Thomas Angell, a farmer, was born England before 1619 and likely much earlier since he calls himself "very Aged" in his 1685 will. Some sources claim that Thomas Angell came with Roger Williams on the Lyon as a servant, but this is unlikely. Angell does not appear on the passenger list, nor does Williams ever name Angell as his servant. Given his birth year, he would only have been age 11 when the Lyon left England in 1630. Another point against Thomas being Williams' companion is that he was illiterate. Joshua Winsor, who is known to have later been Williams' servant was literate.
The first appearance of Thomas Angell in the colonial records is his mark on a document which bears no date. Roger Williams had two contracts dawn up for the fledgling colony of Providence. One was intended for the householders and the other for the single men. Apparently, the final draft was modified to include any new person wishing to become an inhabitant, and it is to this paper that Thomas Angell made his mark, sometime between July 13, 1638 and 1640.
We whose names are hereunder desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to subject ourselves in active and passive obedience, to all such orders or agreements as shall be made for public good for the body, in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a town fellowship, and others whom they shall admit unto them, only in civil things.
On July 27, 1640 Angell was one of the thirty-nine signers of an agreement for a government. He took his status as an inhabitant and freeman of Providence very seriously and was politically active until the last decade of his life. He was one of the twelve signers of the Providence Oath of Allegiance, making his curious circular mark. A forceful and opinionated man, he held many town offices, despite being illiterate (or at least unable to write). He was a member of the Town Council in 1650 and was also surveyor and commissioner that year. He was one of the six jurymen in 1650, 1652 and 1659.
Sometime before 1642, Thomas married Alice Ashton, the daughter of Thomas Ashton and his wife Alice (____). Her arrival in Providence is unrecorded, but several likely possibilities suggest themselves. In 1638 her brother-in-law Thomas Olney made his way with his wife and three tiny sons from Salem to Providence with others whose religious views caused them to be warned to either leave Massachusetts Bay Colony or appear at the next court. Possibly Alice was with them. Although Alice is not on the list of passengers on the April 1635 Planter with her sister's family, she may have come later, alone or in company with brother, James Ashton, who arrived before February 11, 1642/3. Either arrival date would have allowed time for Alice to meet and marry Thomas Angell by 1642. It is equally possible that the couple married in England and proceeded with or without her brother James, to join sister Marie (Ashton) Olney in Salem or Providence.
In the second year of the plantation, Thomas Angell and five others were asked to pay two shillings apiece in consideration of the ground that had been granted to them. This was Thomas's first land in Providence, beginning a long string of acquisitions which left him with considerable property to grant to his eldest son, John, in his lifetime, and to bequeath to his younger son, James. Robert West filed a complaint against Thomas Angell on August 27, 1646 for having trapped and attacked some of West's swine with a pitchfork after they had entered Angell's property in July. Thomas killed a sow and "bruisd as black as a shoe" some of the pigs. Angell was ordered to pay damages for the dead sow and for the value of her skin, which had been torn by the pitchfork.
In December of 1652, Thomas filled an important position as one of the six Providence commissioners at the General Assembly at Hugh Bewitt's trial for high treason. Bewitt had been found guilty by the Court of Trials and he appealed to the Court of Commissioners, and Angell and the five other commissioners acquitted him, sparing Bewitt the dreadful punishment reserved for traitors.
Angell was frequently associated with matters of defense, upholding of the law, and other physical matters. On 25 3mo 1653, he was ordered a commissioner to meet with the Warwick commissioners regarding Captain Underhill and Mr. Dyer and the manner and means of making war upon the Dutch. Due to the merchant trade up and down the coast, there were several inter-marriages between Dutch and Providence colonists. This did not prevent the Council of State from directing the people to annoy the Dutch and forbidding them to send provisions. In one of the most aggressive responses from a New England colony, Rhode Island voted cannon and small arms and twenty volunteers be sent to the English on Long Island.
Thomas Angell acted as constable for the town of Providence in the precedent-setting case of Richard Chasmore, in which Rhode Island's sovereignty over its citizens versus the authority of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was tested. While Williams claimed jurisdiction over Rhode Island, so too did Governor Endicott of Massachusetts. The two were even then negotiating to settle this matter. Not wishing to offend Endicott, Williams requested him to arrest Chasemore. After much irresolution, Endicott agreed to send a sheriff and aide to make the arrest. The men of Rhode Island took exception to the Massachusetts Bay Colony authorities assuming that they had jurisdiction on Rhode Island land. They further resented the implication that Roger Williams was the only man in Rhode Island with any power. Nicholas Fenner, a Justice of the Peace, and others, enraged at Williams's complacency, directed Angell, as constable, to seize the interloping sheriff. With his four deputies to help him, Angell nabbed the sheriff, the aide and Chasemore, and bundled them all off to jail. The sheriff, released almost at once, returned to Boston and Chasemore was bailed to appear before the Court at Newport Co., RI. This is one instance of the early clashing of colonial authorities.
In 1655 Angell was made a Freeman of the Town of Providence. That year he shared in the Division of Lands, drawing the lot just north of where First Baptist Church now stands. The lane bordering it is now Thomas Street and its extension over the hill, Angell Street.
Roger Williams brought a presentment against Thomas Harris, William Wickenden and Thomas Angell on March 13, 1656/7, charging them as ringleaders in the new division in the colony. Harris was charged with treason as a result of his view of liberty, which differed from those of Williams but the charge was dropped. The three men appeared in court and three times an appeal was made for the prosecutor to come forward, but Williams did not come and no other appears to take his place, so the men were dismissed.
In 1658 the former illiterate boy was chosen Town Clerk, which position he held for seventeen years. After King Philip's War, he was one of the five who decided the fate of the Indian captives. An important event in his life took place after the Restoration of King Charles II. Charles had sworn to track down the Regicides who killed his father. Knowing these men were sheltered in the colonies, the authorities deemed it wise that the leading men of each colony should take an Oath of Allegiance to the King. Angell was one of the twelve selected from RI. He defied the King and refused to take the Oath. Three others agreed with him, but eight signed. After much negotiation, the Oath was reframed, the language modified, and the four signed.
That the inventories of both Thomas and Alice Angell were taken the same day, coupled with the fact that Thomas paid no taxes after 1688, suggests that Thomas died about 1689 and that the family waited until Alice died in December of 1694 before probating their estates. His will was written May 23, 1685, at least three years before his death.
At a Meeting of the Councill, 18 Sep. 1694: "This Day the last will & Testatment of Thomas Angell (deceased) beareing date ye 23 May 1685, hath been Examined; the which was some time since Exhibited; James Angell the Exsecutor made Oath unto ye same Tho: Olney Nathaniell Waterman & Ep: Olney as witnesses made oath to the sd will; The said will is this day approved." Here followeth the Record of the last will & Testamt of Thomas Angell of Providence, deceased:
Be it knowne unto all People by these presents That I Thomas Angell of Providence in the Colloney of Rhoad Island & Providence Plantations in New England being now very Aged & not knoweing how soone it may please God to Remove me out of this world, and least any discontent or discord should arise after my departure conserning what Estate I shall leave behind; & being desireous that what I do leave may be Enjoyed according as my mind is it should be, Do now whilst I am in some measure of strength and whilst I am of sound & Perfect memory, make ordaine & appoynt this to be my last will & Testament:
first I do make voyd & null all & Every other will by me made at any tie formerly either by word or writeing & this will & Testament only to stand in force.
Item, I do give & bequeath unto my son John Angell my sixty acres of land lieing within the Towneshipp of PRovidence aforesaid in my Right of the first devision, And also my sixty acres of land in the fifty acre of second devision adjoyneing to the same, & lieing & being neare the palce Caled Cauncaunjawatchuck to be unto him, his Heirs & Assignes forever. As also the one halfe of my Right of Commoning within the said Providence Towneshipp so farr west as the seven mile line, that is to say for Commoning or feeding of Cattell cutting of Timber or forewood or any use wch Commoning is Considered in, saveing onely makeing Claime to any devision of land thereby; that shall not be; As also together with the said halfe Righ[t] of Comon, the one halfe of my Right of lands & Commoning I do give & bequeath which lieth on the west side of the seven mile line, unto my said son John Angell to be unto him his Heirs & Asasign for[e]ver together with all & every their Appurtenances.
Item, I Do give & bequeath unto my son James Angell my dwelling house which standeth in the aforesaid Providence Towne next unto the streete, and my house lott or home share of land whereon the said house standeth, together with my other house lott or home share of land to it adjoyneing, as also all my meaddowes, & my Twenty acres of land lieing on Wayboysett side of the water neere the Cove Called Hawkins his Cove; And my six acres of land lieing in that Tract of land Called the neck where the Cove or salt Creeke called Bailies Cove lieth neere unto the said six acres of Land; As also my Tenn acres of land, lieing in the valley bordering upon the Northerne side of the River Called Wanasquatuckett, And not farr from Thomas Olney of Providence aforesaid his orchard & meaddowes lieing upon the said River; And also halfe my Right of Comoning within the Plantation of Providence aforesd so farr West as the seven mile line, with all the lands which are yet devideable, or may yet, or hereafter be devided or laid out on the East side of the seven mile line unto a whole Purchase Right of Common: As also the one halfe of all my lands & Common within the Towneshipp of Providence aforesaid lieing on the west side of the seven mile line: All which said lands meaddowes & common, with my aforesd dwelling house together with my Barne, & all other my houseing (the house which I now dwell in only Excepted) to be unto my said son James Angell, to him his Heirs & Assignes forever, together with all & every their Appurtenances.
Item, I do give & bequeath unto my daughter Anphillis Smith & unto my daughter Mary Arnold, & unto my daugher Deborah sabeere, & unto my daughter Alice whipple, & unto my daughter Margery whipple unto Each of them two shillings in silver Money to be paid unto them by my Executor hereafter & Executrix hereafter Named:
Item, I do give & bequeath unto my loveing wife Alice Angell my now dwelling house wherein I now dwell to be unto her for her use duiring the time of her Widdowhood; and in Case shee Marrey not, then for the sd house to be unto her duiring the terme of her naturall life with a small plot of land adjoyneing to the said house for a little Garden; As also before the said house Conveniency of yard Room As also free Egresse & Regress for her to pass & repass as shee may have Ocation through any of the afore devised lands: But i Case my said wife do Marrey then at the day of her marriage shall the said house & small Plot of land come into the hands of my said son James Angell with ye Privelidges aforesaid to be unto him his Heirs & Assignes forever, but in case she marrey not, then shall the said house & sd small Plot of land with the said Privelidges Come into the hands of my said son James Angell after the decease of his mother to be unto him & his Heirs & Assignes forver; And that my sd son James angell shall keepe the said house in such Repare as may be Comfortable for his said mother to dwell in duiring the time of her makeing use thereof as aforesaid. I do also give unto my wife one milch Cow to be her owne, & that the said Cow shall be by my sd two sons (viz) John Angell & James Angell constantly, both summered & wintered for the use of my said wife, & when the said Cow by Reason of Age or other thing which may make her unfit for milke doth faile, then shall my said son James take that said Cow himselfe & put another in its Roome, & so in Case any Causalty befalls at any time what cow is so for my sd wife her use as afore Exprest then shall my said son James still put another Milch Cow in its Roome; the which sd Cow shall be at my sd wife her dispose, Either if shee marrey or at her death; And that my said two sons John Angell & James angell their Heirs Executors Administrators & Assignes shall yearly pay unto my said wife (their mother) sixteene shillings i money untill shee marrey, & in case shee marrey not, then duiring the terme of her naturall life; the which said sixteen shillings shall yearely be the one halfe paid by my said son John & the other halfe by my said son James. And that my said two sons John Angell & James Angell their Heirs, Executors, Administrators & Assignes shall take Care & shall provide for the Comfortable maintenance of my said wife duiring the terme of her [Widdowhood, & if she marrey not, then duiring the terme of her] naturall life; And that such Care shall by them be taken & such Provision by them be made that my said wife may sufficiently, suteably & Comfortably be kept & maintained both in health & in sickness with sutable tendance & all other nessesareys as her Condition shall Constantly Require; the which Charge shall be Equally borne by my said two sons: But in Case my sd two sons shall neglect or faile, or Either of them their Heirs Executors Administrators or Assignes shall Neglect or faile of the performance thereof, then shall a third part of the defective party their lands afore devised be unto my said wife for her use & Profitt during the terme of her widdowhood, if shee marrey not, then during the terme of her naturall life: The which Third part of the said lands shall be the third part of ye same which may be most Advantageous to my said wife. I do also give & bequeath unto my said wife all my household goods to be her owne & at her owne dispose; That is to say all my Bedds bedding, Cloathing both woollen linnen, & all sorts of vessells both Iron, Brass, Pewter, wood & all other things to the house belonging which are Nessesary for house keepeing which may be Counted household goods: Table linnen as well as other is includedl; as also if any moneyes be left at my decease, the same I do give unto my said wife.
Item, I do give & bequeath unto my son James Angell all my Cattell of all sorts only Excepting one Cow which I have before disposed of to my wife; As also unto my said son James Angell I do give all my Tooles of what sort soever & all other my Estate both Moveable goods and Chattells not before disposed of: And unto my said son James I do give to him his Heirs & Assignes forever all other my lands Rights Interests & Titles whatsoever not before disposed of. And I do make ordaine Constitute & appoynt my loveing wife Alice Angell my lawfull Executrix & my son James Angell my lawfull Executor, both Joyntly, unto whome I do give all my debts unto me from any Person due, & they to pay all debts from me to any person due; & to see that my body be decently buried & to Execute & performe this my will according [to] My true meaneing & intent therein, And I do desire and appoynt my loveing friends & neighbours Nathaniell Waterman & Thomas Olney to be the overseers of this my Will. In witness of the Premises I do hereunto set my hand & Seale the Twenty & third day of may in theyeare one Thousand six hundred Eighty & five
Be it knowne unto all People by these presents that I the aforesd Thomas Angell do Add this as a Coddicill to my aforesaid will: That is, I do also give & bequeath unto my said son John Angell, unto him his Heirs & Assignes for ever my Ten acres of land which was unto me laid out in luie of my Right of my share of Meaddow in the second or fifty acre devision, it lieing & Adjoyneing to my afore specified lands neere Cauncaunjawatchuck; The which sd Ten acres of land was forgotten before whe the other lands was disposed of: In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand the Twenty & third day of May in the yeare one Thousand six hundred Eighty & five. The marke of X Thomas Angell. Signed in the presene of us, Thomas Olney, Nathaniel Waterman, Epenetus Olney.
James Angell Executor to the abovsd will appeared this day before the Towne Councill of Providence being the 18th day of September 1694 & made oath unto the said will: Thomas Olney: Nathaniel Waterman & Epenetus Olney, the 18th of September 1694 appeared before the Towne Councill of Providene & attested upon Engagement unto the abovesd will as Witnesses. The 18th of September 1694 the Towne council of Providence have Examined & do approve the aofresd will: Attests Joseph Jencks Assistant Steven Arnold Assistant, Joseph Williams Assistant. Recorded August ye 15th 1711 P Tho: Olney Clerk.
Alice also wrote a will:
Here Followeth the Record of the last will & Testament of Alice Angell of Providence (deceased). Be it knowne unto all People by these presents That I Alice Angell of the Towne of Providence in the Narraganset Bay in New England (widdow) being now very weake of Body but (through mercy) of sound & Perfect memory do make this to be my last will & Testament. I do give & bequeath unto my foure daughters (viz) Anphillis Smith, deborah Sabeer, Alice Whipple and Margery Whipple all my weareing Apparreill both Woollen & linnen Equally to be devided amongst them, & more over to my Daughter Deborah Sabeer I give one Chamber Pott & two wooden Trayes which formerly belonged to my son Hope, & also I give unto my daughter Alice Whipple one Trunke & a Deske which my mother gave to me; Item I do give & bequeath to my son James Angell five Pounds in money. Item, All the Remainder of my goods not before disposed of I do give unto my Two sons (to witt) John Angell & James Angell Equally to be betweene them two devided; And I do make ordaine & appoynt my son James Angell to be my Executor who shall see that my Body be decently buried and performe this my will according to my true Meaneing & intent therein, In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand & seale the one & Twentyeth day of October Anno: One Thousand six hundred ninty & foure. And father my will is, that Each of my foure daughters aforesd shall have so much of my Pewter as may be for a Remembrance of me. memorandum the three lines & the piece of line blotted out was allowed of by ye Testator, it being something mistaken by the scribe & should not have been there.
James Angell Executor to the Will on the other side of this Paper Written: & Tho. Olney & Nathaniell Waterman & Epenetus Olney witnesses to the said will, have the 15th day of Januarey 1694/5 given Engagement unto the sd Will. The sd will hath the 15th of Januarey 1694/5 been Examined by the Towne Councill of Providence. Attests Tho. Olney Towne Clarke. Recorded Auguest ye 18th 1711 Tho. Olney Clerk.
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See lineage of Angell Family
Read the Biography of Thomas's son, John Angell
Read the Biography of Thomas's grandson, John Angell
Read the Biography of Thomas's great grandson, Stephen Angell
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