(MASSACHUSETTS.) Archive of Spear-Perkins family papers relating to the John Hancock estate. Hundreds of manuscript volumes and documents (1.3 linear feet), including deeds, title abstracts, receipts, correspondence, account books, legal notes, and 6 printed items, with most of the papers still folded and many still bundled in their original wrappers; various sizes and conditions, typical for age. Partially housed in a green wooden box with stenciled title "Papers 1844", lid broken. Vp, 1764-1879
Estimate $2,500 - 3,500
John Hancock (1737-1793) served as president of the Continental Congress and as governor of Massachusetts during the final years of the Revolution. However, this founding father had no surviving children of his own, and much of his estate went to his niece Lydia H. Perkins Spear (1770-1798). These are the papers of John Hancock's nephew-in-law Samuel Thayer Spear (1769-1821), who married Lydia Perkins, and Samuel's son William Henry Spear (1807-1879)--the grand-nephew and heir of John Hancock. Many of these papers relate to the Hancock-Perkins-Spear estate. The property, spread across Massachusetts and Maine but most notably in Boston, was embroiled in many legal disputes, some involving land claimed by the Brattle Street Church. In 1811, the heirs acquired part of Boston's Beacon Hill, which was then being levelled and converted to housing, leading to further complexities. One early history notes that "the divisions subsequently made of the Spear and Hancock estates are among the most remarkable real estate transactions on record" and that one local real estate lawyer had "made it a rule . . . never to examine a title that came through anyone named Spear" (Winsor and Jewett's Memorial History of Boston, page IV:28-29). Highlights include a 1764 deed to John Hancock signed by his brother Ebenezer * A contemporary transcript of a 1797 Hancock estate partition document * Division of a part of the John Hancock estate among the heirs of Mary Perkins, 1800 * A series of 6 personal letters, Samuel Spear of Turner, Maine to his son Samuel Spear of Boston, 1800-1805 * A group of 4 manuscript plat maps of land in Maine and Massachusetts, 1802-09 and undated * Receipt signed by U.S. Senator Harrison Gray Otis, 1819 * A 4-page cash account book, 1796 * William H. Spear's letter and memorandum book, 1834-49 * and extensive title and legal notes on the Hancock estate. Most of the remaining papers remain folded as the family had filed them, some tied into bundles with labels like "Letters of 1837" or "Sundry papers of Spear estate." This collection sheds new light on the estate of one of the more private Founding Fathers. A more detailed inventory is available upon request.