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Edmund Blunt Family Papers

Edmund Blunt Family Papers

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Blunt family
Title:Edmund Blunt Family Papers
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:This collection contains correspondence, drawings, photographs, transcripts, genealogy, and printed material relating to the Edmund Blunt family of Newburyport, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York.
Collection Number:MSS 467

Series List

SERIES I. Edmund Blunt (1799-1866) Papers
SERIES II. French Spoliation Claims
SERIES III. Eliza Sinclair Blunt (1840-1933) Papers

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, drawings, photographs, transcripts, genealogy, and printed material relating to the Edmund Blunt family of Newburyport, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York. The papers are divided into three series.

Series I. Edmund Blunt (1799-1866) Papers document the voyage Edmund Blunt took to Central America in 1824 to explore the feasibility of a canal route across Nicaragua by way of Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan River. The papers include original correspondence and drawings, and also transcripts of a journal, final report, and expense accounts. Some drawings may pertain to a later voyage (1830). Also present are a few letters to Edmund Blunt and his wife Eliza from their daughters Mary or Sarah or from other relatives, notes from Edmund Blunt's journal, and one letter from George William Blunt (1802-1878).

Series II. French Spoliation Claims contain information about French spoliation claims made on behalf of Captain John Sinclair by his granddaughter Eliza N. Blunt and great granddaughter Eliza S. Blunt, and in particular, the claim relating to the brig Recovery. Included are correspondence, notes, legal papers, newspaper clippings, and published materials documenting the history of French spoliation claims. [Note added by processor: the case was tried before the United States Court of Claims on March 24, 1913, and the descendants of John Sinclair were denied indemnity from the United States.]

Series III. Eliza Sinclair Blunt (1840-1933) Papers include Eliza S. Blunt's early memoirs, correspondence with the Brooklyn Eagle Press about publishing those memoirs, and two photographs, not identified but most likely of Eliza S. Blunt. Also present is extensive material Eliza Blunt gathered about the family genealogy, including information about the Blunt, Gilman, March, Pepperrell, and Whittemore families, and an article, "Growth and Distribution of Population," from Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1875).

Biographical Sketches

Edmund Blunt was born on November 23, 1799 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the second son of Edmund March and Sarah (Ross) Blunt. In 1833 he was appointed assistant at the United State Office of the Coast Survey. He was a hydrographer noted for the quality and detail of his charts, many of which were republished into the 1880s. He was also a partner with his brother, George William, in the firm of E. & G.W. Blunt, nautical publishers of New York. Edmund Blunt married Eliza Needham Sinclair; they had six children: Mary, Sarah Ross, Euphemia, William Sinclair, Eliza Sinclair, and Edmund, Jr. Edmund Blunt died on September 2, 1866, in Brooklyn, New York.

Eliza Sinclair Blunt was the youngest daughter of Edmund and Eliza (Needham Sinclair) Blunt. She was born on July 13, 1840 in Brooklyn, New York. Eliza spearheaded the French spoliation claim made on behalf of her great-grandfather Captain John Sinclair. She never married and died at age 93 in 1933.

Captain John Sinclair was born in Scotland in 1761. In 1794, then a merchant in New York and while under contract to the French government, John Sinclair delivered cargo on three vessels, Success, Recovery and Polly, to France. The cargoes of flour, beef, and barrel staves were confiscated and two of the vessels, Success and Recovery, were detained in France for several months, causing John Sinclair financial ruin and providing the basis of his spoliation claims against the French government. John Sinclair married Elizabeth Ropes of Salem, Massachusetts; they had one child, John, Jr. John Sinclair, Sr. died in 1820 in Charleston, South Carolina. His great granddaughter was Eliza Sinclair Blunt.

Index Terms

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.

Blunt, Edmund March, 1779-1866
Blunt, Eliza S., 1840-1933
Sinclair, John, b. 1761
French spoliation claims
Journals (Diaries)
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Newburyport (Mass.)
Nicaragua--Exploration of


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


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.

Preferred Citation

Edmund Blunt Family Papers, MSS 467, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by the Berkshire Historical Society (acc # 2012.028).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, September 2013.

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