Benjamin Chew


Personal and Family Information

Benjamin was born on 19 Nov 1722 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the son of unknown parents.

He died on 20 Jan 1810 in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

His wife was Elizabeth Oswald, who he married on 12 SEP 1757 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their only known child was Margaret Oswald (1760-1827).


Birth19 NOV 1722
Place: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Address: Maidstone plantation,
Death20 JAN 1810
Place: Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


OccupationChief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania


Note 1

Benjamin Chew (November 19, 1722 – January 20, 1810) was a third-generation American, a Quaker-born legal scholar, a prominent and successful Philadelphia lawyer, head of the Pennsylvania Judiciary System under both Colony and Commonwealth, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania.

Chew was well known for his precision and brevity in making legal arguments as well as his excellent memory, judgment, and knowledge of statutory law. His primary allegiance was to the supremacy of law and constitution.

Trained in law at an early age by Andrew Hamilton, Benjamin Chew inherited his mentor's clients, the descendants of William Penn, including Thomas Penn (1702–1775) and his brother Richard Penn, Sr. (1706–1771), and their sons Governor John Penn (1729–1795), Richard Penn, Jr. (1734–1811), and John Penn (1760–1834). Chew represented the Penn family in their legal matters for the next six decades. He had a lifelong personal friendship with George Washington,[1] who is said to have treated Chew’s children “as if they were his own."[2] Chew lived and practiced law in Philadelphia four blocks from Independence Hall, and provided pro bono his knowledge of substantive law to America's Founding Fathers during the creation of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.