1675-1904; bulk: 1787-1868

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the business papers associated with William Davies Sohier and his son William Sohier, both of whom were attorneys. Included in the collection are business correspondence, client legal documents, clients' bills, land surveys, and printed materials all pertaining to their clients' legal affairs.

Biographical Sketch

William Davies Sohier

William Davies Sohier was born to Edward and May (Davies) Sohier on March 13, 1787. He attended Harvard University where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and graduated with his B.A. in 1805. In 1808, he graduated from Yale University with a master's degree. Once he had finished college, he joined the same profession as his father and became a lawyer. It is unclear if he had any legal partners at his firm, however there are many documents where he is listed with other lawyers, most notably Edward Tuckerman. He also had direct dealings with Andrew Brimmer and his family. William Davies Sohier passed away on June 11, 1868, and his business affairs were resumed by his sons William and Edward D. Sohier.

William Sohier

Born on March 24, 1822, William Sohier was the third son of William Davies and Elizabeth Amory (Dexter) Sohier. After graduating from Harvard in 1840, he began practicing law with Fessenden Law Firm and later worked in the office of his older brother Edward Davies Sohier. He married Susan Cabot Lowell on October 13, 1846, a sister of Judge John Lowell. They had two children: William Davies Sohier and Elizabeth Putnam Sohier. His work as a lawyer was similar to that of his father, dealing with the day-to-day financial and legal affairs of his clients, from mortgage deeds to estate inventories and sales. William Sohier had retired some time prior to his death on February 23, 1894 at the age of seventy-two.

Collection Description

The Sohier family business papers consist of ten document boxes and one oversize box spanning the years 1675 to 1904. The collection is divided into three series: the William D. Sohier (1787-1868) papers; the William Sohier (1822-1894) papers; and printed materials.

The bulk of the collection consists of the business/client documents of William Davies Sohier, Esq. and range from 1703-1881. Those documents dated prior to Mr. Sohier's birth were probably in reference to past transactions executed by his clients, or their ancestors, and were probably kept with their files at his firm. These clients include members of the Brimmer, Fitch, Inman, MacKay, and Winchester families. Of particular interest are the documents of Edward Tuckerman who was a client and may also have been a legal associate of William D. Sohier.

William D. Sohier's correspondence pertains to his profession as a lawyer and concerns the sale of stock and land, mortgage deeds, estate planning, and other various transactions on behalf of his clients. In addition to standard legal documents (i.e. deeds, indentures, and wills) and correspondence, the collection also contains the receipts of bills paid by William D. Sohier and his son on behalf of their clients.

The portion of the collection pertaining to William Sohier is similar to that of his father's, e.g. business correspondence and records of his clients' legal transactions. In addition to these documents are the receipts for bills paid by William and his brother Edward Davies Sohier, also a lawyer, on behalf of their clients and their deceased father. There are also some legal documents in this collection that include the two brothers and suggest that they may have worked together with clients.

The series containing printed materials consist of those forms used by William Davies Sohier and his son in their profession. Also included, is a newsprint transcription (dated 1904) of three lectures by Stinson Jarvis, who is described as a California Attorney and Counsellor-at-Law and a Barrister and Extradition Judge in Canada.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. William D. Sohier (1787-1868) papers, 1675-1887

A. Correspondence, 1816-1868

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains letters received by William Davies Sohier from his clients, as well as retained copies of his outgoing correspondence. The majority of the information in the correspondence pertains to his clients' business affairs, including plans to purchase land, estate planning, and the transfer of deeds. The subseries also contains some letters that are more personal in nature and meeting plans between Sohier and his business associates.

Box 1

B. Client/legal documents, 1675-1885

Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

This subseries contains various legal documents of Mr. Sohier's clients. Those families with which he had long-term business agreements are arranged alphabetically by family name, and then chronologically within each family's folder. Of particular interest are the Brimmer, McKay, Fitch, and Winchester families, and the records of Edward Tuckerman who may have been a business associate. The remaining client documents have been arranged chronologically. The majority of his clients' documents are estate inventories, wills, pleas, mortgages and indentures pertaining to the sale and purchase of land and the transfer of land ownership between clients. In many cases, the land agreements are the direct result of estate allotments.

1. Individual and Family Clients, 1754-1885

Box 2Folder 1
Thomas Bradford, 1837-1850
Box 2Folder 2
Thomas D. Bradlee and John W. Bradlee, 1837-1878
Box 2Folder 3
Andrew Brimmer, 1807-1844
Box 2Folder 4
Martin Brimmer and Elizabeth Brimmer, 1836-1860
Box 2Folder 5
Captain William Davis, 1790-1880
Box 2Folder 6
Fitch family, 1812-1845
Box 2Folder 7
Ann Green, 1832-1862
Box 2Folder 8
Greenough family, 1816-1852
Box 2Folder 9
Barry Griffith, 1866-1885
Box 2Folder 10
Inches family, 1833-1866
Box 2Folder 11
Inman family, 1754-1849
Box 3Folder 1
Joy family, 1812-1854
Box 3Folder 2
Hugh Kendall, 1835-1853
Box 3Folder 3
MacKay family, 1811-1866
Box 3Folder 4
Mason family, 1842-1880
Box 3Folder 5
John Parker and Anna Parker, 1845
Box 3Folder 6
William Phillips and Jonathan Phillips, 1840-1869
Box 3Folder 7
Honorable Josiah Quincy, 1812-1846
Box 3Folder 8
Winchester family, 1839-1881
Box 4
Edward Tuckerman, 1812-1872

2. Client/legal documents, 1703-1881

Box 5
Box 6
Box 7
Box 8Folders 1-4
Box 8Folder 5
3. Client/legal notes, 1675-1853
Box 8Folder 6
4. Clients' bills, 1840-1880

C. Land surveys, 1806-1887

Arranged in an oversize box.

This subseries contains land surveys of property in the Boston and Cambridge areas belonging to Mr. Sohier's clients. Some of these areas include properties on Franklin Street, Brattle Street, and Quincy Street. Several of the surveys have the names of the surveyors, including Alex Wadsworth, S. P. E., Ernest W. Bowditch, O. Carleton & William Taylor, and Thomas J. Robinson.

Box OS

II. William Sohier (1822-1894) papers, 1833-1892

A. Correspondence, 1846-1888

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains letters from William Sohier's clients. The majority of information in the letters pertains to old and current business matters that concern estate inventories and allotments, and the purchase and sale of land.

Box 9Folder 1-3

B. Client/legal documents, 1833-1892

Arranged chronologically.

The legal transactions in this subseries belong to William Sohier's clients, including information regarding the sale and purchase of land, estate plans, wills, bills and receipts, and indentures. Some of the documents show that William and his brother Edward worked together at some point in their careers. This subseries also includes the bills paid by William and Edward Sohier (either working together or separately) as trustees for their clients.

Box 9Folder 4-6
Box 10Folder 1-2
Box 10Folder 3-5
Clients' bills, 1833-1892

III. Printed materials, 1862-1904

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains financial and legal printed materials pertaining to the clients of William Davies Sohier and his son. The materials consist of IRS tax filing forms, lists of the current stock rates, and a newsprint publication of a lecture series by Stinson Jarvis from 1904. Mr. Jarvis is described as a California Attorney and Counsellor-at-Law and a Barrister and Extradition Judge in Canada.

Box 10Folder 6

Preferred Citation

Sohier family business 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.


Tuckerman, Edward, 1817-1886.
Sohier, William Davies, 1787-1868.
Sohier, William, 1822-1894.


Estates (Law)--Massachusetts--Boston.
Real property--Massachusetts--Boston.
Real property--Massachusetts--Cambridge.