1722 - 1810 (87 years)
Has 2 ancestors and 165 descendants in this family tree.
||Benjamin Chew |
||19 Nov 1722
||20 Jan 1810
||27 Jul 2010 |
||Elizabeth Oswald |
||09 Dec 1757
- Elizabeth Oswald was the niece and heir to the estate of Captain Joseph Turner, part owner of the Union Forge Ironworks in High Bridge, Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
||26 Jul 2010 |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
- Chief Justice of the state court of Pennsylvania
He was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, at his father's estate of Maidstone. The Chews are descendants of "de Cheux," who accompanied William the Conquerer in the Battle of Hastings (1066), and as a reward for his military service, received land grants in Somersetshire, England. Generations later, successful merchant John Chew (1587-1668) arrived in Jamestown in 1622 on the ship "Charitie? and was granted 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of land in Charles River (York) county, Virginia.
Benjamin Chew took an interest in the field of law at an early age. In 1736, when he was 15 years old, he began to read law in the Philadelphia offices of Andrew Hamilton, the year after Hamilton?s success in the Peter Zenger Trial in 1735. Chew was not only greatly influenced by Hamilton?s ideology, but also by the literature provided for him by Hamilton, especially that of Sir Francis Bacon's "Lawtracts."
After Hamilton's death on August 4, 1741, Chew returned to his father's home in Kent County, Delaware, before going to study law at The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court in London, England much like his friend John Dickinson. Due to the death of his father, Chew returned to America in 1744 and began to practice law in Dover, Delaware, while caring for his siblings and stepmother. Chew moved to Philadelphia in 1754, and continued his legal responsibilities in both Delaware and Pennsylvania for the rest of his life.
Fighting during the Battle of Germantown took place at Benjamin Chew's house in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
Although Chew was raised in a Quaker family, he first broke with Quaker tradition in 1741, when he agreed with his father, who had instructed a grand jury in Newcastle on the lawfulness of resistance to an armed force. In 1747, at age 25, Chew also went against Quaker tradition when he took the Oath of Attorney in Pennsylvania. In 1758, he finally joined the Church of England and worshipped at Christ Church, Philadelphia with his growing family.
From 1754 to 1771, Chew and his family lived on Front Street in Philadelphia. In 1771, Chew purchased the former house of his client, John Penn, on South Third Street. Throughout the Revolutionary War, George Washington facilitated the transfer of letters between Mr. and Mrs. Chew, and from 1781 to 1782 the Washingtons rented their Third Street home. Later, when the Washingtons were in Philadelphia during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, the two families renewed their acquaintance.
Abigail Adams referred to Chews? daughters as part of a ?constellation of beauties? in Philadelphia. Daughter Margaret (1760-1824) married Maryland Governor John E. Howard in 1787. Daughter Sophia (1769-1841) was invited to attend Martha Washington?s first public event in Philadelphia. Daughter Harriet (1775-1861) was asked to entertain George Washington while his portrait was being painted. In 1800, she married the only son of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who built Homewood for them as a wedding gift.
Benjamin Chew built his country estate, named Cliveden, at Germantown, Pennsylvania, between 1763 and 1767. It later came to be known as the Chew House. The house was originally built as a summer retreat to protect his family from the diseases that plagued Philadelphia during the 1760s. In 1777, Cliveden played a prominent role during the Battle of Germantown. Since 1972, it has been a featured site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is open to the public for research and touring.
By the time he was 29, Chew held a number of offices, both elected and appointed, in the Delaware and Pennsylvanian colonial governments. In 1751, Chew served on the Boundary Commission as Secretary and supervised the creation of the Mason-Dixon line.
Chew was Speaker of the Lower House for the Delaware counties (1753-1758); Attorney General and member of the Council of Pennsylvania (1754-1769); Recorder of Philadelphia City (1755-1774); Master of Rolls (1755-1774); Provincial Councillor of Pennsylvania (1755); Commissioner of Philadelphia (1761); Register-General of Wills (1765-1777); Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1775-1777); and Judge and President of the High Court of Errors and Appeals (1791-1808).
Chew acted as legal counsel for the family of William Penn, representing them as landholders in Pennsylvania, as well as in their family matters. Despite his many public service roles, most of Chew's income came from his practice as the most successful private practice lawyer in Pennsylvania and as well as being manager of his second wife?s considerable estate. Chew continued the family practice of investing in land in the American colonies until the end of his life, expanding their holdings in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.
On June 19, 1754, the Albany Conference was held in Albany, New York. As a Secretary of the Pennsylvanian Delegation, Chew had a hand in formulating the "Plan of Union." This plan was one of the first attempts of uniting the American colonies. Six months later, Chew, aged 32, was chosen to be Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania.
In October 1758, The Easton Conference was held in Easton, Pennsylvania, to resolve conflicts created by The Walking Purchase of 1737, which had lasting effects on the relationships between Native Americans and the colonists. As Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Chew attended the negotiations for the Treaty of Easton and documented the proceedings in his ?Journal of a Journey to Easton.? The conference concluded on October 26th, and in November, Governor Denny announced to the Pennsylvania Assembly that "a general peace was secured at Easton."
Prior to the American Revolution, Chew was friends of both George Washington and John Adams, and was a strong advocate for the colonies. As a lifelong pacifist, however, Chew believed that protest and reform were necessary to resolve the ongoing American conflicts with British parliament. Having been born a Quaker, he did not support active revolution. Early in the conflict, both the British and colonial sides claimed his allegiance since he had a visible position in the colony. Chew himself remained undecided about the correct course to take. After the Revolution, Chew's social circle included Quakers, as well as Anglicans and politicians representing many disparate points of view.
In August 1777, when the British army was nearing Philadelphia, the Continental Congress ordered that he be arrested and placed in preventive detention along with Governor John Penn. Upon receiving their paroles, they were allowed to choose Chew's father-in-law's house "Solitude" at the Union Forge Ironworks, New Jersey, as their place of captivity, even though the foundry was producing cannon balls for the American Army at that time. They were released six months later on May 15, 1778.
After independence, Chew retained his role as Register-General of Pennsylvania and was appointed by Governor Thomas Mifflin as the President of Pennsylvania's Court of Errors and Appeals from 1791 until the Court was abolished in 1808. After an extended illness, Chew died at ?Cliveden? on January 20, 1810, and is buried at St. Peter's Churchyard, Philadelphia.
The Benjamin Chew was a Liberty ship built in 1942 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards in Baltimore, Maryland.
Benjamin Chew's portrait honoring his role as Chief Justice has been hanging in the Pennsylvania State Capitol building since its dedication in 1906.