MSS 103:  Barney Family Papers, 1802-1881 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Barney Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Judith M. Downey; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kermit DeweyInventory of the Barney Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Related Materials

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Barney Family Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Barney Family Papers
Date Span:
Barney family
Mss Number:
Mss 103
3 linear feet
Primarily business records of New Bedford, Massachusetts, merchants and whaling agents, 1802-1881.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Biographical Note

Peter Barney was born on Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1757. He began his career there as a tradesman and by 1800 moved his business and family to New Bedford, Mass. He first operated a boot and shoemaking business in the city and by 1804 had set up a mercantile business with his two sons, Paul (1781-1836) and George (1783-1811). The business sold household goods, fabrics, candles and food stuffs and was known as Peter Barney and Sons. The firm operated under that name until George left in 1809, when it then became Peter Barney and Son, operating until 1811.

Peter Barney had also established himself as an auctioneer in 1808 selling goods to settle debts for others. He continued to maintain his auction rooms until 1825. He also briefly formed a partnership with Elisha Thornton in the auction and commission business which lasted from 1818 to 1819.

Barney married three times and had seven children by his first wife, Sarah Coleman Barney (d. 1804). He died in New Bedford in 1838.

His eldest son Paul, after the dissolution of the business with his father, operated a ship chandlery and hardware business. He also served as an agent for Winslow Lewis & Co. of Boston, a manufacturer of patent cordage. He, like his father, also married three times and had two children, one each by the first two wives.

Paul's son by the second wife, George Howland Barney, was born in New Bedford in 1821. He began his career in the counting room of Charles W. Morgan and then moved into the counting room of his uncle, Edward Wing Howland, also a whaling agent. He also invested in several of Howland's vessels and inherited a considerable amount of property. He died at Nashawena in 1883.

Edward Wing Howland, the brother of Paul Barney's second wife, was born in New Bedford in 1804. He engaged in the whale fishery as an agent, owner and outfitter of whaling vessels along with his brother Cornelius and the above mentioned nephew. He died in New Bedford in 1879.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of various Barney family members from 1802 to 1881. A large portion of this collection includes the business records for the Barney’s family business, Peter Barney and Sons, 1804-1811, a company that moved this Nantucket man to the New Bedford area in 1800. These records contain the company’s financial records, 1804-1811, and Barney’s journals, 1804-1808. Materials of note include the day books (1804-1809), accounts current, ledgers (1811-1835) and also bills and receipts, (1805-1806). These records also include Barney’s journals from 1804 to 1808.

This collection also includes the papers of Peter’s eldest son, Paul Barney and his second wife, Eliza Coleman Barker Barney. Paul’s papers date from 1781 to 1836 and contain his correspondence, 1802-1830, and financial records, 1811-1843. Eliza’s papers span the years 1837-1855 and contain her correspondence, 1839-1855, legal documents, 1844-1855, and various bills and receipts, 1837-1838. Legal documents for Eliza also contain a bill of sale for the ship Pallas, 1884.

Papers for George Howland Barney span the years 1849 to 1883. Financial records, 1849-1882, consisting mainly of accounts, bills, and receipts constitute the bulk of these papers. Other notable items of George Howland Barney include a diary, 1876-1881, that documents expenses of the ship Onward at foreign ports, and a school notebook, 1836-1839, containing sample accounts and additional diary entries. George Howland Barney’s papers also include legal documents, 1862-1883, certificates and memos, 1839-1882, and his correspondence, 1880.

Edward Wing Howland's papers consist primarily of ship’s papers for six whaling vessels for which he served as agent or owner during the years 1844 to 1879. These ship's papers document voyages of the the vessels: Cornelius Howland (Ship), 1850-1871, Euphrates (Ship), 1846-1868, Lafayette (Ship), 1844-1848, Levi Starbuck (Ship), 1850-1866, Ohio (Ship), 1845-1879, and Onward (Ship), 1868-1870. Materials for these vessels consist mainly of crew accounts, but also include correspondence, agent/owner accounts, and a disbursement at foreign ports. Other notable materials of Edward Wing Howland include his financial records complete with his journal and a ledger, 1843-1879, his correspondence from 1871, and his estate records, 1870-1880.

Other family members represented in this collection include Cornelius Howland and Edward Merrill. Cornelius Howland’s papers span the years 1856 to 1881 and consist of his correspondence, 1873-1881, financial records, 1861, and a deed dated 1856. Papers for Edward Merrill, 1831-1851, 1872, contain his financial records that span the years 1831-1851 and 1872 as well as his legal documents, circa 1840. Materials of note include his journals from 1837 to 1843 along with his accounts with Charles W. Morgan.

Materials in this collection have been organized into sub-groups representing business records and personal papers of family members. These sub-groups are listed in the inventory in rough chronological order according to the birthdate of each person.

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to Collections

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 103, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution

If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.

Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.

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Related Manuscript Collections

Mss 142: Barney Family Papers
Mss 156: Barney Family Papers

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Materials in this collection were acquired by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society through an exchange with Nantucket Historical Association on 7 May 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by: Judith M. Downey, 9 May 1992

Encoded by: Kermit Dewey and Caitlin Hayes, 14 August 2012

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Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection

Sub-group 1: Peter Barney & Sons Records, 1804-1811 [5.5inches]
Financial records and correspondence.
Sub-group 2: Paul Barney Records, 1802-1843 [10 inches]
Correspondence and financial records.
Sub-group 3: Eliza Coleman Barker Barney Papers, 1837-1855 [16 items]
Correspondence, legal documents, and bills and receipts.
Sub-group 4: George Howland Barney Papers, 1849-1883 [5 inches]
Correspondence, financial records, legal documents, diary, certificates and memos, and school notebook.
Sub-group 5: Edward Wing Howland Papers, 1843-1879 [20 inches]
Financial records, ship's papers, correspondence, and estate records.
Sub-group 6: Cornelius Howland Papers, 1856-1881 [1 inch]
Correspondence, financial records, and legal documents.
Sub-group 7: Edward Merrill Papers, 1831-1851, 1872 [5.5 inches]
Financial records and legal documents.

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Subject Headings

Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1804-1879
Barney family
Barney, Eliza Coleman Barker, 1797-1861
Barney, George Howland, 1821-1883
Barney, Paul, 1781-1836
Barney, Peter, 1757-1838
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Businessmen--Mass.--New Bedford
Decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Distribution of decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Dry-goods--Mass.--New Bedford
Executors and administrators--Mass.--New Bedford
General stores--Mass.--New Bedford
Hardware--Mass.--New Bedford
Howland, Cornelius, 1802-1865--Estate
Howland, Cornelius, 1835-1893
Howland, Edward Wing, 1804-1879
Howland, Edward Wing, 1804-1879--Estate
Inventories of decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Lighthouses--Equipment and supplies
Lighthouses--United States
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford--Salaries, pensions, etc.
Merchants--Mass.--New Bedford
Merrill, Edward, 1800-1884
Real property--Mass.--New Bedford
Rent--Mass.--New Bedford
Ship chandlers--Mass.--New Bedford
Ship's papers
Ships--Equipment and supplies
Wages--Building-trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Whalemen--Mass. --New Bedford
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Agents
Wharves--Mass.--New Bedford

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Vessel Names

Cornelius Howland (Ship)
Euphrates (Ship)
Lafayette (Ship)
Levi Starbuck (Ship)
Ohio (Ship)
Onward (Ship)
Pallas (Ship)

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