Processing and conservation of this collection
were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Parsons Family Papers
4 linear feet (8 boxes)
The Parsons Family Papers
consist of the shipping, business, and personal papers of a successful Gloucester,
Massachusetts, merchant family.
SERIES I. Aaron Parsons Sr. Shipping Papers SERIES II. Aaron Jr. and Winthrop Parsons Shipping
Papers SERIES III. Aaron Sr. and Mary Parsons Personal
Papers SERIES IV. Aaron Parsons Jr. Personal Papers SERIES V. Family and Miscellaneous Papers
A. Winthrop Parsons (1795-1873) Papers
B. Nancy Parsons (1784-1860) Papers
C. Aaron Parsons (1848-1901) Papers
D. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Parsons Family Papers consist of the shipping, business, and personal papers of a
successful Gloucester, Massachusetts, merchant family. The collection contains
shipping papers of ship owner and master Aaron Parsons Sr. (1759-1809), and
privateering, merchant, and wharfage papers of his sons, Aaron Jr. (1790-1838) and
Winthrop Parsons (1795-1873). Also included are papers of Aaron's Sr.'s wife, Mary
(Dolliver) Parsons, his daughter Nancy Parsons (1784-1860), and his grandson Aaron
Parsons (1848-1901). The collection is divided into five series.
Series I. Aaron Parsons Sr. Shipping Papers contains
ships' papers, shipping correspondence, and financial papers which reflect Aaron
Sr.'s career as a shipmaster and owner. There are a few papers documenting the
majority of the vessels found in this collection. The ships' papers, however,
briefly cover all of Aaron Sr.'s voyages as master from 1783 to 1794. They also
provide a glimpse at all but one of the vessels which Aaron Sr. owned (See Appendix
II for a complete list). The bulk of the shipping correspondence contains
information regarding cargo and finance, and includes correspondence with Aaron's
partners Ignatius Sargent and Eben and Thomas Parsons. In addition to general
shipping accounts, the account and memorandum books contain ships' accounts, and
storage and wharfage memorandums. For additional outfitting and cargo sales
receipts, and papers relating to the final settlement of the schooner Martin's voyage to Spain, see Aaron's estate papers (B3
Series II. Aaron Jr. and Winthrop Parsons Shipping
Papers records the shipping and mercantile activities of Aaron Sr.'s
sons. Of interest in this subseries are ships' papers of the fishing schooner Dover. The legal papers contain an 1811 partnership
agreement between Aaron Jr. and Samuel Elwell to engage in retail trade. The account
and memorandum books include personal accounts of family members and estate accounts
of Aaron Sr. and Mary Parsons.
Series III. Aaron Sr. and Mary Parsons Papers include
an 1809 inventory. Additional estate papers may be found in the bills and receipts
of their children and in the account books of Series II.
Series IV. Aaron Parsons Jr. (1790-1838) Personal
Papers consists primarily of business and personal correspondence
covering Aaron's interest in bank stocks and lotteries. Also included are letters
reflecting his role as fiscal agent for Anne Somes, his sister Nancy Parsons, cousin
Susan Widgery, and cousin Anthony Morse. Of special note is a letter from Aaron
dated September 17, 1830 describing the effects of a large fire in Gloucester and an
1834 letter to the Directors of the Gloucester Canal regarding steamboat
Series V. Family and Miscellaneous Papers includes
personal and business papers of Winthrop, Nancy, and Aaron Parsons, bills and
receipts of Daniel and Ann Parsons, shipping papers of Captain Paul Dolliver (father
of Mary Dolliver Parsons), and legal papers relating to Susan Widgery's husband
William. The papers of Winthrop and Nancy Parsons describe their interests in bank
stocks. Aarons' papers contain an essay on a voyage to the Orient, minutes from town
and club meetings, and a volume of Gloucester warehousing bonds. Of special note are
Captain Dolliver's shipping papers generated from his voyages to the West Indies
circa 1750 to 1770. William Widgery's papers concern his death by drowning. This
series has been divided into four subseries.
Aaron Parsons was born in Essex, Massachusetts, on January
25, 1759 to Isaac (1714-1767) and Hannah Burnham (1717-1767) Parsons. He became a
ship owner and master who traded with Europe, Russia, the West Indies, and the East
coast of the United States. On April 25, 1784 he married Mary Dolliver (1760-1816).
They had three children: Nancy (1784-1860), Aaron (1790-1838), and Winthrop
(1795-1873). He died in Gloucester in 1809.
Aaron Parsons, Jr. was born in Gloucester in 1790 to
Aaron and Mary Parsons. It appears that Aaron Jr. and Winthrop Parsons did not
continue their father's extended mercantile business. Rather they engaged in minor
shipping ventures, owned shares in privateers and fishing vessels, and with Thomas
Parsons, offered wharfage and storage services at the family wharf. Aaron Jr. died
unmarried in 1838.
Winthrop Parsons was born in Gloucester in 1795 to
Aaron and Mary Parsons. He worked with his brother in shipping ventures and at the
family wharf. He married Susan Riggs (b. 1795) in 1839 and they had a son, Aaron
(1848-1901). He died on October 2, 1873 in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Aaron Parsons was born on May 4, 1844 in Gloucester
to Winthrop and Susan Parsons. In 1871 he married Sarah Ellen Barnhardt (1852-1918)
in Syracuse, Ohio. They had six children. He died in 1901 in Pamroy, Ohio.
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.
Dolliver, Paul, 1727-1760
Hutching, Fitz Edward
Parsons, Aaron, 1759-1809
Parsons, Aaron, 1790-1838
Parsons, Aaron, 1848-
Parsons, Ebenezer, 1746-1819
Parsons, Mary Dolliver, 1760-1816
Parsons, Nancy Coulston, 1784-
Parsons, Thomas, 1756-
Parsons, Winthrop, 1795-
Widgery, William, approximately 1753-1822
Lydia Head (Bark)
Winthrop & Mary (Ship)
Administration of estates
Shipping--Russia (Federation)--St. Petersburg
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
This material is from an unknown source. It is a reorganization and integration of
one account book and 8 boxes of manuscripts. Removed from the collection are papers
of the Gloucester Fire and Marine Insurance Company (MSS
Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kenick, August 1984. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, July