Archive for September, 2013

Just found out my RI ancestors owned slaves

September 17, 2013

Troubling to find this out,  to say the least, but I have long suspected that my family did not avoid owning slaves. I held out this silly hope that they were enlightened Quakers. Quakers – yes, enlightened – no. My sister went to and found the will of Nathan Chase,  written in 1792, son of Benjamin Chase who was the orginal person who settled in Portsmouth, RI. He was the grandson of William Chase who came from England in the 1600s and was an original founder of Yarmouth MA.

Will, Portsmouth, RI town Council and Probate, Volume 8 1794-1805, FHL #946,797, pp 103-6
… I Nathan Chase of Portsmouth in the county of Newport and State of Rhode Island … I give unto Elisabeth Brownell, Amy Hunt & Hannah Tallman my three grand=children Daughters of my son Borden Chase Deceased the sum of thirty pounds Lawful Silver money at the rate of six shillings for a spanish Milled Silver Dollar or in other spacie equivolent thereto to be divided equally between them, Elisabeth’s and Amy’s part to be paid them in one year after my decease, and Hannah’s part in 18 months after my decease by my Executer. … I give unto my son Holder Chase the sum of ninety pounds … I give unto Gideon Slocum and Ann Kerby my two Grand-children the son and Daughter of my Daughter Amy Slocum Deceased the sum of Nine pounds … O give unto my Daughter Ann McCorridy my Low Case of draw[er]s and six pounds .. Also I give unto my Daughter Hannah Almy my high case of Draw[er]s and 12 pounds … I also give unto my son Clarke Chase … my new Dwelling house and all my land situate … in said Portsmouth with all the other buildings thereon … he paying all my just Debts funeral Expenses and also all the Legacies by me herein given … . Also my mind and will further is that my son Clarke Chase shall have the car and Service of my Negro Girl called Vilot untill she arrive to the age of 21 years old, then she shall be a free agent for her self if she be capable to get her living. And my mind further is that my son Clarke shall giver her a bed and bed cloths suitable for her to Lodge on. … I also give unto my Grandson Nathan Chase son of my son Holder Chase 3 pounds .. when he shall arrive to the age of 21. … I also give unto my son Benjamin Chase the sum of 300 pounds … paid unto him by my Executor within 6 months after my Decease: … my said son Benjamin shall the care and Service of my Negro Gairl [sic] called Jenny untill she shall arrive at the age of 21 … then she shall be a free agent for her self … . I also give unto my son Clarke Chase all the rest … of my Estate … to further enable him to pay my said Debts and legacies … I also Nominate [Clarke] … executor of this my Last Will and Testament … [If Clarke should die before his father, then Benjamin was to be executor and receive Clarke’s legacies.] … 26th day of the fifth month 1792 … Nathan Chase
Wit: John Borden, Stephen Borden, Robt Dennis.
Will prove 10 Nov 1800. 

We are decended from Nathan’s son, Holder.  Oddly enough, he made out better than the widow and grandchildren of his deceased son Borden, but not so well as Clarke or Benjamin.

The laws changed in RI in 1780 and you could no longer  be born a slave, though you could opt to  keep your slaves until they died. Vilot and Jenny must have been born shortly before 1780

So my success, which was built on their success, which was built on the backs of slaves, feels different to me today,

William Chase





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September 12, 2013



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