1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Martin Page Papers

 Mariner, Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1791-1862

 Size: 0.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 599

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, December 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Sea captain Martin Page (1772-1867) of Providence was the son of Thomas Page. He began sailing as a cabin boy at age 12, and eventually worked his way up to captain, spending 48 years at sea. For 33 years, he was employed by the mercantile firm of Brown & Ives, mostly as a ship's master and supercargo. He retired to a farm in Seekonk, Massachusetts in 1832 after 48 years at sea. His neighborhood of Seekonk was set off to form East Providence, R.I. in 1862, not long before his death.

            Page married Prudence Bullock (1773-1840), daughter of Jabez Bullock, in 1799. They had at least five children:

1. Thomas Bullock Page (1800-1884). Unmarried.

2. Mary R. (1813-1894), m. Horace Buffum.

3. Anna C. (1814-1860), m. James M. Earle.

4. Prudence B. (1816-1888), m. Walter W. Updike.

5. Sophia B. (1818-1907), m. Benjamin N. Lapham.


Rhode Island Cemetery Database (Swan Point Cemetery)

Obituary of Martin Page, January 26, 1867, probably in Providence Journal (in scrapbook of obituaries kept by Candace Carrington).

Bicknell, Thomas W. The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (New York: American Historical Society, 1920), vol. 5, p. 324 (on the Lewis family).

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Scope and content:

            This collection relates almost exclusively to the maritime career of Martin Page. Like most maritime collections, it includes shipping documents, correspondence, and accounts with owners, although it clearly does not represent a complete file of records. The most unusual part of this collection is the many pages of maps, diagrams and reminiscences compiled by Page in the last years of his life. These often humorous trips into his memory provide a unique glimpse into the life of a sea captain in the early nineteenth century.

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            The provenance of this collection is unknown, but there are some excellent clues. The oldest item in the collection, a letter from Thomas Page to Martin Page dated 1791, bears the penciled notation "Written by my great-great-grand to my great-grand in which he speaks of my great-great-great-grandfather. J.B.Lewis." Martin Page had a daughter Sophia (Page) Latham, who had Sophia (Latham) Lewis, who had a son named John Bosworth Lewis (1874-1930). This was undoubtedly the author of the note. We have another large collection of Lewis family papers, including papers of John B. Lewis, his wife Harriet S. (Watson) Lewis, and other family members; these Lewis papers could not be found in the accession book, either. Both the Lewis and Page collections are described on catalog cards that appear to date from circa 1960. Only one Lewis shows up in our accession records as a donor of manuscripts: Dexter Lewis, son of John B., who donated a Sprague scrapbook in 1957. It seems likely, considering all of this evidence, that these Page papers were donated along with the Lewis papers circa 1960, by Dexter Lewis, great-great-grandson of Martin Page.

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Processing note:

            These papers were originally cataloged as the Martin Page Papers circa 1965, and organized chronologically. For some reason, a few Martin Page items were cataloged separately, perhaps because of their importance or because they arrived through a separate gift. These included Page's 1858 will, the 1861 Civil War letter, the 1797 letter from B. Marthe, and the 1809 and 1811 leases. Circa 1975, these additional Martin Page papers, along with the papers of other unrelated Pages, were added to the box as the "Page Papers". Circa 1980-1985, the whole collection was given the misleading name of "Page Maritime Papers". In 1997, two folders of material relating to the Alice Page and Charles H. Page (both no close relation to Martin) were removed to the Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection. The remaining papers were given a consistent organization and rehoused in archival folders.

            A large folder of Asian paper prints was transferred to the Graphics Division in 1997, along with copies of the two maps of Narragansett Bay.

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Folder 1. 1791, 1797-1800. Of particular interest:

                        Letter from father Thomas Page, 4/2/1791;

                        Several mercantile letters from the Marthe family of Cadiz, 1797;

                        Copy of marriage certificate, 12/16/1799.

Folder 2. 1801-1805. Of particular interest:

                        Three letters to wife Prudence, 1802;

                        Apprenticeship agreement with John Atkins, 6/4/1804

                        Deed of pew at First Congregational Church of Providence, 1804

                        Crew list of ship Arthur, 6/6/1804

Folder 3. 1806-1808. Of particular interest;

                        Account with Dutch boarding house for wine and beer, 5/17/1807

                        Extensive inventories of estate of Jabez Bullock, 1808.

Folder 4. 1809-1810. Of particular interest:

                        Sailing instructions from Brown & Ives for brig Argus to Russia, 6/27/1810

                        Lease agreement with Peter Lawton, 3/25/1809

Folder 5. 1811-1815. Of particular interest:

                        Lease agreement with Peter Lawton, 3/25/1811

                        Account with Richmond Bullock, 3/7/1812

                        Receipt from George Baker for six silver tumblers, 7/29/1812

                        Receipt from Samuel Dorrance for silver porringer and spoon, 12/11/1813

                        Certificate for duty paid on carriage, 1/24/1815

                        Receipt for $105 contribution toward Congregational meeting house, 8/22/1815

Folder 6. 1816-1820. Of particular interest:

                        Lists of American ships "past the sound" (in Denmark?), 1816 and 1818

                        Seaman's protection certificate for Arnold Davis, age 18, 3/28/1817

                        Bond by Martin Page and Thomas Ives, 12/9/1818

                        Letter to wife Prudence, 10/11/1820

                        Letter to wife, with invoice for goods aboard ship Washington, 10/28/1820

Folder 7. 1821-1825. Of particular interest:

                        Broadside of the Gibraltar Seamen's Bethel Society, 1821

                        Seaman's protection certificate of Christopher Allen, age 34, 2/27/1823

                        Crew list and agreement re the ship Ann and Hope, 5/1824, 6/1824

                        Several documents re trade with China, 1821-1825

Folder 8. 1826-1830. Of particular interest:

                        Bond by Martin Page and Brown & Ives, 11/14/1827

                        Share certificate of Thomas B. Page in Farmers and Mechanics Bank, 4/10/1828

                        Agreement as fire warden for William Morris to build well on John St., 9/4/1828

Folder 9. 1831-1835. Nothing found for 1836-1840. Of particular interest:

                        Sketches of masts, ca. 1831

                        Dutch cargo manifest of the Ann & Hope, 3/13/1832

                        Deed, 6 acres in Seekonk from Josiah Martin et al to Page, 10/24/1835

Folder 10. 1841-1844. Nothing found for 1845-1857. Of particular interest:

                        Tax lists as surveyor for a highway district in Seekonk, 1841 and 1843.

                        Share certificates in whale ship Hope, 1842 and 1844.

Folder 11. 1858-1867. Of particular interest:

                        Partial copy of will dated 1858.

                        Letter from grandson Pvt. Martin P. Buffum of 1st R.I. Vols., 7/13/1861

                        "A Patriotic Hymn for the 4th of July, 1861", by Jonathan Bowers of Seekonk.

                        List of stock owned, 4/25/1865

                        Auction of personal effects from estate, 4/17/1867. Very detailed list.

Folder 12. Undated. Of particular interest:

                        Draft of letter to daughter Anne, including long list of Biblical citations.

Folder 13. Reminiscences, lists of voyages, hand-drawn maps. Of particular interest:

                        2 accounts of marlinespikes pawned by seamen for rum circa 1805

                        Story of deceiving a rum thief aboard John Brown's ship, circa 1785.

                        List of voyages, 1791-1794, with reminiscences

                        List of voyages, 1803-183

                        Map of Grand Bank off Newfoundland where cargo was lost circa 1805

                        Map of eastern Long Island, Block Island and coast, showing shipwrecks.

                        Map and description of harbor in Norway, showing wreck

                        Map of Dago and Golland in Finland, with description

Map of English Channel, offering following navigation advice: "An English pilot will offer you a pilot at the Lizard [southwest tip of England] for the Chanel Amsterdam and Hamburg for 30 guineas, if you give in he will put a greenhorn on board. I never knew an America ship lost in N[orth] Sea but had one on board. I never took one of them, they can make no harbor."

                        Map of southern Narragansett Bay, with notes.

                        Map of Cattegut (harbor in Sweden/Denmark/Norway)

                        Three documents re cargo of brig Packet off Nantucket, 12/1829:

                                    2 maps of waters south of Nantucket, with depth soundings

                                    Drawing of "tongs made to take up the cargo of brig Packet's iron..."

Folder 14. Reminiscences, glued together in a long roll.

Folder 15. Navigation cyphering book, ca. 1805-1818

Folder 16. Empty original covers for papers.

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Allen, Christopher (b.1788)

Ann & Hope (ship)

Brown & Ives

Buffum, Martin P.

Bullock, Jabez (d.1808)

China - Commerce

Cyphering books - 1805

Davis, Arnold (b.1800)

First Congregational Church (Providence)

First Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry

Merchants - Rhode Island - Providence

Page, Thomas

Scandinavia - Commerce

Seamen - Rhode Island - Providence

Seekonk, Mass. - Taxation

Ship captains - Rhode Island - Providence

United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865

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