County Limerick, Ireland
|Death: ||Apr. 11, 1809|
Prince Edward Island, Canada
The History of Captain William Creed
By Robert P. Murray, Esq.
Revised: January, 1997
This History is in the process of being revised and should be updated during 2011. Please revisit later.
By: Robert P. Murray, Esquire
45 Jason Street, Arlington, MA
Tele: (781) 646-3004
Captain William Creed
c. 1739/1743? - 1809
[as compiled to September 1995]
It has been written:
Of Creed, an urbane emigre from Providence, Rhode Island, and a member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island at the time of his death in 1809, much is known.(1)
In truth, it would have been better if the above passage read, "Of Creed. . . a few facts are known," since only bits and pieces of his personal history have actually surfaced. Most of those facts previously compiled pertain to events after his first appearance on Prince Edward Island around 1768. Recent narratives and written articles make mention of his earlier history, but many intervening years of his life have never been chronicled. The following accounting is far from complete, but attempts to shed some additional light on a most interesting character and historical figure.
It has taken over a decade to compile the resulting chronology, and only the surface of his history has been scratched. We have been peeking into the life of our ancestor -- only able to catch glimpses of his personality, habits and life style as he shows up here and there -- instances that are often months and years apart. It is regrettable that he did not record his own story for himself and for others as surely it would have made wonderful reading and given us a far better insight into his life and times.
What follows is drawn from many and variable sources. Much is accurately documented in other published sources and merely compiled here. Some is pure speculation. And some of the early material relies upon undocumented, family remembrances, as recounted in the narrative of Louis L. Cantelo, a narrative passed on to him nearly a century ago by his grandmother, Martha Douet (Acorn) Creed, wife of Captain William's grandson. The late Lorne Johnston published a brief, but somewhat inaccurate "History of the Creeds" in the January 24, 1990-edition of Eastern Graphic, drawing heavily on the Cantelo narrative. That article, however, focuses more on later generations of Creeds.
From the materials at hand, we estimate William Creed's birth date to be between 1739 and 1743. Mr. Cantelo recalls being told that William was born in Limerick, Ireland, to English parents,
in 1743. To date, his birth date and place have not been confirmed. Purportedly he was educated and destined to become a minister in the Church of England, but never became ordained. He left Ireland ". . . with his uncle, surnamed Bennett, and came to the United States where he had other relatives."(2)
As an aside, the Cantelo narrative, although not precisely accurate, does make colorful and sensitive reading. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading the original on file with the Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society, the following excerpt is provided to show its distinctive quality:
Stories told are sketchy, but one told about his [Creed's] ancestors, which I think was about his grandfather who was traveling around the country (Ireland) after the days of the Battle of the Boyne [July 1, 1690]. Night came upon him and he took refuge in a house for the night, and he was upstairs in bed when hostile people entered the house and began talking about their enemies. The woman of the house said, "Be careful, there's one of them upstairs." "We will soon take care of him," they replied. Creed was not asleep, but armed with the proper instruments of his office. He quickly drew his steel and slit the thatched roof and slid out on the ground and was away. As the story is told, if it hadn't been for his quick thinking, there would be no Creeds on Prince Edward Island today.(3)
No connection has yet been made between our Captain William Creed and one John Creed, born July 28, 1763 in Truro, Massachusetts, to a John Creed and Jane (Lewis) Creed, or to their progeny who later settled in and around Cohasset, Massachusetts. Additionally, nothing further is known of our William's uncle "surnamed Bennett." The Cantelo narrative suggests that he "stayed in New Brunswick and his great grandson, R. B. Bennett, became Prime Minister of Canada from 1930-1935".(4) Our research suggests that Richard Bedford Bennett, also known as Viscount Bennett, 1870-1947, did serve as Canadian prime minister (1930-1935), and was responsible for the convention of the 1932 economic conference in Ottawa. We have not, however, traced his ancestral beginnings and, therefore, have not confirmed this relationship.
The first documented evidence which mentions our William Creed is contained in a listing of ships arriving in Boston from Cork, Ireland on November 15, 1766. The Brig Willmott, Captained by Jonathan Morcomb, had arrived carrying 72 servants indentured to "Messr. Creed and Collis, Merchants." (For a listing of the 72 indentured servants, see Appendix 1.) In various articles, William is characterized as having been a "slave trader." This is a rather harsh term by today's standards. One should realize, moreover, that during the Colonial period it was quite customary for emigrants to indenture themselves as servants for years in order to earn the costs of their transport to the Colonies -- an early form of a personal-services contract. At this time in his career, William was more likely a "broker" of such contracts, by which he would arrange transportation for the emigrant/immigrant, enter into an indenture contract with each one, and sell the contracts to third parties here in the Colonies, all at a tidy profit. Although he would eventually become a slave owner himself, it is doubtful that he actively traded in this arena. At the time, it was quite customary for the local elite, both in Boston and elsewhere, to have owned slaves as household servants. For a complete discussion of William Creed's ownership of Dembo (Dimbo or Benbo) Sickles (Suckles), see Black Islanders, by Jim Hornsby, published under the Island Studies Series No. 3, Institute of Island Studies, Charlottetown, 1991. See also, "On Dembo's Trail: Black Ancestry on Prince Edward Island," by Diane E. Whitcomb, NEHGS, NEXUS, Vol. XI, No.1.
It is uncertain whether William was actually aboard the Willmott, but it is at least likely that he was in Boston during November to receive his cargo of human passengers. If he was indeed born in 1743, he would have been a mere 23 years of age (nearly middle age by Colonial standards), but well on his way to becoming a prosperous business man, entrepreneur, and adventurer.
At about the same time as the arrival of the Willmott (1766), William had begun his relationship with one Mary Spencer -- living "as husband and wife."(5) William would eventually have five children by this Mary, all born out of wedlock - three sons, William, George, and John and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary (Polly). Exactly where son William and daughter Elizabeth, the eldest two, were born is unknown, however, the other three were born in Providence, Rhode Island, according to Mary Spencer's allegations. One might speculate why William and Mary never married -- Is it possible she began her association with William as his indentured servant? Is it possible she was a Roman Catholic, born in Ireland, herself? Did she accompany him to the Colonies? Mary Spencer's complaint clearly indicates that the eldest children were born elsewhere. Where? Obviously, social norms would have prohibited his marrying below his station and, according to family tradition, William had a great destain for the followers of the Catholic Church.
He later threatened to cut off a son's inheritance "without a shillin'" if he married a Catholic, [referring to his son, Job Prince Creed, and later daughter-in-law, Mary Anne Thistle].(6) In any event, the truth surrounding his initial relationship with Mary Spencer has not been discovered.
We assume that William began his career as a merchant and seaman during the mid-1760's, after his arrival from Ireland. He is found traveling between Providence, Rhode Island, Boston, and the fledgling settlement Isle of St. John (Prince Edward Island, Canada). As per Cantelo, by 1767 he was reportedly in Canada, and in 1768 he is listed in the English census for the Alberton area of Prince Edward Island. At about this time William became involved with David Higgins, who was engaged in establishing a small fishing community at St. Andrew's Point, (a/k/a Wightman's Point), at the Three Rivers Area. David would be appointed Naval Officer of St. John's Island (hereinafter called Prince Edward Island or P.E.I.) by Sir James Montgomery, Baron of the Court of Exchequer of Scotland, later in 1769. Much of the funding for Higgins' settlement was provided through Job Prince, a Boston merchant, under a letter of credit issued by Montgomery.
Some of William's travels in and around Prince Edward Island have been documented in Drummond's Diary where he, together with David Higgins, is listed as having "arrived from waiting on the Governor" on September 22, 1770. The following year, David Higgins traveled back to Boston, not only for the purpose of conducting additional business with Job Prince, but also for personal reasons -- on June 3, 1773 he married 20 year old Elizabeth Prince, Job's daughter. (Elizabeth had been born May 28, 1753 to Job Prince and Elizabeth Allen.)
In 1774, however, Higgins developed financial problems through his mismanagement of the settlement on Prince Edward Island, angering both Montgomery and Job Prince, and he was called back to Scotland for an accounting. On his way he stopped in Boston once again, only to be confronted by his outraged father-in-law. In order to appease the old man's concerns about his investments, Higgins presented him with a deed of his interests in Lot 59, the grist mill, saw mill and other buildings at the fishing settlement. In reality, the buildings themselves belonged to Sir James Montgomery.
Once in Scotland, Higgins convinced Montgomery to continue to invest in the settlement at Prince Edward Island. However, in return, Higgins was required to deed over his interests in Lot 59 to Montgomery and was to be granted a lease of Panmure Island. The problem with this plan was that he had already deeded his interests to Job Prince in Boston. Job Prince's frustrations with his
dealings with David Higgins never healed and are extremely apparent in a desperate letter he sent many years later to Montgomery in December of 1788. The following is a partial transcription of this historical letter:
In May 1771, I furnished him with a cargo amounting to £388.6.9, . . . which [promissory] notes Mr. William Creed now has in his possession at the Island of St. John, and has made a demand of the payment of, but Mr. Cornelius Higgins [David's brother] says the goods were for [your benefit] and for the use of [your] settlers. . . . The David Higgins' bills kept good until 1774 and then a great number of them came back protested, which brot Mr. Higgins a large sum in my debt. . . . for which sum to secure a part of the money he gave me a deed to one third of Lot #59 on the Island of St. John, Three Rivers, but I find that after that he conveyed the same to you, and as the dispute between Great Britain and America run as high, it was out of my power to get up on the records of the Island, till [your] deed was on the records, & if I lose what I must lose by Mr. David Higgins near five thousand pounds and a great deal of that went to supply the settlers on the Island which were on land belonging to you. . . . As to my part, if I can't obtain something considerable [on the debt owed] I am ruined and must starve in my old age. Your most obedient and very [humble?] servant, Job Prince.
In this letter, Job Prince attempted to negotiate a settlement with Lord Montgomery, offering to relinquish any claim he might have in the lands at Lot 59 in return for payment of two-thirds of the debts owed to him on the letter of credit from Montgomery.
A review of Job Prince's probate records at the Massachusetts Archives indicates that, at the time of his death a few years later, his debts did indeed exceed his estate assets. His own son, James Prince, was required to auction off nine properties: a Mansion House, several unfinished houses and barns, several double houses and a piece of vacant land, all in Boston, and a farm in the town of Waldoborough, Lincoln County, Maine. The Mansion House and adjoining pastures seem to have remained in the Prince family, as a sale of the pasture land to Massachusetts General Hospital took place in 1817. But more on that later.
By 1774, while Higgins was having his financial difficulties, William was back with Mary Spencer in Providence, Rhode Island. He is listed in the Rhode Island Census for that year, as head of household, residing with one additional male over 16 years of age (identity unknown), 2 males
under 16 years of age (probably sons William and George), 1 female over 16 (Mary Spencer) and one female under 16 (probably daughter Elizabeth). He would later father John and Mary (Polly).
We lose track of William's activities until 1776, the height of the American Revolution.
On August 4, 1776, two ships, the Brig. Betsy and the Schooner Three Brothers were captured off the coast of Massachusetts, both bound for Nova Scotia, by the Massachusetts Sloop Tyrannicide. These vessels were taken into port at Salem, Massachusetts and were to be forfeited to the Colonists after a Boston trial.(7) However, on November 6, 1776, one Richard Derby, Jr., the agent for the Sloop Tyrannicide, wrote to Francis Dana of the Colonial Council sitting in Boston, advising him that the Brig Betsy had been acquitted "after Tryall" in the Maritime Court at Salem. He wrote:
I had Determined not to Trouble my self any further about her, as there Did not appear to me on Tryall there was the Least probability of her being Condemned, but as the Captors were Clamorous and Noisy I Entered my appeall, with an Intention to prosecute it further at the Supreme Court, but I assure you I have not the most Distant apprehension of Succeeding, it will be an expense of about £40 . . . . .
He requested further instructions and advised the Council that one William Creed, was claiming to be the ship's owner and was about to make application for her release. Two days later, November 8, 1776, John Avery, Deputy Secretary of the Council, responded, advising Derby not to pursue an appeal of the decision of the Maritime Court with the Supreme Court. Apparently William convinced those in power that he was indeed sailing a neutral merchant vessel between Boston, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Although Captain William is later listed in the Rhode Island Military Census in 1777 as being "between the age of 16 and 50 and able to bear arms,"(8) we find no record that he formally served. Rather, he appears to have attempted to maintain a certain level of bipartisan neutrality - serving as a merchant on one hand (after all, he was Loyalist-born) -- and as the owner of several privateer vessels -- ships privately owned and manned but specifically licensed by the Colonial Council during the Revolution to attack and capture enemy vessels.
By 1778 William is again in Rhode Island, as his youngest son, John, was born to Mary Spencer on April 28, 1779. Within a month thereafter, however, he had returned to Salem, Massachusetts, where he began a buying spree -- purchasing at auction several vessels and supplies captured by the Colonial forces and condemned in the Maritime Court. To date, we have discovered that between the months of May and November 1779 he purchased the following ships:
the Privateer Schooner TRUE BLUE,
the Brig. VIGILANT,
the Sloop SPEEDWELL,
the Brig. LIVELY and
the Brig. CATO.
(For sources, see Time-Line for Captain William Creed, following.)
In addition, by March 2, 1780, William is listed as an owner of the Sloop REBECCA, "a prise taken from the subjects of his Britanick Majesty, condemned in the Maritime Court."(9) By that date, he had begun a strong business relationship with his soon-to-be father-in-law and brother-in-law, Captain Job Prince and his son, Captain Job Prince, Jr. On May 5, 1780, he is listed as a Bonder, Merchant and Surety, of Boston, together with Job, Jr., of the Brig. ACTIVE; Owner: Job Prince and others.
On May 6, 1780, William, "a merchant," is again listed with Job, Jr. as being "of Boston," and the Bonder of the Ship ESSEX, Owner: Job Prince and others.
Once again, on June 9, 1780, William is listed as a Bonder of the Sloop JUDITH, but now he is listed as being "of Salem."
On July 22, 1780, William, now being "of Boston and Salem," is listed as the Owner of the Schooner HAWK. And, once again he purchased another vessel at auction in Salem on August 30, 1780, the Ship MARY, captured by the Ship ESSEX.
The following month, William returned to Providence where, on September 28, 1780, he purchased a partial interest in real estate situated "between Broad Street and Westminster Street (bounded on the East by 'School Lane/Street'), on the West side of the River, a little to the eastward
of William Snow's Meeting House."(10) On October 27, 1780, he acquired the remaining interest in this property from the "Rogers' heirs,"(11) having paid a total of £94,500 for the property. Presumably he established this home as a respected member of the Providence business community, and intended to settle down there with Mary and their five children.
But domestic and economic trouble followed shortly thereafter. By November 18, 1780, William had returned to Salem, Massachusetts and, on April 5, 1781, was admitted to the Essex Lodge of Freemasons, founded only two years earlier. Most importantly, however, he lists himself as from Providence, Rhode Island, a widower, with a son, William, and a daughter, Betsy [Elizabeth]. While in Salem, Massachusetts, he boarded with Mrs. Jacob Crowninshield.(12) Have domestic problems caused William to disclaim any association with Mary? Have the two eldest children sided with him, both now being of sufficient age? Most likely, since Mary later sues William for abandoning her and the children. Additionally, listing himself as a 'widower' would certainly mask his children's illegitimacy.
During 1781, William is still hanging onto his shipping and trading business. His Ship INDEPENDENCE, which he co-owned with one, Robert Taylor, was launched in May of that year at Providence, Rhode Island. However, disaster soon follows since, within a few weeks the INDEPENDENCE was captured as an enemy by the H.M.S. DANAE, while cruising off the coast of Newfoundland. Was this the first of his major economic losses? There may have been many, because by January 1, 1782, William was forced to borrow supplies from the Deputy Governor of Rhode Island -- 25 3-pound shot, a ladle and a worm (either a nautical term or specifically referring to the threaded condenser of a rum-making still).
William Creed's business was further severely damaged by the passage of an edict outlawing trading with the British controlled Canadian provinces. On February 7, 1782, The Salem Gazette, published the following:
The public interest having suffered by the lenity of government, in allowing permits to be granted to divers persons, for the purpose of transporting effects to and from Nova Scotia, the General Court, in the present session, have passed a Resolve, absolutely interdicting, in future, a commerce so highly injurious to the common cause; And all vessels, with the effects on board, going to, or coming from Nova Scotia, or any other place in possession of the enemey (excepting such persons as have already obtained permission for themselves and property, and have not deviated from such permission) shall be liable to capture and condemnation. Obviously, this legislative action tolled the coming end of William's sailing/trading career. On February 28th, the Salem Gazette, reported the taking of the Privateer Brig. SPEEDWELL, sailing out of Salem, by the "enemy" (British). It is uncertain whether this is, in reality, the Sloop SPEEDWELL which William had purchased at auction at Salem only two years earlier.
That same day, Captain Creed was forced to sell a house in Providence, Rhode Island, in consideration of only £100. This is apparently not the family home described above, but a dwelling "now standing on the land of James Black, Esq." and "occupied by Mrs. Cole."(13)
Another setback occurred in May 1782 when The Salem Gazette reported (May 9) that the Privateer Brig. CATO (previously purchased at auction by Captain Creed) was captured on March 29th by a British privateer sailing out of Bermuda. The CATO, sailing with 13 men, led by Captain Briggs, and outfitted with only 5 carriage guns, was out matched by a vessel manned by 75 men and carrying 16 carriage guns.
In October 1782, the Sloop PHOENIX was apparently encountering problems, as Captain Creed was forced to "make oath that he is the owner . . . William Corey, Master . . . [it being] a square stern vessel of 45 tons, built in Providence in 1782."(14)
Captain Creed continues to be listed in the Census of Rhode Island, 1782. This census is the first reporting of one Black, Dembo Sickles, in his household.
The following February he is called upon to repay the loan of the 25 3-pound shot, ladle and worm, as under the heading, "Proceedings of the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" for February 24th, the following resolve was enacted:
Whereas, twenty-five three-pound shot, a ladle and worm, were by His Honor, the Deputy Governor, lent to Captain William Creed, on the 1st of January, 1782; -- It is therefore voted and resolved, that His Honor be requested to call on the said William Creed for the said articles, and that he deliver them to Capt. Coleman, commissary of military stores.(15)
Meanwhile back in Prince Edward Island, David Higgins, who had fallen on such hard times as the combined result of mismanagement and the War, gave up on his attempts to make a success of the settlement at Three Rivers, and he moved his family to Charlottetown during 1782.
On April 27, 1783, David Higgins died. It has been written that:
. . . .As a final indignity, a Mr. Barry [Berry? Sic.] carried off his wife, and overwhelmed by his debts and by his wife's defiling his bed, he went on a four month drunk, which culminated in a fatal fever. . . .
Although there was, in fact, a Mr. Walter Berry residing in Charlottetown at this time, it is more likely that the perpetrator of this extramarital adventure was our own Captain Creed. Presumably William had met Elizabeth Prince Higgins during his visits to Prince Edward Island and we know that he had previously made several business investments with her father, Job Prince, and her brother.
Two months later, William was forced to mortgage one of his properties in Providence to a John Livingston, Merchant, of Boston, for the sum of £803, 18 shillings, and 2 pence.(16)
And only three months after Higgins' death, Captain Creed and the lovely Elizabeth are found cavorting together in Providence, Rhode Island. According to the Town Council Record Books, 5, at page 240, on August 6, 1783, Mary Spencer, calling herself "Mary Creed," filed a complaint with the Town Council against William, stating to the Court that she had been living with Captain Creed as his wife for more than 17 years past, and ". . . by him hath had 5 children, all which are now living, three of which were born in said Providence." She complains that he, for some time has
. . . . accompanied himself with another woman called Mrs. Higgins and as it is said within these few days married her; and that he has turned her [Mary Spencer] out wholly refusing to suffer her to live with him any more, separating her from her children;
. . . . William for more than a month past has spent nearly his whole time with her [Elizabeth Prince Higgins] before he married her, keeping and supporting her in his own house and other houses in Providence and elsewhere at great expense--and in the meantime entrusting the care and management of his own house to a number of persons not of good fame.
Mary claims that she and her children are likely to be reduced to poverty and become a charge to the Town of Providence, that William's ". . . . extraordinary conduct is wanting direction in managing his estate," and she asks for a guardian to be appointed over the goods and effects of William, since she believes he will commit further waste and will soon ". . . . go off with his new wife."
At the same time Mary filed this complaint, she filed a petition against Captain Creed, seeking to have a guardian appointed over his goods and estate "as a result of his abandoning her."
Captain Creed appeared in Court that same day, seeking additional time to prepare a response to Mary's allegations and to "better know what security he may give to indemnify the Town of Providence from any cost or charges that may arise on account of Mary and his children." He is told to return the next day at 3:00 p.m. The next day, August 7, 1783, Captain Creed appeared and executed a Warranty Deed for a portion of his land to the Town Treasurer (James Arnold, Esquire) of the Town of Providence, in trust, "as surety for Mary during the term of her natural life, with the remainder in fee to his children."(17)
On August 8th, William mortgaged the remainder of his property in Providence to Nathan Angell for £210.(18) Six months later, on February 26, 1784, William sold another parcel of land to Peregrine Foster for $27 silver and payment of an outstanding note/mortgage owed to Nathan
In reviewing the above claim and Captain Creed's "Account Book," [covering the period of 1780-1824], Public Archives of Prince Edward Island and at New England Historic and Genealogic Society (NEHGS), Boston, wherein it is noted that certain goods were delivered "to Mrs. Creed . ." on July 22, 1783 by Dembo, it is likely that William and Elizabeth Prince (Higgins) were married during June or early July, 1783, either in Boston or Providence.
Captain Creed's economic problems continued. On July 6, 1784, an Execution was rendered against him in favor of one Robert Taylor, a former business partner in the launching of the Ship INDEPENDENCE, and the Sheriff seized and auctioned off certain of his property to Samuel Black. In addition to the Sheriff's Deed, William signed a deed for the same property, again to Samuel Black.(20)
It is now obvious that Captain William Creed was completely bailing-out. By the next month he is found in Boston. On August 3, 1784, he signed a deed conveying his remaining lands in Providence, to one John R. Livingston, of Boston, in consideration of £1,262, plus Livingston's assumption of the mortgage owed to Nathan Angell (£210) noted above and a mortgage to Simeon Potter (£249). This deed is most significant, as it is signed in Boston by William and "his Wife, Elizabeth Creed," releasing her rights of dower.(21) This is the first, and at the time of this writing, the only written evidence that William and Elizabeth Prince (Higgins) actually were married, aside from Mary Spencer's allegations a year earlier.
How long Captain Creed and his bride, Elizabeth, remained in Boston is uncertain, however, his first son by her, Job Prince Creed, was born in the Colonies during 1785.(22)
Shortly afterwards, Captain William Creed and Elizabeth left the Colonies, probably forever, and headed north one last time to settle permanently on Prince Edward Island. In addition, during 1785, a bill was submitted to the Providence Town Council by one Peregrine Foster, charging for the
passage of "Capt. Creed's children to St. John's Island."(23) Just who exactly were these "children" and did Peregrine Foster really transport them to Prince Edward Island?
Interestingly enough -- Captain Creed took only his eldest daughter, Elizabeth (by Mary Spencer), and his new young son, Job Prince Creed, with him. The Index to Town Papers - Providence Town contains entries which clearly indicate that his other four children by Mary Spencer stayed behind. A Letter of Indenture as to William Creed (the son) to William Wheaton in payment of a house is found at entry # 2400, Page ?; a Letter of Indenture as to John Creed to Peregrine Foster in payment for support is found at entry # 4939, Page 101; and, in 1789 Polly Creed (listed as "daughter of William") was indentured to John Munford under an Order of the Overseer of the Poor to the Town Treasurer - documented at # 1789 & 5211, Page 14. We are certain that George also remained in Providence, since an Administration for his estate was later taken out there in 1806.(24) George left no lawful heirs of his own, and his sister Polly (married name of Searle) was named Administrator. It is noted in his file that, at this time (1806):
. . . . his sister Betsey [sic.] Creed had been sent by the Town Clerk, Providence, Rhode Island, to live with her father and that it is not known if she is still living. . . .
There is no mention of George's brothers, William and John, in this Administration. As will be seen at the end of this paper, William may have traveled to and settled in Boston as an adult. John Creed was befriended by a family as a young man and moved to Ohio.
By 1788, Captain William Creed and his "blended" family, consisting of Elizabeth Prince, his daughter Elizabeth (by Mary Spencer), and his son, Job Prince Creed, together with Dembo Sickles, had all settled permanently on Prince Edward Island. According to Job Prince's letter to Lord Montgomery, written that year, Captain Creed, in addition to setting up his own outpost/store at Three Rivers Area, was attempting to recover some of the old debt owed to his now father-in-law, Job Prince, by David Higgins from David's surviving brother, Cornelius. William continued his formerly successful ship trading business traveling, however, only in and around Prince Edward
Island, and trading in "such goods as tobacco, molasses, liquor, sugar, etc."(25) It was that year also that his second son by Elizabeth was born, Joseph Bennett Creed.
Two years later, on February 20, 1790, his third son by Elizabeth was born, Samuel Prince Creed. Samuel was later baptized in St. Paul's Anglican Church, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on February 25, 1802, at the age of 12 years.
By September 13, 1790, William's father-in-law and Elizabeth's father, Job Prince, is deceased. The Inventory filed in his estate lists one "Wm. Breed" as a creditor of the estate, at line item # 64. This is believed to be a scrivener's error and in all likelihood should have read "Creed."
William continued to operate this way for several more years, engaging himself also in road surveying work and in servicing the lighthouse at Wightman's Point. One significant event is recorded under the year 1793, however. In the Memoir of the Rev. James MacGregor, D.D., Missionary of the General Associate Synod of Scotland to Pictou, Nova Scotia; compiled by his grandson, The Rev. George Patterson, Pastor of the Presbyterian Congregation, at Greenhill, Pictou, Nova Scotia, the following is noted at page 280 that on this visit to Three Rivers by Reverend MacGregor:
. . . . even at this period, the number of inhabitants was very small. He preached in the parlour of the house, now occupied by the Hon. Joseph Wightman, then occupied by Mr. David Irving. That parlour, which is by no means large, contained all the adult population of Three Rivers. . . . He remained among them several days, engaged as usual. He preached on a weekday before he left, and baptized a number of children. One child he refused to baptize because the father would not make affidavit that he had been married to the child's mother. But the most interesting circumstance of his visit was that on it he was the means of bringing to the knowledge of the truth, a poor slave of the name of Sickles, owned by Mr. William Creed, a gentleman who had emigrated from Boston. . . .
This writer is convinced that the "child" was, in fact, William's daughter Elizabeth (the child's mother being Mary Spencer). That Elizabeth Creed later married one Capt. James Irving, the son of Mr. David Irving, in whose home the foregoing scene occurred. Rev. Patterson acknowledged that
his grandfather, in his elder years, was often confused as to what events occurred on which visits to St. John's Island (Prince Edward Island). As a result, the foregoing scene could have taken place sometime earlier that 1793, when Elizabeth would still have been considered a child.
It is recorded elsewhere that Captain Creed's wife, Elizabeth, while married to David Higgins, had several children. These children apparently took well to their new stepfather, William, as he continued to care for them and look to their welfare. On December 13, 1794, Captain William submitted a Petition, dated November 18, 1794, to the then Lieutenant Governor Fanning, on his own behalf and on behalf of his two stepsons, James and David Higgins, and his own son, Job Prince Creed (although still a minor), seeking the formal granting of certain Lots and pastures in Georgetown Royalty, Prince Edward Island. The Petition reads, in part, as follows:
That your Petitioner in consequence of application made during the late administration of Lieut. Governor Patterson, had received assurances of Grants of the following Lots in Georgetown Royalty, Viz. No. 8, second Range & Pasture Lot No. 50 to your Petitioner; No. 7, second Range & Pasture Lot No. 28 to James Higgins; No. 9, second Range & Pasture Lot No. 25 to Job Prince Creed; and No. 10, second Range & 26 Pasture Lot to David Higgins; all in the Royalty of GeorgeTown. Your Petitioner therefore prays Your Excellency will be pleased to order such Grants to be prepared for your Petitioner & the persons above named of the Lots enumerated;..../s/ William Creed.
This Petition was formally received in Council on August 27, 1795 and "Granted [provided that it] not [be] interfering with any former Grants."
Next we discover that on September 1, 1795, Captain William Creed, of Three Rivers, Island of St. John (Prince Edward Island) and Benbo (a/k/a Dumbo, Denbo etc.) Sickles enter into a contract of Indenture, by which Sickles is to be given his freedom after seven additional years of servitude, beginning November 1, 1795 -- at least two years later than hoped for by Rev. MacGregor.
The census for Lot 59, entered April 1798, lists: William Creed 4-2-0, 0-2-0, total 8.
Another visit to Three Rivers by Rev. MacGregor purportedly took place in 1800. "It is noted that when he was leaving for Pictou, in Mr. David Irving's boat, Mrs. Creed sent him a present
of a lamb, by the hand of Sickles, who though now free was still in the employment of his former master. . . ."(26) That same year William Creed ran for office as a Conservative in the Prince Edward Island Legislature.
The next time we find William, he is mentioned in a few Prince Edward Island historical documents:
1801 (Oct 17) Minutes of Council, dated 7 Feb 1797 and 3 Jul 1798 In re: Petition of Robert Mathern, g.v. Filed under date of 17 Oct 1801
1804 (Aug ) Wm. Creed, Esqr., Commissioner of Highways, petition for payment of a sum of £9. Council Minutes, from a page in the Ira Brown Papers, Prince Edward Island Archives.
1805 (Feb 16) William [along with sons, Job, Joseph Bennett, and Samuel] signed a petition to Lt. Gov. Edmund Fanning on his retirement. Royal Heroes # 4
1806 Wm. Creed, listed as a Justice of Kings County, Prince Edward Island Provincial Archives Commissions Book 2558, Item 4.
Looking back to Providence, Rhode Island in 1809, we find that on March 20th, Mary Creed [in reality "Spencer"], of Providence, "commonly called wife of William Creed, formerly of Providence," quitclaims her dower rights, in the real estate which Capt. William Creed had given in trust to the Town of Providence, to Asa Learned. This deed is merely a release of her legal 'life interest' or 'life estate' in the property.(27)
But the most significant event of that year is that on April 11, 1809, our Captain William Creed died while serving in the Legislature in Charlottetown. He was buried two days later on April 13th in Charlottetown in the "Old Elm Avenue Cemetary", now called University Avenue. The Charlottetown news carried the following notes:
Mr. William Creed, Esquire, Justice of the Peace, and one of the House of Representatives died at Charlottetown 11 Apr 1809. Buried 13 Apr 1809. The Governor and Council and Assembly attending.
and, in the same publication two years later, dated February 9, 1811, Page 2, Col 2, in a letter to the Editor it is noted that:
Mr. William Creed was one who voted for the bill to establish 2 pence per gallon as additional tax on wine and spirits.
The following September 12th, 1809 Letters of Administration issued to Joseph Bennet Creed on the Estate of William Creed, Esquire.(28)
Within three years thereafter, sadly enough, William's wife, had also died. By April 19, 1812, David Higgins, Elizabeth [Prince] Creed's son by her first husband, as Administrator, filed an Inventory of her estate with the Suffolk County [Massachusetts] Probate Court.(29) This Document shows her to have been
formerly of Boston but last of Prince Edward Island, a single woman, deceased intestate.
The only asset listed is $1,048.88 received from James Prince, her brother. This is probably her distributive share of the estate of her father, Job Prince. At the time of her death, however, she was still entitled to an interest in her father's real estate holdings in Boston, which had not yet been sold. As noted earlier, those lands were eventually sold by Job Prince's estate in 1817, and are now occupied by Massachusetts General Hospital. However, a deed was also required from Elizabeth's children who would have received her fractional interest derived from their grandfather's estate. As a result, on May 26, 1817, Job Prince Creed, Joseph Bennett Creed and Samuel Creed,
all of Prince Edward Island, by our half brother, David Higgins, who is our lawful Attorney in this behalf, convey our right, title and interest in and to those parcels of land in Boston, lying between the Mansion House of Mrs. Elizabeth Prince [an aunt] and the low water mark of the Charles River . . . meaning those lands commonly called and known by the name of Prince's Pasture, . . . and meaning the part which it is contemplated to be sold to the Trustees of the General Hospital by the heirs of Job Prince.(30)
Some final notes:
1817 (Jul 15) Journal Minutes of the House of Assembly: "the funeral expenses of the late Wm. Creed, M.L.A., have been paid by the Government, amounting to £30.8.6 ½."
1821 (Jan 10) Mary Spencer dies. Obituary, Providence Gazette, Jan. 13, 1821.
1824 (Jun 21) John Creed, of Lancaster, Ohio, quitclaims to his sister, Mary Searle, of Providence, the same land conveyed by Capt. Wm. Creed in trust for the security of Mary Spencer, with a remainder interest in his children. [Providence Registry of Deeds, Book 48, Page 176]
Of particular interest is a newspaper notice, dated August 28, 1824, from the Office of the Private Secretary of the Island (Prince Edward Island)
If Elizabeth Creed [Captain Creed's daughter and by then Elizabeth Irving], daughter of Wm. Creed, native of Ireland, and formerly of Rhode Island, will apply at this office she will learn something to her advantage.
This advertisement was a notice that Elizabeth's sister, Mary (Polly) Searle, was attempting to buy-out her interest in the Providence property, since she had just acquired her brother John's interest in June, George was by this time deceased, and the whereabouts of her oldest brother, William, was unknown.
However, does the phrase "native of Ireland" refer to William or does it, in fact, suggest that Elizabeth, herself, was born in Erin. If so, William Creed and Mary Spencer must have begun their relationship prior to leaving Ireland and prior to arriving in the Colonies. This leaves one to speculate on whether William really did travel with his "Uncle Bennett" or whether William, Mary Spencer, daughter Elizabeth, and possibly son, William, travelled here as a "family."
As an aside, John Creed, youngest son of William Creed and Mary Spencer, after moving away with his "adoptive family," did go on to lead a very successful life in Fairfield, Ohio. He later died on April 27, 1843, and his obituary reads:
Died: at his residence on Tuesday, Apr. 27, 1843, 6 mi. west of Lancaster, John Creed, Esquire, at age 64. He was born Apr. 28, 1779 in the State of Rhode Island, destitute at a very tender age, of a father's care to guard and guide his early years, he emigrated with a friend who reared him, to Marietta in 1796 at age 17 years. In 1808 he came to Lancaster and resided there until his death. He was the first man to ever ship to New Orleans the agricultural products of Hocking Valley. He was the first financier in Ohio. He was a noted lawyer and brilliant orator. He was founder of the first Law College in Lancaster.
Sciota Gazette, published at Chillicothe, Ohio.
Captain Creed's eldest son, William, by Mary Spencer, may not have fared quite so well. No records exist that he remained in Providence, nor is there any evidence that he traveled to Salem or to Prince Edward Island (as Peregrine Foster asserts). A William Creed was living in Boston at the time of his death on April 30, 1844. This William had been working there as a machinist. The following excerpt is from the Suffolk County Probate Court records, Docket No. 33991:
To the Honorable Judge of the Court of Probate, within the County of Suffolk, humbly shews [sic.] John P. Marston, of Charlestown in the County of Middlesex, Engineer, that William Creed, Machinist, was last an inhabitant of Boston in said County and died in the City of New York, State of New York, on the 30th day of April last, leaving goods and estate of which an administration is necessary. The Petitioner is a creditor of said deceased's estate who left no widow or other kindred known in this Commonwealth except two minor children.
The inventory of his estate included an extensive collection of machinist's tools and equipment, black smithing tools, anvils, bellows, tap and die sets, mills, boring mills, drills, nuts and
bolts, one ton of "old iron" of a value of $15.00, three benches, one mahogany bedstead, two mahogany tables, two feather beds, one writing desk, 17 drawings and prints, and a "looking glass."
Attached to this inventory is a copy of the mortgage he had given to Marston, in consideration of a loan of $1,784.00. Additional items included in the mortgage were: the household furniture now in house #3, Norwich Street, Boston, consisting of one bureau, one clock, one carpet, one pier glass, one mechanical drawing frame, 14 machine prints in frames, two engravings in frames, 30 volumes of books, and a list of tools and stock "which are now in shop #22, Water Street, Boston," and other equipment and tools and valves "which are now in the premises on Front Street."
The only information contained above which would cast suspicion on whether this is Captain Creed's son by Mary Spencer is the notation that he "left . . . no other kindred . . . except two minor children." If the Captain's son had been born as early as we suspect -- during 1768, he would have been approximately 76 years old in 1844. Did he sire two minor children so late in life? It is certainly possible, but one will never know.
Captain Creed's two eldest sons by Elizabeth Prince, Job Prince Creed and Joseph Bennett Creed died around the same time. Joseph Bennett died on February 13, 1868. A Petition for the Administration of Job Prince Creed's estate was filed on March 17, 1887, by his daughter, Margaret, wife of Dugald Henry. It does not contain his exact date of death, but indicates he died 19 years earlier (1868).
Of his son Samuel Prince Creed practically nothing is known other than he "went West." Cantelo did state that he had in his possession at one time a letter written by a Mary Creed, Samuel's daughter, dated September 29, 1846. She was then living in Algonac, Michigan.
I leave to the reader's delight the discovery of the short Cantelo narrative which can be found on file at the Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society's Library. Suffice it to say that it details Indian stories, subsequent generations, and romance -- including the Micmac Indian attack on Captain Creed's storehouse at Three Rivers, the Captain's threat that he'd cut off his son Job, "without a Shillin'" if he married a Catholic, and how Job and his wife had to be buried facing each other (he on Wightman's Point and she on Panmure Island) because, with her being a Catholic, they couldn't be buried together. On visiting Wightman's Point today, one will find only the broken remenants of a dozen or more stumps of red, sandstone headstones -- the final resting places for Job Prince Creed, his mother Elizabeth, and many others. Across the bay, the Catholic cemetary on Panmure Island where Maryann Thistle's grave faced that of her husband, is no more -- apparently washed into the sea years ago.
Particular attention should be paid to the wonderful ancestry of Elizabeth Prince which is set forth, in part, on the two charts following the genealogic listings below. For those descendants of Captain William Creed and Elizabeth Prince who are interested in tracing your roots back to The Mayflower, you will see at a glance that she is a direct descendant of Elder William Brewster, the leader of the expedition, and her heritage is well documented in other works.
In the meanwhile, notes on David Higgins, Elizabeth Prince Creed's first husband:
he was purportedly educated at the University of Edinburgh, and became a Captain in the British Navy. His primary assignment was to colonize St. John's Island and for his efforts was later granted land in the area of Cove Head. Sir James Montgomery, Baron of the Court of Exchequer of Scotland, had become an absentee owner of several of the choicest lots or Townships on St. John's at the time of its division by the Crown in 1767. In 1769, he appointed David Higgins his official representative under a Power of Attorney and, at the same time, made him Naval Officer of the Island. David Higgins was charged with managing Lord Montgomery's Lots and also in procuring the necessary supplies and provisions for the new settlements. These supplies and provisions were purchased in and around Philadelphia and Boston, all under letters of credit, especially letters of credit from Job Prince, then a prominent Boston merchant and Elizabeth Prince's father. Although he was effective in erecting a grist mill, a saw mill, several small houses, and a modest fishing settlement in Three Rivers, the economic returns were meager. He did manage to send twenty-two ship loads of Island timber to Great Britain in the early 1770's, but due to depressed lumber prices they barely cleared expenses of preparation and shipment. Higgins' failures in making proper accountings or to submit the collected rent payments to Montgomery caused him to be recalled to Scotland by Montgomery in 1774.
As indicated earlier, Higgins arrived first at Boston and came face to face with his angry father-in-law, Job Prince, who was also finding his trust in Higgins unworthy. Higgins pacified the old man by deeding over to him "his interests" in Lot 59 as well as Montgomery's buildings.
Once in Scotland Higgins convinced Montgomery that unless he continued to provide fresh investments to the Island it would never develop and all investments to date would be lost. A partial settlement was reached whereby, among other terms, Higgins would deed over to Montgomery his one-third interest of Lot 59 (previously conveyed to Job Prince) and in return, Higgins would receive a lease of Panmure Island.
Higgins returned to St. John's in 1775, just as the American Revolution had erupted. His ship, full of cargo, was captured by American Privateers and he had to ransom himself at great expense. One of the key items of his cargo was equipment for outfitting a distillery for molasses from which he had hoped to operate through trade with the West Indies.
By 1782 Higgins was deeply in debt and he gave up on trying to operate the settlement in Three Rivers. He moved his family to Charlottetown where, as noted above, he died in April, 1783, utterly impovished.
See "Memorial of Sir James Montgomery, Baron of the Court of Exchequer of Scotland" dated 1791, enclosed in a letter dated Edinburgh, December 3, 1791, from Sir James Montgomery to Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas. Public Archives of Canada, MG - 23, - 6.
John Creed (1779 - 1843)*
Old Protestant Burying Ground
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Created by: Robert P. Murray, Esquir...
Record added: Mar 30, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 67683632
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