The Family History of Stephen Borden

Portsmouth Friends Cemetery

The Portsmouth Friends Church is the Quaker church to which the first generations of Bordens in America belonged. The records of this church were instrumental to Weld in her work on the Genealology of Richard and Joan Borden who settled in Portsmouth in 1638.

Bordens were not Quakers when they arrived in America. Quakerism didn't take hold until a few years later. But Richard Borden, my 9th great grandfather, was active in the church and is buried in this yard. There is no stone with his name on it as early Quakers thought headstones to be ostentatious. Most graves are marked by simple unmarked stones. In later years that tradition changed. Some of the more recent markers are below.



HEDLY ST., CORNER OF WEST MAIN RD. of tele. pole # 2 at TEL pole # 2 NOTE: In 1692 Robert Dennis sold a plot of land four rods square to Matthew Berdin, (note, this is  a common misspelling of Borden and Matthew was Richard's son) William Wodell, and Gideon Freeborn, for a burial lot for the Portsmouth Society of Friends. It was a deed of gift "For the love I have to the truth and the people of God which are in scorne called Quakers" (Edwin West, "Portsmouth Before 1800"). The church and cemetery were described at length by Robert M. Bayles (RMB) in his "History of Newport County," 1888, II:679-681; "Beyond the meeting house, that is on the western side, in an enclsure of half an acre, surrounded by a neat and plain stone wall, sleep the forefathers of the Friends. A rigid plainness marks the spot. The older graves are marked only by unhewn slabs of native stone, devoid of any semblance of ornamentation, polish or inscription. It is only the later generation that have ventured to place smooth stones with inscriptions up them at the graves of their dead, and these, though neat and substantial, are mostly of the plainest sort." Bayles included a selection of transcriptions, mostly 19th century, all in the Quaker style, e.g., "9th mo., 17 d." rather than Sept. 17. Unfortunately only two stones were copied in "Rhode Island Tombstone Inscriptions, " circa 1900 at RIHS (ANON). The stones were again transcribed by Patricia Bodine for CETA 10 Apr. 1976 at which time the cemetery was active; the transcript was entered by John Sterling. Described but not recorded by Ian Kohl 1989. Church office phone: 401/683-0818; parsonage: 2232 East Main Road, phone 401/683-1109. This cemetery has been recorded but not checked.