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Allen Family Papers, 1817-1920, 1977

Identifier: MSS 1

Scope and Content Note

The Allen Family Papers contain the personal correspondence, shipping, and business papers of William Allen (1766-1853), his sons, Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899), Joseph Augustus Allen (1808-1840), and George Franklin Allen (1813-1852), grandchildren, William Henry Allen, Margaret Lockhart (Allen) Davis, and her husband William Augustus Davis (1813-1886). This collection has been arranged into two series.

Series I. Family Correspondence includes letters to William Allen, letters to and from Charles Henry Allen, and miscellaneous family correspondence.

Subseries A. Letters to William Allen from his sons discuss their shipping ventures and experiences in foreign ports. Margaret Davis' letters reveal her life in Pernambuco, Brazil with her husband William Davis and their children. Correspondence from various relatives include letters from William's brother-in-laws, Samuel Edwards and Thomas Lee, grandson William Henry Allen, great-granddaughter Ellen Davis, and niece Lucy Story (Allen) Leach. Of note are William Henry Allen's letters which describe his early shipping career.

Subseries B. Letters to Charles Henry Allen include letters from his wife and children, cousins William Henry and Margaret, brother George Franklin, niece Ellen Davis, sister-in-law Laura Sprague, and friends Daniel Appleton, Nathaniel Perkins, and William Brown.

Subseries C. Letters from Charles Henry Allen include letters to his wife Mary discussing his life in shipping, business letters to his cousin William Henry Allen, and letters to his niece Ellen Davis after the death of her mother Margaret.

Subseries D. Miscellaneous Family Correspondence includes a letter from William Allen to his wife Mary; letters to Joseph Augustus Allen from Margaret Davis; letters to Mary Penniman (Wright) Allen from friends; and letters to George Henry Allen (1838-1925) from his cousins William Augustus Davis, Charles Henry Allen Jr. and sister Margaret Lockhart Allen (1830-1910).

Series II. Business and Personal Papers, include the shipping and business papers of William Augustus Davis, George Henry Allen, George Lockhart Allen and several other Allen family members.

Subseries A. William Augustus Davis Business Papers contain his correspondence regarding cargo from merchant houses and letter discussing his store in Brazil. Additional letters from William to his cousin Charles Henry Allen are located with the Charles Henry Allen Business Papers, MSS 385. Davis' ships papers are arranged alphabetically for ships he mastered or on which he consigned cargo. His miscellaneous shipping papers (F6) include accounts, receipts, and circulars for multiple or unknown ships.

The miscellaneous Allen business papers (F7) include William Allen's shipping account book (1808-1818), for the ships Algol, Adaline, and the schooner Sally; an 1823 certificate for William Allen as the Salem Inspector and Measurer; William Henry Allen's papers for the ship George; miscellaneous receipts for William Allen; and an 1890 insurance policy for George Henry Allen's furniture. Miscellaneous papers (F8) contain an 1834 safe passage certificate for the brig Henry, notations of Davis genealogy, shipping letters, and envelopes. Folder 9 contains a research paper on the Allen Family by Blaine Edele (1977).

Subseries B. George Henry Allen (1838-1925) Business Papers contains receipts and correspondence for George Henry Allen and some papers for the ship Sooloo.

Subseries C. George Lockhart Allen (1865-1920) Personal Papers consists of one folder of personal papers belonging to George Lockhart Allen, the son of George Henry Allen and great-grandson of William Allen. This folder contains Harvard University Class Day programs from 1888, a letter from a friend "Walter," a Harvard University graduation program, and a number of items concerning his sister, Caroline Lockhart Allen.


  • Creation: 1817-1920, 1977


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketches

William Allen (1766-1853), a Salem shipmaster, was born in Manchester, Massachusetts, the son of Malachi and Ruth (Edwards) Allen. He mastered several Salem vessels and was partial owner of the schooner Betsy in 1811.

He first married Hannah Edwards in 1789. They had three children: Hannah (1791-1816) who married Henry Allen (1790-1818), Priscilla (1795-1806), and Evelina (1797-1879) who married Captain Thomas Saunders. After Hannah's death in the late 1790s, William married Mary Hunt in 1804 with whom he had five sons, all of whom worked in shipping.

Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899), a Salem shipmaster, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of William and Mary (Hunt) Allen. He began his shipping career in 1827 as cabin boy on the brig Midas. Subsequently rising through the ranks on the ships George and Brookline, Charles eventually mastered the Brookline from 1836 to 1844. From 1844 to 1851 he mastered the ship St. Paul. He retired in 1860 after commanding the ship Shirley for Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman. Charles married Mary Penniman Wright in 1836. They had five children.

Their son, George Henry Allen (1838-1925), an assistant for Benjamin H. Silsbee of Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman, later became a partner in the company under the name Silsbee, Pickman, and Allen.

George Lockhart Allen (1865-1920) was born in Salem, Massachusetts to George Henry Allen and Caroline Ashby (1840-1910). He graduated from Harvard College in 1888 and in 1904 married Florence L. Hobbie. They had two children, George L. Allen, Jr. (1905-1992) and Florence L. Allen (1909-). After graduation, he worked for Kidder, Peabody, and Company and later took up real estate in Salem with the firm of Wheatland, Allen, and Rogers. He later moved to Manchester, Massachusetts and served as one of the selectman of that town. He died on April 23, 1920.


1.5 linear feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Allen Family Papers contain the personal correspondence, shipping, and business papers of William Allen (1766-1853), his sons, Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899), Joseph Augustus Allen (1808-1840), and George Franklin Allen (1813-1852), grandchildren, William Henry Allen, Margaret Lockhart (Allen) Davis, and her husband William Augustus Davis (1813-1886).

Series List

SERIES I. Family Correspondence

  • A. Letters to William Allen (1766-1853)
  • B. Letters to Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899)
  • C. Letters from Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899)
  • D. Miscellaneous Family Correspondence
SERIES II. Business and Personal Papers

  • A. William Augustus Davis (1813-1886) Business Papers
  • B. George Henry Allen (1838-1925) Business Papers
  • C. George Lockhart Allen (1865-1920) Personal Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


The Allen Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of 4 boxes and several miscellaneous items. The bulk of the collection was donated by George Henry Allen in the late 1800s. Several business papers added to the collection come from the Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman Records (MSS 63). Withdrawn from the Allen Papers were 24 boxes of Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman business papers. These have been added to collection MSS 63. In addition, the material in Box 4 was a gift from Joan Vaughan Ingraham in 2006 (acc #2006.018). The George Lockhart Allen papers in Box 4 Folder 7 were purchased in 2007 (acc #2007.016).

Bibliography And Related Collections

Hutchinson, Frank Allen. Genealogical and Historical Sketches of the Allen Family of Dedham and Medfield, Mass., 1637-1890. Lowell, Mass.: Privately printed, 1890.

Price, John. "Genealogy of the Allen Family of Manchester, Mass., From the Earliest Settlement to the Year 1886." Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 24, July-Sept. 1887.

Putnam, George Granville. Salem Vessels and Their Voyages, Series I-IV. Salem, Mass., The Essex Institute, 1925.

Charles Henry Allen (1810-1899) Papers, 1829-1875, MSS 385 Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman Records, 1816-1903, MSS 63

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy C. Barthelemy, August 1982. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, August 2007 and Rachel Jirka, November 2008.


ALLEN FAMILY PAPERS, 1817-1920, 1977
Processed by: Nancy C. Barthelemy; Updated by: Tamara Gaydos and Rachel Jirka; 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