The first subdivision

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 7:15am

Ed. note: The Block Island Historical Society was founded in 1942. To help celebrate its 75th year, the Society’s Diamond Anniversary, The Block Island Times will be publishing sketches and photographs of items in its collection. For those interested in joining or donating to The Block Island Historical Society, please visit

In 1660, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a meeting took place that was transcribed from the original by the Rev. S.T. Livermore:

“Mr. John Alcock acquainting them of an island that was to be sold, namely Block Island, which might make a situation for about sixteen families, and also declaring the price of be about four hundred pounds, and if they would be concerned with him proportionably towards the erecting a plantation of Block Island, he the aforesaid John Alcock would then proceed in the purchase thereof, granting him for his trouble and pains five pounds for a sixteenth part, or twenty-five acres of land as equivalent, and to be at equal proportion at payment for said purchase in manner and form as followeth:”

Over the following months “some of our company came to decline” hence the two lists of names on the plaque at the North End, purchasers and settlers. 

The next year:  

“Notice was given to all the proprietors for to assemble themselves at the house of Felix Wharton in Boston, 

“Forthwith the assembly accepted Mr. Alcock's proposal and forthwith it was voted that Mr. Noyse, Mr. Faxun, an able knowing man that they should go to Block Island and by lot divide unto every man concerned his due proportion as near as they could. . . and agreed upon that there should be a quantity or portion of land be laid out for the help and maintenance of a minister and so continued forever, and accordingly Block Island was surveyed and lotted out proportionally unto the purchasers by Mr. Noyse and by Mr. Faxun, as doth appear by the surveyor's works in the plot and draught of said Island measured and bounded unto every purchaser according to proportion by lot at followeth:” 

And so the island was divided among the 16 settlers, with a seventeenth portion aside for the support of a minister, each receiving a strip of land across the Neck, then larger parcels, on the West and South (really east) parts of the Island, with the “other small divisions by lot divided unto every purchaser by proportion.” 

Some of the bounds on the old map can be aligned with still existing walls detailed on the 1890s “stone wall” map, also on display on the corner of past and present.