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Currier Family Papers

Currier Family Papers

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Processing and conservation of this collection were 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:Currier family
Title:Currier Family Papers
Quantity:3 linear feet (6 boxes, 1 volume)
Abstract:The Currier Family Papers document the Currier families of Amesbury and Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MSS 180

Series List

SERIES I. Shipbuilding and Shipping Papers
SERIES II. John James Currier Papers
SERIES III. Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Currier Family Papers document the Currier families of Amesbury and Newburyport, Massachusetts. The collection features papers of the thriving Newburyport shipbuilding business of John Currier Jr. (1802-1887) and his son, John James Currier (1834-1912). Also included are personal, political, and historical papers of John James Currier and papers of other family members. Of special note in the family papers are business and militia papers of Captain John Currier (1726-1806) of Amesbury. The collection is divided into three series.

Series I. Shipbuilding and Shipping Papers contains letterbooks, account books, and ships' papers, reflecting the prosperous shipbuilding and charter activities of John Currier Jr. and his son, John James Currier. The letterbooks and loose correspondence contain orders for shipbuilding supplies (especially lumber) and correspondence with merchant agents discussing the shipment of cargos and the chartering or sale of vessels. In addition, the loose correspondence includes letters regarding Geneva and French spoliation claims from 1902 to 1907. The account books contain shipbuilding, shipping, chartering, and insurance accounts. The 1854-1882 shipbuilding account and agreement book (B2 F2) includes legal agreements for the construction of vessels, a directory of merchants and agents, a listing of the ships' voyages (1857-1873), and accounts of ships' incomes (1882-1892). The 1857-1883 shipbuilding account book (B2 F3) features a list of the vessels built by John Currier Jr. from 1831 to 1883, while the 1873-1900 marine insurance volume (Vol. 1) contains the arrival and departure dates in ports of call for Currier vessels. See Appendix I for a list of ships built or used by the Curriers in this collection.

The ships' papers, arranged alphabetically by vessel, are comprised primarily of masters' and agent correspondence, disbursement accounts, and bills of sale or charter agreements. All but two of the vessels in this collection were built by John Currier Jr. These ships voyaged to nearly every part of the world including Australia, the Far East, India, Europe, North America, and South America. Of interest in the ships' papers are the 1875 medicine chest and stores inventories of the ship Hibernia and the sails and furnishings inventory of the ship Big Bonanza. The papers of the Big Bonanza also include protests and correspondence regarding the master's attempts to eliminate the high costs of hospitalization which the consul at Manila charged in 1891 for a crewman infected with small pox. See Appendix I for a list of ships built or used by the Curriers in this collection.

Series II. John James Currier Papers includes business, personal, and mayoral correspondence, historical and genealogical correspondence, historical lectures, and genealogical notes. The business, personal, and mayoral correspondence documents the wide range of John's activities. Personal letters include notes from his niece Suzie and nephew David P. Coffin (1879), letters regarding the Tuesday Evening and Unitarian Clubs, of which John was a member, condolences received following the deaths of his father (1887) and his wife (1910), and correspondence from a windmill company concerning the installation of a machine at John's house (1878-1879). Personal correspondence from John's wife Susan may be found in the Family Papers (B5 F8). Business letters include correspondence regarding John's interests in railroad and bank stocks and his activities as agent for estates and land, such as the Moody estate (1877-1879), and the estates of Benjamin Perley Poor (1887), and Mary C.L. Fitch (1912). Once John was elected mayor of Newburyport in 1879, he researched and worked on a number of projects including sidewalk and bridge construction, steamrollers for the roads, enlargement of the jail, erection of a statue of George Washington, and Newbury's 250th anniversary celebration. Following the bulk of the business and personal letters are folders of correspondence regarding the commemorative service and memorial for Honorable Caleb Cushing, and John's memorial on his wife, Susan (Page) Currier.

The historical and genealogical correspondence contains information regarding the Currier, Titcomb, Lunt, Farnum, Hay, Bayley, Colby, Thornton, Carr, and Felton families, as well as letters concerning shipbuilding in Essex County and Maine, house histories, the Yankee Hero spoons, and ship disasters of Plum Island. Also included is correspondence discussing a number of John's books. The genealogical notes include memorandums and notebooks which also provide information concerning the Currier family genealogy and the history of shipbuilding. John's miscellaneous papers contain financial, legal, and miscellaneous papers such as his estate inventory, book copyrights, costs of remodeling the Chickering house (1872), costs and lists of guests invited to the Newbury 250th anniversary, and an 1852 notebook on how to calculate the magnitude of lunar eclipses.

Series III. Family Papers includes records of Captain John Currier (1726-1806) of Amesbury, John Currier Jr. (1802-1887) and Susan (Page) Currier (1838-1910) of Newburyport, and papers of other family members and relatives. The papers of Captain John Currier feature farm and shoemaker's accounts and correspondence and accounts regarding John's tenure as Amesbury's tax collector. Of special note are John's military records which document his campaigns at Lexington and Charlestown in 1775. These include general orders, accounts of army stores and soldier's wages, muster rolls, and lists of imprisoned disorderly American soldiers. John Currier Jr.'s papers are primarily comprised of land deeds. The bulk of Susan (Page) Currier's papers contain letters to her husband written during her 1896-1897 excursion to Gibraltar, Italy, France, England, Germany, and Switzerland. Also included is a small diary from this voyage and estate papers.

The Currier family papers (B6 F1) contain business and personal correspondence, financial and legal papers for family members from Amesbury and Newburyport. Included are: letters of condolence received by John James Currier's niece Suzie regarding Susan (Page) Currier's death (1910); papers and accounts of Amesbury Highway Surveyors David and John Currier Jr. (1828-1853); John Currier Jr.'s Amesbury farming account book (1833-1835); and papers of Daniel, David, Captain Richard, and William Currier. The Currier family genealogy (B6 F2) contains notes compiled by Freeman B. Currier on the history of the Currier, Coffin, Barnard, Doyle, Hoyt, Osgood, and Greenleaf families from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The relatives' and miscellaneous papers (B6 F3) include correspondence, financial, and legal documents of the Hoyt, Page, Coffin, Farmer, and Moddy families. Of interest are papers of David P. Coffin who worked on the licensing of Newburyport liquor dealers in 1913.

Biographical Sketches

John Currier Jr., a famous Newbury, Massachusetts, shipbuilder, was born in 1802 to John (1771-1837) and Hannah (Coffin) Currier. In 1831, John established a thriving shipbuilding business which built over 97 vessels. In 1857, John's son John James Currier (1834-1912), entered the prosperous firm as a partner. By the 1880s, the call for merchant ships had decreased. The Curriers launched their last vessel, the ship Mary L. Cushing, in 1883. This ship was the last merchant ship built in Massachusetts. John Currier Jr. was also active in town politics. He was a member of the 1846 committee which advocated unification of the towns of Newbury and Newburyport. In 1852, he became mayor of the newly incorporated town of Newburyport when Honorable Caleb Cushing retired from the position. John Currier Jr. married Clarissa Carr in 1830. Upon his death in 1887, he left one surviving child, John James Currier.

John James Currier (1834-1912) received his education from the Putnam Free School of Newburyport and a private academy in Thetford, Vermont. On the event of his father's death in 1887, the family shipbuilding and shipping activities largely ended. John James held a number of civic, town, and state posts, including serving as a member of the city government (1860-1861), president of the Common Council (1862), alderman (1863-1864), mayor of Newburyport (1879-1880), and Massachusetts State Senator (1887). He was also greatly interested in genealogy and history, and authored a number of books including Ould Newbury (1896), the History of Newbury (1902), and the History of Newburyport (1906, 1909). In 1868, John James Currier married Susan Maria Page (1838-1910), the daughter of David P. and Susan (Lunt) Page. John died in 1912, leaving no children.

John Currier (1726-1806), an Amesbury, Massachusetts, farmer, shoemaker, and noted militia captain, was born in 1726 to David (1645-1737) and Keziah (Colby) Currier, distant cousins of the Newbury Curriers. Besides running a firm and a shoemaking business, John served as constable and tax collector of Amesbury (1770) and town selectman (1768-1779). Although he had fought for the British cause in the French and Indian War, he was the first to recruit an Amesbury patriot militia company to fight in the Revolutionary War. John's company, of which he was captain, fought at the Battle of Lexington, and was under the command of Colonel James Frye at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

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.

Barnard family
Bayley family
Carr family
Coffin family
Coffin, David P.
Colby family
Currier family
Currier, Daniel
Currier, David
Currier, Freeman B.
Currier, John
Currier, John James, 1834-1912
Currier, John, 1726-1806
Currier, John, 1802-1887
Currier, Richard
Currier, Susan Page, 1838-1910
Currier, William Edward, 1814-
Cushing, Caleb, 1800-1879
Doyle family
Farmer family
Farnum family
Felton family
Fitch, Mary C. L.
Greenleaf family
Hoyt family
Lunt family
Moody family
Osgood family
Page family
Poor, Benjamin Perley
Thornton family
Titcomb family
Alfred Keene (Ship)
Big Bonanza (Ship)
Daniel J. Tenney (Ship)
Elcano (Ship)
Etta J. Stimpson (Ship)
Farragut (Ship)
G. C. Trufant (Ship)
Gardens Reach (Ship)
Harmonia (Ship)
Importer (Ship)
Jabez Howes (Ship)
John Currier (Ship)
Longwood (Ship)
Massachusetts. Militia
Monte Rosa (Ship)
Radiant (Ship)
Rangoon (Ship)
Sapphire (Ship)
Tennyson (Ship)
Thomas Dana (Ship)
W. H. Lincoln (Ship)
Whampoa (Ship)
Whittier (Ship)
Winged Hunter (Ship)
Account books
Administration of estates
Boots--Trade and manufacture
Bridges--Design and construction
Charter parties
Copyright licenses
Lectures and lecturing
Letter writing
Liquor laws
Lumber trade
Marine insurance
Marine protests
Military history
Real estate
Roads--Design and construction
Shoes--Trade and manufacture
Amesbury--Local records
France--Description and travel
Germany--Description and travel
Great Britain--Description and travel
Italy--Description and travel
Newbury--Centennial celebrations
Newburyport--Local records
Switzerland--Description and travel
United States--History, Military
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--History--Spoliation Claims


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

Currier Family Papers, MSS 180, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Currier Family Papers are a reorganization of four letterbooks, five account books, six boxes of manuscript material, and several miscellaneous folders. The bulk of the collection was donated by the estate of John James Currier in 1913. Removed from the papers were acidic newspaper articles (see Separation Sheet).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, June 1985. Retyped by Catherine Robertson, April 2015.

Related Material

Currier, Harvey Lear. Genealogy of Richard Currier of Salisbury and Amesbury, MA. Newport, Vermont: Orleans County Historical Society, 1910.

Merrill, Joseph. History of Amesbury and Merrimac. Haverhill: Franklin P. Stiles Press, 1880.

"Revolutionary Papers of Captain John Currier of Amesbury." Historical Collections of the Essex Institute. Vol. 84, 1948. pages 254-276, 349-366.

Appendix I

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