Don N. Hagist


Born on 13 June 1760, Henrietta Overing was the daughter of prominent Newport distiller and sugar refiner Henry John Overing. Growing up in one of the thriving city’s wealthiest families gave great promise that she’d lead a comfortable, prosperous life. As she entered her teen years, however, political turmoil in the colonies descended into warfare; half a year after her sixteenth birthday this war became tangible to Henrietta and other Rhode Islanders when a large British military force arrived in Narragansett Bay and occupied the two main islands there, setting up headquarters in the town of Newport. Many residents fled, including some prominent merchants; others stayed either to cooperate with government forces or to look after their own. This article takes a look into a chapter in Henrietta Overing Auchmuty’s life that has been overlooked by history. Perhaps she would’ve wanted it that way, for it is a story of romance turned into heartbreak and bitterness.