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Documenting Slavery at Cocumscussoc

Reviewing historical documents describing slaves and slavery at the Smith-Updike household at Cocumscussoc (Smith's Castle) in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, 1637-1825

Neil Dunay

on 9 March 2012

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Transcript of Documenting Slavery at Cocumscussoc

Manatus gelegen op de Noot Rivier, 1639
F. Quarters of the Blacks, the Company's Slaves
I give unto my negro
and to his wife
, their freedom after my decease and one hundred acres of land in convenient place, to be laid out by
Lodowick Updike
on some of my outshares of land either mortgage or surplusage of the neck. Also I give unto
Caesar's children
all their freedom when thirty years old and to
the like freedom, and the land Caesar is to have to him and his heirs forever, this after my wife's decease,
Will of
Richard Smith [Jr]
, March 16, 1690/1
Nov.17, 1639:--“At the requisition of the Attorney General, it was declared by
Gysbert Opdyck, Commissary in Fort Hope
, that he gave
his black boy, named Louis Barbese [Berbice]
the pan to fry cakes, and whereas the fire was too hot for the boy, so Opdyck took the pan in his own hand, and placed his knife in the hands of the black, then he commanded the boy to fetch a dish, who brought one very unclean, on which Opdyck struck the black, who, to evade it, tried to take hold of Opdyck, who thrusted him away, so that the boy fell down on his left side, when he kicked him with his feet. The boy then went out of the door and fell down; when Opdyck discovered the knife, crooked as a hoop, and went to look at the boy, who was wounded in his body under the left arm,
and died very suddenly

– Dutch Records (Translated), vol.ii, p.72. In J. Hammond Trumbull, The True-blue laws of Connecticut and New Haven and the false blue-laws …” Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876.
Gysbert OpDyke
Richard Smith Sr
Richard Smith Jr
1651 Map Belgii Novi. Anglae Novae... [detail, courtesy JCB Map Collection]
Thomas Newton
c1665 to Barbados
1660 Castello Plan of New Amsterdam [redraft]

Thomas Newton
went Cap[t] of a ship to Africa. On his return with four-hundred slaves he was shipwrecked on the Island of St. Vincens. The Slaves took possession of the Island. [They were] the first that peopled the Island of St Vincens.”
− Attributed to James Updike (1763-1855), "Recollections," n.d. [bef. 1812] [RIHS MSS 770 Updike Papers.]

“[I] am sorry I have not had the opportunity to see your Worship, but must crave your excuse in being so remiss as not all this time since my arrival [from England] as not writing to you. My occasion hath been much to fit out our ship for Barbados, which now is ready within 3 or 4 days.”

Richard Smith Jr.
to John Winthrop Jr., September 4, 1671.

"4 months before the death of
Thomas Newton

which happened in Jan 1673, he said he left everything to John Gaseles and his son Samuel."
− Barbados Wills p 45, in Barbados Records: Wills & Administrations 1639-1725, abstracted by Joanne McRee Sanders, 1984, Vol I, p. 257.

July the 15th 1679
Newton Abigail
in the Ship Eliza for Boston John Bonner Command.
- LIST of what TICKETTS have been granted out of the Secrty Office of the Island aforesaid [Barbados] for the departure off this Island of the several persons hereafter mentioned beginning in January 1678 & ending in December following. …
a Negroe Man of North Kingstown … 16th of July 1724 … [against] Samuel Rhodes. [Marginal note:] Judgment satisfied by Rhodes to
Daniel Updike
att. to Melich Negroe.
− Newport County Supreme Court, General Court of Trials, Vol. A 1671-1724, 496.
1743 October 24. This morning my negro woman Maroca was bro’t to bed of another Girl. Good God do thou direct me what to do with her. I am Perplexed about her Conduct with
Col. Updike’s negro
. She is a Christian, but seems not concerned about her soul, nor minds her promise of chastity, which she has often made me.

1745 June 25th. Harry hilling Corn. I bled George Fowler and [gave] Maroca one or two Lashes for receiving Presents from
. I think it was my Duty to correct her, and w’ever Passion passed between my wife and me on ys occasion, Good Ld forgive it.

− A Letter Book and Abstract of Out Services Written during the Years 1743-1751 by the Revd. James MacSparran, doctor in Divinity, and sometime rector of Saint Paul’s Church, Narragansett, Rhode Island, as transcribed by Daniel Goodwin. Merrymount, 1899, p. 15, 29.
1763 April 30, Providence Gazette: RUN away from the Subscriber at North-Kingstown, in the Colony of Rhode-Island, a young Negro Man named
, born in this Country, a well set Fellow about 5 Feet 4 Inches high, has a down Look, is thin jaw’d, and has a visible Scar from the Bridge of his Nose, over his Cheek, reaching beyond the Corner of his Mouth. He had on when he went off, a new double-breasted Jacket of Snuff colour’d Broad-cloth, trim’d with Horn Buttons, and Breeches of the same; he wore a low brim’d Hat, and affects of the Sailor. He is a subtil Fellow, and has got a forged Pass, with which it is suspected he will effect his Escape to Boston, as he has some Acquaintances there. Whoever takes up said Fellow, and delivers him to me, or secures him so that I may get him again, shall be intitled to SIX DOLLARS Reward, and have all reasonable charge, paid.
, son of
Robi smith
, came here to live as a volunteer."
− Daniel Updike (1761-1842), Day Book January – May 1791
Daniel [Updike]’s
education was completed, he visited Barbadoes, in the company of a friend of his father’s; and was admitted to the first circles of society on the Island.
− Wilkins Updike, Memoirs of the Rhode Island Bar, Boston: Thomas H. Webb, 1842, 37.
1778 Date | Slave's Name | Master's Name | Value.
May 8 |
Moses Updike
| Lodowick Updike, N.K. | £93
May 8 |
Ceaser Updike
| Lodowick Updike, N K. | £120
− A List of Slaves Enlisted in to the Continental Army. To whom belonged, with their value, in the year 1778, from Kings County. Value in Pounds. As published in The Narragansett Historical Register, Volume I. April, 1883. No. 4, p. 313.

1778 Name/Rank | Enlistment Date/Term | Regiment/Company | Remarks
Updike, Moses
/ Private | March 3, 1778 / Duration of War | First / Cole | June 1778
Updike, Ceasar
/ Private | March 15, 1778 / Duration of War | First / Cole | June 1778
− Boyle, Joseph Lee. Death Seem’d to Stare: The New Hampshire and Rhode Island Regiments at Valley Forge, 2005, p.164. Abstracted from National Archives Record Group 93, M246, “Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783.”

Ceasar UpDike
, 23; 5' 5¼"; laborer; born R. Island, N. Kingston, Washington Co.; residence: N. Kingstown, Washington Co.; hair: black; complexion: Mustee. Enlisted 1778 at E. Greenwich for the War.
− Regimental Book, First R.I. Regiment at the State Archives (tr. by Cherry Bamberg)

1779 Sept 5. At a court martial hearing the Lt. Col. reduced the punishment previously ordered for
Caesar Updike
, who had been convicted of some offense against his superior officer.
"As there were circumstances of particular[cut] indecency in Corpl Staffords behaviour to
Cesar Updikes Wife
he was only to receive "20 Stripes" on his naked back (the minimum punishment).
− Revolutionary War Records, RIHS, Mss 673, sg 2, series 1, box 1, folder 41 (abstract by Cherry Bamberg).
[NK346] A45 SERVANTS/SLAVES Harris #XCVI. Located near the Updike – Ayrault and Congdon lots near Cocumscussoc. [George] Harris describes it,

“on plain north of the above [Updike-Congdon] yards in open lot quite an extensive burial yard of the colored servants of the above families.”

Harris counted 72 large and 8 small graves all with rude stones. He speculates that there may have been more whose marks have been removed. One marked grave: Tony, son of Tony Musnott and Amey Cole, d. May 10, 1764, 6 y, 4m.
− McAleer, Althea, et al., Graveyards of North Kingstown, RI, 1992, p38. [The quote is from George Harris’s Ancient Burial Grounds of Old Kingstowne, c1883, manuscript in RIHS Library.]
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