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Charles J. Brockway Papers, 1800-1889

Identifier: MSS 394

Scope and Content Note

The Charles J Brockway Papers contain records of spoliation claims for merchants Charles J. Brockway and William Bartlett of Newburyport, Massachusetts. They are divided into six series.

Series I. Brockway Correspondence contains numerous responses to the 1885 Newburyport Herald advertisement that deal primarily with the descendants of ship owners or insurance underwriters who suffered monetary losses due to French privateers prior to 1801.

Series II. Brockway Genealogy contains lists of births, deaths and marriages of the Brockway lineage from the early eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century.

Series III. William Bartlett Papers contains correspondence and lists regarding the ships Rose and Tom, both lost to French privateers in 1800. Also included is the document from the Essex County Probate Office that lists Charles Brockway as executor to the Bartlett estate.

Series IV. Vessels and Claims contains printed documents listing spoliation claims for Newburyport citizens, including Bartlett and Brockway, and lists of Newburyport vessels and cargo captured by French privateers prior to 1801.

Series V. Attorney's Papers contains United States Court of Claims documents regarding the Brockway and Bartlett claims as well as the claimants' brief prepared by Amos Noyes.

Series VI. Congressional Records contains printed reports from the Foreign Affairs Committees' of the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives regarding the French Spoliation appropriation bill.


  • Creation: 1800-1889


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical and Historical Sketch

In 1885, the United States Congress passed an act which allowed American citizens to file French Spoliation Claims with the United States Court of Claims. The act was designed to reimburse the heirs of United States merchants, ship owners and insurance underwriters whose vessels or cargo had been captured and condemned by the French from 1794-1801. The United States assumed the claims of its own citizens as part of the treaty made with France in 1800. In this treaty, France relinquished their claim on the United States for violations of the cooperative treaty of 1778. In return, the United States assumed the costs of American citizens' French Spoliation Claims.

Charles J. Brockway (1807-1891) was a merchant and businessman from Newburyport, Massachusetts who owned several vessels with his associate, Amos Noyes, including the ships Adeline, Brutus, Calypso, Constitution and Euphrasia. Brockway also became the executor of the William Bartlett estate in 1841.

William Bartlett (1748-1841) was a successful merchant who owned a large fleet of vessels employed in the trade with the East and West Indies and suffered some substantial losses at the hands of French privateers prior to 1801. Brockway married Bartlett's granddaughter Elizabeth (b. 1811) in 1835 and was involved in Newburyport commerce as secretary of the Newburyport Mutual Fishing Insurance Agency and as the first president of the Newburyport railroad.

In 1885, when the United States Congress began debate on legislation for appropriating funds for French Spoliation claims, Brockway and Noyes offered their services to those who could show evidence of their spoliation claims through an advertisement in the Newburyport Herald. Respondents to this advertisement generated most of the correspondence in this collection and deal primarily with the descendants of those who suffered monetary losses at the hands of the French prior to 1801.


0.5 linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The Charles J Brockway Papers contain records of spoliation claims for merchants Charles J. Brockway and William Bartlett of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Series List

SERIES I. Brockway Correspondence

SERIES II. Brockway Genealogy

SERIES III. William Bartlett Papers

SERIES IV. Vessels and Claims

SERIES V. Attorney's Papers

SERIES VI. Congressional Records

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was a gift from Ronald N. Tagney on October 1, 1995 (acc# 95002).


Currier, John. History of Newburyport, Massachusetts 1764-1909 Vol II. Newburyport, MA: Newcomb and Gauss, 1909.

Smith, E. Vale. History of Newburyport: From the Earliest Settlement of the Country to the Present Time. Boston: Damrell & Moore, 1854.

Historical Collections of the Essex Institute Vol 46. Salem, MA: G.M. Whipple and A.A. Smith, 1862.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Kenneth Selnick, May 2009.

Processed by: Kenneth Selnick; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA