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Arrival in Portsmouth 1638

April 25, 2011 by editor

Richard and Joan Borden, Compiled by Hattie Weld, 1899The following text is take from the definitive work on the family of Richard Borden, written in 1899 by Hattie Borden Weld:
The place first selected for settlement was about half a mile southeast from Bristol Ferry, at the south end of a pond that opened into Mt. Hope Bay, which the settlers dignified by the name of Portsmouth Harbor. The pond still retains the name of the town pond, and ebbs and flows as it did then. The town spring has not ceased to send forth its crystal stream, as in days of yore, to gladden the hearts of men, notwithstanding the crowd of settlers have turned their backs upon it, and left it alone in its glory.

To the northeast of the spring a neck of land extends about two miles, which was nearly separated by creeks, marshes and the town pond from the rest of the island. This strip of land, called by the natives Pocasset Neck, was set off by the settlers as a common by running a fence from the south end of the pond to a cove on the east side of the island. This common was called the fenced common, to distinguish it from the lands outside to the south and west of it, which were all commons and the north point then received the name of common fence point, which it still bears, though the reason for its name ceased soon after it was given, and it is now a matter of wonder in many how this name could have originated.

These different objects enumerated point out the location of the first settlement upon Rhode Island and the birthplace of Matthew Borden, the third son of Richard Borden, who was born May, 1638, and shows very nearly the time when the first families arrived there. His birth, and those of Richard’s other children, born on the island, have been handed down in ours times by the records of the Friends’ Monthly Meeting at Newport, which further tell us that Matthew Borden, son of Richard, was the first child born of English parents upon Rhode Island. It will here to be noted that the birth of Matthew occurred so early in 1638 that it must have be at the homestead of Richard, since known as the MacCorrie Farm.

In 1639 the settlers concluded to change their location about one and one-half miles farther south, on the east side of the island which they called Newtown. There they laid out house lots for a numerous settlement, but the speedy division of the island into farms soon absorbed all the population then in Portsmouth, and the settlement at Newport this year attracted a large portion of the emigrants to that locality.
Historical and Geneological Record of the Descendents as far as Known of Richard and Joan Borden who settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, May, 1638. Hattie Borden Weld. 1899.

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