This is the story (just the beginning) of finding a family for my 5x-great grandmother, Freelove (—-) Andrews, born around 1746. I am related to Freelove in the following way: my grandmother Edna May Darling — her father Russell E. Darling — Emma L. Lamphere — Hannah Andrews — Jesse Andrews — Freelove (—-). In my last post, I reviewed some sources for the Andrews. I had gone through those resources carefully looking for a stray “Freelove” cousin. No luck.
Although I originally encountered Freelove in Warwick around 1790-1810, I first realized that she had been living previously in Coventry, Rhode Island through an article in Rhode Island Roots, (volume 31, March, 2005, p. 33 – 39, Cherry Fletcher Bamberg “Warwick Residency Certificates, 1737-1820”). Freelove’s entry (p. 36) reads:
For: Freelove Andrew, widow of Philip, and ch. of Philip Andrew From: Coventry Date: 8 Dec. 1787
So, Warwick warned Freelove and her children that they didn’t belong in Warwick and needed to leave (they didn’t). Since her previous town was Coventry, that certainly makes me wonder if she was perhaps born or raised in Coventry.
I copied some deeds from microfilm at the Family History Library in February, but then I didn’t like my page pictures, so I went to Coventry Town Hall to get better ones.
Coventry, Rhode Island
Coventry was originally the western section of Warwick, and split off in 1741. So ancestors could have been living in Warwick, but then you find their later deeds in Coventry, but actually they never moved. I don’t think that’s quite what happened here, but I do think my ancestors were often close to the borders of East Greenwich, Warwick, and Coventry.
The town hall is on Flat River Road. You park around the back. There’s not a lot of signage from the parking lot, but one door leads you to the library and town hall. The older records are on movable shelves in a back room in the town clerk section. A retired gentleman was around that day that helped me find a few things. He asked me what family I was researching, and when I said Andrews, he guffawed a bit and wished me luck. Guess everyone knows I am in need of that.
Phillip Andrews in Coventry
I was hoping to find evidence of Phillip and Freelove Andrew’s time in Coventry.
First of all, there were no vital records to be found for Phillip. I was really hoping a death record would show up. I have narrowed down his death to 1780-1787. No death or probate record in Coventry (or Warwick or East Greenwich). There are MANY Andrews in Coventry (see the Andrews manuscript mentioned last time), but no records seemed to pertain to my branch.
When I first looked at the deeds, I encountered one of those special indexing systems. They are used in a large alphabetical index that covers 1743-1925. I later learned, from Christine Rose’s Courthouse Indexes Illustrated (2006) that this is called the Russell Index (p. 15). It classifies names by CERTAIN letters that may appear in the name after the first letter. It’s the first time I’ve seen this one, so I had to stop and figure it out. I’m sure it solved some problems in the pre-digital world, but it’s a bit convoluted today.
As I explored deeds, I was a little surprised at what I found. The index showed five deeds of interest:
- Grantee: Phillip Andrews al. Grantor: John Alerton Jr. v 4 p. 228 (1768)
- Grantee: John Adams Grantor: Philip Andrews al. v. 5 p. 136 (1768)
- Grantee: Josiah Potter Grantor: Philip Andrews al by Shff v. 5 p. 205 (1771)
- Grantee: Sweet Whitford Grantor: Jesse Andrews al. v. 9 p. 114 (1796)
- Grantee: Abner Bartholick Grantor: Jesse Andrews al. v. 9 p. 116 (1796)
Let me summarize what happened in the deeds.
- v 4 p. 228 (1768) I, John Alerton Junr of Coventry … Cooper … for … Eight Hundred good Spanish milled Dollars … paid by John Andrews and Phillip Andrews of East Greenwich … Coopers …
- A certain parcel of Land Situate … in Coventry … by Estimation One hundred and fifty acres … Butted and Bounded as followeth: South on a Highway West on Carrs River North on the fish pond farm so called East on Land formerly belonging to Gideon Freeborn,
- Together with part of Two Mishnick Lots,
- one part of the Seventh Lot Bound East and West on a highway North on the Lot Number Eight South on the Lot Number Six by Estimation 4 acres
- also part of another Lot Number five butted and bounded as followeth East and West on a Highway North on the Lot Number Six, South on the Lot Number four, by estimation Two acres and one half, be the same more or less …
- and Rose Alerton, wife to the above said John Alerton Junr … surrender all her right of dower … 12 day of April 1768. In the presence of William Spencer Junr, Thomas Shippee. John Rice, Town Clerk … Personally appeared … Before Thomas Shippee Justice of the Peace.
- v. 5 p. 136 (1768) We, John & Phillip Andrews for … Thirty Pounds … paid by John Adams of Warren in the County of Bristol and Colony of Rhode Island, Yeoman … Quit Claim all our Right which we now have or ever had … all that part of the Farm No.2 in the last Division below Carrs River, said farm was drawn in the right of Ezekiel Holloman … on the north of a Streight line to be drawn from the Northerly Corner of the farm on which we now live to the South Westerly Corner of the fish pond farm so called … said dividing line is to be run agreeable to the original plan of the three mentioned farms … third day of May … 1768.
- In the presence of Stephen Potter, Mary Potter.
- Signed John Andrews … Phillip Andrews.
- And Hannah the wife of me the said John Andrews … do acquit all her … Dower … Hannah Andrews, her mark.
- And Freelove the wife of me the said Phillip Andrews … doth acquit all her Right of Dower … Freelove Andrews her mark
- Personally appeared … John Andrews … 24th day of November 1770
- Personally appeared … Phillip Andrews … tenth day of December, 1770 Before me Sam Wall Justice of the Peace.
- v. 5 p. 205 (1771) I Henry Rice Esq. Sherriff of the County of Kent in the Colony of Rhode Island … Whereas two Executions against John Andrews and Philip Andrews at the suit of John Alerton Junr and one Execution against John Andrews at the suit of Joseph Carpenter were by me the said Sheriff levied on a certain farm or tract of Land Situate in Coventry with a Dwelling House and other Buildings thereon standing containing about One Hundred and Fifty Acres Bounded as followeth viz Southerly on a Highway Westerly on Carrs River Northerly and Easterly on Land formerly belonging to John Adams, and whereas on the first day of December AD 1770 all the Estate Right Title Interest and Property of the said John Andrews and Philip Andrews in the premises aforesaid were by me the said Sheriff sold at Public Vendue for the satisfaction of said executions to Josiah Potter who was the Highest Bidder for the sum of One Hundred and Twenty Six Pounds lawful money which the said Josiah Potter hath since well and truly paid me the said Sheriff.
- Now Know ye that by force and Vertue of an Act of the General Assembly at their Session held at South Kingstown … October 1763 entitled “An Act for Regulating the Method of Assigning Real Estate Sold by Execution &c” —- I the Said Sheriff … Sell … to … Josiah… All and Every the Lands Tenaments and Hereditaments with their and every of their Appurtenances …
- In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the Twenty Sixth day of January … 1771.
- v. 9 p. 114 (1796) We Christopher Andrews of Pits Town in the County of Renselaer in the State of New York Yeoman and Jesse Andrews of Coventry Mariner … for … the sum of Ten Dollars … To us … paid by … Sweet Whitford of Coventry … Yeoman. One certain small lot of land lying … in that partcalledMishnick Swamp being part of the Lot Number five in said Swamp, … contains by estimation two acres.
- hereunto set our hands and seals this Seventh Day of September, AD1796.
- In the presence of Asa Stone, William Stone. Before William Stone Justice of the Peace
- v. 9 p. 116 (1796) We Christopher Andrews of Pits Town in the County of Renselaer in the State of New York Yeoman and Jesse Andrews of Coventry Mariner … for … the sum of 22 Dollars and a half Dollar … To us … paid by … Abner Bartholick of Coventry … Yeoman. Two small Lots of land
- one of which is part of the Seventh Lot in Mishnick Swamp Lying in the Township of Coventry … containing by estimation four acres …
- the other small lot being part of the Fifth Lot in Mishnick Swamp … containing by estimation one half acre …
- hereunto set our hands and seals this Seventh Day of September, AD1796.
- In the presence of Asa Stone, William Stone. Before William Stone Justice of the Peace
10 things I learned from the deeds
- Phillip Andrews and his father made a land purchase together in 1768. I know it was him and his father (and not, say, a brother John) because their wives signed a subsequent deed. There were SO MANY John Andrews transactions in the Coventry index, I haven’t yet sorted out the prior ones that belong to this John.
- John and Phillip bought 150 acres plus buildings in 1768, plus small parts of Lots 7 and 5 in Mishnick Swamp (I believe, today, this is known as Mishnock Swamp). Mishnock Swamp is very near the Maple Root Baptist Church in Coventry, a church heavily populated with Andrews, and built on their land. A couple of months later, they quit-claimed what appears to be a smaller property nearby … could that have been their previous home?
- It seems possible that Phillip and John housed their families in one dwelling on this property, although I don’t yet know if other properties were owned, or if more than the one mentioned dwelling was available there.
- Phillip and his father John Andrews were coopers. Never knew that; I had only seen Philip working as a soldier in wartime from time to time.
- The property was near Carrs River. So, the land was near the border of Coventry and West Warwick.
- If there’s one thing I learned from Judy G. Russell during “Law School for Genealogists” at GRIP last summer, it was to check the legal terms that I am not completely sure of. For these deeds, I looked up the following in Black’s Dictionary of Law, 1891 (Judy Russell offers her Black’s Dictionary of Law advice here):
- Execution. The completion, fulfillment, or perfecting of anything, or carrying it into operation and effect. The signing, sealing, and delivery of a deed. The signing and publication of a will. The performance of a contract according to its terms. In practice. The last stage of a suit, whereby possession is obtained of anything recovered. It is styled “final process,” and consists in putting the sentence of the law in force. 3 Bl. Comm. 412. The carrying into effect of the sentence or judgment of a court.
- Vendue. A sale; generally a sale at public auction; and more particularly a sale so made under authority of law, as by a constable, sheriff, tax collector, administrator, etc.
- Tenement. This term, in its vulgar acceptation, is only applied to houses and other buildings, but in its original, proper, and legal sense it signifies everything that may be holden, provided it be of a permanent nature, whether it be of a substantial and sensible, or of an unsubstantial, ideal, kind. Thus, liberum tenementum, frank tenement, or freehold, is applicable not only to lands and other solid objects, but also to offices, rents, commons, advowsons, franchises, peerages, etc. 2 Bl. Comm. 16. “Tenement” is a word of greater extent than “land,” including not only land, but rents, commons, and several other rights and interests issuing out of or concerning land. 1 Steph. Comm. 158, 159.
- Hereditaments. Things capable of being inherited, be it corporeal or incorporeal, real, personal, or mixed, and including not only lands and everything thereon, but also heir-looms, and certain furniture which, by custom, may descend to the heir together with the land. Co. Litt. 56; 2 Bl. Comm. 17. The two kinds of hereditaments are corporeal, which are tangible, (in fact, they mean the same thing as land,) and incorporeal, which are not tangible, and are the rights and profits annexed to or issuing out of land. Wharton.
- And, of course, I need to know the law that impacted my ancestor’s life – in this case: an Act of the General Assembly at their Session held at South Kingstown … October 1763 entitled “An Act for Regulating the Method of Assigning Real Estate Sold by Execution &c” – I referred to Bartlett’s Colonial Records of Rhode Island (vol. 6, p. 373) but it only reports:
- Public Acts Passed During the Year 1763 — [item 3] An Act for regulating the method of conveying and assessing real estates sold by execution, and for changing the form of the deed heretofore given and used by the Sheriffs (October). [a better source for the law might be the State Archives].
- The 150 acres were seized by the sheriff and sold in 1771, based on “suits” by John Alerton Jr and Joseph Carpenter. This implies there were some kind of mortgages or claims that I haven’t found yet. The loss of the land may explain why no deeds or probate seem to mark the end of John Andrews’ life, and with no vital record, there is no evidence of John’s death.
- In 1796, Phillip’s sons Christopher and Jesse sold the small remaining part of Lots 5 & 7 in the Mishnock Swamp. Christopher had already moved on to Pittstown, New York, and Jesse was a newlywed and was about to buy property on Main Street, East Greenwich, the following year.
- The mention of Ezekial Holliman as the original owner of one of the swamp lots is intriguing – more coming on that idea in the future.
Making a connection through the deeds
Needless to say, even as I was sitting at the microfilm machine in Salt Lake City, I quickly checked all the names mentioned in the deeds against the index of the Andrews Genealogy to see if any were related to Phillip. None were found (not that that proves anything, of course). But since I am seeking Freelove’s family, that might be good news – perhaps they were connected to her.
The most interesting name was the first one, John Alerton, Jr., since Phillip Andrews’ first acquisition might be most closely connected to his family or his wife’s. Two factors that make this less likely are the fact that Phillip’s father John was also a purchaser, and that John Alerton eventually foreclosed on them – but, who knows. I copied John Alerton’s marriage, children’s births, and probate record from the Coventry Town Hall. Based on dates, I wondered if he could be Freelove’s brother.
The name Alerton rang a bell, and I couldn’t remember why, then of course I remembered Isaac Allerton, Mayflower passenger. I thought if I could consult the recent Allerton “silver book” I could get a quick overview of any possible links to Freelove.
- Robert Charles Anderson’s bibliographic notes on Isaac Allerton in The Great Migration Begins (vol. 1, p. 39).
- An older book online – A history of the Allerton family in the United States : 1585 to 1885 by Walter S. Allerton. I was a little astonished at what I found. The John Allerton, Jr. that lived in Coventry, R.I. (p. 39) had a daughter Freelove (be still my heart! – although that would not be my Freelove) and an uncle Jesse. The family even had links to Plainfield and Norwich, Connecticut, where my Andrews ended up. Just finding a Freelove and a Jesse in John Allerton’s family is enough to make this a giant clue.
- Descendants of Edward Small of New England by Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill, 1910, volume 2, p. 685. This book repeated the story of John Allerton, Sen. being the son of Isaac (3).
- I was feeling pretty excited about the Allertons. Unfortunately, the silver book (Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol. 17: Issac Allerton, 2013) explained, in a footnote on page 7, that John Allerton Sr. of Norwich, Conn., Warwick, and Coventry, R.I. was only tied to the Mayflower Allertons by family tradition, and no evidence linked him to the person assumed to be his father, Isaac (3) Allerton, even though that had been re-copied in several places.
So, no easy, carefully traced tree here. The Allertons (junior and senior) are real but I will have to research them myself. One thing I learned from the silver book was that John Allerton Sr was also in Warwick. There are no vital records for Allertons reported in Arnold’s Rhode Island Vital Records, vol. 1, but there may be other Warwick records.
It occurs to me that Phillip’s son Christopher’s departure for Pittstown, New York in the late 1790’s could be the result of a bounty land grant for Phillip, after the Revolutionary War. I’ve never found that – just a few records here and there about several years of service. But I need to look more. First of all, I’m going to review the laws and see if Phillips’ death in the late 1780’s would have prevented the family from getting such a grant.
But meanwhile, back in Coventry, I am a little mystified by the origins of the 150 acre lot and the Mishnock swamp lots. On the one hand, Mishnock Swamp is adjacent to the Maple Root Church property, clearly Andrews land. On the other hand, they didn’t buy it from close Andrews relatives or in-laws – they bought it from John Alerton Jr. I have a vague idea that John Alerton could possibly be a relative of Freelove. But I need to know where John Alerton got the land, regardless of any connection to Freelove. I think that is the next step.
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