Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
1767 Colonial Cover - Samuel and William Vernon - Newport, RI
(Scroll Down for Background and Historical Information)

(August 27, 1767 Champion & Dickason Docketing at Left)


Colonial Period Marking on a folded letter from Champion and Dickason in London via Ship through Boston to Samuel and William Vernon in Newport, RI. The Bo Sh Manuscript at top right is an abbreviation for Boston Ship. The letter was charged the 1765 colonial rate of  2.16, (two Pennyweights (dwt) and 16 grains (gr) of coined silver.)  2 dwt was equal to 6 pence and 16 grs was equal to 2 pence. The rate from Boston to Newport was 6 pence and 2 pence was added to every ship letter with delivery to any place beyond the port of entry. P Smith (or Per Smith) on the

bottom left side of the cover refers to the ship's captain who carried the letter. The letter was sent in August and arrived in Boston on November 1st.
Notes: Champion and Dickason also handled an account for Brown and Benson.

See: 1789 Brown and Benson Letter
Champion and Dickason
are listed in the Historical Manuscripts Commission of Great Britain as: "Champion, Dickason & Co, wholesale weavers and general merchants 1773 to 1819."

View Vernon House
1903-07 Postcard

The Letter:

London 27th August 1767

Msrs Samuel & William Vernon


We presume we need not trouble you with the copy of what we wrote you last year by Hooper being persuaded that the original reached you in safety. Tho' we have since received none of your favors. The balance of your acct with us - being the amount of the small invoice sent you by Hooper, we have received of the late company of Champion & Hayly and carried 14 Pounds and 11 Pence to your credit for the same & thereby closed your acct in our books. This is a circumstance that has given us some concern, however gentlemen, we dispute not your right to turn your favors into what channel you think most for your interest & when you judge us capable of serving you, we shall be much at your service being  Very Respectfully

Your Most Humble Servants
Champion & Dickason

We have wrote Minnells again & again where we have been told he has made his appearances, but have not been able to obtain any reply to our said letters.

Vernon Family Genealogy:

Samuel, William and their brother Thomas Vernon were direct dependents of Anne Marbury Hutchinson, who was one of the original settlers in Rhode Island after being banished from Massachusetts. She was the founder of Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1638. SEE: Rhode Island Tercentenary FDC with Anne Hutchinson Biography

Anne and William Hutchinson's son, Captain Edward Hutchinson was married to Elizabeth Clarke and Katherine Hamby. Edward and Katherine had a daughter named Anne Hutchinson whose second husband Daniel Vernon was the father of three children including Samuel Vernon born in 1683, who was a noted silversmith of the time and whose work is still much sought after by collectors.

Samuel Vernon married Elizabeth Fleet and their son, Daniel Vernon was the father of Samuel, William and Thomas Vernon.

Samuel & William Vernon

Samuel, William  and Thomas Vernon were prominent Newport, RI merchants during the 18th century. Samuel and William formed a partnership which included both mercantile and maritime interests. Their maritime endeavors included privateering and the slave trade. Thomas was also a successful merchant.  Both William and Samuel Vernon were ardent patriots and Samuel was one of the ringleaders in the Stamp Act Riots of 1765. During the War William was forced to flee to Narragansett when the British occupied Newport. Thomas Vernon was a Loyalist, (Tory) however, even though their sympathies differed, the brothers remained close and continued to help each other through this difficult period.

Samuel and William were among the 47 original proprietors of the Redwood Library and William became the second president of the library on the death of Abraham Redwood.

NOTE: The Redwood Library was established in 1747 and completed in 1750. It is the Oldest Community Library in America and also the first public building built in the Classical Greek Style.

William was the most noted member of the Vernon family.  He was born in Newport on January 17, 1719 and died on December 22, 1806. He was elected as President of the Navy Board in 1777 and is sometimes referred to as the First Secretary of the Navy. He had charge of building and equipping the ships of the Continental Navy during the Revolution.

William was a member of the Second Congregational Church and a founding member of the Newport Artillery Company in 1741. He was also instrumental in establishing the Newport Bank in 1803. 

William Vernon's House in Newport, which he bought in 1773 was Rochambeau's headquarters during the Revolution. It was here that Rochambeau met with Washington and Lafayette to lay the plans for the Yorktown Campaign.

Samuel and William Vernon were among the most prominent of the Newport Slave Traders. They first entered the trade in 1737 with their vessel Olive Branch under Captain Godfrey. The Vernon brothers continued in the slave trade right through the Revolution. They were the first of the Rhode Island slave traders to realize the advantages of selling their slaves directly to the Southern Colonies instead of the Caribbean Islands as was the practice with most Rhode Island slavers. They sold a cargo in Charleston, South Carolina in 1755. 

William was actively involved in the direct operation of the trade, once advising one of his Captains that a speedy trip was essential to making a profit, "We have often found by experience that having slaves on board a length of Time, they become Sickly, and may dye before they arrive at Market."

On another occasion the Vernons advised Captain Godfrey to, "keep a watchful eye over 'em and give them no opportunity of making an Insurrection, and let them have a Sufficiency of good Diet, as you are sensible your voyage depends upon their health."

There is also on record a sale in 1765 of  "a prime male slave sold for 130 gallons of rum in Annamaboe. Thos. Rogers to William Vernon, Feb. 26, 1765."

William continued in the slave trade after the death of his brother Samuel in 1792 until at least 1799.

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
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Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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