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All, Catherine.



A Widow's Maritime Petition
[All, Katherine.] To the Gentlemen of the Fellowship Club in Newport. Ca. 1789-90.
One leaf, recto only; watermarked "C Olney"; uniformly browned; creased.
All's petition to the members of Newport's Fellowship Club, sent after the death of her husband, Captain Abraham All. All explains that her husband had been ill for many years, and that the expenses incurred in caring for him were considerable. She asks that the Club return to her the money that her husband had paid to the club's treasury. It appears that All hired someone to write the petition on her behalf, and signed her name upon its completion; two distinct hands appear on the page, and All signed her first name with a "K" while her name is spelled with a "C" at the top of the petition.
It reads in full:
To the Gentlemen of the Fellowship Club of Newport -
The Petition of Catherine All, Widow of Abraham All, late a Member of said Club
Respectfully Sheweth -
That her said late Husband having for many years been subject to a Painful & very Distressing infirmity, and having an almost constant occasion for a Physician, & for Medicines for said Disorder, the Expense of which and the Charges consequent on his illness, having been very Considerable, she finds has very much Embarrassed his affairs - and obliges her to Request of this Society that the Money paid by her said late Husband into their Treasury, may be Returned to her; in Conformity to a Regulation of the Society - which will be Gratefully acknowledged by -
Your most Obedt Servt
Katherine All  
The Fellowship Club was founded in 1752 as an aid society for ship captains; in fact, membership was excluded to all but captains only. All was a Jewish ship captain who sold slaves to Aaron Lopez, a Sephardic Jew from Newport who immigrated from Portugal. There was a considerable population of Jewish slave ship captains in Newport during the latter half of the 18th century. The All's were members of Trinity Church in Newport - widow All was baptized there in 1740 and married the captain there in 1763. The majority of the members of the Fellowship Club also belonged to Trinity Church; they constituted a growing merchant aristocracy in Newport.
Maritime manuscript petitions of this nature by American women in the 18th century are scarce.

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