Continued: BIOGRAPHY: In "Slaves in Little Compton" by Mr. Wilbour on page 51 it says, "According to the census of 1774 there were forty-four negro slaves owned in Little Compton. The largest number owned by any one family at that date was three. The following people owned slaves: ... Abial Cook 3, ..." Thomas Cooke of Rhode Island Volume I Compiled and published by Jane Fletcher Fiske Boxford, Massachusetts 1987 - Page 158 Abial Cook, son of John Cook and his wife Alice Southworth was born probably about 1719 at Tiverton, which until 1747 was in Massachusetts, and died there 15 July 1808. He settled in Little Compton about 1750. He married at Tiverton, 1 December 1743, Mary Bradford, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Gray) Bradford, who was born 16 October 1722 at Plympton, Mass, and died 3 February 1792 at Tiverton, R.I. Their descendants are eligible for membership in the Society of Mayflower Descendants through Mary's Bradford line as well as Abial's Alden Line. The name of Abial Cook, sailor, appears on a portage bill for the sloop Medford for a voyage from Rhode Island to Surinam and back to Boston; the paper, dated 16 July 1741, shows that Abial received 8 shillings a month and was discharged the previous 24 December (R.I. Equity Court File Papers, VI:110, RIA). He was admitted a freeman of Little Compton in 1750, probably by virtue of the ownership of the windmill there deeded to him by his father on 16 April of that year. This was the mill his brother Samuel had deeded to their father in 1748, it was now call a corn mill and Abial a miller, resident in Little Compton (Little Compton Deeds 1:110). He inherited further lands there in 1754 by his father's will. Surviving records show that Abial Cook was beyond doubt a colorful character. In March 1742/43 he was a member of the United Congregational Church of Little Compton, which his wife joined after their marriage; later he joined the Six Principle Baptist Church in Tiverton, known as the Stone Church, which excommunicated him in 1751. The original document of excommunication, dated 21 May 1756 and signed by [Rev.] Othniel Campbell, was in 1982 hanging on the wall of the parish house. Abial Cook made some contribution to the French and Indian War efforts, for which he was paid in 1737 (R.I. Archives, French & Indian Wars 2:155). He managed, however, to get himself forever recorded as a Loyalist in the Revolution by selling sheep to go on board the British warship Swan at Newport in 1775. The Whigs took the sheep at Fogland Ferry and voted to send them as a present to the Continental Army at Cambridge. Abial was denounce as an enemy of his country and liberties of America, but he confessed the sale and avowed his intention of repeating the act every opportunity he got (Sabine, Loyalists in the American Revolution, p. 333). The 1774 Rhode Island Military census lists Abial Cook as between fifty and sixty years old and unable to serve. Among the papers of the late David Patten, well known for his newspaper articles on local Rhode Island history, is a short piece on the “picturesque villainies” of Abial Cook, who “lived in a gambrel-roofed house on the north bank of Pachet Brook where the brook winds out through a corner of Tiverton in the area once known as Seconnet.” As a schoolboy, Mr. Patten knew this place well, and he recalled having found in the pages of a copy of Sabine's book, in his grandfathers handwriting, a note concerning Abial Cook. In addition to the more complete description of the sheep-selling incident, the note went on to state that Abial had “married a worthy woman of Bristol (County) by the name of Bradford by whom he had several children … also several illegitimate children by Moll Briggs, one of whom, Samuel, was the father of Betsey Briggs, another, Judith, married Job Gray, from whom the present Gray family descends…” (Patten Papers, RIHS). Moll Briggs was Mary, daughter of Capt. William and Elizabeth (Fobes) Briggs, born ca. 1723. Her father in his will dated November 1750 left her and her brother William in equal shares the homestead of Pachet Brook. On 9 July 1752 Mary Briggs of Little Compton, spinster, daughter of Capt. William Briggs, sold to Abiel Cook of Tiverton, yeoman, for L9100 the north half of her farm in Little Compton, including half the house and stable. The land was described as bounded on the north by that of John Cook (Tiverton Deeds 1:99). On 24 January 1753 Abial Cook and Mary Briggs of Little Compton and Barnett Sisson of Richmond, R.I. (husband of Catherine Briggs) joined in an indenture tripartite concerning 50 acres of the late William Briggs (ibid.,100) Other land transactions took place in 1773 and 1786 between Abial Cook and Mary Briggs and also Mary's sister Phebe Almy, with whom Abial apparently also had a liason. In 1761, after the death of her husband, William Almy, Phebe evidently tried to claim her dower right in his property and was sued by Samuel Almy, who claimed that she had deserted William 1 June 1754 at Dartmouth and had eloped with one Abial Cook of Little Compton and had lived in adultery during the rest of William's life. Phebe claimed that she did not do it by her own choice (Bristol Co. Court Files, Dec. 1761; Misc. MS at Massachusetts Historical Society). The affair with Phebe was apparently only one of several factors in a lasting feud between this branch of the Cooks and the Almys. One of the more spectacular events was the burning of Abial's windmill on the evening of 27 July 1758, described in a court case in May 1759 when Abial Cook sued Job Almy for L5000 damages, claiming that on the above date he had set fire to a windmill in the occupation and improvement of said Abial Cook, and the said mill was entirely consumed and destroyed. At a court of general sessions in November 1758, a boy called Pardon, variously described as an Indian boy, a mustee, and a mulatto, of Little Compton, an apprentice to Job Almy of Little Compton, yeoman, had signed his mark to the following statement: I did set fire to the mill…I had been to drive the cows & when I came back I told my master I saw a fire by Mr. Cook's mill… he told me to go back & I did & he followed me & told me to set fire to the mill, which I did on the side next our House & my master stayed outside the wall, I went to him & he bid me go back & set fire to the other side which I did… I put the fire between the step and the mill, the other side of our house, & put some chips to kindle the fire. Pardon's mother, Sarah Ned, and Indian woman, testified that she had asked her son what made him do it and he told her his master said if he did not do it he would beat his brains out. Aaron Seabury in court testified that in his fathers house, two or three weeks before the mill was burnt, he had heard Mr. Almy say the he would be avenged of Abial Cook if it cost him a thousand pounds. William Wilcox Jun. of Tiverton, farmer, deposed that he had been crossing in the Fogland Ferry boat with Mr. Abiel Cook and Mr. Job Almy, both of Little Compton, and a few rods from the shore, sd Cook “looks about and says to the said Almy, 'who's here our Mill Wright - I wish you much joy' to which Almy replyed 'the same to your self with your two squaws' - to which Cook answered he intended to have (or had laid a scheme to get) twenty thousand pounds for his mill…” Job Almy was found guilty and ordered to pay damages to Cook and also L200 to the Colony. The Indian boy Pardon petitioned that he ought to be dismissed and discharged from any further service to Almy, and the court released him from his apprenticeship. (Newport County Court Files, Nov. 1758; May 1759, from Box 2716). Abial Cook of Tiverton died intestate and his daughter Sarah was appointed administratrix of his estate. On 6 February 1809 she was named guardian of her brothers Nathaniel and William and sister Priscilla, who were apparently considered unable to take care of their shares of the estate (Tiverton Probate 6:228-229).
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