Guide to the Microfilm Edition
This collection consists of the papers of Robert Treat Paine, Massachusetts lawyer, politician, member of the First Continental Congress (1774), signer of the Declaration of Independence, and justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The collection also contains the papers of other family members, including Thomas Paine.
Thomas Paine (1694-1757), a native of Barnstable, Mass., graduated from Harvard College in 1717. He worked as an itinerant preacher until, in 1719, he was ordained as the minister of Weymouth. In 1721, he married Eunice Treat of Boston, daughter of Rev. Samuel Treat of Eastham and granddaughter of Rev. Samuel Willard of the Old South Church, Boston. Paine left the ministry in 1734 and embarked on a career as a merchant in Boston, often suffering from the vagaries of trade in the 1740s. In 1754, he moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but became ill and returned to Boston in 1756. He died the following year in Germantown at the home of his daughter Abigail Greenleaf.
Paine's surviving children were: Abigail (1725-1809), who married Joseph Greenleaf; Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814); and Eunice Paine (1733-1803), unmarried sister and frequent correspondent of Robert Treat Paine.
Robert Treat Paine
Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), son of Thomas Paine (1694-1757), was born in Boston, attended the Boston Latin School, and graduated from Harvard College in 1749. For one year, he taught school in Lunenburg, Mass., then worked as a merchant in the southern trade, traveling to the Azores and Spain and on a whaling voyage to Greenland. In 1755, he served as chaplain for the Crown Point campaign. Paine returned to Boston in 1756 to continue his law studies, which he had begun informally two years earlier in Lancaster, Mass. He studied under Benjamin Prat and was admitted to the bar in 1757. Initially burdened with the settlement of his father's insolvent estate, Paine moved to Taunton in 1761, where he developed his legal practice, following the circuit of courts through Massachusetts and the province of Maine. He was appointed a justice of the peace in 1763, served in various local capacities, and was eventually elected to represent Taunton in the state legislature beginning in 1773.
Paine's involvement in provincial politics began in 1770, when the town of Boston asked him to assist in the prosecution of the Boston Massacre trials. A member of the Massachusetts delegation to the First Continental Congress in 1774, he served in Philadelphia as chairman of the ordnance committee and was among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He represented Taunton in the three Provincial Congresses and returned to the state legislature in 1777, when he was chosen Speaker pro tempore. Elected attorney general that same year, Paine supervised the condemnation of Tory estates, prosecuted the insurgents of Shays' Rebellion, participated in the Commonwealth's Constitutional Convention, and served on the committee to revise the laws. In 1790, he was appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and served on the bench until his retirement in 1804. He died in Boston in 1814, aged 80.
Paine was married to Sally Cobb of Taunton (1744-1816), sister of Gen. David Cobb. Their eight children were: Robert (1770-1798), Sally (1772-1823), Thomas (who, in 1801, changed his name to Robert Treat Paine, Jr.) (1773-1811), Charles (1775-1810), Henry (1777-1814), Mary (1780-1842), Maria Antoinette (1782-1842), and Lucretia (1785-1823).
For further information on Thomas Paine (1694-1757), see Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 6: 201-207.
For further information on Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), see Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 12: 462-482.
This collection consists of the papers of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), Massachusetts lawyer, politician, member of the First Continental Congress (1774), signer of the Declaration of Independence, and justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Included are correspondence; account books (1751-1814); business and legal papers kept by Paine as a lawyer, attorney general, and judge; minutes of trials, including the Boston Massacre and Shays' Rebellion trials; and documents related to his work as a local and state politician. Earlier papers include his sea journals/logbooks (1750-1754) kept on trading voyages to Cape Hatteras and North Carolina, the Azores, and Cadiz, Spain, and on a whaling voyage off Greenland; diaries (1745-1814); and sermons given in Massachusetts and as chaplain on the Crown Point Expedition during the French and Indian War (1755).
The collection also contains the papers of other family members, a significant amount of Paine family correspondence, and legal and financial papers (including the estates of Robert Treat Paine and his father Thomas). Papers of family members include the annotated almanacs (1716-1750) and sermons (1724-1733) of Paine's father Thomas Paine (1694-1757); the diary (1785-1791) of Paine's son Robert Paine (1770-1798); and the astronomical observations (1833-1837) of Paine's grandson Robert Treat Paine (1803-1885). Other family members represented in the collection include Paine's sons Robert Treat Paine, Jr. (1773-1811) (originally Thomas Paine) and Charles Paine (1775-1810); grandson Charles Cushing Paine (1808-1874); and great-grandson Charles Jackson Paine (1833-1916). The collection also contains catalogs of private libraries and genealogical information. Among the many correspondents are Richard Cranch, Joseph Greenleaf, John Hancock, David Cobb, Shearjashub Bourne, and Elbridge Gerry.
The first items in this collection, two manuscript sermons by Thomas Paine, were donated to the MHS on April 12, 1888, by Robert Treat Paine (1861-1943) from the estate of his late cousin Robert Treat Paine (1803-1885). The first major group of papers came from John B. Paine, Helen P. Kimball, Georgina P. Fisher, Mary A. Winsor, and Frank C. Paine in 1940. An addition containing printed material and more manuscripts was added in 1954. In 1972, an allegorical letter from Robert Treat Paine to Mr. and Mrs. George Leonard, Jr., dated January 1, 1760, was purchased by the MHS.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family papers, 1659-1916
A. Family correspondence, 1713-1854
This subseries consists of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Paine family members, including Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814). For a chronological list of the items in this subseries, see the List of Family Correspondence or click on the links below.
B. Legal and financial papers, 1659-1867
This subseries consists of the legal and financial papers of all Paine family members except Thomas Paine (1694-1757) and Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814). Among the papers in this subseries are copies of family wills and deeds, including those of the Treat and Estabrook families (Rev. Benjamin Estabrook was the first husband of Robert Treat Paine's maternal grandmother), as well as receipts, powers of attorney, promissory notes, accounts, memoranda, bills, inventories, agreements, correspondence, and other papers. The subseries also contains Land Bank papers, 1739-1749, which consist of broadsides and supplements to the Boston Evening-Post.
Land Bank papers
C. Miscellaneous family papers, 1721-1861
This subseries consists of miscellaneous papers of the Paine family, including items related to Harvard College and Boston Latin School, certificates, notices, clippings, and some legal documents.
D. Charles Paine papers, 1789-1806
This subseries contains the papers of Charles Paine (1775-1810), son of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814).
E. Charles Cushing Paine papers, 1716-1900
This subseries contains the papers of Charles Cushing Paine (1808-1874), son of Charles Paine (1775-1810). Among the papers in this subseries are Boston Latin School records; diplomas, certificates, and other papers from Harvard College; records of social engagements; legal notes; notes on family papers; correspondence; and a genealogy of the Paine family, including a transcription of the diary of Thomas Paine, 1 Jan. 1716-4 Feb. 1749.
F. Charles Jackson Paine papers, 1849-1916
This subseries contains the papers of Charles Jackson Paine (1833-1916), son of Charles Cushing Paine (1808-1874). Included are school papers from Boston Latin School and Harvard College, military commissions signed by Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and other papers.
G. Calling cards and silhouettes, undated
This subseries consists of two silhouettes of unidentified men and calling cards from Lady Temple, Mrs. King, Mrs. Deblois, Mrs. T. B. Adams, Miss Nicholson, Mrs. Robertson, Miss Thompson, Mrs. Harrison, Mrs. Gerry, Mrs. Few, Bartlett Paine, Mrs. Cole, Mrs. H. Hubbard, Mrs. Washington, and Mrs. Greene.
H. Copies of wills, 1707-1855
This subseries contains inventories, accounts, and copies of family wills in the handwriting of Charles Cushing Paine (1808-1874).
I. Catalogs of books, 1752-1850
J. Richard Cranch manuscript, undated
This subseries consists of a manuscript translation by Richard Cranch of "A Sermon on the Passions; by Monsr. James Saurin, Minister of the French Church at the Hague. Translated from the French."
K. Robert Paine diary, 1785-1791
This subseries consists of the diary of Robert Paine (1770-1798), son of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), kept from 1 July 1785-30 Nov. 1791 in Cambridge and Boston, Mass. Diary entries describe Paine's activities as a student at Harvard in the class of 1789, his apprenticeship in a Boston law office, social engagements, local and family news, and the weather.
L. Robert Treat Paine, Jr., writings, 1790-1811
This subseries consists of the poetry and other works of Robert Treat Paine, Jr. (1773-1811) (originally Thomas Paine), son of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814). Included are both a manuscript draft and printed copy of Robert Treat Paine, Jr.'s poem "The Ruling Passion," 1797 (first printed at Manning and Loring), and a eulogy on the life of George Washington, 2 Jan. 1800.
M. Robert Treat Paine (1803-1885) astronomical observations, 1833-1837
This subseries consists of the astronomical observations of Robert Treat Paine (1803-1885), son of Robert Treat Paine, Jr. (1773-1811). The 5 notebooks in this subseries are entitled: "Astronomical Observations for the determination of the Latitude and Longitude of places in Massachusetts," from the Boston State House and other public buildings throughout New England, 16 Mar. 1833-28 Dec. 1837.
N. Index to the Paine papers, undated
This subseries consists of an index to the Paine papers compiled by Charles Cushing Paine.
O. Thomas Paine papers, 1664-1761
This subseries consists of the diaries, almanacs, sermons, legal and financial records, and other papers of Thomas Paine (1694-1757), father of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814).
Diaries and annotated almanacs, 1716-17501 volume containing 10 booklets
Diary entries describe wind, weather, and other meteorological events; Paine's studies at Harvard College, 1716-1717; his career as an itinerant minister and eventual ordination as minister of the First (Congregational) Church in Weymouth, Mass.; and his career as merchant in Boston after leaving Weymouth in 1734.
Almanacs, 1664-17281 volume containing 9 booklets
Included are European almanacs collected by Thomas Paine and copies of almanacs published by him.
Sermons, 1724-17331 volume containing 2 booklets
Included are attached pages of a later date with genealogical notes and a donation letter (Boston, 6 Apr. 1888) from Robert Treat Paine (1861-1943) giving these sermons to the Massachusetts Historical Society from the estate of his cousin Robert Treat Paine (1803-1885).
Legal and financial papers, 1715-1761
Included are papers from Thomas Paine's mercantile business and personal estate. Paine's deeds to family members, 1749, include his bequests of "all my Books," "my Negro Cato and all my household stuff..."
II. Robert Treat Paine diaries and journals, 1745-1814
This series consists of the diaries and sea journals of Robert Treat Paine, kept from 25 Mar. 1745 to 8 May 1814. Diary entries describe Paine's daily activities, including his education at Harvard; his theological and legal studies; his career as a lawyer in Taunton, Mass.; his role as prosecuting attorney in the Boston Massacre trial; his participation in the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1776; his career as attorney general of Massachusetts, 1777-1796; and his role as judge on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1796-1804. Also included are Paine's sea journals/logbooks describing his travels between 1750 and 1754, including trading missions from Boston to North Carolina; Fayal, Azores; Cadiz, Spain; and a whaling voyage to Greenland. Entries note weather and general sailing conditions.
A. Diaries, 1745-1814
Diaries, 1746-17561 volume containing 9 notebooks
Note: The upper left corner of this notebook has been damaged and is largely missing.
B. Sea journals, 1751-1754
Included in this journal are trips from Boston to North Carolina, 6-14 Feb. 1751; North Carolina to Boston, 26 June-3 July 1751; Boston to Philadelphia in the brigantine Charming Polly, 7-15 Sep. 1751; Boston to North Carolina in the sloop Hannah, 17-27 May 1753; Ocacoe Inlet, N.C., to Fayal in the Hannah, 10 Aug.-14 Sep. 1753; Fayal to Cadiz in the Hannah, 25 Sep.-11 Oct. 1753; and Cadiz to Boston in the Hannah, 5 Dec. 1753-30 Jan. 1754.
III. Robert Treat Paine sermons, 1749-17551 volume
This bulk of this series consists of sermons delivered by Robert Treat Paine in 1755 in Massachusetts and as chaplain on the Crown Point Expedition during the French and Indian War.
IV. Robert Treat Paine business, legal, and financial papers, 1677-1814
This series consists of papers created and acquired by Robert Treat Paine in his merchant business, legal practice, and personal transactions. Included are account books, cash books, writs, powers of attorney, records of court sessions, rulings, deeds, and mortgages. This series also contains papers related to the Boston Massacre trial, Tyng vs. Gardiner (Kennebeck Purchase), Banister vs. Copley, and the settlement of the estates of Thomas Paine and Robert Treat Paine.
Notes, loans, etc., 1759-18051 volume containing 2 notebooks
Notes, accounts, and bank books, 1762-18141 volume containing 7 notebooks
Notes and letters on Boston Massacre trial
"Law notes & other papers of R.T.P. at the trial of the Soldiers & of Capt. Preston, for the affair of March 5, 1770."
Tyng vs. Gardiner papers (Kennebeck Purchase)
Banister vs. Copley papers
V. Robert Treat Paine political and judicial papers, 1758-1807
This series consists of documents created and acquired by Robert Treat Paine during his public service at the town, county, state, and national levels, including his years as justice of the peace, attorney general, justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and delegate to the Continental Congress. This series also contains Paine's political writings, local and county committee reports, papers related to Shays' Rebellion and absentees, minutes of trials and law cases, and petitions to the legislature for compensation as attorney general.
Rhode Island Expedition papers
Shays' Rebellion papers
Papers related to absentees
Signed by Perez Morton, Theophilus Parsons, Benjamin Lincoln, James Hughes, Jonathan Mason, Jr., Rufus G. Amory, Ebenezer Bradish, Jr., William Hunt, Royall Tyler, Fisher Ames, Edward H. Robbins, Israel Keith, Rufus King, William Fisk, John Lowell, B.G. Amory, J. Gardiner, B. Hichbourne, William Tudor, Thomas Dawes, Jr., James Sullivan, Nathaniel Paine, Christopher Gore, John Sprague, Levi Lincoln, and Jonathan Fay.
VI. Newspapers, 1726-1808
This series consists of annotated newspaper clippings mounted in a scrapbook.
VII. Maps, 1755-1805
This series contains manuscript maps by Robert Treat Paine of the expedition to Lake George in 1755, as well as lot plans of later pieces of Paine property.
VIII. Miscellaneous Robert Treat Paine papers, 1728-1811
This series contains the school writings and other miscellaneous papers of Robert Treat Paine. Among the school papers are essays, compositions, translations, drawings, manuscript copies of books and poetry, and notes. The series also contains doodles dating from Paine's service as an usher at the Boston Latin School, 1750, including the earliest known signature of John Hancock.
Included are drawings and calculations mostly on the verso of Latin exercises and notes from the period when Robert Treat Paine served as usher at the Boston Latin School. Among the items are: John Hancock, Latin exercise (Hancock's earliest known signature); William Browne, Latin translation; Abia Holbrook, note to excuse lateness of bearers, 22 May 1750; Cord Cordis, note to excuse lateness of son, 26 Apr. 1750; John Gardiner, Latin exercise; George Erving, Latin exercise; and Calculatio Machinae pedibus Motae.
List of Family Correspondence
This list contains all of the letters in Series I.A. (Family correspondence). Items are arranged chronologically.