Processing and conservation of this collection
was funded in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Fernald & Petigrew (Portsmouth, N.H.)
Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard
8 linear feet (13 boxes)
The Fernald and Petigrew
Shipyard papers are a record of the daily business transactions in one of
Portsmouth, New Hampshire's most active shipyards, notable for their comprehensive
documentation and their volume.
SERIES I. Ships' Papers
A. Shipbuilding Papers
B. Shipping Papers
SERIES II. Business Papers
A. Correspondence and Memoranda
B. Account Books
D. Bank Records
F. Receipt Books
SERIES III. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard papers are a record of the daily business
transactions in one of Portsmouth, New Hampshire's most active shipyards, notable
for their comprehensive documentation and their volume. The collection describes the
tasks and expenses associated with shipbuilding in mid-nineteenth century New
England. The papers have been divided into three series.
Series I. Ships' Papers is divided into two
subseries. Subseries A. Shipbuilding Papers include
correspondence, bills, and some drawings pertaining to the construction of several
of the larger Fernald and Petigrew ships. In addition, these papers document the
remarkable Fernald and Petigrew clipper ships. Material associated with the clipper
Typhoon includes a letter from the ship's
supercargo in Liverpool complaining of leaks and an inept crew. The papers of the
clipper Red Rover contain drawings of the layout of the
vessel. See Appendix I for a list of vessels built or refitted by Fernald and
Subseries B. Shipping Papers is comprised of accounts
for the transfer of timber and other construction materials from various ports to
the shipyard, and correspondence with agents associated with shipments of a single
specified ship. Many of the ships represented in the shipping papers were built by
Fernald and Petigrew, and so comments on the quality of the vessel are occasionally
found in the correspondence in this section. See Appendix II for a list of ships
owned or chartered by Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard.
Series II. Business Papers includes correspondence,
contracts, insurance papers, and various forms of accounts and receipts. Due to the
bulk of this material, the papers have been divided into seven subseries. Subseries A. Correspondence and Memoranda include the
Samuel Hale papers, which concern the initial leasing of the shipyard buildings by
Fernald and Petigrew. Subseries B. Account Books include
54 volumes documenting copper and hardware, timber, and labor. Subseries C. Accounts include documents for ironworks and hardware,
shipbuilding, and timber. Subseries D. Bank Records
include notes payable, bills of exchange, bank books, and check books. Subseries E. Bills include bills for items such as
hardware, timber, labor carving work and decorations, board and provisions, general
freighting, orders and miscellaneous expenses. Subseries F.
Receipt Books include twelve volumes documenting receipts between 1844
and 1855. Subseries G. Receipts include receipts from
1844 to 1855.
Series III. Miscellaneous Papers include a map drawn
of Portsmouth Harbor; a Fernald and Petigrew business card; handbill advertisements;
a typed copy of a short history of the company; and a list of the vessels built in
Portsmouth (from MSS 0.127). Also included in this
series is a photostat of a rigger's account book because it records not only Fernald
and Petigrew vessels, but other shipbuilders' as well.
With the demand for fast ships to China, the discovery of gold in California and
Australia, and booming trade activities, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was revitalized
as a shipbuilding town in the 1840s, after a decade of minimal production in the
1830s. The annual tonnage of vessels built rose from 1,000 to almost 10,000 between
1843 and 1853. Frederick W. Fernald and William Petigrew formed the Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard in 1844. Fernald was a former
shipbuilder and Petigrew had been a master workman in another Portsmouth shipyard,
Raynes Shipyard. Soon, Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard established themselves
alongside two other firms, George Raynes and Tobey and Littlefield as one of the
three most aggressive and innovative shipbuilding firms in Portsmouth. The ships
built by these companies were respected for their swiftness.
Fernald and Petigrew purchased Badger's Island shipyard in the early 1840s. Of
the many ships built at the yard, the clipper ships are particularly noteworthy.
These ships averaged 1,177 tons, and each ship cost over $50,000. Refusing to halt
production during the winter months, Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard was able to
construct seven clipper ships in five years, employing between 50 and 100 men. The
design for their first clipper, Typhoon, has been
attributed to Samuel Pook of Boston. The Typhoon's
maiden voyage to Liverpool is of some importance, as she was the first American
clipper, and one of the largest merchant ships to come to that port. In the
mid-to-late 1850s the Typhoon was engaged in both
trans-Atlantic trade and British trade with India and China. Red Rover, which launched in 1852, held the record for the fastest
average time in westward passages around Cape Horn. Dashing
Wave, a lumber drogher, was noted for her swift runs between San
Francisco and Tacoma, as well as her travels around Cape Horn. Express, Midnight, and Noonday were all medium-sized clippers built between 1854
and 1855. These clippers were used for eastbound and westbound Cape Horn
After Frederick Fernald died in 1855, William Petigrew went into partnership
with Captain Daniel Marcy.
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.
Fernald, Frederick W. (Frederick Waterman), 1810-1855
Hale, Samuel, of Portsmouth, N.H.
Petigrew, William, d. 1863
Dashing Wave (Ship)
Empire State (Ship)
Frank Peirce (Ship)
Golden Rocket (Ship)
Governor Langdon (Ship)
Granite State (Schooner)
Hope Goodwin (Ship)
Isaac H. Boardman (Ship)
John Haven (Ship)
Judah Toure (Ship)
Levi Woodbury (Ship)
Peter Marcy (Ship)
R. D. Shepard (Ship)
Red Rover (Ship)
Water Witch (Ship)
Western World (Ship)
William Penn (Schooner)
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
This material was purchased from Gertrude M. Pickett in 1940. A photostat of an
unknown rigger's notebook was a 1955 gift of Mrs. Clarkson A. Cranmer (accession
#13, 588). Formerly cataloged as MH 0.404, it has been
integrated into this collection. Photocopied pages from the rigger's notebook
concerning specific vessels, was integrated into the series Shipbuilding Papers
before the photstat was added to the collection. A typed copy of papers listing
vessels built in Portsmouth by shipbuilders, formerly cataloged as MSS 0.127, has been integrated into this collection.
Collection processed by Cynthia Hecht and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, August 1983.
Updated by Robert Bottomley and Robert P. Spindler, April 1988 and Hilary Streifer,
Brighton, Ray. Clippers of the Port of Portsmouth and the Men
Who Built Them. Portsmouth, NH: The Portsmouth Marine Society, 1985.
Clark, Arthur H. The Clipper Ship Era: An Epitome of
Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders,
and Crews, 1843-1869. NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1910.
Fairburn, William Armstrong and Ethel M. Ritchie. Merchant
sail. Center Lovell, Maine: Fairburn Marine Educational Foundation,
Pickett, Gertrude M. Portsmouth's Heyday in
Shipbuilding. Joseph G. Sawtell, 1979.
Frederick W. Fernald Diary, two volumes, 1837-1839. Acc.
The Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard papers are a record of the daily business transactions in one of Portsmouth, New Hampshire's most active shipyards, notable for their comprehensive documentation and their volume.
Ann (Ship); Arabella (Ship); Athens (Ship); Burlington (Schooner); Catherine (Schooner); Colorado (Battleship); Columbus (Ship); Congress (Frigate); Corsica (Ship); Danube (Ship); Dashing Wave (Ship); Eliza (Schooner); Emblem (Brig); Empire (Ship); Empire State (Ship); Express (Ship); Fashion (Schooner); Fortitude (Ship); Frank Peirce (Ship); Germania (Ship); Golden Rocket (Ship); Governor Langdon (Ship); Granite State (Schooner); Hope Goodwin (Ship); Isaac H. Boardman (Ship); John Haven (Ship); Judah Toure (Ship); Levi Woodbury (Ship); Marmora (Ship); Martha (Bark); Midnight (Ship); Millandon (Ship); Mystery (Ship); Nonsuch (Ship); Noonday (Ship); Peter Marcy (Ship); Piscataqua (Ship); R. D. Shepard (Ship); Red Rover (Ship); Samoset (Ship); Talleyrand (Brig); Typhoon (Ship); Water Witch (Ship); Western World (Ship); Whatcheer (Bark); Whistler (Ship); William Penn (Schooner); Portsmouth (N.H.); Fernald, Frederick W. (Frederick Waterman), 1810-1855; Petigrew, William, d. 1863; Hale, Samuel, of Portsmouth, N.H.; Account books; Clipper ships; Shipbuilding--Portsmouth (N.H.); Shipping; Shipyards--Portsmouth (N.H.)
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.
This material was purchased from Gertrude M. Pickett in 1940. A photostat of an unknown rigger’s notebook was a 1955 gift of Mrs. Clarkson A. Cranmer (accession #13, 588). Formerly cataloged as MH 0.404, it has been integrated into this collection. Photocopied pages from the rigger’s notebook concerning specific vessels, was integrated into the series Shipbuilding Papers before the photstat was added to the collection. A typed copy of papers listing vessels built in Portsmouth by shipbuilders, formerly cataloged as MSS 0.127, has been integrated into this collection.