THE southern part of the State of Rhode Island was
settled by. Englishmen in. the vicinity of the present site of Wickford in 1639.
the section being known as the Narraganset country, from the name of the tribe
of Indians inhabiting it. It was named King's Province March 20, 1654, and
the boundary established May 21, 1669, about the time that the town of Westerly
was incorporated. King's Towne, though settled first, was not incorporated until
1674. Its name was changed to Rochester .June 23, 1686, but the former
name was restored in 1689. It was divided into North and South Kingstown
Feb. 26, 1722-3, and June 16, 1729, the three towns, Westerly, North Kingstown,
and South Kingstown, were incorporated as King's County, having the same
territory as the present County of Washington, to which its name was changed
Oct. 29, 1781. Charlestown was taken from Westerly Aug. 22,1738; Exeter
was taken from North Kingstown March 8, 1742; Hopkinton was taken from Westerly
March 19, 1757; Richmond was taken from Charlestown Aug. 18, 1747.
The County of Kent, taken from the County of Providence .June 15, 1750, consisted originally of two towns, East Greenwich, incorporated Oct. 31, 1677, and Warwick, and included the present territory of that county. West Greenwich was taken from East Greenwich April 6, 1741, and Coventry was taken from Warwick, Aug. 21, 1741.
Scituate was taken from the town of Providence Feb. 20, 1730, and Foster was taken from Scituate Aug 24,1781.
A Rhode Island town council, together with its other functions, is a court of probate. The town council records, real estate records, and the records of births, marriages, and deaths, are kept by a town clerk. The voluntary recording of. births, marriages, and deaths was quite generally resorted to in early times as of possible future importance in the settlement of estates or otherwise. One of the early acts of the King's Towne Council was a resolution that the inhabitants of the town
Page 13 (Page 12 below)
present such facts for record, that each one might claim his inheritance. Owing to what seems to many a parsimonious policy on the part of the town councils, whose powers are ample and whose duties are plain, these town records which have been accumulating for two hundred years, have not, in some instances, been properly cared for. Some of the towns, however, have recently provided fire-proof safes or vaults for their records, and indexed many of the older volumes.
The records of most importance to this genealogy are those of North Kingstown, Exeter, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Coventry, Scituate, and Foster. The North Kingstown records are of great importance, as containing nearly all the recorded evidence relating to the immigrant's family. These records were so badly injured by fire in December, 1871, as to render an examination of them very laborious. Many records were either destroyed or so injured as to be of but little value.
In getting from the Rhode Island town records the dates and localities will be given as in the records, hence the reader must have due regard both to old style dates and to the division of the towns already noted.
Quidnesset, or Quidnesset Neck, is a tract of land in the form of an irregular quadrilateral lying in the town of North Kingstown, R. I., between East Greenwich and Wickford, containing perhaps 5,000 acres, and bounded on the north by Hunt's River and Potowomut Neck, on the east by Narragansett Bay, on the south by Wickford Bay, and on the west by a line running about due south from Hunt's Bridge and nearly coinciding with the old Pequot path, an Indian trail which afterwards became the Queen's highway, and which is at present known as the Post road, which path and ancient thoroughfare skirted the bay far enough from the shore to avoid the inlets. By the side of this road and about midway in the western boundary of Quidnesset is the rock known as "Devil's Foot", which appears to have been an early landmark in that vicinity. The northeast point of Quidnesset is called Pojack, and the southeast Quanset. Between these two points there is on the north a small inlet called Tibbet's Creek, and on the south one called Hall's Creek, while about midway is situated an inlet of larger dimensions known as Allen's Harbor. The surface is undulating, the highest point being about a mile northwest of this harbor, where some rugged cliffs are found facing the southeast, and from which may be obtained a picturesque view of the adjacent country and bay.
A plat of Quidnesset dated Feb. 8, 1717-8, evidently not completed, indicates upwards of thirty lots on the tract, averaging about 150 acres each, though eight lots, mostly in the northwest corner, range from thirty-five acres to sixty acres each. The names of the owners of twenty-three lots are noted. One of the four lots having no other Page14 identity on the plat than their outlines claims our attention. This is a pentagonal tract lying between Allen,s Harbor and the northwest corner of Quidnesset, containing about 400 acres, which tract, or the greater part of which tract, belonged to Arthur Aylworth, as he and his family are known to have owned upwards of 300 acres of it. Between the highway on the southeast side of this tract and a pine grove, which has grown upon land once cleared off, is a lot which has been known for many years as the old orchard. In this lot and near the grove is a plat of ground cleared partially of the drift boulders, so common in the vicinity, in which lies partly imbedded in the ground a large stone mantel, which, no doubt, formed part of the immigrants fireplace. Here apple trees were standing within the recollection of persons still living, and here the plow has revealed other evidences, such as heaps of clam shells. etc., of its having been the site of a permanent house long ago. The ancient dwelling place in the old orchard is within a mile of the salt water, and situated in a westerly direction from it is a family cemetery, in which there are upwards of thirty distinct graves, but the greater number of them have no inscriptions.
[Note: This picture added for interest and not part of the book. (The website editor)]
R. I. THE FARM OF ARTHUR AYLWORTH THE EMIGRANT.