The Expansion

By Peter Fay, Jamestown Historical Society

On the island there grew a community of newly arrived West Africans, second-generation African Americans, and Native Americans, who were mostly enslaved and peaked in size at over one-hundred sixty in 1774. But many hundreds of slaves called Jamestown home over the centuries and most were laid to rest in the town Common Burial Ground or on farms, yet not one grave marker commemorates their existence today.

Indian enslavement was soon augmented by the explosion of the Rhode Island slave trade with Africa. Various prominent Jamestown residents financed, captained, and provisioned slave voyages, and purchased the enslaved cargo upon their return.

"One Negro Woman"

For example, the Carr family of Jamestown once again sought out enslaved labor for their vast estates. In 1743 Sayles Carr, grandson of the governor mentioned above, purchased at a slave auction at Hassey’s “Green Dragon” coffee shop in Newport “one Negro woman… £105.” She had disembarked from the slave ship Jolly Bachelor, owned by famous Boston merchant Peter Faneuil, for whom Faneuil Hall, visited today by millions of tourists each year, is named. Court records reveal she was one of six women on the ship. Their African names were Yallah, Morandah, Mowoorie, Simboh, Burrah, and Yearie, which are Temne and Mandinka names common to Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa, and to Rio Pongo, Guinea, to the north.

Baby Hannah

Slavery in Jamestown grew not simply by purchases, but also through births. David Greene was a Quaker farmer and, for a time, owner of the Newport-bound ferry; his home, the Greene Farmhouse, still stands on Shoreby Hill. In 1723 he signed a bill of sale to “put and bound his slave named Hannah, being a Girl half Indian and Half-Negro and about one Year and six months old, [to be] a servant and Apprentice unto George Mumford of South Kingstown” for 19-1/2 years. Hannah’s mother is nowhere mentioned.


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Figure 2 – Black and Indian Population, Jamestown, R.I.

Figure 3 – African names and appraisal (in pounds) of six women aboard the Jolly Batchelor, R.I. Admiralty Court, 1743.

The Shoreby Hill District. Courtesy of Google 2024 ©