Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers of Boston attorney and estate administrator William Minot, including personal and business correspondence, accounts, receipts, estate papers, genealogical material, deeds, letterbooks, ledgers, account books, law notebooks, and daybooks.

Biographical Sketch

William Minot was born in 1783 to George Richards and Mary Speakman. He graduated from Harvard in 1802 and studied law in Boston with Joseph Hall. He was admitted to the Suffolk Bar in 1805. Specializing in the areas of trusts, wills, and estates, he practiced in Boston at his father's 39 Court Street office. The city of Boston trust funds and the Harvard Class of 1802 were among the trusts in his care. In 1810, he married Louisa Davis, daughter of Daniel Davis, solicitor-general of the Commonwealth. They lived on Beacon Street and had five children. During the summer months, he and his family resided at Woodbourne, a country house in West Roxbury. In the later years of his life, William grew lonely mourning the lost companionship of Louisa, who died in 1858. Although visited often by his daughter Julia, he became more socially withdrawn until his death in 1873.

Collection Description

The William Minot papers date from 1799-1891 and contain personal and business correspondence, accounts, receipts, estate papers, genealogical material, deeds, letterbooks, ledgers, account books, law notebooks, and daybooks. The collection is broken into 5 series: personal papers, business papers, Louisa Davis Minot's poetry book, letters to Dr. John Randall, and genealogical information. The personal papers consist of household expenses, diaries, and correspondence written to him from his family and friends discussing news and daily events. There are numerous letters of solace sent to Minot after the death of his wife Louisa. The business papers consist of letter books, account books, law notebooks, and daybooks containing account information for estates and trust funds managed by Minot. Louisa Davis Minot's poetry book contains passages and poems from 1808-1834, recorded in 1833 and thereafter. Also included is a small collection of letters written to Dr. John Randall by his classmates of the Harvard class of 1802. The letters were sent to Minot after Randall's death.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Minot family, 1953.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Personal papers, 1799-1873

Series I consists of the personal papers of William Minot from 1799-1873 and contains mostly letters written to him regarding news, daily activities, and condolences on the loss of his wife Louisa. There are also letters written by him and his wife to their children, extended family, and friends; household expenses and receipts; miscellaneous notebooks containing records of checks written, supplies to bring to Woodbourne, and other miscellaneous information; and diaries from 1803-1873.

A. Loose papers, 1799-1873

Box 1Folder 1-11
Personal correspondence, 1811-1873
Box 1Folder 12
William Minot's Harvard College bills, 1799-1801
Box 1Folder 13-14
Household receipts, 1869
Box 1Folder 15
Miscellaneous notebooks, 1840-1868

B. Bound volumes, 1802-1873

Vol. 1
William Minot's mathematics study book, which also includes diary entries,1802-1804
Vol. 2
Diary, 1837-1850, sporadic entries with no entries for 1840 and 1844
Vol. 3
Diary, Apr.-Aug. 1868
Vol. 4
Diary, 1840-1847, sporadic entries
Box 2
Diaries, 1848-1859
Box 3
Diaries, 1860-1869
Box 4
Diaries, 1870-1873
Vol. 5
Personal accounts, 1822-1832
Vol. 6
Personal accounts, 1832-1836

II. Business papers, 1805-1891

The business papers of William Minot from 1805-1891 contain incoming correspondence from clients regarding wills, estates, and trust fund accounts; receipts from 1867-1869; letterbooks from 1812-1868, including retained copies of outgoing correspondence sent by Minot to clients; papers regarding the Nathan Parker estate from 1818-1891; letters written to him from classmates regarding his management of the Harvard Class of 1802 fund from 1843-1873; notebooks with information about legal cases; ledgers, account books, and daybooks for the estates and trusts managed by Minot from 1805-1847. There are also three account books for the firm Benjamin & Minot from 1843-1854, in which William Minot was a partner.

A. Loose papers, 1805-1891

Box 5
Business papers, 1845-1873
Box 6Folder 1-8
Nathan Parker estate, 1818-91
Box 6Folder 9-11
Harvard Class of 1802 fund, 1843-1873
Box 6Folder 12-19
Business receipts, 1867-1869

B. Bound volumes, 1805-1868

Vol. 7
Letterbook, 1812-1835
Vol. 8
Letterbook, 1816-1818
Vol. 9
Letterbook, 1835-1840
Vol. 10
Letterbook, 1840-1847
Vol. 11
Letterbook, 1847-1853
Vol. 12
Letterbook, 1853-1858
Vol. 13
Letterbook, 1866-1868
Vol. 14
Ledger, 1805-1811
Vol. 15
Ledger, 1811-1817
Vol. 16
Ledger, 1818-1826
Vol. 17
Ledger, 1826-1830
Vol. 18
Ledger, 1837-1844
Vol. 19
Daybook, 1807-1814
Vol. 20
Daybook, 1814-1819
Vol. 21
Daybook, 1819-1824
Vol. 22
Daybook, 1825-1828
Vol. 23
Daybook, 1829-1835
Vol. 24 XT
Account book, 1838-1840
Vol. 25
Account book, 1843-1847
Vol. 26
Benjamin & Minot account book, 1843-1847
Vol. 27
Benjamin & Minot account book, 1847-1854
Vol. 28
Benjamin & Minot account book, 1846-1852
Vol. 29-34
Law notebooks, 1832-1837

III. Louisa Davis Minot's poetry book, ca. 1833-1834

Louisa Davis Minot's poetry book from 1833 contains passages that appear to have been written at the same time; however, the dates of the passages range from 1808-1834.

Box 1Folder 16

IV. Letters to Dr. John Randall, 1799-1839

Included are letters sent to Dr. John Randall from classmates of the Harvard Class of 1802 from 1799-1839. These were given to William Minot by Randall's family after his death.

Box 1Folder 17

V. Genealogical information

Included is genealogical material of the Minot family, including life and death dates of family members and property deeds.

Box 1Folder 18

Preferred Citation

William Minot 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.


Parker, Nathan,1782-1833.
Randall, John, Dr., 1843.
Minot family--Genealogy.
Davis, Charles Henry, 1807-1877.
Gardiner, Robert Hallowell, 1782-1864.
Lincoln, Levi, 1782-1868.
Minot, Julia, 1823-1875.
Minot, Louisa Davis, 1788-1858.
Minot, Mary, 1811-1882.
Minot, William, 1817-1894.
Ritchie, Andrew, 1782-1862.
Minot family.


Harvard College (1780- )--Class of 1802.


Account books‚1838-1840.
Account books, 1843-1847.
Administration of estates--Massachusetts.
Condolence notes.
Estates (Law)--Massachusetts.
Family history, 1750-1849.