1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Arnold-Holden Papers


Families of Woonsocket and Warwick.


 Size: 0.5 lin. ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 267

 Processed by: Robin Flynn, January 1998; Updated by Phoebe Simpson, March 2005

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The papers in this collection are those of some of the descendants of Thomas Arnold (1616-1674), one of the first settlers of Woonsocket, and of the descendants of Randall Holden (1612-1692), one of the original purchasers of Warwick (Shawomet).

            Thomas Arnold was the son of William Arnold, one of the original thirteen proprietors of Providence. His son (Captain) Richard (1642-1710) was father to, among others, Thomas (d. 1727) and John (1670-1756). Captain Richard Arnold was one of the first settlers of Woonsocket, building a saw mill there probably in the 1660s. His son John, also a miller, was a Quaker; he participated in organizing the Society of Friends in northern Rhode Island, and built the first frame house in Woonsocket in 1711. John's son William (1695-1766), whose papers make up a good deal of this collection, served as justice of the peace and constable to the town of Smithfield. He apparently also kept a tavern or at least retailed liquors in a store; there are several liquor licenses granted to him among his papers.

            The distinguishing marks of Thomas Arnold's life are less certain; however, the collection contains papers of several of his male descendants: his son Job (b. 1707), grandson Oliver (b. 1752), great-grandson Preserved (1788-1828), and great-great-grandson Preserved Whipple Arnold (1828-1919). Oliver married Elethan Harris in 1778; their children, in addition to Preserved, were Isaac (b. 1779), Sabra (b. 1786), and Martin (1783-1847). Preserved married Betsy Bowen Whipple; in addition to Preserved Whipple, their children were Cornelia and Louisa. Preserved Whipple Arnold married Annie Harris.

            The collection also contains papers of direct male descendants of Captain Randall Holden (1612-1692), who was a witness on the deed by which Roger Williams purchased Aquidneck in 1637. Later, in 1643, Holden was one of the eleven purchasers of Shawomet (Warwick). All of his descendants present in this collection carry the Christian name Randall: Major Randall Holden (1660-1726); Colonel Randall Holden (1694-1766); Captain Randall Holden (1726-1808); and a second Captain Randall Holden, who was born in 1754 and died in Surinam in 1796. The Holden family was prominent in the early governmental affairs of the colony and the town of Warwick. From correspondence in the papers, it appears that two of the sons of the Captain Randall born in 1726, Stephen and Joseph, were involved in the maritime trade like their father, serving as supercargoes on merchant ships.

            Because of the original inclusion of both Holden and Arnold papers in a single scrapbook, it is assumed there is a connection, probably by marriage, between the two families, but despite some in-depth genealogical research, the connection remains unknown. It is known that Richard Arnold and Major Randall Holden were appointed to a commission to resolve a dispute over Rhode Island's northern boundaries in 1707. William Arnold (1695-1766), and (Col.) Randall Holden (1694-1766), Major Randall's son, were contemporaries.


Richardson, E. History of Woonsocket (Woonsocket, 1876).

Greene, S. History of the State of Rhode Island, v. 2 (New York, 1860).

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Scope and content:

            This collection will be of interest primarily to genealogists. The bulk of the papers in the collection are of the Arnold family of Woonsocket and Smithfield, the descendants of Thomas Arnold (1616-1674). The scrapbooks contained, in addition to Arnold material, papers from several generations of the Holden family of Warwick. Specifically, they appear to be the papers of Colonel Randall Holden (1694-1766) and his descendants: one of his sons, known as "Captain" Randall (1726-1808), and three of Captain Randall's sons: a second "Captain" Randall, born in 1754 and died in Surinam in 1796; Stephen (1766-1841); and Joseph (dates unknown). The Holden papers give a little insight into the maritime and farming occupations of some of the male members of that family. From the Arnold papers, the researcher can obtain a fairly good idea as to the activities involved with William Arnold's career as a justice of the peace, and also of the land and property holdings of the family in northern Rhode Island.

            Examples of the documents generated during William Arnold's tenure as justice of the peace and tavern-keeper in the town of Smithfield are: deeds, arrest warrants, land surveys, powers of attorney, judgements, depositions, inquests, marriage certificates, and bonds. An item of special interest to genealogists is a list of marriages performed by William between 1733-1766. There are additional deeds, both in the loose papers and the scrapbooks, involving, among others, the following surnames: Holden, Arnold, Man, Capron, Lippitt, Greene, Rice, Harris (Harres/Harress), and Sprague. The balance of the collection is comprised of a small number of letters and maritime documents, and quite a few miscellaneous receipts and bills.

Box 1of 1

Series I:          Scrapbook 1

Series II:         Scrapbook 2

Series III:        Arnold Family Documents

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            The collection was purchased from the Kingston Galleries, Inc., in 1967.

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Processing note:

            In the 1980s, this collection was partially processed by curator Harold Kemble, during which time it's possible that some of the papers in the original accession were mixed in with non-related Arnold papers that had come in with prior or later accessions. It was necessary to do genealogical research on the Arnold name and then, based on the findings, to separate the papers of the 1967 accession from all the others with which they were mingled. In some cases folders were re-labelled to more accurately describe contents and dates. It is believed that the papers now present in the collection were all part of the 1967 accession. The papers of William Arnold were sorted by type, and then arranged chronologically within the type.

            In 2005, the collection was re-housed by librarian Phoebe Simpson. Most critically, the documents were removed from the decaying paper and bindings of "Scrapbook 1" and "Scrapbook 2 (smaller book)" and placed in archival folders. This also allowed the collection to be consolidated into one archival box. As much as possible, the folders from the scrapbooks were arranged by date and document type, but the overall groupings were retained by the series numbers. A preservation photocopy of the original order of each of the scrapbooks has been added to the collection.

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Series I: "Scrapbook 1"

(SB1 = Scrap Book 1) 

F1       Original Order of "Scrapbook 1" [preservation photocopy].

F2       Agreement between Thomas and John Arnold for division of father Richard's estate and care of their elderly mother Phebe; seems to exclude eldest brother Richard from any claim over father's estate. Dated June 29, 1685. [formerly SB1 p58]


Randall Holden's (1694-1766?) commissions for militia:

F3                   as major, county of Providence, signed by Gov. William Wanton, May 4,1732.

                                    [formerly SB1 p1] 

F3                   as lieutenant, town of Warwick, signed by Gov. Samuel Cranston, May 17, 1725.

                                    [formerly SB1 p2]

F3                   as lieutenant colonel, county of Providence, signed by John Wanton, May 10, 1734.

                                    [formerly SB1 p4]

F4       Deed, Sarah Arnold and sons Richard, John and Thomas, May 12, 1710.

                        [formerly SB1 p56-57]

F5       Copy of deed: Randall Holden of Warwick to son John and daughter-in-law Hannah, dated   Sept. 14, 1721. [formerly SB1 p13]

F6       Agreement over boundary dispute between John Wickes and Richard Green "both of

Warwick" concerning land on Warwick Neck; witnessed and signed by "Randall Holden, Assist." Dated July 26, 1723. [formerly SB1 p14]

F7       Bond between John Waterman of Ct. and Randall Holden, Sept. 5, 1731. [formerly SB1 p59]

F7       Bond between John Waterman (Warwick) and John Wickes also of Warwick, Sept. 16, 1729.

                        [formerly SB1 p60]

F8       Agreement for land division in Warwick "among seventeen purchasers", undated?

                        [formerly SB1 p61]

F8       List of couples married by William Arnold, Justice of the Peace, marriages dated from 1733-

                        1766. [formerly SB1 p62-65]

F8       Indenture between Thomas Chease "an Indian man" and Capt. Charles Holden, 1740.

[formerly SB1 p66]

F9       William Arnold's (1695-1766) commissions as Justice of the Peace for town of

                        Smithfield, 1732, 1734, 1740, 1743, 1745, 1762. [formerly SB1 p5-10, 12]

F10     Deed between Walter Capron and William Arnold (1695-1766), May 10, 1743.

                        [formerly SB1 p18]

F10     Deed between Edward Capron and William Arnold, Dec. 10, 1745. [formerly SB1 p19]

F11     Indenture, Thomas Wickes, 1744. [formerly SB1 p3]

F11     Indenture between Daniel Coggeshall and Randall Holden, 1790. [formerly SB1 p35]

F12     Will of John Holden of Warwick; mentions sisters Wate, Mary and Frances and wife

                        Hannah; dated Jan. 9, 1747/8. [formerly SB1 p16-17]

F13     Order to Randall Holden, constable of town of Warwick, to apprehend any person breaking

the customs of the "Lord's day", or any "Indians and Negroes that you shall find in break of the laws", signed by justices Samuel Stafford, John Warner, and Benjamin Arnold, Aug. 20, 1750. [formerly SB1 p11]

F14     Extracts from will of Bandfield Capron concerning his daughter Margaret Arnold (proved             Oct. 13, 1752) [formerly SB1 p15]

F15     Account of sales of cargo of sloop Humbird, Randall Holden, January, 1761.

                        [formerly SB1 p21]

F16     Oath for voyage of sloop Seaflower, Randall Holden, Sept. 17, 1762. [formerly SB1 p67]

F16     Bond between Randall Holden and John Greene, Mar. 14, 1764. [formerly SB1 p68]

F17     Agreement for charter party, sloop Greenwich, witnessed in part by Randall Holden,

                        Apr. 16, 1763. [formerly SB1 p55]

F18     Deposition, Charles Capron, Sept. 17, 1763. [formerly SB1 p23]

F19     Inventory of estate of Randall Holden (1694-1766) of Warwick, Mar. 15, 1766.

                        [formerly SB1 p22]

F20     List of "detters" to Joseph Holden, 1784. [formerly SB1 p25]

F21     Letter to (Capt.?) Randall Holden (d. 1808) from Arthur Fenner, Jr. (?) regarding ill health  of his son Joseph Holden, June 30, 1789. [formerly SB1 p31]

F22     Deed from Randall Holden to his son Stephen, for land in Warwick, Nov. 29, 1790.

                        [formerly SB1 p34]

F23     Letter, Sarah (Holden) Wells to Randall Holden, Dec. 29, 1799.

F24     Letter from Joseph Holden (supercargo?) to his father Randall; mentions sailing for Surinam,

                        dated Dec. 10, 1784. [formerly SB1 p26]

F24     Letter, Joseph Holden (at Surinam) to Randall Holden, Mar. 9, 1787. [formerly SB1 p27]

F24     Letter, Joseph Holden (at Baltimore) to Randall Holden, June 30, 1787. [formerly SB1 p28]

F24     Letter, Joseph Holden (location unknown) to Randall Holden, May 26, 1788.

                        [formerly SB1 p29]

F24     Correspondence, Stephen Holden (1766-1841?) to his father Capt. Randall Holden,

                        1796-1807. [formerly SB1 p36-49]

F24     Letter, Randall Holden, Jr. (supercargo?) to his father Capt. Randall Holden,

describing trading activities and market; asks father not to tell his wife about leak in ship. Dated Sept. 22, 1789. [formerly SB1 p30]

F25     Deed, Randall Holden to his mother Elizabeth Holden, Dec. 5, 1814. [formerly SB1 52]

F25     Deed, Elizabeth Holden (widow) to Mary Pearce, July 25, 1832. [formerly SB1 p53]

F25     Deed, Elizabeth Holden to Eliza Holden, July 26, 1832. [formerly SB1 p54]

F25     Deed between Benjamin Dexter and Eliza Holden, Oct. 25, 1796. [formerly SB1 p32]

F25     Deed between Esek Dexter and Randall Holden, Jr., June 12, 1788. [formerly SB1 p33]

F26     Letters (12), Stephen Holden to father Randall Holden, 1796-1807.

F26     Letter from Benjamin Gardiner to Captn. Randall Holden re: mortgage on Holden's land,

                        Mar. 12, 1805. [formerly SB1 p50]

F27     Will of Sarah Ballou of Providence, Apr. 14, 1851. [formerly SB1 p51]

Series II: "Scrapbook 2"

(SB2 = Scrap Book 2)

Contents include various receipts for lost livestock, household items, and debts; bills; bonds for debts; memoranda; summonses and arrest warrants; and maritime documents mostly of the Holden family.


F1       Original Order of "Scrapbook 2" [preservation photocopy].

F2       Town Council of Warwick document, signed by Samuel Gorton, May, 14, 1640.

F3       Warwick purchasers' meeting record, signed by Samuel Gorton, Feb. 10, 1699.

F4       Testimony by Benjamin Barton regarding land boundary controversy in Warwick between

"great lots of Randall Holden since deceased and John Potter since deceased", May 1718. [formerly SB2 p11]

F5       Agreement between William, Phillip & Ephraim Arnold, June, 11, 1720.

F6       Settlements & agreements, 1723-1799.

F7       Memorandum re: unjust impoundment of Randall Holden's livestock by Samuel Gorton,

                        Sept. 1726. [formerly SB2 p14]

F8       Marriage certificate, Samuel Gorton ("son of Samuel Gorton of Warwick") and Frances

                        Graves ("widow of Ebenezer Graves"), both of Warwick, May 5, 1768.

                        [formerly SB2 p32]

F8       Marriage certificate, Uriah Illson and Sarah Ballou, Oct. 21, 1734 

F9       Intention of marriage, Peter Darling of Cumberland and Priscilla Cook of Wrentham,

                        Mar. 1748/9. [formerly SB2 p15]

F9       Intention of marriage, Robert Aldrich and Mrs. Patience Man, Sept. 1746.

                        [formerly SB2 p13]

F9       Intention of marriage, Thomas Arnold (Smithfield) and Mary Man, Oct. 1737

                         [formerly SB2 p17]

F9       Intention of marriage, Elisha Newall and Susanna Bellou of Wrentham, Dec. 1738.

                        [formerly SB2 p20]

F10     Letter from Governor William Greene, re: death of JohnWickes, Dec. 30, 1741.

F11     Documents re: Susanah Holden, daughter of Randall Holden, 1742.

F12     Documents re: Moses Lippitt, 1742/1743.

F13     Receipts, Randall Holden, 1751-1792. 

F14     Authorization for Col. Randall Holden to administer estate of Isaac Setux[?], "an Indian

                        man deceased", Feb. 10, 1755. [formerly SB2 p21]

F15     Shipping reciepts, Randall Holden, 1758-1766.

F16     Correspondence, Randall Holden to Francis Rawls, Surinam, attempting to collect

                        money owed, 1764 and 1765. [formerly SB2 p30-31]

F17     Appointment of Randall Holden as executor of his father's will, Mar. 15, 1766.

                        [formerly SB2 p33]

F18     Receipt from Randall Hoden to Major Nathaniel Greene for flax seed, Nov. 29, 1771

F19     Receipt to Captain Randall Holden for lottery tickets for building of wharf in Warwick,

                        Sept. 12, 1772. [formerly SB2 p36]

F20     Randall Holden call to appear and hear evidence against him, Dec. 18, 1792.

F21     Ann & Elizabeth Greene's Adventure, no date.

F22     Genealogy of Captain Randall Holden (1754-1796), his wife Elizabeth (Warner) and

                        two daughters, Celia and Celinda. [formerly SB2 p5]

F23     Assorted receipts, 1723-1805.

F24     Assorted promissary notes, 1762-1766.

F25     Miscellaneous.

Series III: Arnold Family Documents

Amos Arnold

F1       Deed to Samuel Arnold, May 4, 1772.

Betsy Bowen (Whipple) Arnold

F2       Will, 1882.

Cornelia Arnold

F3       Lease for Martin Arnold farm, 1876.

F3       Agreement to settle estate of Louisa Whipple, 1868.

Elisha Arnold (d.1806)

F4       Deed from Nathan Staples for land in Smithfield, Mar. 22, 1742/3.

F4       Receipts, 1787-1805.

Ezekiel Arnold

F5       Receipts, mostly for settlement of Elisha Arnold's estate, and bill, 1807-1813.

Isaac Arnold and brothers

F6       Land survey, 1807.

Job Arnold (b.1707)

F7       Will, 1744.

John Arnold (1670-1756)

F8       Land surveys and agreement for construction and repair of dam,1720-1728.

F9       Bond with William Mowery, Aug. 22, 1726.

F10     Deed to son William Arnold, 1746 and receipt to Abraham Tourtellot, Apr. 17, 1754.

F11     Deeds to son Anthony Arnold, 1733 and 1736.

Martin Arnold & Preserved Arnold

F12      Deeds, 1816, 1823, 1827; will, Martin Arnold, 1744.

Oliver Arnold

F13     Subpoena, 1761; bond, after 1786.

Preserved Whipple Arnold

F14      Deed to Louisa and Nancy Whipple, 1853.

William Arnold (1695-1766)

F15     Land surveys, Thayer and Arnold families, 1710?, 1736, 1744, 1762,

                        and after 1751.

F16     Bills and receipts, 1713-1765.

F17     Deeds, 1715-1761.

F18     Judgments, depositions, inquests, 1715-1766.

F19     Powers of attorney, 1720-1756.

F20     Arrest warrants, summons, 1723/4-1762.

F21     Bonds, 1725/6-1751. [formerly B2 F21]

F22     Marriage certificates/intentions, 1736-1753.

F23     Correspondence, 1736-1769 and undated.

F24     Transfers of rights to bank/colony money, 1738.

F25     Liquor licenses, 1748, 1750, 1753-4, and 1761.

F26     Deed from Richard and Susanna (Arnold) Man, Feb. 5, 1759.

F27     Miscellaneous, 1714-1763.


William Crawford

F28     Deed to John Wickes, Mar. 1, 1717.

Elizabeth Spencer

F29     Will, Nov. 22, 1749.

Louisa and Nancy Whipple

F30      Deed to Betsy Bowen Arnold, Apr. 27, 1855.

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Arnold, Betsy Bowen (1794-1882)

Arnold, Elisha (1719/20-1806?)

Arnold, Ezekiel (1753-1817)

Arnold, Job (b. 1707)

Arnold, John (1670-1756)

Arnold, Oliver (b. 1752)

Arnold, Preserved (1788-1828)

Arnold, Preserved Whipple (1828-1919)

Arnold, Thomas (d. 1727)

Arnold, William (1695-1766)

Arnold Family

Capron Family

Cranston, Gov. Samuel (1659-1727)

Holden, (Col.) Randall (1694-1766)

Holden, (Capt.) Randall (1726-1808)

Holden Family

Lippitt Family

Man Family

Rice Family


Wanton, Gov. William



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