1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Thomas Arnold Papers

 Surveyor of East Greenwich, Rhode Island

 Personal papers, 1784-1821

 Size: 0.5 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 76

 Processed by: Lori Salotto, February 2000

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Thomas Arnold (1740-1821) was born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island to William Arnold (1718-1781) and Elizabeth (Rice) Arnold (b. circa 1720). He married Sarah Pearce (1744-1808), daughter of Major Preserved and Sarah Pearce, in 1768. They had six children: Freelove, Eli-zabeth, Thomas P., Isaac A., Sarah Ann, and William Rice.

            Arnold was an officer during the Revolutionary War beginning as a lieutenant in Babcock's Rhode Island State Regiment in 1776, then becoming a captain in the First Rhode Island Regiment on March 21, 1777. He lost his left leg in the Battle of Monmouth (Maine) on June 28, 1778, to a musket ball that could not be removed. After his leg was amputated the musket ball was retrieved and sent home to his wife, who had a string of beads made from the ball.

            From 1779-1783, Arnold was part of the Invalid Regiment. According to the proceedings of the General Assembly on May 1, 1782, Thomas Arnold petitioned the state for a pension. The record states "Whereas, Thomas Arnold, formerly a captain in Col. Christopher Greene's regiment, but now of the corp of invalids, preferred a petition, and represented unto this Assembly, that he is under orders from his commanding officer to join said corps at West Point; that he is entirely destitute of money, not having received any pay for upwards of thirty months, and thereupon he prayed this assembly to grant him a sum of money on account of the said wage due to him. Voted and resolved that the sum of sixty pounds in silver money be paid the said Thomas Arnold out of the general treasury and that the same be charged to the United States, on account of the pay due him as aforesaid."

            Arnold was appointed by General Washington as the first Surveyor of the Port of East Greenwich. The Port of East Greenwich was considered a Port of Delivery under the jurisdiction of the custom house in Newport which was a Port of Entry. Arnold was under the supervision of William Ellery, the Custom House Collector in Newport, and was responsible for keeping the daily record of all entries and clearances, supervising cargo lading, and collecting of certain fees. He served in this capacity from 1791. Albert C. Greene was the executor of his estate upon his death on May 8, 1821.


Arnold, Elisha Stephen. The Arnold Memorial: William Arnold of Providence and Pawtuxet, 1587-1675: And a Genealogy of His Descendants, 110, 144. The Tuttle Publishing Company, 1935.

Bartlett, John Russell, Colonial Records of Rhode Island, 1780-1783, Vol. 9. 545. Providence, 1864.

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Record of Officers of the Continental Army, 1775-1783, 76. Washington, D.C., 1914.

Smith, Joseph Jencks. Civil and Military List of Rhode Island 1647-1800, Vol. 1. Providence, 1900.

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Scope and content:

            This collection, covering the years 1784 to 1821, consists mainly of accounts and correspondence. There are a few records relating to his occupation as Surveyor for the Port of East Greenwich. There are also many records for his estate and a few estate records for Jonathan Arnold and Preserved Pearce. There are also no records pertaining to his war career.

            There are many letters throughout the collection from William Ellery. He was writing to Thomas Arnold in his capacity as the Newport Customs House Collector. Arnold was the Surveyor for the Port of East Greenwich, which was under Newport's jurisdiction.

            There is also an interesting letter to Arnold from his grandson Thomas Boyd, the son of his daughter Elizabeth. Boyd writes to his grandfather in 1819 from Valparaiso. He is on his way to China on board a ship carrying a cargo of copper. He writes, "Chilean squadron is committing depradations on the American vessels daily in this quarter of the Globe - since they have not succeeded in taking Lima and the Macedonian is the only ship near to protect the American

commerce which is more than one ship can possibly do."(box 1, folder 8).

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            These records are believed to have arrived as part of the "Albert C. and Richard W. Greene Collection." The actual date of the accession is not known for certain, but the collection was in hand by the late 1940s. Therefore, the date of 1948 was assigned to the collection.

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Processing note:

            This collection was originally processed circa 1987 by Harold Kemble. It was reprocessed in 2000 by Lori Salotto. At this time, the correspondence and other files were separated from the financial accounts and put in separate folders.

            Transfers: one loose 1802 bill for William Arnold & Son to the William Arnold Papers (Mss 71), an undated letter from Samuel Ward, Jr. to "Tom Arnold of Providence" to the Ward Family Papers (Mss 776); and receipts for books purchased from Robinson & Howland to the Richard W. Greene Family Papers (Mss 1043).

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Box 1, folder 1: Account with Jonathan Arnold, 1789-1801

Box 1, folder 2: Loose accounts, 1789-1795

Box 1, folder 3: Loose accounts, 1801-1809

Box 1, folder 4: Loose accounts, 1810-1820

Box 1, folder 5: Correspondence, 1784-1785

Box 1, folder 6: Correspondence, 1791-1799

Box 1, folder 7: Correspondence, 1801-1808

Box 1, folder 8: Correspondence, 1810-1820

Box 1, folder 9: Estate records: Jonathan Arnold, 1801

Box 1, folder 10: Estate records: Thomas Arnold, 1821

Box 1, folder 11: Estate records: Preserved Pearce, 1801

Box 1, folder 12: Liquor license applications, 1795-1796

Box 1, folder 13: Ohio Company, 1792

Box 1, folder 14: Records as surveyor of the Port of East Greenwich, 1796-1816

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Arnold, Jonathan

Boyd, Thomas

Chile - Commerce

Customs administration - R.I. - East Greenwich

East Greenwich - Social life and customs

Ellery, William (1727-1820)

Ohio Company

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