Providence, et al. 1799-1866. Very Good. Item #List307
Anna Almy Jenkins was the granddaughter of the abolitionist Quaker patron Moses Brown. She was active in the Religious Society of Friends in the middle of the nineteenth century, at a time when few women were involved in public religious life, though Quakers in general were outliers in this regard. The present collection, from her estate, is notable for the documents of her involvement in the Quaker community as well as for the inclusion of several important Brown family papers, the most notable being a holograph copy of Moses Brown’s last will and testament in his own hand with important abolitionist content.
Jenkins was the daughter of Sarah Brown (1764-1794) and William Almy. Sarah was the second daughter of Moses and Anna Brown. Moses had converted to Quakerism, though most of the Brown family was Baptist, and Jenkins was active in the Quaker community as well. Among the highlights of Jenkins’ papers are two large letters of introduction for annual meetings in England Ireland in 1841 and 1843, highlighting the Quaker practice of allowing women to travel as representatives. One reads: “In furnishing our dear friend with a Certificate for so weighty and important a service we feel it right to say that she is a minister in unity and beloved by us, sound in word and doctrine, and exemplary in life and conversation.” Another document included here, from 1799, is a letter in Jenkins’ hand asking her grandfather requesting that he send funds for her clothing.
Documents included are as follows:
1. Manuscript copy of the Last Will and Testament of Moses Brown, dated 1834-1835. 10 ¼ x 16 inches, 11 pp. Some normal wear but still very good. This is a copy in Brown’s hand, signed by him twice, and identical in content to the copy held at the Rhode Island Historical Society, where Brown donated his papers (and founded). A codicil to the will specifies that he will leave money to the Providence Anti-Slavery Society:
“And whereas in item 33 of my said will I have given one share in Providence Bank t the Society for abolishing the Slave Trade &c., as by charter established and it not appearing probable that there may be another meeting of said society legally convened, I do therefore hereby make null and void that particular Legacy as therein bequeathed. And do hereby give unto my trusty friends George W. Bonson and Hugh H. Brown in trust for the use of the Providence Anti-Slavery Society the said one share in Providence Bank; and as much money as shall make up, with the said share, the sum of five hundred dollars, to be applied by the said Society to the printing of such manuscripts and pamphlets as the Society may judge most useful for abolishing Slavery, Establishing their freedom and promoting their education, and the civilization of the people of colour in the United States, and my executors are hereby authorized and requested to transfer the said share, and also to pay to the said trustees as much more as to make up this Legacy to the sum of Five Hundred Dollars accordingly…"
2. Quitclaim regarding the Will of Ann Allen, to land purchased by William Almy and Obediah Brown, 1818. 8 x 14 inches, single page. For the amount of $491.33, recorded by the Recorder of the Town of Providence.
3. Deed of Sale from Walter Cornell to Obadiah Brown for a thirty acre parcel of land in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, dated August 3, 1818. 3 pp. With a note recording the deed from the city of Newport.
4. Two manuscript copies of deeds for the land of what is currently the Moses Brown School. The first an 1819 copy of an 1816 document (4 pp.), the second an 1828 copy of an 1818 document (4 pp.). Both 11 x 14 inches with brass clads. Both are copies of original documents at the Providence Town Clerk’s office. Brown gave forty-three acres to the Incorporated Society of Friends for the purpose of setting up the school, and served as treasurer until his death at age 98. The school was renamed the Moses Brown School in his honor after his death, and continues at the same site to this day.
5. Manuscript copy of the Last Will and Testament of Anna Almy Jenkins, 1849. 15 pp, paper measuring 7 ¾ x 12 ¾ inches. A registered copy by the Providence Municipal Court, with seals.
6. Manuscript copy of the Last Will and Testament of Moses Brown Jenkins, 1866. 8 pp. 8 x 14 inches. Jenkins was the son of Anna Almy Jenkins
7. Two letters of introduction for Anna Almy Jenkins to the London and Ireland Yearly Meetings of Friends, 1841 and 1843. Both about 17 x 21 inches on vellum. Quaker meetings in the nineteenth century were significant, as Quakers were instrumental in various social causes such as abolition and the Peace Society. The meetings took place at Devonshire House, and were attended by various members of parliament such as Joseph Pease. The meetings provided American and British Quakers an opportunity to share ideas. The British abolition movement had taken form by the 1820s, with the culmination being the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
8. Single page note from nine-year-old Anna Almy addressed to Moses Brown in Providence, 7 ½ x 4 ½ inches bifolium. The letter reads, “Will Grandfather please to send the Cloth for my Frock by bearer and oblige his affectionate granddaugther Anna Almy / fourth day morning, 13th Nov. 1799.”
9. Manuscript document signed by Moses Brown, William Almy and William Jenkins, September 9, 1825. 4 pp., 7 ¾ x 12 ¼ inches. The document relates to the annuity to Dorcas Brown, widow of Obadiah Brown, set up by her husband and administered by the Society of Friends. The document lays out the sale of stock to cover the annuity, and also refers to gifts made by Obadiah to a Friends School.
10. Manuscript Copy of a Portion of Obadiah Brown’s Will dealing with Charitable Gifts to Various Churches, Initialed by M.B. as a Witness - probably Moses Brown - in 1823. Single leaf, 9 x 7 ½ inches. The money is allocated to two Baptist churches, two Congregational churches, one Episcopal church and one Presybterian.
11. Autograph Letter Signed by Anna Almy Jenkins to Samuel Boyd Tobey, 4 pp. Single leaf folded, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ inches. Tobey was the executor of Jenkins’ estate and also an officer at Brown University and a fellow member of the Society of Friends. The letter lays out Jenkins’ charitable wishes in great detail down to the gifting of specific trees from a nursery and their placement on an avenue to replace dead trees. The bulk of the letter deals with her arboreal wishes, the last page with other charitable annuities she wishes to set up including funds for the Friends’ School.
Overall the documents provide a rich history of an influential family’s charitable legacies, and the Quaker documents give context to the family’s values and to the abolitionist movement overall. A generally well preserved group in very good condition with some assorted wear and tear.