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Wiliam Coombs Codman (1821-1903)

Description

This series correspondence includes, diaries, financial records, legal records, literary papers, maps and drawings, printed matter, a scrapbook, and miscellaneous papers belonging to William Coombs Codman (1821-1903). Folder 23 contains letters received by W.C.C. from his mother, Mary (Wheelright) Codman (1792-1857) from 1826 and 1949 (note: both of the letters were framed at the time of their acquisition by Historic New England - then the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Folder 24 contains letters received from W.R. Bradford (undated), Charles A. Codman (1889), Joseph A. Willard (1893), and William D. Orcutt (1893) discussing topics such as pirates and piracy, Codman family genealogy, commerce, and foreign trade. Of particular interest is a letter from W[illiam] D[rummer] Northend in 1897 expressing support for William Codman at the time of the death of Alice Barrett, an employee of the firm Codman & Codman. Alice Barrett either committed suicide or was murdered and there was an enormous amount of publicity in which William and his brother John were featured. Folder 25 contains letters from two of the survivors of the brig "Mexican" (Thomas Fuller and Benjamin Larcom), which was taken by pirates in 1832.

Folder 27 contains a journal of a voyage on the ship "Howard" from Boston to Calcutta and back to Boston from October 1840 to October 1841. W.C.C. was a passenger on the ship, and this journal records dates, courses, wind, and very brief descriptions of the weather and shipboard activities. It also includes sketches of other vessels, individuals, and the coastline of Trinidad. Folder 31 contains a journal of W.C.C.’s accounts of his time spent ashore in Calcutta and St. Helena in 1840 and 1841, in Bombay in 1842, and in Madras and Calcutta in 1844. It includes descriptions of the landscape, people, customs, and of W.C.C.’s activities while there. It also contains poetry and prose written by W.C.C. and sketches of the ship "Dorchester" and of coastlines seen from different vessels. Folder 28 contains a journal of W.C.C.’s voyage on the ship "Nantasket" from Boston to Bombay, Macau, Canton, Manila, Singapore, Angier, and St. Helena from 1841 through 1843. W.C.C. was a passenger on the ship, and this journal records dates, courses, wind, weather, and brief descriptions of shipboard activities. The journal concludes with a brief memorandum about the journey written at its conclusion in 1843. There is also a postscript added fifty-four years later in 1897, "some reminiscences of the voyage." Folder 32 contains a notebook used by W.C.C. on two voyages to Calcutta in 1841 and 1842. It contains miscellaneous entries such as a list of trade items and instructions for purchasing them, a description of the method of making indigo, invoices for items shipped aboard the ship "Howard" in 1841, sketches of coastlines seen from the ship "Howard" in 1841 and the ship "Nantasket" in 1842, descriptions of time spent ashore in Calcutta in 1841, and sketches of vessels on the end leaves of the notebook. W.C.C. may have reused this notebook, as there are a few pages with notes about the ship "George" out of Salem in 1820. Folder 29 contains a journal of W.C.C.’s voyage on the ship "Dorc hester" from Boston to Calcutta from 1843 to 1844. This journal records dates, courses, wind, weather, and brief descriptions of shipboard activities. The journal concludes with a brief memorandum about the journey written at its conclusion in 1844. Folder 30 contains a journal of W.C.C.’s voyage from Boston to Madras and Calcutta aboard the barge "Hannah Sprague" in 1845. W.C.C. was a passenger on the ship, and this journal records dates, courses, wind, weather, and brief descriptions of shipboard activities. Folder 26 contains a travel log, a straightforward, rather unexpressive account of W.C.C.’s trip through Spain from April through June of 1849. He mentions the sites he visited, the weather, the food, and some comments about Spanish customs.

Folder 33 contains a book of invoices for goods shipped by W.C.C. on board the ship "Dorchester" bound for Boston, possibly from 1843 to 1844. This is a very good source for data about the Calcutta trade in the 1840s. This book also includes sketches of sailors on the end leaf. Folder 34 contains a letter book used by W.C.C. as a supercargo aboard the "Hannah Sprague" on a voyage to Madras and Calcutta in 1845. Folder 37 contains stock certificates dated from 1856 to 1864. Folder 35 contains accounts, invoices, and bills of lading related to trade in Calcutta in 1863. Folder 36a contains invoices related to trade in Calcutta from 1864 through 1866. Folder 36b contains bills of lading related to trade in Calcutta from 1864 through 1866. Folder 36c contains accounts related to trade in Calcutta from 1864 through 1866. Folder 38 contains a notebook which includes a list of stockholders (possibly the original stockholders) in the Lawrence Fire Insurance Company of Boston, of which W.C.C. was president.

Folder 39 contains an agreement between Charles Wills, for the charterers of the ship "Dorchester," and W.C.C. for Codman to act as clerk on a voyage to Calcutta in 1843. This item was framed at the time of its acquisition by Historic New England (then the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Folder 40 includes a lease agreement between Melzar Dunbar and W.C.C. for 23 West Cedar Street, Boston, Mass. Folder 41 contains manuscripts of accounts by W.C.C. of piracy on the high seas. Folder 60 contains portraits of the pirates who robbed the brig "Mexican" out of Salem, Mass. Folder 61 contains miscellaneous items found in a black leather case (case removed to the Historic New England museum collections) which probably belonged to either W.C.C. or his son, William Coombs Codman (1860-1938), including invoices, an indenture agreement for an apprentice to a rope maker, and other printed matter. Folder 62 contains miscellaneous notes written by an unidentified creator but attributed to Daniel Webster by W.C.C.

Folder 44 contains "Piratical Barbarity, or the Female Captive," published in New York in 1825[?]. Folder 57 contains a reward of merit from 1829 and a certificate commemorating W.C.C.’s trip to Jerusalem in 1849. Folder 45 contains "Dying Declaration of Nicholas Fernandez, who with nine others were executed in front of Cadiz Harbour, December 29, 1829 for Piracy and Murder," published in New York in 1830. Folder 46 contains, "Trial of the Twelve Spanish Pirates of the Schooner ‘Panda,’ a Guinea Slayer… for Robbery and Piracy…" published in Boston in 1834. Folder 42 contains a copy of "The Holy Bible" printed in 1840. Of interest are the end leaves and margins, which contain personal notations about voyages, family members, and other subjects. Folder 58 contains a pamphlet about the pardon of Edward P. Jefferies. Folder 56 contains a list of the original stockholders of the Lawrence Fire Insurance Company of Boston, of which W.C.C. was president, from 1872. Folder 51 contains clippings of newspaper articles written by W.C.C. about marine subjects, especially about piracy on the high seas and about New England history and the history of Dorchester and Boston, Mass. Folder 52 contains newspaper articles written by W.C.C. about piracy on the high seas, a series of articles of which there were at least 11 parts. Folder 47 contains a booklet titled, "Isaac Hull and American Frigate ‘Constitution,’" a letter accompanying a picture presented to the Bostonian Society by Benjamin F. Stevens, printed in Boston in 1890. Folder 53 contains newspaper clippings about piracy not written by W.C.C. Folder 50 contains a copy of the periodical "Littell’s Living Age" from October 17, 1891, which includes the article "Some Famous Pirates." Folder 43 contains a book titled, "The 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of the First Corps Cadets, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia," published in Boston in 1892. Folder 54 contains approximately 13 newspaper clippings from major Boston newspapers about the mysterious death of Alice Barrett, an employee of the firm Codman & Codman (see above for more information). Folder 48 contains, "The Brig ‘Mexican’ of Salem Captured by Pirates and Her Escape, a Paper Read before the Essex Institute" by Edward C. Baltis, published in Salem in 1898. Folder 49 contains an untitled booklet of prose and verse written by various Codmans including W.C.C. and Capt. John Codman (1814-1900). A note on the inside of the cover reads, "Published in Hamburg at request of Mrs. Mary M. Pollitz for private circulation." Folder 55 contains newspaper clippings in part about W.C.C. and John Codman.

Folder 59 contains a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from the 1880s and 1890s including articles by W.C.C. about marine subjects (especially piracy on the high seas, New England history, and the history of Boston and Dorchester, Mass.) and some family wedding and obituary notices.

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Details

Collection Name
John Codman (1898-1989) family papers
Collection Code
MS037
Dates
1825-1899
Physical Description
42 folders
Collection Type
Manuscripts
Description Level
Series
GUSN
295534
Reference Code
MS037.06

Arrangement

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by subseries and chronologically within each subseries.

Record details

Originator
Codman, William Coombs, 1821-1903
Other People
Barrett, Alice M.
Bradford, W. R.
Codman, Charles A.
Codman, Mary (Wheelright), 1792-1857
Dunbar, Melzar
Fuller, Thomas
Larcom, Benjamin
Northend, William Dummer, 1823-1902
Orcutt, William Dana, 1870-1953
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Willard, Joseph A. (Joseph Augustus), 1816-
Wills, Charles
Other Organizations
Lawrence Fire Insurance Company of Boston
Descriptive Terms
articles
bills of lading
clippings (information artifacts)
customs (social)
food
genealogy (discipline)
indentures
invoices
leases
local history (discipline)
newspapers
poetry
sketches
stock certificates
trade (function)
watercraft
Material Type
correspondence
diaries
financial records
journals (accounts)
legal documents
publications
scrapbooks
Subjects
pirates
Places
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Kolkata (West Bengal, India)
Canton (Norfolk county, Massachusetts)
Dorchester (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]
Macau (Macau Island, Macau district, Macau)
Manila (Manila national capital region, Philippines)
Bombay (Salsette Island, Maha¯ra¯shtra, India)
Saint Helena [dependent state]
Salem (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Singapore
Spain
Trinidad (Trinidad and Tobago) [island]

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