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Holyoke Family Papers

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HOLYOKE FAMILY PAPERS, 1560-1567, 1607-1905


Processing for this collection was funded by the Mack Medical Fund.

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:Holyoke family
Title:Holyoke Family Papers
Dates:1560/1567, 1607/1905
Quantity:13.5 linear feet (24 boxes, 17 volumes)
Abstract:The Holyoke Family Papers contain the correspondence and legal papers of early Holyoke relatives, including Edward Holioke, John Holyoke (1642-1711), Elizur Holyoke (1651-1711), and his wife Mary (Eliot) Holyoke. The papers also include Reverend Edward Holyoke's (1689-1769) sermons, business, legal and personal papers. Edward Augustus Holyoke's (1728-1829) medical, scientific, business, legal and personal papers are also included. There are also diaries, correspondence, and legal papers of the spouses and children of Edward (1689-1769), and Edward Augustus Holyoke (1728-1829).
Collection Number:MSS 49

Series List

SERIES I. Early Family PapersSERIES II. Edward Holyoke (1689-1769)SERIES III. Edward Augustus Holyoke (1728-1829)SERIES IV. Miscellaneous

Scope and Content Note

The Holyoke Family Papers, 1607 to 1905, contain the correspondence and legal papers of early Holyoke relatives, including Edward Holioke, John Holyoke (1642-1711), Elizur Holyoke (1651-1711), and his wife Mary (Eliot) Holyoke. The papers also include Reverend Edward Holyoke's (1689-1769) sermons, business, legal and personal papers. Edward Augustus Holyoke's (1728-1829) medical, scientific, business, legal and personal papers are also included. There are also diaries, correspondence, and legal papers of the spouses and children of Edward (1689-1769), and Edward Augustus Holyoke (1728-1829). The Holyoke family papers are arranged into four series.

Series I. Early Family Papers contains manuscripts from early Holyoke family members. Subseries A. Edward Holioke and John Holyoke (1642-1711) contains the letters of Edward Holyoke's (1689-1769) great-grandfather, Edward Holioke, and his uncle John Holyoke (1642-1711). The letters of Edward Holioke to his wife, Prudence Stockton, include transcriptions that were made by Edward Holyoke (1689-1769) and Joshua Holyoke Ward. John Holyoke's (1642-1711) notebook is written in both Latin and English. Subseries B. Elizur and Mary (Eliot) Holyoke contains manuscripts from Edward Holyoke's (1689-1769) parents; the majority of which are legal and estate papers which pertain to the division of the Eliot estate.

Series II. Edward Holyoke (1689-1769) Papers contains his business, personal, legal, and family papers. Subseries A. Business Papers reflects his career as a minister in Marblehead and as President of Harvard College. Although Edward's sermons range from 1716 to 1757, the majority of them were written during his years as a minister in Marblehead, from 1716 to 1736. The bound copies of sermons, Volumes 2 and 3, contain homilies given by himself and fellow ministers. The indexes at the front of each volume record the text and who preached. The sermon notebook also lists ministers and the texts of their sermons.

Subseries B. Personal Papers contains miscellaneous accounts and correspondence, mostly with his family, almanac/diaries from 1700 to 1768, and astronomical observations. The seventy volumes of almanac/diaries briefly relate Edward's personal and professional activities, events in the community, and weather conditions. The five folders of astronomical observations chart solar and lunar eclipses from 1560 to 1870.

Subseries C. Legal Papers from 1644 to 1790, are comprised of his deeds, legal correspondence, and estate papers. Included in the folders of Edward's legal papers are the estate papers of John Browne, Edward's father-in-law, and John Legg. Edward's estate papers include his will, inventory of his estate, and accounts and letters regarding the settlement of the estate.

Subseries D. Family Papers, includes the papers of Edward's third wife, Mary (Whipple) Epes Holyoke, and his children: Priscilla, Anna, and John (1734-1753). The legal and estate papers of Mary Holyoke contain deeds, her will, and estate papers. Within the miscellaneous papers are letters from Priscilla and Anna, to their friends and John Holyoke's (1734-1753) 1747 valedictorian address.

Series III. Edward Augustus Holyoke (1728-1829) Papers covers the years 1683 to 1855 and contains medical and scientific records, business, legal, personal, and family papers. Subseries A. Medical and Scientific Records have been divided into four sub-subseries. Sub-subseries 1. Medical Records includes his medical correspondence, remedies, prescriptions, case studies, medical essays, bills, receipts, day books, and ledgers. The bulk of the medial correspondence, 1749 to 1829, contains letters to and from his associates, many of whom were former students of Edward Augustus', describing medical cases and the treatments of patients. Petitions for medical treatment from local people, descriptions of autopsies, and letters to Edward Augustus regarding the medical training of prospective students are also included here. Any letters from Dr. Nathaniel W. Appleton, a former student, have been filed with the Nathaniel W. Appleton Correspondence (box 16, folders 2-3, and box 17, folder 1). The remedies and prescriptions include a scrapbook, compiled by Edward Augustus, and a folder containing clippings and his notes of various medical recipes and prescriptions, Edward Augustus' case studies and medical essays contain detailed descriptions and observations of various diseases and ailments and the treatment he used or recommended. The bulk of the medical bills and receipts, filed by year only, contain the records of Edward Augustus' fees for his patients. Edward Augustus' day books and ledgers contain his record of daily visits to his patients from 1749 until his death in 1829. The day books are arranged by year. The ledgers, Volumes 5 to 14, have a continuous pagination, and the index (Volume 15) contains a complete alphabetical listing of Edward Augustus' patient accounts. Volume 16 is an incomplete index of the ledgers. While the indexes are an alphabetical guide to the ledgers, the posting memorandum books (box 15, folder 1) contain yearly listing of accounts and their locations in the ledgers.

Sub-subseries 2. Professional Activities contains his correspondence with his former pupil Nathaniel Walker Appleton. Although the bulk of the correspondence related to the Massachusetts Medical Society, there are numerous letters which discuss medical cases, inform Edward Augustus on the progress of shipments of medical supplies, and relate the activities of other Massachusetts doctors. Any letters written by Appleton as an official spokesman of the Massachusetts Medical Society are located with those papers. The Massachusetts Medical Society's papers include minutes of meetings, the Society's charter, announcements of meetings, and miscellaneous correspondence. There is also a menu from the Essex South District Medical Society's centennial meeting which honored Edward Augustus. Additional societal papers include correspondence and a list of members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, correspondence and a list of questions for the Boylston Prize awarded by Harvard College, and honorary memberships to various medical organizations.

Sub-subseries 3. Scientific Records contains Edward Augustus' correspondence with colleagues regarding observations of meteorological patterns, astronomical occurrence, and Edward Augustus' study of arcs. Several letters from Thomas Lane of London, filed with the shipment papers, include reports of European weather conditions, as well as the shipment of medical and scientific supplies. Also included in this sub-subseries is a 1759 letter written to Andrew Oliver about seeing unidentified marine life; a negative of the letter is also included.

Sub-subseries 4. Statistical Data contains data gathered and maintained by Edward Augustus, documents disease in Salem from 1783 to 1806, the mortality rate from 1767 to 1822, and the births, marriages, and deaths from 1782 to 1788. The meteorological and astronomical statistics record his observations of weather, earthquakes, planetary movements, and other celestial phenomenon. The almanac/diaries, 1747 to 1829, primarily concern Edward Augustus' records of weather patterns and disease.

Series B. Business and Legal Papers include receipts, accounts, and correspondence not related to his medical practice, papers regarding his shipments of medical and scientific supplies from England, and underwriting insurance accounts. Included in the miscellaneous correspondence are notifications of the death of his uncle Jonathan Simpson, acknowledgements of letters for several charitable contributions, and correspondence from various societies.

Seven folders of correspondence, accounts, and invoices record the shipment of drugs, medical and scientific equipment, and books and pamphlets to Edward Augustus from England. Handled mainly by three merchant houses, Brainbridge Ansley and Company, R. Coates, and Thomas Lane, the records extend from 1789 to 1815. Included in the folder of miscellaneous correspondence, accounts and invoices are letters from Salemite Samuel Curwen. The letter book records letters written by Edward Augustus to merchant houses in England. Among the miscellaneous account books are expense books, from 1774 to 1778, and 1803, and memorandum books from 1791, 1805, and 1810.

Edward Augustus' legal papers include deeds, legal correspondence, his 1825 will, and the accounts and correspondence regarding the settlement of his estate by Joshua Ward. Also filed here are the correspondence regarding donations of his book, An Ethical Essay, and the 1830 copyright of this work. The Patch papers contain Edward Augustus' records of his land and financial transactions with Edmond Patch. Volume 18, originally an account book for the Epes family, also contains accounts of the settlement of Edward Augustus' estate. Among Samuel Epes' estate papers are his 1759 will and a 1760 inventory of his estate.

Subseries C. Personal Papers contains papers which reflect his theological and philosophical pursuits and his family life. Located within this series are published and manuscript copies of An Ethical Essay. There are also manuscript portions of the book and theological and philosophical notes he compiled while writing the book. Copyright information for the book is located in the legal papers. The pamphlet, Marblehead Recollections, gives a brief description of past events.

The folder of family correspondence contains letters of his brothers, sisters, and in-laws. These not only relate activities of the different individuals, but also frequently discuss illnesses of family members or friends. Edward Augustus' almanac/diaries have been moved to the statistical data, because they record mostly weather conditions and disease. The early almanac/diaries, however, do include his personal and professional activities.

Subseries D. Family Papers include miscellaneous correspondence and legal papers of his children and the diaries of his second wife, Mary (Vial) Holyoke, and daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Included with the miscellaneous correspondence and legal papers are letters written to his wife, Mary, and his daughters, Judith and Margaret, several deeds transferring land between family members, and a will of Elizabeth Epes, Edward Augustus' stepsister. The papers of the Appleton family have been placed here. These include an agreement between John Appleton and Miss Denison, a eulogy of Reverend Nathanial Appleton, and a few estate papers for Mary Appleton.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Papers includes genealogical material, miscellaneous Holyoke and non-Holyoke papers. The genealogical papers contain notes, copies of gravestones, coats of arms, and correspondence about members of the Holyoke, Simpson, Appleton, Osgood, and Nichols families. The folder of miscellaneous notes for the biographical sketch of Edward Augustus Holyoke was compiled by Dr. A. S. Pearson. Within the miscellaneous Holyoke papers is a cipher written by Edward Augustus Holyoke. Of special note in the miscellaneous non-Holyoke papers are Richard Skinner's will, dated 1726, and the appointment of an agent for share in the privateer Bunker Hill, dated 1778. Also included in this series are diaries belonging to Margaret Holyoke.

Biographical Sketch

Edward Holyoke was born in 1689 in Boston, to Elizur (1651-1711) and Mary (Eliot) Holyoke. He attended North Grammar School and graduated from Harvard College in 1705. Unsuccessful in obtaining a parish upon his graduation, Edward remained in Cambridge, holding several posts at the College. Edward was appointed library-keeper in 1708, a tutor in 1712, and a Fellow of the Corporation in 1713. During these years, in addition to his teaching duties, Edward gathered statistics on weather conditions and eclipses. In 1716, he was ordained the minister of the Second Church in Marblehead. The following year he married his first wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of Captain John Browne, and the granddaughter of Colonel John Legg. Elizabeth died in 1719, and Edward remarried six years later. His second wife, Margaret Appleton, was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Rogers) Appleton.

In 1737, Edward was elected President of Harvard College. The family moved to Cambridge, and Edward remained Harvard's President until his death. Margaret died in 1740, and Edward married his third wife, Mary Whipple, the widow of Samuel Epes. Of the eleven children born to Edward and his three wives, only six survived childhood: Margaret, Edward Augustus, Elizabeth, John, Anna, and Priscilla. Edward died in 1769.

Edward Augustus Holyoke was born in 1728 in Marblehead, to Edward and Margaret (Appleton) Holyoke. He graduated from Harvard College in 1746. During his undergraduate vacations from Harvard, he taught at the Lexington School and after completion of his degree, he taught in Roxbury. In 1747, Edward Augustus went to study with Dr. Thomas Berry, an Ipswich physician. Upon completion of his study in 1749, he opened his practice in Salem.

In 1755, Edward Augustus married Judith Pickman, the daughter of Colonel Benjamin and Love (Rawlins) Pickman. After her death in 1756, he married Mary Vial, the daughter of Nathaniel Vial of Boston. Of their twelve children, six survived childhood.

In addition to his long and noted Salem medical practice, Edward Augustus was responsible for the training of many medical students. Well-known Massachusetts doctors who studied under him included Dr. James Llyod, Dr. John Warren, Dr. Nathaniel Walker Appleton, and Dr. James Jackson. A prominent leader of the medical profession, Edward Augustus was a founder and the first president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and its offshoot, the Essex South Medical Society. He was also a founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Edward Augustus was the recipient of the first M. D. degree conferred by Harvard College in 1783. In addition to many honorary degrees, he also received a Doctor of Law degree from Harvard in 1813. He also pursued medical and scientific research during his long professional career. He kept steady records of meteorological patterns and disease in Salem, and was interested in astronomical events and the study of arcs.

Interests beyond his medical practice included underwriting several shipping ventures and membership in the Monday Night Club, a forerunner of the Salem Athenaeum of which he was the first president. He was also the first president of the Essex Historical Society, a member of the Fire Club, an original subscriber in the Salem Iron Mill, the first director of Salem Savings Bank, and a ruling elder of the North Church.

In good health most of his life, Edward Augustus died at the age of 100 years and eight months in 1829.

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.

Adams, John, 1735-1826
Appleton, John, 1739-1817
Appleton, Mary, 1640-1698
Appleton, Nathaniel Walker, 1755-1795
Appleton, Nathaniel, Rev.
Bentley, William, 1759-1819
Curwen, Samuel, b. 1737/8
Epes, Elizabeth, 1736-
Epes, Samuel, 1734-1760
Epes, Symonds, 1662-1741
Holioke, Edward
Holyoke, Anna
Holyoke, Edward Augustus, 1728-1829
Holyoke, Edward, 1689-1769
Holyoke, Elizabeth, 1771-1789
Holyoke, Elizur, 1651-1711
Holyoke, John, 1734-1753
Holyoke, Margaret, 1763-1825
Holyoke, Mary (Whipple) Epes, 1698-1790
Holyoke, Mary Eliot, d. 1721
Holyoke, Mary Vial, 1737-1802
Holyoke, Priscilla
Jackson, James, Dr.
Lloyd, James, Dr.
Mascarene, Margaret (Holyoke), 1726-1792
Nichols family
Osgood family
Patch, Edmund
Simpson family
Stockton, Prudence
Turner, Judith (Holyoke), 1774-1841
Ward, Joshua, 1776-1840
Warren, John, Dr.
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Bainbridge & Ansley
Harvard University
Massachusetts Medical Society
Account books
Estates, Administration of
Materia medica
Religious literature
Vital statistics
Cambridge (Mass.)
Marblehead (Mass.)
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

Holyoke Family Papers, MSS 49, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is a reorganization and integration of three scrapbook volumes, 29 boxes, and 15 account books. The three scrapbooks volumes, all of the account books (except Volume 18), and several miscellaneous items came from an unknown source. Fam. Mss. has been marked on the back of each manuscript. The following items were donated: the Mary (Vial) and Elizabeth Holyoke diaries were a 1911 gift of Senator G. P. Wetmore, and the E. A. Holyoke scrapbook of remedies comes from Mrs. Frank Holyoke. The remainder of the collection was a gift of the heirs of Andrew Nichols, in 1973 and 1975. A diary leaf, a letter from Mary Holyoke to Susannah Holyoke, and a page of notes were purchased in 1998 and added to the collection in 2009 (Box 23, Folder 2A). In 2014, the Edward A. Holyoke Papers, 1759 (NH 29), a letter written by Edward A. Holyoke about unidentified marine life in Nahant, was integrated into this collection. The following items were removed from the collection: Ward family correspondence, diaries, and receipts, one folder of Epes legal papers, and an inventory of Benjamin Herbert Hathorne's estate. A Holyoke family tree, and two plans of Dr. Edward A. Holyoke’s estate were found in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy Barthelemy and Prudence Backman, April 1982. Updated by Rachel Jirka, December 2009, Hilary Streifer, October 2014, Tamara Gaydos, September 2017.

Related Material


Brazer, John. Discourse, Delivered in the North Church in Salem, on Saturday, 4th of April, 1829, At the Internment of Edward Augustus Holyoke. Salem, MA: Foote and Browne, 1829.

Brazer, John. Memoir of Edward A. Holyoke, MD, LL D. Boston: Perkins and Marvin, 1829.

Dow, George Francis. The Holyoke Diaries, 1709-1856. Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1911.

Gannon, Fred Augustus. A Life of 100 Years as Recorded by Dr. Edward A. Holyoke: With Some Additional Notes. Salem, MA: F. A. Gannon, 1926.

Gannon, Fred Augustus. Education of Dr. Edward A. Holyoke. Salem, MA: J. N. Simard, 1957.

Gannon, Fred Augustus. The Extraordinary Dr. Holyoke who Lived 100 Years. Salem, MA: Newcomb and Guass for the Salem Book Company, 1947.

Holyoke, Edward A. Life of 100 Years As Recorded by Dr. Edward A. Holyoke. Salem, MA: 1926.

Wiswall, Richard Hall. "Dr. Edward Augustus Holyoke." Essex Institute Historical Collections, LXVI (1930): 441-463.

Related Collections

Epes Family Papers, 1659-1793. MSS 492

John Mascarene Papers, 1761-1792. MSS 132

Nichols Family of Danvers, Massachusetts, Papers, 1744-1919. MSS 431

Osgood Family Papers, 1661-1932. MSS 189

Ward Family Papers, 1718-1946. MSS 46

Papers of Edward Holyoke (1689-1769), 1720-1767. UAI 15.870, Harvard University Library.

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