Skip to main content

Henry Hastings & Company Records, 1853-1896, undated

Identifier: MH 118

Scope and Content Note

The Henry Hastings & Company Records include account books spanning more than forty years, business correspondence covering thirty years, and ships’ papers. The records have been arranged into three series.

Series I. Account Books includes 67 account books documenting the voyages of the Henry Hastings & Company ships between 1853 to 1895. The books include building agreements, invoices, freight lists, and contracts for voyages from Boston to cities around the world. These ports include New York, San Francisco, London, Calcutta, and Hong Kong. Over 30 of the Henry Hastings & Company vessels are documented in the account books including the ships Midnight, Charger, Cutwater, Noonday, Pilgrim, Invincible, North American, and South American. The account books are arranged chronologically. The folder titled “Columbian Insurance Company” contains loose papers, not an account book.

Series II. Business Correspondence includes letter books, correspondence, and telegrams written and received by the Henry Hastings & Company between 1866 and 1896. This series has been arranged into two subseries. Subseries A. Correspondence Received includes correspondence from merchants, agents, and ship captains that document the global business dealings of Henry Hastings & Company. These letters provide detailed accounts of voyages and discuss goods being shipped along with other financial issues. For preservation purposes, letters have been removed from bound letter books and arranged chronologically. Original letter book numbers have been maintained; when unknown, numbers have been assigned within brackets. Correspondence not found within letter books has been interfiled chronologically. Subseries B. Telegrams Sent includes four bound volumes of telegrams sent by the Henry Hastings & Company to various business partners.

Series III. Ships’ Papers contains papers for individual ships. These papers include charter party agreements, protests, and crew lists. This series is arranged alphabetically by ship.


  • Creation: 1853-1896, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Henry B. Hastings was born in Townsend, Massachusetts on September 2, 1818 to Colonel Walter Hastings (b.1790) and Roxanna Warren (b.1797). Hastings entered Harvard University at the age of 13, continuing the family tradition since a relative, John Hastings, first graduated in 1681. After leaving Harvard, Hastings studied law for two years with Henry A. Wise. At age 27, Hastings married Sarah Marchant (1826-1884) and together they had five children: Edward Hastings (1846-1882); Martha Ann Hastings (b. 1848); Katherine Hastings (b. 1850); Helen Hastings (b.1855-1895); and Henry C. Hastings Jr. (1857-1917).

After 1845, Hastings became interested in commerce and navigation. He established Henry Hastings & Company and became one of the largest ship owners in Boston, Massachusetts. At the height of his career, Hastings owned over 40 sailing vessels including the ships Charger, North American, and South American, and the bark Kate Hastings. Hastings died in his home in West Medford on August 9, 1887.


21.25 linear feet (36 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Henry Hastings & Company Records include account books spanning more than forty years, business correspondence covering thirty years, and ships' papers.

Series List

SERIES I. Account Books

SERIES II. Business Correspondence

  • A. Correspondence Received
  • B. Telegrams Sent
SERIES III. Ships' Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


The majority of this material was donated by George H. Smith in 1936. Additional letters were acquired from William J. B. Burger on June 18, 1987 (acc. 24,391).


"Henry Hastings Dead." New York Times. 10 August 1887: n. pag. Web. 15 Sept 2012.

Howe, Octavius T., and Frederick C. Matthews. American Clipper Ships 1833-1858. Salem: Marine Research Society. 1926-1927.

Henry B. Hastings Track Charts, 1876-1893, log book, Log 3131(OS)

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Halley Grogan, September 2012; updated by Hilary Streifer, June 2015.

Inventory prepared by Halley Grogan; updated by Hilary Streifer
Language of description
Script of description
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

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA