1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Inventory

5.   Subjects

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 Rev. David Benedict Papers

 Clergyman, of Pawtucket and Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1782-1868

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 290

 Processed by: Lori Salotto, June 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            David Benedict (1779-1874) was born in Norwalk, Connecticut to Thomas (1758-1839) and Martha (Scudder) Benedict (d. 1786). He married Margaret Hubbel Gano (1868-1784) on May 4, 1808. She was the daughter of Dr. Stephen Gano, the long-time pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence. They had twelve children: Cornelia; Stephen; Rebecca; Thomas; John (1815-1818); David; John (1817-1841); James; Maria (b. 1821); Joseph (b. 1823); Newton; and George.

            When Benedict was fourteen he was apprenticed as a shoemaker. At the age of twenty-one he worked in his trade for one year in New York. He aspired for a classical education and was sponsored at a school in Mount Pleasant, New York by Rev. Stephen Nelson. He attended this school for two years and in 1804 began his junior year at Brown University. Also during 1804 Benedict received a license to preach from Stratfield Church. During his two years at Brown he was the informal pastor for the Baptist Church in Pawtucket. Upon graduation from Brown in 1806, Benedict was formally asked to accept the pastorate to this church. He remained the pastor for twenty-five years, whereupon, he relinquished the pastorate during the anti-Masonic agitation in 1828, as he was a member of the Masons.

            Besides his work as a pastor, Benedict was also a prolific writer. He was a published author of books, journals, and other religious press. He was also involved in setting up new churches and religious associations for education and philanthropy. Benedict served as a trustee of Brown University for fifty-eight years and was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Shurtleff College in 1851. Benedict died at the age of ninety-five in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and is buried at the Mineral Springs Cemetery.


Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island, 96. Providence: National Biographical Publishing, 1881.

Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, 1466. Chicago: J.H. Beers & Company, 1908.

Rhode Island Cemetery Database.

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Scope and content:

            This collection, ranging from 1782 to 1868, has been divided into two series. Series One contains personal papers, which include: genealogical information, religious writings, school material (manuals and lectures), lectures given, correspondence, a diary, a memoranda book, and two books of baptism and marriage records. Series Two contains the original manuscript for the book, "History of the Baptists."

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            In 1841, the Rev. David Benedict donated, along with other material, "A Compend of Ethics", author unknown, 1763-1764, which he found among the papers of Brown University's President Manning; Benedict theorized that it was "probably one of the earliest College exercises" and that "Thomas Dungan was probably its author." See slip tipped in to p. 33. At the same time Rev. Benedict donated a fragment of a diary (2/14/1782-2/20/1782 and 2/13/1783-2/20/1783, 1 leaf) by an unknown Newport resident. This fragment was found inserted in "A Compend of Ethics."

             In 1882, A.D. Nickerson donated papers relating to the first Sunday School in Pawtucket, collected by Rev. Dr. Benedict. In 1891, Maria M. Benedict (Rev. Benedict's daughter) donated the manuscript of "History of the Baptists." Numerous other manuscripts pertaining to Rev. Benedict were probably donated by Maria M. Benedict in 1892.

            In 1895, Mrs. O.A. Washburn donated a book of baptisms and marriages kept by Rev. David Benedict, 1807-1839. In 1935, Mr. Saunders donated a book of marriages kept by Rev. David Benedict, 1807-1839. In 1936, Mrs. John G. Benedict (wife of a descendant of David Benedict ) donated miscellaneous material. This gift probably included five letters received, which are identified through red tabs, and by pencil notes similar to those on Gano material donated at same time. In 1968, H.P. Kraus sold three letters to Rev. David Benedict written by Dutee Pearce, 1825 and 1838, and James Tallmadge, 1838.

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Series One: Personal papers

Box 1, folder 1. "An Address to All the Inhabitants of Rhode Island of the Baptist Persuasion," ca. 1815

Box 1, folder 2. "Autobiography of Rev. Dr. Benedict" (actually just scattered notes ca. 1868)

Box 1, folder 3. Benedict genealogy, undated

Box 1, folder 4. "Chymestry" (lecture notes), 1820

Box 1, folder 5. Commonplace book to the Bible: Mount Pleasant, N.Y., 1803

Box 1, folder 6. Correspondence, 1825-1853

Box 1, folder 7. Diary: while studying at a school in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., 1802-1803

Box 1, folder 8. Diary fragments: unknown Newport resident, 1782-1783

Box 1, folder 9. Hebrew grammar book with a miniature French dictionary on the back page, undated

Box 1, folder 10. Lecture: "A Compend of Ethics," undated

Box 1, folder 11. Lecture: Theological Society: "On the Divinity of Christ," March 1806

Box 1, folder 12. Memoranda book, undated

Notes about various national religious associations: Mero District; Cumberland; Red River; Elk River; Holston; French Broad; Broad River; Saluda; Georgia

            Notes on Abraham Marshal

Box 1, folder 13. Miscellaneous religious writings, undated

Box 1, folder 14. Pawtucket "first day" school: receipts and newspaper clipping, 1818-1820

Box 1, folder 15. Record of persons baptized or married by Rev. Benedict, 1807-1839

Box 1, folder 16. Robert Hull manuscript, undated

Box 1, folder 17. Sermon: "What ye think of Christ?," undated

Box 1, folder 18. Script for a play: "Day of Judgement," undated

Box 1, folder 19. Shorthand manual by Samuel Taylor, 1786

Box 1, folder 20. Theological extracts: Mount Pleasant, N.Y., 1803

Series Two: Manuscript: History of the Baptists, c 1813

Box 1, folder 21-27

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Baptists - Rhode Island

Brown University (Providence, R.I.)

Carpenter, Thomas F., 1796-1854


"Compend of Ethics"

Cranston, Henry Y., 1789-1864

Diaries, 1782-1783

Diaries, 1802-1803


First Baptist Church (Pawtucket, R.I.)

Francis, John Brown (1791-1864)

Hebrew language

History of the Baptists

Pawtucket, R.I. - Social life and customs

Pearce, Dutee Jerauld (1789-1849)


Staples, William Read (1798-1868)

Tallmadge, James (1778-1853)

Vital statistics - Rhode Island - Pawtucket

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