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Collection of Redwood family papers

Scope & content

This collection consists of letters, legal documents, accounts, family histories, and other papers related to the Redwood family and its descendants, particularly Abraham Redwood (1709-1788), the founder of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum.

Correspondence consists of letters either sent to or received by members of the Redwood family. The bulk of this series is made up of letters written to Abraham Redwood (1709-1788) from family members and business associates concerning his mercantile business, Cassada Garden, and the establishment of the Redwood Library in 1747. Also included are letters written by his father, Abraham Redwood (1665-1728) while on his plantation in Antigua, and by his half-brother, William Redwood, concerning his business in Philadelphia. Letters from other Redwood family descendants include Hannah Redwood (1759-1796), daughter of William Redwood; Redwood Fisher (1782-1856), son of Sarah Redwood Fisher (759-1847); and Henry Redwood (1848-1923), a descendant from Jonas Langford Redwood (1730-1779).

Legal papers consist of deeds, mortgages, stock certificates, and a will concerning various members of the Redwood family. Of particular interest are Abraham Redwood’s (1709-1788) mortgage dated October 7, 1741, for his house on Thames Street in Newport, and the deed from Abraham Redwood (1764-1838) of Marylebone, England, to the Redwood Library on August 13, 1834, in which he signs over the land the Library was built upon for one dollar. The insurance policy with Philip Wilkinson and Daniel Ayrault, Jr., dated March 11, 1757, was for ship Snow Hanover leaving the Newport harbor for Jamaica with goods from various Newport merchants, including Abraham Redwood (1709-1788), who all paid into the policy to insure their merchandise.

Financial records are comprised mainly of accounts and receipts concerning Abraham Redwood’s (1709-1788) business in the sugar trade between his plantation in Antigua, and buyers in Newport and England. Also included are his half-brother William Redwood’s accounts as well as the final estate account of his step-mother, Patience Redwood.

Family histories contain genealogies of the Redwood family as well as newspaper obituaries for Abraham Redwood (1709-1788) and his grandson, Abraham Redwood Ellery (1773-1820). The “Memoir of the Redwood family” is a printed family history written by Sarah Redwood Fisher (1759-1847). There are two copies of such, one of which is signed by Fisher and includes a pasted receipt from Abraham Redwood (1708-1788) from 1744.

Miscellaneous items consist of maps of Antigua and the Redwood farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, photographs, prints of portraits of Abraham Redwood (1709-1788) and William Redwood, the Redwood family coat of arms, and two poems. Photographs and their negatives were taken in 1999 by Maris S. Humphreys, an employee of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, of the site of Cassada Garden, Abraham Redwood’s sugar plantation, in Antigua. An undated photograph of the Redwood family farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island is also included.