[Bell Historians] heaviest three

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at s...
Tue Jul 8 14:06:36 BST 2003

At 03:55 -0400 2003/07/08, matthewhigby at a... wrote:
>In a message dated 07/07/03 20:09:37 GMT Daylight Time, 
>david at b... writes:
>>They were slow swingers.
>The picture at:
>Clearly shows two bells on cast iron arched headstocks - the larger 
>bell being fitted with a stay and slider. It states that the picture 
>shows the largest of three bells supplied to Newport, Rhode Island. 
>It does not say if all three bells were hung in the same way - if 
>they were, and still are - these must be taken as the heaviest 
>three, slow swinging or not.
>An hour of web searching has found nothing - apart from a pub called 
>the Three Bells Inn!

The Web is indeed a place for mixed emotions--elation at the wealth 
of information that's available, plus frustration at the 
unavailability of information that one wishes were available. Like 
Matthew, I spent an hour searching the Web, and found no clues to the 
actual destination of these three bells. However, I did find some 
information about their donor, on the basis of which I have set 
further inquiries in motion.

Sophia Augusta (Brown) Brown was the widow of John Carter Brown, to 
whom she had borne two sons and a daughter (the latter named after 
herself). It appears that they were residents of Providence (where 
Brown U is located), since that is where she and at least one of her 
children were born. In 1874, she had augmented her husband's bequest 
of funds to Brown University to enable the construction of a superb 
new library there; clearly the family was quite wealthy. That 
provides a clue to the Newport connection, as Newport has long been 
the summer residence of wealthy families. It is therefore possible 
that she was living in Newport at the time of the donation, and sent 
the order to Whitechapel from there, but that the bells actually went 
elsewhere (e.g., to Providence). From what I have been enable to 
find, it seems unlikely that the bells went into a Newport church, 
though a church is the logical place to put three swinging bells.

Sophia's son Harold, in whose memory the pictured bell was given, was 
born in 1863 and died in 1900, apparently unmarried. Her other son, 
John Nicholas Brown, born in 1859, also died in 1900; he had married 
and produced one child. Since memorializing the younger son but not 
the older would be rather odd, it seems reasonable to speculate that 
the other two bells of the set might have been memorials to J.N.Brown 
and J.C.Brown; possibly Whitechapel (to whom I am copying this 
message) might be able to confirm or refute that speculation.

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