The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Parker Family Papers
2.5 linear feet (5 boxes)
The Parker Family Papers
consist primarily of shipping papers reflecting the thriving mercantile business of
William Balch Parker (1772-1844) and his son, William Bradstreet Parker (1801-1878)
SERIES I. Shipping Papers SERIES II. William B. Parker (1772-1844) Papers SERIES III. Family Papers SERIES IV. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Parker Family Papers consist primarily of shipping papers reflecting the thriving
mercantile business of William Balch Parker (1772-1844) and his son, William
Bradstreet Parker (1801-1878) of Salem. The collection also contains business and
personal papers of William Balch Parker and members of the Parker and Watson
families. The collection has been divided into four series.
Series I. Shipping Papers, 1799-1844, which includes
ships' papers, shipping correspondence, and financial records, does not truly
reflect the magnitude nor the prosperity of the mercantile trade which William Balch
Parker and William Bradstreet Parker conducted with the West Indies, Europe, and the
east coast of the United States. Only six of their twelve vessels may be found in
this collection, and of these only the schooner/brig Argo and the brig Orient are well
documented. The ships' papers include a number of vessels of which William
Bradstreet was master (see Appendix II). In approximately 1824, William entered his
father's mercantile business essentially as a shipmaster and business agent. The
collection contains a sizeable amount of William's correspondence as a shipmaster
with his father. These letters relay information regarding the state of markets,
cargo prices, etc. Of note in the ships' papers is a letter from the master of the
brig Alert and an undated international tide table.
Shipping correspondence includes correspondence with foreign and domestic merchants,
descriptions of William Balch's interests in shipbuilding, letters from business
associates John Watson (William Balch's brother-in-law) and Benjamin Hawkes, and
miscellaneous masters' correspondence.
Series II. William B. Parker (1772-1844) Papers,
1800-1845, includes correspondence relating to his stocks and leather tanning
activities, letters from his wife's family, the Watsons, and financial papers.
Besides household bills and receipts, the financial papers contain accounts and
receipts generated from William's administration of estates, such as those of John
Moriarty, William Foster, and John Watson (1747-1813). Also included here are bills
for Abraham W. Parker's stay in the McLean Asylum for the Insane.
Series III. Family Papers, 1762-1845, contain
financial papers of William Bradstreet Parker (1801-1878), Abraham W. Parker,
miscellaneous Parker family members, and papers of the Watson family of Portland,
Maine. Parker family news may be found in William Bradsteet's correspondence as
master of the brig Argo, brig Effort, and brig Mercator, and William
Balch's correspondence. The Watson family papers include correspondence regarding
the family's land in Windham, Maine, legal and financial papers concerning the
estates of Samuel Phippen, Sarah and Mary Hathorne, and John Watson (1747-1813), and
a bill of sale for the schooner Betsey (1808). These
papers also contain bills and receipts and legal sureties which relate to Abraham
(1712-1790) and John Watson (1747-1813) as agents of Salem tax collector and tanner
William Balch Parker, youngest son of Bradstreet and
Rebecca (Balch) Parker, was born on April 28, 1772 in Groveland, Massachusetts. He
went to Salem as a young man and was a merchant and ship owner, trading with the
West Indies, Europe, and the east coast of the United States. In 1800 he married
Abigail Watson (1775-1868) of Portland, Maine, and they had eight children. He died
in Salem on May 1, 1844.
William Bradstreet Parker was a shipmaster and owner
of several vessels based in New England, which were used in the mercantile trade
between the West Indies, Europe, South America, and the East and West Coasts of
North America. Parker was born March 7, 1801, the son of William Balch Parker
(1772-1844) and Abigail Watson. Parker joined his father's trade early on; he was
listed as shipmaster on his father's schooner Argo in
1818. He periodically served as master for a variety of other vessels and held a
financial interest in many of them, frequently sharing ownership with other Salem
businessmen such as Isaac Cushing and John F. Andrew. While he is associated with
more than ten vessels, the majority of his maritime career involved the Mercator (Brig), Effort
(Brig), Brazil (Bark), and Forrester (Ship). He shipped a variety of goods including but not
limited to silk, cotton, pepper, sugar, coffee, indigo, potatoes, molasses, and corn
as well as occasional passengers.
Parker was a member of the Salem Marine Society and the East India Marine
Society. He married Ellen Parker in 1851 and eventually left the shipping business.
Appointed director of the Naumkeag Bank in October 1851, he became president in 1869
and served in this position until his death. He also held leadership positions in
the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company and the Salem Savings Bank; he served on Salem's
Board of Alderman in 1853 and 1856. He died at his Pleasant Street home on December
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.
Andrew, John, 1774-1829
Hawkes, Benjamin, -1839
Parker, Abraham W. (Abraham Watson), 1811-1845
Parker, William B. (William Balch), 1772-1844
Parker, William B. (William Bradstreet), 1801-
McLean Asylum for the Insane
Estates, administration of
Leather industry and trade
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
The Parker Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of 5 boxes of
manuscripts, the 1964 gift of Mrs. George S. Parker, one envelope of additional
papers donated by Mrs. Robert Barton in 1964, and a purchase made in December of
1986. Separated from the collection are the 1844 logbook of the Bark Brazil, and
papers of William Pickering (see separation sheet).
Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, August 1984. Updated by Rachel Jirka,
February 2009 and Catherine Robertson, January 2015.
William Bradstreet Parker Papers, 1823-1854, MH
Papers of John Watson, 1811, 1814, undated, MSS
The Parker Family Papers consist primarily of shipping papers reflecting the thriving mercantile business of William Balch Parker (1772-1844) and his son, William Bradstreet Parker (1801-1878) of Salem.
McLean Asylum for the Insane; Alert (Brig); Argo (Brig); Argo (Schooner); Arthur (Schooner); Betsey (Schooner); Brazil (Bark); Effort (Brig); Forrester (Ship); Mercator (Brig); Orient (Brig); Andrew, John, 1774-1829; Foster, William; Hathorne, Mary; Hathorne, Sarah; Hawkes, Benjamin, -1839; Moriarty, John; Parker, Abraham W. (Abraham Watson), 1811-1845; Parker, William B. (William Balch), 1772-1844; Parker, William B. (William Bradstreet), 1801-; Phippen, Samuel; Estates, administration of; Leather industry and trade; Merchants--Maine--Portland; Merchants--Massachusetts--Salem; Privateering; Ship building; Shipping; Tanning
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.
The Parker Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of 5 boxes of manuscripts, the 1964 gift of Mrs. George S. Parker, one envelope of additional papers donated by Mrs. Robert Barton in 1964, and a purchase made in December of 1986.