Peleg Arnold, American, 1762–1825




Exeter, Rhode Island

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Peleg Arnold was born in Exeter, Rhode Island, on March 2, 1762, to Caleb Arnold (about 1715–1798) and Hannah Russell.(1) Caleb was a yeoman born in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, about 1715. His great-grandfather, Benedict Arnold, was among the early settlers of Newport. Peleg's mother Hannah Russell was from Exeter and at the time Caleb married her in 1747 he settled there and amassed considerable acreage that he farmed.(2) Their son Peleg married Lucy Hopkins in Exeter on October 20, 1785. She was the daughter of Beriah Hopkins and Mary Reynolds of West Greenwich, Rhode Island.(3)

Although Peleg made a chest of drawers and busk for his wife Lucy (RIF1742), no confirming evidence exists to verify that he was a woodworker. Like his father he was identified as a "yeoman" in legal documents. In rural settings such as Exeter it was not uncommon for individuals to pursue a mainly agrarian livelihood in combination with an ancillary trade, such as joinery, coopering, or blacksmithing, carried on in the winter months. Evidence that Peleg had woodworking tools with which to make the chest and the busk is found in his will, written in 1824 and proved in 1825.(4) Peleg left his farming implements and carpenter tools to his son Rowland. In the will Lucy is bequeathed half the house and continued to live in Exeter until her death in 1850.(5)

Patricia E. Kane

1. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636-1850 1:219. For Caleb's lineage see FamilySearch Ancestral file v.4.19 at For Caleb's death see Exeter Town Council and Probate vol. 6, 1794–1801, part 2, pp. 105–108 and 150–151, microfilm no. 0932355, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

2. Exeter Land Evidence, vol. 1, 1769–1779, pp. 85–86, microfilm no. 0932342, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

3. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636–1850. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002), (Orig. Pub. Narragansett Historical Publishing Company Providence, RI. James N. Arnold, Vital records of Rhode Island 1636–1850: First Series: births, marriages and deaths: a family register for the people, 21 vols., 1891) 3:83.

4. Exeter Town Council and Probate, vol. 10, 1821–1826, pp. 337–39, microfilm no. 0932356, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

5. Lucy Arnold's death is recorded in Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index,