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Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858) Papers

Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858) Papers

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CALEB REYNOLDS (1771-1858) PAPERS, 1814-1845

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:Reynolds, Caleb, 1771-1858
Title:Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858) Papers
Quantity:2.5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The bulk of the Caleb Reynolds Papers reflects the personal and business activities of Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858), a mariner. The collection also contains papers of other family members.
Collection Number:MSS 364

Series List

SERIES I. Personal Correspondence
SERIES II. Shipping Papers

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the Caleb Reynolds Papers reflects the personal and business activities of Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858), a mariner. The collection also contains papers of other family members. The collection is divided into three series.

Series I. Personal Correspondence contains letters to Caleb's wife, Mary, letters to and from various friends, some correspondence of other family members, and land deeds. It also contains many poems, mostly written by Caleb Reynolds.

Series II. Shipping Papers contains documents and correspondence regarding the different sea voyages that Caleb made aboard the Isabella, the Sultan, and the Fame.

Series III. Log Books contains logbooks from the ships Pearl, Sultan, and Fame. It also contains the log book of his son, Samuel's, voyage on the ship Panama in 1837.

Biographical Sketch

Caleb Reynolds was born in 1771. Family tradition states that he had been orphaned at an early age and raised by an uncle in Maryland. Reynolds was a Boston fur trader and "seafarer" on the Northwest coast of America during the first two decades of the nineteenth century (1804-1819). Between 1804 and 1807 Reynolds was third mate aboard the Boston ship Pearl on a voyage to Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island to trade for sea otter pelts. The fur trade in the Pacific Northwest provided the trade material for American merchants to obtain tea, silk and porcelain in Canton, China. During this voyage Pearl visited the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) on two occasions and Reynolds met King Kamehameha and his advisor John Young.

He sailed aboard several ships out of Boston that traded fur for tea and silk in China. After the Jefferson Embargo, Reynolds made a second lengthy voyage to the Pacific Northwest this time as second mate aboard the Isabella (1809-1812). His journal includes descriptions of "Kodiac" canoes, trading with the Russian-American Trading Company at New Archangel (Sitka), and the restorative benefits of a visit to the hot springs outside Sitka. Back in New England by the end of 1812, Reynolds, now in his forties, found time to meet and marry Mary Eels Williams before embarking on his third voyage to the Pacific Northwest as master of the ship Sultan (1815-1819). Returning to New England at the end of 1819 Reynolds would spend less than a year at home before embarking on his fourth, and final, lengthy voyage this time to Gibraltar, Batavia and Chile as master of the ship Fame (1820-1822).

Reynolds and his wife had three children: Samuel Williams Reynolds (1820-1867), Joel Barlow (1826-1851), and Charlotte Stark (1829-1920). After a career at sea, he settled in Pembroke, New Hampshire to farm. He became a government census agent for New Hampshire and took part in various community affairs. After his son, Sam, married in 1846 and moved to Philadelphia, Reynolds moved with Mary, Barlow, and Charlotte to Philadelphia, also. He died in 1858.

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.

Reynolds, Caleb, 1771-1858
Reynolds, Mary Williams
Reynolds, Samuel Williams, 1820-1867
Fame (Ship)
Isabella (Ship)
Panama (Ship)
Pearl (Ship)
Sultan (Ship)
Merchant mariners--United States
Seafaring life--United States--History
Ship captains--United States
China--Commerce--United States
Hawaii--Description and travel
United States--Commerce--China


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

Caleb Reynolds (1771-1858) Papers, MSS 364, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was a gift from Emily Reynolds Baker on October 14, 2004 (acc #2004.017).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Tamara Gaydos, July 2007.

Related Material

Baker, Emily Reynolds. Caleb Reynolds, American Seafarer. Kingston, Ontario, Limestone Press, 2000.

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