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Francis Brown (1815-1880) Papers

Francis Brown (1815-1880) Papers

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FRANCIS BROWN (1815-1880) PAPERS, 1802-1890

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:Brown, Francis, 1815-1880
Title:Francis Brown (1815-1880) Papers
Quantity:0.75 linear feet (2 boxes)
Abstract:The Francis Brown papers are largely composed of ships' papers with some personal papers included.
Collection Number:MH 26

Series List

SERIES I. Ships' Papers
SERIES II. Other Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Francis Brown papers are largely composed of ships' papers with some personal papers included. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I. Ships' Papers contains the papers of sixteen vessels, primarily those in which Brown was master, supercargo, and/or owner. The majority of these vessels traded with the East Indies, China, or Zanzibar. The papers cover every aspect of merchant shipping of the period, and include letters of instruction, insurance policies, crew lists, seaman's shipping articles, bills of lading, disbursements, invoices, and other accounts. Two vessels are notable for the extent of the items which relate to them. The papers of the ship Ann Maria show four voyages spanning the years 1846 to 1850, in which Brown began as master, then master and part owner, and then became part owner only. The Ann Maria traded during this period with China, Java, Singapore, the Philippines, and Valparaiso. The papers of the bark Star, in which Brown was part owner and joint supercargo, cover voyages in the years 1838 to 1841 to Bombay, Mocha, and Zanzibar.

Series II. Other Papers consists of consular drafts, nautical charts, a power of attorney, a seaman's protection certificate, and memos of shipments to and from the United States with Muscat, Mauritius, India, and Zanzibar.

Biographical Sketch

Francis Brown was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1815 to Ammi and Hannah (Baker) Brown. His early education took place at the private school of Samuel Archer. Presumably, his first major employer was the firm of William Dean and Company; Brown was later employed with Ebenezer Seccomb.

He first went to sea on the 290-ton brig Neptune, most likely on a Sumatra voyage which was registered at Salem on September 29, 1831, under Captain William Osgood. Brown also served aboard the John Bertram-owned brig Cherokee under Captain Bensen, on a voyage to Batavia and Europe, from which he returned from Rotterdam on the bark Brazil. This voyage was most likely the one registered at Salem on March 6, 1837. After serving for a time as a business partner in the firm Seccomb and Brown, he landed his first major position on board a ship as the supercargo on board the bark Star, which he was part owner of, on a voyage to Zanzibar. Afterward, Brown worked as captain and/or supercargo on the brig Rattler, the ship Carolina to Rio de Janeiro and Canton, the bark Brazil to Sumatra, and the Ann Maria, to the East Indies.

After retiring from sea duty, he served as an agent in California for David Pingree. Upon his return to Salem, he became treasurer of the Salem Gas Light Company, treasurer of the Salem Lead Company, trustee of the Salem Five Cent Savings Bank, and a director of the Salem National Bank. Brown was elected alderman in Salem in 1861. He died on November 14, 1880 after a long illness, leaving behind a widow and several children.

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.

Andrews, John, Capt.
Bertram, John, 1796-1882
Brown, Edward, Capt.
Brown, Nathaniel, Capt.
Conant, Benjamin, Capt.
Elmslie, Capt.
Holme, Thomas, Capt.
McMullen, John, Capt.
Ropes, Edward D., 1864-1903
Ann Maria (Ship)
Brazil (Bark)
Cambridge (Steamer)
Carolina (Ship)
Cherokee (Brig)
Cynthia (Schooner)
Gazell (Brig)
Glide (Bark)
Harriot (Brig)
Herald (Brig)
Nadershaw (Corvette)
Rattler (Brig)
Richmond (Brig)
Sea King (Steamer)
Star (Bark)
Star (Brig)
Waverly (Brig)
China trade
Crew lists
Shipping--Louisiana--New Orleans
United States--Politics and government
Consular documents


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

Francis Brown (1815-1880) Papers, MH 26, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated on April 5, 1941 (accession #10,810).

Processing Information

Collection processed by John Koza, November 1990. Updated by Hilary Streifer, February 2015.

Related Material


Putnam, George Granville. Salem Vessels and Their Voyages. Salem: Essex Institute, 1922.

Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly Massachusetts, 1789-1900. Salem: Essex Institute, 1906.

Vital Records of Salem Massachusetts to the End of the Year 1849. Salem: Essex Institute, 1916.

Related Collections

Ann Maria (Ship) Logbook, 1846-1847. Log 582, Log 581.

Ann Maria (Ship) Logbook, 1847. Log 1277.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1834; Rattler (Brig) Logbook, 1840. Log 328.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1844. Log 539.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1841-1842; Caroline (Ship) Logbook, 1843-1844. Log 479.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1841-1842. Log 478.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1843-1844. Log 521.

Brazil (Bark) Logbook, 1844-1845. Log 538.

Brown Family Papers, 1789-1914. MSS 195.

Cherokee (Brig) Logbook, 1833-1834. Log 328.

Cherokee (Brig) Journal Abstract, 1833-1834; Neptune (Brig) Logbook and log Abstract, 1831-1832. Log 960.

Lucia Maria (Bark) Logbook, 1852-1853. Log 668.

Miscellaneous Maritime Documents, 1794-1795, 1841, 1865-1871, 1872. Accession 25, 778.

Rattler (Brig) Logbook, 1840; Star (Bark) Logbook, 1838-1839. Log 421.

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