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The above coat of arms is taken from an old painting in water-colors formerly in the possession of Mr. Arnold Steere, son of Richard. How much value it may possess as indicating any honors bestowed upon the family in ancient times it would be difficult to determine; but it is doubtless as well deserved as most that have been accorded by royalty.
THE SECOND GENERATION.
It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to connect our thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness with what is distant in place and time; and looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our ancestors and our posterity.
JIEUT. JOHN STEERE, son of John, Sen. (i), is believed to have been the eldest of the sons of the first settler, and was born in Providence between the years 1661 and 1670. He married, before 1700, Esther Whitman, daughter of Valentine and Mary Whitman of Providence.''
John Steere, Jr., had acquired property before the year 1697, probably by deed from his father which does not seem to be recorded. The old English law respecting the inheritance of property was still in force. It provided that the whole real estate of one dying intestate should descend to his eldest son. This was modified in 1718 by the statute of distributions giving to the widow one third of the property, the remainder to be equally divided among the children, except that the eldest son should receive a double portion.t But even before this amendment to the law came into operation, parents were accustomed to anticipate the settlement of their estates by rules of primogeniture, by deeding land to their several children as they came of age, often making mention of these gifts in their wills, which were generally made within a few days of their death. If they failed to do so, the elder brother frequently complied with the known wishes of the father and gave deeds to his brothers and sisters.
How much land John Steere, Jr., received from his father's estate does not plainly appear. That his homestead, upon which he dwelt at the time of his death, was in that part of the township of Providence which was afterwards em
* Valentine Whitman of Providence and George Wightman of Narragansett (in that part afterwards called North Kingston), R. I., are believed to have been brothers, and descendants of Edward Wightman of Burton-upon-Trent, who was the last martyr byfire condemned for heresy on English soil (burned 1612). Valentine settled first in Warwick, where he
was made a freeman May i8, 1658, but afterwards re-
braced in Smithfield is indicated in a deed in which his sons John and Hosea united, May 18, 1736* releasing and quitclaiming to their brother Hezekiah Steere, for the benefit of their feeble-minded brother Wickenden, the farm upon which the said Hezekiah dwelt, and which belonged to their honored father John Steere.
March 24, 169*, John Steere, Jr., united with his uncle, Samuel Wilkinson, in a deed to their kinsman Joseph Smith (also a nephew of Samuel Wilkinson), conveying to him fifteen acres in the right of W. Wickenden at Wyunkheag.
April 9, 1697, he deeded to his brother William forty acres on the west side of the Seven Mile Line, about a mile distant from the house of Peter Place, in exchange for a lot of the same size in the common not yet divided, to be laid in the right of William Steere, and in the turn of his father John Steere, and ^20.
June 16, 1713, he was taxed six shillings.
In 1724 he is called Lieutenant. In June this year, when the relations of England with Spain were disturbed, and there was prospect of war, a new militia act was passed, authorizing the soldiers to elect their own officers, to be confirmed by the Governor and Council, and to hold their commissions for three years.t On April 17th of the same year he sold, for £5, to Samuel Wilkinson, Jr., yeoman, " one third part of a houselot laid out on the first division of houselots in Providence by the water side on the west side of said Towne St. in the original right of Mr Wm. Wickenden decd, and also one third part of a right in the Thatchbeds in said Providence on the same right — said lot being a forty foot lot." %
January 3, 1726, he was appointed administrator on the estate of his sister Anne, widow of Richard Lewis. He died, however, before he had fully settled her estate.§
January 27, 1726, he gave a receipt to his brother Samuel for USS, making void a deed, executed by his brother December 15, i72i,on condition of its being made void by said payment within four years. December 31, 1726, he sold to William Herendeen, Jr., forty acres to take up on the west side of the Seven Mile Line, on the original right of William Wigendon (Wickenden) and in the one hundred acre division.
Lieutenant Steere died January 5, 1727, less than three years after the death of his aged father. His inventory of real estate amounted to ^749 (including his house and land where he last dwelt ,£540). His personal estate amounted to £2i 1 1 is. lod. — making a large property for that period.
* Smithfield Records, vol. I, p. 486; Prov. Rec- was administrator to the estate of his sister Ann
ords (Old Book), pp. 352, 353. Lewis, decd, is dead, and some of the estate not ad
\ Arnold's History of R. I., vol. 2, p. 82. ministered, Ezra Bartlett is appointed Administra
% Prov. Records, Deeds, vol. 19, p. 34. tor." Prov. Probate Records. § " Whereas Lieut. John Steere of Providence who
On March 6, 172*, his widow, Esther Steere, gave bonds, together with Samuel Aldrich and Thomas Steere, to the Town Council for her faithful administration of her husband's movable estate. She died August 21, 1748, in Smithfield, which in the year 1730 was set off from the town of Providence. She had received property by will from her unmarried sister, Elizabeth Whitman of Providence, who died in the year 1727. Widow Steere's estate was administered upon by her son Hosea Steere of Glocester, the eldest son, John, declining to administer. Two years later the administrator presented receipts from his brothers John and Hezekiah* for legacies of ,£222 $\d. each, and from the guardians of their brother Wickenden Steere (John Aldrich and Thomas Steere) for a life legacy, and also for .£72 i$s. from his father's estate.. The inventory of Widow Esther Steere amounted to ,£1,038 10^. (including bills of credit, £"289 is. $d.; silver, 15 oz. 18 pwt, ,£42 iSs. yd.; spectacles, table-linen, etc.
11 I. John, of Glocester, m. Hannah ;d. May 21, 1756,/.
12 II. Hosea, m. Sarah , f.
13 III. Hezekiah, m., September 23, 1744, Widow Tryphenia Paine. He d. September 16,
14 IV. Wickenden, unmarried, was put under the guardianship of his uncle Thomas and John
Aldrich. He d. about 1762. Perhaps, also, Esther Steere, who m., March 1, 1744, Job Phetteplace, was one of this family.
An Inventory of the movable Estate of Lieutt. John Steere of Providence, in the Colony of Rhoad Jsland, &ct, who departed this Life on ye 5,h day of January, anno Dom 172*.
Jmprimis, six Bookes
Jtem, Earthenware and Glace Bottles
Jtem, Three brass Kittles and som old Brass & a belmettle Skillet
Jtem, four Jron Pots and one Jron Kettle three trammels and a paier of fier
tongs and old Jron
06 10 00
An Jnventory of the Reail Esstate of John Steere of Providence in the Colony of Rhoad Jsland and Providence plantations Jn New England: deceased who departed this Life January the 5th day 1726.
£ s. d.
Jmprimis, his house and Land where he last Dwelt 540 00 00
Jtem, his: 3 : part of a Right in Common within the Line and without 016 00 00
Item, one peice of Land Joyning to the Land of Peter Aldrich 020 00 00
Jtem, fourty acres of Land to be take upon the next devesion on the west
side of the Line 010 00 00
Jtem, one piece part within the Line and part without the Line 145 00 00
The Reail Esstate £749 00 00