Kingston Academy, 1836

Kingston Academy Front and Back







Many misrepresentations having been circulated concerning the application of the fund of the Kingston Academy, the Trustees of the Academy deem it their duty to publish a statement of facts in relation to the subject.

In the year 1695, Samuel Sewal, Esq. of Boston, for the consideration of a nominal sum, and for the encouragement of literature and good education, and the maintenance of a learned, sober and orthodox schoolmaster, conveyed five hundred acres of land in Pettaquamscut, to John Walley, his heirs and assigns in special trust for the payment of a nominal rent, and "that the remaining, rents, issues and profits of the premises above mentioned, the said John Walley, his heirs and assigns, shall employ and improve, for and towards the procuring, settling, supporting and maintaining a learned, sober and orthodox person, front time to time, and at all times forever hereafter, to instruct the children and youths of the above mentioned town of Pettaquamscut, as well English there settled, or to be settled, as Indians, the aboriginal natives and proprietors of the place, to read and write the English language and the rules of grammar." It was provided that the, schoolmaster


should be approved and allowed of, by Mr. Sewal and his wife, or the survivor, and after both their deaths, then by the minister of the Third Church in Boston, and the Treasurer of said town and their successors forever. And it was also provided that the schoolmaster should, "from time to time, exercise his function and office in such house or edifice as shall be erected for that purpose in some convenient place within the limits of the town of Pettaquamscut aforesaid, at the appointment and direction of the said Samuel, and Hannah his wife, if then living, otherwise, at the appointment and direction" of the Minister and Treasurer aforesaid.

In 1736, Mr. Sewal and John Walley, having both deceased, the heirs of Walley assigned over the land to Samuel Sewal, Esq. eldest son of the donor, to be held subject to the trusts expressed in the original deed.

North Kingstown Records, 9, 115.

About 1781, a schoolhouse was erected at Tower Hill, on the lot given by Mr. Sewal for a Presbyterian meeting house, and in this building the Minister and Treasurer appointed the school to be kept. Of the instructors, who taught there and received the avails of the school land, were-Constant Southworth, Increase Hewit, John Hazard, William Nichols, Robert F. Noyes, Benjamin Hull, &c.-The school continued to be kept there until about 1819, when the Minister and Treasurer before mentioned, upon application of the inhabitants and upon a full hearing of the parties, decided that it should be removed to Kingston (then called Little Rest) where it has since been kept.

The people of the village of Kingston having for a long time and at considerable expense supported a good school in that place; for the purpose of giving more security and


permanence to the institution, many of them in May, 1823, joined in petitioning the Assembly for a charter. The petition was in common form, was signed by Rev. Oliver Brown, Elisha R. Potter, John T. Nichols, Robert F. Noyes, Thomas R. Wells, Thomas S. Taylor, Wilkins Updike, James Helme and William P. Newell. It was referred, in the House of Representatives, to Messrs. Asher Robbins and Dixon, and the charter passed the same session. The petition and charter were prepared by the Rev. Oliver Brown.

The School land having been neglected and renting for but a small sum; in June, 1823 a number of individuals petitioned the Assembly that it might be sold and the proceeds invested in some safe funds and placed in the hands of the Treasurer of the Academy at Kingston. This petition was signed by Elisha R. Potter, James Helme, Thomas S. Taylor, Robert F. Noyes, John T. Nichols, Wilkins Updike, Thomas R. Wells and William P. Newel. It was referred to a committee consisting of Asher Robbins, William Hunter, Benjamin Hazard, Samuel W. Bridgham, Nathan F. Dixon, and Mr. Bicknell, most of them lawyers of high standing at the bar, and upon their report, the act for the sale of the land was passed. This petition and act also were drafted by the Rev. Mr. Brown, and but one amendment was made to the act before its passage, which was to require bonds of the Committee who sold the land, to invest the proceeds in proper funds, and pay them over to the Treasurer of the Academy at Kingston. After the proceeds of sale were invested, the bonds were given up.

Elisha R. Potter, Robert F. Noycs and Thomas S. Taylor were appointed a committee to sell the land. Mr.


Noyes did not serve. The land was sold, and the proceeds amounting to the sum of $4268 dollars invested, and the Committee made a report of the same in June, 1825, which is printed in the schedule of the Assembly.

The whole proceedings, charter, petitions and acts, are matters of public record, and may be seen in the schedules and files of the Assembly; copies of the deeds and papers were before the committees of the General Assembly, and are to be found on the records at Wickford; and many individuals of the purchase have had copies of the original deed in their possession. There has been no endeavor to keep any part of the proceedings from the knowledge of the public. As to these facts, the Trustees deem their statement sufficient for the satisfaction of an unprejudiced inquirer.

The power of the Legislature to place the funds in the hands of the present Trustees, we believe, has never been disputed. The original Trustees or their heirs, having neglected the trust, and there being no person empowered to manage the land or to procure a schoolmaster, it became necessary that new Trustees should be appointed for that purpose. And the General Assembly of this State was the only body, to which application could be made. Cases of a similar exercise of power are frequent in the legislative history of other States. In the appropriation of the fund the Trustees have regarded the deed of Samuel Sewal creating the trust, and the act of Assembly, placing it in their hands. They have deemed it their duty to employ such instructors as would have been deemed learned, sober and orthodox by the donors, and who would keep the school at all times. For several years, the sum of $150 was paid annually from the fund to the


Instructors, about $60 were appropriated for the instruction of charity scholars, and the balance of the revenue from the fund was appropriated towards the repairs of the school house. From the latter charge the scholars of the Pettaquamscut purchase were thus exempted, and the rate of tuition in the English branches of education placed lower than in other schools of the same character. For a few years past, $230 annually have been paid to the Instructors, the appropriation for charity scholars discontinued, and the improvements and repairs of the schoolhouse and lot connected therewith paid for by a rent of $100 charged to the instructors, by a small tax upon scholars from other places, and by subscription. The invidious distinction created between the pupils paying tuition, and those coming upon the charity appropriation, and the difficulty of selection from the applicants for its benefit rendered its discontinuance necessary. Scholars have been received from without the Pettaquamscut purchase, and the Greek and Latin, and in some cases the French languages, and the higher branches of Mathematics taught, the teachers being qualified for these duties, but in no case to the prejudice of the scholars from the Purchase.

The Trustees submit the foregoing statement, and respectfully request of the inhabitants of their vicinity and the State, that they will not suffer their minds to be prejudiced against the Academy, and that the Trustees may not be convicted, before the bar of public opinion, of wilfully and fraudulently misapplying the funds entrusted to their keeping, without a fair hearing and good and substantial reasons. They feel their characters impeached by charges which have of late been industriously circulated against them. Reputation for honesty and veracity is


certainly worth defending. They challenge the severest scrutiny into their conduct, and they are not only ready but anxious for an investigation of the whole subject by impartial judges and a legitimate tribunal.

Kingston, April 4, 1836
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Text and scan contributed 2002 by Tom Faella of Peace Dale, Washington County, RI
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