MSS 9:  Bennett Family Papers, 1765-1908 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Bennett Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Barbara E. Austen; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kermit DeweyFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Bennett Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Separations List

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Bennett Family Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Bennett Family Papers
Date Span:
Bennett family
Mss Number:
Mss 9
1 linear foot
Business records and personal papers of a Fairhaven and New Bedford, Massachusetts, family, 1765-1908.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Historical Note

Members of the Bennett family have resided in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, since the mid-eighteenth century. Existing records indicate that these individuals included a blacksmith and merchant, Robert Bennett (1746-1818) and a farmer, James Bennett (fl. 1733). The first member of the family known to have achieved business prominence was Robert Bennett's grandson, Thomas Bennett (ca. 1790-1865). Born at Fairhaven, Mass., Thomas began his career as a merchant seaman at age eighteen. While still maintaining close ties with both Fairhaven and New Bedford, he made his home in New York City, where he became the commander of the packet ship New York, a passenger vessel of the Black Ball Line. He also commanded several other ships, presumably merchant vessels, and was part owner of the Rajah (Bark) of New Bedford. Captain Bennett had two sons, Thomas Jr. (1820-1898) and Robert (1829-1905). Thomas Jr. made a name for himself in New Bedford in the design, construction, and administration of Wamsutta Mills. His experience in cotton manufacture in New Orleans and Georgia made him an excellent candidate for superintendent of the Mills, a position he held for twenty-seven years. His brother, Robert, also worked at Wamsutta Mills, first as a clerk and then as assistant supervisor.

In 1853, Thomas Bennett Jr. married Sibyl Williams. Children from this marriage included William, who died in 1875, and Clara (1853-1929). Thomas Bennett Jr. retired from Wamsutta Mills in 1874 and died in 1898.

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Scope and Content Note

Papers in this collection reflect the activities of members of the Bennett family of Fairhaven and New Bedford, Mass., between 1765 and 1908. The material concentrates on Thomas Bennett, a ship captain, and his son, Thomas Bennett Jr. The captain's papers principally consist of business correspondence; deeds, records, and other legal documents; and bills and receipts from between 1774 and 1852. Also among his papers are manifests, bills of health, a protest, bills, lists of stores and provisions, and similar ship's papers. Thomas Bennett Jr.'s papers include business correspondence concerning western mining interests and Wamsutta Mills, 1832-ca. 1889; as well as personal correspondence, deeds of personal property, estate records and records relating to a court case of Bennett vs. Mara about a right-of-way, 1765-1908; a series of notebooks concerning Wamsutta Mills containing production, consumption, purchasing, and labor accounts, engineering records, and customer orders, 1850-1870; stocks, dividends, and memoranda relating to the mill from 1846-1880; a personal financial notebook, ca. 1880; a historical sketch of Wamsutta Mills; and notes and clippings on various subjects, dating 1833-1866.

Other family members are represented in the collection. Robert Bennett's papers consist of deeds and leases from 1770-1819 and also encompass the papers of a John Bennett, including a deed, writ of execution, and intention of marriage, dating from 1773-1822. The papers of James Bennett chiefly consist of letters to his brother-in-law, John Hawes, of New Bedford, Mass. The papers of Thomas Bennett's son, Robert, consist of a mortgage, 1833, and his will, 1898. Clara Bennett's papers, ca. 1900-1908, include business correspondence about asbestos mining; personal correspondence; two inventories of real and personal property; and a stock memorandum.

In addition to these papers, Old Dartmouth Historical Society also owns several objects relating to the Bennett family. Included in the holdings are portraits of family members, a sofa from Thomas Bennett's packet ship New York, and several decorative objects.

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to the Collection

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 9 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution

If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright. privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.

Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.

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Removed to Photographs Collection

- Photograph of unidentified young woman [Ripley?]

Removed to Printed Collection

- Advertisement for Lamb's Cotton Industry of the United States, n.d.
- Bennett, William. "Young America Printing Office Circular for 1875."
- Bryce, William & Co. Supplement to Telegraphic Code, n.d.
- "Cotton Crop of the United States for the Year Ending September 1, 1876."
- Hough, Henry Beetle. Wamsutta of New Bedford, 1946.
- The Specimen Sheet, 1875.
- The Star, June 26 to September 4, 1875.

Removed to Objects Collection

- Post card, n.d.
- 5 Wamsutta trademark notices, 1867.

Removed to Broadside Collection

- "Perry's Old Flagship," 1875.
- Ricketson, D. "The Return, 1845-1875," 1876.

Removed to Maps Collection

- 6 plat maps of property bounded by Parker, Chestnut, and Cottage Streets, ca. 1893.
- 3 plat maps of property bounded by Market and Union Streets.
- 2 plat maps of property of J.A. Parker's estate, 1869.
- 1 plat map of land purchased by Wamsutta Mills, ca. 1847.
- 1 plat map of Wamsutta Mills complex, ca. 1870.

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Materials in this collection were given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Clara Bennett in 1918 and 1930.

Processing Information

Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, ca. 1982

Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 15 June 2011; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 03 January 2012

Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Sub-group 1: Robert Bennett Papers, 1770-1822 [15 items]
Sub-group 1 contains the legal documents of Robert and John Bennett.
Series A: Legal Documents, 1770-1822
Box 1
Folder 1
Lease, 1770
Deeds, 1786-1819
Folder 2
Deed, 1773
Writ of execution, 1818
Intention of marriage of John Bennett, 1822
Sub-group 2: James Bennett Papers, 1804-ca. 1819 [5 items]
Sub-group 2 consists of letters to James Bennett's brother-in-law, John Hawes, and receipts.
Series A: Correspondence, 1804, 1810, 1813
Folder 1
1804, 1810, 1813
Series B: Receipts, ca. 1819
Folder 1
ca. 1819
Sub-group 3: Thomas Bennett Papers, 1774-1852 [68 items]
Sub-group 3 contains Thomas Bennett's business correspondence, legal documents, ship's papers, bills, and receipts.
Series A: Correspondence, 1835, 1842
Folder 1
1835, 1842
Series B: Legal Documents, 1774-1852
Sub-series 1: Deeds, 1774-1852
Folder 1
1774, 1779
Folder 2
Folder 3
Folder 4
Folder 5
1851, 1852
Sub-series 2: Estate Records, 1802, 1816, 1834
Folder 1
1802, 1816, 1834
Sub-series 3: Insurance Papers, 1826
Folder 1
Sub-series 4: Patent Rights, 1830
Folder 1
Sub-series 5: Wills, 1834
Folder 1
Sub-series 6: Seamen's Protection Papers, 1838
Folder 1
Series C: Ship's Papers, 1796-ca. 1839
Folder 1
Braganza (Ship), ca. 1839
Folder 2
Cambria (Ship), 1838
Hope (Ship), 1796
New York (Packet ship), ca. 1825, 1830
Rajah (Bark), 1835
Series D: Bills and Receipts, 1828-1835
Folder 1
Sub-group 4: Thomas Bennett Jr. Papers, 1765-1908 [74 items]
Sub-group 4 consists of Thomas Bennett Jr.'s business and personal correspondence, legal documents, financial records, historical sketches, notes, clippings, and miscellany.
Series A: Correspondence, 1832-1889
Folder 1
Incoming, 1832-1882
Folder 2
Outgoing, 1855, 1864, 1889, ca. 1889
Series B: Legal Documents, 1765-1908
Sub-series 1: Deeds, 1831, 1868, 1871, 1877
Folder 1
1831, 1868, 1871, 1877
Sub-series 2: Estate Records, 1871-1872, 1881, ca. 1906, 1908
Volume 1
Folder 1
1881, ca. 1906, 1908
Sub-series 3: Court Proceedings: Bennett et. al. vs. Mara, 1765-1890
Folder 1
Complaint and decision, 1889, 1890
Folder 2-3
Deeds, 1796-1884
Folder 4
Memoranda of related deeds, 1765-ca. 1850
Volume 1
Day book of Daniel Ripley containing account of litigation proceedings, 1887
Series C: Notebooks, 1850-1870
Box 2
Volume 1
Production and fuel usage records, 1850-1852
Volume 2
Production and purchasing records, 1855-1858
Volume 3
Labor accounts, 1857-1864
Volume 4-5
Engineering records, 1868-1869
Volume 6
Order book, 1870
Series D: Financial Records, 1846-ca. 1880
Folder 1
Stocks and dividends, 1847-1880
Folder 2
Projected costs for starting Wamsutta Mill No. 3, 1846
Folder 3
Memoranda book, ca. 1880
Series E: Historical Sketches, 1882-ca. 1890
Folder 1
Wamsutta Mills, 1882-ca. 1890
Series F: Notes, Clippings, and Miscellany, 1833-1886
Folder 1
Notes concerning portraits of Peter the Great and Catherine by Arnola Boonen, ca. 1860
Folder 2
Memorandum on mining, ca. 1880
Folder 3
Newspaper clippings concerning Wamsutta Mills and western mining interests, 1861-1886
Obituary of son, William, 1875
Folder 4
Bridge passes, 1832-1833
Volume 1
Volume presented to Bennett on retirement in 1874
Includes signatures of Wamsutta Mills employees
Sub-group 5: Robert Bennett Papers, 1883, 1898 [2 items]
Sub-group 5 contains of the Legal documents of Robert Bennett.
Series A: Legal Documents, 1883, 1898
Folder 1
Mortgage, 1883
Will, 1898
Sub-group 6: Clara Bennett Papers, ca.1900-1908 [7 items]
Sub-group 6 consists of business and personal correspondence as well as legal documents of Clara Bennett.
Series A: Correspondence, ca. 1900-1908
Folder 1
ca. 1900-1908
Series B: Legal Documents, 1904, 1908
Folder 1
Inventories, 1904, ca. 1904
Stock memorandum, 1908

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Subject Headings

Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1850-1870
Bennett, Clara, 1853-1929
Bennett, James, fl. 1804
Bennett, Robert, 1746-1818
Bennett, Robert, 1829-1905
Bennett, Thomas Jr., 1820-1898
Bennett, Thomas, ca. 1790-1865
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Businessmen--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton manufacture--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton--Prices--Mass.--New Bedford
Factory management--Mass.--New Bedford
Industrial engineering--Mass.--New Bedford
Industrial procurement--Mass.--New Bedford
Inventory control
Materials management--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant ships--Mass.--New Bedford
New Bedford, Mass.--Industries
Passenger ships--Mass.--New Bedford
Plant engineering
Plant layout
Production engineering
Shipmasters--Mass.--New Bedford
Ship’s papers
Stores or stock-room keeping
Supervisors, Industrial
Wages--Textile workers--Mass.--New Bedford
Wamsutta Mills, New Bedford, Mass.
Wills--Mass.--New Bedford

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Vessel Names

Braganza (Ship)
Cambria (Ship)
New York (Ship)
Rajah (Bark)

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