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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
John Avery Parker (1769-1853) was involved in mercantile, whaling, and shipbuilding affairs at New Bedford, Massachusetts, from 1803-1853. Born in Plympton, Massachusetts, he joined with Lemuel Milke in 1795 to build ships at the head of the East Branch of the Westport (then Noquochoke) River in Westport, Massachusetts. The partnership was dissolved in 1803, although Parker continued to have his vessels built at Westport. Parker then moved to New Bedford that same year and began doing business, probably as a grocer, at Middle and Bridge Streets where he established his counting house in the Parker Block, a block of brick buildings he built in 1833. While in New Bedford, Parker engaged in building ships for merchant service and whaling voyages.
As was common in the consolidating days of American whaling (ca. 1790-1840) where merchants like Parker contorolled many of the most vital components neccessary to the success of the trade, he was president and owner of Lionet Iron Mills in Wareham. He also owned and actively supervised a cotton mill in Plympton. In 1825, Parker founded the Merchants Bank of New Bedford and became its first president, remaining in that position until his death. Parker also acted as an agent for several whaling vessels. His son, Frederick Parker (1806-1861), was a partner in Parker's whaling ventures and continued in business as a merchant after his father's death in 1853.
William Phillips (1801-1866) was hired as a clerk by John Avery Parker in 1825 and served as his bookkeeper and confidential secretary from 1836 to 1853. During his employment, William also inspected oil and other merchandise. His son, George R. Phillips (1830-1918), entered Parker's employment in 1848 and was responsible for whaling matters, including discharging vessels and determining the quality of oil and whalebone landed. The firm of William Phillips & son continued Parker's business after his death, acting as commission merchants, oil brokers, and agents of whaling vessels. The Phillips' also handled the settlement of Parker's estate over a twenty-year period.
Records in this collection reflect the business activities of John Avery Parker & Son and William Phillips & Son from 1803-1888. The business records of John Avery Parker & Son consist of financial records, 1828-1860, including journals, ledgers, and receipts. These volumes contain accounts for Alexander Barclay (Ship), Averick (Ship), Dragon (Bark), Franklin (Brig), and other vessels represented by in the ship's papers series and also for the Wareham Iron Company, Wareham, Massachusetts. Ship's papers, 1803-1856, include correspondence, outfitting books, agent/owner accounts, and customs records. Some of the vessels represented by these papers are Amethyst (Ship), Charles Frederick (Ship), Lalla Rookh (Ship), Parker (Ship), and Trident (Ship). Correspondence, 1845-1851, consists of a letterbook containing copies of outgoing letters, with online transcriptions available.
The firm of William Phillips & Son is represented by financial records, 1854-1888, consisting of a journal, a ledger, and accounts for numerous mining companies; for vessels, William Phillips (Schooner), Young Phenix (Ship), and Lottie Beard (Schooner); and with John Pepper Knowles, 2nd (1830-1891); Joseph M. Shotwell (fl. 1877-1888), George S. Homer (1838-1912), Samuel H. Cook (1842-1910), and Grinnell, Minturn & Company of New York. These volumes also contain estate records for John Avery Parker with an inventory of the estate. Ship's papers, 1843-1881, contain correspondence, agent/owner accounts, outfitting books, and insurance policies, for these vessels: the China (Ship/Bark), Mercury (Bark), Twilight (Ship), and Young Phenix (Ship).
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 14 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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The major portion of this collection was donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Charles R. Phillips, Sr., on April 30, 1965. Other materials were donated to the Society by Mrs. Walter Walker on February 28, 1946 and received as an exchange from the New Bedford Fire Museum on June 8, 1977.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 11 November 2010
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1828-1888
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Commercial agents--Mass.--New Bedford
Commission merchants--Mass.--New Bedford
Cook, Samuel H., 1842-1910
Decendents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Grinnell, Minturn & Company, New York City, New York
Homer, George S., 1838-1912
Insurance, Marine--Mass.--New Bedford
Inventories of decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
John Avery Parker & Son, New Bedford, Mass.
Knowles, John Pepper, 2nd, 1830-1891
Mining industry and finance--Mass.--New Bedford
Parker, Frederick, 1806-1861
Parker, John Avery, 1769-1853
Phillips, George R., 1830-1918
Phillips, William, 1801-1886
Ships--equipment and supplies
Shotwell, Joseph M., fl. 1877-1888
Wareham Iron Company, Wareham, Mass.
William Phillips & Son, New Bedford, Mass.
Alexander Barclay (Ship)
Charles Frederick (Ship)
Lalla Rookh (Ship)
Lottie Beard (Schooner)
William Phillips (Schooner)
Young Phenix (Ship)