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Adams Family Papers, 1723-1929

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 370

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains papers of three branches of the Robert Adams family of Newbury, Massachusetts. The papers span six generations of the Adams family. They include correspondence and other personal papers, Revolutionary War documents, legal papers including wills and deeds, lectures and research notes particularly on Essex County history and beekeeping, genealogical notes, inventories of household furnishings, accounts and receipts, Town of Newbury records, and news clippings. The collection is arranged in three series. Series I. Abraham Adams Family Papers contains the will of Captain Abraham Adams (1676-1763) and papers of his descendants. Series II. Sarah Adams Family Papers includes documents from a second branch of the Robert Adams family, descended from Abraham's sister Sarah Adams (1681-1734). Series III. Richard Adams Family Papers includes papers from a third branch of the family descended from Abraham's younger brother Richard (1693-1778).

The Series I. Abraham Adams Family Papers is arranged in three subseries. Subseries A. Personal Papers contain Revolutionary War papers of Josiah Adams (1757-1852). Following are papers of Gibbons Adams (1787-1862), George W. Adams Sr., (1818-1859), and George W. Adams. [We have added "Senior" to the elder George W. Adams, who died when his son was only three years old, to distinguish the two men.] George W. Adams' papers reflect his interests in history, genealogy, and his avocation beekeeping. Contributions of other family members are also represented. Notable among the personal papers are the letters Josiah Adams wrote to his parents and the records he kept while serving in the American Revolutionary War. Also of interest is the exhaustive inventory and history of Highfields, the family home in Byfield, occupied by the Adams family from the time it was built in about 1702 until 1938.Subseries B. Legal and Business Papers contains the wills of Abraham Adams (1676-1763) and Samuel Adams (1717-1791). In addition, there are over 100 legal documents belonging to Abraham Adams and his descendants. These deal primarily with purchase and sale of property and also with articles of agreement among family members with respect to shared obligations. Most of the business papers pertain to Josiah Adams' term as Tax Collector and Treasurer for Newbury or to George W. Adams' Sr. term as Treasurer for Newbury. Also included are papers of the Byfield Parish Church in Newbury and miscellaneous accounts and memoranda.Subseries C. Financial Papers is composed mostly of personal receipts and tax receipts. Also included are First Presbyterian Society in Newburyport receipts and payments and abatements to the Town of Newbury during George W. Adams' Sr. tenure as Town Treasurer.

Series II. Sarah Adams Family Papers contains correspondence to Edwin S. Adams, correspondence among his family and friends, and lines written on the death of Elvira Adams in 1879. Receipts and tintypes of Amanda Adams' brother Joseph Fowler (1824-1888) and his wife are included in this series.

Series III. Richard Adams Family Papers contains one deed to Richard Adams (1726-1788) and several deeds and legal papers belonging to Richard's son, Paul Adams (1758-1833), of Newbury. Most of these papers concern the acquisition of land, while others deal with the operation of gristmills and a sawmill. Other papers in this series pertain to Paul's wife, Hannah G. Adams (1774-1844), his brother Asa Adams (1772-1801), or their children Seneca (1808-1862), Paul Jr. (1814- ) or Thomas Hall (1817-1875) Adams. There is also a statement from the Rhode Island Meeting of the Society of Friends and an account from the Bank Mill.

Dates

  • 1723-1929

Creator

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Robert Adams, born in England in 1602, came to Massachusetts Bay in 1635 and settled in Newbury, Massachusetts, where he died in 1682. Notable among his descendants was Captain Abraham Adams (1676-1763), an enterprising sea captain who launched coasters from the river in front of his house Highfields, built in Byfield Parish, Newbury, in about 1702. Abraham's descendants included Samuel Adams (1717-1791), a successful businessman, who served in the Revolutionary War with four of his sons. This collection contains papers of one son, Josiah Adams (1757-1852), who served in Col. Moses Little's Regiment in 1775 and as Adjutant in Col. Jacob Gerrish's Regiment in 1778. George William Adams (1855-after 1938) was a sixth generation descendant of Abraham Adams. He was a farmer and renowned beekeeper, and he was the last member of the family to reside at Highfields, which was sold in 1938.

Sarah Adams (1681-1734/5), granddaughter of Robert and sister of Abraham Adams, married John Hutchinson of Andover, Mass. She settled in Andover and died there. Among the descendants of her illegitimate son Israel Adams (1707-1789) was Edwin Strong Adams (1806-1887). Edwin S. Adams resided in West Boxford, Mass. He married Elvira Chase (1809-1879) in 1842, and following her death he married Amanda (Fowler) Davis (d. 1887). There was no issue from either marriage.

Richard Adams (1693-1778), Abraham's and Sarah's younger brother was a husbandman in Newbury, Mass. and died in Newburyport at age 84. Among his descendants was Paul Adams (1758-1833). Paul Adams was a successful farmer and miller in Newbury. He married Hannah Ilsley (1765-1803) in 1785; their children included Jerusha, Ruth, Hannah, Jane, Caroline, and Asa. In 1803 he married Hannah Keniston (1774-1844); their offspring were John Jones, Mary, Seneca, Rebecca, Paul Jr., and Thomas Hall.

See Appendices I-III for additional genealogical information.

Extent

4 linear feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection contains papers of three branches of the Robert Adams family of Newbury, Massachusetts. The papers span six generations of the Adams family. They include correspondence and other personal papers, Revolutionary War documents, legal papers including wills and deeds, lectures and research notes particularly on Essex County history and beekeeping, genealogical notes, inventories of household furnishings, accounts and receipts, Town of Newbury records, and news clippings.

Series List

SERIES I. Abraham Adams Family Papers

  • A. Personal Papers
  • B. Legal and Business Papers
  • C. Financial Papers
SERIES II. Sarah Adams Family Papers

SERIES III. Richard Adams Family Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks

Provenance

This collection is a combination of multiple collections: Adams Family Papers, Fam. Mss. 0.639; Edwin S. Adams Family Papers, Fam. Mss. 0.641; and Paul Adams Family Papers, Fam. Mss. 4. Part of the Adams Family Papers (Fam. Mss. 0.639) was purchased from Robert W. Sull on November 18, 1949; part of it was gifted by Miriam Abbott on May 7, 1831; part was gifted by C. W. Palfray; and part was removed from the Stickney Collection. The Edwin S. Adams Family Papers (Fam. Mss. 0.641) was deposited by Nancy Macauley in 1991. The provenance of the rest of the material is unknown.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Adams, Andrew N., ed. Robert Adams of Newbury, Mass. and His Descendants, 1635-1900. Rutland, Vermont, 1900.

Gibbons Adams Diaries, 1840-1861, DIA 3

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Elizabeth Sherry, December 2007. Updated by Lee Jacoby, August 2012.

Creator

Title
ADAMS FAMILY PAPERS, 1723-1929
Author
Inventory prepared by Lee Jacoby
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Contact:
Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA