William, Jr. and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer

The following two pages are from the The Rural Roads in East Greenwich, In the Teens and Twenties of 1900, Their Farms and Owners, With Some History. Writer is Violet E. Kettelle.  Illustrator is Beverly Conde.  Editor typist, Lisa MacDonald Blanchette, published the book in 1983.

Page 60, paragraph 4 under section “Deacon” Spencer’s Farm gives information on William Spencer’s purchase of land in 1750:


The Rural Roads in East Greenwich, page 60



















* The writer, Violet E. Kettelle, questioned (above*) whether land evidence show that Mary (née Manchester) Spencer actually sold some of the land to hire the substitute.  E.A.B., Richard Anthony’s (“Deacon’s”) daughter, told of the sale, but Violet never found any evidence that land was actually sold.  Further research by this web site author reveals why Violet Kettelle, local resident and writer, did not see any land evidence to show that the land was sold.  Page 1137 and 1138 of  History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island by J.R. Cole( W.W. Preston & Co., New York, 1889)  gives us the explanation: “John’s son, Richard (“Deacon”) bought back the twenty acres that was sold to hire a substitute”. 

Mr. Samuel Davis, the substitute hired by John’s mother to take John’s place in the American Revolution, was never heard from again.   Therefore, the family thought the substitute must have been killed in one of the first, if not his first, battle.

Page 61 of Violet Ketelle’s book, The Rural Roads of East Greenwich, In the Teens and  Twenties of 1900, Their Farms and Owners, With Some History, has information on William and Mary (née Manchester)’s and their elder son’s and eldest daughter’s burial at the west end of the Straight Cemetery:


The Rural Roads in East Greenwich, page 61








Vital Record of Rhode Island‘s information of this Spencer family’s births, marriages and deaths between 1636-1850 in East Greenwich, Rhode Island:


Vital Record of Rhode Island Cover


Vital Record of Rhode Island. 1638-1850. marriage record of William and Mary on page 67


Vital Record of Rhode Island. 1636-1850. birth record of Mary Manchester on page 130


Vital Record of Rhode Island.1636-1850. birth record of William Spencer on page 148


Vital Record of Rhode Island.1636-1850. birth record of William and Mary’s elder son, Richard, and eldest daughter, Elizabeth, on page 150

William Spencer’s ancestry and William’s and wife’s, Mary née Manchester’s, children in E.A.B.’s notebook:


Esther Amanda (nee Spencer) Briggs’ writing

Esther Amanda (nee Spencer) Briggs (1835-1929), local historian and known as “Aunt Mandy”, wrote about the Spencer ancestry in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  The first Spencer couple in East Greenwich was John (1638-1684) and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer. Their son, John (1666-1743), married Audra (aka Audrey) Greene (aka Green). John and Audrey’s son, William (1695-1776), married Elizabeth Rice. William, Jr. (1723-1777), their son, married Mary Manchester. This fourth generation East Greenwich couple purchased the Spencer homestead–the Straight land and cemetery and the”old Straight house”– in 1750. William,Jr. and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer were buried in this Straight Cemetery. Their elder son, Richard, and their eldest daughter Elizabeth, were also buried in the Straight cemetery.  Aunt Mandy’s above notebook page also lists William,Jr. and Mary (née Manchester)Spencer’s other children, Mary, the twins Audrey and Eleanor, Mercy and John.

The first Spencers buried on the Spencer farm in E.A.B.’s notebook:


Esther Amanda Briggs’ notebook, page 40, of the 4 Spencer burials in the Straight cemetery

Of interest on page 40 is Aunt Mandy’s (aka Esther Amanda Briggs,1835-1929) reference to the Straight Cemetery. She writes “Mary and William (fourth generation Spencer in East Greenwich) were the first Spencers on farm where O’Neil is now. They’re buried in Straight cemetery in back of Millers–Just fieldstones for markers.    Wm and Mary    head to west   Rich and Eliz., their children    Rich and William died of smallpox     Eliz died of scarlet fever”  (Author’s note: At that time in history,  burials were always done with the head toward the west.)  The O’Neil name mentioned above refers to Thomas O’Neil (aka O’Neal, O’Neil, O’Neill) who purchased the land in 1922.  The family name Miller mentioned above  refers to the family land of Elsie Miller. Elsie was a childhood friend of Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald (1912-2007). As children they would play in and around the Spencer Family graveyard on Middle Road. They would pretend that the cemetery stonewall was the remains of a destroyed building and the stones on the ground or manure were the enemy soldiers and they would shoot the “soldiers” with sticks that were their “guns”.  The Miller land is now in the Macera name through marriage.

Spencers’ Genealogy lists the children of William’s and Mary (née Rice) Spencer at the beginning of page 15. Listed are the ten children with William who married Mary (née Manchester) as William, Jr. ,the third son.  The middle of the page gives information on the Manchester family.  The end of the page gives information on William and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer’s surviving son, John,who fought in the American Revolution. Information on 3rd, 4th and 5th generation Spencers in East Greenwich:


Spencers’ Geneology, book located in East Greenwich Library

Spencers’ Genealogy in the middle of the above page 15 gives information that William Spencer, Jr. was the third husband of Mary Manchester.  Audrey Mae (née Spencer) Mac Donald crossed out that above incorrect information in the second paragraph and wrote “Mary’s mother had 3 (sic) husbands”. According to Audrey Mae, it was Mary’s mother and not Mary who had three husbands.   Also, there is another discrepancy as the above genealogy listing has Mary being the daughter of a Thomas Nichols, but all other references has her birth name as Mary Manchester. In Vital Records of Rhode Island her birthparents are John and Mary Manchester.

Following is a section of page 8 in The East Greenwich PACKET:


The East Greenwich Packet, East Greenwich, R.I., May 1983 Vol.7 No.2. page 8

Information on William, Jr. and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer, who are buried in the “Over-back” Cemetery, is recorded in the below booklet Remembered Spencers (Michael Spencer).  A copy of this thirty-one page booklet is found in the East Greenwich Free Library.


REMEMBERED SPENCERS (Michael Spencer), Compiled by Karen Spencer in February, 1988


According to Karen Spencer, 1988 Compiler, William, Jr. and Mary (née Manchester) are 5th generation Spencers in the “New World”


















REMEMBERED SPENCERS (Michael Spencer), compiled in Feb. 14, 1988 by Karen Spencer, 9805 Woodland NE, Alb, NM 87112,  traces the first John Spencer in East Greenwich back to Michael Spencer of Lynn, Mass. 1653. Michael was the seventh son of Gerard and Alice (née Whitbred) Spencer. Michael came to America, ca.1632. He was at Cambridge, Mass.,m 1634. Considered a freeman 1637-8. He then moved to Lynn, Mass. in 1638.

This above  information takes Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s ancestry back to the generation before John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer, the founders of East Greenwich.  Therefore, this compiler has William, Jr. and Mary (née Manchester) Spencer as the 5th generation Spencers in U.S.A.

Whereas Audrey Mae’s oral tradition always began with John and Susannah, their great-grandson, William, Jr.’s (and Mary née Manchester’s) generation was always noted as the 4th generation in East Greenwich. Karen Spencer, the 1988 Compiler, begins with Michael, the generation before John and Susannah, the Founders and Early Settlers of  East Greenwich, and, therefore, William, Jr. would be a 5th generation Spencer in America.

Old English papers of William Spencer’s transactions compiled in a binder by Violet Kettelle for Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald: