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Bates & Co. Records, 1807-1895, undated

 Collection
Identifier: MH 35

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Bates & Co. Records document the business activities of Bates & Co., a 19th century Boston merchant shipping company. Materials include ship’s papers, personal and professional correspondence, financial records, bound account volumes, trade circulars, photographs, and ephemera. The bulk of materials were created by Bates & Co., its predecessor Nathan Bridge & Co., the firms’ business associates, and ships’ captains; the collection also includes personal papers from members of the Bates family. This collection has been divided into four series.

Series I. Nathan Bridge & Co. Records contains records from the merchant shipping firm that preceded Bates & Co. Nathan Bridge & Co. was managed by co-partners Nathan Bridge and John Douglas Bates. After Nathan Bridge’s death in 1830, surviving partner John D. Bates and clerk Adam W. Thaxter became co-partners under the renamed firm of Bates & Co. The bulk of the materials in this series were created by John D. Bates during his work for the company’s sugar trade in Cuba and Europe. Materials include ship’s papers, correspondence, and financial accounts. Ship’s papers are arranged alphabetically by vessel name; correspondence and accounts are arranged chronologically.

Series II. Ship's Papers contains ship’s papers created by or for Bates & Co. Materials include articles of agreement, manifests, protection certificates, bills and receipts, cost memos, sales accounts, charter parties, crew and passenger lists, bills of sale of registered vessels, correspondence, surveys and records of repairs, and consular protests and documentation of accidents at sea. Folders are arranged alphabetically by vessel name, and chronologically within each folder. A complete list of vessels named in the collection is available in Appendix I. Ship Index.

Series III. Financial Records and Correspondence includes all business records created by or for Bates & Co., and offers an expanded context for many of the shipments documented in Series II, as well as a cohesive look at business ventures that span multiple vessels. Materials include financial accounts, business correspondence not directly connected to a single ship, building and wharf leases, insurance papers, trade memos, vessel lists, trade circulars, textiles, and account books. General financial materials are arranged by subject or format; accounts and correspondence to or from specific individuals or companies are arranged alphabetically by name. All materials are arranged chronologically within each individual folder.

The collection documents all aspects of international trade throughout much of the 19th century. When considered together, the ship’s papers, accounts, and correspondence often piece together detailed records of voyages, commissions, and shipments. While the Bates & Co. records document activities aboard a number of vessels, the collection is particularly strong with regards to the Carrington (Ship), the Fanny (Bark), the Huntress (Bark), the Juniata (Bark), the Moses Wheeler (Ship), the Starr King (Ship), and the Western Continent (Ship). Materials in Series II and Series III offer particular insight into Bates & Co.’s business relationships with the Brothers Cramer, James Oakes, F.D. Williams of Williams & Co., and the Brothers Nottebohm.

A core strength of the collection lies in its documentation of the sugar triangle trade in the early and mid-19th century; both Nathan Bridge & Co. and Bates & Co. traded sugar and other goods between Havana and Matanzas in Cuba, St. Petersburg and Antwerp in Europe, and Boston and New York in the United States. In the 1850s and 1860s, Bates & Co. expanded their network to include ports in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and moved further away from the sugar trade as the international market shifted. Of particular note are the ship’s papers, correspondence, and accounts surrounding the ship Carrington, which documents the human trafficking that connected China and the Cuban sugar industry. In 1863, the captain of the Carrington took a charter to ship over 300 Chinese laborers from Macao and Hong Kong to Havana, with the intention that they become indentured laborers on sugar plantations in Cuba. Correspondence with F.D. Williams documents other ships engaged in human trafficking; details are included in the Scope & Contents for each series. These materials contain language and content that may be disturbing to users.

Series IV. Family Papers and Records contains the personal papers of members of the extended Bates family, as well as business records from family members who were not employed by Bates & Co. The series includes materials from John D. Bates, John D. Bates, Jr., William H. Gilman, Mary (Bordman) Bates, and other members of the Bates family. These materials include correspondence, household accounts, property deeds, photographs, bound volumes, and ephemera. Highlights include John D. Bates’ correspondence with his wife, son, and step-son; John D. Bates, Jr.’s household accounts for his estate in Center Harbor, NH; William H. Gilman’s records as Navy Paymaster for the U.S.S. Eastport and U.S.S. Vandalia; and Mary Bates’ household account books. Series IV also includes materials related to scrip from the Kaw Treaty of 1859, in which the United States government took 176,000 acres of land from the Kaw Nation and sold it; correspondence about the scrip is located in John D. Bates, Jr.'s papers. Materials in the series are grouped first by individual, then in folders by subject or format. Within each folder, materials are chronologically arranged.

Dates

  • 1807-1895, undated

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Bates & Co. was a 19th century merchant shipping house based in Boston, MA. The company was originally established by Nathan Bridge (1782-1830) under the name N. Bridge & Co., and it was managed by a co-partnership between Bridge and John Douglas Bates (1797-1863). In September 1830, while John D. Bates was on a voyage in Europe, Nathan Bridge died unexpectedly. Bates subsequently renamed the firm Bates & Co., and entered into a co-partnership with Adam Wallace Thaxter (1807-1862), a former clerk of the company. The two parted ways around 1861, a year before Thaxter's death. Bates brought in his son, John D. Bates, Jr. (1835-1900), as his new co-partner. In October 1863, John D. Bates died while abroad in France, and John D. Bates, Jr. continued to run Bates & Co. as surviving partner.

Both Nathan Bridge & Co. and Bates & Co. were active in the sugar triangle trade in the early and mid-19th century. The two firms traded sugar and other goods between Havana and Matanzas in Cuba, St. Petersburg and Antwerp in Europe, and Boston and New York in the United States; as the international sugar market changed, Bates & Co. expanded their trade routes to include sugar from Manila. In the 1850s and 1860s, Bates & Co. conducted business more heavily to and from ports in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Around the same time, the firm also strengthened its network in the Americas, often conducting trade between Boston and New York, San Francisco, and ports throughout Latin America.

The lives of the Bates family are interwoven throughout the Bates & Co. business records. Caleb Bates (1774-1820) was a ship’s captain who captained several ships for Nathan Bridge & Co. around 1807-1818. He and his wife Mary (Douglas) Bates (1773-1854) had six sons and one daughter. Among their children were John Douglas Bates, head of Bates & Co., and Edward Carrington Bates (1811-1872), who operated his own business and occasionally worked for or with Bates & Co. In 1834, John D. Bates married widow Mary (Bordman) Gilman and welcomed her sons Benjamin Ives Gilman (later renamed Ives Gilman Bates) and William Henderson Gilman (-1869) into the family. A year later, John D. Bates, Jr. was born. Bates frequently provided financial assistance to all three sons, and they appear throughout his personal and business records; out of the three, John D. Bates, Jr. was most closely associated with the business as co-partner of Bates & Co. After his father's death, John D. Bates, Jr. continued to run the company for several years, but eventually retired from professional life. In 1892, he build "The Briars", a summer estate in Center Harbor, NH; for the remainder of his life, he split his time between the estate and his home at 161 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

Extent

21.14 Linear Feet (21 boxes, 114 volumes)

Language of Materials

Multiple languages

English

Chinese

Russian

Spanish; Castilian

French

German

Abstract

The Bates & Co. Records document the business activities of Bates & Co., a 19th century Boston merchant shipping company. Materials include ship’s papers, personal and professional correspondence, financial records, bound account volumes, trade circulars, photographs, and ephemera. The bulk of materials were created by Bates & Co., its predecessor Nathan Bridge & Co., the firms’ business associates, and ships’ captains; the collection also includes personal papers from members of the Bates family. This collection has been divided into four series.

Series List

SERIES I. Nathan Bridge & Co. Records

SERIES II. Ship’s Papers

SERIES III. Financial Records and Correspondence

SERIES IV. Family Papers and Records

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks

Provenance

This material was purchased from Mrs. [C] B. Hills on July 24, 1940 (Acc 10,699).

Bibliography and Related Collections

Ahonen, K. (2005). From sugar triangle to cotton triangle: trade and shipping between America and Baltic Russia, 1783-1860 [Doctoral dissertation, University of Jyväskylä]. Jyväskylä University Digital Repository. https://jyx.jyu.fi/bitstream/handle/123456789/13443/9513921840.pdf?sequence=1

Bates, Lavinia B. [Genealogy notes for John D. Bates, Jr.]. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum (MH 35 Series 4, Box 18, Folder 5), Rowley, MA, United States.

Kaw Nation. (n.d.). Cultural history pt. 2. https://kawnation.com/?page_id=4463

Morgan, K.N. (n.d.). Bates carriage house. SAH Archipedia. https://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-BH36

1 Commonwealth (12 Arlington). (n.d.).Back Bay Houses. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://backbayhouses.org/1-commonwealth-12-arlington/

163 Commonwealth. (n.d.).Back Bay Houses. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://backbayhouses.org/161-commonwealth/

Sawyer, T.T. (1902). Old Charlestown: historical, biographical, reminiscent. J.H. West Co. https://archive.org/details/oldcharlestownhi00sawye/mode/2up

Turner, M. (1974). Chinese contract labour in Cuba, 1847-1874. Caribbean Studies, 14(2), 66-81. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25612611

Yun, L. (2008). The coolie speaks: Chinese indentured laborers and African slaves in Cuba. Temple University Press.

Content Warning

This collection contains materials that document human trafficking. Please be aware that the language and content of these materials is disturbing and may cause harm. More information is available in the Scope & Content below, and in the Scope & Contents for each relevant series.

Processing Information

This material was placed in acid free folders. Oversize materials were reboxed, and fragile materials were placed in plastic sleeves.

Title
Bates & Co. Records, 1807-1895, undated
Status
Completed
Author
Esme Rabin
Date
January 2022
Description rules
Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
The processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

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