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

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 Joseph Tillinghast Family Papers

 Merchant family, Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1761-1890. Bulk, 1762-1811.

 Size: 1.25 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 754

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, September 1996.

  Revised through May 2001.

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Joseph Tillinghast (1734-1816) was a sea captain and merchant born in East Greenwich, R.I. He was based in Providence, R.I. for his entire career, and was engaged principally in trade with St. Croix in the present U.S. Virgin Islands, shipping food and supplies to the island and bringing rum and molasses back to Rhode Island. There is no evidence that he was ever involved in the slave trade. He was a participant in the burning of the British ship Gaspee in 1772. In 1795, after his active sailing days, he began a formal partnership with his son William E. Tillinghast (1777-1817) and Benjamin E. Gorton (1765-1822).

            Joseph Tillinghast was the great-grandson of the immigrant Pardon Tillinghast through his father John and his grandfather Pardon II. He married Mary Earle (1753-1797), daughter of Capt. William Earle and Mary Brown, in 1776.

Among the children of Joseph and Mary Tillinghast were:

William Earle Tillinghast       (1777-1817) m. Amey Mawney. No children.

Allin Brown Tillinghast         (1778-1796), died at St. Croix

Joseph Jr.                                (1788-1815)

Elizabeth G.                            (1793-1877), m. Lemuel Chandler

Amey Ann                              (1796-1868) m. Capt. William Arnold.

Mary or "Polly"                      (1786-1867), m.1) Benjamin T. Chandler (1784-1815)

                                                                            2) Capt. John Gladding (1777-1851)

            Elizabeth Tillinghast and Lemuel Chandler had two surviving children: Benjamin (1815-1855) and Mary Alice (b.1815), who married another William Earle. The Gladding and Chandler families operated a successful retail business in Providence.

            Amey Ann Tillinghast and her husband William Arnold had one daughter, Mary Elizabeth Arnold (1825-1907).

            Mary Tillinghast and her first husband had a daughter Elizabeth Ann Chandler (1815-1858), who married William Earle (1808-1878). Mary Tillinghast and her second husband John Gladding had five children, Benjamin C. Gladding (1825-1914) being the only one to survive to adulthood.

            Benjamin E. Gorton, Tillinghast's business partner, was a nephew of Capt. William Earle, and was raised by him after the death of his own parents. Thus he was a cousin of Tillinghast's wife, and was really more like a step-brother. Gorton never married.


Tillinghast, Rose C. The Tillinghast Family 1560-1971 Published by the author, 1972.

            See pages 82-83.

Some corrections were provided by Wayne Tillinghast of Groton, Conn., from research compiled for a forthcoming article. Mr. Tillinghast welcomes any questions or comments on the early Tillinghast family.

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Scope and content:

            The bulk of this collection relates to Joseph Tillinghast's career as a merchant, both on his own account and in partnership with William E. Tillinghast and Benjamin E. Gorton. Included are cargo sales records, account books, crew lists, insurance documents and some correspondence relating to trade with the West Indies.

            Interfiled with these records are some items of personal interest, including family letters, personal accounts, deeds and an account with the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Rhode Island. There are also some personal papers of three of his children: William E. Tillinghast, Elizabeth Chandler and Mary Gladding, as well as a folder of genealogical material.

            Those researchers interested in the Gladding, Chandler and Earle families should also see the Benjamin T. Chandler Family records (dating back to 1796), the William Earle & Co. Records, and the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

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            This collection arrived in several different accessions, including a ledger donated by Mary T. (Gladding) Babcock in 1941, and five account books donated by her husband Donald Babcock in 1948 and 1950. A single insurance document was donated by Mrs. Thomas C. Johnston in 1977. A 1795 account book of the Polly & Betsey was purchased at auction in 1989. The seven volumes formerly comprising the William E. Tillinghast Papers and the loose papers were apparently once part of the William Davis Miller Collection (later renamed the Elisha R. Potter Collection). This was donated two parts: in 1959 by Miller's estate, and in 1968 by the University of Rhode Island Library. The accession book does not mention the Tillinghast portion of these gifts specifically; see the collection file for a more extended discussion of the provenance.

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Processing note:

            This collection originally consisted of the five Joseph Tillinghast account books donated by Donald Babcock. In 1996, many additional related papers from other collections at the R.I.H.S. were integrated with these account books, including: the seven volumes of the William E. Tillinghast Papers; 9 folders of loose papers from the Tillinghast Family Collection; 97 items from the Elisha R. Potter Collection; a single account that had been filed in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection under "Freemasons, R.I. - Grand Lodge of"; and a single volume that had been cataloged in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection under "Polly & Betsey". In 1999, 27 more items were transferred to the collection from the Potter Papers (MSS 629); an item list is filed in the collection file. In 2001, the 1797-1811 ledger was transferred from the Benjamin T. Chandler Family Papers (MSS 439).

            The three earliest volumes of the Joseph Tillinghast account books, dated 1762-1774, 1785-1797 and 1798-1816, have been previously microfilmed.

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Personal papers

Box 1, folder 1. Joseph Tillinghast.1765-1789

Box 1, folder 2. Joseph Tillinghast.1793-1796

Box 1, folder 3. Joseph Tillinghast.1797-1800

Box 1, folder 4. Joseph Tillinghast.1801-1808

Box 1, folder 5. Joseph Tillinghast.Account book, 1762-1774

Box 1, folder 6. Joseph Tillinghast.Account book, 1785-1797

Box 1, folder 7. William E. Tillinghast.   1802-1815

Box 1, folder 8. William E. Tillinghast. Day book, 1812-1815

Box 1, folder 9. Chandler family.             1805-1846

Box 1, folder 10. Gladding family.            1815-1846

Box 1, folder 11. Miscellaneous personal papers, 1815-1890

Tillinghast, Gorton & Tillinghast, and other partnerships

Account books:

Oversized volume 1. Daybook, 1798-1816

Oversized volume 2. Daybook, 1800-1804

Oversized volume 3. Daybook, 1804-1806

Oversized volume 4. Ledger, 1797-1811

Box 1, folder 11. 1795, account book, St. Croix, sloop Polly & Betsey

Box 1, folder 12. 1795-1796, cargo sales at St. Croix, sloop Polly & Betsey

Box 2, folder 1. 1799, cargo sales at St. Croix, with index

Box 2, folder 2. 1802-1803, memorandum book, St. Croix

Box 2, folder 3. 1803, cargo sales, St. Croix, with index

Box 2, folder 4. 1805, cargo sales, St. Croix, brig Planter

Box 2, folder 5. 1808, account book, St. Croix

Box 2, folder 6. 1811, cargo sales, St. Bartholemew, brig Hunter

Ship's papers:

Box 2, folder 7. Argus (brig)                      1805-1806

Box 2, folder 8. Commerce (schooner)     1798-1802

Box 2, folder 9. Fair American (ship)       1805-1806

Box 2, folder 10. Hunter (brig)                  1806-1811

Box 2, folder 11. Planter (brig)                  1803-1806

Box 2, folder 12. Polly & Betsey (sloop)   1795-1799


Box 2, folder 13. Sales orders in St. Croix, 1798

Box 2, folder 14. Loose papers, 1811 and undated

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Argus (brig)

Brown, Moses (1738-1836)

Brown, Benson & Ives

Butler Library Association

Chandler Family

Commerce (schooner)

Fair American (ship)

Freemasons - Rhode Island - Providence

Gladding Family

Gorton, Benjamin E. (1765-1822)

Gorton & Tillinghast

Hunter (brig)

Merchants - Rhode Island - Providence

Polly & Betsey (sloop)

Planter (brig)

Providence, R.I. - Commerce

St. Croix

Tillinghast, William E. (1777-1817)

Tillinghast Family - Genealogy

Union Steam Mill Co.

West Indies - Commerce

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