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Tucker Family Papers

Tucker 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:Tucker family
Title:Tucker Family Papers
Quantity:3.5 linear feet (8 boxes)
Abstract:The Tucker Family Papers contain the business and personal papers of Essex County Court Clerk Ichabod Tucker (1765-1846) and merchant Gideon Tucker (1778-1861).
Collection Number:MSS 165

Series List

SERIES I. Ichabod Tucker Papers
A. Correspondence
B. Legal and Judicial Papers
C. Civic and Personal Papers
D. Family Papers
SERIES II. Gideon Tucker Papers
A. Shipping Papers
B. Business and Personal Papers
SERIES III. Tucker Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Tucker Family Papers contain the business and personal papers of Essex County Court Clerk Ichabod Tucker (1765-1846) and merchant Gideon Tucker (1778-1861). The collection also contains the shipping papers of Samuel and Henry Tucker, 1800-1809, and miscellaneous records of various Tucker family members. The collection has been divided into three series.

Series I. Ichabod Tucker Papers contains correspondence, Justice of the Peace records, diaries, military records, financial records, and historical notes. Also included are the papers of Tucker's first wife, Maria Orne Tucker (1775-1806), and his adopted daughter, Nancy Gay Cole (1795-1890). Subseries A. Correspondence documents his many personal and professional interests and his multitude of correspondents. The bulk of the correspondence concerns judicial matters. Tucker corresponded with a large number of prominent judges and lawyers: Caleb Strong (1789), Nathan Dane (1797-1798, 1815), Samuel Sewall (1806-1807, 1810-1811), Daniel Appleton White (1805-1806), Dudley Tyng (1808, 1814), Judge Theodore Sedgwick (1810), William Prescott (1812), Judge Artemas Ward (1812), John Pickering (1823), Charles Atherton (1799), and Charles Jackson (1806). Also of interest are letters regarding the settlement of Judge Nathaniel Peaselee Sargeant's estate (1805-1806), letters with the Reverend Francis Parkman on the Evangelical Missionary Society (1818, 1823), letters written by Tucker as Overseer of the Salem Poorhouse, and lengthy letters describing Salem news to his daughter, Nancy Gay Cole.

Subseries B. Legal and Judicial Records includes the notebooks of legal extracts kept when Tucker was a student and Justice of the Peace docket books. The lists of Essex County innholders and retailers licenses were compiled by Tucker from court records, although it is unclear if they were made for historical or judicial purposes. Subseries C. Civic and Personal Papers includes a folder of military records consisting of military oaths, 1803-1826, made to Tucker as Clerk of the Courts and a notebook listing soldiers and their military pay, 1777-1781. Of special interest is a list of prisoners incarcerated in the Springfield Prison during Shay's Rebellion in 1787. The account book of broken glass (B4, F6) is a meticulous list of all the windows broken in Salem during a hailstorm in 1815. This document has been attributed to Ichabod Tucker, but its original purpose is unknown. The copies of census records and the historical notes were compiled by Tucker for historical research. Included in the miscellaneous papers are a hand-drawn plan of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and a biographical sketch of Ichabod Tucker. Subseries D. Family Papers includes an 1802 diary kept by Tucker's first wife, Maria Orne Tucker (1775-1806) which provides a detailed daily account of life in Salem, school notebooks of Nancy Gay Cole, travel accounts of Thomas Cole, and estate papers.

Series II. Gideon Tucker Papers contains shipping papers, personal and business correspondence, military records, and bills and receipts. Subseries A. Shipping Papers includes ship's papers for five of Tucker's thirty vessels (see Appendix I for list of vessels owned by Tucker). It is probable that the majority of Tucker's shipping account books and correspondence were destroyed, along with the papers of his partner Joseph Peabody, in a fire. Of note in the ships' papers are records of the ship Concord which document a sealing voyage to China in 1802. The shipping correspondence is primarily to merchant house agents in Europe. The folder of Neopolitan claims (B7, F6) documents Gideon Tucker's and Nathaniel West's activities as agents for various claimants, and include lists of eventual awards for 47 vessels. Subseries B. Business and Personal Papers includes a large number of letters from Tucker's brother-in-law Jonathan Goodhue, a New York merchant agent, as well as letters from Benjamin Shreve, Nathan Dane, and Thomas W. Ward. The military papers contain Tucker's orders from Gideon Foster for the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division. The two notebooks of house and vessel prices, 1821-1847, provide detailed information about the sale of property and ships in Salem. Included in the miscellaneous papers are subscription lists for the Salem July 4, 1805 celebration and an 1809 banquet in honor of Governor Gore.

Series III. Tucker Family Papers includes the papers of Benjamin, John, Samuel, and Henry Tucker. The shipping records of Henry and Samuel Tucker include documents for Gideon Tucker's schooner Fishhawk, ship Cincinnatus, schooner Sally, ship Sally, and schooner Betsey, as well as the brig Three Friends, schooner Theodora, ship Franklin, brig Catherine, ship Fame, brig Betsy, and ship Vernon. Of note in the miscellaneous papers is a copy of a 1680 letter from the Governor of New Hampshire on the separation of New Hampshire from Massachusetts.

Biographical Sketches

Ichabod Tucker (1765-1846) was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin and Martha (Davis) Tucker. After graduating from Harvard in 1791, he studied law with Nathan Dane and set up a law practice in Haverhill, MA. Tucker moved to Salem after 1800 and was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1801. In 1804 he was appointed clerk of the Judicial Courts for Essex County – a position he occupied until 1825 (excepting 1812). He also served as Overseer of the Salem Poor.

Tucker was interested in local history and was active in various historical and literary organizations. He served as vice-president of the Essex Historical Society, 1829-1834, as president of the Salem Athenaeum, 1835-1838, founded the Essex Agricultural Society, and was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society.

Ichabod Tucker married Maria Orne (1775-1806), the daughter of Dr. Joseph and Mary Leavitt Orne, in 1798. Maria's death in 1806 was attributed to the shock of learning that her brother, Joseph Orne (1778-1806), had been murdered by Arab pirates. Tucker married Esther Orne Cabot (1774-1854), the widow of Joseph Cabot, in 1811. He had no children and adopted Nancy Gay (1795-1890), who married the educator and scientist Thomas Cole (1779-1852) in 1842. Ichabod Tucker lived at 28 Chestnut Street, which he built in 1800.

Gideon Tucker (1778-1861) was born in Salem, the son of Salem merchant John and Lydia (Jacobs) Tucker. After attending grammar school in Salem, he became a clerk for the merchant Joseph Peabody and became Peabody's partner after 1801. They owned over 25 vessels together. In addition to these, Tucker owned several vessels and invested in various shipping ventures with his brothers Samuel and Andrew Tucker (see Appendix I for list of vessels). During the War of 1812, he served as an aide-de-camp to Major Gideon Foster. Gideon Tucker married Martha Hardy Goodhue (1787-1848), daughter of the Honorable Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814), in 1804. They had no children. Tucker built 129 Essex Street in 1808-1809, whose plans and carvings were by Samuel McIntire.

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.

Atherton, Charles Gordon, 1804-1853
Cole, Nancy Gay, 1795-1890
Cole, Thomas, 1779-1852
Dane, Nathan, 1752-1835
Foster, Gideon, 1749-1845
Goodhue, Jonathan, 1783-1848
Jackson, Charles, 1775-1855
McIntire, Samuel, 1757-1811
Parkman, Francis, Rev.
Peabody, Joseph, 1757-1844
Pickering, John, 1777-1846
Prescott, William, 1726-1795
Sargent, Nathaniel Peaslee, 1731-1791
Sedgwick, Theodore, 1746-1813
Sewall, Samuel, 1652-1730
Shreve, Benjamin, 1790-1839
Strong, Caleb, 1745-1819
Tucker, Benjamin, 1734-1806
Tucker, Esther Orne Paine Cabot, 1774-1854
Tucker, Gideon, 1778-1869
Tucker, Henry, b. 1786
Tucker, Ichabod, 1765-1846
Tucker, John, 1719-1792
Tucker, Lydia Jacobs
Tucker, Maria Orne, 1775-1806
Tucker, Martha Hardy Goodhue, 1786-1840
Tucker, Samuel, b. 1782
Tyng, Dudley Atkins, 1760-1829
Wade, Nathaniel
Ward, Artemas, 1727-1800
Ward, Thomas
White, Daniel Appleton, 1797-1861
Betsy (Brig)
Betsy (Schooner : Beverly and Salem, Mass.)
Catherine (Brig)
Cincinnatus (Ship)
Comet (Brig)
Comet (Ship)
Concord (Ship)
Fame (Schooner)
Favorite (Brig)
Fishawke (Schooner)
Franklin (Ship)
George (Ship)
Greyhound (Brig)
Hind (Brig)
Janus (Ship)
Massachusetts. Militia. Brigade, 2nd. Division, 2nd
Mt. Vernon (Vessel)
Romp (Brig)
Sally (Brig)
Sally (Brigantine)
Sally (Schooner)
Theodora (Schooner)
Three Friends (Brig)
Account books
Bars (Drinking establishments)
Justices of the peace
Taverns (Inns)
Essex County--Churches--History
Essex County--Courts
Haverhill (Mass.)
Massachusetts Bay Colony--Census--1764
Massachusetts--Hampden County--Census--1820
Salem (Mass.)
United States--History, Military
United States--History--Neopolitan Claims
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--History--Shay's Rebellion, 1786-1787
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

Tucker Family Papers, MSS 165, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Tucker Family Papers represent a reorganization and integration of 4 scrapbooks of Tucker Family Papers and several smaller collections. The majority of Ichabod Tucker's papers and Mary Orne Tucker's diary were donated by Nancy Gay Cole in 1878. Gideon Tucker's price book of vessels and houses sold in Salem was donated by the Misses Wilson in 1915. The 2 account books of the ship Janus were donated by Mrs. Francis Brown in 1935. Although Gideon and Ichabod Tucker were not directly related, their papers were originally catalogued together. They have therefore been processed as one collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Caroline D. Preston, January 1985. Updated by Catherine Robertson, May 2015.

Related Material

"Mary Orne Tucker Diary." East India Historical Collections. Vol. 77, 306-338.

Samuel McIntire Papers, 1749-1822, MSS 264.

Samuel Tucker Papers, n.d., Fam. MSS. 1021.

Thomas Cole Papers, 1844-1851, NH 9.

Appendix I

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