The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
King, David, 1839-1894
David King, Jr. (1839-1894)
4.25 Linear feet (4 boxes)
The David King, Jr. Papers
consists of correspondence, agreements, reports, meeting minutes, essays, journals,
SERIES I. Correspondence
A. Business and Personal
SERIES II. Russell & Company SERIES III. Writings Series IV. Miscellaneous
Scope and Content Note
The David King, Jr. Papers consists of correspondence,
agreements, reports, meeting minutes, essays, journals, and more. It has been
organized into four series.
Series I. Correspondence includes three subseries.
Subseries A. Business and Personal consists primarily
of letters from King's business associates at Russell & Company: Edward R.
Cunningham; H. H. Warden; Paul S. Forbes; John M. Forbes; William H; Forbes; and
Warren Delano. The majority of the correspondence is from Mr. Cunningham and Mr.
Warden, both of whom were at different times, the president of the Shanghai
Steamship Navigation Company. It appears that even after King's departure from China
in 1873 he was still in frequent contact with his former associates.
Subseries B. Family primarily consists of letters
written by King to his parents during his years abroad. Also included is a letter
from King's uncles Edward and William King regarding a $5,000 letter of credit. A
December 13, 1876 letter from Francis R. Rives to Ella, King's wife, concerns a name
for the King's newborn daughter, who apparently was without a name for two months
after her birth.
Subseries C. Letterbooks contain copies of King's
correspondence to a variety of recipients and covers a twenty-one year period from
1862 to 1883.
Series II. Russell & Company, one of the oldest
American trading companies in China and Hong Kong,includes correspondence, partnership agreements, and account statements.
There are articles of agreement and statements of business for the Yang-tze
Insurance Company and reports of the Board of Directors and meeting minutes for the
Shanghai Steamship Navigation Company. The Yang-tze Insurance Company and the
Shanghai Steamship Navigation Company were subsidiaries of Russell &
Series III. Writings includes King's childhood essays
on Christopher Columbus, arithmetic, Rhode Island, and French lesson exercises. The
journal dated 1858-1859 relates King's journey to the Far East and contains copies
of letters he wrote to his uncle, Edward King. A few of the journal pages and the
end pages contain sketch drawings by King. The journal from 1860 relates King's
journey from Shanghai to the Gulf of Pechili, which is located in northern China,
near the Yellow Sea. The back of this journal contains handwritten notes by King
regarding exports and imports from Shautung. Sometime during 1917 and from the
period 1924-1928, information regarding stocks and bonds was recorded by an unknown
individual; some entries have been done in pencil. The journal entitled "Memoranda"
includes entries written by King pertaining to ship sailings, merchandise, business
notes, and excerpts from letters addressed to him.
Series IV. Miscellaneous consists of reports and
minutes from organizations such as the Shanghai Racquet Club and the Shanghai Autumn
Meeting [may be related to horse racing]. There is also a Deed of Settlement for the
China Fire Insurance Company and articles of agreement for the establishment of an
English Freemasons Hall in Shanghai. Of particular interest in this series are a
promissory note issued by The Comptoir D'escompte de Paris, Shanghai, King's
passport issued in 1878 by the Counsel of Spain in Nassau, old Chinese receipts, and
merchant business cards. An unknown author of an untitled poem has been included at
the end of this series.
David King, Jr. was born in 1839 in Newport, Rhode Island
to Dr. David King and Sarah Gibbs Wheaton. He was the second of seven children. The
King family was a prominent family in Newport dating back to 1799. King's father, a
medical doctor, was one of the founders of the American Medical Association and an
active member in Newport society. Dr. King was president of the State Board of
Health of Rhode Island, a founder of the Newport Historical Society, and a member of
the Redwood Library.
Deciding not to enter the medical profession like his father, Mr. King instead
followed in the footsteps of his uncles, Edward and William King, who were active in
the China trade. In 1858, at the age of nineteen, David King, Jr. set out for China
on board the clipper Surprise.
King was employed for a short time at Wetmore, Williams & Company and then
at Low & Company, before gaining employment with the prominent trading house,
Russell & Company in June 1859. While in China, King married Helen Van
Cortland Morris who died circa 1871.
King returned to the United States in 1873. A year after his return, he became
engaged to Ella Louise Rives (born 1851) in November 1874. They married on January
7, 1875. King and Ella had two children: Maud Gwendolen born October 2, 1876 in
Newport, Rhode Island; Philip born in Paris, France on June 12, 1879.
The Kings would spend the winter season in a rented house in New York City (in
later years it would be Washington, D. C.) and the summers in Newport at Kingscote,
his Uncle William's estate.
Like his father before him, King was active in Newport Society where he was a
trustee for the Newport Hospital, a member of the Newport Reading Room, the Redwood
Library, and the Newport Historical Society.
King died on March 8, 1894 in Washington, D. C. from peritonitis following a
case of appendicitis. After a funeral service held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church,
King's remains were brought back to Newport, Rhode Island for burial near the King
family plot at Island Cemetery.
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.
Cunningham, Edward R.
Delano, Warren, 1809-1898
Forbes, John Malcolm, 1847-1904
Forbes, Paul S.
Forbes, William H.
King, David, 1839-1894
Rives, Francis R.
Warden, H. H.
China Fire Insurance Company
Russell and Company
Shanghai Racquet Club
Shanghai Steamship Navigation Company
Yang-tze Insurance Company
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
David King, Jr. (1839-1894) Papers, MH 135, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum,
This material was a gift of Mrs. Anthony Rives in 1928 and 1929 (acc # 17,936 and
Collection processed by Jennifer J. Quan, August 2012.
Bard, Solomon. Traders of Hong Kong: Some Foreign Merchant
Houses, 1841-1899. Hong Kong: Urban Council, 1999.
Clark, Arthur H. The Clipper Ship Era: An Epitome of
Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders,
and Crews, 1843-1869. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1912.
The David King, Jr. Papers consists of correspondence, agreements, reports, meeting minutes, essays, journals, and more.
China Fire Insurance Company; Russell and Company; Shanghai Racquet Club; Shanghai Steamship Navigation Company; Yang-tze Insurance Company; China--Hong Kong; China--Shanghai; Cunningham, Edward R.; Delano, Warren, 1809-1898; Forbes, John Malcolm, 1847-1904; Forbes, Paul S.; Forbes, William H.; King, David, 1839-1894; Rives, Francis R.; Warden, H. H.; Account books; Letters; Photographs; Shipping
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.