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Ward Family Papers

Ward Family Papers

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

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:Ward family
Title:Ward Family Papers
Quantity:20.75 linear feet (31 boxes, 59 volumes)
Abstract:The Ward Family Papers include the joiner and chair making account books of Miles Ward (1673/4-1764) and the shipping, business, and legal papers of Miles Ward (1704-1792) and his son Joshua Ward (1752-1825), in addition to the family papers of Joshua Ward (1776-1840). The remainder of the collection contains personal and business papers for the descendants of Joshua Ward (1699-1779), Miles Ward (1704-1792), John Ward (1707-1787), and Ebenezer Ward (1710-1791).
Collection Number:MSS 46

Series List

SERIES I. Miles Ward (1673/4-1764) Account Books
SERIES II. Miles Ward (1704-1792) PapersSERIES III. Joshua Ward (1752-1825) PapersSERIES IV. Joshua Ward (1776-1840) Family PapersSERIES V. Ward Relatives PapersSERIES VI. Genealogy and Additional Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Ward Family Papers include the joiner and chair making account books of Miles Ward (1673/4-1764) and the shipping, business, and legal papers of Miles Ward (1704-1792) and his son Joshua Ward (1752-1825). The remainder of the collection contains personal and business papers for the descendants of Joshua Ward (1699-1779), Miles Ward (1704-1792), John Ward (1707-1787), and Ebenezer Ward (1710-1791). Although the Ward Family Papers extend from 1718 to 1946, the bulk of the papers ranges from 1740 to 1825. The collection has been arranged in six series.

Series I. Miles Ward (1673/4-1764) Account Books contains his accounts and a few receipts for his Salem business as a joiner.

Series II. Miles Ward (1704-1792) Papers, which include his shipping, business, and legal papers, range from 1729 to 1799. Subseries A. Shipping Papers contains the ships' papers for vessels he owned and for those on which he consigned cargo. His ships primarily sailed to the West Indies and coastwise America carrying rum, molasses, grains, and other cargoes. While the ships' papers, arranged alphabetically, include the bills of lading, masters' and merchant house correspondence, ships' orders, crew lists, accounts, and receipts for specific vessels, the miscellaneous shipping papers contain all records for more than one ship or unidentified ships. Outfitting papers contain accounts and receipts for the building and repairing of Miles's ships. See Appendix I for a list of ships owned by Miles along with their masters and port of call.

Miles Ward's daybooks and ledgers comprise the bulk of Subseries B. Business Papers. They contain accounts for cargo, ships' voyages, and his local mercantile business from 1740 to 1789. Also contained in the Business Papers are miscellaneous accounts and receipts for Miles's wharves, warehouses, cargoes, and domestic concerns (1734-1790). His legal papers include deeds for land, wharves, and a pew, accounts of contributions to the salary of Rev. Dudley Leavitt, Miles's 1790 will, and his estate papers.

Series III. Joshua Ward (1752-1825) Papers includes shipping and business papers for Joshua's mercantile and distillery businesses. Joshua's shipping papers, which spans the years 1775 to 1832, includes records for vessels owned by or which carried cargo for Joshua to ports in Europe, the West Indies, Africa, and coastwise America. Ward's ships were involved in such activities as privateering (in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, see Appendix II), fishing voyages, and West Indies and European trade. The Shipping Papers are arranged in three subseries: ships' papers, general shipping papers, and shipping and merchant house correspondence.

Subseries A. Ships' Papers, which is arranged alphabetically, contain ships' orders, crew lists, invoices, bills of lading, accounts of sales, portledge bills, and merchant house and captains' correspondence. Several aspects of this subseries are worthy of note. At least one of Ward's ships was involved with slave trading. Correspondence to the captain of the brig Favorite (Jan. 10, 1787 and July 14, 1787) gives instructions on the purchase and sale of a cargo of slaves. A muster roll pamphlet for the brig Tyrannicide lists crew members returned to England from prize vessels captured by the brig.

Subseries B. General Shipping Papers includes miscellaneous shipping papers, account books, insurance accounts, outfitting papers, and papers of Joshua's business partners. Receipts, accounts, agreements, and correspondence referring to the building, repairing, and outfitting of ships are located in the outfitting papers. The Nathan Ward Papers contain primarily letters and invoices from Nathan to Joshua, which refer to the purchase, sale, and loading of cargo. Correspondence from Nathan continues past the 1787 dissolvement of their firm. Included in these folders (B12, F5-6) are the legal agreement for the establishment of their firm and the lease of their Petersburg, Virginia, store. One folder (B12, F7) contains letters to Nathaniel Appleton and Nathan Frye, partners with Joshua in many shipping ventures.

Subseries C. Shipping and Merchant House Correspondence is filed alphabetically by firm name (see Appendix III) and includes correspondence, accounts, and ship's papers from foreign and American merchants. Correspondence from Ichabod and Nathan Nichols (B15, F1), merchants in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, discusses the loading of cargo and readying of vessels for sail, many of which were privateers. Letters from Joseph Bass (B13, F1), Joshua's brother-in-law, include personal information as well as business. The miscellaneous shipping correspondence includes letters from captains of unidentified vessels and letters from J. B. LaMarque (1795-1796), which describe political events in Europe and America (B16, F7).

Subseries D. Business Papers includes correspondence, distillery receipts, accounts, and legal documents, miscellaneous receipts, account books, and legal documents. Because Joshua's primary business concern was the import and export of West Indian goods and New England rum, most of his business correspondence in some way reflects this pursuit. Correspondence located here may, therefore, pertain to the shipping business, but it does not, however, specifically discuss cargo or ships. Additional letters concern the distillery, the Salem Register, and the Federal Office. The folder of legal documents for the distillery (B17, F7) contains permission to build the distillery and deeds for its sale. Joshua's account books contain accounts for his cargo, ships' voyages, distillery, and domestic concerns. The legal documents include sale of the Salem Register, probate of his will, and an inventory of his estate (B22, F11).

Series IV. Joshua Ward (1776-1849) Family Papers consists of five subseries. Subseries A. Joshua Ward Papers consists of mostly business papers and correspondence, including several deeds for land in Salem and Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as indentures.

Subseries B. Susannah Holyoke Ward Papers consists of 62 almanacs/diaries and personal papers. The almanacs/diaries cover the years 1793-1856 and contain interleaved diary entries along with the yearly almanacs. The entries include notation of visits and personal expenses. The folder of personal papers includes letters written to her husband, Joshua Ward (1776-1840), and her son (Joshua Holyoke) as well as a letter written to her form her daughter, Mehitable War. This subseries also includes Susannah Holyoke Ward's last will from 1853, naming her daughters Mary and Mehitable as beneficiaries and executors.

Subseries C. Elizabeth Holyoke Ward Papers is composed of personal writings as well as copies of essays and papers, Most of these appear to be religious in nature, and the subseries includes loose writings as well as a number of journals. Other papers include a catalog for a sale to benefit the New England Asylum for the Blind as well as Elizabeth's obituary.

Subseries D. Mehitable Ward Papers consists only of correspondence to and from Mehitable Ward. Mehitable wrote letters to Susannah Holyoke Ward and Elizabeth Holyoke Ward and received letters from them. She also received letters from Elizabeth Holyoke Hedge and "Aunt Peggy"." Many of these letters were originally found interleaved in a sketchbook belonging to a Mary E. Nichols. The sketchbook is no located in the Nichols Family of Danvers, Massachusetts Papers (MSS 431).

Subseries E. Joshua Holyoke Ward Papers includes a number of folders containing correspondence. One folder contains correspondence from friends as well as letters written from Joshua Holyoke Ward to his mother and sisters, written while at school. The letters to his mother describe Ward's trip to New York, and contain descriptions of lower Manhattan and Saratoga Springs. The judicial and Business Correspondence consists of letters pertaining to cases Joshua Holyoke Ward was trying while Judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1835-1848. Manu of these letters regard schedule adjustments, which were quite frequent because of Ward's poor health. Of note in the correspondence is a handwritten notice of William Henry Harrison's death signed by then-Secretary of State Daniel Webster.

The legal papers of Joshua Holyoke Ward include opinions and notes written on cases, as well as correspondence he acquired as agent for the heirs of Silence Eliot. The folders of general papers include forms and reports from Ward's days at Harvard College, as well as a program from his commencement ceremony in 1829. It also includes Joshua's appointment as Justice of the Peace, a genealogical letter from a relative, accounts of his estate, correspondence and agreements concerning land owned by the family in Brimfield, Massachusetts. This subseries also contains essays and manuscripts written by Ward while he attended Harvard College.

Series V. Ward Relatives' Papers is divided into four subseries. Included in the papers of Subseries A. Joshua Ward (1699-1779) and Heirs are shipping papers for Joshua (1699-1779), shipping and personal papers for his son Richard (1741-1824), and personal correspondence for his great-grandchildren George Atkinson Ward (1793-1865) and Sophia Langdon Ward (1855- ). Joshua Ward's (1699-1779) shipping papers (B22, F12) contain ship's papers for the schooner Beaver. These include bills of lading, portledge bills, invoices, accounts, and receipts. The papers of Joshua's son, Richard (1741-1824), primarily contain letters written by Richard while master of the brig Louisa from 1809 to 1810 and account books for his mercantile business from 1780 to 1784. George Atkinson Ward's (1793-1865) papers (B23, F1) include a personal historical memorandum book that contains such entries as past minister's ordinations, orations by local officials and ministers, and notations of historical events. Contained in the Sophia Langdon Ward (1855- ) Papers (B23, F2) are her 1869 letters to her friend Charlotte Nichols that discuss Sophia's adolescent concerns and infatuations.

Subseries B. Heirs of Miles Ward (1704-1792) contains documents of Miles's heirs by his first wife: his grandson Nathan (d. circa 1792), great-grandchildren Frederick Townsend Ward (1831-1862) and Elizabeth Colburn Ward (1839- ), and Miles' heirs by his second wife: his son Nathaniel (1746-1768), grandson Joshua (1776-1840) and his wife, Susanna (Holyoke) Ward, and their children Mary Holyoke Ward (1800- ), Elizabeth Holyoke Ward (1804-1851), and Joshua Holyoke Ward (1808-1848).

The Nathan Ward (d. circa 1792) Papers (B27, F10) contain his business and personal correspondence. Of note is the June 17, 1779 letter from John Rowe to Nathan and other Salem merchants describing the effects of the Revolution upon Salem trade, and the May 21, 1785 letter from his uncle Goodale informing Nathan of the deaths of Mrs. Safford and Nathan's brother Miles. Additional business papers from Nathan's partnership with his uncle Joshua Ward (1752-1825) are located in Box 12, Folders 5-6. Among the Frederick Townsend Ward (1831-1862) Papers (B23, F4) are a printed description of his death in China and several photographs.

The Susanna (Holyoke) Ward and Mary Holyoke Ward almanac/diaries contain their interleaved diary entries along with the yearly almanacs. The entries include notations of visits and personal expenses. The Joshua Holyoke Ward (1808-1848) Papers include Joshua's 1842 appointment as Justice of the Peace, a genealogical letter from a relative, accounts of his estate, and correspondence he acquired as agent for the heirs of Silence Eliot (B25, F4-5).

Subseries C. Heirs of John Ward (1707-1787) contains the papers of Andrew Abbot Ward (1828- ), an heir of John Ward (1707-1787). Of note are the 1875 Salem High School printed exercises for various subjects (B25, F6).

Subseries D. Heirs of Ebenezer Ward (1710-1791) include shipping correspondence for Ebenezer Jr. (1738-1773), deeds, business papers, and estate papers for his son, Miles (1744-1796), correspondence to Miles Ward (1805-1848) and Joseph Chipman Ward (bp. 1773-1832), and Chipman Ward (1813-1861) correspondence. Also included here are the Miles Ward (1805-1848) diaries describing his life and study before entering Harvard College (V. 58-59).

Series VI. Genealogy and Additional Papers contains note and correspondence on genealogy, Ward family crest tracings, and miscellaneous Ward and non-Ward papers.

Biographical Sketches

Miles Ward (1673/4-1764), a Salem joiner and chair maker, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the second son of Joshua (1641-1680) and Hannah (Flint) Ward. He married Sarah Massey, the daughter of John and Sarah (Wells) Massey, by whom he had all five of his children. After Sarah's death in 1728, Miles married Sarah Ropes, the daughter of William and Sarah (Ingersoll) Ropes.

Miles Ward (1704-1792), a Salem joiner and shipping merchant, was born in Salem, the second son of Miles and Sarah (Massey) Ward. His first wife was Elizabeth Webb, the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Phippen) Webb. They had eight children. After Elizabeth's death in 1737, Miles married Hannah (Derby) Hathorne, the widow of Benjamin Hathorne, and they also had eight children.

Following in his father's footsteps, Miles began work as a joiner in Salem in the 1720s. However, by 1740, Miles had entered into the shipping and fishing trades. He engaged in trade to the West Indies and Europe. Between the 1760s and the 1770s, Miles owned at least five ships and one fishing vessel. Upon Miles's death in 1792, he left an insolvent estate, administered by his son Joshua.

Joshua Ward (1752-1825) was the son of Miles (1704-1792) and Hannah (Derby) Hathorne Ward. A prosperous Salem shipping merchant, Joshua began his career as partial owner of many privateers during the Revolutionary War. By 1782, his ships had begun trading tobacco, rum, and grains with ports in the West Indies and Europe. Ward's vessels continued to sail mainly to these ports and also to Manila and Africa. While Ward was not primarily known as a slave trader, his activities did include some slave trading. Several of his vessels also participated in fishing voyages.

In 1784, Joshua formed a partnership with his nephew Nathan Ward. Acting as an agent for their company in Petersburg, Virginia, Nathan oversaw the purchase, loading, and sale of cargo for ships owned by Joshua. Although the partnership dissolved in 1787, Nathan continued to oversee the purchase and loading of cargo for Joshua until Nathan's death, circa 1792. In 1791, Joshua built a distillery and began exporting New England rum to merchant houses in New York and Europe. He continued to own ships and consign cargo on other vessels until the early 1800s.

Joshua, in addition to his career as a shipping merchant, was an ardent patriot and civic servant. His activities in the Revolutionary War include: member of the 1778 expedition to Rhode Island, chairman of the Salem Committee, partial owner of at least eleven privateers or letters of marque, and shareholder in several privateers. Joshua's house (150 Washington Street, now numbered 148 Washington St., the location of the Higginson Book Company) was the residence of George Washington during his 1789 visit to Salem. When the War of 1812 began, Joshua helped finance at least three privateers.

Joshua served the town of Salem as a selectman in 1810. He was on the committee to establish the Salem-Danvers Aqueduct in 1796 and later served as its director. He was the secretary to the Federal Office and a part owner of the Salem Register. Joshua and his first wife, Sarah Lander, had four children. After Sarah's death in 1809, Joshua married Susan (Hall) Magee. His son Joshua (1776-1840) married Susanna Holyoke, the daughter of Dr. Edward Augustus Holyoke. Joshua Ward (1776-1840) was the son of Joshua Ward (1752-1825). He married Susanna Holyoke, the daughter of Edward Augustus Holyoke and Mary (Vial) Holyoke. They had seven children together: Mary, Mehitable, Elizabeth Holyoke, Joshua, Joshua Holyoke, Susanna, and Augusta Holyoke. Both Joshua and Augusta Holyoke did not live past their third birthdays.

Joshua Holyoke Ward was born in Salem on July 8, 1808, son of Joshua Ward (1776-1840) and Susanna Holyoke, the daughter of Dr. Edward Holyoke, He was educated at Harvard College, and subsequently studied law with Leverett Saltonstall, In 1832 he began practicing law in South Danvers, but moved to Salem in 1838 to join Saltonstall's practice. He was appointed to the bench of the Court of Common Pleas in 1844. He was in poor health for many years, and died on June 5, 1848, at the age of 39, never having married.

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.

Ward, Joshua Holyoke, 1808-1848
Ward, Joshua, 1752-1825
Ward, Joshua, 1776-1840
Ward, Miles, 1673 or 4-1764
Ward, Miles, 1704-1792
Ward, Susanna Holyoke
Abigail (Sloop)
Active (Brig)
Adventure (Ship)
Alfred (Ship)
Arab (Ship)
Bee (Schooner)
Betsy (Brig)
Betsy (Schooner)
Bodervine (Sloop)
Bowdoin (Sloop)
Britannia (Schooner)
Brutus (Vessel)
Catherine (Schooner)
Chance (Schooner)
Congress (Schooner)
Cumberland (Ship)
Dispatch (Ship)
Dolphin (Schooner)
Dolphin (Sloop)
Eagle (Brig)
Eleanor (Ship)
Elizabeth (Schooner)
Enterprize (Schooner)
Experiment (Ship)
Favorite (Brig)
Fisher (Schooner)
Flora (Ship)
Follensbee (Ship)
Freedom (Schooner)
Friendship (Ship)
George (Schooner)
Good Fortune (Sloop)
Greyhound (Schooner)
Hannah (Schooner)
Helen (Brig)
Hind (Brig)
Hittie (Schooner)
Julius Caesar (Ship)
Junius Brutus (Ship)
Lark (Schooner)
Leopard (Brig)
Lively (Schooner)
Lucretia (Schooner)
Madockawando (Schooner)
Marquis (Ship)
Martha (Brig)
Mary (Schooner)
Massachusetts--Court of Common Pleas (Essex County)
Massafuero (Brig)
Molly (Schooner)
Montgomery (Brig)
Neptune (Schooner)
Peggy (Brig)
Pilgrim (Brig)
Polly (Schooner)
Pompey (Brig)
Porros (Ship)
Ranger (Brig)
Ranger (Ship)
Ranger (Sloop)
Revenge (Sloop)
Robin (Schooner)
Romp (Brig)
Royal Lewis (Ship)
Salem (Schooner)
Sally (Schooner)
Scorpion (Brig)
Scorpion (Schooner)
Sophia (Ship)
Speedwell (Schooner)
St. John (Brig)
Sturdy Beggar (Brig)
Success (Brig)
Swallow (Schooner)
Swell (Schooner)
Theorda (Schooner)
Thomas (Ship)
Thomas (Sloop)
Thorn (Brig)
Three Brothers (Brig)
Three Friends (Sloop)
True American (Ship)
Two Brothers (Schooner)
Tyger (Brig)
Tyrannicide (Brig)
Vulture (Brig)
William & Joseph (Schooner)
Yorrick (Schooner)
Account books
Distilling industry


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

Ward Family Papers, MSS 46, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Ward Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of 16 scrapbook volumes, 49 boxes, 24 account books, and 29 diaries. While the bulk of the collection comes from an unknown source, the following items were donated: 13 folders of miscellaneous Ward family members' papers by the heirs of Andrew Nichols, 1976; copies of Sophia Langdon Ward letters by Mrs. H. T. Pulsifer, 1970; Frederick Townsend Ward papers by the estate of Mrs. E. C. Ward, 1905; Miles Ward (1805-1848) diaries by Miss Ellie Ward, 1920; and papers of Andrew Abbott Ward by Dean A. Fales Jr., 1967. The bulk of the Joshua Holyoke Ward papers were donated in 1996 and 1997 (acc 1997.041). In 1998, additional items were purchased (acc 1998.028), legal and business papers were donated by the Danvers Archival Center and added to Box 22 Folder 11. Integrated into the Ward Family papers from the English/Touzel/Hathorne Papers are six Joshua Ward letters, a 1788 crew list of the brig Favorite, and a schooner Madockawando account. Removed from this collection were six boxes of Benjamin Herbert Hathorne papers, receipts of Caleb Smith and of the Derby family, and shipping papers of the Crowninshield and Orne families. Also separated into the Andrew Nichols Family Papers were the almanacs/diaries belonging to Mary Ward Nichols (see separation sheet for listing). Many manuscripts removed or integrated have their original location marked on the back of each item.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Prudence Backman and Nancy Barthelemy, February 1982. Updated by Frances Malamy, February 2004, Rachel Jirka, November 2009, Tamara Gaydos, July 2018, and Tatiyana Bastet, July 2019.

Related Material

Curwen, George Rea, "Materials for a Genealogy of the Ward Family in Salem - Or Notices of the Descendants of Miles Ward," Essex Institute Historical Collections 5 (1863): 207-19.

Cutter, William Richard, ed. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. New York: 1908.

Curwen Family Papers, 1641-1902, MSS 45

Holyoke Family Papers, 1607-1905, MSS 49

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

Salem Insurance Companies Records, 1779-1893, MSS 139

Alfred (Ship) logbook, Log 100

Alfred (Ship) logbook, Log 101

Tyrannicide (Brig) logbook, Log 3000 (OS)

Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

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