HomeBrowseAdvanced SearchAboutHelpContact

James Brown II (1698-1739) Papers

Historical note

James Brown II (1698-1739) 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. James II established himself early in the mercantile business, trading in rum, molasses, slaves and less controversial wares. He seems to have been the owner of only one slave ship, the Mary, which sailed for Africa in 1736, sold its cargo in the West Indies and then returned to Providence. It was apparently the first slave ship ever to sail from Providence, but did not yield much profit. No other slave ships sailed from the town until 1749, and the Brown family remained out of the trade until 1759.

The remainder of James Brown's business was extremely successful. Upon his death, he left a considerable fortune to his sons, who followed him in business under the tutelage of their uncle Obadiah Brown (1712-1762).

James II married Hope Power (1702-1792), daughter of Nicholas, in 1723. They had six children. Mary (1731-1795), the one daughter, married Dr. David Vanderlight. James III (1724-1750), the eldest son, was a sea captain who died young. The other four were Nicholas (1729-1791), Joseph (1733-1785), John (1736-1803) and Moses (1738-1836).