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Abigail Whipple Harris (1679-1724)

Abigail Whipple was born in 1679 in Providence, Rhode Island, the fifth child of Samuel Whipple and Mary Harris. She descended from some of the earliest European settlers in Colonial North America. In 1624 her paternal grandmother, Sarah Darling (Hutchinson) Whipple, was among the first settlers born in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony, to John Hutchinson and Sarah Putnam. Her paternal grandfather, Captain John Whipple, travelled from England to Massachusetts aboard the


in June 1632. Abigail Whipple’s maternal great-grandfather Thomas Harris arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 aboard the


, along with his brother William. It was the same ship that had recently brought Roger Williams, and would soon bring John Whipple, to America. William Harris was one of the four men who accompanied Roger Williams to Seekonk after his exile from Massachusetts and Thomas Harris proved instrumental in establishing Providence.

In 1699 at the age of 20 years, Abigail Whipple married William Harris. He was her first-cousin on her mother’s side. Relatively late in their lives, William and Abigail had a child, Alice, who married at eighteen and died at the age of 20.

Abigail Harris died on November 4, 1724 and was the seventeenth person interred in the North Burial Ground. Her gravestone reads, “Here lieth the Body of Abigail the wife of William Harris Esq who died November 4 1724 in the 46 year of her age.” The marker is gray slate with intricate carvings of vines and an eagle representing resurrection and the soul’s ascension into heaven. Read More...

Erik Christiansen, PhD, Rhode Island College