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Appleton Family Papers

Appleton Family Papers

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Processing and conservation for this collection was funded in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Appleton family
Title:Appleton Family Papers
Dates:bulk 1790/1823
Quantity:1.75 linear feet (3 boxes, 1 volume)
Abstract:The bulk of the collection concerns Henry Appleton's (1763-1823) mercantile activities in Salem from 1790-1823, and his management of the affairs of his orphaned niece and nephews.
Collection Number:MSS 216

Series List

SERIES I. Henry Appleton (1768-1823) Papers
SERIES II. Appleton Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the collection concerns Henry Appleton's (1763-1823) mercantile activities in Salem from 1790-1823, and his management of the affairs of his orphaned niece and nephews. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I. Henry Appleton (1768-1823) Papers includes receipts, correspondence, and account books from 1786-1823. Business correspondence is almost exclusively comprised of market advice and account summaries from the Harrison Ansley Company of London. The wastebook contains accounts associated with Sally (Brig), George (Brig), and Betsy (Schooner) from 1795-1796. Also included are accounts related to the guardianship of Elizabeth Appleton, William Ward Appleton, and Henry Appleton. Volume 1 contains additional accounts related to the estate of Nathaniel Appleton and his children, as well as inventories of Henry Appleton's store and accounts for cargo consigned on seven Salem vessels that sailed for Canton, Calcutta and Sumatra. For more information on shipping activities, see Appendix I.

Series II. Appleton Family Papers includes materials relating to the family members of Henry Appleton. Henry's uncle, Nathaniel Appleton (1731-1798), was Commissioner of Loans in Boston. The bills of exchange and interest receipts exemplify his life's work.

Henry's brother, Nathaniel Appleton (1779-1818), was a Salem merchant who was part-owner of as many as nine vessels. Willard Peele, Henry's brother-in-law, of Salem was also a part owner of at least four of these ships, which sailed for Europe, Asia and the West Indies. For more information on shipping activities, see Appendix I.

The Alfred Greenleaf Appleton estate papers contain correspondence, accounts and receipts associated with the guardianship of the mentally infirm child of John Appleton (1739-1817). Though this responsibility passed from Henry Appleton to Willard Peele and then to Stephen C. Phillips, the available documentation is only related to the work of Peele and Phillips.

The miscellaneous family items include individual documents associated with Henry's father John Appleton, Henry's cousins Dr. Nathaniel Walker Appleton (1755-1795), who served as secretary for the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1788, and Thomas Appleton (died 1840) of Leghorn.

Biographical Sketch

Henry Appleton (1768-1823), son of John Appleton (1739-1817) and Jane Sparhawk Appleton, was a Salem merchant specializing in the sale of cloth and linen. Much of his merchandise was shipped from London, England, via the Harrison Ansley Company. Henry Appleton was unmarried, but became a guardian to his brother's three children, Elizabeth Appleton, William Ward Appleton, and Henry Appleton, in 1819. He was also responsible for his stepbrother, Alfred Greenleaf Appleton until his death in 1823.

Henry's uncle, Nathaniel Appleton (1731-1798), brother to John Appleton, graduated from Harvard in 1749 and became the Commissioner of Loans in Boston.

Henry's brother, Nathaniel Appleton (1779-1818), had three children with Elizabeth Ward Appleton. All three were warded to Henry Appleton upon their parent's death.

Henry's stepbrother, Alfred Greenleaf Appleton, was mentally disabled and was cared for by Henry Appleton, Willard Peele (married to Henry's sister Margaret), and Stephen C. Phillips (1801-1857).

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.

Appleton, Alfred G., 1794-1865
Appleton, Henry, 1768-1823
Appleton, John, 1739-1817
Appleton, Nathaniel W., 1755-1795
Appleton, Nathaniel, 1731-1798
Appleton, Nathaniel, 1778-1818
Appleton, Thomas, d. 1840
Peele, Willard, 1773-1835
Phillips, Stephen C. (Stephen Clarendon), 1801-1857
Arab (Ship)
Aurora (Schooner)
Betsey (Schooner)
Bonetta (Ship)
Concord (Ship)
Freedom (Ship)
Friend (Brig)
Ganges (Brig)
George (Brig)
Harrison, Ansley, and Co. (London, England)
Hope (Ship)
Madockawando (Schooner)
Mary (Bark)
Mary (Ship)
Oceanus (Schooner)
Rachel (Ship)
Sally (Brig)
Union (Ship)
William (Ship)
Estates, administration of
Guardian and ward
Shipping--Great Britain--London
Textile fabrics
Salem (Mass.)


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

Appleton Family Papers, MSS 216, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Four folders of correspondence, receipts, accounts and account books were received as a gift from the Stephen Phillips estate (acc #19,823). Six folders of material related to Henry Appleton were received as a gift from Mrs. Ebenezer Putnam on July 9, 1945. The origin of the other Appleton family material is unknown. In May 2014, MH 9 Appleton Family Papers, 1780-1857 was combined with MSS 216 Appleton Family Papers, 1780-1857 to form this comprehensive collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Robert P. Spindler, May 1987. Updated by: Catherine Robertson, May 2014, and Tamara Gaydos, June 2018.

Related Material

Appleton, John. Pedigree of Appleton. Boston: s.n., 1864.

Appleton, Nathaniel. "Nathaniel Appleton's Journal of the Voyage of the Ship Concord Around the World October 1799 to July 1802." ed. James Duncan Phillips. Essex Institute Historical Collections 83. 2 and 3 (1947): 146-161, 230-246.

Phillips Family Papers, 1794-1942, MSS 58

Willard Peele Papers, 1795-1871, MSS 66

Appendix I

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