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Grew Family Papers

Grew Family Papers

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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:Grew family
Title:Grew Family Papers
Quantity:3.5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:This collection contains the personal letters and business documents of several members of the Grew family, as well as some relating to the Wigglesworth, Greene, Phillips, Williams, and Crosby families.
Collection Number:MH 112

Series List

SERIES I. The Grew Family Papers
SERIES II. The Crosby Family Papers
SERIES III. The Williams Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the personal letters and business documents of several members of the Grew family, as well as some relating to the Wigglesworth, Greene, Phillips, Williams, and Crosby families.

Series I. The Grew Family contains correspondence of members of the immediate and extended family, including Henry Grew, John Grew, Anna C. (Grew) Alvord, Henry Sturgis Grew, Jane Norton (Wigglesworth) Grew, Mary Coltman, Elizabeth Coltman, George Sturgis, Anne Terry (Greene) Phillips, and Wendell Phillips. Also included are letters patent (land documents) pertaining to Ebenezer Young; John and Mary (Coltman) Grew's marriage settlement; a note inviting Wendell Phillips to serve as the delegate from the Massachusetts to the American Anti-Slavery Society; photographs sent from China by Henry Sturgis Grew; a scrapbook containing Civil War newspaper clippings compiled by either Anne or Thomas Wigglesworth; and a travel journal kept by Jane Norton (Wigglesworth) Grew.

Series II. The Crosby Family contains letters written to William Bedloe Crosby, including some from his uncle Henry Rutgers; a lease agreement from 1767; a reference letter for Doctor Peter S. Townsend; and letters to John Schuyler Crosby. Also included are letters pertaining to Sir William Johnson and Governor John Tayler, and a manuscript detailing the history of the Burr/Hamilton dueling pistols, written by Major Richard Church.

Series III. The Williams Family contains letters written by Franklin Delano Williams to his family in Greenfield during his time in China, as well as shipping invoices and other business documents. Also included are letters written to Mary (Nelson) Williams after her husband died.

Biographical Sketch

John Grew (1752-1800) was born in Leicester, England. He married Mary Coltman (1756–1834), also of that town, in 1777. John worked as a brass founder until 1794, when he moved his family to Boston, Massachusetts. He and Mary had several children: John Grew (1780–1821); Henry Grew (1781–1862); Mary Grew (1778–1817); Anna Grew (1786–1835); Elizabeth Grew (1798–1822); and Charles Grew (1784–1803). John Grew (1752–1800) died after a brief illness while visiting England. His daughter, Mary, wed Benjamin Greene in 1803; their daughter Ann Terry (Greene) Phillips (1813–1886) would later wed the abolitionist and orator, Wendell Phillips (1811–1884).

Henry Grew held a post as a pastor in Hartford, Connecticut from 1807 to 1811, where he married Susan Pitman in 1802; their marriage ended with her death in 1804 and produced a daughter, Susan. A marriage with Kate Merrow produced the noted abolitionist Mary Grew (1813–1896). After Kate's death, Henry then married Elizabeth Parkman Sturgis, with whom he had four children: Henry Sturgis Grew (1834–1910); Charles Grew (1836–1849); Edward Grew; and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Perkins Grew. Henry married Jane Wigglesworth after Elizabeth Parkman Sturgis Grew's death; he died in Providence, Rhode Island in 1862.

Henry Sturgis Grew attended the Boston Latin School and after graduation joined the shipping company Russell & Co., based in China and owned and operated by his maternal uncle, Russell Sturgis. He returned to Boston in 1863 to marry Jane "Jennie" Norton (Wigglesworth) Grew (1836–1920). They resided in China until 1865, at which time they returned to Boston. The couple had four surviving children: Edward; Elizabeth; Jane Norton; and Henrietta. Henrietta married Stephen Van Renneslaer Crosby; Jane Norton married John Pierpont Morgan, Jr.; and Elizabeth married Boylston Adams Beal.

William Bedloe Crosby (1786-1865) was born in New York City. When he was orphaned at the age of two, he was adopted by his maternal great uncle Henry Rutgers. William married Harriet Clarkson and the family remained in New York, where William was a merchant. Their marriage produced four children, among them Clarkson Floyd Crosby (1817–1858) who married Angelica Schulyer. John Schulyer Crosby (1839–1914), their son, served in the United States military as a Colonel, as well as Consul in Florence, Italy from 1876–1882 and as the Governor of Montana Territory from 1883–1884. He was the father of Stephen Van Renneslaer Crosby.

Franklin Delano Williams (d. 1865), an acquaintance of Henry Sturgis Grew, owned the shipping company Williams & Co., based in China. He was married to Mary (Nelson) Williams; their children included Mary "Dollie" Williams and Franklin "Frankie" Williams. The family lived in Greenfield, Massachusetts while Franklin worked abroad. After closing Williams & Co., Franklin served as the United States Vice-Consul in Hong Kong until his death.

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.

Coltman, Mary, 1756-1834
Crosby, John Schuyler, 1839-1914
Crosby, William Bedloe, 1786-1865
Gage, Thomas, 1721-1787
Grew, Elizabeth Perkins Sturgis, 1809-1848
Grew, Henry Sturgis, 1834-1910
Grew, Henry Sturgis, Mrs., ca. 1840-1920
Grew, Henry, 1781-1862
Grew, Jane Norton Wigglesworth, 1836-1920
Grew, John, 1752-1800
Hilmers, H. C.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination
Matthiessen, E. A.
Phillips, Ann Terry Greene, 1813-1886
Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884
Ralston, Matthew C.
Ralston, Robert, 1761-1836
Rutgers, Henry, 1745-1830
Townsend, Peter S. (Peter Solomon), 1796-1849
Williams, Franklin Delano, d. 1865
Williams, Mary (Nelson)
American Anti-Slavery Society
Russell and Company
Williams and Company
Church history--19th century
Shipping--China--Hong Kong
Boston (Mass.)
Greenfield (Mass.)
Hartford (Conn.)
Hong Kong (China)--Commerce--United States
Leicester (England)
United States--Consulate General (Hong Kong, China)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request 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

Grew Family Papers, MH 112, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is a gift of Mrs. Raymond S. Wilkins (acc# 14,554). Henry Grew’s naturalization certificate was a gift from the Weathersfield (VT) Historical Society on June 11, 2018 (acc #2018.005).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Erin Green, November 2010. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, June 2016, 2018.

Related Material

Brown, Ira Vernon. Mary Grew, Abolitionist and Feminist. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, Inc, 1991.

Grew, Henry Sturgis. Letters from China and Manila. N.p., 1927.

The Hyde Park Historical Record, Vol. 1: 1891-1892. N.p.: The Hyde Park Historical Society, 1892.

Jackson, Francis Garrison. Ann Phillips, wife of Wendell Phillips: a memorial sketch. N.p., 1886.

Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. N.p.: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1915.

Prominent Families of New York. N.p.: The Historical Company, 1897.

Skillington, Florence E. The Coltmans of the Newarke at Leicester. N.p., 1934.

Stewart, James Brewer. Wendell Phillips: Liberty's Hero. N.p: Louisiana State University Press, 1986.

Waters, Henry Fitz-Gilbert. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 65. N.p., 1911.

Wolff, Geoffrey. The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby. New York: The New York Review of Books, 2003.

Thomas Wigglesworth Jr. Papers, 1823-1868 MH 6

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