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Hudson Family Papers

Hudson Family Papers

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Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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:Hudson family
Title:Hudson Family Papers
Quantity:6 linear feet (10 boxes, 4 volumes)
Abstract:The Hudson Family papers document the diverse business and personal activities of four generations of the Hudson family of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MSS 174

Series List

SERIES I. James Hudson (1719-1792) Papers
SERIES II. Henry Hudson (1748-1823) Papers
SERIES III. John Rogers Hudson (1784-1831) PapersSERIES IV. Charles Hodge Hudson (1812-1898) PapersSERIES V. Family Papers
SERIES VI. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Hudson Family papers document the diverse business and personal activities of four generations of the Hudson family of Newburyport, Massachusetts. The collection contains the papers of James Husdon (1719-1792), shipping merchant and store owner, Henry Hudson (1748-1823), shipping merchant, auctioneer, insurance agent, and church assessor, John Rogers Hudson (1784-1831), shipping merchant, bank cashier, bookseller, and militia adjutant, and Charles Hodge Hudson (1812-1898), hardware store owner, telegraph company superintendent, Probate Court register, and inventor. Papers of additional family members are included. The collection is divided into six series.

Series I. James Hudson (1719-1792) Papers contains legal and financial papers and typescript drafts of his anonymously-authored biography. James' papers include shipping accounts, a shipbuilding agreement, general store records, and diagrams of the Salisbury salt works.

Series II. Henry Hudson (1748-1823) Papers contain business, personal, and church papers. The correspondence includes letters from foreign and domestic shipping merchants, and personal and shipping correspondence with his father- and brother-in-law, John Rogers, Sr. and Jr. Also included are Henry's letters to his sons, John (1784-1831) and Henry (b. 1787) Hudson. The financial papers and account books document Henry's shipping and insurance, his involvement in running the Hudson family wharf, and his work as an auctioneer and appraiser of ship cargos and estates. Of interest are estate inventories of a number of Newburyport individuals: Captain John Fletcher, Eleazur Johnson, John Boardman, Nathan Poor, Captain Samuel Bowers, Captain James Nowell, John W. Murray, Ebenezer Stone, Jacob Moody, Janus Smith, and Sarah Brown. Also included are Henry's repair accounts for work overseen on the Boston home of James Ivers. The legal and miscellaneous papers contain Henry's auctioneer licenses, deeds, and a plan of the Newburyport wharves. Of note are memorandums noting John Rogers' household goods (1792), the production of various weavers (1793), and repairs made to the home and store of Henry's uncle, Eleazur Hudson (b. 1712). The First Religious Society Records include notices, bills, receipts, and parish tax assessments documenting Henry's activities as church assessor and a member of the committee for the church proprietors.

Series III. John Rogers Hudson (1784-1831) Papers consist of shipping, business, personal, and military papers. Subseries A. Shipping Papers containing ships' papers and correspondence, documents the cargos John consigned on vessels voyaging to Europe, India, the East and West Indies, and coastal United States ports. (See Appendix I for a list of these vessels.) Subseries B. Business and Personal Papers contains letters from his brother Henry (b. 1787) regarding their subscription bookselling partnership, correspondence with the Balch family, and letters relative to the Mechanics Bank, where John was employed as a cashier. Also included are meeting minutes and correspondence generated by John's involvement in the Newburyport Academy and the First Religious Society. Letters for John from his mother, Anna (Rogers) Hudson, may be found in Box 8 Folder 8. The financial papers include personal accounts, bookselling subscription books, notes and stock of the Mechanics Bank, and accounts of the Newburyport Academy and the First Religious Society. John's military papers document his membership in the Washington Light Infantry Company and his activities as adjutant of the Massachusetts Militia 6th Regiment 2nd Brigade 2nd Division. These papers include notices, correspondence, accounts, and memorials regarding the disbanding of the Regiment in 1817. Also of interest are lists of warrant officers, commissioned officers, guards on Plum Island, and substitutes for drafted men. Of note in the miscellaneous papers are copied religious correspondence of John Q. Adams, a memorandum book of sermons preached in 1797, and the will of Rowley, Massachusetts, resident, Anna Hunter, of whose estate John was executor.

Series IV. Charles Hodge Hudson (1812-1898) Papers document his hardware stores in Newburyport and Roxbury, his involvement in telegraph companies, his activities as Probate Court Register, his inventions, and his interest in the First Religious Society and politics. Subseries A. Hardware Store Records consist primarily of orders, and account and inventory books from Charles' Newburyport store at #5 West Row.

Subseries B. Telegraph Company Records document the companies for which Charles acted as superintendent. The correspondence contains letters, circulars, and editorials regarding line repairs, office regulations, prices, stock, errors in transmitting newspaper stores, and news of rampant competition among telegraph lines. The meeting minutes and charters include papers of the Boston & Newburyport, Boston Salem & Newburyport, and Boston & Portland Telegraph Companies. The legal and court papers contain contracts, patent and sale deeds, and documents from stockholder and patent suits. The financial papers consists of monthly company balances, bills and receipts for the line's upkeep and repair, stockholders' shares and dividends, and rate of competitive companies. The miscellaneous papers include clippings, printed pamphlets, advertisements, and miscellaneous messages transmitted over the line.

Subseries C. Business and Personal Papers documents Charles' activities as a member of the Whig Party and the First Religious Society, a register of the Probate Court, and an inventor. Charles' correspondence includes political, register's and inventor's correspondence, as well as personal letters from his parents and siblings. The financial and legal papers contain personal accounts, Whig committee subscription lists, Probate Court papers, Charles' patent for an atomizer, and the charter of the Newburyport Screw Manufacturing Company, of which Charles was a founding member. The invention drawings include sketches of Charles' improved versions of skates, armor plating for ships, and a steamship engine signaling device base on the telegraph. The miscellaneous papers contain copied business correspondence of John T. Balch, miscellaneous notes and printed material from the Probate Court, and pamphlets describing Frederick Gisborne's engine signaling devices.

Series V. Family Papers contain business and personal papers of family members and genealogical notes. Anna (Rogers) Hudson's (d. 1831) papers consist of correspondence with her mother Mary Rogers, and her siblings, John and Mary. Also included are letters to her son, John Rogers Hudson (1784-1831). Letters to Anna from her daughter-in-law, Louise C. Hudson, may be found in Louise's papers (B9 F2). Henry Hudson's (b. 1787) papers document his personal and bookselling activities. Also include is a memorandum book noting sermons preached in 1799. Letters for Henry to his brother John (1784-1831) are located in Box 3 Folders 4 and5. Hanna (Balch) Hudson's (d. 1828) papers contain a diary, and correspondence with her sister, Elizabeth G. Balch. Louise C. Hudson's personal correspondence consists of letters to her mother-in-law, Anna (Rogers) Hudson, and her niece, Sarah H. Hudson. John Rogers Hudson's (b. 1810) papers include business and personal correspondence with John T. Balch, a shipping receipt book, and almanac diaries noting personal and political events, and arrivals and departures of vessels from Newburyport harbor. The miscellaneous family papers contain correspondence and accounts of Hudson, Balch, and Rogers family members. Of interest is a photograph of John Roger's portrait. The genealogies consist of notes and essays regarding the Hudson family in the 17th and 18th centuries, and a number of related Newburyport and Newbury families, such as the Fairfields, Davenports, Toppans, Atkinson, Sewalls, Dummers, and Greenleafs.

Series VI. Miscellaneous Papers contains personal and business correspondence, accounts, shipping memorandums, clippings, shorthand exercises, silhouettes, and poetry. Of interest is a 1778 Rhode Island army battle order plan, legal case materials regarding a seaman's loss of wages (circa 1842), an undated map of Newburyport, and a Lafayette badge.

Biographical Sketches

James Hudson was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1719, the son of Eleazur (1668-1736) and Deborah (Ford) (d. 1772) Hudson. James was a ship master, shipping merchant, and owner of a general store. He started the Salisbury salt works in 1765 and became active in Revolutionary War politics. He married Mary Rolfe (1722-1788) and later Mary Gwyn and had six children. He died in 1792.

Henry Hudson was born in Newburyport, on June 18, 1748, the son of James (1719-1792) and Mary (Rolfe) (1722-1788) Hudson. He was a shipping merchant, auctioneer of estates and ships' cargos, and insurance agent. He was the assessor for the First Religious Society of Newburyport (of which his grandfather Eleazur Hudson (b. 1712) was founder). He married Anna Rogers (d. 1831) and they had four children. He died on November 14, 1823.

John Rogers Hudson was born in 1784, the son of Henry (1748-1823) and Anna (Rogers) Hudson. He was a shipping merchant and partial owner of the brig St. Paul. He became cashier of the Mechanics Bank in approximately 1814. He was an adjutant of the Massachusetts militia 6th Regiment 2nd Brigade 2nd Division from 1813 to 1817. He was a partner with his brother, Henry, in book publishing and selling activities. He was also a trustee of the Newburyport Academy. In 1810 he married Hannah Balch (1784-1828) and they had seven children. John died in 1831.

Charles Hodge Hudson was born in Newburyport on January 17, 1812, the son of John Rogers (1784-1831) and Hannah (1784-1828) Hudson. He owned and operated a hardware store from 1834 to 1849. After falling badly into debt in 1849, Charles sold his hardware inventory and rented his store to Nathaniel Noyes. In approximately 1860 Charles opened another hardware store in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Charles became superintendent of the Boston and Newburyport Telegraph Company in approximately 1847. In 1848 a telegraph office in Salem was added to the line and the company was renamed the Boston Salem and Newburyport Telegraph Company. When the Portland office was added in 1850, the company became the Boston and Portland Telegraph Company and Charles functioned as superintendent and treasurer. By 1859, an office at Halifax, Nova Scotia, was added and the line was renamed the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Charles was a Register of the Probate court from 1857 to 1859 and justice of the peace in 1857. He was an inventor, making improvements on armor plating for ships, skates, steamship engine signaling devices, and atomizers. He was a member of the Whig Party and of the First Religious Society. He married Clarissa Balch (1812-1848) and they had five children. After Clarissa's death, he married Mary Snowman. He died on December 28, 1898.

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.

Hudson, Anna Rogers, -1831
Hudson, Charles Hodge, 1812-1898
Hudson, Hannah Balch, -1828
Hudson, Henry, 1748-1823
Hudson, Henry, b. 1787
Hudson, James, 1719-1792
Hudson, John Rogers, 1784-1831
Hudson, John Rogers, b. 1810
Hudson, Louisa C.
Hunter, Anna
Nowell, James
Poor, Nathan
Alert (Sloop)
Alexander (Brig)
America (Ship)
Atlantic Telegraph Co.
Boston & Newburyport Telegraph Co.
Boston & Portland Telegraph Co.
Boston, Salem & Newburyport Telegraph Co.
Bunker Hill (Schooner)
Citizen (Schooner)
Dolly (Schooner)
Eos (Brig)
First Religious Society (Newburyport, Mass.)
Harmony (Schooner)
Hibernia (Brig)
Industry (Brig)
Juno (Sloop)
Lydia (Brig)
Marmion (Ship)
Mary (Ship)
Mechanics Bank (Newburyport, Mass.)
Merrimack (Brig)
New Leader (Brig)
Polly (Schooner)
Potomac (Ship)
Relief (Brig)
Ruby (Brig)
Sally (Schooner)
Sally Ann (Brig)
St. Paul (Brig)
Sukey (Brig)
Swift (Brig)
Triton (Brig)
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 6th
Volant (Ship)
Washington (Schooner)
Justices of the peace
Salt industry and trade
Whig party
Newburyport (Mass.)
Account books
Journals (Diaries)


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

Hudson Family Papers, MSS 174, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The bulk of the collection was donated by the estate of Charles Hodge Hudson.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, February 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, March 2016.

Related Material

Captain James Hudson: a citizen of Newbury and of Newburyport, "in ye Massachusetts", 1719-1792.

Certificate to John R. Hudson of one share in the Newburyport Athenaeum, Jan. 1, 1813 / signed by John Andrews, President.

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