Birth & Death Dates Unknown — Appears in a 1776 Record

Deborah Pearce freed Fillis at her decease in 1776 and made sure that her heirs would not be able to claim the now free woman. Deborah also gave Fillis her clothing, her bed (mattress) and her bedding. As personal as these items were, they did not really belong to Fillis until her mistress gave them to her. The inheritance of beds and bedding was serious business in early America for people of all races. Mattresses were often among a person’s most valuable possessions.

My will is that my Negro woman Fillis be free at my desease from all and any of my children or other person or persons whatsoever during her natural life and I also give my said negro woman the bed that she lys on with all the bedding belonging to it together with all her waring apparel.

Will of Deborah Pearce[1]Deborah Pearce, Will, Little Compton Town Council and Probate Book 2, 345-6.

Marjory Gomez O’Toole, Executive Director, LCHS

First published in “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold: Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island,” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2016.

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1 Deborah Pearce, Will, Little Compton Town Council and Probate Book 2, 345-6.
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