American Silversmiths

Freelove Lawton


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1. Robert Lippincott

Freelove Lawton
  • Marriage (1): Robert Lippincott

  General notes:


  Events in her life were:

  • , . From Counterfeiting in Colonial America By Kenneth Scott

    Freelove Lippencott has the somewhat doubtful distinction of being the first known woman counterfeiter in New England and the first woman ringleader of a band of counterfeiters in the colonies. Her husband, Robert, was a mariner who in 1712 was supposedly teaching navigation in Newport. His was wife sent to England, probably by him, and there had engraved six plates for making the following bills: a 3 of Rhode Island, a 10s. of Connecticut, and a 3.5., a 3/6, a 20$., and a 50s. of Massachusetts. Her chief assistant was Edward Greenman, son of John Greenman of Newport, and she also induced her brother, George Lawton, and apparently a Henry Cooke, to pass bills for her. The roll which she used was eventually lost in the Lippencotts' well. Before long her bogus money attracted attention and she, her husband, and Edward Greenman were apprehended. While out on bail and waiting for the next session of the general court to be held in Newport, Freelove, it seems, made the most of the opportunity to strike off some more currency, and then entrusted her plates to the keeping of Captain Edward Greenman of Kingstown, an uncle of her associate, all of which was to cause much woe to the government of Rhode Island and to Captain Greenman and his family.

    At the court held in September Freelove and her associates had their indictments returned ignoramus by the grand jury. The court, dissatisfied with this result, on the advice of the General Assembly ordered the accused held to appear at the next sessions in March 1714. Because of the winter season and the coldness of the prison, bail in the amount of 1,000 each was permitted and was furnished by the two Lippencotts, but not by Greenman, who presently broke jail and escaped. At the sessions in March the Lippencotts were not prosecuted, probably because the grand jury again would not indict them. Greenman, to be sure, was presented by the grand jurors and was faced with a fine of 405., all of which was of little moment, since he could not be found.

    After her dismissal by the court Freelove remained for some time in Newport with her husband, who was still teaching navigation, but she had by no means abandoned her interest in counterfeiting and probably still had a financial stake in die plates now in the keeping of Captain Greenman. One evening, when alone with her husband and one of his pupils, Joseph Atwood, a nephew of Captain Greenman, she brought the conversation around to the counterfeiting of paper currency and finally asked Atwood if he would be willing to take some bad bills and pass them off. When he readily consented, she gave him a letter directed to Silas Greenman of Kingstown, a son of the captain. Atwood delivered the message and shortly thereafter met Silas at the captain's home. Silas told him to bring a clean skin with which to wipe the plates, and when he had done as was directed, Atwood watched Captain Green-man and his two sons, Silas and Edward, Jr., strike off some bills, using Freelove's plates and a roll made by the captain. As the result was unsatisfactory, Atwood went away empty-handed, but later, on at least two occasions, Silas, who signed the currency, brought him considerable amounts of currency, some of which Atwood burned and some of which he passed off successfully at Ipswich for silver money.

    Because of the notoriety she had achieved, Freelove went in 1715 to stay in Branford, Connecticut, in the home of Thomas Banks, a tailor, and it is known that she was quite ill there for some time. Probably her husband went to sea when she left Rhode Island, and he died in the Barbados on 2 April 1718.

Freelove married Robert Lippincott. (Robert Lippincott was born on 12 Dec 1685 in Shrewsbury NJ and died on 2 Apr 1718 in Barbadoes West Indies.)

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