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Benjamin Cox Papers, 1793-1876

Identifier: MSS 168

Scope and Content Note

The Benjamin Cox papers document the shipping activities of Benjamin Cox, a Salem, Massachusetts, shipping merchant, as well as his store and property rentals. Included are papers of other family members. The papers are divided into four series.

Series I. Shipping Papers contains ships' papers, shipping correspondence, and accounts. The ships' papers, arranged alphabetically by vessel, consist primarily of outfitting bills and voyage settlement accounts. Very few invoices or manifests are included. The papers document voyages to South America, the West Indies, India, Europe, the East Indies, Canton, and the Fiji Islands. The ships included vessels Benjamin consigned cargo on as well as ones he owned in partnership. Many of his business partners were notable Salem merchants such as James and Samuel Chamberlain, George West, and Joseph Felt. The correspondence (B2 F1) contains letters from merchants in New England, southeastern United States ports, South America, and Europe. Many of these letters discuss the importation of hides, a commodity for which Benjamin found a profitable market. The correspondence also contains miscellaneous master's correspondence and letters from Benjamin's friend, William Morrow, regarding the collection of debts. The shipping bills and receipts (B2 F2) consist of outfitting and cargo accounts for miscellaneous or multiple ships. They include many accounts for hides and shoes.

Series II. Account Books consists primarily of daybooks and ledgers. These volumes contain accounts of Benjamin's store, as well as periodic entries of shipping and rental accounts. The accounts books filed at the end of the series are specialized, dealing with cloth, shoes, or rental properties.

Series III. Business and Personal Papers contains household bills and receipts as well as accounts resulting from the maintenance and repair of Benjamin's rental properties. Receipts from 1865 to 1868 were assigned to Benjamin's estate.

Series IV. Family and Miscellaneous Papers contains personal and business correspondence of Benjamin's children, Mehitable (1815-1879) and Edward (born 1823), including papers regarding the hemp mill Edward owned or managed near Springfield, Illinois. The family papers also contain receipts of Dr. Benjamin Cox Jr. (1806-1871), Benjamin's son and a notable Salem physician, and a note on alterations made to Elizabeth Cox's house. The miscellaneous papers (B6 F5) include anonymously authored newspaper articles and editorials, and miscellaneous correspondence.


  • Creation: 1793-1876, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Benjamin Cox was born in Salem, Massachusetts on September 8, 1779, the son of Benjamin (1743-1788) and Elizabeth Very (1727-1820) Cox. He was a shipping merchant who also rented property. In 1803, he married Sarah Smith (1785-1873) and they had nine children. He died in Salem on December 2, 1863.


3.25 linear feet (6 boxes; 1 volume)

Language of Materials



The Benjamin Cox papers document the shipping activities of Benjamin Cox, a Salem, Massachusetts, shipping merchant, as well as his store and property rentals.

Series List

SERIES I. Shipping Papers

SERIES II. Account Books

SERIES III. Business and Personal Papers

SERIES IV. Family and Miscellaneous Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material is from an unknown source. In 2019, a transfer of land title was added to Box 6, Folder 4.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Cox, Rev. John Hosmer. New England Cox Families. Lexington? Mass.: Publisher Not Identified, 1900.

Gambia (Brig) Logbook, 1839, Log 1130

Certificate of membership [in Bunker Hill Monument Association] issued to Benjamin Cox.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, January 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, January 2016 and Tatiyana Bastet, July 2019.


Processed by: Sylvia B. Kennick; Updated by: Tamara Gaydos and Tatiyana Bastet; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
Processing and conservation of this collection was funded by a grant from the national Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA