Silence was sold as a slave for life by Samuel
Willis of Middletown, Connecticut, possibly in the 1760s,
and was purchased by Joseph Hopkins, an attorney and judge
who lived on West Main Street in Waterbury. Silence was
chosen to sweep the Waterbury Congregational Church from
1774 to 1778, and was mentioned in Cuff Capenys 1777
will as the servant of Joseph Hopkins. Hopkins
was considered to be the most prominent citizen in Waterbury,
dining with George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
The census records from 1790 and 1800 show a free African
American, and no slaves, living in Hopkins household.
According to Hopkins will, written in 1801, he emancipated
and made free Silence in 1798. Following her emancipation,
she continued to work as a servant for Hopkins. In his
will, Hopkins binds his heirs to to contribute to
her free support should she ever be unable to support
herself and decreed that Silence should be allowed to
live with whichever of his heirs she chose. Hopkins intended
this arrangement to serve as compensation for her work
over the years.
It is not known what happened to Silence after Joseph