Mehitable Dye, The Elder
Birth & Death Dates Unknown — Appears in records from 1707 – 1738
In 1707 a Massachusetts Court charged Mehitable Dye (The Elder) with the birth of a bastard child. The father was likely John Dye, the young son of Mehitable’s master, William Dye. John was twenty-three at the time. Two years later John married Rememberance Potter. When he died at age thirty-two, nine years after Mehitable gave birth, John’s very modest inventory included a nine-year-old mulatto girl. The girl became Rememberance’s property.
Years later in 1732, John’s father William recognized a Mehitable Dye (The Younger) as his granddaughter in his will leaving her 50 shillings. This granddaughter, named after her mother, does not appear in the town’s vital records as a member of the Dye family. Only her grandfather’s will sheds some light on her story. Mehitable Dye is the last person of color recognized in any way in Little Compton’s early records as a member of a white family.Colonial Document regarding Mohottabell Dye’s bastard child, Taunton Probate Book 7, 345. Taunton Probate Book 9, 117. A Mehitable Dye passed away in 1738, and she appears to be free at this time. We are unsure whether or not this Mehitable is the mother or the daughter. She left a small estate and was living comfortably enough to hire an Indian woman to do her wash.Mehitable Dye’s estate, Bristol County Probate Records, Book 9, p. 177 & 234. Town records do show that Mehitable The Elder gave birth to a son named Nathan Dye.
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.