HOPKINTON – Throughout history, we see proof that the saying “blood is thicker than water” isn’t exactly true.
In 1839, Moses Lewis of Exeter sued James Lewis of Hopkinton, the son of his deceased brother Nathan Barber Lewis.
Nathan Lewis had died during the summer of 1830 at age 40. He left his wife Sarah (Richmond) and six children, with James being the oldest at 20. As the oldest, James gained the responsibility of supporting his mother and siblings.
Eight years later, his 41-year-old uncle didn’t care about James’s hardships. He cared that his land was allegedly being trespassed upon and ruined.
Moses went to the authorities and stated that he wanted James arrested. What resulted was an arrest warrant and a legal writ directing the local lawmen to track down James and bring him in.
The handwritten writ reads, “To the Sheriff, his deputy or to others of the Town or Constables in the County of Washington. Greeting. You are hereby in the name of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations required to arrest the body of James Lewis of Exeter in the county and state aforesaid.
Yeoman, alias Gentleman, if he may be found in your precincts and for want of his body, attach his goods and chattels and him or them in safe custody keep to answer the complaint of Moses B. Lewis of Hopkinton in said county of Washington.
Yeoman, at a justice court to be holden at the office of the subscriber in said Hopkinton on the seventh day of May 1839 at one of the clock afternoon on said day, in an action of trespass for that the defendant with force and arms at Exeter aforesaid broke and entered the close and possession of the plaintiff.
Being a certain lot of land containing meadow and pasture commonly called the Woodahill lot and being so entered in the month of March 1838 and continuing to enter on and through said lot with his teams, carts, waggons and horses with the like force and arms at diverse and many times from said month of March up to the first day of April 1839, breaking and tearing down barposts, and bar, rails, fencing stuff, destroying and trampling down grass and herbage thereof to the value of nine dollars, and also with the like force and arms broke and entered on one other lot of lying in said Exeter called the Maxon Lewis Lot and be so entered the defendant then and there did waste and destroy the plaintiff’s hay, grass and herbage, cutting not in season, thinking the hay was sporlia, of the value of ten dollars, making in the whole nineteen dollars and other enormities the defendant then and there did against the peace and to the damage of the plaintiff, twenty dollars.
Hereof fail not but do return. Make of this writ with your doings thereon. Given under my hand and seal at Hopkinton aforesaid this fair day of May 1839. Ray G. Burlingame, Justice Peace.”
Despite the state of their relations in life, Moses and James repose together in death. Both are buried within the John Lewis family lot in Exeter.