Processing and conservation for this
collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Northey Family Papers
6.75 linear feet (13 boxes, 1 volume)
The Northey Family papers
illustrate the activities of one of Salem's prominent Quaker families during the
later 18th and 19th centuries.
SERIES I. William Northey (1735-1804) Papers SERIES II. Abijah Northey (1774-1853) Papers SERIES III. Ezra Northey (1779-1855) Papers
A. Shipping and Business Papers
B. Personal Papers
SERIES IV. Cynthia (Winslow) Northey (1790-1866)
Papers SERIES V. Rebecca Maria (Northey) Buffum (1825- )
Papers SERIES VI. William Northey (1829-1900) Papers
A. Business and Shipping Papers
B. Personal Papers
SERIES VII. Miscellaneous Northey Family Papers SERIES VIII. Relatives' Papers
A. Anthony Papers
B. Adam and Mary Folger Grieve Ashburner
C. Collins Family Papers
D. David and Margaret Grieve Papers
E. Nathaniel and Martha Hastings Holland
F. Winslow Family Papers
SERIES IX. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Northey Family papers illustrate the activities of one of Salem's prominent
Quaker families during the later 18th and 19th centuries. The collection contains
personal and business papers of goldsmith and selectman William Northey (1735-1804),
merchants Abijah (1774-1853) and Ezra Northey (1779-1855), maritime insurance agent
William Northey (1829-1900), and personal papers of Cynthia (Winslow) Northey
(1790-1866) and her daughter Rebecca Maria (Northey) Buffum (1825- ). Also included
are the papers of other family members and relatives. The collection has been
divided into nine series.
Series I. William Northey (1735-1804) Papers contains
business and personal papers. The business papers include legal and financial papers
relating to his goldsmithing business, shipping papers reflecting his consignment of
goods to the West Indies, receipts and notices relating to his role as Treasurer and
clerk of Salem's Great Pasture, and regulation and requests made as Salem selectman.
William's personal papers include letters from the Collins family, in particular
from his brother-in-law Stephen Collins describing his merchant business in
Philadelphia. Also found here is a letter from I. Churchill (1794) asking William's
advice concerning the impressment of his son onto a British vessel. William's legal
papers include deeds for his father's land, his will, and estate inventory.
Series II. Abijah Northey (1774-1853) Papers includes
shipping, business, and personal papers. The shipping papers, comprised of
correspondence, contain few documents relating to the trading activities of Abijah's
vessels. Of note are Abijah's letters (1805) to a British aide-de-camp appealing for
safe passage to St. Helena for the ship Argo, of which
Abijah was master. Abijah's business papers include his deed for a Salem distillery
(1819) and two account books (1796-1803; 1816-1823) for china, pottery, and glass
bought at auction or shipped from Britain.
Series III. Ezra Northey (1779-1855) Papers is mostly
comprised of personal papers and includes a few folders which reflect his shipping
and business career. The business and shipping papers include papers for three of
his vessels, the Saucy Jack, Anson, and Criterion, financial materials
relating to his partnership with Archelaus Rea, and financial and legal papers
regarding his administration of the assets of shipping merchants John Dutch and
Thorndike Deland. Of interest in Ezra's personal correspondence are several letters
written to his wife Cynthia during their courtship (1820-1821) and an account (1826)
of the apostate minister Anna Brathwait's activities in New York. Ezra's legal
papers include his will (1844), his Quaker marriage certificate, and land deeds to
the Eastern Railroad Company.
Series IV. Cynthia (Winslow) Northey (1790-1866)
Papers consists almost entirely of correspondence. Cynthia's letters
convey news of the New England Quaker community and include descriptions of Society
unrest caused by the Hicksite separatists. She also records the visits of various
preachers, such as Joseph John Gurney (1838) and Charles F. Coffin (1844).
Series V. Rebecca Maria (Northey) Buffum (1825- )
Papers mostly contains correspondence. Rebecca's letters are primarily
undated and in fragmentary form. Writing chiefly to her mother and brother William,
she describes the activities of friends and family, her hiking trips, and the many
religious and abolitionist lectures which she attended. Such lectures included those
of her friends William Lloyd Garrison and Samuel Johnson. She also speaks of meeting
the president of the Underground Railroad in 1860.
Much of the correspondence to Rebecca consists of letters from the Bridges,
Chase, and Whitney sisters. The letters of these intelligent and articulate women
note the lectures and sermons which they attended, lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Frederic Frothingham, Thomas W. Higginson, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Longfellow,
Theodore Parker, and Wendell Phillips. In addition, the correspondence of Eliza,
Elizabeth, and Fidelia Bridges describes their attempts to open a school, first in
Salem and then in Brooklyn, New York (circa 1854). Anne and Sarah Whitney's letters
include discussions of Quaker ideology and the abolitionist movement. Anne also
recounts an 1856 meeting with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell who was then raising funds for
a women's hospital and medical school. Additional correspondence includes letters
from Rebecca's cousin Martha Boody, who relates scenes from the teaching experiences
in Boston (1844) and short notes from James Mott and William Lloyd Garrison
Series VI. William Northey (1829-1900) Papers
includes business, shipping, and personal papers. The business and shipping
copybooks which William kept as secretary of the Salem Marine Insurance Company
include correspondence and bills of lading regarding the insurance of vessels,
cargo, and storehouses. These copybooks also include correspondence relating to
William's personal shipping interests and family stocks.
Of interest in William's personal papers is correspondence with his family and
Salem friend Richard Wheatland while William was a student at the Friends Boarding
School in Providence, Rhode Island (1843).
Series VII. Miscellaneous Northey Family Papers is
comprised of the papers of William Northey's father David (died circa 1788), wife
Rebekah (1740-1826), brother Abijah (1741-1816), son William Jr. (1767-1788), and
other miscellaneous family members. David Northey's papers contain financial and
legal papers relating to his goldsmithing and shipping businesses, including bills
of sale for the sloop Two Friends (1737) and the
schooner Traveller (1759). Rebekah Northey's papers
include religious and personal correspondence from Mary Adams Spofford of Boxford
(1814-1816) and Rebekah's Collins and Shove relatives. The papers of goldsmith
Abijah Northey consist primarily of personal correspondence with family and friends.
Miscellaneous papers contain printed material, financial and legal documents of John
Sr., John Jr., Nehemiah, Israel, Herbert, and Annie Northey, including a 1759
assessment list of Quakers in Salem and many undated maps.
Series VIII. Relatives' Papers contains papers of:
William Northey's in-laws, the Collins family; Cynthia (Winslow) Northey's family,
the Winslows; and Margaret (Anthony) Northey's family and relatives, the Anthonys,
Ashburners, Grieves, and Hollands. These families are arranged alphabetically within
the series. The Anthony papers include correspondence relating to Edward's merchant
and fire insurance business, early letters from Margaret (Anthony) Northey, and
typescripts of correspondence relating to a painting of the Anthony children. The
Collins papers include shipping correspondence of Quakers Stephen and Zaccheus
Collins. Additional Collins papers may be found in the personal correspondence of
William (1735-1804) and Ezra Northey. The Grieve papers include correspondence from
their relatives Abiel Folger, Lucretia and Samuel Starbuck of Milford, England,
describing the business of that port and the depression caused by Napoleon's
exploits. David Grieve's guardianship papers may be found in Edward Anthony's
papers. The Winslow papers contain correspondence describing Jeremiah's shipping
business in France, Quaker precepts, and contemporary news of the Society.
Series IX. Miscellaneous Papers includes
correspondence of the Chase, Hastings, Starbuck, and Swain families. Included is a
copy of an 1827 letter from Samuel Starbuck to the New
Times (London) concerning a method to ameliorate and extinguish slavery,
and an 1831 letter/story from a young girl about black people. Financial papers
include miscellaneous shipping papers (1798-1815). Printed material includes an 1866
report of the Female Anti-Slavery Society and an 1856 circular for Dr. Elizabeth
Blackwell's School of Medicine.
William Northey (1735-1804) was the son of David and
Miriam Northey of Salem, Massachusetts. In addition to operating a prosperous
goldsmithing business and being an active member of the Quaker Society, William held
several civic positions: by 1774 he was a member of the Salem town committee; from
1786 to 1799, clerk, treasurer, and moderator of Salem's Great Pasture; and by 1789,
chairman of Salem's selectmen. William also engaged in maritime trade with the West
Indies in conjunction with his brother, Nehemiah in approximately 1759. William and
his wife Rebekah (Collins) Northey (1740-1826) had two sons, William Jr. (1767-1788)
and Ezra (1779-1855).
Abijah Northey (1774-1853), a son of Abijah
(1741-1816) and Abigail (Wood) Northey (1745-1814), was a prosperous Salem merchant
and shipmaster. He was partial owner of seven vessels, three of which he owned with
his cousin Ezra Northey. Among other commodities, he dealt in British china and
glass. Abijah also owned a distillery, ran a farm in Boxford, Massachusetts, and was
president of the Essex Marine Insurance Company.
Ezra Northey (1779-1855), son of William (1735-1804)
and Rebekah (Collins) Northey (1740-1826), was a Salem merchant especially active
between 1810 and 1825. He owned six vessels in partnership with his cousin Abijah
Northey (1774-1853), Archelaus Rea, and others. He and his wife Cynthia (Winslow)
Northey (1790-1866) had two children, Rebecca Maria (1825- ) and William M.
Cynthia (Winslow) Northey (1790-1866) was the
daughter of John (1751-1829) and Lydia (Hacker) Winslow (1756-1839) of Westbrook,
Maine. An intelligent and well-educated woman, she was a school mistress in
Sandwich, Massachusetts, and Salem before her marriage to Ezra Northey in 1821. As a
fervent Quaker, she took an avid interest, not only in the Society of Friends, but
in political and social reform movements such as abolition.
Rebecca Maria (Northey) Buffum (1825- ) was the
daughter of Ezra (1779-1855) and Cynthia (Winslow) Northey (1790-1866). She was a
well-educated woman who maintained a firm interest in the abolitionist movement.
Among her friends were William Lloyd Garrison, Samuel Johnson, James and Lucretia
Mott, artist Fidelia Bridges, and sculptress Anne Whitney. She married John Henry
Buffum (1821-1878) in 1863; they had no children.
William M. Northey (1829-1900) was the son of Ezra
(1779-1855) and Cynthia (Winslow) Northey (1790-1866). He received his early
schooling at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island (now Moses
Brown School). On returning to Salem, he engaged in maritime trade, became partial
owner of three vessels, and worked at the Salem Marine Insurance Company. William
also invested in railroad stocks for himself and his family and by 1871 was
sufficiently affluent to fund the erection of a building on the corner of Washington
and Essex Streets. William and his wife Margaret (Anthony) Northey (1833- ) had four
sons. Their grandchild John Tucker Northey was the donor of this collection to the
See Appendices I and II for Northey and Anthony Family Trees.
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.
Blackwell, Elizabeth, 1821-1910
Bridges, Eliza C.
Bridges, Elizabeth G.
Bridges, Fidelia, 1834-1923
Buffum, Rebecca Maria Northey, 1825-
Coffin, Charles F. (Charles Fisher), 1823-1916
Collins, Stephen, 1733-1794
Collins, Zaccheus, 1764-1831
Deland, Thorndike, 1778-1833
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
Frothingham, Frederick, 1825-1891
Fry, Elizabeth, 1836 or 1837-1929
Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
Gurney, Joseph John, 1788-1847
Johnson, Samuel, 1777-1847
Jones, Sybil, 1808-1873
Longfellow, Samuel, 1819-1892
Marland, William S.
Mott, James, 1788-1868
Northey, Abijah, 1741-1816
Northey, Abijah, 1774-1853
Northey, Cynthia Winslow, -1866
Northey, David, -approximately 1778
Northey, Ezra, 1779-1855
Northey, Rebekah Collins, 1740-1826
Northey, William, 1735-1804
Northey, William, 1767-1788
Northey, William, 1829-1900
Parker, Theodore, 1810-1860
Whitney, Anne, 1821-1915
Argo (Ship : 1805)
Five Sisters (Schooner)
Good Hope (Ship)
Moses Brown School
Salem Marine Insurance Co. (1800-approximately 1840)
Saucy Jack (Schooner)
Estates, administration of
Society of Friends
Salem (Mass.)--Great Pasture
Salem (Mass.)--Politics and government
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 Northey family papers are a reorganization and integration of 13 boxes, 4 account
books, 2 journals, and a few miscellaneous letters. The bulk of the collection was
donated by John Tucker Northey of Topsfield, Massachusetts, in 1963. Abijah
Northey's (1774-1853) Boxford farm journals and his account book for the estate of
William S. Marland were purchased in 1970. Removed from the collection are 21 issues
of the Essex Gazette (1774-1775), a memorandum relating to the estate of Col. John
Hathorne (undated), and an 1829 letter from Joseph Balch to Leverett Saltonstall.
All items removed from the collection are marked with their original location.
Collection processed by Sylvia Kennick, October 1982. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, June
Perley, Eleanor S. [Descendants of William Northey], CS71.N678
Salem Marine Insurance Company Records, 1856-1897, MSS
Argo (Ship) Logbook and Journal, 1806-1807, Log
Gentoo (Ship) Shipping Journal and Logbook Abstract, 1816-1817, Log 119
The bulk of the collection was donated by John Tucker Northey of Topsfield, Massachusetts, in 1963. Abijah Northey’s (1774-1853) Boxford farm journals and his account book for the estate of William S. Marland were purchased in 1970. Removed from the collection are 21 issues of the Essex Gazette (1774-1775), a memorandum relating to the estate of Col. John Hathorne (undated), and an 1829 letter from Joseph Balch to Leverett Saltonstall.