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Records Relating to Revolutionary War - Suspect... | State Archives Catalog

Records of individual suspected of aiding the enemy or of activities considered unfriendly to the united colonies.  Includes proceedings of committee appointed to inquire into conduct of persons living near the shores of the colony, depositions & examinations made, summonses issued, statements concerning the conduct of individuals or of supplies & intelligence provided to the British as well as papers relating to the taking & management of confiscated properties; C#00251

May, 1776 – Jonathan Hazard ordered to proceed to New Shoreham and apprehend John Wright and other suspected persons giving supplies or intelligence to British ships and confine to Goal until brought before Assembly at next session; abstract, May Session, pp. 48 – 49

June, 1776 – sundry persons refusing to subscribe to Test Act ordered by Assembly to be tendered in suspected persons deemed unfriendly to the United Colonies.  Sheriff of Newport to remove to Glocester and permitted to go at large within limits of town upon giving their “Parole of Honor” to continue there until further orders from assembly.  Those who forfeit parole to be confined to Goal; abstract, June session, pp. 112 – 113

July, 1776, sundry inhabitants refusing to subscribe to Test Act to be removed from the town of Newport to other venues.  Those who transgress limits or refuse to pay expense of removal or support to have estates seized for use of the State and be committed to Goal.  Sheriff or Town Sergeant of Newport to commit to Goal any having writs or executions against; abstract, July Session, pp. 145  - 146

Test Act passed by the General Assembly June 16, 1776 “An Act empowering the Members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Assembly to tender, to such of the Inhabitants as are herein after mentioned, a Declaration or Test for Subscription. Whereas the great Danger to which this Colony is exposed makes it necessary to use every Measure for detecting those Persons among us who are inimical to the United Colonies, and preventing their doing Injury to the common Cause: Be it therefore Enacted by this General Assembly and by the Authority thereof it is Enacted, That all the male Inhabitants of this Colony, of Sixteen Years of Age and upwards, who shall be suspected of being inimical to the United American Colonies, and the arduous Struggle in which they are engaged, against the Force of Great Britain, shall make and subscribe the following Declaration or Test, to wit:  "I the Subscriber do solemnly and sincerely declare, That I believe the War, Resistance and Opposition, in which the United American Colonies are now engaged, against the Fleets and Armies of Great Britain, is on the Part of the said Colonies just and necessary.  And that I will not, directly nor indirectly, afford Assistance of any Sort or Kind whatever to the said Fleets and Armies, during the Continuance of the present War, but that I will heartily assist in the Defence of the United Colonies."  And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in case any such suspected Person shall refuse to subscribe the same, it shall be in the Power of either of the Members of the Upper or Lower House of Assembly in this Colony, and they are hereby directed to issue a Summons, and call the Person so refusing before him, and make Enquiry into the Reasons of his Refusal.  And if he shall continue such Refusal, without giving satisfactory Reasons for the same to the Member summoning him, or shall refuse to appear upon being summoned, such Member shall issue his Warrant, directed to the Sheriff of the County where the Person so refusing shall dwell, or his Deputy, commanding him with sufficient Aid to make strict and diligent Search for all Arms and Ammunition and warlike Stores, belonging to such Persons so refusing, and to take and deliver the same to the Captain of the Company of Militia in whose District the Delinquent shall live, to be made Use of in Time of an Alarm, taking a Receipt of the Captain therefore; which Arms Ammunition and Warlike Stores, shall be appraised by two indifferent Persons, to be appointed by such Member so issuing the Summons, and to be paid for out of the General Treasury.  And that such Member so summoning any suspected Person shall make Return of all his Proceedings, in Pursuance of this Act, to the General Assembly, at the next succeeding Session after issuing any Summons. Provided nevertheless, and it is further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Case any Person so summoned shall produce a Certificate from the Clerk of any Meeting of the Friends, that he is in Unity with that Society, or shall take the Affirmation directed in an Act intituled, "An Act for the Relief of Persons of Tender Consciences, and for preventing their being burthened with military Duty" he shall be excused from subscribing the said Declaration or Test. *Act made general to all males over twenty one years passed July 21, 1776 (Acts & Resolves of the General Assembly, 1776, Vol.13 p. 8; Vol. 14, p. 133; Rhode Island Colony Records, Vol. 9, 1772 – 1777, pp. 431 – 432)

August, 1776 – Suspected Persons – reports of committee / sheriff upon removal & destination of, July – Aug., 1776 (Committee Reports, Rhode Island General Assembly, v3 #102,104)

October, 1776, Suspected Persons – removed from Newport by order of assembly allowed to return to homes under condition of payment of all costs arising from time of removal; abstract, October Session, p. 9

May 1778, Suspected persons to be apprehended – resolved that it be recommended to the Hon. Major General Sullivan, to take up all persons who are suspected or known to be unfriendly to this state, or to the United States in general, that he shall think proper, and proceed against them according to the known practice in such cases, in the Army under the immediate command of his Excellency General Washington; abstract, May Session, p. 10

June, 1779, - committee appointed to make inquiry into conduct of persons residing near shores of state suspected of being “inimical” to the United Sates or giving intelligence to the enemy.  Warrants to be issued directing sheriff for removal to such places within that as committee shall prescribe; abstract, June session, p. 8

Dates: 1775 – 1783

Extent: 1 volume, 160 pp.; 17” X 12” x 3”; 0.35 cubic feet

Types of Materials: hand written manuscript

Finding Aids: table of contents / name index front of volume

Relating Sources:

C#0210 - Acts & Resolves of the General Assembly

C#1259 - Confiscated Estates

C#0261 - Committee Reports, Rhode Island General Assembly


Records filed under "Revolutionary War - Suspected Persons (1775 - 1783)"




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