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Avis (Binney) Brown (1731-1807)

Avis Binney was born in 1731 in the Province of Massachusetts Bay and remained there until her marriage into one of Providence’s most notable families. She was the daughter of Captain Barnabus Binney, a prominent mariner in the northeast. Nicholas Brown and Avis Binney were married in September of 1785. They did not have any children together, however Avis helped raise the children from Nicholas’s previous marriage. Upon her husband’s death six years later, Avis inherited a large portion of his estate.

Now a wealthy and elderly widow, with her stepchildren mostly grown, Avis Brown turned her attention to the suffering of poor women and children in Providence. In 1800, together with seven other women, Avis co-founded the Providence Female Charitable Society (PFCS), an organization that was the first of its kind in Providence (and among the first anywhere). Avis Brown and Lydia Clark were the first two co-directors of the society. Future members of the society were admitted only upon their acceptance by the directors. The main purpose of the society as explained in its original 1802 constitution was to help indigent women and children in and around Providence. The society never gave money to needy women, but instead offered items of necessity such as food, clothing and shelter. Avis remained involved in the society until her death in 1807, seven years after the creation of the PFCS. She was buried in the North Burial Ground next to her already deceased husband, Nicholas Brown, and his first wife, Rhoda Jenckes Brown. Read More...

Zakary Pereira, Student at Rhode Island College