PRINCE FREEMAN

Plaque location: 32 Lyme Street, corner of Beckwith Lane

 

Prince’s origins are not known, but he was enslaved by Judge William Noyes in a house located on the site of today’s Florence Griswold Museum. That house, where Prince served with his wife Jenny, was moved in 1816 to its present location at the corner of Lyme Street and Beckwith Lane. The removal of the aging house where Prince and Jenny raised their five children cleared space for a stately new dwelling completed in 1818 by master builder Samuel Belcher for the family of William Noyes III. 

The 1790 census counted five enslaved persons in Judge William Noyes’s household, almost certainly including Prince. A 19th-century family scrapbook identifies him as the husband of Jenny and names their five children, born into hereditary slavery between 1771 and 1780. The Noyes scrapbook states also that Prince Freeman died at sea in 1791. 

Prince likely served as a deckhand in 1790 on the first voyage of the coastal trading sloop Barney that William Noyes Jr. and his brother Dr. John Noyes commissioned five years earlier from the nearby Hill shipyard. The Barney’s captain was Ezra Lee, who had piloted the underwater explosive device Turtle during the Revolution. Although the Noyes scrapbook gives Prince the surname Freeman, no emancipation document has been discovered. He may well have acquired the surname posthumously.

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. 

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