton, f. 
The step-mother of Arthur Fenner, Jr., Mrs. Howlong 

Fenner, executed a curious legal document in favor of Ar- 
thur her sow m-Zat^ (the ancient term for step-son) in the 
year 1706, which is subjoined, with his guarantee : 

"Howlong ffenner of Providence, widdow & Relique of 
y* captain Arthur ffenner for naturall love uuLo my well 
beloved son-in-law Arthur ffenner, &c. give to him all my 
household Goods Two Bedds the one a ffeather Bedd i he 
other Bedd mixed with fieathers & fflocks with all the ffur- 
niture & Beddsteds belonging to y** Bedds And a Tru ike, 
a Chest, two Boxes with all that they containe; Two Brass 
Kettells, Two Iron Kettells, Two Iron Potts, a Brass Pann, 
a warmeing pann, a ffiying pann, a spitt & a Dripping 
pann, with all my Pewter, & a Steele & a Gunn of, seven 
foote Barrill ; with three Trammills, two pair fire Tongs, 
a Giidd Iron a Fire Peile, with all other household Goods 

The Fenner JPamily. 31 

of wood or any Cask whatsoever or moveable estate that 
shall be found, &c/' 16th March, 1705-6. 

Arthur ffenner in a document, recorded after the above, 
agrees, "tliat if my said mother-in-law in case she shall see 
cause to demand all y® whole estate in y** deede specified 
at any time, then shall said deede be delivered & of no ac- 
count more than any other wast paper: otherwise to stand 
in full force and povfer : And further to be understood that 
my Mother-in-law shall from time to time & at all times 
use any part for her owne use without any hindrance duir- 
ing her naturall life. In witness whereof, &c." 

Signed 16th Mar., 1705-6 by Arthur ffenner. Recorded 
Dee. 31, 1708 by Thos. Olney, Clerk. 

In the year 1717-18, Feb. 7, Maj. Thomas Fenner deeded 
to his brother Arthur all the goods whicli his honored uncle 
Wm. Fenner of Potapogue, Conn., deceased, did b}- his last 
will and testament give unto him the said Arthur Fenner, 

Fenner — Crawford. 

Freelove Fenner, daughter of Capt. Arthur, married April 
13, 1687, Gideon Crawford. He was a relative of Gov. 
John Cranston, and according to Theodore Foster, Esq., 
came to this country from Scotland on account of that rela- 
tionship, both being descendants from James Lindsay, the 
first Earl of Crawfurd, his family having taken this name 
when the Earldom of Crawfurd was created by King Rob- 
ert II in 1399. The sepulchre of this family is in the Grey 
Friars of Dundee. The ancestry is greatly distinguished in 
Scottish history. Gideon Crawford, coming to Providence 
about 1685, engaged in commercial enter2:)rises which 
brought wealth to himself and family. He engaged in the 
West India trade, sending out some of the first vessels from 
this port. He died Oct. 10. 1707. His will* mentions his 
wife and two brothers-in-law and his cousin Richard Water- 
man, Jr. He left a large estate for that period. His widow 

Page 161, Yol. 1, Pro v. Kec. 

32 The Fenner Family. 

carried on the business concerns left by her husband with 
great energy, accumulating a large property. She made her 
will June 1, 1712, and died at that date. Her inventory of 
real and personal property showed her to be possessed of 
ample means. They were buried in the North Burial Ground. 
Children of Gideon and Freelove Crawford : 

25. I. William, b. April 12, 1688, m. Sarah Whipple. 

He d. 1720. He left a large estats, his inven- 
tory amounting to £3,551 : 19 : Id, being tiie 
largest that had been yet exhibited in Provi- 

26. n. Anne, b. May 13, 1690, m. Nov, 29, 1711, Peleg 


27. HI. John, b. Aug. 1693, m. Dec. 20, 1715, Amey Whip- 

ple., He built the "'Crawford House" still 
standing* west of the old Canal market. His 
ships were launched near his house. He died 
Mar. 18, 1718-19, and his personal inventory 
amounted to £1614-02-llf. He owned sev- 
ernl vessels, besides real estate, and was ac- 
customed to a luxurious style of living. 

28. IV. Mary, b. Sept. 14, 1702, m. Oct. 12, 1724, James 


Fenner — Kilton. 
Bethitth Fenner, daughter of Capt. Arthur and Mehitable 
Fenner, m. Robert Kilton. Children : 

29. I. Thomas, b. Jan. 17, 1090, m. Sept. 13, 1716, Phebe 

Dexter, dau. Stephen ; (had children : Free- 
love, Josepli, Thomas, William and Stephen.) 

80. H. Samuel, b. , m. Anne Harris^ dau. 

July 31, 1688, Arthur Fenner executed a deed of gift to his 

three daughters, Freelove, Bethiah and Phebe, constituting 

*Dorr's Planting of Providence, p. 54, 
tProv. Probate Kec. Vol. 2. 

The Fennel Family. 33 

a tract of thirty-four acres, lying in Providence Ne-ck. On 
the 15th August, 1688, Phebe Brenner sold her part of the 
propertj^ to Gideon Crawford (her brother-in-law) for <£10. 

14th Dec. 1691, Walter Clark, of Newport, as administra- 
tor on estate of Thomas Sucklin, deeded to Capt. Arthur 
Fenner a town right of five acres, bounded north by land of 
Robert Kelton, west and south by highway, east by land of 
Henry Browne, together with commonage, for the sum of .£5, 
to be paid for the use of the people called Quakers in said 
island. This towne right was passed over by Capt. Fenner 
to his son-in-law, Robert Kilton, on 25th Feb 1702. The 
above indicates where the residence of Robert Kilton was. 
Phebe Fenner, daughter of Capt. Arthur and Mehitable 
Fenner, m. Joseph Latham. They lived in 
Saybrook, Conn. The date of his will was 
nJv. 24, 1705. Children : 
ol. I. Robert, never married. 

32. II. Sarah, never married. 

33. III. Phebe, m. March 12, 1727, John iMartin. 

third geinbration. 
Starkweather. — Sterry. — Blodgett. 
Mehitabel Fenner, daughter of Maj. Tiictmas (2), grand- 
daughter of Capt. Arthur (1), married Isc, 
Timothy Starkweather. She m. 2d, Samuel 
Sterry, and removed to Preston, Conn. He 
d. Oct. 9, 1737. She m. 3d, Dr. Wm. Blodgett. 
Children of Timothy and Mehitabel Starkweather : 

34. I. Samuel. 

35. II. Joseph. 

36. III. Arthur, killed by lii^htning. 

37. IV. Mehitabel, m. Jan. 25, 1745, John Birket. 

38. V. Mary, 

Child of Samuel and Mehitabel Sterry : 

39. Roger, who was town clerk in Preston, Conn. 

34 The Fenner Family. 

Jan. 10th. 1732, Samuel and Mehitabel Sterry, gave a re- 
ceipt to their brothers Richard and Joseph. Fenner, executors 
of the last will of their father, Maj. Thomas Fenner, for the 
property which fell to their portion. 


Freelove Fenner, daughter of Maj. Thos. (2), granddau. 
of Capt. Arthur (1), ra. Samuel Westcott, son of Jeremiah, 
grandson of Stukeley, born about 167tS. His inventory 
taken Mar. 21, 1716. He died Mar. 17, 1716. She m. 2d, 
Stone. [See Deed given by her to her brothers Rich- 
ard and Joseph, Dec. 25, 1749. She received seventy 
pounds for her portion from her brothers. Johnston Rec. 
Bk. 1, p. 178.1 
Children : 

40. I. Samuel, b. Jan. 24, 1704; m. Mary . She was 

b. Nov. 28, 1703. 

41. II. Jabez, m. Martha Edwards. 

42. III. Freelove. 

43. IV. Thomas, m. Elizabeth. He died 1772. 

44. V. Benjamin, (prob.) m. 1733, Mary Carpenter. 

45. VI. Jeremiah, m. Dec. 8, 1747, Freelove Bennett ; d. 

prior to 1762. 
June 29, 1727, Jabez Westcott signed a receipt to his 
uncle Joseph Fenner for the property left by his father. 
July 4, 1732, Thomas Westcott signed a receipt to his uncle 
Joseph Fenner for his share of his father's property. John- 
ston Records. 


Thomas Fenner, son of Maj. Thomas, (2) grandson of 
Capt. Arthur. (1) 

He married, 1710, Mary Abbot, daughter of Daniel Ab- 
bott, High Sheriff, and sister of Gov'r Daniel Abbott. 

Children : 
46 I. Thomas, m. 1st, Phebe Hawkins. She d. Mar. 6, 

1750. 2d, Sarah Warner. She d. April 20, 

1751. 3d, Freelove Turner, f. 

The Fenner Family. 8") 

47. II. William, ra. Christian Arnold, f. 

48. II. Daniel, b. 1710, m. (1) Sept. 24, 1732, Jane Roberts, 

dau. Wm. she was b. 1712 and d. Feb. 17, 
17()2. m. (2) Oct. 3, 1762, Sarah Haines, dau. 
William, f. 
4i.\ IV. Mary, Ephraim Bowen. f. 

The father gave his sons Thomas and Daniel 60 acres 
land, Oct. 17, 1744. 


Mar}' Fenner, daughter of Maj. Thomas, (2) granddaugh- 
ter of Capt. Arthur (1), b. 1692, ra. Hon. Daniel Abbott, 
son of Daniel and Plargaret Abbott, b. 1682, He was Dep- 
uty Governor. They had no children. She died Jan. 7, 
1759, He died Nov. 7, 1760, having mads his will July 2d, 
of that yeai', with codicil Sept. 15th, leaving most of his 
pioperty to his Fenner relatives. He provided for his 
nephew Thomas Fenner the avails of his farm in Providence, 
then in the occupation of James Hoyle, beini^- given to him 
for his support during his natural life. To the children of 
his nephew Thomas Fenner, viz : Abbott and Antram, and 
those of his nephew Daniel, viz: Samuel, Daniel and Thom- 
as, and to those of his nephew William, viz : William and 
Stephen, and to Jabez and Oliver Bowen, sons of his neice 
Mary, Gov. Abbott left all his houses, lands, tenements and 
real estate to be equally divided amongst them. They were 
both buried in the North Burial Ground. 


Hon. Joseph Fenner, son of Maj Thomas, (^2) grandson 
of Capt. Arthur, (1) born 1693, married 1st Wait Harris, 
daughter of Thomas Harris^ and sister of Henry Harris, 

Esq. She was born Apr. 21, 1694. She d. He m. 

2d, Mar. 26, 1758, Mrs. Amy Kinnicutt, widow of Capt. 
Roger Kinnicutt. He died June 22, 1779 in his 87th year. 
His second wife died June 22, 1782, age 67 years and 5 
months. He is spoken of by his cotemporaries as "'conspic- 
uous ior a virtuous upright conduct which ever attracts the 

86 The Fetiner Family. 

attention and ensures tlieesteemof a free people." ''He did 
not escape the solicitations of his countr^^ to serve in 
stations of public trust; he was chosen a representative for 
the town of Providence in the General Assembly, which 
place having filled witii ability and integiity, to his own 
honor and the satisfaction of the public, he was after- 
wards, in the year 1736, elected by the freemen at large a 
member of the Governor's Council, to which he belonged 
until 1740, but being fond of a life of quietness and retire- 
ment, free from the noise and trouble of the political world, 
he that year resigned his place at the Council Board, when 
his brother Richard Fenner, Esq. was chosen in his room." 
In 172^-6 he is spoken of on the records as lieutenant. 

Joseph Fenner lived and died in the old homestead of his 
father, his brother Richard probably residing for a time there 
with him. This was near Simraonsviile Factory, on the left 
hand side of the road on the hill going we^t. 

Children of Joseph and Wait Fenner : 
50 I. Mehitabel, b, Jan. 22, 1717, m. Southgate (or Cir- 
cuit) Langworthy of Newport. She d. Dee. 
19, 1744. 

51. II. Thomas, b. Dec. 8, 1719, m. (1) widow Mary 

Cloyn, (2) Marcy Sheldon, f. 

52. III. Phebe, b. Dec. 11, 1725, m. Dr. Benjamin Slack of 

Scituate. f. 
53 IV. Joseph, b. Feb. 2e, 1728, d. unmarried, je 20. 

54. V. Wait, b. June 9, 1733, m. Sept. 25, 1755, Benj. 

Spencer* of E. Greenwich, S. P. 

55. VI. Asahel, b. Nov. 8, 1737, m. Rhobe Sarle. He d. 

1777. f. 

In his will dated May 18, 1774, Joseph Fenner mentions 
his wife Ammey, his daughter-in-law Robe, wife of Asahel 
Fenner, dec, his two grandsons James and Joseph Fenner, 
sons of Asahel and his other eight grandchildren by name. 

In a memorandum left among his papers we find "7th of 

*Another account says Sprague, 

The Fennel' Family. 37 

January, 1748, then my poor grandchild became blind with 
both e3'es." 

Joseph Fenner united with his brother Richard, April 18, 
1722, in carrying out the wishes of their father in the mat- 
ter of a division of property that Maj. Thomas had held in 
common with Nicholas Harris. In the division a dwelling 
house standing upt)n one part of said land had ^fallen to 
Thomas Fenner, and it was agreed betwixt them that Nich- 
olas Harris should have fonr acres and one-half more in the 
division of said tract, but there being no instrument drawn 
in ^the lifetime of Thomas Fenner, the sons ; employed 
Andrew Harris, surveyor, to lay out and complete the same, 
reference being made to the plat of the same,|by which it 
appears that Nicholas Harris' part contained one hundred 
and seventy-seven acres, and Thomas Fenner's one hundred 
and nine acres. 

The final division of Capt. Arthur; Fenner's estate was 
made Feb. 27, 1735-36, between Richard Fenner and Joseph 
Fenner, sons of Major Thomas, deceased, on the one part, 
and Edward Fenner, son of Arthur Fenner,^ Esq., deceased, 
and John Thointon and John Manton, guardians to Mary 
Fenner, d;iughter of John Fenner, deceased, son of said de- 
ceased Arthur Fenner^. An agreement had been made be- 
tween the two sons of Capt. Arthur, but it wasnot fully 
carried out till the above date, when a line having been 
run northward and southward across the homestead farm, 
the one hundred and nine and a quarter acres to the east- 
ward of said line were assigned to the heirs of Arthur Fen- 
ner^, being land lying mostly upon the soutliern or south- 
western part of Neutaconkanut Hill, with part of the farm 
that formerly belonged to Joseph Wise, and an equal por- 
tion on the west side of said line to belong to the heirs, of 
Major Thomas. 


Hon. Richard Fenner, son of Thomas (2), grandson of 
Capt. Arthur (1), born 1695. He was m. 1st, Jan. 11, 1716, 

38 The Fenner Family. 

to Abigail, daughter of Nicholas and Abigail (Tillinghast) 
Sheldon, b}' Richard Brown, Justice. He m. 2d, widow 
Abigail Thornton, daughter of Richard Glemence. He lived 
probably for a time in the old homestead and then built 
near the spot now occupied by the Simmons mansion in 
Johnston. The old house was moved back to its jiresent 
position some years since, and has been somewhat changed 
in its appearance. He was appointed Justice of tlie Peace 
by Gov. Wanton foi- the town of Providence, in 17»52. and 
held various offices of honor. By his will made Sept. 8, 
1772, it appears that his wife survived him. He died 1773, 
aged about 78. 

In his will Richard Fenner, Sen'r, left his wife in care 
of his son Arthur, giving his daughter Lydia XlOO and va- 
rious articles of furniture. To his sons Richard and Jere- 
miah he bequeathed all his right in that tract of land belong- 
ing to his brother Joseph and himself a little southeasterly 
of the hill called Chaupaumeskock Hill. To his son John 
he gave all the right of his brother Joseph and himself in a 
tract in Glocester. Upon his son Arthur, whom he con- 
stituted executor, he bestowed his homestead farm in Johns- 
ton and his right in the undivided lands within the proprie- 
ty of Pawtuxet. His inventor} of personal property 
amounted to X330-4-9i.— [Johnston Prob. Rec. Vol. 1. p. 87. 

Children (not in exact order) : 

56. I. Abigail, born 1716, died before father. 

57. II. Richard, born about 1718, m. Elizabeth Arnold, f. 

He died Feb. 17, 1799. 

58. III. Lydia, born about 1720, m. Job. Angell, b. 1718. 

59. IV. Arthur, born Jan. 6, 1725, m. Phebe Harris. f. 

He died Feb. 7, 1793. 

60. V. John, m. Ruth Potter. 

61. VI. Jeremiah, born 1730, m. Anne Warner. He died 

Feb. 12, 1789. 

Jencks — Antram. 
Sarah Fenner, daughter of Thomas (2), grandson of 

The Fenner Family. 39 

Capt. Arthur, (1) b. 1698, in. 1st Dr. John Jeuckes, son of 
Governor Jenckes, Mar. "12, 1721. Dr. Jenckes died prob- 
ably on board ship returning from England where he had 
been on a visit with his father. 

She m. 2d, Wm. Antram. She d. April 17, 1736, in 39th 
year of her age. 

Children (by Ist m.) JencJces. 

62. Lydia. m. Jonathan Jenckes. 

63. Joseph. 

64. Benjamin. 

65. Mary, b. 1721. d. Nov. 14, 1723, buried in Major Thom- 

as' burying ground. 
Children (by 2d m.) Antram. 

66. Sarah, m. May 26, 1750, Darius Sessions, Esq. 

67. William. 

Wm. Antram, senior, and Wm. Antram, Jun'r, distillers, 
for £1000 paid by Richard and Joseph Fenner, quit-claim to 
them, equally to be divided between them all their right 
and title which they had in and to all the estate, both lands 
goods, chattells which of right belonged to John Fenner, 
dec'd, or that might have been lawfully claimed by him in 
virtue of the last will and testament of his honored father, 
Major Thomas Fenner, provided that said John Fenner had 
lived to attain to the age of twenty-one. This document is 
found in Vol. 12, Prov. Records, p. 371, and is dated Feb. 
26, 1750. 


Hon. Arthur Fenner, son of Major Thomas, (2) grandson 
of Capt. Arthur, (1) b. Oct. 17, 1699. He was m. 1st, June 
2, 1723, to Mary Olney, daughter of Capt. James and Hal- 
lelujah Olney, by James Jenckes, Deputy Governor. She 
d. Mar. 18, 1750, age 54 years, 5 mouths, and 18 days. 
He married 2d, Barbara , who survived him. 

He lived in the town of Providence. He was in the earlj^ 
part of his liie, before the division of the state into three coun- 
ties, which happened in he year 1729, employed in the ex- 
ecutive part of the government ; and afterwards as a Jus- 

40 The Fenner Family. 

tice of the Peace. He was a merchant of eminence, and 
for a long time was a member of the Baptist church. 

The great change wrought in the hipse of centuries is 
strikingly illustrated by the following, from the writings of 
John Rowland, as quoted by Stone. Between the home of 
the Fenners and the site of this cit}'- was in early times a 
populous Indian villiage near Mashapaug pond. 

"The venerable Arthur Fenner, the grandfather of Gov. 
James Fenner was born in Cranston in the year 1699, twen- 
ty-three years after the close of Philip's war, and he has in- 
formed me that when a young man, on travelling the road 
from his father's house to town, it was usual to pass more 
Indiaiis than white people on the way." 

Sept. 27, 1721, Richard and Joseph Fenner, executors of 
their father's will, signed an agreement making a partition 
of the estate of their father, Hon. Thomas Fenner, assign- 
ing their brother Arthur, "-that house and tenement lying in 
Providence, which their father purchased of Capt. Silvanus 
Scott, bounding north and edst with lands of Capt. Water- 
man, and south with lands of Daniel Abbott and on the 
west with the Towne Street ; and also two six acre lots ad- 
joining together and lying in the neck on the backside of 
said town, lying between the land of Capt. Whipple on the 
south, and land of Wm. Field on the north, a highway on 
the west side, and the sea or salt River of Pawtucket on 
the east." 

The same [parties in a document dated Nov. 13, 1763, re- 
corded on Johnston Records, Nov. 22d, jointly made a con- 
firmatory deed to their brother Arthur, having paid to him, 
Aug. 31, 1726, sixty pounds in money in part of his portion, 
with "the lot and housing in Providence Town where our 
said brother Arthur now dwells — secondly, two six acre lots 
in Providence Neck with a thatch cove adjoining called 
Wachear Cove — thirdly one whole lot and a half in the 
Stated Common Division in Providence which may be found 
in the general plan of the said stated common lots which 
derived from that right and a half which belonged to our said 

The Fenner FamVy. 41 

father — fourthly, about ninety-one acres and a half stand- 
ard measure lying in the township of Smithfield a small 
distance easterly from the dwelling place of Job Angell or 
by the return thereof may show — fifthly, about three hun- 
dred and thirty-two acres and a half standard measure at 
a place called Suckatunkneck, within the township of John- 
ston — sixthly, one hundred and forty acres of land lying nigh 
to that place where John Abslonn formerly lived in the 
township of Scituate." 

His first wife is spoken of in glowing terms by a relative 
of the family. "She was one of the smart and active wom- 
en of her time. She was a merchant and owned more navi- 
gation than any other person in town ; acquired the estate, 
kept a store and shop and maintained the family in affluence. 
She bought vessels and cargoes. Her husband for mauy 
years was sickl}' and unable to do business. She had 
twelve children." 

He died Feb. 2, 1788, age 88. His funeral was attended 
at his mansion house, where a sermon was preached by Elder 
Mitchell, and his remains were interred in the North Bury- 
ing Place. 

A "History of the Bible'' owned by him and supposed to 
be inherited from his grandfather, Capt. Arthur, is in the 
possession of his descendant, Mr. A. F. Dexter, who lives 
on the old Fenner place at What Cheer. 

Children of Arthur and Mary (Olney) Fenner: 

Freelove, born August 25, 1723, died young. 
Sarah, born September 10, 1725, died young. 
John, born April 17, 1727, died young. 
James, b. Feb. 9, 1730, m. Freelove Whipple, f. 
Arthur, born October 12, 1732, died young. 
Joseph, born Nov. 8, 1734, died Nov. 17, 1751. 

Mary, born May 15, 1737, m. E. Rumreill. f. 

John, born October 2, 1739, m. Phebe Brown. 

Sarah, April 28, 1741, died January 3, 1756. 

Freelove, born July 13, 1743, m. Simon Smith, f. 



















11 . 


42 The Fenner Family. 

78. XI. Arthur, b. Dec. 10, 1745 (Governor) m. Amey 

Comstock. f. 

79. XII. Lyclia, born M.irch 1, 1748, m. Hon. Theodore 

Foster, f., the accomrlished Town Clerk of 
Providence, Member of Congress, etc. 

Mar}- FeJiner, dau. of Arthur (8), grandson of Arthur (1). 
She m. Oct. 13, 1726, Solomon Rutenburg. 
Children : 

80. I. Thomas, m. Anne Westcott, daughter of Thomas. 
«l. II. Daughter, m. (1) Solomon Bradford. (2) Abel Pot- 

82. III. Daughter. 


Arthur Fenner, son of Arthur (3), grandson of Capt. Ar- 
thur (1), u). probably Abigail, daughter John 
Dexter, who afterwards married Elisha Greene, 
She was born April 26, 1696. He died before 
his father. Child : 

(fo. Sarah, married Dec. 24, 1738, Zachariah Mathewson. 
She was mentioned in her giandmother's will. 


John Fenner, son of Arthur (2), grandson of Capt. Ar- 
thur (1), was m. Nov. 1, 1724, to Amey Col- 
well, dau. Robert Col well and Amy, his wife, 
b}' Richard Brown Justice. He lived in Prov- 
idence, and died Nov. 24, 1725, intestate. His 
widow manied (2) Joseph Thornton. Child : 

84. Marcy (or Mary) born April 20, 1725. She was m. 
Oct. 6,' 1743, to Seth Dean, of Plainfield, Ct., 
by Richard Fenner, Esq., Assistant. 

Edward F^enner, son of Arthur (3) grandson of Capt. Ar- 
thur (1), born 

The Fenner Family. 43 

He lived in Cranston, K. I. He was a farmer. 
On the 4tli of Oct. 1756, it was represented to 
the Town Council that Edward Fenner, Sen'r., 
was "Delirious and uncapable to transact and 
manage Ids secular affairs and Buisness to the 
great Hazzard and Damage of his Family and 
Estate, Whereof on proof being made, Jo>iali 
Thornton was appointed guardian.'' This 
guardianship, however, was only temporary 
and was discharged Dec. 25, 1756. 
Edward Fenner married 1st, Phebe Barton ; 2d, [? Amey] 
Borden, dau. Richard. An Edward Fenner 
married April 11, 1728, widow Amey Thorn- 
ton — perhaps she was the daughter of Ricliard 
Borden above. He was appointed executor, 
with Col. James Waterman, of Richard Bor- 
den's estate. He died intestate, 1767, and his 
son Stephen took administration of the estate 
Oct. 19. Children (order not known) : 

85. Edward, married 1st, Dinah Potter, f ; 2d, Welthan 

Colgrove. f. 

86. Arthur (Capt.) m. Rachel Westcott. She was born 

1738 ; died Feb. 16, 1803, in 66th year. 

87. John, married Lydia Carpenter ; perhaps went to Hop- 


88. Stephen, married Frances Corpe. f. 

89. Sarah, married Col. John Waterman, f. 

90. Alice, m. 1st, Stephens ; 2d, Col, Jno. Wa- 


91. Esther, married William Corpe. 

92. Mary, m. Harrington. 

93. Freelove, married March 20, 1746, Andrew Edmonds. 
Providence, R. I. J. P. Root. 




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