Table of Contents
Inventory of the Barney Family Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
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 and 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 his 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 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 as Nashawena in 1883.
Edward Wing Howland, the brother of Paul Barney’s second wife Rebecca Howland, 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.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains the papers of various members of the Barney family from 1754-1963 with the majority of the documents dated 1803-1879. The collection begins with the eldest member of the Barney family, Peter Barney. Peter Barney was father to Paul Barney and grandfather to George Barney, who are also both represented in the collection. Peter Barney’s papers are dated 1803-1807 and consist of several financial documents including receipts and personal account listings. Paul Barney, Peter’s eldest son, is present in the collection with a small series containing his correspondence (1830-1831), financial papers (1810) and two items pertaining to his estate, dated 1873. Papers belonging to Paul Barney’s third wife Eliza C. Barney are also part of this collection. Eliza’s papers include a record of an audit done for an organization, “Orphan’s Home,” of which Eliza served as treasurer.
The majority of the documents in the Barney Family Papers belong to George Howland Barney and include his personal correspondence from 1839-1883. A large part of this correspondence is letters written between George Barney and business associate Edward Merrill, who also has a series of financial papers in the collection (1837-1873). George Barney’s financial records (1844-1875) are part of his series as well and are mostly bills of sale regarding whaling ships but there are also several shipping accounts present and insurance documents from 1875-1880. Juliet A.M. Barney, George’s wife, has her own series that contains correspondence (undated) and financial papers (1875-1895).
George and Juliet Barney’s children, Morgan Barney and Anne Barney Sharp, are also represented in this collection. Morgan’s papers include two letters written to Morgan discussing his progress with a family history (1912-1914). Anne’s papers include correspondence (1948-1951) and records regarding the estate of her husband Benjamin Karl Sharp (1946-1963). Anne’s papers also include two legal documents that belong to her father-in-law Benjamin Sharp, dated 1863.
Papers belonging to members of the Howland family are part of this collection as well. The Howlands and Barney’s were related by marriage and the patriarch of the Howland family, Gideon Howland, has a series containing a handwritten copy of his last will and testament (1814). The majority of the Howland family sub-group in this collection belongs to Edward W. Howland, uncle to George Barney, and includes series of his correspondence (1870), ships papers (1860-1878), estate papers (1870-1879) and legal papers (1857). Other members of the Howland family included in this sub-group are Sarah Howland (1833), Lydia Congdon Howland (1851), Cornelius Howland (1855-1856), Louise C. Howland (1865-1895), and Andrew Howland (undated).
Additional family members represented in this collection include Abraham Gifford whose series contains several probate records (1804-1843). The last subgroup in the collection contains collected items both dated (1754-1958) and undated. Included in the collected items sub-group is a series of photographs.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 142, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 103: Barney Family Papers
Mss 156: Barney Family Papers
Removed to Photographs Collection
Donated by Nancy Ann Newhouse, 2014. Accession #2014.5.1
Processed by: Christina DeBenedictis, 2014
Encoded by: Christina DeBenedictis, 08 December 2014
Box list appended by: Sara Rose, 08 December 2014
Inventory of Collection
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1804-1879
Barney, Anne Sharp
Barney, Eliza Coleman Barker, 1797-1861
Barney, George Howland, 1821-1883
Barney, Juliet A.M.
Barney, Morgan, 1878-1943
Barney, Paul, 1781-1836
Barney, Peter, 1757-1838
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Distribution of decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Executors and administrators--Mass.--New Bedford
Howland, Andrew M.
Howland, Cornelius, 1802-1865
Howland, Cornelius, 1835-1893
Howland, Edward Wing, 1804-1879
Howland, Louise C.
Howland, Lydia Congdon
Inventory of decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford
Merrill, Edward, 1800-1884
New Bedford (Mass.)
New Bedford (Mass.)--19th century
New Bedford (Mass.)--Genealogy
New Bedford (Mass.)--History
New Bedford (Mass.)--History--Pictorial works
New Bedford (Mass.)--Maps
New Bedford (Mass.)--Newspapers
New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Cornelius Howland (Ship)