Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Coffin Family Archive. A collection of approximately 120 documents and receipts belonging to the extended Coffin family. The Coffins were a prominent family who settled in Nantucket and launched the whaling business there. The original Tristram Coffin, who emigrated from England, died in 1681 and at the time had 7 children and 60 grandchildren. It is believed that by 1728, his descendants numbered in the thousands. By the late 1700s, there were at least six Coffin captains who were in the whaling business around Nantucket. Owen Coffin, was a young teenager aboard the Essex when she was sunk by a sperm whale - the story that would be the inspiration for Moby Dick. In later years, Elizabeth Coffin became the mother of future industrialists Henry Coffin Nevins and David Nevins Jr. In more recent years, Robert P.T. Coffin (a 9th generation Coffin) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1936 for his book of poems, Strange Holiness. The archive offered here relates mostly to the earlier branches of the Coffin family, circa 1700s and relating to the whaling business and settlement of Nantucket. The archive includes receipts and documents related to: Captain Tristram Coffin, Eliphalet Coffin, Elizabeth Coffin, Hannah Coffin, Peter Coffin, Ezra Young, Stephen Evans Dr., Nathaniel Evans, Jonathan Belche (Colonial Governor of Massachusetts), Ebenezer Adams (brother to John Adams Sr., the father of the 2nd U.S. President), Sam Adams (1694-1751), and Jeremiah Belknap (clergyman and historian).

    Condition: Toning varies, with wear to most documents.

    More Information:

    Material includes:


    A family letter from Elizabeth Webster to her brother - July 2, 1733 (Exeter)

    "Loving brother, I having this opportunity am glad to send you word that your daughter Abigail the last Sabbath was [illegible] had a fit.we were forced to call ­[illegible] Doctor out of the meeting and the Last Sabbath she had another fit. I am very much troubled for her and would have you come for her as soon able."


    A small note of medical instructions (undated, doctor unknown) [1 page, 3.75" x 4.75"]

    "Give of the Drops 18 or 20 at a time Every 15 hours and a potion of the powder. Between add some Saffron to the [illegible]. Give the trade rold [sic] up in the paper at night. Dissolved in a spoonful of molasses which will work throughout her apply something to her feets if you have not yet if she should be worse send word."


    Numerous requests from tenants - Jeremiah Belknap: requests for barrels of water, loads of wood, plowing of his field, etc. (1768-1771)


    April 20, 1771: Jer. Belknap to Eliph Coffin [1 page, 6" x 4"]

    "You may remember that you was so kind as to promise to plow my field & I now desire to know whether it will suit you to do it next Monday or Tuesday or when it will be most convenient. I should chuse [sic] to have it done at beginning of the week if I can, because I want to show my Rye which should be done as early as possible."


    July 9, 1768: Jer. Belknap to Eliph Coffin [1 page, 6.25" x 3.75"]

    "I should be glad to know whether I can have your Team to haul some sand & 8 or 10 barrels of water after it has brought home the [illegible] on Monday morning - and wehter you can lend me 2 or 3 barrels to fill with water. Please to send word by the bearer tho."


    Family receipts and records of payment dating from 1727 to 1842 - over 90 recordings.

    ·         Including from Sam Adams to Captain Coffin - payment of 20 shillings (March 18, 1736/7)

    ·         1760 - Capt Tristram Coffin to Ebenezer Adams



    Calls to report for Jury Duty:

    ·         1732 - Tristram Coffin appear for Jury

    ·         1772 - Eliphalet Coffin to serve as petty juror at his Majesty's Inferior Court

    ·         1791 - Eliphalet Coffin appointed Petit juror at Inferior Court of Common Pleas

    ·         1765 - Eliphalet Coffin drawn to serve on Petit Jury

    ·         1728, 1780, 1729


    Numerous Deeds and Farm & Land Leases

    ·         1720 - Elizabeth Coffin

    ·         1803 - Patience Hanson to Ezra Young

    ·         1821 - Elizabeth Young to Ezra Young

    ·         1819 - Thomas Dinkham Esq. to Jacob B. Demerit

    ·         1790 - Daniel Ham to Elizabeth Young


    A few Labor agreements/contracts:

    ·         Indenter/Apprentice contract (1740) - between Richard Perkins and Daniel & Sarah Rogers

    ·         Labor Agreement (1744)

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 658

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 32 days left to consign to the 2019 March 16 Texana - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    This was my first time dealing with an auction house, and I am 100% completely impressed with Heritage. There is not an aspect of this process that I have a critique for.
    Darryl S.,
    Stuart, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 December 9 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 December 9 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $1,489,512