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Obadiah Brown I (1712-1762) Papers

Scope & content

These papers are almost exclusively records pertaining to Obadiah Brown's many business ventures. A large portion actually relate to partnerships between Brown and his nephews, under the name of Obadiah Brown & Co., or Obadiah & Nicholas Brown. There are very few personal papers in this collection.

The first portion of the collection consists of loose papers, dated from 1733 to 1762, with the bulk coming after 1752. Most of these papers are loose receipts, invoices and other financial memoranda. There are also some business letters, listed at the end of this finding aid. Almost half of the loose papers are from 1758, and relate to trading at Monte Cristi in today's Dominican Republic.

The second portion of the collection consists of bound volumes: ledgers, account books and day books of Obadiah Brown, alone or in partnership. Other noteworthy volumes are two outgoing letter books, and a ship's log kept aboard the sloop Mary en route from Surinam to Rhode Island in 1735.

There is very little directly relating to the slave trade in this collection, as Brown was only involved in two voyages to Africa. There is nothing relating to the 1736 voyage of the Mary, and only a few incidental accounts relating to the fitting out of the Wheel of Fortune in 1758. See "Ledger No. 5", page 122. Of course, Brown was very much involved in the related trade with the West Indies, and with operating a rum distillery as well.