1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Samuel Nightingale I Papers

(part of the Nightingale-Jenckes Papers)

 Merchant of Pomfret, Conn. and Providence, R.I.

 Records, 1740-1786

 Size: .5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 588, sg 1

 Processed by:

Rick Stattler, July 1996

 USE MICROFILM    E445 .R4, part 2, reel 12

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Samuel Nightingale Sr. (1715-1786) was the founder of the Nightingale family in Providence, Rhode Island. The son of Joseph Nightingale (1677-1725), he was raised in Braintree, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard in 1734; early in life he was a clergyman. He lived in Pomfret, Conn. for some years, and settled in Providence in 1751. There he operated a distillery, invested in mercantile ventures, served as Justice of the Peace from 1752 to 1761, and then was chosen for three terms as associate Justice of the state Supreme Court through 1768. Nightingale returned to Pomfret for much of the Revolution, from 1778 to 1781.

            Samuel married Abigail Belcher in 1740. Their seven surviving children were Samuel Jr. (1741-1814), Joseph (1747-1797), William, Sarah (1744-1830) (m. Thomas Munro), Abigail (1745-1825) (m. Sylvester Richmond), Mary or "Polly" (1754-1803) (m. James Gramont) and Lydia (1760-1823) (m. Abijah Warren). Samuel II became a prosperous merchant, and Joseph was even more successful as founder of the merchant partnership Clark & Nightingale.


Chapin, William Waterman. Genealogy of the Nightingale Family (typescript at the R.I.H.S.,             compiled 1912).

Makepeace, Maria N. [Notes on Nightingale family]. Typescript made from borrowed original             by Rhode Island Historical Society, 1947.

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection consists for the most part of various account books kept by Nightingale. There are no correspondence files and very few loose papers. The entries before 1752 relate to northeastern Connecticut rather than Providence.

            It is possible that some of Nightingale's papers after 1760 might have been misidentified as belonging to his son Samuel II. However, Samuel II had a very distinctive hand, and seems to have played the major role in family business after reaching adulthood. Conversely, some of the papers in this collection dated after 1760 may well be Samuel II's.

Return to top


            This collection was probably donated by George A. Holbrook on May 8, 1900 as part of what became known as the Nightingale-Jenckes Papers. The evidence for this is somewhat circumstantial, and interested parties can consult a lengthy essay on the subject that is available in the collection file at the repository.

Return to top

Processing note:

Return to top


Box 1, folder 1.         Accounts, 1742-1747. Pomfret, Connecticut.

Box 1, folder 2.        Day book, 1751-1786.

Box 1, folder 3.         Scraps removed from daybook.

Box 1, folder 4.        Accounts, 1740-1766. Indexed in front.

Box 1, folder 5.        Navigation and distillery accounts, 1752-1775

Box 1, folder 6.        Receipt book, 1760-1770. Unidentified list of sermons on inside cover.

Box 1, folder 7.        Letter, 1758, from Gerard G. Beekman of New York.

Box 1, folder 8.        Insurance certificates: sloops Susannah and Victory, 1760

Box 1, folder 9.        Will, 1786

Box 1, folder 10.      Deeds and agreements, 1752-1764. Distillery and dock land.

Box 11, oversized volume 1. Ledger, 1751-1763. Later entries in the hand of SN II.

Return to top


Beekman, Gerard G.

Connecticut - Business records

Distilleries - Rhode Island - Providence

Merchants - Rhode Island - Providence

Nightingale, Samuel II (1741-1814)

Rum industry - Rhode Island - Providence

End of finding aid - return to top