George Brownell (1711-1800)
George Brownell was born on 21 Jun 1711 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island as the fourth child of George Brownell and Mary Thurston. He had eight siblings, namely: Giles, Phebe, Mary, Thomas, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Paul, and Stephen.
When he was 20, he married Sarah Bailey, daughter of William Bailey and Dorothy Graves, on 21 Oct 1731 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.
George Brownell and Sarah Bailey had the following children:
- Dorothy Brownell was born on 11 Jun 1733 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. She married James Burgess on 08 Apr 1757 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts. She died 30 Dec 1811 at Cranston, Providence, Rhode Island.
- Mary Brownell was born on 08 Aug 1735 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. She married Gideon Taylor on 18 Jan 1753 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. She died on 15 Mar 1815 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.
- Samuel Brownell was born on 18 Jul 1738 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He married Ruth Briggs on 03 Oct 1763 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He died on 30 Jun 1817 in Paris, Oneida, New York. Samuel is recognized as a patriot by the Daughters of the American Revolution. He was a Private in the Rhode Island Militia.¹
- Elizabeth Brownell was born on 01 Aug 1741 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.
- George Brownell was born on 31 Mar 1744 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He married Lucy Richmond on 17 Jun 1770 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He died on 30 Jun 1800 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts. George is recognized as a patriot by the Daughters of the American Revolution due to his service as Justice of the Peace in Portsmouth from 1782-3.²
- Ezra Brownell was born on 20 Oct 1746 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He married Hope Borden on 20 Oct 1768 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island. He died on 20 Oct 1818 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.
- Sarah Brownell was born on 01 Oct 1748 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. She died on 07 Jul 1772 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.
- Nathaniel Brownell was born on 21 Dec 1751 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He married Sarah Tompkins on 25 Mar 1790 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. He died on 25 Dec 1825 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.
- Priscilla Brownell was born on 21 May 1754 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island. She married William Woodman on 04 Aug 1782.
Sarah died on 22 Sep 1756 in Little Compton at the age of 46. This left George as a widow with nine children ranging in age from two to 23.
At some point between 1756 and 1787, George Brownell left his native Little Compton and resettled in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts. Dartmouth encompassed a large area at the time, so depending on where in Dartmouth he lived, the move may have only been a few miles, just over the border from Rhode Island into Massachusetts.
George was in his 60s when the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in 1776, but the revolution really began much earlier. It started in 1765 and continued until 1783, so George was about 54-years old when it began and 72 by the time it ended. He was certainly affected by the war. There was no fighting in Little Compton, and neither the British or Patriots occupied the town, but refuges from other towns did make their way to Little Compton. The occupation of nearby Newport caused a blockage of the east passage of Narragansett Bay and six watch houses were set up along the Sakonnet River, so life was not by any means normal.
The pension file of John Bailey, shows that a man named Gideon Tompkins served as a substitute for George Brownell with whom he had been living. In July 1835, Gideon Tompkins testified on behalf of Dorcas Bailey, the widow of John Bailey as part of her pension request.
“I Gideon Tompkins of Little Compton in the County of Newport and State of Rhode Island aged Seventy three years on solemn oath depose and say, that I have always lived in said Little Compton and from our boyhood have known John Bailey, who lived in said Little Compton from his birth till about twenty years age – said Bailey is now present in Little Compton — when the British took Rhode Island in Dec. 1776. I was taken as a Substitute for George Brownell, with whom I lived, into the South Company of Militia in Little Compton, under Capt. Gideon Simmons and served in said Company continually on duty for the first six months after the British landed on Rhode Island. Said Bailey was in said Company and did duty with me during said six months; we were stationed on and near the Shore in the South part of Little Compton opposite Rhode Island – after this the said Company was divided and one half was called out at a time alternately for a month at a time – I served in said Company on my own account and some as a Substitute for others, through the period the British continued on the Island and I will recollect that said Bailey served in said Company a great part of the time till they left the Island, we were frequently together at the said guard posts on the South part of the town. I remember he served more than his own regular turns, and from the best of my recollection I do think that said Bailey served as a Soldier in said Company (which was, after said Gideon Simmons left it, commanded by Capt. Ephraim Simmons and then by Capt. William Southard) not less than twenty months, while the British were on Rhode Island.”
It is said that George Brownell served in the war. Some early family histories claim that he was a Sergeant, but that was a different George Brownell. It is possible that he was the George Brownell who was a Private who served for 21 days in 1777. By that point in the war, it was probably not uncommon for a 66-year old man to have to serve.
Dartmouth did see danger. The town of New Bedford is now a separate town, but at the time was considered part of Dartmouth. On 5 Sep 1778, the British landed there at Clark’s Cove and torched the city.
When he was 75, George Brownell married Priscilla Bailey, daughter of William Bailey and Dorothy Graves, on 08 Apr 1787 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts. Priscilla was the widow of Nathaniel Loring and the sister to George’s first wife, Sarah. Priscilla Bailey Loring Brownell died in Dec 1798 leaving George as a widow again.
George Brownell died on 30 Jun 1800 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts, at the age of 89.
Where is he in the tree?
Footnotes and Selected Sources
¹ “Samuel Brownell, Ancestor #A016007,” DAR, Web, 14, Jun 2017, http://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/?action=full&p_id=A016007.
² “George Brownell, Ancestor #A015993,” DAR, Web, 14 Jun 2017, http://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/?action=full&p_id=A015993.
Ancestry.com, Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, 1636-1899 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014).
Brownell, George Grant, Genealogical record of the descendants of Thomas Brownell, 1619 to 1910 [ancestry] (Jamestown, N.Y.: unknown, 1910), ancestry.com.
“Historic and Architectural Resources of Little Compton, Rhode Island,” Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, 1990, Web, 14 Jun 2017, http://www.preservation.ri.gov/pdfs_zips_downloads/survey_pdfs/little_compton.pdf.
“Local New Bedford, Ma. History Revolutionary War attacks in New Bedford 1778,” Whaling City, Web, 14 Jun 2017, http://www.whalingcity.net/new_bedford_local_revolutionary_war_1778.html.
Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of State, “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives, Volume 2,” (Massachusetts: Wright and Potter Printing Company, State Printers, 1896), p. 705, digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=0pxDAQAAMAAJ : accessed 19 Jun 2017).
Wilbour, Benjamin Franklin, Little Compton Families. Vol. I. (ancestry) (Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003), ancestry.com, pp. 20-1, 91, 94.