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Mss:766 1750-1845 B879

Brown, Moses, 1742-1827. Moses Brown Papers, 1750-1845 (inclusive), 1790-1803 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:766 1750-1845 B879
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Moses Brown papers
Date(s): 1750-1845 (inclusive)
Date(s): 1790-1803 (bulk)
Quantity: 6.5 linear feet (9 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Moses Brown was a Newburyport, Mass. landowner, shipbuilder, and shipping merchant. The collection includes correspondence and business papers for Brown's activities as a sugar, molasses, and rum trader.


Purchase, 2003.
Accession no.: M-03-004

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2009
By: Benjamin Johnson

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information. Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Moses Brown papers. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Related Materials

Moses Brown Papers, 1792-1801. Milne Special Collections. University of New Hampshire.
Moses Brown Papers. South Caroliniana Library. University of South Carolina.
Moses Brown Papers, 1777-1815. General Library. Department of Special Collections. University of California-Davis
Moses Brown Papers. Southern Historical Collection. Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Biographical Note:

Moses Brown was a prominent landowner, shipbuilder, and merchant from Newburyport, Massachusetts, who invested in the sugar, molasses, and rum trade during the late 18th and early 19th century. Brown was born on October 2, 1742 in Newbury, Mass., the youngest of thirteen children to Joseph, Jr. and Abigail Pearson Brown. He was apprenticed to a chaise maker when he was a boy. After his apprenticeship he moved to Newburyport to start his own chaise making and repair business. Using some of the earnings he made before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Brown invested in the importation of sugar and molasses from the West Indies. He profited considerably from this investment and, following the war, he devoted his full effort to this business by exporting lumber, meat, fish, and dry goods and importing sugar and molasses to distill rum. He expanded his holdings by purchasing ships and widespread real estate, especially wharves, warehouses, and distilleries along the Newburyport waterfront. By 1790 Brown was the second wealthiest man in Newburyport and would soon become its largest real estate holder. His fleet of ships sailed to the Carolinas, West Indies, and parts of northern Europe. He was a very active investor with several other prominent Newburyport merchants, especially William Bartlet, in such undertakings as the Newburyport Marine Insurance Company, the Merrimack Bank, Plum Island Company Turnpike, the Newburyport Woolen Manufactory, and the Andover Theological Institution. In 1791 he bought Tristram Dalton's home at 94 State Street in Newburyport and lived there until his death on February 9, 1827.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The papers date from 1750 to 1845, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1790 to 1803. Included is correspondence, business papers consisting of financial papers, shipping papers, and legal papers, and distillery house orders for rum. Correspondence includes letters to Moses Brown by ship captains, merchants, and domestic and foreign agents. The letters that relate to the price of goods, cargo purchased and sold, updates on voyages to the southern cities in the United States, the West Indies, and Europe, and shipping details. Business papers include shipping papers consisting of bills of lading, sailing orders, crew lists, ship manifests, and ship account books; financial papers including receipts, bills, invoices for sales and cash disbursements, account statements, and prices current; and legal papers such as contracts, agreements to purchase real estate, and cases involving the illegal seizure of ships owned by Brown. Also included are distillery house orders for rum.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Coastwise shipping.
Intercoastal shipping
Liquor industry--Massachusetts.
Rum industry--Massachusetts.
Bills of lading.
Ship's manifests.
Ships's papers.
Bartlet, William, 1747-
Ham, William
Holland, Stephen
Parry, Martin, -1802
Stoughton, Juan, 1734-1820.
Winthrop, Joseph, 1757-1828.
Wyers, William, Jr.
Lange & Bourne (Amsterdam).