Newton, Benjamin. Benjamin Newton Business Records, 1836-1864: A Finding Aid
Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: Mss:766 1843-1864
Repository: Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Benjamin Newton
Title: Benjamin Newton business records
Quantity: 3 linear feet (2 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The business records of China trader Captain Benjamin Newton includes financial records
and correspondence detailing his business dealings, 1836-1864.
Gift of Charles H. Taylor
Processed: November 2011
By: Benjamin Johnson
Some material may be stored offsite. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Cite as: Benjamin Newton Business Records. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard
Benjamin Newton was a native of Newport, Rhode Island. He acted in the capacity of
supercargo and roving merchant for cargoes of many vessels rather than as master of
a single ship. In1844-1845, he sailed with the Huntress to Canton and there helped disposeof her cargo. In 1847-1849 and 1849-1850 the Talbot sailed underCapt. Story and Capt. Blish to Singapore while Newton traveled byan overland
route through Europe and met the ship at Singapore to sellits cargo. He did the same
when the Esther sailed to Canton underCaptain Stevens in 1850. Newton acted as a sort of roving agent
for the New York commission merchant Gordon & Talbot and the closely aligned Canton
merchant firm Olyphant & Co. The founding partners in both Gordon & Talbot and Olyphant
& Co. were also Newport families and it's mostly likely this connection that brought
Newton to China. By 1852, Newton was back in the United States, first in Newport and
later in New York City. Newton's brother James and his nephew John partnered in a
San Francisco, California wholesale dry goods and commission business which Benjamin
helped facilitate through his connections with Augustine Heard & Co.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I. Business papers, 1836-1864
The papers of China trader Captain Benjamin Newton, 1836-1864 contain correspondence
and financial information relating to his business dealings in China and New York.
Capt. Newton worked forthe commission merchant firm Gordon & Talbot of New York and
had close business associations with Olyphant & Sons and Augustine Heard& Co., both
of Canton, China. The collection is composed of business letters,charters, agreements,
account sales, accounts current, invoices, billsfor cargoes and bills of lading.The
memoranda are miscellaneous notes on cargoes, prices of goods,and articles to be purchased
for friends.The correspondence includes personal letters, most of them from members
of the Newtonfamily including nephew John B. Newton and brothers Edward and James
R. Newton. Also included are letters from Benjamin Newton to his parents and brothers
describing events and happenings on his voyages and news from abroad.
- Series I. Benjamin Newton business papers, 1836-1864
Scope and Contents
: The Benjamin Newton papers contain personal and professional correspondence and shipping
and financial records pertaining to Newton's work as supercargo for various merchant
firms involved in the China trade during the 1840s to 1860s. The bulk of Newton's
business papers are financial and shipping records consisting of charters, agreements,
bills, invoices, accounts, and accounts current with specific merchant firms.
The correspondence includes letters to well known firms including Gordon & Talbot
of New York City, Olyphant & Co. of Canton, and Augustine Heard & Co. of Canton. The
letters highlight the movement of goods, market prices of merchandise, and the overall
economic climate. Newton traded various goods including tea, rattan, spices, firecrackers,
silk, and oils. Letters from Newton's nephew John B. Newton relate to his travels
to California to seek business opportunities, the arrival of ships loaded with goods,
sales of merchandise for profits, and overall economic climate in San Francisco, California.
Benjamin's brother James and his nephew John B. partnered in a San Francisco wholesale
dry goods and commission merchant business and with Benjamin's connection to Augustine
Heard & Co. the firm was able to import goods from China. Also included are personal
letters from family members including his brothers Edward and James, 1844-1864.
- Box 1, Folder 1Letters from Gordon & Talbot, 1844-1854
- Box 1, Folder 2Letters from Augustine Heard, 1848-1854
- Box 1, Folder 3Letters from J.R. Newton, 1852-1857
- Box 1, Folder 4Miscellaneous letters, 1843-1853
- Box 1, Folder 5Charters, agreements, insurance, 1836-1854
- Box 1, Folder 6Memoranda on costs, sales, cargoes, 1849-1856
- Box 1, Folder 7Account sales, 1844-1850
- Box 1, Folder 8Account sales, 1851-1853
- Box 1, Folder 9Account sales, 1854-1857
- Box 2, Folder 1Invoices, 1844-1855
- Box 2, Folder 2Bills for cargoes, 1844-1855
- Box 2, Folder 3Accounts current, 1844-1856
- Box 2, Folder 4Accounts current, Olyphant & Sons, 1845-1856
- Box 2, Folder 5Accounts current, Brown Shipley & Co., 1846-1855
- Box 2, Folder 6Accounts current, J.R. Newton & Co., 1846-1857
- Box 2, Folder 7Accounts current, Gordon & Talbot, 1848-1856
- Box 2, Folder 8Accounts current, Augustine Heard, 1849-1856
- Box 2, Folder 9Personal bills, 1843-1862
- Box 2, Folder 10Bills of lading, 1844-1862
- Box 2, Folder 11Checks, bills of credit, promissory notes, 1850-1856
- Box 2, Folder 12Stocks and bonds, bought and sold, 1851-1857
- Box 2, Folder 13Personal letters, 1844-1864
Bills of lading.
Newton, James R.
Newton, John B.
Augustine Heard & Co.
Gordon & Talbot.
J.R. Newton & Co.
Olyphant & Co.