Captain Arthur Fenner


[bpt 17 Oct. 1619; d 10 Oct. 1703] Arthur, son of Arthur Fenner and Sarah Browne, was baptized at St. Bartholomew's in Horley, Surrey, England. He had been a Lieutenant in a troop of horses in Cromwell’s army before coming to Providence on 27 Feb. 1649. On March 10, he bought equal rights into the Providence Plantations for 30 shillings. As a civil engineer, he helped survey the boundaries of Providence. He served as Constable for the town of Providence in 1651, and was Assistant to the Town Council in 1651, 1659, 1665, 1668, 1672, 1676, 1679, 1686, and 1690. He also served as Commissioner to the General Court, Moderator, Treasurer, and Deputy, among other jobs. He reportedly received some of his land from Indian Chief Massasoit and held 600 acres of land in 4 counties.

Arthur's home was dubbed “Fenner Castle” because of its large chimney and served as a garrison during Indian uprisings. There is an oil painting of Fenner Castle in the Historical Society of Providence, RI. King Philip's warriors burned it to the ground in 1676; it was rebuilt the following year around the chimney, which survived the fire. It eventually collapsed from neglect in 1886. A second house which Arthur built for his son Thomas in 1677 still stands in Cranston, RI, and is owned by a descendant.


Arthur m 1st Mehitable Waterman [b 1626 at Nyland, Somerset England; d 3 Dec. 1683 at Providence, RI], daughter of Richard Waterman and Bethiah Rice, who emigrated to the colonies in 1629 and settled with Roger Williams in Providence Plantations. Arthur m 2nd Howlong Harris on 16 Dec. 1686, daughter of William and Susan Harris, but had no more children.

Children by Mehitable Waterman:

1. Thomas [b 27 Oct. 1652; d 27 Feb. 1718] married twice.
2. Sarah [b ca. 1655; bur 7 Nov. 1676].
3. Freelove [b ca. 1656; d 1 June 1712] m Gideon Crawford.
4. Arthur [b 1658; d 24 April 1725] m Mary Smith [d 13 Dec. 1737].
5. Samuel [b ca. 1660; d ca. 1680]
6. Bethiah [b ca. 1662] m Robert Kilton.
7. Phebe [b ca. 1665] m Joseph Latham.

a. Arthur's memorial at, no. 19393785
b. J.P. Root, Genealogy of the Fenner Family (1887) | PDF
c. Jim Fenner, Fenner - Broughton Family History (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1995), pp. 3, 13-14.
d. Martha Benns, Notes on the Fenner Family of R.I. (1941), p. 3
e. Eva Fenner, Notes, p. 93; letter from the RI Historical Society, Clarkson A. Collins III, Jan. 14, 1957.
f. Rick Buckingham, The Book of Begats. Line 2: 3-10. Rick shows Arthur's death as 20 Oct. 1703 and his son Samuel's birth before 1650.
g. Daniel M. White, Descendants of Thomas Fenner (unpublished); shows Samuel's birth before 1650.
h. Lucinda T. Fenner, History of the Fenner Family (1908). Lucinda mentions six children, in the following order: Freelove, Bethiah, Phoebe, Thomas, Arthur, and Joseph. The sixth, Joseph, cannot be his son. His birthdates and his wives’ birthdates establish him as Arthur’s grandson (son of Thomas) | PDF