Alice Southworth Church

Alice Southworth Church

1646 – 1719

Alice lived in the shadow of three of Plymouth Colony’s most influential men: her step-grandfather Governor William Bradford, her father Treasurer Constant Southworth and her husband Colonel Benjamin Church, a key figure in King Philip’s War.

Benjamin was the first Englishman to build a farm here in 1675, but it was a tenant farm. He had no intention of bringing his wife to undeveloped Sakonnet. Against her parents’ wishes, Benjamin brought a heavily pregnant Alice and their young son from Duxbury to the relative safety of Aquidneck Island during King Philip’s War. Benjamin’s repeated military campaigns meant Alice managed her children and her servants on her own for months at a time.

At the age of 61 Alice finally did come to Little Compton to share a retirement home with her husband. Alice managed a large household that likely included her son Thomas’ family as well as enslaved and indentured workers. Her husband’s elevated position meant a steady stream of business and political visitors who no doubt admired Alice’s fine furnishings, including her silverware and seven “Turkey Work” (Turkish rug) chairs.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.