Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications
and Records Commission).
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Coffin, Joshua, 1792-1864
Joshua Coffin Papers
4.75 linear feet (7 boxes)
The Joshua Coffin Papers include correspondence, family genealogies, legal documents, church records, military records, and town records for Newbury, Massachusetts.
SERIES I. Newbury Vital Records
A. Volume 1
B. Volume 2
SERIES II. Correspondence and Research SERIES III. Genealogies
Scope and Content Note
The Joshua Coffin Papers include correspondence, family genealogies, legal documents, church records, military records,
and town records for Newbury, Massachusetts. This collection has been arranged into three series.
Series I. Newbury Vital Records includes original documents collected by Joshua Coffin while
researching his book A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury. This series has been arranged into two
subseries. Subseries A. Volume 1 and Subseries B. Volume 2 include similar records that were previously removed from bound volumes.
In an effort to maintain this arrangement, the documents have been arranged by subject matter within their original volumes.
Records within these two subseries include church records such as petitions for new parishes, divisions within churches, and lists of
attendees. There are also legal documents created by individuals living in Newbury, such as deeds, last wills and testaments,
marriage settlements, attorney appointments, and insurance policies. Military records are included in these volumes as well, such as
muster rolls, enlistment papers, regimental orders, and equipment returns. Town of Newbury records include warrants,
financial records, boundary line disputes, and notices to assemble. All records within these two subseries are arranged
chronologically within subject folders. Selections of material found in both subseries were published in the
Essex Institute Historical Collections (EIHC), Volume 35. The bracketed page number next to a document identifies the original
location in the bound volume, as cited in the EIHC.
Series II. Correspondence and Research includes personal correspondence, collected Newbury history
materials, Anti-Slavery writings and publications, membership documents for local historical societies, and town clerk records.
This series includes handwritten copies of documents that aided Coffin in his research, such as lists of births and deaths in Newbury
and a list of the original grantees of Newbury. Additional research material includes handwritten copies of Sebastian Ralle's work
among the Indians in 1720; Samuel Rolfe's journal from 1750; Caleb Haskell's journal with the Continental Army in 1775; and a
description of a tornado at sea in 1841. There is also a bound journal that Coffin labeled "Collections from Ancient Records,"
which includes additional handwritten copies of original documents. Correspondence between Coffin, fellow genealogists or and
Newbury locals, reveal Coffin's working methods and areas of historical interest. The material in this series is arranged
chronologically within subject folder.
Series III. Genealogies include genealogies of Newbury families created by Joshua Coffin and his
correspondents. This material is arranged alphabetically by family name. Correspondence and lists of multiple family names,
along with complied notebooks of families appear at the end of the series.
Joshua Coffin (1792-1864) was born in Newbury, Massachusetts on October 12, 1792 to
Joseph Coffin (1762-1805) and Judith Toppan (1758-1801). Coffin graduated from Dartmouth College in 1817 and taught school for
many years. One of his pupils was well-known poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who wrote the poem "To My Old School-Master" in reference
to Coffin. On December 2, 1817, Coffin married Clarissa Dutch and they had two daughters, Sarah B. (b. 1818) and
Lucia Toppan (1820-1878). After Clarissa's death in 1835, Coffin married Anna Wood Wiley on April 25, 1835. The two had three
daughters: Elizabeth W. (b. 1836); Anna L. (b. 1838); and Mary H. (b. 1840).
Coffin was a teacher, an historian, a genealogist, and an abolitionist. He was one of the founders of the New England Anti-Slavery
Society in 1832. He was elected a corresponding member of the New-England Historic Genealogical Society in 1845, and was also a
member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He published A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury from
1635 to 1845 in 1845, along with family histories for the Woodman, Little and Toppan families. Joshua Coffin died on June 24, 1864
in Newbury and was buried in the First Parish Burying Ground.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Coffin, Joshua, 1792-1864
Family history (Genealogy)
West Newbury (Mass.)--History
Church records and registers--Massachusetts--Newbury
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Request for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript
Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.
Material from Volume 1 was presented by George E. Woodbury of Lynn, MA on November 5, 1870. The Alcove No. 11 photograph was a gift of Joshua Coffin Chase in 1946. Additional material was found in the collection. This material was originally arranged as Fam. Mss. 187.
Collection processed and cataloged by Halley Grogan, November 2012.
"Joshua Coffin Papers." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Vol. 35. 129-168, 212-242.
Salem, Mass: Salem Press Co., 1899.
Coffin, Joshua. A sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845. Boston, Mass: Samuel G. Drake, 1845.
Diaries--Massachusetts--Newbury; Church records and registers--Massachusetts--Newbury; Letters
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Material from Volume 1 was presented by George E. Woodbury of Lynn, MA on November 5, 1870. The Alcove No. 11 photograph was a gift of Joshua Coffin Chase in 1946. Additional material was found in the collection.