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Benjamin Waterman 

Referred to as Jr. although his father was Nathaniel

1719 b in Providence, RI

1799 d in Cranston, RI

Housewright, house carpenter

Information & Documents

  • Group of Period Waterman Documents

  • Inventory Excerpt

  • Richard Slaney Investigations / Timeline

  • See the Benjamen Waterman article by Richard Slaney in the reference section: Early RI Toolmakers & Tradesmen website.

  • See CAWP issue 11, June 1994, by Michael Humphrey.

Benjamin Waterman Timeline 

-Corresondence by Richard Slaney, April 11, 2013


Time Line – Benjamin Waterman – the plane maker


-born April 12, 1719 - in that part of Providence that split off in 1754 to become part of the

newly formed Town of Cranston. He was the son of Nathaniel Waterman III (1695-1790) and

Hannah (Carpenter).

[sources: -#57 in the 1954 Waterman Genealogy (vol. iii) by Donald Lines Jacobus &

Edgar Francis Waterman. This reference provided by Will Steere.

-“LDS Family Search” online and Waterman genealogy sites online.


-1741 – Age 22 – Benjamin Waterman makes a woodworking plane. The plane is marked with

his name and a date of 1741.

[source: This plane is in the collection of Bud and Vera Steere.

[RS note: the name on the plane is spelled BENJAMEN WATERMAN.


-1745– Age 26 – Benjamin Waterman marries Ann Manton (b. c1722)

[sources: “LDS Family Search” online and Waterman genealogy sites online.


-1750 – Age 31 – On April 30, 1750, he is deeded property by his father. The property is “Two

acres and sixty three poles of land and meadow lying on both sides of the brook called

Massapage Brook within the lands of Pawtuxet in the jurisdiction of Providence _ _ _ and is the

most southeasterly part of my home farm”.

[source: Providence Land Deeds. Book 12. Page 350.

[RS note: "The deed reads in part “_ _ know ye that I,

Nathaniel Waterman of Providence _ _ yeoman _ _ to my son Benjamin Waterman of

the same town _ _.”

[RS note: Will Steere collection. The deed came from a collection of Waterman family papers auctioned in 2011/2012


-1750 – Age 31 – On April 30, 1750, Nathaniel Waterman (1695-1790) is deeded property by

his brother Zuriel Waterman. One of the witnesses to this deed is “Benjamin Waterman Jun.”

[source: Providence Land Deeds. Book 12. Page ?.

[RS note: Benjamin Waterman Jun is the son of Nathaniel Waterman (1695-1790). The

“Jun” as part of Benjamin Waterman’s name is puzzling, but he may have used it to

distinguish himself from another Benjamin Waterman (b. 1707, d. 1760), who also lived

in that part of Providence that became Johnston in 1759. They were related. The

grand father of Benjamin Waterman Jun (b. 1719, d. 1799) and the father of Benjamin

Waterman (b. 1707, d. 1760) were brothers. (Editor: A 1759 deed (below) links Benjamin

Waterman Jr, house right of Providence to his father-in-law John Manton, thus verifying

the family unit.) 


-1750 – Age 31 – On May 31, 1750, he buys property in Providence. The deed reads in part:

“_ _ know ye that I, Jofeph Field Jun of Providence, cordwainer, _ _ for the sum of four hundred

pounds, _ _ convey to Benjamin Waterman Jun of the fame town, houfe carpenter, _ _ one

certain lott of land containing forty nine pols situate within the Township of said Providence and

lyeth adjoyning on the north side of the highway that leads over the river by Edward Tripps and

is the lott where on the said Field now dwells, with the dwelling house and shop thereon

standing _ _”

[source: Providence Land Deeds. Book 12. Page 367.

[RS provided the deed information.


-1752 – Age 33 – “Benjamin Waterman Junior of Providence, house carpenter” is owed large

sums of money specified in two obligation bonds. One bond, dated Feb. 24, 1752, obligates

“Thomas Fenner Junior of Providence, yeoman” to pay Waterman “four hundred and fifteen

pounds in currant money of new england _ _. The second bond, also dated Feb. 24, 1752,

obligates “William Fenner of Providence, yeoman” to pay Waterman “three hundred and

two pounds in currant money of new england _ _.”

[source: the Waterman paper collection 2011/2012

[RS note: the Thomas Fenner Junior and William Fenner in these deeds are father

and son.


-1753 – Age 34 – On December 21, 1753, “Benjamin Waterman Jun of Providence, houfe

carpenter,” sells back to “Jofeph Field Jun of Providence, cordwainer” the property he had

purchased from Field on May 31, 1750.

[source: Providence Land Deeds. Book 13. Page 327.

[RS note: in this deed the words “that leads over the river by Edward Tripps shop” are

used in place of the earlier phrasing in the May 31, 1750 deed, “that leads over the

river by Edward Tripps.”


-1756 – Age 37 – his signature on a 1756 petition to the Rhode Island General Assembly shows

that he was living in Providence on the west side of the Woonasquatucket River.

[source: Petitions to the R. I. General Assembly. Vol. 9. Petition #141. At the R. I.

State Archives.

-1757 – Age 38 – On June 13, 1757, he is deeded property in Providence. The deed reads in

part: “I, John Manton of the Town of Providence _ _ given unto my son in law Benjamin

Waterman and my daughter Anne Waterman his wife a parcel of land about one acre and a

hundred and sixteen poles of land being part orchard and part meadow land and situated about

three miles westerly of the Town of Providence, beginning _ _ on the south side of the rhode that

leadeth to Killingley _ _, bounded north on the highway and south with land granted unto my

brother Edward Manton deceased by my honored father Edward Manton deceased _ _. ”

[source: Providence Land Deeds. Book 19. Page 84.

[RS note: Ann Manton was born c1722 and married Benjamin Waterman c1745. [sources:

“LDS Family Search” online and Waterman genealogy sites online.


-1759 – Age 40 - Benjamin Waterman Jun is now living in the Town of Johnston, R. I. Not

because he moved, but because the Town of Johnston was incorporated March 6, 1759 from

Providence, taking from Providence the land west of the Woonasquatucket River. Tripptown,

the small hamlet where Waterman lived, was on the west bank of the river.


-1759 – Age 40 – On April 18, 1759, he is made a “freeman” of the Town of Johnston and

the Colony of Rhode Island.

[source: Johnston Town Meeting records, 1759-1795. The entry for the April 18, 1759

town meeting reads: “Benjamin Waterman Junr and Samuel Smith were both sworn

and admitted free of sd Town in order to be returned free of sd Collony.”



-1759 – Age 40 – On June 2, 1759, “Benjamin Waterman Juner of Providence, house right”

buys property in Johnston, R. I. from his father-in-law, John Manton “yeoman.” The deed reads

in part: “one certain tract or parcel of land lying or being in the township of Johnfton, being

part of the lands my brother Shadrack Manton died feized of which said land is called and

known by the name of the Shadrack farm.” The price is the “sum of five thousand one hundred

and fifty three pounds money of the old tenor.”

[source: Johnston, R. I. Land Deeds. Book 1. Pages 12, 13.


-1759 – Age 40 – On June 2, 1759, he sells property in Cranston, R.I. The deed reads in part:

“I Benjamin Waterman Jun of Johnfton in the County of Providence _ _ houfe Right. For the

consideration of eight hundred and two pounds currant money received to full satisfaction of

Daniel Abbot of Providence _ _ Esquire_ _ a certain peace or tract of land lying and being in

the town of Cranfton _ _ containing about twenty acres and bounded as followeth _ _ this

land being the twenty acres I formerly purchased of Thomas Fenner Jun _ _ ”.

[source: Cranston, R. I. Land Deeds. Book 1. Page 219.


-1767 – Age 48 – On June 6, 1767, Benjamin Waterman “yeoman” and Joshua Greene

“yeoman” sign an Indenture agreement that binds them to the terms under which much of the

property of John Manton, deceased, is to be divided between them. The property is in Johnston,

R. I., at a hamlet called “Tripptown,” three miles west of downtown Providence. Each man

receives substantial land holdings and the Manton house is to be held in common by them.

[source: Johnston, R. I. Land Deeds. Book 1. Pages 336-8

-1776 – Age 57 – Benjamin Waterman buys a “Nigrowomen named Phillis” for “Thirty

Pounds” from a William Latham of Johnson, R.I.

[source: an original “receipt” that was among the trove of Waterman documents that was sold at ..... the RI auction in 2011.

-1777– Age 58 – On June 19, 1777, he buys property in Johnston, R.I. The deed reads in part

“Benjamin Waterman of Johnfton, yeoman,” pays “Thomas Clifford of Cranston, husbandman

alias yeoman _ _ “thirty pound lawfull money” _ _ for _ _“one certain lot of land with a

dwelling house thereon standing” _ _ “butted and bounded as follows viz. northerly on the

highway that leads over the river at a place commonly called and known by the name of Tripp

Town” _ _ .

[source: Johnston, R. I. Land Deeds. Book 2. Page 133


-1792 – Age 73 – “Benjamin Waterman of Johnfton, houfewright” files a complaint resulting in

a March 6, 1792 arrest warrant for a “James Parker of Scituate, hufbandman alias yeoman.”

Waterman’s complaint is that Parker “hath not kept & performed his several promifes and

afsumptions _ _ made.” The damages sought by Waterman are “four hundred pounds, lawful


[source: this original “Arrest Warrant” was among the trove of Waterman documents that was sold at ... the RI auction in 2011. Will Steere collection.


-1799 – Age 80 – Benjamin Waterman died on Sept. 4, 1799. His probate Inventory, dated Nov.

23, 1799, values his real estate (“farm and buildings”) at $3000 and his personal estate at $710.

A probate Account document that relates to the division of Benjamin Waterman’s real estate

shows that he had a substantial house and substantial land holdings that included crop land,

meadow land, and a wood lot. His probate Inventory lists a “chest with old tools, in the

garret,” and these may be his woodworking tools, but Waterman was an old man when he died

and most of the tools listed in the inventory are farm tools.

[source: Benjamin Waterman’s probate file (#A1887) is at the Providence City Hall


[RS note: both Benj. Waterman and his second wife, Catherine Latham (b. 1740), are

buried in the “Benjamin Waterman Lot, “ known as the “Rhode Island Historical

Cemetery - Cranston - #584.” The location of the cemetery is on Pontiac Ave in

Cranston, a short distance south of the junction of Pontiac and Resevoir avenues.



Benjamin Waterman is called either a house carpenter or a housewright in seven public

deeds that span the years 1750 through 1792. Carpentry was his life’s work. It is not known

where or from whom he learned the carpenter trade, but his father’s farm was in the southern

part of Providence, near Resevoir and Pontiac Avenues in today’s Cranston. In 1741, at the

age of 22, he made a wooden molding plane that is stamped with his full name and the 1741

date. This plane is evidence of both his woodworking skill and his interest in architectural

detail. And there exist two other skillfully made wooden molding planes, also marked with

the BENJAMIN WATERMAN name, but not dated. If he made these three planes for his

own use, they indicate both the refined nature of the carpentry work he was doing and the

seriousness with which he approached his craft.


From 1750 through 1753, Benjamin Waterman is involved in three deed transactions that

involve property in the Providence hamlet of Tripptown, 3 miles west of Providence harbor.

In 1745, he had married Anne Manton, the daughter of John Manton a large landowner at

Tripptown, and they may have settled in Tripptown by 1750. Tripptown (later called Manton

Village) was located on the “Killingly Road,” one of three principal roads before 1800 that

led out from the center of Providence west to Connecticut. The hamlet also bordered on the

west bank of the Woonasquatucket River, which formed the new boundary line when the

Town of Johnston was carved out of Providence in 1759.


All of the deed evidence from 1750 through 1799 has Benjamin Waterman living at

Tripptown. A 1792 deed calls him a “housewright,” so he must have continued his carpentry

work while living at Tripptown, but the deed evidence is that his years at Tripptown were

prosperous ones, with the acquisition of considerable land in and around Tripptown, much of

it coming from his father-in-law John Manton. After 1767, when his father-in-law died,

Waterman lived the life of a prosperous “yeoman” or farmer at Tripptown. When Waterman

died in 1799, the probate Inventory shows that his “chest with old tools” had long since been

put away in the garret of his substantial house.

Benjamin Waterman Probate Inventory and Period Bills

-Correspondence by Richard Slaney 12-19-2014     


I show below some of the entries from the Benjamin Waterman (b1719, d1799) Probate Inventory, dated Nov. 23, 1799.  The Inventory is in “Johnston Probate Book No. 4”, on page 21.  The Johnston Probate Book No. 4 is at the Providence City Hall Archives.  I was not allowed to scan or copy the “Inventory” because it is in an old book that is very fragile.  So I copied by hand 15 of the 80 entries in the Inventory.  The 15 entries are shown below.

      The valuations are in dollars and cents.  I carefully read all 80 entries and my sense is that Benjamin Waterman, at the time of his death, was a person of some means, having substantial assets in real estate and personal property, and able to provide his wife Catherine, a comfortable, if simple life.  The Inventory suggests to me that Waterman toward the end of his life was a yeoman farmer, growing food and keeping animals.  But there are several entries in the inventory ("chest with old tools and sundry things in it") ("saw, squares & other tools")  ("a hand vise.  some old tools" ) ("some cherry tree wood overhead" ) that hint at his earlier work as a carpenter / builder.  

       Note that one of the Inventory entries I copied is "to Fillis the negro woman," with no valuation given.  This is undoubtedly the same "Phillis" that Waterman purchased on Oct. 20, 1776.  Will Steere collection ... the original Oct. 20, 1776 slip of paper that records this slave sale.  Rick.



 “Inventory of the estate of Benjamin Waterman _ _ died Sept. 4, 1799”


-real estate - farm and buildings                                $3000.


-waring apparel [wearing apparel]                             $23:11


-one feather bed including 2 pillows _ _ 4 flannel     $62:62

      sheets _ _ 6 linen sheets _ _

[Rick Slaney note: plus other similar items such as blankets.]


-sixty one & 1/2 bushels of corn                                $41


-sundrys in garret  

 rusty crosscut saw.  chease-tub & chest with old tools 

 & sundry things in it.  some cherry tree wood overhead

 & old rubbish                                                             $12:40


-potatoes estimated at 50 bushels                             $11:44


-flat iron.  box iron.  saw, squares & other tools         $2:84                           


-to Fillis the negro woman           

                [Rick Slaney note: no valuation put on Fillis]                                                                   


-a hand vise.  some old tools & ( ? ) with old rakes

at crib                                                                          $7:90


-a chease prefs [cheese  press] & a shaving brake    $ :40


-live stock  -  one old cow @ $10. 

 2 heifers 2 years old @ $10 each                               $30 


-one 6 year old cow @ $12:50 and an old cow @12:  $24:50  


-seven sheep @ $9:38 and an old mair [mare] @$8   $17:38    


-two shoats @ $8                                                         $8                   


-the (value ? ) of keeping one horse, 4 horned cattle &

7 sheep                                                                         $55


-a pew in the Johnston meeting house                         ?



                                                                        [total]     $710:64     


          Edwd Fenner

          Joshua Angell              Appraisers

          Jeremiah Manton


[Rick Slaney note: added to the bottom of the last page of the inventory, but not included in the $710.64 total, is this entry:

-an account against John Manton dated 1767        140:19:2 [pounds, shillings, pence]



I have attached to this email scans of three original claims that were submitted for payment to the Administrator of Benjamin Waterman’s (b1719, d1799) estate.  The claims are for services or goods provided to Waterman and are offset by services or goods provided by Waterman.  The entries on the three claims span the years 1779 through 1798, when Waterman was in his 60s and 70s.   In two of the claims the  services provided to Waterman mostly involve sawing wood into dimensioned lumber, i.e. 1/2 inch boards, 1 inch boards, joists, clapboards, shingles, etc.  The wood being dimensioned was probably wood from Waterman’s own wood lot and he was paying local people to harvest and dimension the wood so he could sell it or use it in house building.

      Notice that on “Benjamin Whipple’s Bill #15” that Waterman is credited for a coffin he has provided (and presumably made), and that on “Abner King’s Bill #30” that Waterman is credited in 1780 for “stocking a gun."  Waterman was 61 years old in 1780. 

     These three original claims were among more than twenty original pieces of paper I found in Waterman’s Probate File at Providence City Hall.  Most of these papers were claims against the estate of Waterman.  Shown below are my transcriptions of the three claims described above, which you can also read in the original (see my attachments ... 2 included.)





                              Benjamin Whipple’s Bill   #15


                Benjamin Waterman to me Dr   

                                                                                        £   S   P 

March 5  1779      To two streaks of cart tine [carting ?]

                              weight  17 1/2 #                                0 - 5 - 10

June 15                 To sawing 300 feet of joys [joists]      0 - 3 - 6

Nov er 18              To sawing 737 feet of bords               0 - 8 - 5

                              To sawing 550 feet of half inch          0 - 5 - 6

                              To sawing 147 feet of plank               0 - 2 - 10

        20th               To sawing 329 feet of half inch          0 - 3 - 3

                              To sawing 428 feet of inch                 0 - 5 - 1     

Dec er                   To sawing 400 feet of inch                 0 - 4 - 0 

                              To 290 feet of pine                            0 - 3 - 0

May 1782              To sawing 929 feet of pine                 0 - 14 - 0

June 1783          To sawing 1250 feet of pine, inch thick  1 - 10 - 9

26 of Nov in 1785  To sawing pine bords 260 feet           0 - 3 - 6

                                                                                         4 - 9  - 2

                                                                                         1 - 13 - 8

                                                                                         2 - 15 - 6

                  Contry Credit


                                          cut                                           £   S   P

March 1779              By 300 of hay (poor ?)                     0 - 6 - 0  

June 1783                By 33 feet of inch pine                      0 - 2 - 8

1788                         By 26 feet of pine bords                   0 - 2 - 0

                                 By one lamb                                     0 - 6 - 0

1794                         By one plow and (mate ?)                0 - 9 - 0 

                                                                                          1 - 5 - 8  

                                 By one coffin                                    0 - 8 - 0

                                                                                         1 - 13 - 8

[on the docketing]

Benjamin Whipple Bill   #15

            North providence   March the 10 

            Then refeved [received] two pound twelve shilings 

            & six pence it beig the balanf [balance] due to me 

            on the with in a coumpt [account] refeved [received] of

            Wm B. King & refeved [received] by me

                                                              Benjamin Whipple




                                    Abner King’s Bill   #30


             Bengmon Wartmon [Benjamin Waterman]  Dr  august 25th 1783


august 25  1783        to sawing 450 feet inch bords        0  -  6  -  9  -  0

october                      to sawing 355 feet inch bords        0  -  5  -  3  -  0

December 26             to sawing 665 feet inch bords        0  -  9  - 10 -  0

December 1784

   December 11          to sawing 376 feet inch bords        0  -  5  -  1  -  0

                                  to sawing 438 feet half inch            0  -  5  -  2  -  0

april 1787                  to sawing 227 feet inch bords         0  -  3  -  3  -  0

february 1788            to sawing 821 feet inch bords         0  - 12 -  4  -  0

march 28                   to sawing 432 feet inch bords         0  -  6  -  8  -  0

                                                                                          2  - 14  - 10 - 0


    october 1780 credit by Bengmon Wartmon [Benjamin Waterman]


                                 to stocking gun                            0  - 18 -  0

                                 to shingle (stub ?)                        0  - 11 -  0

may 31 1788            one whit ok [white oak] log           0  -  8  -  0

june 1790                 one parin chisil [paring chisel]      0  -  2  -  0

                                                                                     1  -  19  -  0

[on the docketing]

Abner Kings Bill   #30

            Johnfton  March the 10th  1800 

            Then refeved [received] of Wm B. King

            fifteen shilings for full of the with in a compt [account]

                                                 By me    Abner King





                                     Joseph Hoyles  Bill   #27


             Benjamin Waterman to Joseph Hoyle Dr   


1793                                                                         £   s   d

June 22       To 361 feet merchantable boards         1 - 6 - 0

    “   26        To 500 clapboards  ??                         3 - 0 - 0


Oct. 23         To 116 feet clear boards  ??             0 - 13 - 5 1/2

                    To 163 feet merchantable boards ??   0 -11 -10

   “    27         To 2 bundles shingles                         0 - 10 - 6

   “     “          To 3 white plank     @ 93 feet              0 - 13 - 5


 June 29       To 2 gal molasfes                                0 - 8 - 0

     “               To 1 1/2 gal   Do                                  0 - 6 - 0

                                                                             £ 7 -  9  - 2 3/4

                                       Jofeph Hoyle


     Setled the above accoumpt with William B. King

     Administrater of Benjamin Waterman deceafed 

                                        Jofeph Hoyle

[on the docketing]

Col. Joseph Hoyles

         Bill N 27


          Joseph Hoyles act

           against Benjamin 




Benjamin Waterman Papers / Document Trove 2011 Auction

(images from subsequent 2012 sales)

1952 Deed

1952 Deed

1756 Document

1761 Document

1761 Document

1766 Document

1766 Document

1779 Document

1779 Document

1780 Document

1780 Document

1780 Document

1783 Document

1790 Document

1791 Document

1792 Document

Benjamin Waterman Period Plat

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