Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meet Samuel Lewis, youngest son of John Lewis of Westerly, R.I.

 We now venture into the life of Samuel Lewis.  He is born in 1672 and is the youngest son of John Lewis, who you have met previously.  Samuel grows into manhood in Westerly, Rhode Island where in the year of 1689 he marries Joanna Crandall.  He is building his wealth largely by purchasing and selling land. In 1692, Samuel deeds one-hundred acres to Jane Babcock, wife of Job Babcock, who declares that he gives his wife full power to purchase land and disowning any right for himself. On June, 28, 1709, we witness Samuel acquire even more land; this purchase will be known as the "Shannock Purchase". This is the second largest land grant of the Rhode Island colony during the division of the vacated Indian lands in 1709.  The Naragansett (we have met them already through John Lewis and the negotiation of Misquamicut, today known as Westerly) and Niantic Indians agree to sell the land in exchange for permanent possession of land in the town of Charlestown.  The Shannock Purchase encompasses a large part of what is now known as Richmond.  A committee is put in place to organize and oversee the "Shannock Purchase":

"Know all men by these presents that we Weston Clark, Randall Holden, Richard Greene, Philip Tillinghast being a committee appointed and fully empowered by the Government and Company of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to dispose and make sale of the vacant lands in ye Narragansett County for and in consideration of the sum of 486 pound 2 shillings currant money of New England well and truely paid unto us who receive ye same in behalf and for the use of ye Governor and Company afore sd of and at the hand of William Gibson, Nicholas Utter, Samuell Tift, fransis Colgrene, George Babcock, George Foster, William Knowles, Samuell Clark, John Eanos, William Clark, Thomas Parker, James Deny, Daniel Wilcocks, Daniel Tenant, Samuell Lewis, William Utter, John Witter, Peter Tift, Jeremiah Crandall, Eber Crandall, Samuell Perry, Joseph Brown, Weston Clark, John Tift and Nicholas Utter, Junior, all inhabitants of Westerly Kingstown and Newport."
Map of the Shannuck Purchase

Samuel and Joanna are not only very prosperous land owners, but also the proud parents of two sons and two daughters. Samuel, born 1689; Jonathan, born 1690; Joanna, born 1692, who marries Benjamin Tanner; and Sarah born 1694, who marries James Fordice. Unfortunately, some time before August of 1734, Sarah passed away, a sad day indeed. Overall though, life has treated the Samuel Lewis household very well.

It is the fifth day of August 1734 and we watch Samuel take a seat at his old heavy bureau, lay out a sheet of paper, dip the pen in the ink pot and begin to put forth his last will.  We know it is rude to look over his shoulder and read what he has to say, but we can't help ourselves to at least catch a glimpse of his written word. And we read:

"To wife Joanna 5 pounds yearly for life which I promised to give her for signing a deed to land sold Henry Knowles, and 400 pounds to be laid out of estate for her to have the interest of for comfortable maintainance.  To son Samuel 5 shillings he having had.  To son Jonathan 5 shillings.  To daughter Joanna Tanner 5 shillings. To dauther Sarah's son John Fordice 100 pounds to lay out in lands by executor.  To son Samuel's children, son Jonathan's children and daughter Joanna Tanner's children the rest of estate at the ages of twenty-one and eighteen and at deceaseof wife they to have what is left of household goods and 400 pounds."  

We watch him sign his name, date the document and place his seal on it.

The unfortunate day of Samuel Lewis' demise is upon us, this first day of February, 1739.  Joanna, due to age, is forced to give the position of executor to her son Jonathan. In a letter she writes:" To the Honorable Town Council of Westerly these lines are to desire you that your honors would be pleased to give my son Jonathan Lewis ye letter of Administration upon his fathers estate for I myself are not capable of riding and doing of business by reason of age, and in doing of which you will oblige yours to serve." (Witness: John Maxson and Benjamin Burdick).  Samuel's inventory is worth more than 2800 pounds.  He is laid to rest at the Lewis Cemetery in Westerly [the one mentioned in my previous post], where his parents were buried before him.

We will now follow the mentioned son of Samuel and Joanna, Jonathan Lewis, born in 1690.  What say you, are you ready?

 And just for fun and an interesting read, i am including the publication of Keith G. Lewis for your reading pleasure:  (you can even use the scroll bar and search feature !!!)

Source of Information:
-- The genealogical dictionary of Rhode Island; by John Osborne Austin;
-- Family History of Ladd J. Lewis, by Ladd J. Lewis;
-- The Ancestry of Nathan Lewis Harrison revisited nineteen years later, by Keith G. Lewis;
-- The descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island; by Nellie Willard Johnson;
-- Isaih Babcock, Sr. and his descendants, by A. Emerson Babcock
-- New England Marriages prior to 1700, by Clarence Almon Torry, Elizabeth Petty Bentley
-- The early history of the Narragansett, by  Elisha Reynolds Potter
-- New England Families, genealogical and memorial, by William Richard Cutter 
-- Lewisiana or Lewis Letters
Web site source:

** Many publications state the marriage year of Samuel and Joanna as 1695.  However, in Keith G. Lewis' book The Ancestry of Nathan Lewis Harrison revisited nineteen years later, page 240, the author gives the year 1689, which, to me, makes more sense, given the birth years of their children;
** Many list Joanna's death year as 1734, which cannot be so, as she, in 1739 gives the position of executor to his son due to age.  This shows that she died after Samuel, not before.