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Bromfield family papers

Call Number: MS 599
Scope and Contents

The Bromfield Family Papers, 1682-1914, consist of family and business correspondence, legal documents, business papers, genealogical notes, fragments and other papers to, from, and relating to the Bromfield family of Boston and Harvard, Massachusetts and the collateral and descendant families of Clarke, Rogers, Pearson, Startin, Pelham, and Copley. The papers relate primarily to Edward (1695-1756) and Abigail Coney Bromfield of Boston and to their children, especially Henry Bromfield (1727-1820), his children and their families. For a chart outlining the genealogical relations of the Bromfield family, please consult theGenealogical Chart. This table shows the lines of descent and relationship of most of the individuals represented in this collection.

One family in the collection whose line is not traced on this chart, however, is the Clarke family, and special mention should be made of it. As shown on the chart, the second wife of the above-mentioned Henry Bromfield was Hannah Clarke, daughter of Elizabeth (Winslow) and Richard Clarke (1711-1795), son of Hannah (Appleton) Clarke (1684/5-1776), who was herself the second wife of Josiah Willard (1681-?). Richard Clarke was a Boston merchant and Loyalist and his firm, Richard Clarke & Sons, was among the consignees of tea from the East India Company which eventually found its way to the bottom of Boston Harbor in December of 1773. One of Richard Clarke's other daughters, Susannah Farnum Clarke, married John Singleton Copley, the artist to whom the Pelham family, also represented in this collection, was related (Peter Pelham, 1695-1771, was John Singleton Copley's step-father).

Another figure of some prominence in this collection deserving of mention is the Rev. Professor Eliphalet Pearson (1752-1826), who was married to Sarah Bromfield (after his first marriage to Priscilla Holyoke, daughter of President Edward Holyoke of Harvard University). Pearson was the first principal of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, a professor at Harvard, and one of the founders of Andover Theological Seminary.

The Bromfield Family Papers are arranged into four series.

SERIES I., CORRESPONDENCE, is arranged chronologically, 1711-1914, and contains both personal and business correspondence of a large number of family members. Within the series there are several minor groupings. Between 1798 and 1805 there are a number of letters from Thomas and Whittingham Gilman to their uncle, Daniel Denison Rogers, regarding property matters in Belleville, Virginia. From 1812 on and especially between 1823 and 1849, the correspondence is largely between members of the Pearson, Abbott, and Rogers families, with a large percentage of these being addressed to Ephraim Abbott. Also, between 1849 and 1868 the letters are mainly to and from Margaret (Bromfield) Blanchard, with a large number of her letters also filed in the folder of "undated" correspondence.

One of the more interesting groups of letters occurs in the period, 1773-1774, where there are a number of references to the Boston tea trade, the Sons of Liberty, and the Boston Tea Party.

Letters after 1868 are mainly genealogical in nature or refer to the collection, especially those between Worthington C. Ford and Daniel Denison Slade in 1914.

SERIES II., WILLS, DEEDS, AND OTHER DOCUMENTS, is arranged chronologically, 1682-1865. As is indicated by the series title, this series contains wills, deeds, and other documents including indentures, letters of attorney, and certificates. Items of interest in this series include the will, dated 1682, of Henry Bromfield of Chancroft, the first-named member of the family in the genealogical table. Also included are various business documents drawn up by Richard Clarke, the will of Hannah Willard, a series of "Articles of Agreement with Belleville Settlers" dated 1785, Feb. - Nov., the will of Daniel Denison Rogers (husband of Elizabeth Bromfield Rogers) dated 1825, and wills and documents relating to other members of the Bromfield, Pearson, Abbott, and Rogers families.

SERIES III., ACCOUNTS AND BUSINESS PAPERS, is also arranged chronologically, 1730-1876, and consists to a large degree of papers relating to the business of the firms of Pool & Clarke and Richard Clarke & Sons, with the bulk of the material falling between the years 1770-1774. Contained within these papers there is much of interest regarding colonial trade and importing in Boston during this period, especially so in light of Richard Clarke's association through his business with the momentous events surrounding the tea trade in Boston.

SERIES IV., MISCELLANY, consists of fragments, genealogical notes, and a few artifacts relating to members of the Bromfield family. A description of these items will be found in the container list for the collection.

(see also MS group no. 389, Henry Bromfield Pearson papers)

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence. II. Wills and Deeds. III. Accounts and Business Papers. IV. Miscellany.

2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Related Names
Bromfield family
Language of Materials