Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810

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Chief Justice Benjamin Chew (1722-1810) was the only surviving son of Dr. Samuel Chew and his first wife, Mary Galloway. Born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, he would eventually serve as recorder of Philadelphia, attorney general, recorder-general, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania under the colonial government. After the Revolution, he was selected as the president of the High Court of Errors and Appeals. His 1747 marriage to Mary Galloway (1729-1755), produced four surviving children: Mary, Anna Maria, Elizabeth, and Sarah. His second marriage, in 1757, to Elizabeth Oswald (1734-1819), brought forth eight more children: Benjamin Jr., Margaret (Peggy), Juliana, Henrietta, Sophia, Maria, Harriet, and Catherine (Kitty). Chew's children increased the social status of the family through marriages to members of the Banning, Carroll, Galloway, Howard, Nicklin, Phillips, Tilghman and Wilcocks families. Tutored in the classics during his early years by Francis Alison, the elder Benjamin began his law studies at the age of fifteen, under the guidance of Andrew Hamilton, and concluded his formal education in 1744 at Middle Temple in London. Returning home upon the death of his father, he moved to Delaware, where he quickly became enmeshed in the political and legal affairs of Pennsylvania and the Lower Counties. His first appointment was as a representative to the Lower Counties' Assembly. Soon thereafter, he was chosen to act as a representative of the Penn family, assigned as secretary to the commission charged with settling the long-standing border dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Thus Chew became intimately involved in legal proceedings that eventually resulted in Mason and Dixon's survey of the boundary line. In addition, Benjamin Chew represented the colonial government in negotiating Indian treaties at Easton. In the mid-1750s, he was granted the post of attorney general for both Pennsylvania and Lower Counties, while also serving as the latter's speaker of the Assembly. Chew moved to Philadelphia in 1754 and built a successful private law practice to augment his public service career. As his various employments and enterprises flourished, Chew prospered, rising to the upper class in his adopted city. Chew owned an elegant town house on South 3rd Street. Here, he attended St. Peter's Church and associated with many influential people in the city. He became involved in other business interests, including iron works and land speculation. As a result of his close relationship with the Penn family, in 1774, Benjamin Chew was chosen to succeed his friend William Allen as chief justice of Pennsylvania. With the growth of tensions between the colonies and Great Britain, Chew at first supported the colonial cause but as the conflict became more intense, he did not advocate separation from England. His close ties to the proprietors and his unwillingness to support the revolution led to the loss of his government positions and banishment, with Governor John Penn, to Union Forge in New Jersey from 1777 to 1778. During this time, he kept up regular correspondence with his family. In 1777, the British occupied Cliveden, Chew's country house, which became a main stage of the Battle of Germantown in October of 1777. Cliveden had been sold before the revolution, but was repurchased by the family in 1797, later becoming the center of the Chew family's activities. Upon Benjamin Chew's return to Philadelphia, he increased his land purchases, ultimately acquiring extensive property holdings in Pennsylvania, adding to inherited properties in Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware. In 1791 he was appointed by Governor Thomas Mifflin to head the High Court of Errors and Appeals for the state of Pennsylvania, a position he held until 1806. At the end of his life, in 1810, Benjamin Chew had amassed a sizable fortune from land speculation and his legal practice.

From the description of Chew Family papers : Series 2. Benjamin Chew (1722-1810), 1659-1819. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 435804066

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810. ALS : to Mr. Griffith, 1807 Aug. 4. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Indian papers, 1746-1878. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Benjamin Chew letters, 1762-1786 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Manigault, Margaret Izard, 1768-1824. Papers, 1779-1857. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Female Association of Philadelphia for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances. Records, 1800-1972. Haverford College Library
referencedIn New York and New Jersey boundary dispute, [ca. 1750]-1866. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Gilpin family. Papers, 1727-1872. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Chew family. Chew Family papers, 1659-1986 (bulk 1740-1930). Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Peters, Richard, 1704-1776. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1765, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Papers, 1768-1877. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Rawle family. Rawle family papers, 1682-1921, bulk 1770-1911. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Tilghman, Tench. Autograph letter signed : "New Windsor," to Benj. Chew , 1781 Jun. 10. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Chew family. Papers, 1683-1896. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Haines & Twells. Account book, 1767-1770. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Tax book for Chestnut, Walnut and Lower Delaware Wards, Philadelphia, April 1767., 1767 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Morris family. Papers, 1684-1935. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Haines & Twells, account book, 1767-1770, 1767-1770 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Edward Shippen letters and papers, 1727-1781, 1727-1781 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810. Chew Family papers : Series 2. Benjamin Chew (1722-1810), 1659-1819. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Mifflin, Samuel. Letter : to Benjamin Chew, [17--]. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Philadelphia (Pa.). Overseers of the Poor. Tax book for Chestnut, Walnut and Lower Delaware Wards, Philadelphia, April 1767. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn United States. Continental Congress. Extracts from minutes : Philadelphia, 1777. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Shippen, Edward, 1703-1781. Letters and papers, 1727-1781. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Penn, Thomas, 1702-1775. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1765-1768. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Pennsylvania. Council on Indian Affairs (Easton, Pa.). Minutes, 1757. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Benjamin Chew letters, 1813 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Criminal Court Records of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1768-1787, undated University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library: Rare Book Collection
creatorOf Chew family. Papers, 1735-1796. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876, 1700-1800 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Quaker collection, 1700-1888 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Benjamin Franklin Papers Part 8 -- Letters to Franklin, 1783 December-1786 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810. Authorization : Chester, Pa., to James Marshall, 1766 July 1. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
creatorOf Parke, Thomas, Dr. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1750-1789. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Bradford, William, 1663-1752. Dorothy Merriman Schall papers, 1686-1897. Haverford College Library
creatorOf Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810. Estate papers, 1776-1904. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume VIII, miscellany, 1776-1816. Cornell University Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Baldwin, William. person
associatedWith Chew family. family
associatedWith Chew family. family
associatedWith Chew family. family
associatedWith Chew family. family
associatedWith Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. person
associatedWith Emmet, Thomas Addis person
associatedWith Female Association of Philadelphia for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances. corporateBody
associatedWith Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. person
associatedWith Gilpin family. family
associatedWith Graham, W. H. person
associatedWith Haines & Twells. corporateBody
associatedWith Haines & Twells. corporateBody
associatedWith Historical Society of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Manigault, Margaret Izard, 1768-1824. person
associatedWith Marshall, James. person
associatedWith Maxcy, Virgil, 1785-1844 person
associatedWith McKean, Thomas, 1734-1817. person
associatedWith Mifflin, Samuel. person
associatedWith Mifflin, Thomas, 1744-1800. person
associatedWith Morris family. family
associatedWith Parke, Thomas, Dr. person
associatedWith Penn, John, 1729-1795. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania. Council on Indian Affairs (Easton, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Penn, Thomas, 1702-1775. person
associatedWith Peters, Richard, 1704-1776. person
associatedWith Philadelphia (Pa.). Overseers of the Poor. corporateBody
associatedWith Rawle family. family
associatedWith Shippen, Edward, 1703-1781. person
associatedWith Shippen, Edward, 1729-1806. person
correspondedWith Stewart, Charles, 1729-1800 person
associatedWith Tilghman, Tench. person
associatedWith Tilghman, William, 1756-1827. person
associatedWith United States. Continental Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith William L. Clements Library corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Westmoreland County (Pa.)
Somerset County (Pa.)
Fayette County (Pa.)
Subject
Real estate investment
Speculation
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1722-11-19

Death 1810-01-20

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