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Spotlight: Early Bristol — Bristol Co, RI

Early Bristol
In January 1680, following King Philip’s War, Plymouth Colony sold the area “known by the name of Mount Hope Neck and Poppasquash Neck”, which was part of Sowams, the ancestral home of the Pokanoket Tribe. Following the sale, four wealthy Boston merchants, Nathaniel Byfield, Stephen Burton, Nathaniel Oliver, and John Walley, became known as the proprietors of the Town of Bristol. Plymouth divided the proceeds from this sale among its other towns to pay their war debts.

Deacon Nathaniel Bosworth constructed the first house in the town in 1680-81 using material shipped over from England. John Walley was authorized to build a cart bridge over Silver Creek, and Reverend Benjamin Woodbridge was brought to Bristol to preach the Gospel.

Religious services for members of the First Congregational Church were held in the Bosworth house shortly after it was built. The Bosworth House was built as a typical two-room-plan, two-story house; today, the oldest portion consists of a single room on each of two floors. The property remained in the Bosworth family until 1957.

The town meeting on October 24, 1683, designated a committee of freemen to oversee the building of the meetinghouse on the Town Common. The timbers for the meetinghouse were to be taken from trees felled by clearing the Town Common lands. It was completed in 1684 on a site near where the Bristol Statehouse currently stands. An artist’s rendering based on a written description of the meeting house is shown to the right.

Sufficient money was not allotted for finishing the interior of the meetinghouse, so individual congregants were permitted to construct their own pew boxes on the floor of the church at their own expense. Reverend Samuel Lee, D.D., a graduate of Oxford University and a long dissenting minister in England, was called to be the Church’s first “settled” minister in 1687.

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Elijah Babbitt

Elijah Babbitt

29 JUL 1795born in Providence, Providence Co, RI
1826PA, Erie, lawyer
1833PA, district attorney
1836-1837PA, State Representative
1843-1846PA, State Senator
1859-1863PA, US Representative
9 JAN 1887died in Erie, Erie Co, PA, about age 91.
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