Satterthwaite Letter Books

The letter books of Benjamin Satterthwaite of Lancaster, 1737-1777.

Born into a Quaker family in Leeds, Benjamin Satterthwaite (1718-1792), was an agent to a Lancaster based trading firm in the 18th century. Benjamin spent a large part of his life in the West Indies as a factor – an intermediary between the Lancaster firm and colonial buyers. Benjamin left behind hundreds of letters, contained in three volumes, to various associates (often family members) principally in Barbados, Jamaica, and Lancaster. The letters are revealing of several important themes: the involvement of Quakers and other religious sects in commercial activity; the significance of interpersonal connections – such as family ties – in conducting trans-Atlantic commerce; Lancaster’s role as a major trading hub in the 18th century Atlantic World; and Lancaster’s links to slavery and the slave trade. Written in a remarkably legible round hand, the letter books have been digitized by Lancaster University Library and transcribed by Library staff. The first of the three volumes (1737-1744) focus on Benjamin’s time in Barbados; the second (1764-1777) relates to his time as a factor in Jamaica and in Lancaster; the third volume will be catalogued as soon as possible.

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