1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 William R. Pitman Family Papers

 Family of Newport, R.I. and New Bedford, Mass.

 Papers, 1801-1894

 Size: .5 lin. ft. (box, large volume)

 Catalog number: MSS 625

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, May 1995

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Remember Goddard, daughter of William and Abigail Goddard of Newport, married Benjamin Pitman (1766-1811) of that town in 1794. They had eight children, including Thomas F., Ann Maria, Benjamin, Eliza Ann, William R., Mary and Jane Pitman. Remember Pitman died in Newport in 1840.

            William Robinson Pitman (1804-1891), their son, lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and was a gold and silver smith by trade. He was a committed abolitionist. He had two children by his first wife, Esther Matilda Thurston ( -1834): Harriet E. and William G.; and two more by his second wife Ann Agnes Topham (1808?-1886): Theophilus T. and Benjamin (who died young). The family removed to Newport in 1856. William also seems to have taken in boarders and operated a general store.

            Theophilus Topham Pitman (1842-?) was born in New Bedford, but lived in Newport from the age of 14. He was in the coal and grain business in youth, but in 1867 became the owner and publisher of the Newport Daily News, which he continued through at least 1915. He also seems to have operated a general store. He married Marie J. Davis ( -1889), a writer, in 1867. They do not seem to have had children.

Bibliography: Descendants of Benjamin Pitman..., by Theophilus T. Pitman, 1915.

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Scope and content:

            This collection contains scattered papers from three generations of the Pitman family. There are two basic categories: family correspondence between Remember Pitman and her children, 1832-1865; and account books for William R. and Theophilus T. Pitman, 1825-1894.

            The correspondence discusses mostly family matters, though in at least one letter to his sister William mentions the abolition movement ("I was glad to hear that they had an abbolittion meetting in Newport last week." August 29, 1837).

            The account books do not seem to shed a great deal of light on either William's silversmithing or Theophilus' newspaper, but do show general store accounts. William's account book from 1825 does deal with his retail silver business.

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            The collection was purchased from J.C. Petrucci in 1970.

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Processing note:

            This collection was originally processed ca. 1970 as the Pitman Family Correspondence; the four account books were removed as separate items. The correspondence was reprocessed ca. 1985, and separated into three collections: William R., Benjamin and Thomas T. Pitman (sic). It was brought together in one place in 1995, organized by recipient of letter. Correspondents were identified, and all items were refoldered and boxed, except for one oversized volume.

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Box 1:

Folder 1. Benjamin Pitman Sr. -

            Receipt to John Coit, 1801, for schooling George Freeborn

Folder 2. Remember (Goddard) Pitman - Letters from sons

                        From Benjamin Pitman, 1840 and n.d. (2)

                        From William R. Pitman, 1836-1840 (14)

Folder 3. Ann Maria Pitman - Letters from brothers

                        From Benjamin Pitman, 1859-1861 (4)

                        From Thomas F. Pitman, 1857 (1)

                        From William R. Pitman, 1835-1840 (7)

Folder 4. William R. Pitman - Letters from mother Remember Pitman,

                        1832-1838, and n.d. (7)

Folder 5. - Account book, 1852-1882, store

Folder 6. - Day book, 1880-1889, store

Folder 7. - Miscellaneous

                        Business cards, n.d. (2)

                        Note, 1888

                        Remembrance card, 1891

Folder 8. Esther M. (Thurston) Pitman - Letters from family

                        From sister Sophia Thurston, 1832 and n.d. (2)

                        From Niece Maria (Thurston) Sterne, 1829-1832 (4)

Folder 9. Harriet E. (Pitman) Banning - Letters from father

                        William R. Pitman, 1865 (2)

Folder 10. Theophilus T. Pitman - Expenses, 1884-1891, store and personal

Folder 11.- Cash journal, 1891-94 (building house?)

Loose volume:

William R. Pitman - Cash book and note book, 1825-1833.

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Abolitionists - Rhode Island - Newport

Banning, Harriet E. (Pitman)

General Stores - Rhode Island - Newport

Newport, R.I. - Social Life and Customs

Newport Daily News

Pitman, Ann Maria (1798-1870)

Pitman, Benjamin (1766-1811)

Pitman, Benjamin (1800-1886)

Pitman, Remember (Goddard) ( -1840)

Pitman, Theophilus T. (1842- )

Pitman, Thomas F. (1797-1858)

Pitman, William R. (1804-1891)

Silversmiths - Rhode Island - Newport

x Pitman, Thomas T. - See Pitman, Theophilus T. (1842- )

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