The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Conway, Chaplin, 1797-1872
Chaplin Conway (1797-1872)
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
The Chaplin Conway Papers
contain fifty-three letters, written by Chaplin to his second wife, Sarah, during
his long sea voyages to South America as shipmaster.
Scope and Content Note
The Chaplin Conway Papers contain fifty-three letters,
written by Chaplin to his second wife, Sarah, during his long sea voyages to South
America as shipmaster. The only exceptions are the earliest letter of the
collection, written to Chaplin from his brother John, expressing sympathy on the
death of his first wife (Folder 1), and two letters from Sarah, Chaplin's second
wife, to her husband on board ship. The letters are arranged in chronological order.
Each letter is folded to be a self-envelope, addressed on the outside, and many are
stamped with a postal or shipping rate. Each letter indicates the date and Chaplin's
location at the time of writing. Because of the necessity of waiting for a carrier
for the letters, many of them are written in the form of journals, and include
entries for many days.
The letters provide interesting details of the Salem-Brazil trade, giving the
names of ships used in the trade, tracking the trade routes of Chaplin's vessels
from one Brazilian port to another in search of favorable trading conditions, and
delivering and receiving consignments. There are frequent references to the cargoes
carried, both to and from Brazil, with rubber and hides among the important imports
into Salem. Only a few comments by Chaplin relate to the political and social events
of the time: He hopes "Old Zack" (Taylor) will be elected president. At one point he
has taken on a crew member that he believes to be a runaway slave. There are a few
brief comments on the population and nature of certain Brazilian ports.
Chaplin Conway was born in 1797, possibly in North
Cumberland, Virginia, to Ann and Chaplin Conway. He is known to have had at least
one brother, John, who lived in Baltimore, Maryland, during the years covered by
this collection of letters.
Chaplin Conway married Sarah Crowe of Baltimore. The date of the marriage is not
known. Two children of the marriage, Henry Chaplin Conway and Sarah Caroline Conway,
both died in childhood. Sarah, Chaplin's wife, died of "dropsy" on December 30,
1847, at the age of 53.
By April of 1848, Chaplin was betrothed to Sarah Smith Phelps of Salem. They
were married on June 22, 1848. There were no children born of Conway's second
Chaplin Conway was employed as a shipmaster, engaged in the maritime trade
between Salem, Massachusetts and Brazil during the 1840s and 1850s. He died in Salem
on April 28, 1872, at the age of 75. At some time thereafter, his wife, Sarah Phelps
Conway, moved to Chicago, where she died in 1902, at the age of 87.
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.
Conway, Sarah Smith Phelps, 1815?-1902
Husband and wife
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests 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
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
The Chaplin Conway Papers contain fifty-three letters, written by Chaplin to his second wife, Sarah, during his long sea voyages to South America as shipmaster.
Brazil--Commerce--United States; United States--Commerce--Brazil; Conway, Sarah Smith Phelps, 1815?-1902; Husband and wife; Ship captains; Shipping--Brazil; Shipping--Massachusetts--Salem; Ships--Cargo
Requests 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.