March1989

EARLY RHODE ISLAND SETTLERS

EDWARD INMAN

Ruth L May

Edward Inman arrived in Providence before 1648, a mature person and in possession of enough money to purchase land. He was probably married by 1644 and the name of his first wife remains unknown. He is one of those men who signed the 25 acre agreement at Providence twice. The first signatures were entered in 1645.

In June 1648 he was at Warwick; in the fall of the same year the birth of his oldest son, John, was recorded at Braintree, MA. By October 1651 he was back in Providence, and on 7 March 1651/2 was one of twelve men signing the Providence Oath of Allegiance. The Oath renewed the signers' allegiance to the Commonwealth, a period when England under Cromwell was without a king or a House of Lords. It was a time when there were great tensions between the towns in Rhode Island concerning what form their government ought to take, which town would have most power, and what their relationship with England should be. The men of Providence were determined to maintain their independence.

Edward Inman became a freeman in 1655, and was a Commissioner at the General Court held at Portsmouth in March 1658. He was a Deputy for Providence in 1666, 1667, 1668, 1672, 1674, and 1676-1678. He often served as a juryman at the General Court at its meetings in Portsmouth, Newport, and Warwick.

In the earliest years he lived at the northern edge of Providence near the Moshassuck River, with Roger Mowry, Thomas Harris, Richard Pray, Robert Col well, James Bradish, John Smith (perhaps the miller), George Way, and John Clausen as neighbors. In 1663 he and Thomas Hopkins gave bond to the town of Providence for any money used in the relief of Joanna Hazard.

On 17 December 1664 he was one of seven men chosen to levy the rate for taxes. In early 1665 he drew lot no.73 in the division of land on the east side of the seven mile line. On the same day it was ordered that Edward Inman's land about 1 miles beyond Loquaqussuck be recorded,"it being upon the first brook that runeth into the Pawtucket River." His name is mentioned twice in the letters of Roger Williams, once in 1661 in regard to the death of John Clausen and again in 1677 as "a person with the right to dispose of all or parts of the Narragansetts, Coweset and Nipmuk lands."

On 14 May 1666, Edward Inman and John Mowry (son of Roger Mowry) purchased 2000 acres of land from William Minnion of a Punkapog , chief sachem of the Massachusetts Indians. In May 1669 Edward Inman purchased another 500 acres from William Minnion and this deed was ratified by King Philip, Joseph Minnion's widow, Keapam and William Minnion's uncle, Jeffrey. The deeds covered a large part of what is now North Smithfield. Subsequent deeds show that 3500 acres be came a part of what was known as the Inman Plantation or Inman's Purchase.

In September 1666 he sold his house and eleven acres of land in northern Providence to Stephen Paine of Rehoboth, Mass., and that year his daughter Joanna married Nathaniel, son of Roger Mowry.

By April 1668 Nathaniel Mowry, Thomas Walling, and John Steere had become partners of Edward Inman and John Mowry. In 1672 James Blackmar, William Buckman, and John Buckman of Rehoboth also bought land in the Purchase from Edward Inman and John Mowry. From 1666 to 1682 the only land purchases in most of North Smithfield were controlled by Edward Inman and his associates.

He apparently did not seek the consent of Providence concerning the purchase, for the deeds were recorded at Newport and it was not long before tensions between Edward Inman, his associates, and the men of Providence began to surface. King Philip's War probably delayed any settlement of their problems. It appears that only John Mowry and Thomas Wailing of those associates remained in Providence during the war. Edward Inman must have spent this time in Newport, for it was there that he married (second) Barbara Phillips, widow of Michael Phillips.

Edward Inman was a glover by trade, as was Barbara's oldest son, John. Her youngest children probably moved with the family to a home at what the Indians called Wesquadmosett in the area of what later became Sayles' Hill.

In June of 1675 the second precious metal mine (silver) in the Colony was recorded. The Crown had no interest in it and it was located somewhere in the Wesquadmosett Purchase. Edward Inman, Stephen Arnold, William Hopkins, John Mowry, James Blackmar, John Whipple Jr., Benjamin Buckman, and John Buckman signed the agreement as equal partners.

At a Providence Town Meeting in 1682, Arthur Fenner, Richard Arnold, William Hopkins, John Whipple Jr., and Thomas Olney Jr. were empowered by the town to resolve the problems between the town and Edward Inman and his associates. During the next twenty years a large portion of the Purchase was divided between John and Edward Inman, Jr., sons of Edward Inman, and his step-children, John, Richard, and James Phillips, and Mice (Phillips) Clarke and the large family of Nathaniel and Joanna (Inman) Mowry. His energy must have turned to his trade, land, and family, because his name disappears from Providence politics. His home at Wesquadmosett was sold to John Sayles in 1702 and in August of 1706 he was called deceased.

Children:

i. JOANNA, b. ca. 1644, d. 1718; m. in 1666 NATHANIEL MOWRY, son of Roger.
ii. JOHN, b. 18 July 1648; d. 6 August 1712; m. ca. 1669 MARY WHITMAN.
iii. EDWARD, b. 1654; d. June 1735; m. ca. 1678 ELIZABETH BENNETT.
iv. ? FRANCIS (Prov. Rec. XV:155-6).

References: John O. Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (rep. ed., Baltimore, 1978); Richard LeBaron Bowen, The Providence Oath of Allegiance and Its Signers (Providence, 1943); Early Records of the Town of Providence (21 vols.); Thomas Steere, History of North Smithfield (Providence, 1881); Walter Nebiker, History of North Smithfield (North Smithfield, 1976); Roger Williams, "A Lost Tract," Rhode Island Historical Tracts, no.14; Rhode Island Land Evidence, Vol 1 (Baltimore, 1970).


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