Mehitable Dye

Mehitable Dye

Birth & Death Dates Unknown — Appears Records From 1707 – 1738

Another young Little Compton man of modest means, John Dye, found himself the owner of a mulatto girl. This child was very likely his own daughter and that of his father’s servant girl Mehitable Dye. The Massachusetts Courts charged Mehitable with the birth of a bastard child in 1707. John would have been twenty-three at the time. Two years later John married Rememberance Potter. When he died at age thirty-two, nine years after Mehitable gave birth, John’s very modest inventory included a nine-year-old mulatto girl. The girl became Rememberance’s property. Years later in 1732, John’s father William recognized a Mehitable Dye as his granddaughter in his will leaving her 50 shillings. This granddaughter, named after her mother, does not appear in the town’s vital records as a member of the Dye family. Only her grandfather’s will sheds some light on her story. Mehitable Dye is the last person of color recognized in any way in Little Compton’s early records as a member of a white family.[1] When Mehitable passed away in 1738 she appears to be free. She left a small estate and was living comfortably enough to hire an Indian woman to do her wash.[2]

Marjory Gomez O’Toole, Executive Director, LCHS

First published in “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold: Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island,” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2016.

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[1] Colonial Document regarding Mohottabell Dye’s bastard child , Taunton Probate Book 7, 345. Taunton Probate Book 9, 117. 

[2] Mehitable Dye’s estate, Bristol County Probate Records, Book 9, p. 177 & 234.

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