Richard Anthony (“Deacon”, b.5-11-1798–d.12-19-1889) and Roby (née Tarbox, b.7-15-1798–d.12-5-1876) Spencer.
Richard Anthony was the fourth son and sixth child of John and Huldah (née Johnson) Spencer. With Richard marriage to Roby, the Tarbox and the Whitford ancestry came into the Spencer line. Roby was the daughter of Joseph Tarbox and Esther Whitford.
Roby (née Tarbox) Spencer married Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer on April 3, 1817 in Exeter, Rhode Island. Roby and Richard had eight children, Richard Anthony (b.9-1-1817), Audra Eleanor (b.5-16-1819), John J. (b.10-1837 died when small), Esther Amanda (b.6-17-1828 died 7-25-1833), Joseph Jason (b. 8-27-1821), William Augustus (b. 4-21-1824), Huldah Evaline (b.3-8-1833) and Esther Amanda (b.1-21-1835) named after her sister who died in childhood. When the first Esther Amanda died as a child, the parents named their next baby with the same name, Esther Amanda. This Esther Amanda who often wrote under the initials E.A.B. became the Spencer genealogist of her generation. Her papers are still in the possession of Spencer descendants today (2013). Unfortunately, John J. died in infancy and Esther Amanda died in childhood. Apparently that was not uncommon to name the next child after the child who died. J.R. Cole’s History of Washington and Kent Counties published in 1889 records the names of the six children who lived to adulthood but does not records the names of the two children who died young. Cole only mentions that two died in infancy.
Richard was always called Deacon Richard because he was Deacon of the Frenchtown Baptist Church for fifty years. Richard and Roby are buried in the Spencer family cemetery (aka E.G.No.9) on Middle Road.
According to Audrey Mae’s artistic map diagram and gravestone numbering system, Roby’s gravestone is Gravestone Number Five in the Spencer family Historical cemetery. Roby and Richard (“Deacon”) were Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s great, great (2 times) grandparents.
Using a Smith-Corona typewriter in the 1980s, Audrey Mae typed the following mini-biography of Roby:
Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald wrote mini-biographies of all the people buried in the Spencer family cemetery. Audrey Mae’s mini-biography of Roby and Deacon Richard has a connecting line and letter “M” (for marriage) attached to show that both husband and wife are buried in the Spencer family historical cemetery.
Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer (b.5-11-1798 d.12-19-1889) was always referred to as Deacon Richard whereas Deacon Richard’s and Roby’s first son was always referred to as Richard Anthony. Their first son, Richard Anthony, has gravestone No. 7 in Audrey Mae’s gravestone numbering system.
According to Audrey’s map diagram of her Spencer family historical cemetery (aka E.G.No.9), Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer’s gravestone is Gravestone Number Six. Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) is a sixth-generation Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Using her Smith-Corona typewriter in the 1980s, Audrey Mae typed the following mini-biography of Richard Anthony (“Deacon”):
Of interest is the fact that Deacon Richard’s younger brother was named Oliver Cromwell Spencer. This fact–of naming one of the Spencers after the Lord Protectorate of England (1653-58)–lets the Spencer (and/or Johnson} descendants know something of the political persuasion of their ancestors who left England in the 1600s. Descendants in America today do not share this same sentiment, especially since Princess Diana, the people’s princess, was a Spencer! and Audrey Mae thought Princess Diana (née Spencer) resembled Audrey Mae’s youngest daughter.
This website distinguishes between Richard Anthony Spencer, the father, and his eldest son, Richard Anthony, by referring to the father as Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) and the son as Richard Anthony. Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer (b.5-11-1798 d.12-19-1889) was always called Deacon Richard whereas his son, Richard Anthony (b.9-1-1817 d.5-27-1845) was always called Richard Anthony.
Audrey Mae, Edith Anna (“Aunt Edith”) and John Edward (“Uncle Ed”) descend from Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) and Roby’s first son, Richard Anthony, who was the father of Anna Maria (pronounce Mar-eye-ah), Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”), and Edith Anna’s paternal grandmother.
This photo submitted by Gladys Bailey shows her great, great grandfather, Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer. Gladys Bailey wrote that her great, great grandfather is the older gentleman leaning against the tree. Descendants do not know who the other people in the photograph are. They could be Baileys and/or Spencers . Gladys Bailey descends from Roby and “Deacon” Richard’s daughter, Huldah Evaline, who married Daniel C. Bailey. With this marriage the Spencers married into the Bailey family and vice versa, but Huldah Evaline is not in Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) or Edith Anna’s direct line. The three children descend from Huldah Evaline’s older brother, Richard Anthony.
The Bailey family cemetery is East Greenwich historical cemetery number four (E.G. No. 4) which includes a stone wall area and an adjacent granite post and iron rail enclosure. The Bailey family cemetery is across Middle Road from and to the east of the Spencer family historical cemeteries. Huldah Evaline is buried with her husband, Daniel, in the Bailey family cemetery area.
Today (2014) the Bailey descendants and the Spencer descendants in the East Greenwich area of Rhode Island are still great friends as well as distant cousins.
J.W. Cole’s book History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island, Biographical Sketches of East Greenwich. Vol III published by W.W. Preston & Co., New York in 1889 gives a vivid and extensive biographical picture of Richard Anthony (“Deacon “) Spencer. As late as the 21st century descendants still referred to Richard Anthony as “Deacon Richard” and Audrey Mae abbreviates this to “Dec Richard” in her writing . Many descendants were not even aware of his birth name as Richard Anthony.
Much has been written about Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer’s religious conversion in 1838 and how his spirituality guided him for the rest of his life. For the last fifty years of his life he was known as and called Deacon Richard because of his church work and his care and concern for the downtrodden. The fact that in 1845, his eldest son, Richard Anthony, died in New York at age twenty-seven would have had a lasting effect on the person that Deacon Richard would become and continued to be.
Deacon Richard’s ministry as Deacon of the Frenchtown Baptist Church for fifty years is not lost on the Spencer descendants today. Although later in life, Audrey Mae’ s church was also United Methodist, Audrey Mae recited many times during her lifetime: “Baptist born and Baptist bred, And when I die, I’ll be Baptist dead.” The Baptist tradition stayed with the descendants of the Spencers–to this day (2013). One of Audrey Mae’s daughters received a Bachelor Degree in Christian Education, received one year of Master’s work at a Baptist seminary and was married to a minister of the Gospel for twenty years. One of Edith Anna’s descendants was instrumental in establishing a thriving Baptist Church in one of the mountain villages in California. To this day, another one of Audrey Mae’s daughters is a member of a Baptist Church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Although Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) was a very successful businessman, he is mostly remembered by descendants for his fifty years of good works in the Church.
“Spencer descendants, if you have any additional information on Richard and Roby (née Tarbox) Spencer, please add a comment to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site. Thanks!”