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Benjamin Cox (1779-1863) Papers

Benjamin Cox (1779-1863) Papers

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BENJAMIN COX (1779-1863) PAPERS, 1793-1876


Processing and conservation of this collection was funded by a grant from the national Endowment for the Humanities.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Cox, Benjamin, 1779-1863
Title:Benjamin Cox (1779-1863) Papers
Quantity:3.25 linear feet (6 boxes, 1 volume)
Abstract:The Benjamin Cox papers document the shipping activities of Benjamin Cox, a Salem, Massachusetts, shipping merchant, as well as his store and property rentals.
Collection Number:MSS 168

Series List

SERIES I. Shipping Papers
SERIES II. Account Books
SERIES III. Business and Personal Papers
SERIES IV. Family and Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Benjamin Cox papers document the shipping activities of Benjamin Cox, a Salem, Massachusetts, shipping merchant, as well as his store and property rentals. Included are papers of other family members. The papers are divided into four series.

Series I. Shipping Papers contains ships' papers, shipping correspondence, and accounts. The ships' papers, arranged alphabetically by vessel, consist primarily of outfitting bills and voyage settlement accounts. Very few invoices or manifests are included. The papers document voyages to South America, the West Indies, India, Europe, the East Indies, Canton, and the Fiji Islands. The ships included vessels Benjamin consigned cargo on as well as ones he owned in partnership. Many of his business partners were notable Salem merchants such as James and Samuel Chamberlain, George West, and Joseph Felt. The correspondence (B2 F1) contains letters from merchants in New England, southeastern United States ports, South America, and Europe. Many of these letters discuss the importation of hides, a commodity for which Benjamin found a profitable market. The correspondence also contains miscellaneous master's correspondence and letters from Benjamin's friend, William Morrow, regarding the collection of debts. The shipping bills and receipts (B2 F2) consist of outfitting and cargo accounts for miscellaneous or multiple ships. They include many accounts for hides and shoes.

Series II. Account Books consists primarily of daybooks and ledgers. These volumes contain accounts of Benjamin's store, as well as periodic entries of shipping and rental accounts. The accounts books filed at the end of the series are specialized, dealing with cloth, shoes, or rental properties.

Series III. Business and Personal Papers contains household bills and receipts as well as accounts resulting from the maintenance and repair of Benjamin's rental properties. Receipts from 1865 to 1868 were assigned to Benjamin's estate.

Series IV. Family and Miscellaneous Papers contains personal and business correspondence of Benjamin's children, Mehitable (1815-1879) and Edward (born 1823), including papers regarding the hemp mill Edward owned or managed near Springfield, Illinois. The family papers also contain receipts of Dr. Benjamin Cox Jr. (1806-1871), Benjamin's son and a notable Salem physician, and a note on alterations made to Elizabeth Cox's house. The miscellaneous papers (B6 F5) include anonymously authored newspaper articles and editorials, and miscellaneous correspondence.

Biographical Sketch

Benjamin Cox was born in Salem, Massachusetts on September 8, 1779, the son of Benjamin (1743-1788) and Elizabeth Very (1727-1820) Cox. He was a shipping merchant who also rented property. In 1803, he married Sarah Smith (1785-1873) and they had nine children. He died in Salem on December 2, 1863.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Chamberlain, James
Chamberlain, Samuel
Cox, Benjamin, 1806-1871
Cox, Edward, b. 1823
Cox, Elizabeth
Felt, Joseph B. (Joseph Barlow), 1789-1869
Morrow, William
Pickering, Mehitable Cox, 1815-1879
West, George
Amethyst (Brig)
Boliver (Brig)
Borneo (Ship)
Brothers (Brig)
Canton Packet (Ship)
Cipher (Brig)
Complex (Schooner)
Curlew (Brig)
Dawn (Brig)
Derby (Bark)
Eclipse (Ship : 1831)
Fenelon (Brig)
Fides (Brig)
Fredonia (Brig)
Gambia (Brig)
Gazelle (Brig)
General Brooks (Schooner)
General Warren (Brig)
Generous (Schooner)
George (Ship)
Lotus (Ship)
Malaga (Brig)
Malay (Brig)
Pilot (Bark)
Pioneer (Brig)
Reaper (Brig)
Roscoe (Brig)
Rover (Brig)
Sapphire (Ship)
Waverly (Brig)
Zotoff (Bark)
Account books
Boots and shoes--Trade and manufacture
Buildings--Repair and reconstruction
General stores
Lease and rental services
Leather industry and trade
Salem (Mass.)
Springfield (Ill.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Benjamin Cox (1779-1863) Papers, MSS 168, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is from an unknown source. In 2019, a transfer of land title was added to Box 6, Folder 4.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, January 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, January 2016 and Tatiyana Bastet, July 2019.

Related Material

Cox, Rev. John Hosmer. New England Cox Families. Lexington? Mass.: Publisher Not Identified, 1900.

Gambia (Brig) Logbook, 1839, Log 1130

Certificate of membership [in Bunker Hill Monument Association] issued to Benjamin Cox.

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