Merchant, of Newport, R.I.
Size: 0.5 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 541
Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 1996USE MICROFILM E445 .R4, part 2, reel 11
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Aaron Lopez was born in Portugal in 1731. His family was Jewish, but outwardly professed Christianity because of the continuous persecutions of the Inquisition, and he was baptized under the name of Duarte Lopez. Between 1748 and 1750, most of the Aaron's family settled in Newport, Rhode Island, known for religious tolerance. Aaron, his wife and his daughter joined them in 1752.
Over the next twenty years, Aaron was a major force in making Newport both the leading Jewish community in America, and also the second-largest mercantile port (after New York City). He was instrumental in founding the Touro Synagogue, the first in the colonies. He was also a pioneer in the spermaceti industry, and engaged in a wide variety of mercantile activities, including the slave trade.
Lopez's business was ruined by the American Revolution. Along with many Newport merchants, Lopez had somewhat of a reputation for Tory leanings. His merchant ships were preyed upon by both sides in the conflict. Furthermore, the British occupation of the town and the general devastation of the war finished Newport as a leading port city. During much of the war, Lopez lived in Leicester, near Worcester, Massachusetts. After the British had been driven from Newport in 1782, Lopez set out to help rebuild his home city, but never made it back; he drowned in a pond while tending to his horse.
Chyet, Stanley F. Lopez of Newport: Colonial American Merchant Prince. Wayne State University Press, 1970.
Davis, Paulette. "Aaron Lopez: Patriot or Loyalist?". College paper at R.I.H.S., 1992.
Gutstein, Morris A. Aaron Lopez and Judah Touro. Behrman's Jewish Book House, New York, 1939.
Return to top
Scope and content:
The collection was compiled from many different sources, but consists solely of Aaron Lopez's personal business papers, including 102 letters received, two account books, a log book covering voyages of five different ships, and other miscellaneous papers.
Return to top
The provenance of the bulk of the Lopez Papers is unknown. Most of the correspondence was cataloged in the 1970s, but may have arrived well before that. The provenance of certain items is known. The log book was donated by Mrs. Samuel Slater Durfee in 1927. 24 letters were transferred from the massive Shepley Collection, which was purchased from the Shepley Library in 1938. The 1774 slave bill of sale was donated by Alan Macauley in 1975, as part of the Thurston Papers. A few items marked "from the collection of Paul C. Nicholson", arrived as part of a bequest from his estate in 1956, including 5 documents relating to the slave ship Cleopatra, and a 1771 letter. A 1766 order for spermaceti was donated by the Newman Congregational Church in 1976. Nine letters were donated by the archives of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1979.
There are several Aaron Lopez documents in the Samuel Nightingale II Papers (Mss 588, sg 2) here at the Rhode Island Historical Society, and at least three receipts circa 1765 in the Rouse Family Papers (MSS 954). There is also a single 1773 agreement re the ship King Fisher in the extra-illustrated edition of George C. Mason's History of Newport (MSS 554). A letter to Joseph Bennett dated 1760 is filed under Bennett in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection (MSS 9001-B). Other larger collections of Lopez papers can be found at the Newport Historical Society and the American Jewish Historical Society.
Return to top
Return to top
Folder 1. Store blotter, 10/31/1770 - 12/27/1770.
Folder 2. Store blotter, 12/29/1774 - 3/3/1775.
Folder 3. Log book for ships owned by Lopez & Rivera, mostly in slave trade.
Ships: Sally (1767)
Folder 4. Correspondence, 1756-1769
Folder 5. 1770-1771
Folder 6. 1772
Folder 7. 1773-1779
Folder 8. 1780
Folder 9. 1781
Folder 10. 1782-1783
Folder 11. Miscellaneous, 1756-1767.
Bill of lading, sloop Industry, 1756.
Account with Joseph and William Rotch, sloop Hummingbird, 1760.
Oath of allegiance (citizenship), Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizar, 1761.
Crew list, ship America, 1765.
Order for spermaceti candles from M. Crowley, 1766.
Account with John Newdigate, 1767.
Folder 12. Miscellaneous, 1769-1774.
Sales of sundries from sloop Industry, and accounts with Jones & Moe, 1769-1770.
Accounts of ship Cleopatra, 1773.
Supplies of ship Cleopatra for trip to Africa, 1773.
Ship Cleopatra to Isaac West, 1773.
Ship Cleopatra cargo booklet, 1773.
Bill of sale, slave Charles, from Joseph Holloway of Exeter to Aaron Lopez, 1774.
Calendar of correspondence:
1756/08/16 From Henry Lloyd, Boston.
1760/06/16 From Joseph and William Rotch, Nantucket.
1761/03/10 From [John Maracke?], New York.
1765/08/02 From Henry Cruger Jr. First page missing.
1765/08/04 From Henry Cruger Jr.
1767/02/01 From Abraham Lopez, Jamaica. includes copy of 12/5/1766 letter, and also copy of 1/14/1767 letter from Capt. Thomas Brown.
1768/02/29 From Benjamin Wright, Jamaica. Copy, apparently in hand of Abraham Lopez.
1768/12/07 From Joseph and William Russell, Providence.
1769/07/15 From Benjamin Wright, Kingstown.
1769/10/18 From Henry Cruger Jr., Bristol.
1770/01/01 From John Reynolds, East Greenwich.
1770/01/30 " "
1770/02/06 " "
1770/03/01 From Joshua Hart, Charlestown, S.C.
1770/03/27 From John Reynolds, East Greenwich.
1770/04/09 " "
1770/05/12 From Andrew Boyd, East Greenwich.
1770/05/23 From John Reynolds, East Greenwich.
1770/07/24 From John Cable, Connecticut.
1770/08/30 From Joshua Hart, Charlestown, S.C.
1771/05/01 From James Lucena, Savannah, Ge. In Spanish.
1772/01/12 From Silas Casey, Warwick.
1772/01/13 From Joseph and William Russell, Providence.
1772/03/12 From Richard Jackson, Providence.
1772/03/24 From "A frind to truth", Rehoboth. Re court case pending at Bristol.
1772/03/25 From Adam Comstock, Warwick.
1772/03/27 From Richard Olney, Providence
1772/04/02 From Joseph and William Russell, Providence.
1772/04/16 From John Reynolds, East Greenwich.
1772/04/17 From James Sheldon, Providence.
1772/04/24 From Nathaniel Bird, Newport.
1772/04/30 From Richard Jackson, Providence.
1772/07/05 From Henry Babcock, Westerly.
1772/07/06 From John O'Kelly, Warren.
1772/09/02 From Mr. Robinson, South Kingstown.
1772/09/07 From Thomas Greene, Providence.
1772/09/28 From Thomas Hazard, South Kingstown.
1772/10/10 From Nicholas Tillinghast, Providence.
1772/11/10 From Joseph and William Russell, Providence.
1772/11/14 " " " "
1772/11/25 " " " "
1773/01/16 From John Proud, Jr., Bedford.
1773/02/09 From Joseph and William Russell, Providence.
1773/04/14 " " " "
1773/06/29 " " " "
1773/07/22 " " " "
1773/07/24 " " " "
1773/07/27 " " " "
1773/08/04 " " " "
1774/01/08 " " " "
1774/01/25 From Uriah Rea, Bedford.
1775/03/10 From Joshua Hart, Charlestown, S.C.
1775/05/15 From Mayne & Co., Lisbon.
[1776/01?] From Jacob Samuel Jesurum, Surinam.
1779/03/09 From Josiah Blakely, New Haven.
1780/02/19 From Davis & Benson, Boston.
1780/03/16 From Josiah Blakely, Hartford.
1780/03/20 From Daniel Sears, Boston.
1780/04/05 From Josiah Blakely, Hartford.
1780/04/14 " "
1780/04/17 From Charles Sigourney, Boston.
1780/04/21 " " "
1780/07/13 From son Joseph Lopez, Boston.
1780/07/18 From Zebediah Story, Newport.
1780/07/27 From James Story, Boston.
1780/08/01 From Stephen Meare, Hartford.
1780/09/19 From John Rogers, Providence.
1780/09/20 From Joseph Allen, Worcester.
1780/10/11 From Joseph Bassett, Boston.
1780/10/12 From Jonathan Hastings Jr., Boston.
1780/10/17 From Joseph Bassett, Boston.
1780/10/18 From William Foster, Boston.
1780/11/08 " " "
1780/11/28 From Thaddeus Leavitt, Suffield.
1780/12/21 From Jonathan Hastings Jr., Boston.
1781/01/15 From Sigourney, Ingraham & Bromfield, Amsterdam.
1781/04/10 From Cornelius TerBush, Fishkill, N.Y.
1781/04/17 " " "
1781/05/09 " " "
1781/05/22 From Josiah Hewes, Philadelphia.
1781/06/03 " " "
1781/06/26 " " "
1781/07/10 " " "
1781/07/17 " " "
1781/09/30 From Cornelius TerBush, Fishkill, N.Y.
1781/10/22 From Stephen Rapalje, New York.
1781/12/04 From Hiam Levy, and Samson, Marcus & Co., Amsterdam.
1781/12/04 From Josiah Hewes, Philadelphia.
1781/12/21 From Daniel Crommelin, Amsterdam.
1782/02/27 From Condert & Co., in Courtray, Flanders. In French.
1782/03/30 " " " " " " ". Last page missing.
Includes copy of 1/7/1782 letter.
1782/03/14 From Samson, Marcus & Co., Amsterdam. With copy.
1782/03/22 From Thomas and Jonathan Dolbeau, Jamaica.
1782/04/26 From Joseph Gardogui & Sons, Bilboa.
1782/05/22 " " " "
1782/05/22 From Josiah Hewes, Philadelphia.
1782/06/16 From Tristam Barnard, Baltimore.
1782/06/03 From Samson, Marcus & Co., Amsterdam.
1782/06/24 " " " "
1782/07/03 " " " "
1782/08/07 From Joseph Gardegui & Sons, Bilboa.
1783/04/01 From Arabet, Gautier & Manning, Barcelona. Circular letter.
Return to top
Jews - United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783
Merchants - Rhode Island - Newport
Newport, R.I. - Business records
Portuguese Americans - Rhode Island - Newport
Slave trade - Rhode Island - Newport
United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783 - Refugees
In addition, there are untraced analytic entries for all of the correspondents and ships mentioned, filed in the card catalog at the repository.
End of finding aid - return to top