Dr. Joshua Babcock

    Dr. Joshua Babcock, son of Capt. James and Elizabeth Babcock (John, James 1st), b. Westerly, May 17, 1707; d. Westerly, Apr. 1, 1783; m. (1) Aug. 11, 1735, Hannah, dau. of Joseph Stanton (granddaughter of Thomas Stanton, Sr., who was an Indian interpreter). b. Stonington, 1714, d. Sept. 19, 1778; m. (2) May 28, 1780, Ann, Dau. of Elder John and Tacy (Rogers) Maxson, of Newport.  (She was a great-granddaughter of Elder John Maxson, b. 1638, who was the first white child born on the island of Rhode Island, and who was the first pastor of the S.D.B. Church of Westerly, RI).  Ann Babcock d. Aug. 25, 1812, aged seventy-one years.  Her grave is a few rods northwest of "The Ministers' Monument."

     Joshua Babcock graduated from Yale College in the class of 1724, and was the first graduate of this college from Rhode Island.  Soon after his graduation he began the study of medicine and surgery in Boston, and about 1730 went to London to attend the hospitals there.  On his return he settled in Westerly (being admitted a freeman of the colony Apr. 30, 1734), and for nearly twenty-five years practiced his profession extensively.  He also opened a retail country store, which it is said did as much business as any like establishment between Boston and New York, and thus increased his already large estate.  He represented his town in the Colonial Legislature in the years 1740, '47, '49, '52, '58, '59, '73, '76, and '78, serving repeatedly as Speaker.

     He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Colony from May, 1747, to May 1749, and from May, 1750, to May, 1764.  In this capacity he pronounced the sentence of death upon Thomas Carter for the murder of Jackson.  He was one of the original corporators of Brown University, in 1764, and continued on the Board of Fellows until his death.  He is recorded in the History of the University as a Seventh Day Baptist.  He was connected with that Church early in life, but later became a Unitarian in his religious belief.

     The large and elegant mansion which he owned is still standing upon Quarry Hill in the village of Westerly.  It is open to the public today as part of the National Historic Sites.

     Benjamin Franklin, when on his official tours through the country as Postmaster-General, frequently made Dr. Babcock's house his resting place.  It is said that the favorite sport of the two men was catching blackfish from the ocean, a few miles from Dr. Babcock's house, at a place then called Noyes Rocks, now known as Weekapaug.  The place is still a favorite fishing ground.

     Dr. Franklin established the first post office in the town in 1776, and appointed Dr. Babcock Postmaster.  The receipts of the office for this year were 1 Pound 3 Shillings 8d.  Prior to the Revolution the nearest post office was New London, Conn., twenty miles distant.

     It is said that George Washington when passing between New York and Boston stopped more than once at the home of Dr. Joshua.

     Before the Revolution Dr. Babcock was closely identified with the colonists who expressed dissatisfaction with the tyranny of Great Britain and who demanded greater liberty for the people.  He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence passed by the Legislature of Rhode Island more than two months prior to July 4, 1776.

     In May, 1775, Joshua Babcock was appointed to carry proceedings of the Rhode Island Assembly to Connecticut.  In Nov., 1775, by Act of the General Assembly of Rhode Island, he was apointed Major General of the Colony's forces.  This position he held until Dec., 1776, when he was appointed as a member of of the Council of War.  He was reappointed to the Council of War in the years 1778 and 1779.

     The Rhode Island record of Revolutionary times show that no man was more active in the service of his country, or held more responsible positions, than did Dr. Joshua Babcock. 
                                BABCOCK-SMITH HOUSE
                                  
                                    A HISTORIC MUSEUM

Early Georgian Home circa 1734 built for Dr. Joshua Babcock, Westerly's first physician and postmaster, visited frequently by Benjamin Franklin.  House tours available.  National Register of Historic Places.
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