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

 Edwards and Angell Legal Files

 Law firm, Providence, R.I.

 Case file, 1975-1978 (copies of documents, 1524-1978)

 Size: 1.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 877

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, February 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists of evidence presented in a 1975 suit by the Narragansett Indians against the owners of their former tribal land in Charlestown, R.I. The land had been sold by the state of Rhode Island in 1890. The collection includes copies of evidence presented by both the plaintiff and the defendants in this suit, and collected by the Providence legal firm of Edwards and Angell, which represented the Narragansetts in the case.

            Both legal teams made an effort to uncover every scrap of evidence relating to Narragansett land claims, dating back to the first European visit to Rhode Island by Verrazanno in 1524. The most important known documents relating to the Narragansetts are copied in this file, including early deeds, the tribal minute book from 1850 to 1860, the 1881 report listing accepted tribal members, and numerous petitions made to the Rhode Island General Assembly.

            These files should prove to be a valuable time-saver for any researcher interested in the Narragansetts, as the need for tracking down these rare or unique documents in repositories across the state is eliminated. The records should be of interest to both the historian and the genealogist.

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            These files were a gift from Edwards and Angell in 1990.

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Processing note:

The designation volume in this collection refers to photocopies clipped together. The volumes are stored in acid free folders in 2 archival boxes.  

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            This inventory does not list every piece of evidence in the files. It does indicate all manuscript items, and newspaper clippings. Complete copies of particularly important published works are also indicated, and the general chronological range of each volume is indicated as well. For full citations, see the actual files.


This collection housed in 2 boxes and is organized into the following 4 series:

Series 1: "Defendant's Request for Admission"
Series 2: "Defendants' Second Set of Requests for Admission"
Series 3: "Plaintiff's Third Set of Requests for Admission to Defendants"
Series 4:  "Miscellaneous"

#: Exhibit number

CLE: Charlestown Town Land Evidence Books

JCB: John Carter Brown Library at Brown Unviversity

JH: John Hay Library at Brown University

KML: Arnold Collection at Knight Memorial Library, Providence, RI.

NHS: Newport Historical Society. From "Indian File" unless noted.

RISA: Rhode Island State Archives

SK:      South Kingstown Probate and Council Records

WLE: Westerly Town Land Evidences

Series 1: "Defendant's Request for Admission"

Submitted 1977

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 1 (List of exhibits and summary of evidence)

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 2 (Exhibits #1-43, pages 1-250)

Published transcriptions of documents dated 1524-1642, mostly by Roger Williams and John Winthrop. No manuscripts.

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 3 (Exhibits #44-134, pages 251-502)

Published transcriptions of documents dated 1643-1665. No manuscripts.

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 4 (Exhibits #135-196, pages 503-750)

Published transcriptions of records dated 1667-1708.

#177               Act of R.I. General Assembly, May 4, 1681, at JCB

#186,189,194 Deeds by Ninigret, 1698, 1703, 1708, in WLE

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 5 (Exhibits #197-285, pages 752-1000)

Copies of records dating 1709-1795

#200               Deed from Ninigret, 1709, in RISA Land Evidences.

#201               Deed from Ninigret, 1711, in WLE

#214-215        Deeds from Charles Ninigret, 1733, in WLE

#222,223,226 Deeds from George Ninigret, 1743-1746, in CLE

#233,234,236 Petitions before General Assemby, 1763, in RISA Narragansett file

#240,252-254 Deeds from Thomas Ninigret, 1765, in CLE

#245-247,250 Petitions before General Assemby, 1769, in RISA Narragansett file

#255               Proclamation by Gov. Wanton, 1769, at JCB

#256               Report to General Assembly, 1770, in RISA Narragansett file

#260               Deed from Thomas Ninigret estate, 1771, in CLE

#262               Resolution re sale of Thomas Ninigret's land, 1772, RISA Narragansett file

#264               Petition to General Assembly, 1773, in RISA Narragansett file

#265               Manuscript 1774 census of Charlestown, in RISA

#272               Petition to General Assembly, 1787, in RISA Narragansett file

#284               Regulations for Narragansetts, 1792, in RISA Narragansett file

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 6 (Exhibits #286-352, pages 1001-1212)

Copies of records dating 1800-1875

#288-289        Deeds on behalf of Narragansetts, 1804, in CLE

#293-309General Assembly petitions and resolutions, 1811-1819, in RISA Narragansett file

#300               Deed from Daniel Babcock, 1813

#315,320-335 General Assembly petitions, 1824-1839, in RISA Narragansett File

#321               Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1826, in CLE

#347               Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1859, in CLE

#349               Deed on behalf of Narragansetts, 1864, in CLE

Box 1, Series 1, Volume 7 (Exhibits #353-364, pages 1213-1437)

Mostly copies of records dating 1880-1899. The bulk are printed reports to the General Assembly. Exhibit #355 is the important Report of Commission on the Affairs of the Narragansett Indians made to the General Assembly dated January 1881, which gives a list of all tribal members as well as extensive tesimony.

#357               Distribution of funds, 1882, in CLE

#363               Deed from Charles Ninigret, 1731, in WLE

"Defendants' Second Set of Requests for Admission"

Submitted circa 1977?

The exhibit list and legal documentation for this set are missing.

Volume 1 (Exhibits #365-424, pages 1438-1615)

Copies relating to 1620-1760 period.

#379               Testimony of George Wightman, May 1, 1704, in NHS

#380               Stiles, "A Map of Narragansett Country", 1759, with testimony, source unknown.

#381               R.I. General Assembly appointment of Narragansett Commissioners, from RIHS Shepley Collection, 9-35.

#406-415        Probate of Abigail Wescome estate, 1743, and other South Kingstown probate records 1743-1759, in SK

#417,419,423 Petitions to the R.I. General Assembly, 1732-1765, in RISA

#420-424        Runaway notices from Newport Mercury, 1759-1769

Volume 2 (Exhibits #425-494, pages 1616-1867)

Copies from the entire 1659-1976 period.

#427               Letter from Charles Augustus Ninigret to King George, 1727 (typescript), RIHS

#428, 430, 481, 482 Petitions to General Assemby, 1725-1746, RISA

#431               Deed, C.A. Ninigret to Church of England, 1746, in RIHS Champlin Papers

#436-473        Articles on annual meetings in Providence Journal, the Providence Evining Bulletin, and the Westerly Sun, 1905-1976.

#446               Poster advertising meeting, 8/13/1939

#476               Illegible birth return from Westerly, May 27, 1873

#477               Various Charlestown town marriages, 1865-1878

#478               Deed from Coginiquant, 1659, in RIHS.

#480               Deposition of Nathaniel Waterman, 1706, in NHS

#483-485        Records re Thomas Ninigret estate, 1746-1754, in RIHS Champlin Papers

#486               Message of Gov. Cooke to the Oneida Indians, 1775, in RIHS Cooke Papers

#487               Population totals of Indians, 1730-1791, in RIHS Foster Papers

#491               Elisha Potter Jr. letter to father, 1833, in RIHS Potter Papers

#494               Charlestown Tax Books for 1856 to 1880, reproduced in full.

Volume 3 (Exhibits #495-585, pages 1868-2102)

Mostly news clippings from 1862-1970, and manuscripts from 1712-1765.

#495               Letter from B.B. Thurston to E.R. Potter, 1833, in RIHS Shepley Collection

#497-507        From the Westerly Narragansett Weekly and Providence Journal, 1862-1883.

#509-525        From the Westerly Sun, Narragansett Times, Providence Journal, 1899-1970

#529               Governor's meeting notes on message to Indian kings, 1663, in NHS

#533-580        Petitions to General Assembly, 1732-1765, in RISA

                        Mixed w/ Charles Ninigret estate file, 1712-1756 from RIHS Champlin Papers

#585               Petition to General Assembly, 1785, from RIHS collection

Volume 4 (Exhibits #586-713, pages 2103-2323)

Copies of documents from 1789-1899.

#588               Petition to the General Assembly, 1789

#589               "Act to Regulate the...Narragansetts", 1792, RIHS Shepley Collection

#592-597        "Committee to Transact Indians' Affairs", 1792-97, RIHS Shepley Collection

#598               Letter, Arthur Fenner re Narragansett agents, 1795, RIHS Fenner Papers

#599               Plat map, Nathan Kinyon land, 1795, RIHS Updike Papers

#600               Testimony of Samson Hoxsey, 1796, in RIHS Shepley Collection

#601               Plat map of James Kenyon land, 1778, in RIHS Shepley Collection

#603               Letter from the Indian affairs committee, 1800, in RIHS Shepley Collection

#604               Petition to the General Assembly, undated, from RISA

#605               Deed, Indian Council to Gideon Hoxsie, 1800, in CLE

#606               Receipt, 1802, from RIHS Shepley Collection

#609               Receipt, 1810, from RIHS Shepley Collection

#611               Petition of John Harry, 1812, from RIHS Shepley Collection

#614               Deed, Narragansett Council, 1812, in CLE

#615               Deed, Narragansett Council to Benjamin Wilson, 1813, in CLE

#620               Conditions of sale for Narragansett Council, 1819, in RIHS

#622               Letter, Tobias Ross to Elisha R. Potter, 1836, in RIHS Potter Papers

#623               Letter, E.R. Potter to Wilkins Updike, 1839, in RIHS Potter Papers

#624-643        Petitions and other records of the Narragansett Council before the RI General Assembly, 1842-1850, in RIHS Shepley Coll.

#635               Letter, E.R. Potter to Gov. Fenner, 1843, in RISA Letters to Governor.

#652               Report on General Assembly meeting, 2/25/1859, in Providence Daily Post

#663-676, 680 General Assembly notes from Westerly Narragansett Weekly, 1879-1883

#678-679        Letters from J.M. Addeman to Sidney Rider, 1883, from JH?

#681-710        Articles from various newspapers, 1893-1899

#706               Letter, F.M. Morrison to Sidney Rider, 1898, from JH?

Volume 5 (Exhibits #714-748, pages 2324-2458)

Mostly copies of documents from 1900-1947

#714               Hearing Before a Subcommittee of the Council on Indian Affairs of the United States Senate in Relation to Certain Claims of the Montauk, Shinnecock, Narragansett and Mohegan Indians, 1900. 128 pages (complete).

#716-              Articles from various newspapers, 1900-

#719-727        Correspondence of James N. Arnold, 1901, from KML?

#728               Article, Westerly Sun, 1901

#729-740        Correspondence with U.S. Dept. of Interior, 1924-1937, from National Archives?

#741               Article on tribe church bill in Providence Journal, 1935

"Plaintiff's Third Set of Requests for Admission to Defendants"

Submitted by the Narragansetts, 1976 (in box 2)

Volume 1 (Exhibits #1-58, pages 1-230)

List of exhibits and historical events. Also published transcripts of documents from 1524-1661. No manuscripts.

Volume 2 (Exhibits #58-156, pages 231-513)

Copies of documents dated 1661-1858

#86-88            Deeds from Ninigret, 1698, 1703, 1706, in WLE

#91                 Deed from Ninigret, 1709, in RISA Land Evidence

#93                 Westerly Town Meeting minutes, 1710

#100               Deed from Charles Ninigret, 1731, in WLE

#105-107        Deeds and plats of George Ninigret, 1745, in CLE

#108-111        Reports and petitions to General Assembly, 1747-1757, in RISA Narragansett file

#112               Deed from Thomas Ninigret, 1758, in CLE

#120               Deed from Thomas Ninigret, 1769, in CLE

#121               Deed from Sam Niles et al, 1769, in CLE

#122-125        Reports and petitions to General Assembly, 1769-1773, in RISA Narragansett file

#130               Deed from David Sekater, et al, 1791, in CLE

#135               Act of General Assembly, 1811, in RISA Narragansett file

#136               Petition of Moses Stanton, 1813, in RISA Narragansett file

#138               Act of General assembly, 1816, in RISA Narragansett file

#141-146        Petitions to General Assembly, 1830-1834, in RISA Narragansett file

Volume 3 (Exhibits #157-172, page 514-801)

Copies of records from 1850-1882, including printed reports.

#157               Book of records for Narragansett Tribe, 1850-1860. Copy of original minute book at Charlestown Town Hall. 124 pages, very important.

#169               1774 census of Charlestown, at RISA

#170               1870 census of Indians at Charlestown, at RISA

#172               Deed re Narragansetts, 1875, in CLE


Folder 1. Newspaper clippings re lawsuit, 1975

Folder 2. Article titled "the Minutes and Ledgers of the Narragansett Tribe of Indians, 1850-1865: An Intimate Glimpse into the Economic and Social Life of an acculturated Indian Tribe on the Threshold of Detribalization", by Ethel Boissevain, in Man in the Northeast, Spring 1974

Folder 3. Act of Rhode Island General Assembly establishing the Narragansett Indian Land Management Corporation, 1978.

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Charlestown, R.I. - Land records

Indians of North America - Land tenure

Land title - Rhode Island - Charlestown

Narraganset Indians - Land tenure

Ninigret Family

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