Charles Henry Taylor collection of privateering papers, 1718-1928: Privateering papers

About this Collection

government publicationAccount books.Clippings.Financial records.Insurance policies.Legal documents.Letters of marque.Powers of attorney.Ships' logs.
Collection Title
Charles Henry Taylor collection of privateering papers, 1718-1928Privateering papers
4 linear feet (7 boxes, 1 portfolio box)
Houghton Library, Harvard University

Content Notes

Contains correspondence, ships' logs, journals, a commonplace book, accounts and account books, legal and financial documents, receipts, bills of sale, invoices, safe conduct documents, cargo manifests, prize inventories, insurance policies, powers of attorney, letters of marque, lists of crews and prisoners, a photograph, and printed material and clippings pertaining to privateering.|Materials are pertinent especially to the War of 1812, but also some are from earlier and later years. Many of the vessels listed here originated from Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Includes extensive papers of the Harris family (merchants of Portsmouth, New Hampshire); the papers of Thomas Gilbert Thornton as United States Marshal for the District of Maine; and a few papers of Enoch Greenleaf Parrott, the Naval agent for the Port of Portsmouth; and some of privateer Captain William Rice of Portsmouth; and many others. Also includes a manuscript document signed by John Hancock and one signed by James Madison and much of the material includes autograph manuscript notes by the collector, Charles Henry Taylor.
  • In English.
  • Selected color digital images available; see finding aid.

Biographical Notes

A privateer is an armed ship that is privately owned and manned, but is commissioned by a government to fight or harass enemy ships during wartime. A government authorized a privateer by means of "letters of marque." Privateering was a way for a government to mobilize armed ships and sailors without spending treasury resources or committing naval officers. The privateer ship's crew would hope to capture enemy ships and collect the cargo as their "prize."|Charles Henry Taylor (1846-1921) was the founder and developer of the Boston Globe and its editor for forty-eight years. He was a veteran of the Civil War and had also served in the Massachusetts legislature. His son, Charles Henry Taylor, Jr. (1867-1941), was treasurer and director of the Globe Newspaper Company for forty-four years, was known as an antiquarian and collector of rare books and prints, and held memberships in many historical and literary societies and scholarly organizations. Taylor Jr. was the collector, organizer and donor of these papers.|The Harris family of Portsmouth, New Hampshire figures prominently in these papers. Thomas Aston Harris (1786-1824) and Abel Harris (1763-1829) were merchants and traders in goods with Great Britain and the West Indies and owners of various ships. Their brothers Theodore Harris and Robert Harris (1771-1822) were also involved in the shipping business. Many of the papers here are from the Harris ships which were involved in privateering.|Dr. Thomas Gilbert Thornton of Saco, Maine was the United States marshal for the District of Maine from 1803- l824. Papers from the United States marshals office for the District of Maine are included here as well as this office was also involved with privateers and their "prize cargoes."