1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Scituate Town Records Collection

 Records, 1748-1915

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 216

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The sprawling town of Providence was divided into four parts in 1730. The southwestern quarter was incorporated as the town of Scituate, named after the town in Massachusetts. A large portion of the town was submerged when the Pawtuxet River was dammed to create the Scituate Reservoir in the 1920s.

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Scope and content:

            The most significant portions of this collection are three tax lists dated 1783, 1822 and 1823; incomplete town meeting minutes dating from 1752 to 1839; and over two hundred documents relating to the town's Overseer of the Poor and the Scituate Asylum from 1748 to 1912.

            Among the more interesting individual documents are a detailed instruction from town meeting to the town's General Assembly delegates, April 28 1777, detailing grievance against "ye king of Great Britain...a cruel enemy and a tyrant"; and a long detailed doctor's bill from Caleb Fiske for attending many of the town's poor from 1784-1788, submitted in 1804. The following Overseer of the Poor papers have specific information about individuals. Bills simply mentioning individuals or families are not listed.


2/1748             Order to return Phebe Thornton to Providence

8/1791             "Levy Fenner's wife and child"

3/1794             "To provide places for Elisha King's children"

2/1795             "Samuel Payson his wife and three children are legal inhabitants of the town of Sharon [Mass.]"

5/1796             "Lucy Remington's daughter Mary Ann Cooper aged 7"

12/1796           "Mary Collins and sick child"

1/1797             Coffin for widow Mary Collins

10/1799           "To keeping Phebe Wood four weeks at the time of her having her child"

5/1800             "For supporting Lydia Fortens child"

10/1804           "To Dorcas White's child"

1/1807             "To keeping Hopkins Stone's child" (also 8/1810, 11/1811)

10/1807           "To keeping Pheby Young daughter of Joseph Young [of Foster?]

11/1808           "For keeping Samuel Burlingame's child"

4/1809             "To six visits dressing a sore at each time and amputating a leg for Zacheus Brooks a pauper"

6/1809             "For things delivered Samuel Smith a transient person"

2/1811             Bill for taking Mathewson Spencer from Scituate to East Greenwich "and delivering him to the overseer of the poor of that town."

1/1812             "To moving Christopher Seamans to Foster."

12/1812           "To removing Zilpha Burlingame a transient person to the town of Warwick"

2/1813             "To keeping Joseph Taylor's wife and four children one night"

9/1813             "To Elizabeth M. Avis Kensington for keeping her bastard child charged upon Luther Angell."

11/1813           Re John and Nathan Olney, "to carying said boys to Jesse Tourtellot in Glocester."

12/1815           "Maintaining and bringing up Betsey Cole a poor child"

11/1816           "One coffin for Joseph Griffin"

12/1816           Fragment re "case of bastardry Sabra Fisk... --an Potter."

3/1817             "Moving William Bates children to the poor house"

10/1818           "Care of Frederick [Drillit?] a transient person"

1/1819             "For moving Nathan Young's wife and four children"

10/1819           "For keeping Thomas Walton and his wife"

12/1819           Bill for trips to Willington and Ashford "concerning the settlement of Hezekiah Brown."

11/1821           Bill for medical care for "Phebe Remmonton [Remington] formerly the wife of John White but discharged by decree of divorce in case of bastard child charged to G Braton [Brayton]."

2/1822             Long bill, including charges for "going to Johnston to hear evidence & examine the sources in the case of Esek Beverly"; "For my services by going to Mendham in the state of Massachusetts after Lydia Porter "; "For moving Thomas Walton & wife"; "For keeping Lydia Bates & child."

1/1823             "For keeping Nancy Thomas bastard child Phebe Ann which she had by James Kelly"

                        [Phebe Ann Kelly again on 11/1824]

11/1824           "For boarding clothing &c Tabathy Eldredge's child"

9/1848             Petition to appoint guardian for Betsey West, who has "an annuity or pension due from the United States to her payable semi-annually & further the said Betsey is not in a capacity of body or mind to take care of said pension by reason of which said pension is liable to be lost & squandered away."

3/1899             "For burial of Thomas Grattage."

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            At least two documents (the 1783 tax list and the 1828 minute book) were purchased from Samuel T. Freeman & Co., Auctioneers, in 1947. The 1822 and 1823 tax books probably arrived with similar tax books from other towns at an unknown date. The 1897 tax list was donated by Wayne Durfee in 2000. The 1777 town meeting instructions and the 1748 Phebe Thornton poor document were transferred from the R.I.H.S.M. collection, and were probably donated before 1900. The provenance of the 1820 road request, 1783 and 1784 meeting instructions, 1912 election ballots, and 1780 receipt to Catherine Potter is unknown. Some may have been purchased from Freeman in 1947, as that purchase was not fully inventoried in the accession book.

            Sixteen documents dated 1752 to 1886 were purchased from Lawrence DePetrillo in 1999, and 209 additional documents (mostly re the Overseer of the Poor and the Scituate Asylum) were purchased from him in 2001. Mr. DePetrillo had purchased these documents from Northerbee's Auctions in Warwick.

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Box 1, folder 1. Deposition of Benjamin R. Angell, circa 1851


Box 1, folder 2. Road request, 3/7/1820

Box 1, folder 3. Three documents, undated

Overseer of the Poor / Scituate Asylum

Box 1, folder 4. Paid bills, 1791-1795

Box 1, folder 5. Paid bills, 1796-1797

Box 1, folder 6. Paid bills, 1798-1805

Box 1, folder 7. Paid bills, 1806-1811

Box 1, folder 8. Paid bills, 1812-1818

Box 1, folder 9. Paid bills, 1819-1823

Box 1, folder 10. Paid bills, 1824-1829

Box 1, folder 11. Miscellaneous Overseer of the Poor documents:

            Town council order re Phebe Thornton, 1748

            Legal settlement certificate of Samuel Payson family from Sharon, Mass., 1795

            Bond for maintenance of Catherine Williams, 1825

Box 1, folder 12. Scituate Asylum - Petition to appoint guardian for Betsey West, 1848

Box 1, folder 13. Scituate Asylum - Bills paid for care of specific inmates, 1891-1912

Box 1, folder 14. Scituate Asylum - Bills paid for labor, 1890

Box 1, folder 15. Scituate Asylum - Bills paid, miscellaneous, 1859-1891

Box 1, folder 16. Scituate Asylum - Inventories and appraisals, 1880-1910

Box 1, folder 17. Scituate Asylum - Superintendent contracts, 1870-1885

In box 4. Scituate Asylum - Monthly statements from suppliers, 1857-1892 (mostly oversized)

School Committee

Box 1, folder 18. Miscellaneous:

            Petition re William Randall, 1829

            Bills paid re school house, 1893


Box 1, folder 19. Tax list, 1783

Box 1, folder 20. Tax list, 1822

Box 1, folder 21. Tax list, 1823 (3 volumes)

Box 1, folder 22. Tax lists: 1886 (school district 10); 1897 (school district 4)

Box 1, folder 23. Tax valuations, 1779-1780 (detailed property descriptions) for Freelove Brayton, Daniel Cole, Samuel Cranston, Francis Fuller 3rd, Padden Hopkins, Timothy Hopkins Jr.

Box 1, folder 24. Tax valuation, 1856 - Scituate Manufacturing Company

Box 1, folder 25. Taxes - Receipt to Catherine Potter, 1780

Town Meetings

Box 1, folder 26. Town meeting minutes, May 20 1752

Box 1, folder 27. Town meeting minutes, 1828-1839

Box 1, folder 28. Town meeting, instructions to General Assembly reps, 1777, 1783, 1784


Boxes 2, 3, 4. Town election ballots, 1915 (do not give voter's names).


Box 1, folder 29. Documents found among other Scituate town papers:

            Letter from Woonsocket National Bank: no stockholders residents of Scituate, 1870

            Bills for dental work, Andrew Smith of Providence to estate of Pardon S. Walker, 1874

            List of names, possibly gathered as evidence for charges after a brawl, undated

Certificate of land held as tenants in common by Stephen Smith and Nancy R. Nolles, undated

            Fragment of promissory note issued by Aaron Fuller, undated

            Fragment of personal letter re medical care of Eliza ---, unsigned,, undated

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Poor - Rhode Island - Scituate

Scituate Asylum

Scituate Manufacturing Company

Thornton, Phebe

Tyler, Casey B. (1819-1899)

United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783

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