Mss:766 1797-1802 A524
Amory, Thomas Coffin, 1767-1812. Thomas Coffin Amory Papers, 1797-1802 (inclusive):
A Finding Aid
Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: Mss:766 1797-1802 A524
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Thomas Coffin Amory papers
Date(s): 1797-1802 (inclusive)
Quantity: 1.2 linear feet (1 volume, 1 box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection consists of a letter book, and copies of correspondence removed from
a letter book, from Boston merchant Thomas Coffin Amory to other merchants, ship captains,
agents, and associates, most likely in the hand of a clerk, dated 1797 to 1802. Letters
relate to foreign trade, import, and consignment of assorted commodities like New
England rum, molasses, coffee, firearms, and cochineal, as well as politics and economic
The Thomas Coffin Amory papers were a gift of Mary L. Amory in 1934.
Processed: February 2017
By: Brooke McManus
Preservation and description of the Thomas Coffin Amory papers were supported in
part by the Colonial North America at Harvard Library Project.
This collection is open for research.
Cite as: Thomas Coffin Amory Papers. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.
Thomas Coffin Amory, merchant and store owner, was born in 1767 in Boston, Massachusetts,
to Thomas and Elizabeth (Coffin) Amory. He sold goods that he imported at retail,
and goods on consignment for others at standard commercial rates. Amory partnered
with his cousin, William Payne, and later with his brother, Jonathan Amory (1770-1828;
Harvard AB 1778). He owned stakes in voyages, frequently chartering vessels with Newburyport
businessman and mariner Ebenezer Stocker (circa 1753-1816) to the West Indies and
Calcutta, India. Amory imported or traded commodities and goods including molasses,
flour, fish, rum, coffee, firearms, and pearl and pot ashes. In addition, he acted
as an agent for merchants in other parts of the country and overseas and provided
banking and money lending services. Amory also offered apprenticeships to many local
young men in his counting house.
Amory married Hannah Rowe Linzee (1770-1846) in 1795, and they had eight children.
He died after suffering a stroke in 1812.
This collection consists of a letter book, and copies of correspondence removed from
a letter book, most likely in the hand of a clerk, from Boston merchant Thomas Coffin
Amory to other merchants, ship captains, agents, and associates, dated 1797 to 1802.
Letters relate to foreign trade, import, and consignment of assorted commodities and
goods like New England rum, molasses, coffee, firearms, and cochineal, as well as
politics and economic conditions.
Amory's letters mention voyages to Halifax, Liverpool, Havana, Martinique, Teneriffe,
Vera Cruz, and Spain. In addition to business matters, letters reference British and
French privateering, the French Revolutionary Wars, and the Quasi-War.
The Newburyport, Massachusetts, firm of Farris & Stocker was a frequent correspondent,
and after that partnership dissolved, Amory continued doing business with mariner
and merchant Ebenezer Stocker (circa 1753-1816.) Stoker and Amory chartered a number
of mercantile voyages together. Other correspondents include Portland, Maine, merchants
Samuel Waldo (1762-1798), James Deering (1766-1850), and Thomas Hodges, Robert Hazlehurst
& Co. of South Carolina, Israel Thorndike (1755-1832) of Beverly, Massachusetts, and
Samuel Breck, Jr. (1771-1862) of Philadelphia, as well as William Codman and Captain
Amory's letters often contained news of the arrivals and departures of vessels owned
by other merchants, updates on the market in Boston for various imported goods and
prices current, and information regarding business associates and their activities.
There are also letters to a woman named Ruth Jewett regarding the consignment of her
sugar and cotton and her stake in a voyage to Calcutta.
- Box 1, Letter book
Scope and Contents
: Contains copies of Thomas Coffin Amory's correspondence to merchants, agents, ship
captains, and other individuals, regarding trade and consignment of goods and endorsement
of notes, dated 1797-1798. Correspondents include Portland, Maine, merchants Samuel
Waldo (1764–1798), James Deering (1766-1850), and Thomas Hodges, Robert Hazlehurst
& Co. of South Carolina, Farris & Stocker of Newburyport, Massachusetts, Israel Thorndike
(1755-1832) of Beverly, Massachusetts, and Samuel Breck, Jr. (1771-1862) of Philadelphia.
Other topics include market fluctuations and prices current, ships captured by French
privateers, marine insurance, charters, politics and the prospect of war between France
and Spain, customs issues, and comings and goings of international vessels.
He wrote to Ruth Jewett several times regarding prices he sought for sugar and cotton
imported on her behalf, and the sale of the ship Portland, in which she apparently
owned a stake, possibly to merchant William Gray (1750-1832) of Salem, Massachusetts.
Captain Edward Preble (1761-1807) was also involved in the transaction. Jewett also
bought shares of mercantile voyages, probably facilitated by Amory. On September 30,
1797, he writes, "Yr. part of the portage bill & money to be remitt'd to Calcutta
will require about $2500." He further relayed news on November 12 that he sold her
sugar to Joseph Willson and Joseph Sewell of Marblehead.
Amory's letters reference the import and sale of commodities including coffee, flour,
Bohea tea, salt, rice, French brandy, gun powder, fish, molasses, and sugar, and the
consignment of these goods in Boston for business associates. He invested in voyages
to Port au Prince, Haiti, Nova Scotia, Granada, Liverpool, England, Martinique, and
Calcutta, India. Several letters to Samuel Waldo refered to a lawsuit Waldo was pursuing.
In a letter to Andrew Thompson & Co. dated October 15, 1797, Amory explained his practice
for reselling imported commodities, writing "I charge no commission for remitting
exchange which I purchase with ready money generally before I am in cash for the goods
consign'd me." Many letters solicited payment of notes from other merchants.
Writing to James Deering on June 19, 1797, he enclosed an export certificate for
cotton and discussed news about a friend who was to become a foreign consul. On August
20, 1797, Amory wrote to Joseph Tilden regarding fish he wanted him to procure "fit
for" Marseilles, France, that was "say under 22 inches, early caught & well made smooth
& hard," with instructions to make inquiries in Duxbury and Plymouth. He also wrote
Israel Thorndike on the same day with a request for fish, if there were any in Beverly,
which he planned to ship to Italy. He noted that unlike fish, coffee, sugar, and pepper
were too costly for him to buy and ship. Other topics include outstanding debts and
attempts to recover money through legal means. On November 19, 1797, he wrote to Brook
Watson & Co. about a protested bill of Samuel Waldo, and his reasons for not seeking
security for a note endorsed over to him by a Mr. Wetmore. Amory wrote to William
Codman on December 3, 1797, requesting his assistance in recovering a debt due him
by William Mann. A letter dated December 16, 1797 to Fitzwilliam Sargent thanked him
for informing him of the wreck of a ship carrying his goods and Sargent's assistance
in recovering part of the cargo. Writing to James Hunter & Co., owner of the ship,
Renown, he explained that the ship captain drowned after he refused to abandon the
ship, which went aground and sunk off Cape Ann Harbor in Milk Island.
Amory wrote to Samuel Breck on December 24, 1797, voicing his support for the appointment
of Boston merchant Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1764-1854) as a bank director. He informed
New York City-based Peppin & Satterthwaite on February 6, 1798, of the result of his
effort to purchase guns for the firm: Amory could only procure "a handsome pair of
old fortified fours with carriages." A number of letters to Farris & Stocker covered
issues surrounding trade but also securing insurance and papers from various consuls.
Discussing the political atmosphere in the United States, he wrote to William Forsythe
that "We are daily becoming more Federal & United." Other topics include the commission
of an armed brigantine, Atlanta, to defend American ships against French privateers
and retake American sailors and cargo, as well as the yellow fever epidemic in Boston
in 1798; Amory thought customers were using it as an excuse to avoid paying debts
to merchants located in the infected areas of the city. On August 21, 1798, Amory,
acting on behalf of the owners of the ship Eagle, wrote to William Codman asking him
about additional insurance for the vessel and her cargo, which had been captured by
a French privateer on entering Marseilles. A later letter indicated the insurance
had not been secured.
- Box 2, Folder 1, Correspondence
Date: 1798 December-1799 March
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence of Thomas Coffin Amory to merchants, agents, and
ship captains, dated December 1798 to March 1799. Included are letters to Ebenezer
Stocker about the hiring of a carpenter to build a ship Amory was financing with Perkins
& Higginson, insuring mercantile voyages, and trade of commodities like salt; and
letters to James Stewart & Co. and James Deering regarding the trade and costs of
coffee, pot ash, and fish. To Jacob Sheafe (1749-1829), an American naval agent in
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he writes about orders of anchors. In a letter to Salem
merchant Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799), Amory reported the price of cannons, and
wrote about his available inventory of shot and guns. Other topics include the endorsement
of notes and the arrivals of various ships in Boston with imported cargo.
- Box 2, Folder 2, Correspondence
Date: 1799 March-June
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence from Thomas Coffin Amory to merchants, agents, and
ship captains, dated March-June 1799. Correspondents include Ebenezer Stocker, to
whom Amory wrote about coppering a schooner and Russian entry into the War of the
Second Coalition, as well as sending a small undefended schooner with cocoa to the
Bay of Biscay in the Celtic Sea; Amory recommended avoiding the route if no protection
from the United States Navy or Marine Cutters were available, and selling the cargo
in Boston. Letters also discuss trade and consignment of commodities like brandy,
guns, molasses, and pot ash, prices current of sugar, coffee, and cotton, and charter
of vessels to England. Other correspondents include Boston merchant Stephen Higginson
(1743-1828), from whom he requested a Bristol pale beer "suitable for the Spanish
and W. India market on a/c of Capt. Stocker and myself"; Canadian firm Forsyth Smith
& Co., which he asked to provide the price he could get for Tenerife Barilla in Ireland;
and American naval agent Jacob Sheafe (1745-1829), regarding payment for an anchor.
- Box 2, Folder 3, Correspondence
Date: 1799 June-October
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence from Thomas Coffin Amory to merchants, dated June-October
1799, including Ebenezer Stocker, James Stewart & Co., Coffin & Otis, and Boston merchant
William Gray (1750-1832). Topics include stocking his store, the trade and consignment
of beer, fish, coffee, sugar, pearl ash, and cochineal, and the status of mercantile
voyages from Boston and Newburyport, Massachusetts, to Jamaica and ports in the southern
United States. Amory also discussed accounts current with agents such as London-based
Thomas Dickason & Co., insuring voyages, attachment of goods arising from legal actions
against others, and prices of ships. He wrote to Stocker on December 6 that he sought
a gun powder manufacturer to buy his salt petre (potassium nitrate).
- Box 2, Folder 4, Correspondence
Date: 1799 October-1800 April
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence from Thomas Coffin Amory, dated October 1799 to
April 1800, to merchants including Ebenezer Stocker, Martin Maden, and James Stewart
& Co., regarding the movement of mercantile vessels, insurance for voyages, and trade
of fish, cocoa, cochineal, and sugar. The letters to Stocker also discuss potential
voyages to Havana, Cuba, Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, and Veracruz, Mexico, as
well as Moscow and London. Amory wrote to Stocker on December 14, 1799, with news
that the ship Norfolk was sailing to Havana with provisions for government vessels
- Box 2, Folder 5, Correspondence
Date: 1800 April-1801 January
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence from Thomas Coffin Amory to merchants, dated April
1800 to January 1801. Correspondents include Ebenezer Stocker, Weeks & Tucker, James
Hunter & Co., and Philadelphia merchant Isaac Hazlehurst, Jr. (1742-1834) regarding
consignment and trade of sugar, raisins, wine, lumber, copper, and iron, the pricing
of certain commodities, movement of mercantile vessels, issuance of debenture certificates,
condemnation of ships, and market shortages. Other topics include advertising the
sale of a ship and cargo owned by Amory, and a potential buyer, Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
naval agent Jacob Sheafe (1745-1829). Amory also referenced the tensions between the
United States and France and the impact on trade and capture of American vessels.
In a letter to Canadian firm Forsyth, Smith & Co. on June 16, 1800, regarding the
trade of guns, he stated that the American government does not permit exportation
of firearms; Amory also requested a report on the condemnation of unnamed New York
ships captured off Halifax. A letter on October 6, 1800, offered to buy Java coffee
from Forsyth, Smith & Co.
- Box 2, Folder 6, Correspondence
Date: 1801 January-1802 March
Scope and Contents: Contains copies of correspondence from Thomas Coffin Amory to merchants, dated January
1801 to March 1802, regarding trade and consignment of goods such as cocoa, pot ash,
tar, fish, and New England rum, capture of a ship belonging to another merchant by
British privateers off Canada, insurance, prices current in Boston, and naval blockades
in Italian ports. Correspondents include Ebenezer Stocker, Hunter Robinson & Co.,
Canadian firm Forsyth, Smith & Co., and New York merchants J. Lenox & W. Maitland,
from whom he requested their observations about the impact of peace between England
and France on the market for cod fish. Amory wrote to Stocker to discuss the price
of the ship Fanny, which Stocker wished to sell.
Coffee industry -- 18th century.
Consignment sales -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Export marketing -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Firearms industry and trade -- United States -- 18th century.
Fish trade -- 18th century.
Merchants -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Marketing -- 18th century.
Molasses industry -- 18th century.
Potash industry and trade -- 18th century.
Pricing -- 18th century.
Privateering -- 18th century.
Second Coalition, War of the, 1798-1801
Sugar trade -- 18th century.
Women merchants -- 18th century.
Boston (Mass.) -- Commerce.
France -- Foreign relations -- United States.
Halifax (N.S.) -- Commerce.
Liverpool (England) -- Commerce.
Massachusetts -- Economic conditions -- History -- 1775-1865.
Spain -- Commerce.
Tenerife (Canary Islands) -- Commerce.
United States -- Foreign relations -- France.
United States -- History -- 1797-1801.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1797-1801.
West Indies -- Commerce.
Veracruz (Veracruz-Llave, Mexico) -- Commerce.
Newburyport (Mass.) -- Commerce.
Amory, Thomas C. (Thomas Coffin), 1767-1812.
Breck, Samuel, 1771-1862.
Deering, James, 1766-1850.
Higginson, Stephen, 1743-1828.
Sheafe, Jacob, 1745-1829.
Stocker, Ebenezer, circa 1753-1816.
Thorndike, Israel, 1755-1832.
Waldo, Samuel, 1762-1798.
Farris & Stocker.
Forsyth, Smith & Co.
James Stewart & Co.
Peppin & Satterthwaite.
Robert Hazlehurst & Co.
Thomas Dickason & Co.