Early Records of the Town of Warwick
Early Records of the Town of Warwick. The Librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society [Howard M. Chapin]. (1926) 2006. This verbatim transcript of the first volume of town records of Warwick, Rhode
Island, contains a wide range of documents, mostly from 1648 to 1667, for the first generation of inhabitants of that town, including town orders, land grants, deeds (including Indian deeds) and a variety of lesser items.Warwick was founded in 1643, but no records have survived from the first five years of its existence. The core of the present volume is a complete run of the town meeting minutes from 1648 to 1667. This portion of the book includes town orders relating to the government of the town, along with appointments and elections of town officers and records of many land grants to individuals.Another section of the book, covering approximately the same time period, includes dozens of records of grants of land from the town to individuals, as well as deeds transferring land from person to person, including many original sales of land from Indians to the English settlers. This same part of the book includes a few probate proceedings, along with a few apprenticeships and guardianships. The inclusion of these documents in town records reflects the position of Rhode Island as the colony and state that has always had the most localized system of recordkeeping, with deeds and probates recorded at the town level.Again from this same early time period, the volume includes a handful of court proceedings and coroner's inquests. In addition, there are many records of excise taxes levied for the importation of spirituous beverages.The book in which all these records are found also included other records, some apparently entered at an earlier time and others certainly written down at a much later date. There are many pages which are partially in a shorthand notation; these turned out to be sermon notes, suggesting that the book had been brought from England to New England by one of the early Warwick settlers and then converted to the purpose of containing the town records.Then, for several decades in the eighteenth century, those pages or parts of pages that remained blank were employed in recording the earmarks assigned to Warwick inhabitants.