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John William Stark (1788-1836) Papers

John William Stark (1788-1836) Papers

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JOHN WILLIAM STARK (1788-1836) PAPERS, 1760, 1785-1890, 1932

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:Stark, John William, 1788-1836
Title:John William Stark (1788-1836) Papers
Dates:1760, 1785/1890, 1932
Quantity:1.5 linear feet (3 boxes, 1 flat file)
Abstract:The John William Stark papers consist of ships' papers, business papers relating to the family shipping business, and miscellaneous materials.
Collection Number:MH 7

Series List

SERIES I. Ships' Papers
SERIES II. Shipping and Business Papers
SERIES III. Miscellaneous

Scope and Content Note

The John William Stark papers consist of ships' papers, business papers relating to the family shipping business, and miscellaneous materials. Some topics have been kept in separate folders so as to preserve provenance of the materials. This collection is made up of three series.

Series I. Ships' Papers contains voyage-related papers arranged by the name of the specific vessel. It contains memorandum books, bills of lading, merchant's instructions, invoices, affidavits of citizenship, correspondence, and other related materials. These materials are connected to specific voyages in which Stark was involved as supercargo or as a merchant's agent abroad.

Series II. Shipping and Business Papers contain business correspondence and documents related to Stark family activities in the shipping business.

Series III. Miscellaneous contains a volume of minutes from the Columbian Manufacturing Society, an exercise book belonging to an unidentified person, non-Stark correspondence and miscellaneous papers. Also included in this series is a folder with photocopies of documents housed at the New Hampshire Historical Society relating to John William Stark, which were made in 1992 (it is unclear who made these or why they were added to the collection). There are also unused book plates from Donald Bloch's collection.

Biographical Sketch

John William Stark was born in 1788, the eldest son of Caleb (1759-1838) and Sarah (McKinstry) Stark (1767-1839), who were married in 1787. Caleb was a businessman who owned several ships in the early years of the 19th century; by 1805, he had become involved in English and East Indian trade. From approximately 1807 to 1812, he was associated with his brother-in-law, John McKinstry (1769-1825) in a merchant firm bearing their names. Between 1812 and 1830, Caleb manufactured textiles in Pembroke, New Hampshire. He spent his later years pursing a land claim in Ohio, where he died. Caleb was the eldest son of John Stark (1728-1822), a general in the Revolutionary War and officer in the French and Indian Wars of the 1750s. Caleb, despite his youth, had joined his father at Bunker Hill and fought through the Revolution; he ended his military career as a Major.

John William Stark appears to have worked in Caleb's merchant business. He traveled and lived for some time in the West Indies. Despite impending hostilities, he received a British passport in 1812 allowing him to travel to Calcutta as supercargo on an American vessel. The passport was modified in 1813 by a Parole, which obligated him to remain in India for the duration of the war. He left India for America in September 1815. While in Calcutta, he worked as a supercargo and a merchant's buying and selling agent, which is the time period that this collection covers. He was well-known there for his purchasing expertise and honesty. In addition to his four stays in Calcutta, he worked in Canton between 1818 and 1820.

After his time overseas, John became a prosperous Boston merchant. He died unmarried in January 1836, leaving an estate of about $100,000, which was administered by Augustine Heard (1785-1868), a famous sea captain and merchant. John, his father Caleb, and other family members are buried near Caleb's home in Dunbarton, New Hampshire. John (1728-1822), his wife Molly, and others are in a graveyard in Manchester, New Hampshire, near the house that was built in approximately 1736 by John's (1728-1822) father, Archibald (1697-1758).

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.

Cabot, Andrew, 1780-1816
Day, Raj Kissen
Devereux, Humphrey, 1779-186
Devereux, James, 1766-1846
Dodge, Pickering, 1778-1833
Heard, Augustine, 1785-1868
Lee, Henry, 1782-1867
McKinstry, John, 1769-1825
Mitre, Ram Chunder
Stark, Archibald, 1697-1720
Stark, Caleb, 1759-1838
Stark, John William, 1788-1836
Stark, John, 1759-1838
Stark, Sarah McKinstry, 1767-1839
Acasta (Ship)
Alligator (Schooner)
America (Brig)
Bengal (Ship)
Columbia Manufacturing Society
Favorite (Ship)
Hope (Ship)
Indus (Brig)
Reaper (Brig)
Account books
Textile fabrics
India--Commerce--United States
Salem (Mass.)
United States--Commerce--China
United States--Commerce--History
United States--Commerce--India
United States--History--War of 1812


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

John William Stark (1788-1836) Papers, MH 7, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Some of the material was purchased in 1986 (accession #23,867). The rest of the collection was donated to the museum in 1987 by Marie H. Bloch, on behalf of her late husband, Donald Bloch of Denver, Colorado (accession #25,020). Mr. Bloch, a rare book dealer, had acquired the items in Kansas in the 1950s, from the estate of Rees H. Bowen (1886-circa 1953), a former sociology professor at Dartmouth.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Roberta L. Kovitz, 1987. Updated by Victor A. Lewinson, 1992 and Hilary Streifer, 2014.

Related Material

Moore, Howard Parker. A Life of General John Stark. Boston: Spaulding and Moss Company, 1949.

New England Historical and Genealogical Society. New England Historical and GenealogicalRegister. 13 (1859): 39.

Porter, Kenneth Wiggins. The Jacksons and the Lees: Two generations of Massachusetts Merchants, 1765-1844. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1935.

Appendix I

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