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Ryan Family Papers

Ryan Family Papers

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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:Ryan family
Title:Ryan Family Papers
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Ryan Family Papers contain mostly legal and some shipping papers of at least two families from Belfast, Maine.
Collection Number:MH 203

Series List

SERIES I. First Generation
SERIES II. Second Generation
SERIES III. Third Generation

Scope and Content Note

The Ryan Family Papers contain mostly legal and some shipping papers of at least two families from Belfast, Maine. The collection has been organized into four series.

Series I. First Generation contains the legal and estate papers of John Ryan (1740-1818).

Series II. Second Generation contains the papers of Lewis (1785-1872), William (1795-1875), and William’s wife, Nancy (1801-1883). This series is comprised mostly of legal papers, receipts, a letter, and estate papers.

Series III. Third Generation consists of the papers of William’s (1795-1875) children and daughters-in-law. This series contains legal documents, deeds, receipts, ships’ papers, insurance papers, and a letter.

Series IV. Other contains papers not created by family members or where the author is unknown. Of interest is an undated plot plan from Belfast, Maine.

Biographical Sketches

John Ryan was born in 1740, in Belfast, Maine. John's family moved to Edgecomb, Maine, during his childhood but the records indicate he spent almost all of his adult life in Belfast. He was a yeoman (farmer) and constable. He married Lucy Stevens (1748-1829) in 1771. They had eight children: James (born 1773); Dennison (born 1775); John (born 1776); Catherine (1778-1856); Ezra (born 1781); Charles (born 1783); Lewis (1785-1872); and William (born 1788). He died on October 22, 1818. Ephraim McKeen, along with Samuel B. Hansen, were appointed commissioners of his estate.

Lewis Ryan was born on November 1, 1785, in Edgecomb, Maine, the son of John and Lucy Ryan. He was a yeoman. He died on October 25, 1872, in Waldo, Maine.

William Ryan was born 1795, in Belfast, Maine. He was a yeoman. He married Nancy McKean (1801-1883) in 1820 and they had eight children: Anna Marie (1820-1822), Charles F. (1822-1824), William Henry (1824-1881), Lucy E. (1825-1828), Benjamin Franklin (1828-1857), Lewis H. (1829-1895), George Flowers (1832-1907), and Thomas E. (1833-1863). He died in 1875.

William Henry Ryan was born on June 21, 1824, in Belfast, Maine, the son of William and Nancy Ryan. He married Sarah A. Cunningham (born circa 1832) in 1850. He was listed as a sailor in the 1850 census but by 1860 was a miner in California where he died on May 1, 1881, in Columbia.

Benjamin Franklin Ryan was born on January 5, 1828, the son of William and Nancy Ryan. He was a seaman and married Sylvia Ames (born 1830) in 1852. He was lost at sea in 1857.

Lewis H. Ryan was born on November 29, 1829, in Belfast, Maine, the son of William and Nancy Ryan. He was a mariner who mastered the schooner Frances Ellen. He married Martha E. Hopkins (1833-1876) in 1853. He died on August 29, 1895 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

George Flowers Ryan was born on February 11, 1832, in Belfast, Maine, the son of William and Nancy Ryan. He was a ship captain and mastered the schooners Polly and Thomas as well as owning shares of other ships such as the schooners Malabar and Mason. He married Ellen P. Maddocks (1842-1922) in 1862 and they had three children together: Lillian V. (1862-1942), Lucie E. (1864-1926), and Franklin George (1866-1898). Captain Franklin G. Ryan died at sea while in charge of the schooner James Holmes, a ship his father had captained. George F. died on August 25, 1907.

Thomas E. Ryan was born on January 13, 1833, in Belfast, Maine, the son of William and Nancy Ryan. He married Lydia S. Wyman (born circa 1835) in 1857 and they had one son, Thomas E. (born 1863). He died on February 3, 1863 in Belfast.

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.

McKeen, Ephraim
McKeen, Joseph, 1787-1865
Ryan, Benjamin Franklin, 1828-1857
Ryan, Ellen P., 1842-1922
Ryan, George F., 1832-1907
Ryan, John, 1740-1818
Ryan, Lewis, 1785-1872
Ryan, Nancy M., 1901-1883
Ryan, Thomas E., 1833-1863
Ryan, William Henry, 1824-1881
Ryan, William, 1795-1875
Frances Ellen (Schooner)
Polly (Schooner)
Belfast (Me.)


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

Ryan Family Papers, MH 203, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


An account book for the schooner Polly in George F. Ryan’s papers was donated by Robert P. Applebee on November 25, 1958 (acc #14,636). The provenance of the rest of the material is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Tamara Gaydos, June 2017.

Related Material U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Williamson, Joseph. History of the city of Belfast in the State of Maine: volume II, 1875-1900. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913.

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