Overview: Harvard-educated judge and American Revolution veteran from Worcester, Massachusetts, who served in many other civic positions. Includes documentation of civic and farming activities, such as which animals were put to pasture on what date, which pastures were leased to others, the names and terms of indentured laborers, and the sale/exchange of agricultural products to customers such as Isaiah Thomas, William Eaton, Nathaniel Stowell, Ithamar Smith, and Jonathan Rice. Also contains references to family members.

Benjamin Heywood Daybooks

17 volumes, 1 envelope (0.25 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 239
Special Collections & University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries
154 Hicks Way | Amherst, Mass. 01003-9275 | scua@library.umass.edu | 413-545-2780

Background on Benjamin Heywood

Benjamin Heywood (1746-1816), son of Phineas, a prominent Shrewsbury farmer, served an apprenticeship to a housewright and ran his own carpentry business for a year or two, until he decided to prepare for attending Harvard in 1771. At the university, where he excelled in math, Heywood joined fellow students in the Marti-mercurian Band, which eventually, with other troops, fought the British on April 19, 1775.

Heywood soon joined the army, rose to Captain in 1776, and was appointed paymaster, attached to Col. Nixon's regiment. At the war's end he was appointed to a committee with General Henry Knox and Col. Brooks to recommend measures to appease disgruntled soldiers whose pay had been postponed. He also served on a committee to adjust the accounts of the Massachusetts officers and soldiers. In this capacity he negotiated with the Legislature and prepared long reports.

After the war, Heywood returned home to Worcester and married Mehitable Goddard, adopted daughter of Nathaniel Moore, an early settler of Worcester. William Lincoln notes in his 1862 History of Worcester that Benjamin Heywood's "activity of disposition and facility in business enabled him, in addition to the management of a farm, to devote much time to the concerns of his neighbors and to public affairs. The reliance on his integrity and good judgement was testified by frequent selection as arbitrator, executor, and guardian." In 1786 he took the deposition of Clark Parker for Col. Eben Lovel; on June 18, 1789 he was appointed for the Reference between Marshall and Harrington; on October 4, 1803, he appraised David Stowell's estate for Nathaniel Stowell.

Heywood was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1802. He served until 1811 when, in a judicial reorganization, the seats in that tribunal were vacated. He was also an acting magistrate of the county, a member of the Board of Trustees of Leicester Academy, an elector of the President and Vice President of the United States twice, a trustee of the Hassanamisset Indians, and an officer in many charitable and religious associations. He died in December of 1816, at the age of 70.

Contents of Collection

17 small daybooks documenting the civic and farming activities of Benjamin Heywood. Indicated are which animals were put into which pastures on what date; which pastures were leased to others; the names and terms of indentured laborers; the dates when skins were sent to Captain Palmer Goulding to be tanned; and the sale/exchange of agricultural products. One of Heywood's frequent customers was the noted printer Isaiah Thomas; others included William Eaton, Nathaniel Stowell, Ithamar Smith, and Jonathan Rice. There are also indications that Heywood owned land in Sutton and Westminster in Massachusetts, and in Ohio. In July of 1802, he notes, "Paid Col. Clap for taxes on my Ohio land." The daybooks include references to Heywood's brothers Phineas, Timothy, and Seth, as well as Heywood's son, Nathaniel Moore Heywood, and Doctor John Green. Two of Green's daughters married Heywood's son, Benjamin Franklin Heywood, in succession.

Administrative information


The collection is open for research.




Acquired from dealer, March 1989

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman, 1989.


Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Benjamin Heywood Daybooks (MS 239). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms


  • Farmers--Massachusetts--Shrewsbury.
  • Shrewsbury (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century.


  • Heywood, Benjamin.
  • Heywood, Benjamin.

Genre terms

  • Daybooks.