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John Patch (1807-1887) Papers

John Patch (1807-1887) Papers

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JOHN PATCH (1807-1887) PAPERS, 1732-1944

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:Patch, John, 1807-1887
Title:John Patch (1807-1887) Papers
Quantity:2.5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The John Patch Papers are comprised of correspondence, lectures, plays, poetry, political commentary, journals, genealogical notes, and legal documentation belonging to John Patch (1807-1887), an Ipswich, Mass. lawyer and author.
Collection Number:MSS 491

Series List

SERIES I. Writings
A. Lectures
B. Plays
C. Poetry
D. Political Commentary
E. Journals
SERIES II. Correspondence
SERIES III. Legal Documentation
SERIES IV. Emily Goodwin Patch Papers
SERIES V. Miscellany

Scope and Content Note

The John Patch Papers are comprised of correspondence, lectures, plays, poetry, political commentary, journals, genealogical notes, and legal documentation belonging to John Patch (1807-1887), an Ipswich, Mass. lawyer and author. Also included are the writings and correspondence of Emily Goodwin Patch (born 1859), his daughter. This collection is arranged into five series.

Series I. Personal Papers is comprised of various writings by John Patch and is divided into five subseries. Subseries A contains Patch's Lectures, the content of which is divided between whole compositions and fragments of lectures. Their subject matter is diverse; topics span music, literature, the human character, government, and politics. Most notable are Patch's expansive writings on slavery, the economy, women's rights, and education (B1 F1). Subseries B consists of Patch's original Plays—dramas and tragedies written in three acts. This subseries also contains several excerpted sections of The Literary Museum, a Boston-based publication that Patch edited and published for a number of years. The clippings cumulatively make up a play called "Erodia, the Spirit of Love and Beauty; or, the Law of Love: A Drama in Three Acts," the author of which is unspecified. They also contain fragments of various dramatic, musical, and poetic compositions. Authors noted on the fragments include composer O.W. Withington and poet Lieutenant A.T. Lee. Subseries C contains Patch's Poetry, an assemblage of complete and fragmented works ranging from the religious to the political to the sentimental. Subseries D contains Political Commentary pertaining to Constitutional Conventions in New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts. The majority of these writings concern the adoption and ratification of the Constitution in these states. Subseries E. Journals contains a maritime journal where Patch wrote about trade, correspondence, travel, and conditions while at sea. It covers the period from 1804 to 1805, though the paper booklet is quite fragile and is likely missing pages. The second journal includes the following handwritten note on the inside of its front cover: "Commonplace Book, found in the John Patch house, Ipswich, Mass." It is a bound hardcover book containing myriad thoughts and reflections, the bulk of which are religious in nature.

Series II is an assemblage of Correspondence contained within the collection, received or exchanged by John Patch. A significant portion of the series is made up of letters exchanged by John Patch and Margaret Ann Gurley Poor, whom Patch would eventually marry; it appears that Patch frequently created facsimiles of his outgoing letters for his personal cache. Series II also contains two letter books—bound hardcover books containing transcriptions of letters from various individuals. It is unclear to whom many of these letters were addressed, as they are dated prior to John Patch's birth, but nonetheless the entries' handwriting appears to match his other compositions. Also of note are a series of catalog-type numbers assigned to each transcribed letter; it appears that each sequence begins with the senders' initials and ends with a series of numbers (i.e., "DK2986177").

Series III. Legal Documentation consists of two items, both collected and compiled by John Patch. The first item is a property deed wherein five acres of land previously under the purview of Roswell Saltonstall of Saltonstall Farms in Ipswich were deeded to an individual named John Patch in 1732/3. While it is presumably pertains to an ancestor of John Patch (1807-1887), it is unclear who that may be. Also included in Series III is a hand-written, hand-bound account of two Supreme Judicial Court cases that took place in beginning in 1860, titled "Charles Kimball et al Executors vs. John Patch, Appellant." The opening statement, given by L.B. Ives, Jr., on May 7, 1860, outlined the issues at hand: John Patch Sr. (1770-1858), left behind an 1853 will that made clear his disappointment in the "pecuniary failures" of his son and bequeathing his estate accordingly. John Patch's (1807-1887) appeals addressed the value of his father's estate and questioned his father's willed intention. The compilation is lengthy and detailed, and includes substantive local and family history.

Series IV. Emily Goodwin Patch Papers contains papers and writings belonging to John Patch's daughter, including extensive correspondence, original poetry, and miscellaneous lectures and editorials. Much of her writings pertain to family events but also touch on a wide variety of topics including architecture, social and religious demographics, and literature.

Series V. Miscellany contains a collection of items pertaining to either John Patch or Emily Goodwin Patch. The large majority of these items are undated fragments and excerpts for which context or origins are unascertainable; however, several items were authored by Emily E. Patch, John Patch's sister and Emily Goodwin Patch's aunt. Series V also includes detailed genealogical notes; the notes' authors and dates of composition are largely unspecified, but they do provide extensive insight into the Patch family's lineage. One packet of notes was copied from the Historical and Genealogical Parish Register of South Petherton, Co. Somerset, England, outlining the Patch family's roots going back to 1575. The majority of the dates contained are for baptisms dating through 1678. Also of note is a brief account of John Patch, born in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1699 to James and Sarah Balch.

Biographical Sketches

John Patch was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on August 23, 1807, to John Patch (1770-1858) and Judith Corning (1774-1863). His family had previously resided in New England for several generations; notably, his grandfather (Nehemiah Patch, 1740-1830) and great-grandfather (John Patch III, 1726-1812) were listed as proprietors of Ipswich's Crane Estate beginning in 1759, though the property was subsequently apportioned and inherited by various extended family members. Patch attended school at the Dummer Academy in Newbury and the Phillips Andover Academy in Andover, and subsequently went on to study German at Harvard University with a minor focus in the writings of Sophocles and Euripides. Patch later pursued a law degree through the Dane Law School, Bowdoin College, and the offices of Luther S. Cushing, Esq. and Theophilus Parsons, Esq. After his admittance to the Massachusetts bar, he established a law firm in Boston.

Though Patch primarily resided in Ipswich over the course of his lifetime, he spent an intervening period in various coastal locations including Beverly and Nantucket, Massachusetts, followed by a relocation to California alongside other prospectors during the 1849 Gold Rush. After three years spent in California's mining district he moved to San Francisco, where he opened an office.

Patch eventually returned to the East coast, where he lived out his days on a farm in Ipswich. In 1846 he was married to Margaret Ann Gurley Poor (1819-1902) of Andover, Massachusetts, and they had three children together: John Francis LeBaron (1847-1935), Emily Goodwin Patch (born 1859), and Estelle Corning Patch (born 1863).

Patch exhibited a lifelong passion for literature, as evidenced by numerous original lectures, plays, and poetical works included in his papers. For a number of years he edited and published a Boston-based periodical called The Literary Museum, though his involvement ended upon his relocation to California. In 1822, while working as a barrister, Patch published "A Practical Treatise on the Law of Mortgages." His interest in law and social dynamics is further reflected in a number of political and legal editorials included in his papers, many of which aim to critique politicians and legislation. His poetry frequently reflects political leanings, such as his support for the abolishment of slavery and for women's rights. Patch went on to publish an 1847 volume of poetry titled The Poet's Offering. He also wrote and recorded extensive correspondence; the majority of the letters included in his papers were exchanged with Margaret Ann Gurley Poor. Patch died of "senile debility" on September 9, 1887.

Emily Goodwin Patch was born on June 12, 1859, the second child of John Patch and Margaret Ann Gurley Poor. From her birth to the 1940s she resided in Ipswich, and while it is likely this is where she died, there are insufficient records to corroborate that likelihood. The latest census record available reflects that, in 1940, Emily lived in Ipswich with her niece, Harriet Budlong. At the time of the census, Emily was aged 80 and was unmarried. It does not appear that Emily married or had children; census records consistently reflect that she lived with family, including her mother and her sister, Estelle Corning Patch.

Emily completed four years of high school, an education that is reflected in original poetry and editorials included with her father's papers, much of which pertains to religion, politics, and family. Items within the collection also reflect that she taught at a school for four years.

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.

Balch, James
Balch, Sarah
Budlong, Harriet
Corning, Judith, 1774-1863
Cushing, Luther Stearns, 1803-1856
Ives, L.B., Jr.
Kimball, Charles
LeBaron, John Francis, 1847-1935
Lee, A.T., Lieutenant, author
Parsons, Theophilus, 1797-1882
Patch, Emily Goodwin, 1859-, author
Patch, Estelle Corning, 1863-
Patch, John, 1699-
Patch, John, 1770-1858
Patch, John, III, 1726-1812
Patch, Nehemiah, 1740-1830
Poor, Emily E., author
Poor, Margaret Ann Gurley, 1819-1902, author
Saltonstall, Roswell, -1840?
Withington, O.W., (Oliver Wendell), -1853, author
Massachusetts. Constitutional Convention (1788)
Massachusetts. Constitutional Convention (1820-1821)
Massachusetts. Constitutional Convention (1853)
New York (State). Constitutional Convention (1801)
New York (State). Constitutional Convention (1821)
New York (State). Constitutional Convention (1846)
New York (State). Constitutional Convention (1867-1868)
New York (State). Convention of the Representatives (1776-1777)
North Carolina. Constitutional Convention (1788)
North Carolina. Constitutional Convention (1835)
North Carolina. Constitutional Convention (1868)
The Literary Museum
United States. Supreme Court
Virginia. Constitutional Convention (1816)
Bowdoin College
California gold discoveries
Castle Neck, Crane Estate, Ipswich, Mass.
Crane Estate, Ipswich, Mass.
Dummer Academy
Harvard Law School
Harvard University
Phillips Academy
Slavery--United States
Social justice
United States--Politics and government
Andover (Mass.)
Beverly (Mass.)
Boston (Mass.)
England--South Petherton, Co. Somerset
Ipswich (Mass.)
Nantucket (Mass.)
Newburyport (Mass.)
Saltonstall Farm,--Ipswich, Mass.
San Francisco (Calif.)
Family histories
Legal instruments
Personal correspondence


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

John Patch (1807-1887) Papers, MSS 491, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The provenance of this collection is unknown. The Ipswich, Mass. property deed (B4 F2) was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Montgomery, November 12, 1959. A number of items bear notes reflecting that they were "found in the John Patch House, Ipswich, Mass.," but do not provide further context.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Amanda Ferrante, May 2016.

Related Material

Ancestry. "1940 United States Federal Census." Accessed May 31, 2016.

Ancestry. "John Patch." Accessed May 24, 2016.

Ancestry. "Margaret Ann Gurley Poor." Accessed May 24, 2016.

Ancestry. "Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915." Accessed May 31, 2016.

Ancestry. "Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988." Accessed May 31, 2016.

J.B. Hall and Company. "The Literary Museum." 1846. Accessed May 24, 2016.

The Governor's Academy. "History." Accessed May 24, 2016.

The Quarterly Review XXVI (1822). Accessed May 24, 2016.

The Trustees of Reservations. "Crane Beach Management Plan." Accessed May 24, 2016.

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