My English language skills class is researching freedom and slavery around 1774 in our local area, Pomfret, Connecticut. Can we find out who were patriots and who had loyalist sympathies? We started by trying to identify patriots and loyalists in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
My topic is Godfrey Malbone Jr, who lived in Pomfret/Brooklyn, CT from 1766 to 1785 when he died. He is buried there in the church, Old Trinity Episcopal, which he built in 1770-1771. In my research, I found that his father, Godfrey Malbone Sr. (1695-1768), was born in Virginia and relocated to Newport RI around 1700 when Godfrey Jr would have been about 5 years old. Godfrey Malbone Sr owned merchant ships and was famous for being a part of triangle trades and for slaver trading, which made him the wealthiest man in Newport, Rhode Island. He built the Malbone Hall in Newport, which was “considered the most splendid edifice,” but it burned in 1766, which is one of the reasons why Godfrey Malbone Jr moved to Pomfret, CT. Another reason is that as a loyalist, he “suffered greatly from Newport mobs” and privateers, so he escaped to the “forest and meadow land” of Pomfret, CT.
With his wealth, Godfrey Malbone Sr had bought land in Pomfret/Brooklyn, Connecticut in 1739. The land was transferred to his son, Godfrey Malbone Jr, in 1764. The deed shows that the farm had 3000 acres, “80 cows, 45 oxen, 30 steers, 59 young cattle, six horses, 600 sheep, 180 goats, 150 hogs and 27 Negroes, in that order.” Until recently, researchers thought Godfrey Malbone Jr was the largest slave owner in CT at the time. However, archeologist Gerald Sawyer from Central Connecticut State University has found a plantation with slaves owned by Samuel Browne in Salem, CT, which operated from 1718 until about 1780. Samuel Browne had 4000 acres and 60 slave families. My next research step is to find out more about Samuel Browne and the plantation in Salem, CT.
Griggs, Susan J. Early Homesteads of Pomfret and Hampton. Abington, CT., 1950.
Lang, Joel. “Chapter One: The Plantation Next Door.” Hartford Courant 29 September 2002. Web 6 April 2017. http://www.courant.com/news/special-reports/hc-plantation.artsep29-story.html
Photo Credit http://www.putnamelms.org/