Thomas Fayerweather PapersMSS80 5 linear feet
This collection contains business or personal papers pertaining to Thomas Fayerweather (1724-1805), and was originally a major, though undifferentiated, part of the Society’s old Charles Ewer Papers (old number SL-EWE). With the processing of the Fayerweather Papers, the old Ewer material has been completely recataloged into new collections Mss 70 through 81.
Thomas4 Fayerweather (John3-2, Thomas1), whose father’s papers compose Mss 79 at NEHGS, was a successful merchant who, after a short apprenticeship with his Philadelphia Shippen cousins in Maryland and Pennsylvania, spent his life in Boston and Cambridge. For the Fayerweather family see my article, “In Search of Fayerweather The Fayerweather Family of Boston” (Register 144:3-21, 151-168, 225-244, 331-349; 145:57-75, 141-158, 241-257; continuing).
The Thomas Fayerweather Papers provide a detailed picture of the business and family life of a wealthy Boston merchant ca. 1737-1816. Fayerweather was a careful record keeper; much of the material is in his own handwriting, signed by other parties. Many items document names and occupations of merchants and farmers who might not appear in other records.
Fayerweather maintained neutrality during the Revolution, although he may have been a loyalist at heart. When his loyalist friends left Boston, he often bought their property, held it during their absence, and helped them re-establish themselves when they returned after the war. His own family, however, was divided politically - as was very often the case. One Boston cousin was an active patriot; the church of a Rhode Island cousin was closed because he would not swear allegiance to the new government; and two loyalist Connecticut cousins went to New Brunswick in 1783, while the rest of their families stayed in Connecticut as active patriots or neutrals.
Fayerweather left no guide to his original filing system, and someone in the 1870s pasted the papers chronologically into scrapbooks. The collection has been recataloged into three major sub-groups: I, Business Papers 1737-1803; II, Personal Papers; and III, Graphics. Each of these major divisions has been further classified. A full inventory covers 521 pages (29 pp. introduction, 379 pp. detailed descriptions, and 113 pp. index).
Sub-group I: Business Papers 1737-1803 (in six series)
Series A: Commerce 1742-1803 contains a variety of business papers relating to Fayerweather’s early training in Maryland and later activities in Boston and Cambridge. These papers are arranged geographically, then alphabetically by surname or firm, then under general descriptive headings and finally chronologically under these headings. Fayerweather’s business dealings were primarily with eastern seaboard ports from Halifax to Monte Cristo, but also included Central America, London, Bristol, Madeira, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Spam. Series B: Mining 1756-59 concerns unsuccessful Fayerweather efforts to develop a copper mine at Smithfield, R.I. Series C: Ships 1738-1771 contains material on purchase, construction, maintenance, operation and sale of over 40 ships in which Fayerweather had some interest, arranged alphabetically by ship name under the three subdivisions General, Privateers, and Whalers. Series D: Letter Book 1749-54, unbound and chronologically arranged, consists of drafts or record copies of letters mainly on Fayerweather’s activities in Maryland or Philadelphia. Drafts or record copies of letters addressed to only one person are filed under addressee in Series A. Series E: Real Estate 1784-1801 includes four items on Fayerweather’s involvement as a “proprietor” - of land development projects in Maine or at the town dock in Boston. Series F: Warehouse Accounts 1758-1800 concerns Fayerweather warehouses; three sub-divisions cover maintenance; leasing and rent; and miscellaneous.
Sub-group II: Personal Papers (in eight series)
Series A: Family Letters 1740-1784, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, contains letters written to Fayerweather by numerous relatives (and at least one “would-be” kinsman). Those letters, which illustrate how Fayerweather slowly became a “father figure” for his sisters’ children and grandchildren, provide clues to how young men were educated for merchant life in the mid eighteenth century, and also clarify otherwise obscure or unknown relationships. Series B: Children 1761-1789 devotes one sub-division each to three children of Thomas and Sarah (Hubbard) Fayerweather. Sarah Fayerweather, Thomas Hubbard Fayerweather, and John Fayerweather. Sarah’s papers include her school bills, while the one item for young Thomas (who died in 1760, ae. 4 months, 2 days) is a funeral bill. John’s file also includes early school bills, as well as those for his two years at Harvard and another year of study under Dr. Joshua Barker of Hingham. Series C: General Bills and Receipts 1742-1803, arranged chronologically, contains bills and receipts for such every-day items as food, clothing, personal care, transportation, and small luxury items. Series D: Residences 1740-1818 is divided into eight sub-series, one for each of eight Fayerweather houses: Sub-series I for Thomas and Sarah’s first house, address not given; Sub-series 2 for maintenance of Thomas’s father’s house in Cole Lane after the father’s death; Sub-series 3 for Thomas and Sarah’s second house, on Long Street, Boston; and Sub-series 4 for their third house on Summer Street, in Boston. Sub-series 5, which covers their final house in Cambridge, is further sub-divided into categories for Household, Employees, and Farm. Sub-series 6 covers the period when Thomas’s  wife and children lived at Oxford, Mass., while their house was occupied as a military hospital. Sub-series 7 (further divided into categories of Household, Employees and Farm) concerns a farm in Westborough, Mass., operated by Thomas’s son John for his father. Sub-series 8 details costs incurred by Fayerweather at the house of his father-in-law Thomas Hubbard. Series E: Income Property 1760-1802 (divided into six sub-series) concerns income properties at Dorchester and Beverly, Mass.; Hanover, N.H.; and Sudbury, Templeton, and Hubbardston, Mass. None of these properties was used as a family residence; Sub-series 2 (Beverly) is especially interesting as it documents Fayerweather’s only known brush within a Committee of Correspondence during the Revolution. Series F: Tax Bills 1768-1799 contains three sub-series: Real Estate (taxes on Fayerweather property in Belchertown, Hubbardston, Newton, Oakham, Peterborough, Princeton, Royalston, Rutland, Wendell, Winchendon, and elsewhere), Parish Taxes (paid to Rev. Timothy Hilliard of Cambridge, Mass.), and Carriages (representing an early form of luxury tax). Series G: Social Invitations ca. 1753-ca. 1791 contains invitations, primarily to Fayerweather but often mentioning his wife and children. Material is arranged alphabetically and in some places identification of sender or dates has been suggested from other sources. Series H: Miscellaneous is in three subdivisions: Subseries 1 contains petitions for prayers on critical family occasions; Sub-series 2 concerns later church donations; and Sub-series 3 is a wrapper Ewer used in 1846 to send Rev. William Jenks letters written by Capts. Samuel and William Haynes (the actual letters are filed elsewhere in the collection).
Sub-group III: Graphics (in two series)
None of these items was originally part of the Ewer Papers. They were, instead, obtained during recataloging and identified as pertaining to Thomas and Sarah (Hubbard) Fayerweather. Series A: Portraits contains one photograph of a portrait of Thomas Fayerweather (1724-1805) and another of a portrait of his wife Sarah (Hubbard) Fayerweather (1730-1804). At present both portraits are on display at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence (for more information on the portraits, see Register 145:59n). Series B: Maps contains photocopies of two maps of that area of Cambridge wherein lay Fayerweather’s Brattle Street farm. The first, from Henry Penniman’s “Plain of Boston in New England...” (1777) depicts the house, gardens, and outbuildings of “Mr. Fairweather.” The second shows the same house and surroundings in 1900.
John P. Carney is a long-the volunteer in the Society’s Manuscripts Department. He has been a NEXUS contributor since 1984 and is the author of the above-cited ongoing Register article on the descendants of Thomas Fayerweather of Boston.