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Obadiah Brown I (1712-1762) was born in Providence. His father was Elder James Brown (1666-1716), a pastor on the First Baptist Church; his mother was Mary (Harris) Brown. Upon reaching adulthood, Obadiah joined his older brother James Brown II (1698-1739) in the mercantile trade, which included traffic in cocoa, rum, molasses and slaves. His initial role was as master of his brother's vessels in the West Indies trade. In 1736, he shipped out to the African coast as the supercargo of the family's sloop Mary, which thus became the first known Providence slave ship. However, this trip does not seem to have been very profitable, and the Browns apparently had no further direct involvement in the slave trade for over twenty years. After the death of James in 1739, Obadiah retired from the sea himself, but continued the business. During the 1750s, he became the first Providence merchant to trade directly with England, bypassing the traditional mercantile cities of Boston and Newport. He also opened a spermaceti candle factory as early as 1751. He also helped to raise James' young children, later forming a partnership with James' four surviving sons as Obadiah Brown & Co. This firm made another attempt at the slave trade in 1759, when their slave ship Wheel of Fortune was captured by French privateers. Obadiah died in Glocester, R.I. in 1762, probably at the home of his daughter Phebe Fenner.

In 1737, he married his first cousin, Mary Harris (1718-1805), daughter of Toleration and Sarah Harris. They had eight children. All four of the sons died in early childhood. The four daughters were Phebe (b.1738), Sarah (1742-1800), Anna (1744-1773) and Mary (b.1753). Phebe married John Fenner of Glocester, R.I., brother of Gov. Arthur Fenner. Sarah married Lt. Gov. Jabez Bowen (1739-1815). Anna married her first cousin Moses Brown (1738-1836). Mary married Thomas Arnold (1751-1826). March 22, 1698- Birth of Captain James Browne son of Elder James Browne (1666-1732) and Mary (Harris) Browne (1671-1736)

January 4, 1702- Birth of Hope (Power) Browne (1702-1792), daughter of Nicholas and Mercy (Tillinghast) Power

October 2, 1712- Birth of Obadiah Brown, brother of Captain James Browne

December 21, 1722- Marriage of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

February 12, 1724- Birth of James Browne, eldest son of Captain James Browne (1698-1739) and Hope (Power) Browne (1702-1792)

July 28, 1729- Birth of Nicholas Brown, second son of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

1731- Birth of Mary (Brown) Vanderlight, the only daughter of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne.

1733- Obadiah Brown begins his mercantile career

Dec. 3, 1733- Birth of Joseph Brown, third son of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

January 27, 1736- Birth of John Brown, fourth son of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

June 5, 1737- Marriage of Obadiah Brown and his first cousin, Mary (Harris) Brown (1718-1805)

September 12, 1738- Birth of Moses Brown, youngest son of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

April 27, 1739-Death of Captain James Browne (b.1698)

1750- Nicholas Brown (b. 1729) reaches his majority; his elder brother James dies at sea

1751- Moses Brown begins to clerk for his uncle, Obadiah Brown

1754- Nicholas and John Brown begin business activities together

September 30, 1759 Joseph Brown marries cousin Elizabeth Power (1736-1806), daughter of Nicholas and Anne (Tillinghast) Power.

1760- Moses Brown and Obadiah Brown enter into partnership.

November 27, 1760 John Brown marries Sarah Smith (1738-1825), daughter of Daniel and Dorcas (Harris) Smith

May 2, 1762- Nicholas Brown weds Rhode Jenckes (1741-1783), daughter of Daniel and Joanna (Scott) Jenckes of Providence

June 17, 1762- Death of Obadiah Brown (b.1712)

August 1762- Formation of Nicholas Brown and Company

1763- United Company of Spermaceti Manufacturers, Plan of Union

January 1, 1764- Marriage of Moses Brown and his first cousin Anna Brown (1744-1773), daughter of Obadiah and Mary (Harris) Brown

1765- Formation of Hope Furnace

July 30, 1767- Hope Brown, daughter of Nicholas (b.1729) and Rhoda (Jenckes) Brown, drowns two days before her fourth birthday

1767/1768- George Benson clerks for Nicholas Brown and Company

June 1768- United Company of Spermaceti Manufacturers incorporates

April 4, 1769- Birth of Nicholas Brown (1769-1841), son of Nicholas (b.1729) and Rhoda (Jenckes) Brown

1772- John Brown withdraws from maritime activities of Nicholas Brown and Company

February 5, 1773- Death of Anna (Brown) Brown, wife of Moses Brown

1774- Moses and Joseph Brown withdraw from maritime activities of Nicholas Brown and Company

1775- George Benson a commission agent in Newport, RI

1776-1782- Nicholas and John Brown supply Continental Congress; Hope Furnace manufactures cannon

1782- Thomas Poynton Ives becomes a clerk for Nicholas Brown (b.1729)

1783- Nicholas Brown (b. 1729) enters into partnership with former clerk George Benson

December 16, 1783- Death of Rhoda (Jenckes) Brown, wife of Nicholas Brown (b.1729)

January 8, 1785- Death of Joanna Brown, daughter of Nicholas and Rhoda (Jenckes) Brown

September 9, 1785- Nicholas Brown weds second wife Avis Binney, daughter of Captain Barnabus Binney of Boston

December 3, 1785- Death of Joseph Brown (b.1733)

May 29, 1791- Death of Nicholas Brown (b.1729)

June 8, 1792- Death of Hope (Power) Browne, widow of Captain James Browne

May 26, 1795- Death of Mary (Brown) Vanderlight, daughter of Captain James Browne and Hope (Power) Browne

September 20, 1803- Death of John Brown (b. 1736)

August 16, 1807- Death of Avis (Binney) Brown, widow of Nicholas

September 6, 1836- Death of Moses Brown (b.1738)

From the guide to the Obadiah Brown I (1712-1762) Papers, 1719-1776, (bulk 1740-1762), (Rhode Island Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Henry, Mathew Schropp, 1790-1862. Correspondence on Indian names, 1854-1860. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Gammell, William, 1812-1889. John R. Bartlett : life and services of Rhode Island's distinguished son : President Gammell's address to the Rhode Island Historical Society ; Obituary : Hon. John R. Bartlett : the Evening bulletin, Friday, May 28, 1886 ; [Obituary, John R. Bartlett] : the Morning star, Saturday morning, May 29, 1886 ; Mr. Gammell's address in the light of history : Book notes, Saturday January 15, 1887. Brown University, Brown University Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Brigham, Clarence Saunders, 1877-1963. Papers. American Antiquarian Society
creatorOf Obadiah Brown I (1712-1762) Papers, 1719-1776, (bulk 1740-1762) Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Rhode Island Historical Society. Institutional file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Calef, Frank T., 1875-1941. Genealogical index, R.I. vital records [microform] / Calef. Rhode Island Historical Society
referencedIn Rhode Island. Governor (1839-1843 : King). [Rhode Island broadside collection]. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Magrath, C. Peter. Optimistic Democrat : Thomas Wilson Dorr and the case of Luther v. Borden / C. Peter Magrath. Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Kelley, A. Livingston. [Steamboating on Narragansett Bay] / A. Livingston Kelley. Rhode Island Historical Society
referencedIn Coffin, James H. (James Henry), 1806-1873. James Henry Coffin Papers, 1848-1884 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
creatorOf South Kingstown High School (South Kingstown, R.I. : Town). The family in the fifties oral history project records 1993. University of Rhode Island Library, Kingston, University Library
creatorOf Rhode Island Historical Society. Swan Point Cemetery records [microform]. Rhode Island Historical Society
referencedIn Collins, Clarkson Abel, 1911-1972. Rhode Island Historical Society / [Clarkson A. Collins]. Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Rhode Island Historical Society. Certificate, 1834. Connecticut Historical Society
referencedIn Sherman, Stuart C. Stuart C. Sherman papers, 1947-1977. Brown University, Brown University Library
referencedIn Houghton Library printed book provenance file, R-Z and unidentified Houghton Library
creatorOf Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786. Papers of General Nathanael Greene, 1766-[1780] microfrom. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Smith, William. [99 years of Irons & Russell] / [William Smith]. Rhode Island Historical Society
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1865-1891 Smithsonian Institution Archives
creatorOf Rhode Island Historical Society. Letters signed : [n.p.], to Catharine Wheaton, [n.d.]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Tooker, William Wallace. Papers, 1776-1915, 1887-1915 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Park Carpenter research papers concerning the Dominican Republic, 1869-1916. Houghton Library
creatorOf Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786. Papers of General Nathanael Greene, 1766-[1780] microfrom. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
creatorOf Calef, Frank T., 1875-1941. Index to Austin's genealogical dictionary [microform] / by Calef. Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Trott, Raymond H. Banking in Rhode Island / Raymond H. Trott. Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Skerry, Amory S. A chat on some Rhode Island pewterers / by Amory S. Skerry. Rhode Island Historical Society
creatorOf Rafn, Carl Christian, 1795-1864. Letters, 1833-1843. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Correspondence on Indian names, 1854-1860, 1854-1860 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Angell, Samuel, b. 1707 person
associatedWith Brigham, Clarence Saunders, 1877-1963. person
associatedWith Brown, James, 1698-1739 person
associatedWith Calef, Frank T., 1875-1941. person
correspondedWith Carpenter, Park. person
associatedWith Coddington, William person
associatedWith Collins, Clarkson Abel, 1911-1972. person
associatedWith DeBlois, Gilbert person
associatedWith Eddy, James, 1806-1888, person
associatedWith Gammell, William, 1812-1889. person
associatedWith Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786. person
associatedWith Hector, James (Dr.) person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Henry, Mathew Schropp, 1790-1862. person
associatedWith Houghton Library. person
associatedWith Howland, John, 1757-1854. person
associatedWith Kelley, A. Livingston. person
associatedWith Lopez, Aaron, 1731-1782 person
associatedWith Lopez, Moses person
associatedWith Magrath, C. Peter. person
associatedWith Mary (sloop) corporateBody
associatedWith Obadiah Brown & Company corporateBody
associatedWith Page, Ambrose person
correspondedWith Perry, Amos person
associatedWith Potter, Simeon, 1717-1806 person
associatedWith Rafn, Carl Christian, 1795-1864. person
associatedWith Robbins, Thomas, 1777-1856. person
associatedWith Robinson, Thomas person
associatedWith Sherman, Stuart C. person
associatedWith Skerry, Amory S. person
correspondedWith Smithsonian Institution corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, William. person
associatedWith South Kingstown High School (South Kingstown, R.I. : Town) corporateBody
correspondedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Thurston, Peleg person
associatedWith Tooker, William Wallace. person
associatedWith Trott, Raymond H. person
associatedWith Vernon, Samuel person
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Webb, Thomas Hopkins, 1801-1866. person
associatedWith Wheaton, Catharine, person
associatedWith Wheaton, John person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Exchanges Of Publications
Scientific publications
Smithsonian Exchange
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Americans

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