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The Banisters of Rhode Island during the American Revolution

June 15 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

$15 – $20

The two sons of Newport colonial merchant John Banister had the benefits of education and wealth. They were fourth generation colonials when the discord with Britain emerged in the 1760s. The younger brother Thomas chose loyalty to the Crown and joined Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers. He supported the British in the Siege of Newport, as a “Sea Raider” along the New England coast, and finally as defender of Long Island Loyalists in the “Whaleboat Wars” with Connecticut Patriots. Older brother John chose the neutral position until compelled to take the oath to the United Colonies. After three years of British military occupation and destruction of Newport, he leaned more toward independence.

On Thursday June 15, 2023, the Newport Historical Society will host scholar Marian Mathison Desrosiers, Ph.D. for the talk The Banisters of Rhode Island During the American Revolution. The discussion will explore the question: what were the impacts of loyalty on the lives of the Banister families of Long Island and Aquidneck Island during the fight for independence?

Dr. Desrosier will discuss the spouses of the Banister brothers, Rachel Banister and Christian Banister. These women experienced the hardships of war and its aftermath without husbands and their children lived without fathers.

She will also highlight how, in the post-war era, the brothers sought remuneration for property destroyed by the British or restoration of lands confiscated by Rhode Island. Their hopes to reintegrate into a society that restored their civil rights reveals a larger historical debate about the politics of allegiance and property rights in the decade after the War for American Independence.

A former history educator of middle and high school students and an adjunct professor at Salve Regina University, Marian Mathison Desrosiers, Ph.D. was awarded Fulbright Fellowships to India and Russia. Her research for John Banister of Newport: The Life and Accounts of a Colonial Merchant (2017) revealed the vagaries and complexity of mid-eighteenth-century trade in New England. Dr. Desrosiers has published works on Irish immigrants and women in the judiciary and the military. Her most recent biography is Island Girl: The Life of Justice Florence Kerins Murray, Patriot, Public Servant, Esteemed Jurist (2022).

General admission tickets cost $20 per person, or $73.45 for a combo admission ticket with a copy of the book The Banisters of Rhode Island in the American Revolution. Admission for Newport Historical Society members costs $15 per person, or $57.76 for the combo admission ticket with the book. Copies The Banisters of Rhode Island in the American Revolution will also be available for purchase at the event.

Ticket includes a complimentary reception before the lecture.


June 15
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
$15 – $20


Newport Historical Society
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Newport Historical Society
82 Touro st
Newport, RI 02840 United States
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