Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Mr. and Mrs. Wallis of Rye, New Hampshire, and their African servant

This tombstone was photographed at the Odiorne Family Cemetery 
on Brackett Road, Rye, New Hampshire

Died February 25, 1832
Aged 85 years

Wife of Samuel Wallis
and daughter of Rev. Samuel Parsons
Died June 9, 1827
Aged 73 years

their faithful servant
Died March 17, 1821
Aged 80 years

I found this far fetched story in a history book.  Phillis was the "negro slave owned by Lieut. Samuel Wallis.... after the liberation of the slaves, went to Salem, Mass., but finding the delights of freedom fewer than its cares and burdens the pair returned to Rye and passed the remainder of their lives on the Wallis place, now owned by the heirs of Prof. James Parsons, dying there at a great age and being buried on the farm.  Caesar and Phyllis Wallis were the last slaves held in Rye." [ History of the Town of Rye, by Langdon Brown Parsons,  1905, pages 268 - 269].   She is listed as Phillis Wallis (colored), died March 17, 1821, aged 80 years.  There must be more to this story, but it has been lost to the cobwebs of time.

The sad story of how Phillis arrived in New Hampshire can be found in another book.  On page 212 of History of the Town of Rye  "Receipt of Alexander Raitt New Castle Jan.  11, 1750 for 87 pounds 10 New tenor for Negro Girl Phillis now at house of Joseph Newmarch, New Castle.  Condition upon delivery of said Phillis to Mr. Samuel Parsons of Rye.  Geo. Frost, John Blunt, Witness."  Samuel Parsons was the father of Elizabeth (Parsons) Wallis above.

UPDATE (12:30pm 10 March 2015) by reader T.J. Rand, who read the blog and quotes research by Martin Hollick and a Boston Transcript article, corrected the lineage in the original book by Parsons).

Samuel Wallis4 (Samuel, Samuel, William, George) son of Samuel Wallis, was born in 1747, died 25 February 1832; married on 16 November 1773 to Elizabeth Parsons, who died 9 June, 1827.  He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War in Captain Parson's company (hence the DAR marker and flag on his tombstone), and he inherited his father's farm know known as "Wallis Sands".   Samuel's father, Samuel Wallis (about 1717 - 1793) willed Phillis to his son Samuel in 1793.

I love that Mr. and Mrs. Wallis and Phillis are buried together, and memorialized together on one tombstone.  However, it is sad that she obviously died a slave, although the stone says "servant". 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Mr. and Mrs. Wallis of Rye, New Hampshire, and their African servant", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 10, 2019, ( http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/03/tombstone-tuesday-mr-and-mrs-wallis-of.html: accessed [access date]). 


  1. Awesome Heather just shared with Rye Historical Society!

  2. Might I offer a different perspective? It is possible that when Phillis (and Caesar?) returned to Rye that they were, indeed, servants, (free to come and go, working for room and board) and then 'given their time' (allowed to stay on the property without work being expected...) once they were older. The reason I suggest this is 1) this practice did happen in some areas of Massachusetts, and 2)it is quite unusual for an enslaved person to be buried with, let alone share a headstone with his/her 'owners'. It strikes me as quite unusual for Phillis to be set apart in this way, unless she was welcomed back as 'family'.