Skip to main content

Timothy Ropes Family Papers

Timothy Ropes Family Papers

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution


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:Ropes family
Title:Timothy Ropes Family Papers
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:This collection is comprised of a modest number of personal papers belonging to one branch of the Ropes family of Salem, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MSS 365

Series List

Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of a modest number of personal papers belonging to one branch of the Ropes family of Salem, Massachusetts. Included are personal letters, receipts, photographs, one sketch, a church covenant (1680), and newspaper articles. In addition, the collection includes a transcript of the autobiography of John Bertram, a prominent Salem citizen who married Mary Anne Ropes in 1848.

The first three folders contain personal writings of members of the Ropes and Bertram families. In Folder 1 are 16 letters from Thomas Holmes Ropes (1803-1845) to his family dating from 1838, when he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to his death in 1845. During this time he worked as a grocer and merchant but never achieved financial success. Folder 1 also contains two letters to Thomas Holmes from his brothers George or Henry, as well as a letter of condolence to his father following Thomas Holmes' death.

Folder 2 contains writings of Joseph Ropes (1812-1885). There is a long lecture about the uses of imagination and the role of the artist in conceiving works of beauty, delivered to a young men's association in Portland, Maine, in about 1840. Also present is a letter to his sister Mary Anne (1840) and two passports (1855, 1864) documenting his extensive travels in Europe, especially in Italy, France, and Switzerland.

Folder 3 is a 27-page typewritten transcript "Incidents in the Life of John Bertram Written by Himself" which John Bertram wrote in the form of a diary and finished in 1876. The autobiography tells the story of a young seaman whose family emigrated from the Isle of Jersey to Salem in 1807. Bertram rose quickly through the ranks to become a respected ship master. He retired from the sea in 1832 to pursue his mercantile interests. His vessels sailed to Para, Zanzibar, Madagascar, and many other foreign ports and also to California after the discovery of gold. Bertram also had interests in railroads, shipbuilding, and civic affairs. He is remembered in Salem as a noted philanthropist. (The autobiography, including a facsimile of the original handwritten work, was published by a descendant in 1964.)

The next three folders contain receipts belonging to Thomas Holmes (Folder 4), his son-in-law Timothy Ropes (Folder 5), and Timothy's son Thomas Holmes Ropes (Folder 6).

In Folder 7 is a hand drawn sketch by Joseph Ropes entitled "My Room at 373 Essex Street," with a note added later "In this chamber Timothy Ropes died on February 17th 1848 and Sarah Ropes his wife died March 9th 1848."

Folder 8 contains one photograph of the Ropes-Bertram house at 373 Essex Street, and two photographs of the Assembly House at 138 Federal Street, occupied by Mary Anne Bertram from about 1885 until her death.

Folder 9 contains a church covenant dating from 1680. It renews the original convenant of the First Church of Christ in Salem, a covenant that was first composed in 1629.

Folder 10 contains three newspapers, including the Salem Gazette of August 19, 1796, and the Essex Register of February 23, 1832, and April 27, 1840. Also present is an account from the Salem Gazette (October 26, 1888, and correspondence following) of General Washington's reception at the Assembly House in Salem in 1789. This house was occupied by Mary Anne Bertram at the time the Salem Gazette article appeared.

Biographical Sketch

Timothy Ropes was born in Salem in 1773, the youngest son of Benjamin and Ruth Ropes. He was a cooper and then a master mariner. He married Sarah Holmes in 1796, and they had nine children: Timothy, Sarah Grant, Thomas Holmes, Elizabeth Grant, George, Mary Anne, Joseph, David Nichols, and Henry. Timothy and his wife, Sarah, both died in Salem in 1848.

Thomas Holmes Ropes, the second son of Timothy and Sarah Ropes, was born in 1803. From 1838 to 1845 he was a grocer and merchant in Louisville, Kentucky, where he died unmarried in 1845.

Mary Anne Ropes, the third daughter of Timothy and Sarah Ropes, married John Bertram in 1848. Captain Bertram (1796-1882) was a successful merchant, ship owner, public servant, and philanthropist in Salem, Massachusetts.

Joseph Ropes, the fourth son of Timothy and Sarah Ropes, was born in 1812. He became an artist and teacher of art, and he traveled abroad for several years. He died in 1885.

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.

Bertram, John, 1796-1882
Ropes, Joseph, 1812-1885
Ropes, Thomas Holmes, 1803-1845
Ropes, Timothy, 1773-1848
Architecture, Domestic--Massachusetts--Salem
Church buildings--Massachusetts--Salem
First Church of Christ--Massachusetts--Salem
Salem (Mass.)


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

Timothy Ropes Family Papers, MSS 365, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated to the museum on March 24, 2004 (acc # 2004.007).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, August 2007.

Related Material

Edward S. Atwood. Memorial of John Bertram. Essex Institute Historical Collections 21(1884), pp. 81-96.

E. S. Waters. Materials for a History of the Ropes Family. Essex Institute Historical Collections 7(1865), pp. 164, 199 and 8(1866), p. 49.

John Bertram of Salem, Massachusetts. Santa Barbara, California: Haagen Printing & Offset, 1964.

John Bertram Papers, 1855-1889, MSS 104

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search