Plaque location: 110 Lyme Street
When Rev. Moses Noyes wrote a will in 1719, he specified: To my daughter Sarah Mather I give twenty pounds to be paid by my son Moses besides the ten pounds from my son John and the negro maid Arabella. Lyme’s first minister named his enslaved servant after the ship Arbella on which the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s governor John Winthrop emigrated from England in 1630.
Arabella’s origins are not known, but Noyes may have acquired her in New London after he married, in about 1678, Ruth Pickett, in whose household at least one enslaved person labored. The estate inventory of her father John Pickett, a prosperous New London merchant, listed in 1668 on negroe servant valued at 30 pounds. After their father’s death, Ruth’s three brothers pursued trade with Barbados. Perhaps her brother Adam Pickett gave or sold an enslaved woman to Lyme’s minister, either before or after Ruth Noyes died at age 36 in 1690.
Arabella likely provided domestic labor on the minister’s large farm and assistance with his four children until his death in 1727. Six years later, on February 3, 1733, when the “negro maid” had become the property of Sarah Noyes Mather’s husband, Rev. Jonathan Parsons baptized Bella servt of Tim Mather, together with Oxford sert of Rich Lord Esq. When Timothy Mather wrote a will in 1750, he left to his wife Sarah the negro woman during the natural life of her mistress. Mather provided that after his own death, If the negro woman outlives the widow she can live with either of my children which she shall choose but if the sd nego woman be not able to maintain herself then it is my will that my son Joseph maintain her at his own cost during her natural life. When and where Arabella died is not known.
Sketch by Ellen Noyes Chadwick showing the dwelling house of Rev. Moses Noyes, who bequeathed his "negro maid Arabella" to his daughter in 1719
Research into the lives of those enslaved in Lyme is ongoing and sometimes uncovers new details that may not have been known when the stone was installed. The text on this page reflects the most current information.