Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Joshua Benjamin Journal, 1716-1734

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, December 2009

Summary Information
Title: Joshua Benjamin journal
Creator: Benjamin, Joshua, 1686-1734
Inclusive dates: 1716-1734
Extent: 1 volume
Abstract:
The Joshua Benjamin journal contains notes and navigational logs on the various crews and voyages of the Brigantine Sarah , Brigantine Young Henry , 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 , all sailing between 1713 and 1734.
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:

1999. M-4030.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Joshua Benjamin Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Joshua Benjamin (1686-c.1734), early American Naval Commander, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1686, which at that time was an active shipping town. He was the sixth child of Abel Benjamin (c.1632-1713) and Amity (Amathea) Myrick (born c.1648). Benjamin entered the shipping trade at a young age and between 1709 and 1713, served the British Navy on board the following men-of-war: Devonshire , Northumberland , Greyhound , Kent , and Lusitania . In the 1710s and 1720s, he was master of the Brigantine Sarah and the Brigantine Young Henry , and commander of the ship Welcome , all of which sailed between Boston, the West Indies, and London. Benjamin married Abigail Phipps in 1724; they had four children: Joshua (born 1725), Katherine (born 1727), Abigail (born 1730), and John (born 1782). Joshua Benjamin, Sr., died around 1734, likely at sea. In his will he remembered his wife, his sister Abigail, brother-in-law Samuel Phipps, and niece Mary Smith.


Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Abigail (Sloop)
    • Catedral de Oviedo (Spain)
    • Dolphin (Brig)
    • Endeavor (Sloop)
    • Experiment (Brig)
    • Experiment (Sloop)
    • John and Cranwell (Ship)
    • Lusitania (Ship)
    • Mary (Brig)
    • Mercantile system.
    • Nautical charts.
    • Navigation.
    • Relics--Spain, Northern--Oviedo.
    • Sailing--Atlantic Ocean.
    • Sailing ships.
    • Samuel (Ship)
    • Sarah (Brig)
    • Sea Flower (Brig)
    • Seafaring life--Atlantic Ocean.
    • Shipwrecks--Atlantic Ocean.
    • Tryall (Ship)
    • Union (Brig)
    • Voyages and travels.
    • Welcome (Ship)
    • William and Mary (Brig)
    • Young Henry (Brig)
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Fishes.
    • Landforms.
    • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Maps.
    Genre Terms:
    • Journals (accounts)
    • Manuscript maps.
    • Ships' logs.
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Joshua Benjamin journal,  1716-1734 [series]
    Pages   2 verso-7 verso  
    Crew names and positions, time served on ship, wages, porterage bills all for Brigantine Sarah ’s various voyages,  1724-1730
    Pages   8-8 verso  
    Crew names and positions, time served on ship, wages, porteridge bills for the Brigantine Young Henry’s various voyages,  1733-1734
    Pages   9-9 verso  
    Account of Sunday religious services in Spain at the church of San Salvador in the city of Oviedo wherein Joshua recounts the Church abbot’s tale of a priceless oak chest containing religious artifacts, not dated
    Pages   10-11  
    The ship Lusitania’s voyage from London to Boston, Thomas Holland commander. An account of winds, locations, and conditions of the sea,  1713
    Pages   12-19 verso  
    Brigantine Dolphin from Boston to Nevis and back, two voyages,  1713-1714
    Pages   20-26  
    Brigantine Dolphin from Boston to [Faial, Portugal] and back,  1714
    Pages   27-29 verso  
    Sloop Tryall from Boston to Newfoundland (Terra Nova),  1715 includes observations on the trip and money spent
    Page   30  
    Record of debts on Brigantine Union’s journey to London
    Pages   31-33 verso  
    Sloop Tryall on the banks of Newfoundland,  1715
    Pages   34-36  
    Sloop Tryall from St. Johns to Bilbao,  1715
    Page   36 verso  
    Memorandum of "Changes Absolutely Necessary for a [Bilbao] Voyage"
    Pages   37-38 verso  
    Sloop Tryall from Bilbao to Boston,  1716
    Pages   39-41 verso  
    Brigantine Sea Flower from Boston to Barbados and back,  1716
    Pages   42-47  
    Sloop Experiment from Boston to Virginia and back,  1716-1717
    Pages   48-50 verso  
    Sloop Experiment from Boston to Terra Nova and back,  1718
    Pages   51-53  
    Sloop Experiment from Boston to Maryland and Boston to Virginia, 1718. Includes a mention of a Quaker General Meeting.
    Pages   53 verso-55  
    Sloop Experiment bearing up for Bermuda and Barbados,  1718
    Page   55 verso  
    Sloop Experiment landing to the northward, [St. John’s],  1718
    Pages   56-57  
    Sloop Experiment from Antigua to Boston,  1719
    Page   58  
    Sloop Endeavor from Boston to Maryland,  1719
    Page   58 verso  
    Sloop Endeavor from Boston to Virginia,  1719
    Pages   59-61  
    Sloop Abigail from Boston to Barbados and back,  1721
    Page   61 verso  
    Memorandum of   July 28, 1721
    Pages   62-67 verso  
    Brigantine William & Mary from Boston to Jamaica and back,  1721
    Pages   68-70 verso  
    Brigantine Union from Boston to Barbados and back,  1721-1722
    Pages   71-74  
    Brigantine Union from Boston to Newfoundland and back,  1722
    Pages   74 verso-77 verso  
    Brigantine Union from Boston to Carolina and back,  1722-1723
    Pages   78-79 verso  
    Brigantine Union from Boston to Newfoundland and back,  1723
    Pages   80-82  
    Brigantine Union from Boston to London,  1723
    Pages   83-87 verso  
    Ship Samuell from London to Boston,  1723-1724
    Pages   88-89 verso  
    Sloop Sea Flower from Boston to Newfoundland and back,  1724
    Pages   90-90 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Boston to Barbados,  1725
    Pages   90 verso-91 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Barbados to Newfoundland,  1725
    Pages   91 verso-92  
    Brigantine Sarah from Newfoundland to Canfeau, [Nova Scotia],  1725
    Pages   92-93  
    Brigantine Sarah from Canfo [sic] to Bilbao,  1725
    Pages   93 verso-98  
    Brigantine Sarah from Bilbao to Boston, joined by a large fleet of brigs and sloops,  1725-1726
    Pages   99-104  
    Brigantine Sarah back and forth between Boston and Jamaica,  1726
    Pages   104 verso-105 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Boston to Bilbao,  1727
    Pages   106-107  
    Brigantine Sarah from Gijón to London and London to Lisbon,  1728
    Pages   107 verso-110  
    Brigantine Sarah from Lisbon to Boston,  1728
    Pages   110 verso-111  
    Brigantine Sarah from Boston to Newfoundland,  1728
    Pages   111 verso-112 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Terra Nova to Leghorn,  1728
    Pages   113-115 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Leghorn to Smyrna and back,  1729
    Pages   116-117 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Gibraltar to Boston,  1729
    Pages   118-120 verso  
    Brigantine Sarah from Boston to Newfoundland and back,  1730
    Pages   121-122  
    Brigantine Sarah from Boston to Jamaica, 1730. Includes an account of the Brigantine Sarah's striking of a rock near Bermuda. 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.
    Page   122 verso  
    Brigantine Mary from South Carolina to Rhode Island,  1731
    Pages   123-124 verso  
    Ship John and Cranwell from Boston to London,  1731
    Pages   125-126 verso  
    Ship Welcome from London to Boston,  1731
    Pages   127-128 verso  
    Brigantine Young Henry from Boston to Bilbao,  1732
    Pages   129-134  
    Brigantine Young Henry from St. Martins to Boston,  1732-1733
    Pages   134 verso-138 verso  
    Brigantine Young Henry back and forth between Boston and Newfoundland,  1733
    Pages   139-143 verso  
    Brigantine Young Henry from Newfoundland to Leghorn,  1733-1734
    Pages   145-146  
    Brigantine Young Henry from Leghorn to Ancona,  1734
    Pages   147 verso-150 verso  
    Ledgers for the Brigantine Sarah and the Young Henry
    Page   [151]  
    Receipt for sugar signed by John Avery,  1735
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Inventory of Coastal Profiles and Sketches in the Joshua Benjamin journal:

    • Page 17 verso: Coastal profiles of Virgin Gorda and the Virgin Islands, 1714
    • Page 18: Coastal profile of Antigua, 1714
    • Page 22 verso: Coastal profile of the Island of Pico, 1714
    • Page 26 verso: Sketches of various fish, [1714]
    • Page 27: Coastal profile of Placentia Bay, 1715
    • Page 28: Coastal profiles of the Cape of St. Mary’s, Cape Broyle, Cape Ballard and Cape Raze [de Raze, Race], 1715
    • Page 44 verso: Map of of Cape Sambrow near Halifax, 1717
    • Page 47 verso: Map of Martha’s Vineyard and the surrounding channel of Nantucket, [1717-1718]
    • Page 57 verso: Round sketches made with a compass, [1719]
    • Page 61 verso: Round sketch made with a compass, [1721]
    • Pages 63-63 verso: Coastal profiles of Cape Samana, Bay of St. Gago, Cape Cabron, Bay of Manjaniela, M. Chiefto, and the Tortugas, 1721
    • Page 64: Coastal views of Cape [Mayre] and Cape Dorma Maria, 1721
    • Page 64 verso: Sketches of the Colorados and Los Caneylos, 1721
    • Page 65: Coastal profiles of the Milsa Maria, P. Cavanes, Bay of Honda, and the Hill of Pt. Porcas, 1721
    • Page 65 verso: Coastal profiles of Milsa Maria and areas around Havana, 1721
    • Page 88 verso: Coastal profile of St. Peters, 1724
    • Page 92: Coastal profiles of the coast of Great Britain, 1725
    • Page 93: Coastal profiles of the mountains of Aflurias, Monte Sacre and an unnamed cliff, 1725
    • Page 96 verso: Map of bluffs located of Mona Island Puerto Rico, 1726
    • Page 97: Coastal profiles of Lacheo [northwest part of Puerto Rico], 1726
    • Page 99 verso: Coastal profile of Cape Tiburon, 1726
    • Page 100 verso: Coastal profile of [Porto Porcas], 1726
    • Page 101: Coastal profile of the Bay of Marthancas, 1726
    • Page 138: Coastal profile of Cape Roy [near Fortune Bay], 1733
    • Page 142 verso: Coastal profile of the Island of Gorgona near the city of Leghorn, 1734
    • Page 143 verso: Unspecified coastal profile, 1734
    • Page 145: Coastal profile of Mt. Vesuvius, 1734
    • Page 146: Coastal profile of mountains near Ancona, Italy, 1734