Plaque location: 70 Lyme Street
Lyme’s church records note the baptism on June 7, 1741, of Luce maid sert of Mr Deming. Luce labored on the 60-acre farm that Rev. David Deming purchased, with a dwelling house, barn, and orchard, for 500 pounds in 1726. No other information about her passage through Lyme has been found.
Luce served the retired minister’s wife Maria Brigham Deming who, a family history states, had been brought up “delicately” in Boston. Even though Maria “resided not more than forty rods [220 yards] from her school [she] had a negro to draw her there and back in a hand coach.” David Deming graduated from Harvard and served as minister in Medford, Massachusetts, before moving to Connecticut, first to preach in Middletown, then to buy land in Lyme. The Lyme church paid him to substitute for Rev. Jonathan Parsons in the pulpit, and the town hired him as a schoolmaster. Whether Deming brought Luce from Middletown or purchased her after settling on his farm on today’s Lyme Street is not known.
Luce was the only enslaved person in a group of fifteen whom Parsons baptized in June 1741 amid the tumult of a revival movement known as the Great Awakening. Also baptized that day was Elizabeth Greenfield, whom Deming was accused of molesting in 1734 when she was ten and he was a schoolmaster. New London County Court records include detailed testimony from a witness supporting charges against him of “lascivious carriage.” Although the court found him not guilty, church records include his confession of “grievous” conduct. Luce likely knew Elizabeth when they were baptized together, but whether she was already enslaved in Deming’s household during his trial seven years earlier has not been discovered.