Elizabeth Head

Elizabeth Head

1654 – 1748

Elizabeth Head was one of the first English women to settle at Sakonnet. In 1677, the Proprietors recognized her husband Henry as having useful skills and offered him a free 10-acre house lot “provided he build and settle on the same within two years.” The Heads did just that and recorded the birth of their first child in Sakonnet in 1678. The Proprietors’ hope was that families like the Heads would develop Sakonnet so that it was easier for other colonists to follow them.

Elizabeth’s offspring (and husband) were spirited and appear frequently in court records. Despite their questionable behavior, when Henry died in 1717 the Heads were wealthy, owning enough land to give a large farm to each their sons and enslaving four people to provide the labor. The widow Elizabeth lived in the half of her house she inherited from Henry and relied on the income from half the homestead farm for over thirty years. Near the end of her life, Elizabeth was declared incompetent and placed in the care of her children. They buried Elizabeth with a fieldstone marker next to her husband’s elaborately carved gravestone.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

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