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  • The Register Spotlight

  • April 2012 Register Editorial

    In Part 2 of The Slaves of Gov. Stephen Hopkins, Cherry Fletcher Bamberg and Donald R. Hopkins give accounts of Phebe Hopkins (ca. 1730–1820) of Providence, Rhode Island; her husband Bonner Brown; her two children, Primus Hopkins and Bonner Brown, Jr.; and her Hopkins grandchildren. While much of the article involves genealogical analysis, the authors include substantial biographi¬cal detail, including Revolutionary War service and involvement in black community organizations.

    Bonno Brown petitioned the General Assembly meeting in May 1788 for an extension of time to cash certificates due the estate, claiming that “being a Negro Man,” he did not know the schedule. His signature on the petition is reproduced here (illustration omitted). While Bonno Brown supported himself as a servant, gardener and laborer as he described himself in deeds, his interests were much wider than work and family. When the “Union Society” (as the Providence African Society was first called) was organized in September 1789, “Bonner” Brown was its treasurer. He was the president of the Providence African Society in early 1794 when it was involved with a plan to settle freed slaves in Sierra Leone. He may have had significant correspondence, and any researcher of his life cherishes the hope that more letters from him may be found in the future [citations omitted].

    Editor’s comment: Publishing related articles in other genealogical and historical journals is a good way to focus on detail that would be too much for any one article.

    Lewis Hopkins was a mariner who disappeared during the War of 1812. His story is the subject of a forthcoming article in the June 2012 Rhode Island Roots, “Lewis Hopkins, Mariner, and the War of 1812,” by the authors. He sailed out of Providence 7 Sept. 1812 on the Brown & Ives brig Argus which was captured by the British near Cadiz. While he was exchanged, after various adventures, on the cartel ship Samuel which arrived in New York City 3 April 1813, Lewis Hopkins then disappears from all records known to the authors [citations omitted; the last citation is to the authors’ 2011 article in Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society exploring the possibility Lewis Hopkins ended up in Nassau].

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