West family papers, 1697-1880
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- West family
- The West family papers are comprised of approximately 1,400 letters, letter books, documents, and financial records pertaining to Reverend Samuel West and his two sons, Benjamin and Nathan P., of Boston. The bulk of the collection (approximately 900 items) relates to business concerns, particularly to Benjamin West's sugar refining firm.
- 2.25 linear feet
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, July 2010, and Meg Hixon, November 2011
- Scope and Content:
The West family papers are comprised of approximately 1,400 letters, letter books, documents, and financial records pertaining to Reverend Samuel West and his two sons, Benjamin and Nathan P., of Boston. The bulk of the collection (approximately 900 items) relates to business concerns, particularly to Benjamin West's sugar refining firm.
The Correspondence and documents series consists of approximately 150 items, dating from 1679 to 1880; the bulk of these are dated between 1759 and 1826. Though the majority of the material within the series pertains to business affairs, several groups of letters relate to other topics. One early group of letters concerns Samuel West's move from Needham, Massachusetts, to Boston's Hollis Street Church, and another group to a Boston committee's proposal to alter the municipal government in 1815, which includes its lengthy report [September 25, 1815]. In addition, the series contains personal and family correspondence, though to a lesser extent. Primary correspondents within the series include Caleb and Joshua Davis, Benjamin West, Enoch H. West, Samuel West, Richards Child, Mills Olcott, Samuel and Ephraim May, Sarah Plimpton, George Cheyne Shattuck, and Elisha and Elizabeth Ticknor.
The collection's two Letter books belonged to Benjamin West, and hold copies of 166 outgoing letters, dated 1803-1827, related to his various business affairs and the settlement of his uncle's estate, as well as personal matters.
The Financial records series contains three subseries: Bills and receipts, Sugarhouse accounts, and Account and expense books. The series contains approximately 300 bills and receipts dating from 1748 to 1824, primarily pertaining to labor, repairs, and donations to various Boston societies and institutions. About 600 sugarhouse accounts (1796-1823) record financial transactions associated with Benjamin West's sugar refining business, and include accounts, bills, and receipts. The four books cover Benjamin's West's personal accounts and expenses between 1797-1799 and 1811-1827; the first of these concerns West's service in a local militia, as well as his other financial matters, including numerous accounts for clothing, tobacco, and trips to the theater.
Legal documents within the collection are divided into two subseries, covering Land and real estate (1707-1824) and other Legal documents (1738-1834). The first subseries consists of approximately 60 items, which relate to mortgages, indentures, and other agreements about land around Boston and in Charlestown, New Hampshire. The West family frequently dealt with the Wheelock and Metcalf families when purchasing land. The second subseries is comprised of approximately 75 miscellaneous documents, including material related to Samuel West's interests in Needham, Massachusetts; bills from Nathan P. West's time at Harvard College (1788-1792); and the family's additional business and legal concerns.
The Printed and miscellaneous items series consists of approximately 20 items, dated 1714 to 1825. Among these are broadsides, including programs for Samuel West's internment services and various anniversaries, and partially printed school reports. Miscellaneous manuscript items are 13 statements of Christian faith; manuscript music for several hymns; two books kept by Nathan P. West, including a copybook of mathematical problems and exercises (1792-1807) and a commonplace book (1798-1813) with medicinal recipes West used in his drugstore; and scattered quotations. The copybook also includes a small drawing of a skull next to a bottle of borax on its inside cover.
- Biographical / Historical:
Samuel West (1738-1808) was the son of Rev. Thomas West, a clergyman and teacher from Rochester, Massachusetts. Samuel studied divinity at Needham, Massachusetts, and eventually moved to Boston. His brother, Benjamin West (1746-1817), eventually became a lawyer in Charlestown, New Hampshire, where he worked with Simeon Olcott. Samuel had three sons and a daughter, including Samuel, Jr., Nathan Plimpton (d. 1814), Benjamin West (1776-1829), and Priscilla. The younger Benjamin West was a Boston merchant and sugar refiner during the first decades of the 19th century. In 1826, he moved from Boston to Charlestown, New Hampshire, and resided there until his death in 1829.
- Acquisition Information:
- 1965. M-1371 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The West family papers have been organized into the following series and subseries:
- Series I: Correspondence and documents
- Series II: Letter books
- Series III: Financial records
- Subseries I: Bills and receipts
- Subseries II: Sugarhouse accounts
- Subseries III: Account, receipt, and expense books
- Series IV: Legal documents
- Subseries I: Land and real estate
- Subseries II: Business and legal documents
- Series V: Printed items and miscellaneous
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Alternate LocationsFour broadsides are housed in the Book Division:
- Order of Exercises at the Ordination of Mr. John Pierpont, as Pastor of the Church and Society in Hollis-Street, Boston, April 14, 1819... [Boston: 1819].
- Order of Exercises, at the Ninth Anniversary of the Boston Asylum for Indigent Boys: On Friday, April Twenty Fifth, 1823. [Boston]: Printed by Russell & Gardner, 1823.
- Order of Solem[nities?] at Trinity-church: On Friday, the 26th April, 1816, Being the Second Anniversary of the Institution of the Asylum for Indigent Boys. [Boston]: Printed by Munroe & Francis, 1816.
- Order of Solemnities: Being the Seventh Anniversary of the Institution of the Asylum for Indigent Boys, at the Old South Meeting House, on Friday, Twenty-seventh of April, 1821. [Boston]: True, Weston & Green, printers, 1821.
The Manuscripts Division's Schoff Revolutionary War collection contains a set of six letters written by Benjamin West (1746-1817) to his brother, Samuel West (1738-1808), pertaining to Benjamin's Revolutionary War service in South Carolina.
The Clements Library Book Division holds a selection of published sermons and essays of Samuel West.
Saunderson, Henry Hamilton. History of Charlestown, New Hampshire: The Old No. 4, Embracing the Part Borne by Its Inhabitants in the Indian, French And Revolutionary Wars, and the Vermont Controversy; Also Genealogies and Sketches of Families, from Its Settlement to 1876. Claremont, N.H.: Claremont Manufacturing Co., 1876.
West, Benjamin, and James Stanley Schoff. Life In the South 1778-1779: The Letters of Benjamin West. Ann Arbor: The William L. Clements Library, 1963.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Medicine--United States--History--18th century.
Sugar--Manufacture and refining--United States.
Receipts (financial records)
West, Benjamin, 1746-1817.
Bradlee, Samuel, 1778-1867.
May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871.
West, Benjamin, 1776-1829.
West, Enoch Hammond, b. 1792.
West, Nathan P. (Nathan Plimpton), d. 1814.
West, Samuel, 1738-1808.