Benezet family papers 1729-1839
Collection Scope and Content Note
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The Benezet family papers consist of scattered documents and letters from the family of Claude Benezet (b. 1737). Among the few items present in this collection are an elaborately detailed marriage contract between James Benezet and Elizabeth Fonnereau, the wills of James and Elizabeth, two letters from Claude's daughter Maria, and two letters from Claude written while in India during the Mysore War. There is also a small series of documents relating to the financial problems of the former British diplomat, Edward Allen, who was seeking a pension from the government. Noteworthy in the collection are three slender volumes of a diary kept by one of the Benezets, probably one of Claude's sons, during a trip to China between March and September, 1780. Though the entries are brief, the journal does give an impression of the emotions and hardships endured in a long ocean voyage.
The most important item is a letter from Claude's first cousin, Anthony Benezet. Anthony, having joined the Society of Friends and emigrated to Philadelphia many years previously, sought to reinitiate correspondence with Claude's family in the hopes of perpetuating the amicable feelings his father felt toward Claude. Benezet continues beyond family matters into a lengthy and powerfully worded argument for the abolition of slavery and the reform of British colonial law relating to slaves.