Plaque location: 96 Lyme Street, Florence Griswold Museum
Temperance Freeman, also called Tempy, the youngest child of Jenny and Prince, was born into hereditary slavery in the household of Judge William Noyes on September 23, 1780. Prince’s death at sea in 1791, when Tempy was 11, left Jenny a widow in bondage with five children. Likely after her father’s death, Tempy was sent to Northford, today’s North Branford, to serve Judge Noyes’s youngest son.
Rev. Matthew Noyes, Northford’s minister and a Yale graduate, recorded the death at age 15 of “Tempy, my Negro servant” on August 21, 1795. A Noyes family scrapbook lists the same date for Tempy’s death and notes that she died in Durham at age 15 while on a journey to Lyme. Almost certainly Tempy planned to visit her mother and extended family on today’s Lyme Street.
Tempy died at the Durham home of Col. John Noyes Wadsworth, Judge Noyes’s nephew, who the 1790 census shows owned two slaves. Why Tempy traveled to Lyme via Durham in the summer of 1795, whether she stopped at Col. Wadsworth’s house because she was ill, whether she journeyed on foot and alone, are not known. She had not been freed, but the inscription on a gravestone placed in Durham’s old cemetery, perhaps by Col. Wadsworth, used the name Tempy Freeman and included the date of her death.
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.