Chew, Benjamin

Chew, Benjamin

Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810, American public official and judge, b. Anne Arundel co., Md. He read law in Philadelphia under Andrew Hamilton and was admitted (1746) to the bar. After practicing law at New Castle and Dover, Del., Chew returned to Philadelphia, where he held several public offices and was attorney general (1755-69). He was chief justice of the Pennsylvania supreme court from 1774 until the outbreak of the American Revolution, when he was suspected of Loyalist sympathies. He was arrested but was discharged soon afterward. He later served (1791-1808) as president of the high court of errors and appeals of Pennsylvania.

See biography by B. A. Konkle (1932).

Cliveden (Wiktionary:English pronunciation key: klĭvʹdən), also known as the Benjamin Chew House, is a historic mansion in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle of Germantown, fought in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.

The mansion was inhabited from colonial times by seven generations of the Chew family, from Benjamin Chew, who built the house from 1763 to 1767, up until 1972. Benjamin Chew was a Supreme Court Justice for the state of Pennsylvania and was among the wealthy elite in the 18th century. His mansion at Cliveden was merely a summer home, with other locations in Center City Philadelphia and Delaware.

During the battle, Chew, a loyalist, was being held in New Jersey. The British, under Colonel Musgrave, occupied the stone house, and with muskets and bayonets fought off an attack by Continental soldiers. George Washington's army was repelled and sent back down Germantown Avenue in a defeat.

In 1966, Cliveden was designated a National Historic Landmark, part of the Colonial Germantown Historic District.

Chew family papers discovered throughout the house are currently being archived by a team from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. These papers are expected to shed new light on the history of slavery in Philadelphia and the region. Benjamin Chew was known to have possessed many slaves at the Cliveden mansion. One of these slaves, Charity, is the feature of new research surrounding the discovery of the Benjamin Chew papers.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation operates Cliveden as a historic house museum, and offers tours from April through December.

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