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Goodhue Family Papers

Goodhue Family Papers

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Processing and conservation for this collection was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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:Goodhue family
Title:Goodhue Family Papers
Quantity:2.5 linear feet (5 boxes, 5 volumes)
Abstract:The Goodhue Family Papers contain the shipping, business, legal, and political papers of Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814), his brother Stephen (1738-1809), and their father Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783).
Collection Number:MSS 9

Series List

SERIES I. Goodhue Correspondence
SERIES II. Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814) Papers
A. Shipping Papers
B. Non-Shipping Papers
SERIES III. Stephen Goodhue (1738-1809) Papers
SERIES IV. Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783) Papers
A. Shipping Papers
B. Non-Shipping Papers
SERIES V. Goodhue Family Papers
SERIES VI. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Goodhue Family Papers contain the shipping, business, legal, and political papers of Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814), his brother Stephen (1738-1809), and their father Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783). Benjamin's (1707-1783) papers also include documents for his prosperous blacksmith business. Of interest in this collection is the political correspondence between Benjamin (1788-1814) and Stephen during Benjamin's years in Congress from 1789-1800. The papers range from 1684 until 1858; however, the bulk of the collection ranges from 1750 until 1820. This collection has been arranged into six series.

Series I. Goodhue Correspondence is primarily comprised of letters between Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814) and Stephen Goodhue (1738-1809). It also contains Benjamin's (1748-1814) letters to business associates, Stephen's letter book from 1789 until 1797. Political actions and decisions of Congress, Goodhue shipping and business interests, and the family and personal life of the Goodhue family are among the topics in this series.

Benjamin's (1748-1814) letters trace the development and political struggles of the new government. Problems such as assumption of state war debts, establishing duties on imports, fishing rights, dealing with the capture of American ships, and seamen by England, France, and Algiers, and the turmoil in the West Indies are discussed. The interrelationship of political events, the Goodhue's business ventures, the opposition to John Jay's appointment as envoy to Great Britain, and the election of John Adams as President are all topics of the correspondence.

Series II. Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814) Papers is arranged into two subseries: shipping and non-shipping papers. Subseries A. Shipping Papers contains papers for Fanny (Brig), Lydia (Brig), and Star (Ship); miscellaneous ships' papers; and shipping miscellaneous papers. The papers of Fanny (Brig), Lydia (Brig), and Star (Ship), which were partially owned by Benjamin (1748-1814), range from 1786 until 1805. The bulk of these records includes ships' accounts, receipts, and correspondence between owners and masters. Both the ship Star and brig Lydia were captured by the British. Included in to the brig Lydia's papers are documents for the spoliation claims and settlement between Great Britain and Goodhue in 1804.

The miscellaneous ships' papers are arranged alphabetically by the name of the vessel. For a list of the ships owned by the Goodhue family, see Appendix I. The majority of the papers are shipping accounts, receipts, and insurance policies. Included in these ships' papers are three privateers: Brandywine (Brig), Julius Caesar (Ship), and Tom (Brig).

The shipping miscellaneous papers contain receipts, accounts, correspondence, and legal documents which deal with more than one ship or unidentified ships of Goodhue and others. Included are Benjamin's papers while a merchant in Philadelphia, his insurance accounts with James King and William Gray, and account with John Norris, a business partner. Also included are documents declaring Stephen Goodhue (1738-1809) agent for Benjamin's (1748-1814) ships, Fanny (Brig) and Lydia (Brig).

Subseries B. Non-shipping Papers includes legal documents, Essex County papers, civic, domestic, and miscellaneous papers. Property deeds bought jointly by Benjamin and Stephen, as well as those purchased solely by Benjamin have been filed with Benjamin's legal papers. Placed here are the papers of Edward Tucker, while Benjamin served as his attorney, including legal correspondence and deeds between Edward Tucker of Salem and Francis Bayard Winthrop of New York City. Benjamin's 1810 will is also included with the legal documents. The Essex County papers contain many legal papers and correspondence acquired by Benjamin in his many public offices. The civic, domestic, and miscellaneous papers include receipts with the Salem School Committee, tax receipts, and accounts with local people.

Series III. Stephen Goodhue (1738-1809) Papers cover the years 1755 until 1809, and includes business papers from 1755 until 1808, account pamphlets from 1769 until 1808, two ledgers from 1760 to 1809, and legal, civic, and domestic papers from 1755 until 1806. The business papers include receipts, accounts, and correspondence for his blacksmith shop, general store, and shipping business. In addition, the account pamphlets record daily transactions for Stephen's blacksmith shop and general store. In 1789, Stephen began including Benjamin's shipping records with his own accounts. Included in this series is a 1793 pamphlet which contains Stephen's records as Surveyor for the town of Salem. There are two ledgers that recorded Stephen's business transactions from 1760 until 1809. The first ledger (volume 1) was originally used by his father, Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783) until his death, and was taken over by Stephen to record transactions for his father's estate, and his brother's ships. Major ships included in the ledger are the brig Tom and the brig Lydia. The second ledger, 1760 until 1793 (volume 2), records Stephen's transactions for his blacksmith business and store.

The legal papers include deeds, land receipts, tax receipts, promissory notes, legal correspondence, and the Amos Trask estate papers. Stephen acquired the Trask estate papers and many of his deeds and business records, because he was attorney for the administrator of the estate of Amos Trask and guardian for Trask's daughter, Abigail.

Stephen's civic and domestic papers include the receipts, letters, and accounts with local people. Also included are oaths of allegiance that Stephen took when he was chosen as Assessor of the town of Salem from 1787 until 1789. Also included are the 1734 Harvard College Laws that Stephen copied while a student in 1755.

Series IV. Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783) Papers are arranged into two subseries: shipping and non-shipping papers. Subseries A. Shipping Papers cover the years 1714 until 1784, with the bulk of the papers between 1750 and 1770. Most of the shipping papers are the records for the schooner Benjamin and the schooner Salem. These papers include accounts for the building of the schooner Salem, correspondence, receipts, portledge bills, and insurance policies. The remaining papers are filed alphabetically by ship name, and include mostly insurance policies and accounts. Any other shipping papers which refer to more than one ship or unidentified ships are integrated with the Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783) business papers. These business papers include the correspondence, accounts, and receipts for Benjamin's blacksmith and shipping business.

Following Benjamin's shipping and business papers are his account books which range from 1722 until 1780. The majority of the account books record business transactions of Benjamin's blacksmith business; Volume 1 also records his shipping accounts. Volumes 15 and 16 are to be noted as the only account books that only record shipping accounts. Volume 15, which contains the schooner Sarah's accounts, lists many captains and voyages. Volume 16 contains the accounts for the schooners Benjamin and Salem. Two corresponding account books transfer the outstanding debtors from the ledger (Volume 9) to the daybook (Volume 8). Volume 13 is noteworthy as Benjamin's first daybook, which he used after his father's death, to list his many places of employment.

Following the account books are the legal, domestic, and civic papers of Benjamin and his family ranging from 1719 until 1806. Among the legal documents is: a 1729/30 summons for Benjamin to appear in court for nonpayment of a debt; the 1729-1730 estate papers for his mother Mary (Lowden) Goodhue; a 1730 document giving Goodhue permission to set up a blacksmith ship with Joseph Clough; a promissory note to Harvard College for his son, Stephen's, tuition; Benjamin's 1778 will; and a 1783 inventory of his estate. The domestic and civic papers include medical receipts, tax receipts, liquor licenses, and a 1756 copy by Benjamin, of the 1680 Church Covenant for the First Church of Christ in Salem.

Series V. Goodhue Family Papers includes family correspondence, Goodhue relatives' papers, Pickering and Orne family papers, and military papers. This series contains letters from Jonathan Goodhue (1744-1778) to his father while at Harvard, and letters from Benjamin (1748-1814) to his brothers. There is a letter to Stephen from his brother-in-law, James Prescott. The Goodhue relatives' papers contain documents from Goodhue family members and in-laws, such as James Prescott, Richard Wheatland, Isaac Pierce, and Gideon Tucker. Included are Jonathan Goodhue's (1744-1778) 1768 diary of shipping transactions, Jonathan's 1760 copy of the 1734 Harvard College Laws, and some genealogical notes of the Goodhue family by Daniel Goodhue (1759-1803). The placement of the Pickering and Orne family papers in this series was determined by Benjamin's (1707-1783) relationship to them through his two wives. Noteworthy in these papers is a 1747 deed between Timothy Pickering, Timothy and Lois Orne, William and Eunice Pickering, widow Sarah (Hardy) Mansfield, Nathaniel and Seeth (Hardy) Phippen, Jr., Isaac and Mary (Hardy) Pierce, Edmund and Lydia (Hardy) Henfield, and Benjamin and Ruth (Hardy) Ropes, and Benjamin and his wife Martha (Hardy) Goodhue. This deed reveals the many in-law relationships between these people. Also included here are the shipping papers of Timothy Orne, and a 1738 property deed from Sarah Pickering to her grandson Benjamin Goodhue for a pew.

The military papers include muster lists and accounts and receipts of Salem and Essex County Regiments for years during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Orders and bounty receipts for Captain Benjamin (1707-1783) Goodhue are the result of an expedition to Canada. Benjamin's (1748-1814) military and civic involvement in the Revolution is probably the reason for the documents relating to the Revolutionary War. Also included is a 1711 muster roll for the William Pickering Company, and a 1781 request by the men of Woodstock, Connecticut, in the Continental Army for pay.

Series VI. Miscellaneous Papers are comprised of Robert and Hannah Stone papers, Eleazar Giles papers, and any papers that apparently do not have any connection to the Goodhues. The Stone and Giles papers are mostly legal and estate papers. It is uncertain whether any of the Goodhues was an attorney to their estates, and therefore they have been included with this series. Also included in this series are two religious testimonies, miscellaneous deeds, and undated land description of the burying point, and a 1756 authorization from the King of England to make George Rankin governor of Bermuda.

Biographical Sketches

Benjamin Goodhue (1707-1783) was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1707, to William (1666-1722) and Mary (Lowden) Goodhue. Goodhue left Ipswich after his father's death, and settled in Salem, where he married Martha Hardy, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Pickering) Hardy, in approximately 1730. After Martha's death in 1768, Benjamin married the widow Ruth (Gardner) Putnam, the daughter of Captain John and Elizabeth (Orne) Gardner. He opened a blacksmith ship with Joseph Clough in 1730, and by the late 1740s, had also become involved in Salem shipping. One of the first ships Benjamin was involved in was the Success (Sloop) in 1747. He also owned the schooners Benjamin, Salem, and Sarah. His ships sailed for the West Indies primarily carrying molasses and rum. During the French and Indian War, Benjamin was captain of a company that was commissioned for an expedition to Canada in 1757.

Stephen Goodhue (1738/9-1809) was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1738/9, the oldest son of Benjamin and Martha (Hardy) Goodhue. He attended Harvard College in 1755, but left the following year to enter his father's blacksmith business in order to earn college tuition for his younger brothers, Benjamin (1748-1814) and Jonathan (1744-1788). He married Martha Prescott of Danvers in 1767, and they had two children: Benjamin, a local merchant, and Martha, who married Richard Wheatland. Stephen was a member of the Society of Friends from before the Revolution, until his death. He continued his father's blacksmith business, and opened a general store in Salem which sold many imported goods. He acted as attorney for his father's estate in 1783. When his younger brother, Benjamin, went to Congress, Stephen acted as his agent for Benjamin's ships and lands. Stephen was Assessor of the town of Salem from 1781 until 1789, and town Surveyor in 1793. He died in 1809.

Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814) was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1748, to Benjamin and Martha (Hardy) Goodhue. He graduated from Harvard College in 1766, and settled in Philadelphia until 1776, when he returned to Salem. Benjamin married Frances Richie, and they had eight children together. Frances died in 1798, and Benjamin married Anne Willard of Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1801; they had one daughter, Anne Willard Goodhue.

Benjamin owned several ships in Salem; however he was primarily involved in civic and political affairs. Upon his return to Salem in 1776, he began importing flour from Philadelphia for the Massachusetts government. He served on the Salem School Committee, and joined the Salem Volunteer Company in an expedition to Rhode Island in 1778. Benjamin was a member of the Constitutional Convention (1779-1780), a state Senator (1783, 1785-1788), and a Representative to the General Court (1780-1782). In 1788, the General Court sent Goodhue to an interstate conference to consider trade and commercial regulations. Benjamin was also appointed Justice of the Peace in 1786, and a Justice of the Quorum for Essex County in 1788. He was elected as a Representative to the first Congress in 1789, and continued to be elected to the next three sessions of Congress until 1795, when he was appointed Senator from Massachusetts to replace Senator George Cabot. Benjamin was Senator until 1800, when he resigned due to his wife's failing health. While in Congress, Benjamin drafted the bill to provide for the establishment of Washington D.C., and was instrumental in many of the revenue bills.

Benjamin was part owner of several ships which sailed to the West Indies, India, and China, carrying teas and textiles. He also owned several privateers during the Revolution: the schooner Bob and Joan, which was captured in Jamaica in 1778; the brig Dispatch, which was captured in Jamaica in 1781; the schooner True American; and the brig Sturdy Beggar. While he was serving in Congress, Benjamin's brother, Stephen, acted as his agent for his shipping and land interests.

Benjamin was also vice-president for the Salem Turnpike Corporation, and a founding member of the Massachusetts Congregational Charity Society. After retiring from Congress, Goodhue managed his land and shipping business until his death in 1814.

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.

Adams, John, 1735-1826
Giles, Eleazar
Goodhue, Benjamin, 1707-1783
Goodhue, Benjamin, 1748-1814
Goodhue, Benjamin, 1768-1849
Goodhue, Jonathan, 1744-1778
Goodhue, Mary (Lowden), 1667?-1729
Goodhue, Stephen, 1739-1809
Jay, John, 1745-1829
Orne family
Pickering family
Stone, Hannah
Stone, Robert
Trask, Amos
Tucker, Gideon, 1778-1861
Benjamin (Schooner)
Fanny (Brig)
Harvard University
Lydia (Brig)
Salem (Schooner)
Sarah (Schooner)
Star (Brig)
Account books
Account books--1722-1848
Account books--Blacksmithing
Account books--Estates
Account books--General stores
Account books--Merchants--Salem
Account books--Salem, Mass.
Estates, Administration of
General stores
Local government
Napoleonic Wars--1800-1815
Shipping--West Indies
Salem (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)--Churches--First Church of Christ
United States--History, Military
United States--History--French and Indian War--1755-1763
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--History--Spoliation claims
United States--Politics and government


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

Goodhue Family Papers, MSS 9, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This collection was created from a reorganization and integration of five scrapbook volumes, eighteen account books, and several miscellaneous folders. The majority of the collection is from an unknown source; however, the following items were purchased: a letter dated November 21, 1801 (box 2, folder 4) was purchased in 1962; a letter dated December 24, 1796 from Benjamin Goodhue to Stephen Goodhue (box 1, folder 5) was purchased in 1976; and a letter dated February 18, 1797, from Benjamin Goodhue to Benjamin Walker (box 1, folder 8) was purchased in 1979. A daybook that belonged to Jonathan Goodhue was a gift of John F. Page in 1975. A deed for land and buildings at 22 Liberty Street in Salem, from William P. Goodhue to Abigail Goodhue Wells, dated July 7, 1863, was given by F. Blake Cloonen in 1993 (box 5, folder 2). Many Goodhue documents were integrated into the collection from the Wheatland Papers. All loose manuscripts have their original location marked on the back of each item. Removed from the collection were several letters and receipts of Ichabod Tucker, two ledgers, and a list of vessels belonging to Gideon Tucker. These items have been placed with the Tucker Family Papers (MSS 165).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy Carberry Barthelemy, May 1981. Updated by Hilary Streifer, September 2014.

Related Material


Bentley, William. The Diary of William Bentley, Pastor of the East Church, Salem, Massachusetts, Vols. 1-4. Salem: Essex Institute, 1911.

Biography of the First Settlement of the Family of the Name Goodhue: At Ipswich, in 1636, and Genealogy to 1833, Together with an Address By Deacon Samuel Goodhue to His Descendants. 1833.

Goodhue, Reverend Jonathan Elbridge. History and Genealogy of the Goodhue Family: In England and America to the Year 1890. Rochester, NY: E. R. Andrews, 1891.

Perley, Sidney. Salem in 1700. Salem: Essex Antiquarian, 1910.

Shipton, Clifford K. Sibley's Harvard Graduates, Vol. 14 and 16. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1972.

Related Collections

Logbooks, Fanny (Brig). Log 17, Log 18, and Log 21.

Logbook, Lydia (Brig). Log 19.

Eben F. Stone Papers, 1743-1793. Fam. Mss. 966. Contains the letters of Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814) to Michael Hodge from 1789 to 1790.

Tucker Family Papers, 1680-1878. MSS 165. Contains the papers of Gideon Tucker, Stephen Goodhue's son-in-law.

Henry Wheatland Papers, 1629-1903. MSS 464. Contains genealogical material of the Goodhue family.

Joseph Goodhue Diary, 1745-1765. Fam. Mss. 383.

Goodhue Family Papers, 1774-1859. Fam. Mss. 384. Contains the family records of the Danvers and Middleton Goodhues from 1774-1859.

American and Canadian Cyphering Book Collection, MSS 399. Contains Benjamin (1707-1783) Goodhue's arithmetic workbook, 1727-1728; Benjamin (1748-1814) Goodhue's arithmetic workbook, 1784; Stephen (1738/9-1809) Goodhue's navigation workbook, 1757; and Jonathan (1744/5/1778) Goodhue's navigation workbook, 1763.

Appendix I

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