1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 William F. Megee Papers

(part of the Nightingale-Jenckes Papers)

 Merchant of Providence, R.I. and Canton, China

 Papers, 1791-1811.

 Size: 1.75 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 588, sg 4

 Processed by:

Rick Stattler, August 1996

 USE MICROFILM    E445 .R4, part 2, reels 17-20

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            William Fairchild Megee (1765-1820) of Providence served as supercargo on board John Brown's ship George Washington on the first trading voyage from Rhode Island to China and the East Indies in 1787. He sailed again to China in 1789, and later owned or co-owned several ships active in the trade. He also engaged in the slave trade in South America from his sloop Resource as late as 1806, and may have been a partner with merchant Edward Carrington on some ventures. Megee died in Canton in 1820, where he was operating as a factor. He owned the following ships registered in Providence, and possibly others:

1795                ship Susan with William Clarke and Joseph Nightingale.

1798                ship Palmyra with John Innes Clark

1798-1808      ship Resource with John Corlis and later with Amos T. Jenckes

1801                ship Hazard with John Corlis

1801                ship John and Charles with John Corlis

1801                ship Susan with John Corlis

1803                ship Abby and Sally (sole owner)

1803-1804      schooner Silvia (sole owner - condemned as unseaworthy)

1803-1804      brigantine Industry (sole owner)

            He married Susan Nightingale (1771-1841), daughter of Samuel Nightingale II (1741-1814). They had one son, William F. Jr. (1795?-1826), a sea captain who died on the coast of Africa. William F. Megee Jr. also owned a share of the ship Two Catherines from 1822 until his death. He left a son of his own, William C. Megee.


Chapin, William Waterman. Genealogy of the Nightingale Family (typescript at the R.I.H.S., compiled 1912).

Coughtry, Jay. The Notorious Triangle: Rhode Island and the African Slave Trade 1700-1807. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981. See note on page 323.

Hedges, James B. The Browns of Providence Plantations: The Nineteenth Century. Providence : Brown University Press, 1968.

Works Projects Administration. Ship Registers and Enrollments of Providence, R.I. 1773-1939. Providence, R.I. 1941.

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection includes correspondence files and accounts from 1791 to 1808, the bulk covering 1800 to 1805. There are also family deeds from 1791 to 1811. There is very little relating to Megee's early service with the Brown family. There are extensive accounts relating to Megee's ship Resource. For the most part, the papers are organized only by year, and may not be in chronological order within the folders. Accounts, receipts and invoices can be found interfiled with the correspondence.

Return to top


            This collection was probably donated by George A. Holbrook on May 18, 1900 as part of what became known as the Nightingale-Jenckes Papers. The evidence for this is somewhat circumstantial, and interested parties can consult a lengthy essay on the subject that is available in the collection file at the repository.

             An additional collection of Nightingale family deeds and other papers, including deeds to William F. Megee, were donated by Mrs. Norman Baker in 1969. One item, an 1800 import certificate, was donated in 1968 by Matthew Millman. Nine miscellaneous accounts were donated by Lucy A. Metcalf in 1910. The provenance of the 1807 military commission is unknown but appears to be different than for the main body of papers.

Return to top

Processing note:

            Most of the loose papers in this collection were long cataloged as part of the Nightingale-Jenckes Papers. There was also a collection of 10 volumes and two loose papers known as the William F. Megee Papers. This latter portion seems to have arrived in the same accession, and is clearly related material. Thus, the two portions have been reunited. These combined Megee papers were reorganized in 1996.

            Related items in other manuscript collections at the R.I.H.S. Library include:

Carrington Papers

Log of snow Susan and ship Palmyra, 1797-1798

Log of ship Resource, 1803-1804

Samuel Nightingale III Papers. Includes:

            6 letters from W.F. Megee Jr. dated 1819-1821, one as child dated 1/11/1804

            a letter to W.F. Megee Jr. dated 9/24/1821

            a letter from Edwin T. Jenckes dated 7/21/1821 discussing Megee's death.

            letters discussing W.F. Megee Jr. dated 9/16/1818 and 9/2/1822.

Shepley Papers, vol. 15, p. 145.

            A ship's protest filed by Megee and J.I. Clark re ship Palmyra, 11/8/1798

Rhode Island Manuscripts, vol. 1, p. 73.

            Deposition of Nathaniel Fellows re Megee's schooner Antelope, 1804

Return to top


Correspondence and loose accounts:

Box 6, folder 1.         1791-1797

Box 6, folder 2.         1798-1800

Box 6, folder 3.         1801

Box 6, folder 4.         1802

Box 6, folder 5.         1803, 1-7

Box 6, folder 6.         1803, 8-10

Box 6, folder 7.         1803, 11-12

Box 6, folder 8.         1803, Abby & Sally

Box 6, folder 9.         1804, 1-5

Box 6, folder 10.       1804, 6-12

Box 6, folder 11.       1805, 1-4

Box 6, folder 12.       1805, 5-8

Box 6, folder 13.       1805, 9-12

Box 6, folder 14.       1806-1820

Box 6, folder 15.       Deeds, 1791-1811


Box 6, folder 16.                              Personal accounts, 1791-1805

Box 6, folder 17.                              Accounts with John Lippitt, 1795-1800

Box 6, folder 18.                              Invoice book, 1803-1805

Box 6, folder 19.                              Sales accounts, Canton 1803-1805

Box 6, folder 20.                              Farm accounts, 1803-1807

Box 6, folder 21.                              Accounts with John Lippitt, 1805

Box 11, oversized volume 2.             Index to unknown account book, ca. 1792-1801

Box 11, oversized folder 2.               Abby & Sally accounts

Box 11, oversized folder 3.               Oversized letters (copies interfiled in collection)

                                                            3 pages from account book, 1805.

Sloop Resource accounts

Box 7, folder 1.                                 Ship Resource and Eliza accounts, 1796-1803

Box 7, folder 2.                                 Ship Resource account book, 1802-1803 Manila & Canton

Box 7, folder 3.                                 Ship Resource account book, 1802-1803 Manila & Canton

Box 7, folder 4.                                 Ship Resource account book, 1805-1807

Box 11, oversized volume 1.              Ship Resource seamen account book, 1805-1806

Box 7, folder 5.                                 Ship Resource import certificate, 1800, Providence

Box 7, folder 6.                                 Ship Resource loose accounts, 1801-1807

Box 7, folder 7.                                 Ship Resource loose accounts, 1805-1806

Box 7, folder 8.                                 Ship Resource loose accounts, 1806

Box 11, oversized folder 1.                Ship Resource loose accounts, 1800-1807

Return to top


Abby & Sally (ship)

Brown & Francis

China - Commerce - United States

Corlis, John

Francis, John

Jenckes, Amos T.

Jenckes, Ebenezer T.

Jenckes, Edwin T.

Lippitt, John

Magee, William F. : see Megee, William F.

Megee, William F. Jr.

Merchants - Rhode Island - Providence

Nightingale, Candace C.

Nightingale, Samuel II

Resource (sloop)

Slave-trade - South America

South America - Commerce - United States

Selected index to correspondence

Brown & Francis

            Copy of letter of credit, 1/2/1792

Corlis, John

            Copies of several letters sent to Corlis, 1800.

Francis, John

            Letter copy sent to Francis re brig Mercury, 11/12/1791

Jenckes, Ebenezer

            Original letter sent to Jenckes re ship Turk, 3/26/1797

Jenckes, Edwin T.

            Letter as child to uncle, describing horse race from Providence to Boston, 4/5/1806

Megee, James

            Instructions for purchase of goods in Canton, 2/11/1796

Megee, William F. Jr.

            Letters to father as child, 1805

            Also see Samuel Nightingale III Papers.

Nightingale, Candace C.

            Letter to Megee, 4/5/1806

Nightingale, Samuel II

            Letter copy sent to Nightingale re settlement of accounts, 2/13/1794

End of finding aid - return to top