Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Benezet Family Papers, 1729-1839

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, March 1992

Summary Information
Title: Benezet family papers
Creator: Benezet family
Inclusive dates: 1729-1839
Extent: 19 items
Abstract:
The Benezet family papers consist of scattered documents and letters from the family of Claude Benezet (b. 1737) including items from trips to India and China.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1992. M-2784.1 .

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

Benezet Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Claude Benezet and his father, James, were descendants of Huguenot refugees who had made a considerable fortune as merchants in London. During the mid-18th century, they remained active in mercantile pursuits, establishing trading connections with British colonial possessions in south Asia and the Far East. Today, however, the family is best remembered through a first cousin of Claude's, Anthony Benezet, who converted to the Society of Friends, emigrated to America, and became one of the earliest and most successful antislavery and antiwar activists.


Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Bankruptcy--Great Britain.
    • China--Description and travel.
    • Diplomats--Great Britain.
    • India--History--Mysore War, 1790-1792.
    • Travel--History--18th century.
    • Wills--Great Britain.
    Contributors:
    • Allen, Edward.
    • Benezet, Anthony, 1713-1784.
    • Benezet, Claude, b. 1737.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1, Small Collections
    Benezet family papers,  1729-1839 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Allen, Edward
    • 1753 May 23, (Burell, Thomas)
    • 1754 August 4, (Newcastle, Thomas Pelham-Holles , 1st Duke of, 1693-1768)
    Antenuptial contracts--Great Britain
    • 1729 April 25, (Benezet, James)
    Bankruptcy--Great Britain
    • 1753 May 23, (Burell, Thomas)
    • ca.1754, (Allen, Edward)
    • ca.1754, (Allen, Edward)
    • ca.1758, (Allen, Edward)
    Belgium--Description and travel
    • 1769 September 19, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    Benezet, Anne Elizabeth, d. 1839)
    • 1839 April 29, (Great Britain. Chancery)
    Benezet, Claude, b. 1737)
    • 1789 May 27, (St. Dionis Backchurch (London, Eng ). Register)
    Benezet Family
    • 1778 April 20, (Benezet, Anthony, 1713-1784)
    Birth certificates--Great Britain
    • 1789 May 27, (St. Dionis Backchurch (London, Eng ). Register)
    China--Description and travel
    • 1780 March 20-September 9, (Benezet)
    Cornwallis, Charles, 1st Marquis, 2nd Earl, 1738-1805)
    • 1791 August 7, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    • 1791 August 10, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    Cotillions
    • 1784 February 17, (Benezet, H.)
    Diplomats--Great Britain
    • ca.1754, (Allen, Edward)
    Diplomats--Great Britain--Pensions
    • ca.1754, (Allen, Edward)
    • ca.1758, (Allen, Edward)
    • 1754 August 4, (Newcastle, Thomas Pelham-Holles , 1st Duke of, 1693-1768)
    India--History--Mysore War, 1790-1792
    • 1791 August 7, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    • 1791 August 10, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    Newcastle, Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of, 1693-1768)
    • ca.1758, (Allen, Edward)
    Ocean travel
    • 1780 March 20-September 9, (Benezet)
    Slavery--Law and legislation--Great Britain--Colonies
    • 1778 April 20, (Benezet, Anthony, 1713-1784)
    Slavery--Scotland
    • 1778 April 20, (Benezet, Anthony, 1713-1784)
    Slave-trade--Great Britain
    • 1778 April 20, (Benezet, Anthony, 1713-1784)
    Tipu Sultan, Fath Ali, Nawab of Mysore, 1753-1799)
    • 1791 August 7, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    • 1791 August 10, (Benezet, Claude, b 1737)
    Wills--Great Britain
    • 1739 June 9, (Benezet, Elizabeth Frances Tonnereau)
    • 1756 March 24, (Benezet, James)
    • 1794 February 3, (Dautevil, Elizabeth)
    Women--Great Britain
    • 1794 June 5, (Benezet, Maria)
    • 1794 July 3, (Benezet, Maria)