No. 6 Richard Anthony (“Deacon”)

no-6-richard-anthony-deacon_0According 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”) was Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s, and John Edward’s great, great (2 times) grandfather. 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”):


Bruce MacGunnigle -10

Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) was the third son and the sixth child of John (Gravestone No.2) and Huldah (née Johnson, Gravestone No. 1) Spencer. Captain John (Gravestone No. 4) was Deacon Richard’s older brother.  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. Descendents 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) resembles Audrey Mae’s youngest daughter). 🙂

Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer married Roby (née Tarbox) Spencer on April 3, 1817 in Exeter, Rhode Island. Audrey Mae wrote a connecting “M” to the left of (“Deacon”) Richard and Roby’s mini-biography to show that both husband and wife are buried in the Spencer Family Historical Cemetery. See below:


Richard and Roby 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). 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).

Richard Anthony (“Deacon” ) Spencer’s eldest son was also named Richard Anthony.  This website distinguishes between them 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 paternal grandmother.


Newspaper article in poor condition-Date of article unknown-re Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer

Richard Anthony and his parents, Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) and Roby, are buried in the Spencer family cemetery. Richard Anthony’s two younger sisters, Huldah Evaline and Esther Amanda, are not buried in the Spencer family cemetery. Esther Amanda married Job Briggs and is buried with the Briggs family.  Huldah Evaline (née Spencer, 1833-1910) married Daniel C. Bailey (1819-1900) and is buried with the Bailey family.  Both Huldah and her husband Daniel are buried within a small granite post and iron rail enclosure that is located outside the stone wall enclosure of Bailey family cemetery. Huldah and Daniel are the last Baileys buried in Bailey family cemetery area.  Huldah is the only one buried in the twentieth century.  All others (within the stone walls of E.G. No. 4 and  the granite post and iron rail enclosure outside the stone walls) were buried in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

If a woman married into a family with land–and therefore a family ancestral cemetery–she would be buried in the husband’s family cemetery, even if her own family of origin had a family cemetery. Therefore, Huldah was buried with the Baileys.  Audrey Mae told the story of one couple who refused to be buried within their historical cemetery walls because the farmer who purchased the land kept his cows from straying by locking them inside the historical cemetery.  Therefore, the couple’s final wishes were to not be buried within the stone wall area but to be buried next to the stone walled area in a separate enclosure.  Could this be the story behind Huldah and Daniel’s burial in a separate enclosure next to the Bailey family cemetery?  More research is needed.


Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) leaning against the tree in front of his house

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 . (Author’s note: More research is needed.) 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.  The Bailey Family cemetery area is East Greenwich historical cemetery No. 4, across the road and to the east of the Spencer family historical cemetery.

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 are not even aware of his birth name as Richard Anthony.


Biographical Sketches of East Greenwich. Vol III by J.R. Cole.1889, Biography of Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer, pages 1137-1138


Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer, 6th Generation Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Successful in business and spiritual realm



“Spencer Genealogy” page 16-17. Booklet in East Greenwich, Rhode Island Free Library, 82 Peirce St.


“Spencer Genealogy” page 17. Booklet in East Greenwich, Rhode Island Free Library, 82 Peirce St.



















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.  When a person has excessive tragedy in his life, empathy develops exponentially.  Of interest is the fact that Deacon Richard and his wife Roby raised their eldest son’s daughter, Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) who was a year old when her father died.  Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) was Edith Anna’s, John Edward (“Ed”)’s, and Audrey Mae’s paternal grandmother.

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, Tarbox and Briggs descendants, if you have any additional information on Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) Spencer, please add a comment to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site. Thanks.”