Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the personal, legal, and business papers of Greenough family members and related families, mostly in Boston, Mass., in shipping, business, and the law. Primarily the papers of merchant Thomas (1710-1785), lawyer and merchant David S. (1752-1826), lawyer David S. (1787-1830), and David S. Greenough (1814-1877). Related families include the Clarke, Doane, Erving, Holmes, Shrimpton, Stevens, Stoddard, and Yeamans families.

Biographical Sketch

Greenough Family

Thomas Greenough (1710-1785), son of John and Elizabeth Greenough, and brother of William and John, married Martha Clarke in 1734, daughter of William and Mary (Bronsdon) Clarke. The couple had 10 children: Sarah (1735-1823, m. in 1757 Alexander Edwards), Martha (b. 1736, m. in 1767 Capt. John Stone), Thomas Jr. (1738-1775), William (b. 1740), John (1742-1798), William (b. 1743), Elizabeth (1745-1825, m. in 1777 Eleazer Brooks), Mary (1746-1792, m. in 1767 John Savage), Jerusha (1747-1782, m. in 1768 Andrew Lepear). After Martha's death in 1749, Thomas Greenough married (2nd) Sarah Stoddard in 1750, daughter of David and Elizabeth (Richardson) Shrimpton Stoddard. As husband of Sarah Stoddard, Thomas Greenough inherited part of the Antigua plantation and Noddles Island. Their children were: David Stoddard Greenough (David S. Greenough I, 1752-1826), William (1756-1831), Yeamans and Newman (twins, b. 1758), and Chauncey (1760-1778). Thomas was a maker of navigational and surveying instruments, and became deacon of Boston's New Brick Church in 1755. He was also interested in real estate, owning and selling several properties. He was active in city affairs, serving as clerk of the markets, constable, and selectman. A member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, he became captain of the 4th company, 2nd Massachusetts Regiment in the Cape Breton expedition, and was commissioned February 9, 1744. In 1747, he became third sergeant. An active Boston patriot, he worked to relieve the hardships of those whose income was minimized due to the Revolution. He was also a member of the Revolutionary Committee of Correspondence, which met in the Joshua Loring house, a property which was seized from the Commodore by the patriots, and later became the possession of his son David Stoddard Greenough (David S. Greenough I).

John Greenough (1742-1781), son of Thomas and Martha (Clarke) Greenough, was an importer, a justice of the peace, and a representative to the General Court. He married Mehitable Dillingham (1747-1798) in 1766. Among their children was David Greenough (1774-1836), a builder and real estate dealer in Boston.

David Stoddard Greenough (David S. Greenough I, 1752-1826), lawyer and merchant, was the son of Thomas and Sarah (Stoddard) Greenough. In 1784 he married Anne Doane (1744-1802), daughter of John and June (Collier) Doane, widow of Elisha Doane, and mother of John Doane. After the Revolution, they moved to the former Loring house in Jamaica Plain (Roxbury), Mass. Their only child was David Stoddard Greenough, Jr. (David S. Greenough II, 1787-1830). An ardent patriot, David S. Greenough I was a member of the "Sons of Liberty," and on the Committee of Public Safety under George Washington. He served the state of Massachusetts as a justice of the peace in both Norfolk and Suffolk counties. From his mother Sarah (Stoddard), he inherited one-sixth of Noddles Island. With his brother William, he exchanged a share of a Chelsea farm for another two-sixths of Noddles Island, thus increasing his share of the island to one-half.

David Stoddard Greenough, Jr. (David S. Greenough II) (1787-1830) was the son of David S. Greenough I and Anne (Doane). A member of the Harvard College class of 1805, he practiced law, served as a justice of the peace in Massachusetts, and was lieutenant colonel of the Boston Independent Cadets. In 1813 he married Maria Foster Doane (1793-1843), daughter of Elisha and Jane (Cutler) Doane of Wellfleet and Cohasset. They resided in Jamaica Plain (Roxbury) and had five children: David Stoddard (David S. Greenough III, 1814-1877), John (d. 1846), Anne, James, and Jane (d. 1847). David S. Greenough II was the heir of one-half of Noddles Island. Upon his death, the land was sold to William Hyslop Sumner, who later sold it to the East Boston Co.

David Stoddard Greenough, III (1814-1877), a Boston lawyer and an avid sportsman, was the son of David S. Greenough II and Maria Foster (Doane). He was graduated from Harvard College in 1833, and Harvard Law School in 1836. In 1843 he married Anna Parkman (1821-1906), daughter of John and Sarah (Rand) Parkman. Among their children was David Stoddard Greenough, IV (1844-1924), a businessman and real estate developer.

Erving Family

John Erving (1690-1787), a native of Scotland, arrived in Boston around 1706, and rose to be a wealthy merchant. In 1720 he married Abigail Phillips, member of a prominent Welsh family. Their children were: John, George, James, William, Elizabeth (m. James Bowdoin, Gov. of Massachusetts), Mary (m. Col. Scott), Anne (m. Duncan Stewart), and Sarah (m. Col. Waldo).

Colonel John Erving (1728-1816), Boston merchant, was the son of John and Abigail (Phillips) Erving. A 1747 graduate of Harvard College, he married in 1754 Maria Catharina Shirley, daughter of Gov. William and Frances (Baker) Shirley. Their sons were Shirley and John. For a while an active Whig, he served as a justice of the peace (1756), and in 1768 served with John Hancock on a committee to enforce the pre-revolutionary embargo. Later, however, he and his brother George were appointed to the "Mandamus Council," a Boston council charged with upholding the authority of the British monarch. He moved to Halifax, and later to England. With his brother George, he was proscribed by an Act of 1778, and his property confiscated. He died in England.

George Erving (1738-1806), Boston merchant, was the second son of John and Abigail (Phillips) Erving. He was graduated from Harvard College in 1757, and in 1768 married Lucy Winslow (d.1770), daughter of Isaac and Lucy (Waldo) Winslow. Their only son was George William Erving (1769-1850), later a prominent American diplomat. After the death of his first wife, Lucy, he married in 1775 Mary (Polly) McIntosh. Once an active Whig, he later broke with his party because he was opposed to the idea of secession from England. He moved to England, then back to Froyle, New Hampshire, and again returned to England, where he died.

Major William Erving (1734-1791), son of John and Abigail (Phillips) Erving, was graduated from Harvard College with the class of 1753. He was married for a short time to Catherine -----, and fathered a son named William, both of whom must have died very early. For many years he was a major in the British Army, serving as a military engineer. He participated in the second siege of Louisburg, was an aide-de-camp to General Wolfe at the siege of Quebec, and was at the capture of Havana in 1762. In the years preceding the Revolution, he resigned from the army and repatriated himself. Much of his correspondence (particularly that addressed to his brother George) appears in this collection. David S. Greenough I was the executor of his will.

Shrimpton Family

Samuel Shrimpton (1643-1698), a lieutenant colonel in the militia, and on the Governor's Council under Gov. Andros and King James II, married Elizabeth (Roberts) Breedon (d. 1713), daughter of Capt. Nicholas and Elizabeth Roberts. Their son was Samuel Shrimpton, Jr. (1673-1703). Col. Shrimpton and his wife were in possession of several properties, including Noddles Island in Boston Harbor. Upon the death of Col. Shrimpton, his widow was married to widower Simeon Stoddard (1650-1730).

Samuel Shrimpton, Jr. (1673-1703), son of Col. Samuel and Elizabeth (Roberts) Breedon Shrimpton, was a Boston merchant who married in 1696 Elizabeth Richardson (1680-1757). Their only child was Elizabeth Shrimpton (1702-1721). She married in 1720 John Yeamans (d. 1743), London merchant and lieutenant-governor of Antigua. Upon the death of her grandmother Elizabeth R.B.S. Stoddard in 1713, she inherited Noddles Island in Boston Harbor. The couple's only son was Shute Shrimpton Yeamans (1721-1769).

Yeamans Family

John Yeamans (d. 1743), London merchant and lieutenant governor of Antigua, married in 1720 Elizabeth Shrimpton (1702-1721). Their only son was Shute Shrimpton Yeamans (1721-1769).

Shute Shrimpton Yeamans (1721-1769), London merchant, was the son of John and Elizabeth (Shrimpton) Yeamans. From his mother he inherited Noddles Island in Boston Harbor and from his father he inherited the Antigua plantation. Upon his death, both of these inheritances were passed on to his step-aunts, Mary (Stoddard) Chauncy (wife of Charles Chauncy), Sarah (Stoddard) Greenough (wife of Thomas Greenough), and Mehitable (Stoddard) Hyslop (wife of William Hyslop).

Stoddard Family

David Stoddard (1685-1723), son of Mary (d. 1708) and Simeon Stoddard (1650-1730), was a London and Boston merchant, and a Shrimpton family agent at Boston. He married Elizabeth (Richardson) Shrimpton (1680-1757) in 1713, and their children were Mary, Sarah, and Mehitable.

Anthony Stoddard (1678-1748), son of Mary (d. 1708) and Simeon Stoddard (1650-1730), married Martha Belcher in 1705. Their children were Simeon (1707-1776), Anthony (1728-1776), and Martha (1720-1785). Martha Stoddard married (1st) John Fitch, (2nd) Ebenezer Holmes, an executor of the estate of Anthony Stoddard, and (3rd) Boston merchant John Stevens (b. 1715). The Stevenses owned multiple properties, including one in Ashford, Conn.

Collection Description

The David S. Greenough Papers consist primarily of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century personal, legal, and business papers of the Greenough family and related families. The collection, the bulk of which dates between 1744 and 1830, spans the lives of five generations of Greenough family members engaged in shipping, business, and the law. Residents of Boston and Jamaica Plain (Roxbury), Massachusetts, the Greenoughs maintained relationships with many prominent Boston families through their legal offices and their marriages. A number of other families, including the Shrimpton, Stoddard, Doane, Holmes, Erving, Stevens, and Yeamans families, are heavily represented in their various connections as relatives, joint-heirs, and/or business associates.

The collection, arranged chronologically, comprises 44 boxes and 123 volumes. Included are accounts, bills (for schooling, purchases, taxes), receipts, correspondence, surveyor's maps, inventories, wills, certificates, insurance policies, deeds, estate papers, bills of lading, and other miscellaneous items. The papers document the family concerns, business activities, and property transactions of the Greenoughs and related families. In particular, the collection reflects the lives of: Thomas Greenough (1710-1785), merchant; his son David Stoddard Greenough (David S. Greenough I) (1752-1826), lawyer and merchant; his grandson David Stoddard Greenough, Jr. (David S. Greenough II, 1787-1830), lawyer; and his great-grandson David Stoddard Greenough (David S. Greenough III) (1814-1877), lawyer. The life spans of David S. Greenough I and David S. Greenough II greatly overlapped, often making it difficult to distinguish between their papers.

Box 1 contains all of the undated material that is not in Oversize, which includes, among other things, some William Erving letter copies, a collection of recipes, and some anonymous poetry. Among the early papers (boxes 1-4) are items relating to the ownership, sale, and maintenance of Noddles Island in Boston Harbor, a property which was passed down through the Shrimpton, Yeamans, Stoddard, and Greenough families. Box 2 includes some papers of David Stoddard and Anthony Stoddard and his Lincolnshire Co., and boxes 4-6 contain papers of Boston merchant Thomas Greenough.

Correspondence among members of the Ebenezer Holmes family is contained in box 5. Papers of the 1760s and 1770s (boxes 6 and 7) include materials related to the properties of John and Martha (Stoddard) Stevens of Ashford, Conn. Box 7 (and box 10) hold business and estate papers of Elisha Doane, the first husband of Anne Doane, who was later married to David S. Greenough I. Boxes 7-14 (spanning the 1770s and 1780s) include much correspondence between Martha (Stoddard) Stevens and her advisor Ebenezer Byles, concerning her estate and sales of her various properties.

Correspondence among Erving family members and letter copies of William Erving are in boxes 10-13 and 15-16. The majority of the items relating to the management, conditions, business, and progress of the Antigua plantation owned by members of the Greenough family are scattered through boxes 11-26. Letters between David S. Greenough I and his agents in Antigua are frequent. Among these agents are Samuel Eliot, Robert Dodd, and Samuel Athill.

Box 19 includes several letters to Massachusetts Governor Increase Sumner. Box 23 contains papers related to the Higginson family, and the Seth Wells estate. Box 24 holds correspondence between the Greenoughs and the Gordon, Savage, and Doane families, materials concerning Noddles Island, and papers of the Artemis Winchester estate (1815-1819), of which David S. Greenough I was an executor. In April 1818, David S. Greenough I (?) sold his share of the Antigua plantation to Charles Robertson, and this is documented in box 26. Boxes 27-30 include personal and business correspondence between David S. Greenough I and David S. Greenough II and John Morland, who was residing in Havana, and (in box 30 only) correspondence of David S. Greenough III.

Box 31 holds the estate papers of various Greenoughs, and William D. Sohier, who was the executor of David S. Greenough II's estate. Also in this box are the papers of David S. Greenough II's children, chiefly those of John Greenough, merchant.

Boxes 32 and 33 contain volumes of the Antigua plantation accounts for the years 1775-1818, and are available on microfilm.. The remainder of the volumes in boxes are arranged chronologically, spanning the years 1702-1834. Box 36 holds a series of 11 volumes (1787-1826) probably kept by David S. Greenough I and labeled "Family Expenses." Box 37 contains a series of seven farm diaries kept by David S. Greenough I (and David S. Greenough II) at their D.S. Greenough farm in Jamaica Plain (Roxbury). Volumes 90-92 are on the shelf and boxed individually. Volume 93 is in Oversize box 3.

Acquisition Information

A substantial portion of the David S. Greenough Papers was deposited at the Massachusetts Historical Society on 16 June 1924 by Mrs. David S. Greenough and Mrs. Clarence M. Boyce of Medfield, and Mrs. Anna G. Force of Seattle. The collection was given in 1956 by Mrs. Boyce and Mrs. Greenough, and by Mrs. Force in 1962.


For more information on the genealogy of the Greenough family, see:

Hamilton Perkins Greenough. Some Descendants of Captain William Greenough of Boston, Massachusetts (Santa Barbara, Calif., 1969).

For further information or materials on the Shrimpton, Stoddard, or Stevens families, see the MHS unpublished guide to the Shrimpton Family Papers. A more extensive history of the Erving family exists in the Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, Second Series, Vol. V, pp. 4-33.

Summary Description of the Collection

Loose papers

Box 1
William Erving letter copies, undated; recipes, undated; 1644-1700
Box 2
Box 3
Box 4
Box 5
Box 6
Box 7
Box 8
1776-Apr. 1781
Box 9
May 1781-May 1783
Box 10
June 1783-June 1784

Includes folder of William Erving letter copies for the year 1783.

Box 11
July 1784-1785

Includes folder of William Erving letter copies for the years 1784 and 1785.

Box 12
1786-June 1787

Includes folder of William Erving letter copies for the year 1786.

Box 13
July 1787-1788

Includes folder of William Erving letter copies for the year 1787.

Box 14
1789-Apr. 1790
Box 15
May 1790-July 1791
Box 16
Aug. 1791-Apr. 1793
Box 17
May 1793-Apr. 1795
Box 18
May 1795-1797
Box 19
Box 20
1802-Sep. 1806
Box 21
Oct. 1806-Sep. 1810
Box 22
Oct. 1810-1811
Box 23
Box 24
Box 25
Box 26
Box 27
1820-Sep. 1822
Box 28
Oct. 1822-1824
Box 29
Box 30
Box 31

There are no materials for the years 1845 and 1848-1858. Includes three folders of printed matter and a drawing of a compass rose "Made by James Ham, Instrument Maker."


Antigua Plantation accounts

Available on microfilm, P-395 (1 reel).

Box 32Vol. 1
Box 32Vol. 2-7
Box 32Vol. 8
Box 32Vol. 9
Jan.-Aug. 1798
Box 32Vol. 10
Sep.-Dec. 1798
Box 32Vol. 11-12
Box 33Vol. 13-29
Box 33Vol. 30
Jan.-Mar. 1818

Boxed volumes

Box 34Vol. 1
Bills and notes payable and receivable (blank)
Box 34Vol. 2
Checkbook (blank)
Box 34Vol. 3
Ledger index, n.d.
Box 34Vol. 4
"Carpenter's Rules of Work," n.d.
Box 34Vol. 5
David S. Greenough I inventory of household and farm buildings, n.d.
Box 34Vol. 6
Account book, 1702-1704
Box 34Vol. 7
Elizabeth (Richardson) Shrimpton Stoddard (1680-1757) household expense book, 1721-1738
Box 34Vol. 8
Anthony Stoddard (1678-1747/8) cash book, 1722-1738
Box 34Vol. 9
Bills of lading book, 1738-1742
Box 34Vol. 10
Surveyor's notebook and accounts, 1756-1764
Box 35Vol. 11
John Stevens (b. 1715) wastebook, 1762-1775; estate of Martha (Stoddard) Stevens (1720-1785), 1785-1801
Box 35Vol. 12
Elisha Doane and John Greenough, Wellfleet Military Co., 1765-1768; account book, 1766-1770
Box 35Vol. 13
Account book, 1766-1769
Box 35Vol. 14
Account book/farm diary, 1770-1774
Box 35Vol. 15
Anthony Stoddard (1728-1776) receipt book, 1771-1775
Box 35Vol. 16
David S. Greenough I "Memorandums," Mar.-July 1776
Box 35Vol. 17
Erving and Stewart account book, 1779-1790
Box 35Vol. 18
Simeon Smith surveyor's notebook, [1781]
Box 35Vol. 19
Estate of Elisha Doane, 1783-1807
Box 36Vol. 20
[David S. Greenough I] ledger, 1783-1826

"Family Expenses"

Chronological records labeled "Family Expenses" and probably kept by D. S. Greenough.

Box 36Vol. 21
Box 36Vol. 22
Box 36Vol. 23
Box 36Vol. 24
Box 36Vol. 25
Box 36Vol. 26
Box 36Vol. 27
Box 36Vol. 28
Box 36Vol. 29
Box 36Vol. 30
Box 36Vol. 31

Farm diaries

Volumes 32-38 constitute a series of farm diaries kept by David S. Greenough I and David S. Greenough II.

Box 37Vol. 32
David S. Greenough I, 1790-1798
Box 37Vol. 33
David S. Greenough I, 1798-1809
Box 37Vol. 34
David S. Greenough I, 1810-1815
Box 37Vol. 35
David S. Greenough I, 1816-1818
Box 37Vol. 36
David S. Greenough I, 1819-1821
Box 37Vol. 37
David S. Greenough I, 1822-1824
Box 37Vol. 38
David S. Greenough I and David S. Greenough II, 1825-1827

Boxed volumes

Box 37Vol. 39
Edward Paine surveyor's notebook, [1791]
Box 37Vol. 40
Estate of William Erving, 1791-1793
Box 37Vol. 41
Estate of William Erving, 1791-1794
Box 37Vol. 42
David S. Greenough I bank book, 1792-1818
Box 37Vol. 43
John Doane "Memorandum of Moneys...," 1794
Box 38Vol. 44
Estate of John Doane and estate of Alexander Edwards, 1794-1822
Box 38Vol. 45
Estate of Martha (Stoddard) Stevens (1720-1785) with Elizabeth Sumner, 1800-1802
Box 38Vol. 46
David S. Greenough I bank book (foreign money), 1807-1808
Box 38Vol. 47
David S. Greenough II "Forms of Declarations," 1807-1823
Box 38Vol. 48
David S. Greenough I "Forms of Special Pleas," 1808
Box 38Vol. 49
David S. Greenough I "Small Accounts and Rents" ledger, 1808-1817
Box 38Vol. 50
David S. Greenough II expense book, 1809-1811
Box 38Vol. 51
F. D. Channings's accounts with Stephen Higginson, 1809-1811
Box 38Vol. 52
David S. Greenough II receipt book, 1809-1816
Box 38Vol. 53
David S. Greenough II letterbook, 1810-1812
Box 39Vol. 54
David S. Greenough I ledger with index, 1810-1812
Box 39Vol. 55
David S. Greenough I "Executions Returnable," 1810-1826
Box 39Vol. 56
David S. Greenough I writ book, 1810-1826
Box 39Vol. 57
David S. Greenough I wastebook, 1811-1818
Box 39Vol. 58
David S. Greenough I ledger, 1811-1821
Box 40Vol. 59
David S. Greenough I town court docket, 1812-1818; Norfolk County Court, 1819-1826
Box 40Vol. 60
David S. Greenough II docket C.C.C.P., 1812-1826
Box 40Vol. 61
David S. Greenough II letterbook with index, 1812-1830
Box 40Vol. 62
[David S. Greenough II] diary, 1814-1816
Box 40Vol. 63
David S. Greenough [II] bank book, 1815-1817
Box 41Vol. 64
Estate of Artemis Winchester, in account with David S. Greenough [II], 1815-1817
Box 41Vol. 65
David S. Greenough [II] bank book, 1815-1818
Box 41Vol. 66
David S. Greenough [I] docket, S.J.C., 1815-1820; C.C.P., 1814-1819
Box 41Vol. 67
[David S. Greenough II] expense book, 1816-1817
Box 41Vol. 68
[David S. Greenough II] wastebook, 1816-1823
Box 41Vol. 69
[David S. Greenough II] ledger, 1816-1823
Box 41Vol. 70
[David S. Greenough II] diary, 1816-1824
Box 42Vol. 71
[David S. Greenough II] receipt book, 1816-1825
Box 42Vol. 72
David S. Greenough [II] ledger, 1816-1826
Box 42Vol. 73
Accounts of sales, 1817
Box 42Vol. 74
[David S. Greenough II] Union Bank book, 1817-1818
Box 42Vol. 75
[Doane] bills and notes payable and receivable, 1817-1830
Box 42Vol. 76
David S. Greenough [I or II] New England Bank book, 1818-1819
Box 42Vol. 77
[David S. Greenough II] "Expense Account and Cash Account," 1818-1820
Box 42Vol. 78
[David S. Greenough II] ledger, 1818-1829
Box 43Vol. 79
[David S. Greenough II] expense book, 1820-1827
Box 43Vol. 80
[David S. Greenough II] cash book, 1820-1830
Box 43Vol. 81
[David S. Greenough I or II] checkbook, 1821-1823
Box 43Vol. 82
[David S. Greenough II] wastebook, 1823-1830
Box 43Vol. 83
[David S. Greenough II] diary, 1824-1825
Box 44Vol. 84
David S. Greenough II receipt book, 1825-1830; John Greenough (d. 1846) receipt book, 1832
Box 44Vol. 85
[David S. Greenough II] cash book, 1826-1827
Box 44Vol. 86
[David S. Greenough II] bank book, 1826-1830
Box 44Vol. 87
[David S. Greenough II] expense book, 1827-1840
Box 44Vol. 88
Maria Foster (Doane) Greenough (1793-1843) meat accounts with J. W. Bennett, [1834]
Box 44Vol. 89
[David S. Greenough II or III] "A Foolish Tale," 1834

Loose volumes

Vol. 90
Elisha Doane wastebook, 1783-1794
Vol. 91
[David S. Greenough I] wastebook, 1810-1814
Vol. 92
[David S. Greenough II] wastebook, 1819-1826
OS Box 3Vol. 93
Accounts of estate of Shute Shrimpton Yeamans (1721-1769), 1769-1775


Oversize consists of printed matter and miscellaneous manuscripts. Included are newspapers, surveyors' maps, accounts, deeds of sale, contracts, legal and business correspondence, various certificates, bills of lading, and other items. Each oversize manuscript item has been dummied out of the collection.

OS Box 1
Printed matter, 1631-1751

Includes one recipe and a 25 May 1792 surveyor's map of land owned by David S. Greenough I.

OS Box 2
OS Box 3

Includes Volume 93.

OS Box 4

Materials Removed from the Collection

For a list of engravings and museum items removed from this collection, please see the Curator of Manuscripts.

Preferred Citation

David Stoddard Greenough family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Greenough, David Stoddard, 1752-1826.
Greenough, David Stoddard, 1787-1830.
Greenough, David Stoddard, 1814-1877.
Greenough, Thomas, 1710-1785.
Clarke family.
Doane family.
Erving family.
Greenough family.
Holmes family.
Shrimpton family.
Stevens family.
Stoddard family.
Yeamans family.


Account books.
Home economics--Accounting.
Inventories of decedents' estates.
Real property--Connecticut.
Real property--Massachusetts--Boston.
Family history, 1700-1849.