Quincy family collection


This small collection of family papers includes two inventories of the Quincy House created by Eliza Susan Quincy as well as an illustrated poetry book and an individual sketch by her. The book includes both images and short passages. It is inscribed to Mary Jane (Miller) Quincy, Eliza Susan’s sister-in-law. The collection includes two pieces of correspondence related to Josiah Quincy III’s involvement with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also included is a poetry book which probably belonged to Anna Cabot Lowell, a close friend of Eliza Susan (Morton) Quincy, wife of Josiah III and mother of Eliza Susan Quincy; the poetry book is signed on multiple pages "A. C. Lowell." The collection also includes an inventory of the Beacon Hill residence of M. A. De Wolfe Howe, a letter to an unidentified "Edmund" (probably Edmund Quincy) from "Hannah," and a letter from Nelly Custis Lewis (step-daughter of President George Washington) to Eliza Susan (Morton) Quincy.


Descriptive Terms

works of art
family papers

Physical Description

0.417 linear feet (1 manuscript box; 16 items)

Finding Aid Info

An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England’s Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library & Archives.

Custodial History

Some materials in the collection were loaned to Historic New England by Edmund Quincy in 1939 and possibly 1970. These were presumably held by Quincy family members from their creation to their transfer in 1939. Other materials in the collection were given to Historic New England by Mrs. Reginald (Helen Howe) Allen in 1977. One item (the copy of the 1879 inventory of Quincy House) was acquired by Historic New England staff through fieldwork in 2015.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Quincy family collection

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code



The Quincy family collection primarily documents Josiah Quincy III and his daughter, Eliza Susan Quincy. The collection includes household inventories, correspondence, sketches, and poetry.

Credit Line

Loan, Edmund Quincy, 1939 (192.1939).
Loan, Edmund Quincy, possibly 1970 (loan numbers unknown).
Gift, Helen Howe Allen, 1977 (1977.8, 1977.15, 1977.24, 1977.25).
Collected through fieldwork, 2015.


Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Quincy (Norfolk county, Massachusetts)

Record Details


Quincy family

Material Type

family papers

Other People

Clap, Elisha
Lewis, Nelly Custis, 1779-1852
Quincy, Edmund, 1903-1997
Quincy, Eliza Susan, 1798-1884
Quincy, Mary Jane Miller, 1806-1874
Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864
Quincy, Josiah, 1802-1882
Howe, M. A. De Wolfe
Lowell, Anna Cabot, d. 1810
Quincy, Eliza Susan Morton, 1773-1850

Other Organizations

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Historic New England (Organization)
Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America
Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities
Western Rail-Road Corporation


This collection is available for research.

Conservation Note

Both of the Quincy family bibles were conserved in 2015.


There are no technical restrictions on this collection. Both the Quincy family collection and a Quincy family bible in the rare books collection can be accessed at Historic New England’s Library & Archives in Boston, Massachusetts. A second Quincy family bible is housed at the Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts, and arrangements to view this bible must be made with Collections Services.

Publications Referencing This Collection

(1768.). The holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments ; Newly Translated out of the Original Tongues, and With the former Translations diligently compared and revised :By His Majesty's special Command. Appointed to be read in Churches.. Printed by John Archdeacon Printer to the University ;. // Quincy family bible.
(1773.). Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. / By Phillis Wheatley, Negro servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England.. Printed for A. Bell, bookseller, Aldgate; and sold by Messrs. Cox and Berry, King-street, Boston.,. // Signed by Abigail Quincy.

Description Level


Accruals Note

Accruals are not expected.

Language Note

Materials are in English.

Preferred Citation

Item identification. Box #, folder #. Quincy family collection (MS053). Historic New England, Library & Archives.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Abigail Cramer, librarian/archivist, 2015.

Rules and Conventions

This finding aid is DACS-compliant.

Related Items

Quincy family bible, Quincy House display collection, Quincy, Massachusetts
Quincy family bible, rare books collection, call number: Rare BS125 1768
Village of Quincy, Mass.
[Untitled portfolio of drawings]

Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

In 1770, Josiah Quincy I (1710-1784) had a mansion built in what was then known as Braintree, Massachusetts overlooking Quincy Bay. Josiah I’s first son, Edmund (1733-1768), died at sea in 1768 while traveling to the West Indies. Josiah I’s two remaining sons, Samuel (1735-1789) and Josiah II (1744-1775), were both lawyers who practiced in Boston. Samuel was a loyalist and Josiah II a patriot. Josiah II and John Adams defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, while Samuel prosecuted the case. This meant not only that the brothers opposed each other in court, but also that they were defending positions to which they were each personally opposed. In 1774, Josiah II secretly sailed to England, ostensibly to improve his failing health but actually to encourage a peaceful resolution to the conflict. On his return journey in 1775, Josiah II died at sea. Shortly thereafter, Samuel sailed for England. In 1778, Samuel learned that as a result of his political position he had been banished from Massachusetts and his property sold at auction. He spent almost all of the rest of his life in Antigua. In 1789, he sailed back to England but died at sea like both of his brothers.

When Col. Josiah Quincy I died in 1784, his house passed to his youngest grandson, Josiah III (1772-1864). Josiah III dedicated his life to public service, including as Federalist in the United States House of Representatives, mayor of Boston, and President of Harvard University, a post he held for sixteen years. It was during this time that part of Braintree was renamed Quincy in honor of the Quincy family’s contributions to the community. As mayor of Boston, Josiah improved water and sewer systems, reorganized the police and fire departments, and established Quincy Market. His actions helped to make Boston a modern city with adequate public services. Josiah III also published many histories and biographies. However, his "A Memoir of the Life of Josiah Quincy, Junior of Massachusetts, 1744-1775" is widely believed to be the work of his daughter, Eliza Susan Quincy.

Eliza Susan Quincy (1798-1884) was an accomplished and respected historian of the Quincy family and Quincy house. She was also an accomplished amateur artist whose work was requested by President John Quincy Adams for his Washington, D.C. residence. Eliza Susan Quincy worked tirelessly to write about and protect the Quincy house, including retrieving original furnishings from distant family members.

Josiah III’s son, Josiah IV (1802-1882), was also a mayor of Boston and was a representative in the Massachusetts state legislature. He inherited the house when his father died in 1864, although his sisters retained life tenancy in the house. When the last sister died in 1893, Josiah IV’s son, Josiah Phillips Quincy (1829-1910), inherited the property. Josiah Phillips Quincy and his son, Josiah V (1859-1919), continued the family tradition of public service, but they did not live in the family home. In 1895, Josiah Phillips Quincy sold the house and surrounding lands for development. The house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hall of Amesbury, Massachusetts. For a short time in the 1930s, it was used as a convalescent home for senior citizens. In 1937, Josiah V’s son, Edmund Quincy (1903-1997), and his cousin, Alice Bache Gould, joined with other Quincy descendants to buy the house. They raised the necessary funds and later the same year presented the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England).


Historic New England. Quincy House History. Retrieved from http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/quincy-house/quincy-house-history

Material in Other Collections

Material in Other Collections

Quincy Family Papers, 1639-1930 (Ms. N-764). Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts: http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0291
Quincy, Wendell, Holmes, and Upham Family Papers, 1633-1910, microfilm edition (P-347). Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts: http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0280
Papers of Josiah Quincy, 1811-1874 (UAI 15.882). Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, Massachusetts: http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~hua10005
Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell Papers, 1699-1969. Cambridge Historical Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts: http://www.cambridgehistory.org/library/quincy-hill-phillips-treadwell
Deming, Perkins, and Quincy families papers, 1762-1950. Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut: http://www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org/archon/?p=collections/findingaid&id=9&rootcontentid=8490



The items in this collection are arranged alphabetically by title. Titles in quotations are titles supplied by the creators. Titles not in quotations are titles supplied by the archivist.

The materials in this collection were gathered by Historic New England staff and compiled into one collection. The materials were formerly included in the miscellaneous manuscripts collection (MS029); they were removed and the Quincy family collection established in 2015.