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About Hannah Simons
ROWLAND ROBINSON AND HIS DAUGHTER 43
to protect them from his "most Christian Majesty's" land forces in Newport.
In the year 1741 Rowland Robinson married Anstis Gar- diner, daughter of Col. John Gardiner, who lived in Boston Neck.
Mr. Robinson, with others, sent a vessel from Franklin Ferry to the Guinea coast for slaves for the purpose of selecting servants for his house and farm, and to sell the remaining por- tion which would fall to his lot. Up to the time of the return of the vessel, the cruelty and injustice involved in the slave trade had never been brought to his attention, but now when he saw the forlorn, woe-begone looking men and women who had been huddled together like beasts, disembarking, some of them too feeble to stand alone, the enormity of his offense against human- ity presented itself so vividly to his susceptible mind that he wept like a child, nor would he consent that a single slave which fell to his share — twenty-eight in all — should be sold, but took them all to his own home where, though held in servitude, were kindly cared for.
It has been suggested that much of Rowland Robinson's popularity as a host was due to his beautiful and accomplished family, viz. : two daughters, Hannah and Mary. His son was spoken of as having been, in his gentle disposition, the opposite of his father. He seems to have been singularly beloved, and when he died (October, 1804) the whole town of Newport mourned his loss ; it is said that strong men wept when recounting his virtues.
The death of his daughter Mary in early womanhood and the tragic' fate of Hannah greatly weakened Mr. Robinson's mind. Many anecdotes were told of his eccentricities at this time, all of which lend force to the idea of his having possessed a marked character. The following shows us Mr. Robinson's religious sympathies: "One day while in a ferryboat on his way to Newport, a fellow passenger made some remark derogatory to the Society of Friends, for which Mr. Robinson reproved him in no very gentle terms. 'Are you a Quaker, sir?' said the stranger. 'No,' was the quick reply; 'but I know and love the Quakers so well that I would fight knee deep in blood in their defense,' which the man knew to be no idle boast. v
On another occasion he called on his sister, in a towering rage against one of the Robinson family in Narragansett, with
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whom he had quarreled, stating his grievance. "Sal," said he (as he always called her) "the Robinsons are all rogues." "Why, no," said she; "that cannot be so, brother Rowland, for in that case thou, being a Robinson, must be a rogue thyself." "I be- lieve I am, Sal! I believe I am!" was the old gentleman's quick reply.
The strong love and jealous pride of Rowland Robinson, as exemplified toward his daughter Hannah, are two of the dom- inant characteristics of the Robinson family.
Of Hannah Robinson, it has been said that "her personal charms and accomplishments must have been of a character al- most exceeding belief. She was described as being rather above the medium height, her figure just a trifle inclined to embonpoint, of a clear complexion, delicately tinted with the rose, dark hazel eyes, Greacean features of the finest mould throughout, sur- mounted with a faultless head of auburn hair that fell in luxuri- ous ringlets about her swan-like neck and shoulders, all of which was made the more bewitchingly attractive by a surpassingly lovely expression of countenance, and an incomparable grace in speech, manner and carriage."
The parents of Hannah spared neither pains nor expense in the education of their children; when advanced in her teens their daughter was placed in the care of an aunt at Newport, that she might receive instruction in the more "polite branches" under the care of the celebrated Madame Osborne — a most ac- complished lady, whose fame as an instructor of young ladies was not confined to Newport.
It was while studying with Madame Osborne that Hannah first saw M. Pierre Simons, a son of a Huguenot family of some note, who were obliged to flee from their country during the persecutions of the French Protestants in the reign of Louis XIV. Almost from the hour they met a sentiment of affection sprang up in the hearts of the young tutor employed by Mrs. Osborne and his lovely, unsophisticated pupil, which ripened into a strong, mutual attachment.
The lovers were aware that it would not do for one in Mr. Simons' position in life to venture into the proud father's house as a suitor of his daughter. Fortune seemed to favor the young people: Hannah's uncle, Col. William Gardiner, educated his children at home, and in looking about for a private tutor, en-
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gaged Pierre Simons to go with him to his Narragansett home and occupy that position in his family. The lovers enjoyed many opportunities of seeing each other, especially as Col. Gar- diner, who was of a kind and easy disposition, on becoming aware of the love which existed between his beautiful niece and her former tutor, sought rather to promote opportunities for interviews between the lovers than otherwise.
The mother's suspicions were aroused, and Hannah con- fided to her the secret of her love.
After trying for months, in vain, to persuade her child to discourage her affianced lover, and finding that nothing would induce her to dismiss him, Mrs. Robinson forbore further opposi- tion. Thus encouraged by the mother's tacit consent, if not approval of his suit, it was mutually arranged by the lovers that Pierre should occasionally walk over from Col. Gardiner's of an evening, and upon the appearance of a signal light in Han- nah's window approach the house and secrete himself in a large lilac bush which grew beneath it, where love messages might be easily passed. In fact, so emboldened did the lovers become by the unbroken success that attended their stratagem, that they finally arranged for occasional meetings in Hannah's room; her mother lending her presence and countenance to the dangerous adventure, rendered all the more critical because of its being the undeviating practice of Hannah's father to bid her "good night" before he retired, even if it required his going to her own room or elsewhere. It was necessary to have a convenient place in which Hannah's lover might retreat on untoward occasions. Such a place — a cupboard — was in the room.
Though not grown to mature womanhood, Hannah, as might be readily surmised, had many admirers ; among them was a William Bowen of Providence, who was ardently attached to the fair girl and earnestly sought her, with her father's full ap- proval, in marriage. Hannah, however, graciously declined his attentions, and that he might not indulge in hope imparted to him in confidence the fact that her affections were engaged to another, which confidence he kept inviolate.
Dr. Joshua Babcock of Westerly, Narragansett, was a gen- tleman of refinement and wealth, at whose house Benjamin Franklin used to stop.
Updike in his History relates charming anecdotes of this
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distinguished man. Following is one: While Franklin was stopping at Dr. Babcock's, Mrs. Babcock asked him on one occa- sion if he would have his bed warmed — as was the custom in these early days. "No, madam, thank'u," he replied, "but if you will have a little cold water sprinkled on the sheets, I have no objection." Another story belonging to this period is one now familiar to many of us without our having known its origin: Dr. Franklin happened to arrive at a tavern near New London on a cold evening, where he found every place about the blazing- wood fire occupied; the doctor called upon the landlord to feed his horse a peck of raw oysters; the oysters were carried out, followed by the curious guests. The landlord soon returned and told the doctor, who, by this time, was comfortably ensconced in an arm-chair in the warmest corner, that the horse refused to eat the oysters. "Poor, foolish beast," said Franklin; "he don't know what is good; bring them to me, and see if I will refuse them!"
Dr. Babcock's eldest son, Col. Harry Babcock — Crazy Harry — was a brilliant and extraordinary man. It is further suggested by the historian that his biography, written by one who has the requisite data, would form a curious and instructive record of the customs and manners of his times.
"Crazy Harry" Babcock was perhaps never subdued by female charms but once. Two anecdotes told of him are of in- terest: Before the Revolutionary War he went to London, and on the night of his arrival attended a play at the Covent Garden Theatre. There being no seat vacant, the colonel stood in the passage-way; a man seeing his tall, gaunt figure, standing erect, with a big slouch hat on his head, touched his shoulder and told him to uncover. Col. Babcock thereupon took off his hat, and reaching up to a chandelier near by hung it over one of the lights. A murmur of disapproval ran through the hall, and the police were about to eject the rude intruder from the theatre, when someone present called out, "Col. Harry Babcock!" Upon this announcement the performers ceased acting their parts to join in the uproarious applause that greeted the presence of the far-famed hero. A short time after this Colonel Harry received an invitation to the palace and was introduced to the royal family. When the Queen, in accordance with usage, offered him her hand to kiss, the gallant colonel sprang from his knees to his feet.
ROWLAND ROBINSON AND HIS DAUGHTER 47
briskly exclaiming, "May it please your Majesty, in my country it is the custom to salute, not the hands but the lips of a beauti- ful woman," and seizing the Queen by the shoulders, impressed upon her lips a loud and hearty smack!
Rowland Robinson, chancing once to meet Col. Babcock on Little Rest Hill (now Kingston), asked the eccentric colonel to go home with him and stay the night. "Ah, ha!" said "Crazy Harry," "so you want me to see Hannah, that I've heard so much of, do you? Well, I will go, but don't expect me to fall in love with her, as so many fools have done." As was the custom in those days, they both rode on horseback, and when they came near McSparran Hill, one of the longest and prob- ably the steepest hill in Rhode Island, the ground being covered with ice at the time, Mr. Robinson cautioned his friend against the danger of descending on a smooth-shod horse, and advised him to dismount and lead his beast down the descent. When Mr. Robinson was in the act of dismounting, "Crazy Harry" suddenly exclaimed, "Now, Mr. Robinson, I will show you how the devil rides," and putting spurs to his horse, went down the steep declivity on a full run.
When they arrived at the house the colonel was in high glee at the prospect, as he said, of seeing "the prettiest woman in Rhode Island," these words being spoken in a loud, jocular tone, just as they entered the door of the room where Miss Robinson was sewing. With a slight flush on her cheeks, and a look of surprise, she arose with her customary dignity and grace to re- ceive her father and welcome his boisterous guest, whose eyes no sooner fell upon the beautiful woman than the rough-spoken hero seemed to have been suddenly overcome by some charmed spell. As Miss Robinson, on being introduced by her father, extended toward him her hand, Col. Babcock reverentially took it gently in his, and gazing in her face with a subdued look of wonder and admiration, he dropped on his knee before her, and with tremulous voice, softly and slowly said: "Permit, dear madam, the lips that have kissed unrebuked those of the proud- est Queen of earth, to press for a moment the hand of an angel from heaven." Scarcely less flattering was the compliment paid by an old Quaker preacher: "Friend, thou are wonderfully beau- tiful!"
His daughter's rejection of many suitors aroused Mr. Rob-
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inson's suspicions. Chancing late one evening to step suddenly out of the front door, Mr. Robinson caught a glimpse of his daughter's arm reaching down from the window above, just as she was about to drop a billet into the extended hand of her lover. Fortunately for Pierre, he escaped from Mr. Robinson's buckthorn cane, but not before Mr. Robinson recognized the young teacher of music he remembered to have seen at the house of his brother-in-law — William Gardiner.
Frantic with rage, he upbraided his daughter for throwing herself away upon a wretched "French dancing master." The poor girl answered not a word, but remained mute under all her father's reproaches. If she walked," says Updike, p. 189, "her movements were watched; if she rode, a servant was ordered to be in constant attendance"; in fact, Hannah was never permitted to be alone. On account of Mr. Robinson's rabid and unrea- sonable opposition to his daughter's wishes, and because of the rigid measures adopted with Hannah, nearly the whole neigh- borhood became interested in the lovers' behalf, and almost every connection of the family was ready to assist in forwarding opportunities for their interviews. The life of anxiety and worry Hannah was subjected to, finally began to affect her health. With the proffered aid of friends, the poor girl planned to elope from her father's house, and it was not long before an occasion presented itself.
It was the custom in those days for wealthy families of Narragansett to entertain on an extensive scale. A ball was given by Mrs. Lodowick Updike, who was a sister of Mrs. Row- land Robinson. It would have been a breach of etiquette were not some of Mr. Robinson's family to attend; on the occasion it was arranged, with many misgivings on his part, that his two daughters, Hannah and Mary, should go to the ball and stay the night with their aunt. When the morning of the day of Hannah's departure — perhaps forever — arrived, the struggle to separate herself from all that was dear from her earliest recollec- tion was sad to contemplate. Still Hannah maintained an out- ward appearance of composure until the moment came to take leave of the household. After bidding Phillis the cook, and Hannah her maid, an affectionate farewell, she threw her arms about her mother's neck and sobbed as if her heart were break- ing. Still the high-spirited girl — the victim of what in the end
ROWLAND ROBINSON AND HIS DAUGHTER 49
proved to be a misplaced affection — persevered in her resolution to remain faithful to her vows — mounting from the stone horse- block her splendid Spanish "jennet" (Narragansett pacer), Hannah and her companions rode away.
It was fortunate that Hannah took leave of her father at an earlier hour, for her filial and tender love for her father would have betrayed in her emotions her design — to make this journey from home the one to her lover. On Ridge Hill, a thickly wooded spot, Hannah and her companions encountered the lover with a closed carriage, into which the affianced bride hastily stepped and was driven rapidly away, on the road to Providence, in spite of the frantic appeals of Prince, the attendant. Miss Simons — Pierre's sister — assisted Hannah with a necessary wardrobe, and with the aid of the pastoral services of a minister of the Episcopal Church, the lovers were married.
When Mr. Robinson learned of his daughter's elopement with the "French dancing master" he so despised, he was, for a time, completely beside himself with rage, and offered a large reward to anyone who would make known to him the person or persons who aided his daughter's escape, but wholly without success.
After her marriage Mr. Simons took his bride to reside for a time with his father. Here Hannah remained for some months until her husband obtained a professional situation in Providence, when he removed his wife to that city, where she lived for several years up to the time she went home to die.
Mr. Pierre Simons, though of pleasing person and seductive manners, proved to be an unthrifty and unprincipled man — as we might suspect — who, finding that his wife was discarded and likely to be disinherited by her father, began not long after her marriage to treat her with neglect, and through dissipated habits almost entirely deserted her.
Continuing to love her worthless husband, notwithstanding his cruel treatment, the poor woman's heart broke and she be- came a hopeless invalid.
With the exception of her wardrobe and her little dog, which was sent to her by her mother, Hannah received no as- sistance nor recognition for some time whatever from her home. Upon learning the pitiable condition of her suffering daughter, Mrs. Robinson, through her son William and others, provided
5 o THE ROBINSONS AND THEIR KIN FOLK
for her most pressing material wants. It was in vain, however, that she pleaded with her incensed husband to permit her to be brought to the tender care and comfort of her father's home. Notwithstanding the opposition of the father, there was still a soft place in his proud and wounded heart for her memory to nestle in. Mrs. Robinson observed that when he returned home after an absence, in case Hannah's cat was not in sight, he would wander abstractedly from room to room until he encountered it, when, without seemingly noticing the animal, he would sit quietly down. He would stealthily feed Felis from his own plate, and on one occasion Mrs. Robinson found the sorrowing father, suffused with tears, pressing the dumb favorite of his dis- carded child to his bosom. Hannah's favorite horse was also caressed when Mr. Robinson thought no one was near to ob serve it.
When news arrived of Mrs. Simons' rapid decline, Mr. Rob- inson began to manifest symptoms of serious alarm, and told the mother that Hannah might come home, if she would reveal to him the names of those who assisted in her elopement, but on no other condition, let the consequences be what they might. , On being informed of her father's proposition, Hannah wrote an affectionate letter, full of devoted tenderness, but finally re- fusing to betray a confidence reposed in her. On receiving his daughter's letter, Mr. Robinson read it eagerly with apparent satisfaction until he reached the last paragraph, when, tossing the letter contemptuously to his wife, angrily said, "Then let the foolish thing die where she is."
As the accounts of Hannah's alarming condition reached Mr. Robinson, it became evident that a terrible struggle for mastery was going on in the wretched father's breast. The con- flict at last became unendurable, and one day, pushing from him a plate of untasted food, he arose from the dinner table and ordered his horse to the door, and telling his wife not to expect him back for a day or two, rode rapidly away. The next fore- noon he reached his daughter's house, and riding up to the door without dismounting, rapped on the door with the head of his cane.
The door was opened by his daughter's maid, Hannah, who
ROWLAND ROBINSON AND HIS DAUGHTER 51
f was born in his house a short time after her young mistress and
called after her name. Overjoyed to see her master, she hastened to her mistress' chamber with the glad news of his arrival.
Hannah was too ill to leave her bed, but sent entreaties to her father to come to her. "Ask your mistress," said Mr. Rob- inson, "whether she is ready to comply with her father's wishes, that if she is, he will come to her; but on no other condition!" Not finding it possible in her noble nature to betray her friends, Hannah again denied her father. Without saying an intelligible word, he rode back, without refreshment, to his friend Lodo- wick Updike's, where he had passed the night before, and away to his sad home in the morning.
But a day or two elapsed after his return from the first visit, when Mr. Robinson again started on the road to Providence. These visits he continued to repeat at intervals of two or three days only, for several weeks. In every instance he would ride up to the door of the house where his sick daughter lay, and without dismounting rap at the door with his cane and simply say, "How is Hannah?" and on receiving an answer turn the head of his horse and ride away.
Miss Belden of Hartford, and Mrs. Simons' uncle, William Gardiner — the friends who assisted her elopement — on learning the sad dilemma, counseled Hannah the next time her father visited her house to reveal to him the names of the parties implicated. Thus absolved, Hannah sent word that if he would come to her bedside she would tell all. Trembling with. emo- tion, Mr. Robinson dismounted and hurried to the comfortless, wretched chamber of his sick daughter.
He had formed no conception of the extremity to which his poor child was reduced. As he approached the bed and took her hand, thin almost to transparency, in both of his and looking into the faded face, with naught remaining of her former ex- quisite beauty, the floodgates that had withstood the promptings of his better nature gave way, and the long pent-up affection of the father's heart burst into one uncontrollable tide of tenderness and love. No wish or thought remained to wring from his poor Hannah the coveted secret, but falling on his knees by the bed- side, bathed the pale, cold hand of the dying child with tears and wept aloud.
After he had somewhat regained his composure, he handed
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several pieces of gold to the maid, standing in tearful silence by the bed of her beloved mistress, charging her to get everything necessary for her mistress' comfort until his return, and tenderly kissing his broken-hearted child, Mr. Robinson left for his home in Boston Neck, where he arrived late at night.
In those early times, when roads were rough and four- wheeled carriages almost unknown, an indispensable household article was a litter for the sick. Immediately after Mr. Robin- son arrived at his home, he summoned from their beds four strong men, and ordered them to proceed with the litter in his pleasure boat to Providence, and there await his arrival. The next morning at break of day Mr. Robinson himself started on horseback, attended by Prince and a led-horse for his daughter's maidservant.
The invalid was informed of the arrangements that had been made for conveying her to Narragansett, by which it was proposed to stop at her Uncle Updike's the first night, and, if her strength permitted, to reach home the next day. At nine o'clock the next morning the whole party were slowly winding their way toward the homestead in Boston Neck. They arrived safely at Mr. Updike's with less fatigue to the poor invalid than was feared. There the party rested for the night.
It was in the lovely month of June, when the rose, the syrin- ga and wild honeysuckle and sweet clover were all in bloom; a shower the night before had made everything fresh and spark- ling in the sun's full beams. As the mournful party moved for- ward, ever and anon the small native wood animals darted across the path — all nature seemed to be welcoming Hannah home. When the spot was reached on Ridge Hill, where the faithful Hannah had met her lover and bid adieu to her sister Mary, who had died, she covered her face with both hands and seemed to be weeping.
When Prince was asked what Mrs. Simons did on this occa- sion, Prince answered that, "Missus Hannah didn't do nothin'! She eny just put both hands over her face and cried! That wer all!"
Old Alexander Gardiner, Sr., was to entertain the party for a short period of rest. The old man, being aware of the coming of the guests, had dressed himself in his "go-to-meetim " or "roast meat" or i. e., Sunday dinner suit of yellow nankeen
ROWLAND ROBINSON AND HIS DAUGHTER 53
breeches with waistcoat to match, and a semi-military blue coat, ornamented with a long row of silver Spanish dollar but- tons in front. He stood in his door to welcome their approach by removing his imposing cocked hat and making three low bows, first to the poor lady in the litter, next to Mr. Robinson, and lastly to the attendants. After the party rested for an hour or so, they proceeded on their way. The old familiar scenes aroused Hannah at every step: the birds in the hedge with their half-fledged young; soft, rustling sounds of an unusual nature elicited special interest, and many delays were occasioned. As the sun declined, Mr. Robinson tenderly suggested to his sick daughter the danger to be apprehended from the evening air, and the need of haste, and it was not until after the booming evening gun from Fort George in Newport harbor had met and mingled its roar with the dirge-like note of the fern owl, that always begins its mournful song exactly as the sun goes down, that the reluctant invalid was willing to leave the rock on Mc- Sparran Hill, where they had halted. Casting one long, wistful rook toward the still roseate west, and murmuring to herself, "It is the last time," Hannah motioned her attendants to proceed.
As the party drew near the house, which was not until late in the evening, they were met by the whole family. The poor invalid, now too weak to respond to the tender greetings, was lovingly carried in her father's arms and placed in her own chamber and bed, and everything done for her comfort which mortal love could suggest. A marked change had taken place in her condition. The long journey and the excitement which attended proved too much for her weakened vital powers, and before midnight a raging fever set in — in the delirium she re- verted to the days when her lover vowed everlasting love and beguiled her from her home — the years of sorrow were blotted from her memory. She called wildly on her lover's name, that he would come and defend her from her now, alas, wretched father's wrath and vengeance.
At about the hour of midnight, a whip-poor-will, called by the Indians "muck-a-wiss" — come to pie — perched on the eave of the house opposite the lilac bush, and sung its mournful song of "Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will."
The ominous cry of the bird penetrated the delirium of the poor brain. Pausing, and listening for a few moments she ex-
54 THE ROBINSONS AND THEIR KIN FOLK
claimed, "Hark! mother, do you hear the death angel calling? He is out in the lilac tree, mother! He has come to take me away and marry me, mother! It will be a sad wedding day, mother, but not so sad as that other, dear mother!" Then, turn- ing her attention to a withered flower on her bosom, she said, "He told me, when he gave it to me, that we must call it not life everlasting, but love everlasting! Lay it with me in my grave, mother, that I may take it to the land where life is everlasting, and where love never dies."
As the sun rose in the morning, though weak and helpless, she called for the trinkets and different articles of her wardrobe, and distributed them with her own hands. This done, with feeble, outstretched arms, she turned to her father and mother and pressed a last kiss on their lips; her agonized father, kneeling beside the bed, held her extended hand in his. Before she breathed her last, she cast her eyes upon her mother with an un- utterable expression of affection, and then, fixing them on her father, she continued to look lovingly and steadfastly in his, as if she would convey to him a message of her undying respect and love, until they closed in death.
The old nurse, Mum Amey, raised her eyes from the face of her dying mistress, and with a look of devout admiration ex- claimed, "De angels is come."
Dr. Robert Hazard, the family physician, expressed his be- lief that the death of his lovely cousin was due to a deep-seated, consuming sorrow. Old nurse Mum Amey, when asked a few days after the funeral, "what ailed her young mistress when she died?" she answered, "Nothin' ail' Missus Hannah. Dis world wer eny jes' too hard for her, an' de poor chile die ob de heart break."
One pathetic incident was that of the refusal of Hannah's little dog, Marcus, to be enticed from his mistress' grave. It also refused to eat or drink; but the poor thing died from sheer starvation in a cavity it had scratched, and from day to day deepened in the ground, just beneath the doorway of her tomb. In this grave of the affectionate brute's own digging it was found one morning dead by Mr. Robinson, and was there buried by its master's own hands, after being carefully wrapped in the linen case from off the pillow on which its mistress' head last lay.
Some days after the last sad ceremony, Mr. Pierre Simons
JEREMIAH POTTER ROBINSON 55
returned to Providence, where he learned of his wife's death. A regard for decency, if not remorse of conscience, prompted him to call at his father-in-law's, to be present, if permitted, at the removal of the body of Hannah to a newly erected tomb. Mr. Robinson received him courteously, but after asking him to par- take of the hospitality of the house, while he remained his guest he never after spoke to* him until the morning his daughter's re- mains were removed, and then only to notify him briefly of his intention in that respect.
Mr. Updike represents Hannah's father,Rowland Robinson, as possessed of a relentless, unforgiving spirit. This does great injustice to his character. Though impetuous and overbearing in temper it may be, it was far from vindictive. The writer sees a true descendant of the first Rowland, and the characters, both of father and daughter, were strong, dominant and enduring. United to a firm will and integrity of conscience was the magnetic charm of a fine personality, to be found in our own day in the character and personality of scores of Rowland Robinson's and Mary Allen's descendants.
From Hannah's Rock
This natural outlook over Boston Neck and Narragansett Bay is traditionally associated with the tragic tale of Hannah Robinson, which is a major feature in the folklore of Rhode Island. Hannah was the beautiful daughter of Rowland Robinson, a prominent member of the wealthy Narragansett planter society of the mid-eighteenth century. Her story, which has been frequently retold since the mid-nineteenth century, tells of her love affair with a suitor who was judged unsuitable by her father. In the face of her father's opposition, Hannah eloped and settled with her husband in Providence.
Estranged from her family, beset by poverty and perhaps plagued by an unfaithful husband (accounts vary), Hannah lapsed into a fatal decline. Finally relenting in his opposition, Rowland Robinson journeyed to Providence to bring his daughter home to Boston Neck. As the travelers reached McSparran Hill, Hannah asked to be set down for a while to enjoy her favorite view over her homeland. Shortly thereafter she died, but she and her romantic history continue to be commemorated in the overlook which bears her name.
In 1966, the owner of the land, John Hazard Wells, conveyed the rock in a 1.52 acre parcel to Preserve Rhode Island. The site is maintained by the State of Rhode Island as public open space and is accessible by an informal network of trails leading from Hannah Robinson Tower.
From Quahog.org > Attractions > Hannah Robinson Rock - A tragic tale of romance, betrayal, and thick-headedness.
Hannah Robinson Rock was once said by H.P. Lovecraft to "command... the finest rural prospect I have anywhere seen," but now suburbia is encroaching and you have to look across a stubbly patch of cleared land to see Narragansett Bay. Perhaps condos will soon block the view altogether. Just south of the rock, a 100-foot high wooden tower overlooks the bay, the Atlantic Ocean (on a clear day) and inland woods. The original tower, built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was reconstructed in May 1988 using the same plans and much of the original wood.
The Hannah Robinson Tower is a 40 feet (12 m) tall wooden tower at the interchange between U.S. Route 1 (Tower Hill Road) and State Route 138 (Bridgetown Road) in the community of South Kingstown, South County, Rhode Island. The tower was built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was rebuilt in 1988 using the same pillars.
The structure is named after Hannah Robinson (1746–1773), a colonial Rhode Island resident and daughter of a wealthy Narragansett society man, Rowland Robinson. Hannah fell in love with a local teacher, Peter Simon, but the relationship was deemed unsuitable by her father. Despite her father's disapproval, Hannah Robinson married her suitor and lived in Providence, Rhode Island. The family became estranged from Robinson, who was enveloped in poverty, leading to a fatal decline. Robinson's father ended his opposition and left his community of Boston Neck to bring Hannah home. As Rowland Robinson brought his daughter home, she requested a chance to visit nearby McSparran Hill, where she considered a view of her homeland. Robinson died soon after.
In 1966, the owner of the land along McSparran Hill, sold off the 1.52-acre (6,200 m2) land along with the rock to Preserve Rhode Island. Although owned by Preserve Rhode Island, the property is managed independently by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The state maintains the area as public open space as a memorial to Hannah Robinson.
Contents [hide] 1 History 1.1 Hannah Robinson (1746-1773) 1.2 The tower and nearby rock 2 See also 3 References 4 External links
 History The indoor siding of the tower Hannah Robinson (1746-1773)Hannah Robinson was born in 1746 as the daughter of Rowland Robinson Jr., a prominent member of the community of Narragansett's planter society. Her father, Rowland Robinson Jr, was born in October of 1719, as a descendant to Rowland Robinson, a British emigrant from Long Bluff, England. He married Anstis Gardiner, a local farmer's daughter in December 1741, giving birth to two daughters and one son. One of the two daughters, Hannah, fell in love with Peter Simon, a teacher of French and dancing classes at a young woman's school in Newport. Her father disapproved of the relationship between Simon and Robinson, deeming him "unsuitable", although the two kept their relationship in secret. Most of the family supported the relationship, giving Simon a teaching job in a member's home. One night, Rowland Robinson found Simon hiding in the lilac bushes under Hannah's window. Robinson then was banned from ever seeing him again, nor letting her leave the house in Boston Neck. Hannah Robinson had a stubborn streak from her father and during a trip to a ball in North Kingstown, the couple, with help of Robinson's mother, Anstis Gardiner, escaped the family. Rowland Robinson became furious at the news and gave a reward for anyone who had information of who was involved.
Simon and Robinson moved to Providence, Rhode Island and soon gave birth to nine children, although they were stricken with poverty. When Simon came to the assumption that Robinson would not get one shilling of her family's wealth, he began to have affairs and soon abandoned her completely. Robinson was broken-hearted and becoming ill, and as a result, her mother sent her several items from Boston Neck, including her little dog, and the maid that Robinson had received during childhood, also named Hannah. Robinson held on a few more years in Providence and her father proposed that if Hannah would just tell who helped her escape, he'd let her back into the family. Hannah Robinson relented after a long struggle with her father, but was already close to death. Her father, Rowland Robinson, rode up from the community of Boston Neck to Providence, relenting his prior opposition, and brought Hannah Robinson home. When Rowland Robinson arrived, all of the demands went away with the sight of his daughter and he was filled with grief and remorse. Along the ride home to Boston Neck, Hannah Robinson requested her father to pull over at the site of James McSparran's farm, which overlooked the Narragansett Bay and Boston Neck. Here, she requested her father let her set on the cube-shaped rocks and look over her homeland. Robinson died on October 30, 1773 by natural causes from her ill health, at only age 27.
The Newport Bridge seen from the top of the tower The tower and nearby rockIn 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed a new watch tower at the site where Robinson watched over Boston Neck. The new tower, 100 feet (30 m) high was made of wood and raised with pillars. The tower was used during World War II as an observation tower. The height of the tower overlooked the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay on clear afternoons, and the former cube-shaped rock that Robinson sat on, remains on the former McSparran farm, which was sold by its owner in 1966 to the state. The large land, 1.52 acres (20,200 ft) wide, became a preserved area, covering both the rock and the tower in memorial to Hannah Robinson. In 1988, the state rebuilt the tower using the original structure's pillars and remains standing, at 40 feet (12 m) high and four stories tall.<ref name="rimonth im hannah robinson please
Hannah Simons's Timeline
Kings County, Rhode Island
October 30, 1773
Kings County, Rhode Island
Narraganset, Washington County, Rhode Island, United States