Henry Lippitt was a member of a family long associated with industrial interests. His first American ancestor was John Lippitt who settled in Rhode Island in 1638. John's great-grandsons, Charles and Christopher, organized in 1809 one of the pioneer cotton-mills of the state. Warren, son of Charles, followed the sea for a time and rose to the rank of captain, but later in life he became a cotton merchant in Providence and Savannah. He married Eliza Seamans and their son Henry was born on October 9, 1818 in Providence, Rhode Island, United States.