Mercy Rouse Stevens

Mercy Rouse Stevens

1678 – 1745

Mercy grew up in her parents’ tavern on Little Compton’s Great West Road. Though the Rouses were predominantly Quaker, Mercy chose to be baptized in the Congregational Church along with 64 other people in 1700 by a traveling minister. In 1701, at the age of 23, she married John Stevens, a recent immigrant from England who was twice her age. John Stevens, a stone mason and gravestone carver, found work in Newport and lived in rented rooms there. Mercy and her young children may have stayed in Little Compton with her parents. Eventually the Stevens built a Newport home with a workshop in 1709.

Mercy, like many colonial women, gave birth approximately every two years. Her eight children included two sets of twins. Like many colonial women Mercy also endured the loss of two of her children. Though she lived in Newport, Mercy maintained a relationship with her Little Compton relatives and friends in part because of her family’s gravestone business. The Stevens Shop is still in operation today.

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