BLACK SEAMAN PROTECTION DOCUMENT PROVIDENCE RI
RARE ORGINAL AFRICAN AMERICAN MARINER CERTIFICATE
ORGINAL AFRICAN AMERICAN MARINER DOCUMENT
See images of the document here
Read William J. Browns books here
Rare, Early, American Seaman Protection Document certifying "That Noah Brown, an American Seaman, aged Twenty Four Years, or thereabouts, of the Height of Five Feet, Four & half Inches, Black Complexion, has a scar on his right leg, and one on his left arm, and marks of the small pox in his face". Great AMERICAN EAGLE symbol at top of certificate. Back of doc has pencil note in French, can read part of " . . .Justice de la police Le Havre . . .". Signed "Jer.h Olney" Affixed Seal lower right corner [faded]. Good Condition, some paper loss 7.5" by 11.125".
Title William J. Brown: An African American Childhood in New England
Author William J. Brown
Type Primary Sources: Autobiography
William J. Brown was born in 1814 into a free African American family in Providence, Rhode Island. His father's parents had been slaves owned by Rhode Island's greatest mercantile family, the Browns; his mother was the daughter of an African-American slave and a Narragansett Indian woman. Brown's father had been a sailor and laborer; William worked at these occupations as well, but became a shoemaker and a prominent member of the African-American community in Providence. His autobiography, published in 1883, is one of the fullest records of black life in New England in the years before the Civil War. The excerpts presented here deal with his family, childhood and schooling, in the years 1814 - ca. 1830.
Excerpts from The Autobiography of William J. Brown
[Kinship & Family]
I was born in the town of Providence, State of Rhode Island, November 10, 1814…My father's name was Noah Brown; his father was Cudge Brown and his mother Phillis Brown. Grandfather Brown was born in Africa, and belonged to a firm (named Brown Brothers) consisting of four, named respectively, Joseph, John, Nicholas and Moses Brown. They held slaves together, each brother selecting out such as they wished for house service; the rest of the slaves to perform out-door labor. I am not positive, but believe my grandfather was brought from Africa in the firm's vessel. He had two or three brothers. One was named Thomas, and the other Sharp or Sharper Brown, and they worked for Moses Brown. My grandfather was occupied as a teamster, doing the team work for two farms, the one on which Mr. Brown lived, and the other to the northward towards Swan Point Road …
… My grandfather was married to Phillis, Nov 20th, 1768, and they went to keeping house, living in one towards the north end of Olney street, owned by Mr. Brown, where he kept his teams. Newport, his oldest son, was born April 22d, 1769. Rhoda, his oldest daughter, was born Sept. 27th, 1776, and Noah, my father, was born September 20th, 1781. James was born November 17th, 1788 ….
My father married Alice Greene; her maiden name was Alice Prophet. She was a widow, having lost her husband, Uriah Greene, several years previous to her second marriage. They were married in Cranston, R. I., the 25th of December, 1805, and commenced keeping house in that town, but being engaged in a seafaring life, he removed to Providence, and rented a house of Dr. Pardon Bowen, situated on Wells street. During his residence in Cranston, he had a son born, July 10th, 1810, and named him Joseph George Washington Brown. My sister, Mary Alice, was born Sept. 1811, in this city. My brother George was born Sept. 23d, 1817. After residing in Dr. Pardon Bowen's house five years, we were obliged to move, as Mr. Bowen wished to make a strawberry bed in the garden where the house was located. My father hired a house called the Red Lion, near the junction of South Main and Power streets, on the north side, the place where the Amateur Dramatic Hall now stands. My brother Henry was born there in 1820...
My mother, as I stated, was a widow when she was married to my father. I never had any knowledge respecting her first husband's relations. My mother's relations were the Prophets, who belonged to the Narragansett tribe, and resided in Cranston. My grandmother's father was a man of note and one of the chiefs, and called, Grandfather Jeffery. Whether he was a prophet by name or by title I know not. He had two daughters, but whether he had any sons I know not, but think he had none. One of grandfather Jeffery's daughters married a white man, preferring civilized to savage life. The other daughter, my grandmother, purchased a colored man and married him, by whom she had five children, one son and four daughters, John, Phebe, Mary, Alice, and Eunice. Her father being very much displeased with her management, gave his effects to the first, who married the white man, and the fourth generation are living in the city at present, and moving in upper circles. After some years his anger abated towards his daughter's husband and he rendered some aid to the family….