1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Inventory

5.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Joseph L. Tillinghast Papers

 Lawyer and U.S. Representative, of Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1812-1843

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 963

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, November 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Joseph Leonard Tillinghast (1791-1844) was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, but was a resident of Providence for most of his life. He received his M.A. from Brown University in 1819. He practiced law for many years and was a member of the House of Representatives in the General Assembly, serving as Speaker of the House from May 1829 to October 1832. He was a Whig U.S. Representative from Rhode Island from 1837 through 1843. He died in Providence on December 30, 1844.

            Tillinghast married Rebecca Power, daughter of Nicholas. They had a son, Nicholas P. Tillinghast (1817-1869), who became an Episcopal clergyman; a daughter, Mary Anna (1826-1918), who married Truxton D. Beale; and another daughter, Rebecca, who married Charles Willing.


Rogers, L.E., ed. Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island (Providence, R.I.: National Biographical Publishing Co., 1881).

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

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection consists mostly of letters written to Tillinghast while he served as U.S. Representative from 1837 to 1843. The content is a fairly even mixture of politics, family, and legal matters. Also included are two folders of his daughter Rebecca's family correspondence, and two folders of miscellaneous congressional notes.

Return to top


            This collection has been gathered from many different sources, most of which have been identified. The letters received by Rebecca Willing are probably the "correspondence of the Joseph L. Tillinghast family" purchased from the American Library service in 1950. 38 letters received by Joseph between 1837 and 1842 were purchased from William Wheeler at an unknown date. A few items came in through Mrs. Joseph W. Greene Jr. in 1974. 20 letters received between 1812 and 1841 were purchased from the Manuscript Company of Springfield in 1980. Three letters from Joseph to daughter Rebecca were purchased from P.T. Conley in 1972.

            There are also many items whose provenance is unknown, including the Congressional notes, and several other miscellaneous documents received.


1847.7.1.1-     Tillinghast, C.F.          Gift of "a package of manuscripts and printed papers formerly belonging to Joseph L. Tillinghast, among which are sundry letters to the Library Committee of Congress."


1885.13.2        Knight, Jabez C.         Gift of letter copy to Henry Clay, 10/12/1833


1886.5             Parsons, C.W.             Gift of a letter, possibly to William A. Hoppin, 10/12/1833


1950.34.1- Amer. Library Service    Purchase of "Correspondence of family" (probably letters from wife and daughter)


1967.82           Hoag, Paul F.              Purchase of letter to Secretary of Navy Upshur, 2/8/1842


1972.79.1-3    Conley, Patrick T.      Purchase of three letters to Rebecca Tillinghast Willing


1974.70.10.1-5 Greene, Mrs. J.W.    Gift of letter from Stephen Randall, 4/7/1838.


1975.79.1-39  Wheeler, William       Purchase of 39 letters dated 1837-1842.

1980.150.1-20 Manuscripts Co. of Springfield Purchase of 20 letters received, 1812-1841.


1988.39.1.1-2 Peterson, Scott             Purchase of letters dated 8/3/1831 and 9/10/1837.


2001.96           Strader, John               Purchase of letter dated 6/16/1838.

            Most of these gifts and purchases were originally treated as separate collections until 1995, when MSS 963 was formed.

Return to top


Folder 1. Correspondence, 1812-1829

            1812/01/21     Tillinghast, Paris, of Fayetteville. Family news from cousin.

            1817/06/25     Sedgewick, R., of New York. Cases of Sprague and Potter.

            1820/03/20     West, Richardson & Co. of Boston. Libel case.

            1826/05/26     Fairbanks, J., of Boston. Note against A. Rogers.

            1827/11/27     Bailey, John, of Washington. Custom House appointment.

            1828/10/28     ---?, John, of Whitehall, N.Y. Mr. Titus' bail money.

            1829/04/27     Kramer & Co. of Boston. Demand payment from client.

            1829/05/25     Richmond, J.R., of Bristol. Case of Margand vs. DeWolf.

Folder 2. Correspondence, 1831-1837

            1831/08/03     Putnam, Aaron, of Owego, N.Y. Estates of J.B. Mason and Taft Balcom.

            1831/09/21     Dreyfous, Simeon, of Philadelphia. Case against G & A Richmond, jewelers.

            1831/11/01     Pratt, Peter, of Providence. New city charter, method of electing aldermen, and the effect of a strong city government in preventing riots.

            1833/10/12     Letter to Henry Clay (retained copy) offering support and inviting visit, on behalf of a Clay committee. With two copies of the committee's resolutions.

            1833/12/13     White, N. & S., of New York. John Hutchins' note.

            1834/03/11     Eyers?, William, of Boston. Factory slow, cannot pay.

            1837/06/17     Billings, N. & W.W., of New London, Conn. Robinson, Brown & Co. debt.

            1837/09/10     Tillinghast, Nicholas P., of Providence. Offered tutor post at Geneva College.

            1837/09/15   Ames, Samuel, of Providence. Assistance in court case.

            1837/09/23   Gordon, Thomas F., of Philadelphia. Seeking to index Congressional records. Includes copy of 9/30/1837 response from Tillinghast.

            1837/10/03   Anonymous, of Providence. Requesting an inquiry into Federal spending.

            1837/10/11    Watson, William R., of Providence. Opposes sub-treasury system.

Folder 3. Correspondence, 1838 (none from 1839)

            1838/02/22     Balch, Benjamin, of New York. Two printed circulars re marine insurance.

            1838/03/31     Arnold, James, of Providence. Pension application.

            1838/04/07     Randall, Stephen, of North Providence. Olney Winsor pension.

            1838/04/14     Tillinghast, Mary A., of Prov. (daughter). School; request to frank letter.

            1838/04/30     Tillinghast, Nicholas P., in Society Hill. Birth of child, politics.

            1838/05/10     Arnold, Lyman, of Smithfield. Pension application of grandmother Phebe Peck, widow of George.

            1838/05/11     Blodgett, William, of Providence. Tariffs.

            1838/06/16     Crapo, Philip, of Providence. Case not continued.

            1838/06/16     Blodgett, W.P. of Providence. Short social note.

            1838/06/21     Rawson, Samuel, of Providence. Pension of mother Elizabeth Rawson.

            1838/12/15    Ashley, Joseph, of Providence. Seeking legal counsel.

Folder 4. Correspondence, 1840

            1840/01/12     Chapin, S., of Providence.      Father's Revolutionary service.

            1840/01/27     Anthony, Henry B., of Providence. Politics.

            1840/02/02     Davenport, Gideon, of Providence. Pension for widowed mother; politics.

            1840/02/18     Anthony, Henry B., of Providence. Politics.

            1840/02/29     Anthony, Henry B., of Providence.    Politics. Whig headquarters.

            1840/02/29     Anthony, John G., of Cincinnati. Requests public topographical documents.

            1840/03/05     Tillinghast, N.P. Dated "Theo. Sem.", Alexandria. Thanks for father franking so many catalogues.

            1840/03/10     Newcomb. Mrs. R., of Providence. Navy pension bill; his family's arrival.

            1840/03/18   Mallett, E.J., of Providence.   Mailbox rental.

            1840/03/26     Anthony, H.B., of Providence. "I wish Congress would adjourn. I am afraid they will get up a war if they keep together, and that is the only thing in my opinion which can elect Van Buren."

            1840/03/31   Blodgett, William, of Providence. Whig convention, Gov. King, liberty pole and log cabin in Providence, "loco focos".

            1840/04/11     Smith, William H., of Providence. Politics; illness of Tillinghast's mother.

            1840/04/16     Hazard, Isaac P., of Providence. Recent parade in Providence, etc.

            1840/04/20     Randall, Mowry, of Providence. Patent for power loom picker.

            1840/04/21     Anthony, Henry B., of Providence. Ohio politics; is Harrison's letter forgery?

            1840/04/21   Chapin, S., of Providence. Passage of law in house.

            1840/04/24     Chapin, S., of Providence. Lobbying.

            1840/04/25     Chapin, S., of Providence. Senator Pierce dislikes Chapin.

            1840/04/27     Young, Samuel, of Providence. French spoliation claims.

            1840/05/04     Randall, Mowry, of Providence. Thanks for help in patent application.

Folder 5. Correspondence, 1841-1843

            1841/09/09     Holden, Henry, of Providence. Seeks appointment in Santo Domingo, Haiti

            1841/12/08     Blodgett, William, of Providence. Power estate.

            1841/12/18    Brown, Samuel, of Naval Office, District of Providence. Accounts due Brown from the U.S.

            1841/12/20     Hazard, Samuel, of Philadelphia. Apologizes for mistake in mail.

            1842/01/04     Waterman, Richard, of Providence. Landscaping; linseed oil; tariffs on paper.

            1842/02/08     Letter to A.P. Upshur, recommending J.H. Creighton for commission.

            1842/12/16     Templeman, George, of Washington. Requests old copies of U.S. laws.

            1843/01/16     Sparks, Jared, of Cambridge. Suggests placing Maryland Gazette at library.

Folder 6. Correspondence, undated, from wife and daughters

Folder 7. Congressional documents (notes, etc.), 1832-1841.

            Including 1836 resolution re fortifications at Brenton Point


Folder 8. Congressional documents, 1842-1843, re publication of Synopsis of the Cruise of the U.S. Exploring Expedition... by Charles Wilkes. Including letters as follows:

            1842/01/19     Abert, J.J. Recommends engraver

            1843/02/09     Perry, Matthew C., of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Recommends John C. Jay.

            1843/02/14     Pickering, Charles, of Washington. Summarizes work of expedition.

            Undated          Woodbridge, William. Encloses copy of work.

Folder 9. Miscellaneous:

            1817    Legal case of James B. Mason vs. Henry Mansfield

            1833, 1834      Two receipts from George Baker by Nathan Hale for silver

Folder 10. Rebecca (Tillinghast) Willing. Correspondence, 1834-1842 and undated, from family.

Folder 11. Rebecca (Tillinghast) Willing. Correspondence, undated, from father J.L. Tillinghast

Return to top


Ames, Samuel, 1806-1865

Anthony, Henry B., 1815-1884

Anthony, John G., 1804-1877

Arnold, James

Arnold, Lyman

Ashley, Joseph

Beale, Mary A. (Tillinghast), 1826-1918

Blodgett, William

Brenton's Point

Chapin, S.

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852

Creighton, James H.

Davenport, Gideon

Hazard, Isaac P., 1794-1879

Holden, Henry

Mallett, Edward J., 1797-

Mason, James Brown, 1775-1819

Newcomb. Mrs. R.

Perry, Matthew C., 1794-1858

Pickering, Charles, 1805-1878

Pratt, Peter

Providence, R.I. - Politics and government

Randall, Mowry

Randall, Stephen, 1793-1874

Rawson, Samuel

Rhode Island - Politics and government

Richmond, J.R.

Smith, William H., 1784-1860

Snowtown Riot, 1831

Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866

Tillinghast, Nicholas P., 1817-1869

Tillinghast, Paris

Tillinghast, Mary A., 1826-1918

United States - Politics and government

Upshur, Abel P., 1791-1844.

Waterman, Richard

Watson, William R., 1799-1864

Wilkes, Charles, 1798-1877

Willing, Rebecca (Tillinghast)

Winsor, Olney, 1753-1837

Woodbridge, William, 1780-1861

Young, Samuel

End of finding aid - return to top