Jamestown Historical Society

From the Collection – Beavertail Lighthouse Documents

One of the 18th century documents in the JHS collection is the September 16, 1754, agreement of Thomas Richardson, the Newport treasurer “and his successors in said office“, to pay John Stevens for the building of the second Beavertail light.

The first Beavertail light, built in 1749 and constructed largely of wood, had burned to the ground four years later. Newport immediately replaced the lighthouse with a stone structure, and in August 1754, the Rhode Island General Assembly allocated “four thousand pounds for defraying the Charge of Building the Light House“. This document “bound and obliged unto John Stevens, aforesaid bricklayer in the full and just sum of eleven hundred pounds in the current money of the colony” for the actual work. Satisfactory payment of the bill is noted on the back.

In a separate agreement dated a year later, also in the JHS collection, the Newport treasurer agreed to pay Joseph Jacob of Newport for the building of the lighthouse. He was owed £3,388.

Both documents are handwritten on forms that contain the legal boilerplate for such agreements.

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