History of Mount Hope Lands and the Farm

On this land, the heroes of our American Revolution have walked. Including our First President George Washington, who came to visit Senator William Bradford in the 1790s. 

This land represents the history of Bristol from 1680 when 366 acres were set off to Nathaniel Byfield, one of the “four Boston Merchants,” who purchased the Mount Hope Lands after the end of King Philip’s War (1675-76). In 1702, Byfield sold the land to his son-in-law Colonel Henry MacKintosh. MacKintosh willed it to his grand-daughter Elizabeth, who was married to Isaac Royall, Jr. of Medford, Massachusetts.

Royall, a passionate Loyalist, served for 23 years on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council. In 1774, he leased the Farm now “in occupation of Captain Bennett Munroe” and feld in 1776 to Halifax, three days before the Battle of Lexington. Rhode Island confiscated the house and farm, using its rents to pay salaries of the Continental Army. In 1783, after Royall’s death in England, it was sold to Nathan Miller, of Warren, then at auction to William Bradford. 

Bradford, a distinguished doctor and lawyer, served Bristol for 35 years. He was the last Deputy Colonial Governor serving until 1776, and first Deputy Governor of Rhode Island serving until 1778, then a member of the General Assembly. He became a United States Senator from 1793 to 1797, resigning to return to the quiet life at Mount Hope, where he died in 1808. Bradford’s wife Mary had died in 1775, leaving him with 8 children. Bradford willed his estate to his daughter Ann. 

Samuel W. Church, a wealthy Taunton and Bristol merchant, purchased Mount Hope Farm in 1837 from the heirs of John Bradford. John was the older brother of Ann (Nancy) Bradford, who chose not to live here as she was married to James DeWolf and lived at his elaborate estate called “The Mount.” Church developed a model farm at Mount Hope before moving to the Church Homestead on Poppasquash in 1855 to accommodate his family of 12 children. Mount Hope Farm continued in Church family ownership and produced Indian corn, Irish potatoes and butter. 

Rudolf F. Haffenreffer II purchased the property in 1916, which had fallen into a neglected state. The Haffenreffer family were industrial leaders in Rhode Island, owning the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (H.M.C.) from 1932-1942, the Mount Hope Bridge, 1931-1953, and the Narragansett Brewery 1933-1965. In 1955, R.F. Haffenreffer III and his brother Carl W. donated 220 acres of the original Mount Hope Farm to Brown University. This generous gift included Mount Hope, historic seat of the Pokanoket Nation, the Creamery and their father’s Native American relics, known as the “King Philip Museum.”

The historic estate, a refuge for the Pokanokets, the First People of the area, a prized farm for colonial settlers, and a superb example of “country life” in the 20th century, was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and Places in 1977. In 1999, it was acquired by The Mount Hope Trust in Bristol, which welcomes you today.