The journal has 303 total pages, including the small pages bound together with the volume. Of these, approximately 258 are devoted to ships' logs. The book contains 60 pencil and ink coastal profiles.
The Joshua Benjamin journal contains notes on the various crews of the Brigantine Sarah and Brigantine Young Henry , as well as navigational logs and notes for various voyages of these ships as well as for the Ship Lufilania , Brigantine Dolphin , Sloop Tryall , Brigantine Sea Flower , Sloop Experiment , Sloop Endeavor , Sloop Abigail , Brigantine Willam & Mary , Brigantine Union , ship Samuell , Ship John and Cranwell , and the Ship Welcome , between 1713-1734. These voyages typically begin or end in Boston, bringing cargo to and from various ports along the Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, and London.
The volume opens with the following inscription:
Joshua Benjamin Book[:] taken on board the Hardie Brilhae a french Ship of About 400 Tuns 32 guns Mounted x175 men in the year 1710[.] I then belonging to Her Majesty Queen Anne[']s Service in Her Ship the Kent of 70 Guns x 440 men[.]
However, none of the book's entries document the voyages of these ships. The first few pages consist of charts for the crew of the Brigantine Sarah and Young Henry with notes on crew names and positions, their wages, and time served on the ship for that voyage. After these entries is a description of a religious service at the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, Spain, accompanied by an inventory of holy relics housed there (page 9). The inventory claims 21 relics from various saints and religious figures, including one of the 30 pieces of silver received by Judas, 8 thorns from the crown Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and clothes worn by Jesus.
The next set of entries consists of the logs of the various voyages of Benjamin. He keeps track of the ships'; daily longitude and latitude positions, records the day's wind, weather, and sea conditions, and makes brief notes of daily events (setting off, docking, repairs, meeting other ships and sailors, exchanging goods, etc.). In general, the descriptions provide general information on the experiences of eighteenth-century seamen and speak to the ways in which they handled challenges at sea.
Occasionally, Benjamin describes encounters with other ships, which indicate that the crew felt keenly that the waters were dangerous. For example, on December 27, 1733, he mentions that they spotted two sails giving chase. "We feeling they were Enemies prepared to receive them by fitting the vessels for close fight" (p.141). The ships passed without incident. In one of the longer entries of the journal, Benjamin describes the unfortunate fate of the Brigantine Sarah , which on November 1, 1730, struck a rock that severely damaged the ship five leagues from Bermuda. Eventually, all crew abandoned ship and took refuge on a nearby Island. They were rescued by a passing sloop within 4 days and taken to South Carolina.
Many of the entries include rough pencil sketches of coastal profiles, indicating the basic vertical outline of approaching land. In addition to these profiles is a pen drawing of several fish (p.26) and a map of Martha's Vineyard (p.47). This hand-drawn and well labeled map of Martha's Vineyard is one of the earliest known charts of this passage.
See the "Detailed Box and Folder Listing" section for a complete document summary with voyage and illustration listed with their corresponding page numbers.