Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell Papers, 1699-1969

Administrative Information

Historical Sketch

Related Collections


Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing

2 file boxes
Processor: Michael O’Connor
.83 Linear Feet
Date: November 23, 2009

Acquisition:The Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell Papers were donated to the Cambridge Historical Society by Grace Treadwell in 1970.

Access: There are no restrictions on items in this collection.

Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on the materials in the collection.

Historical Sketch:

Quincy family
Samuel Quincy (1735-1789), was the second son of Colonel Josiah Quincy (1710–1784), and the brother of Josiah Quincy Junior and Edmund. Born in a section of Braintree, Massachusetts that is today within the city of Quincy, he graduated Harvard College in 1754 and eventually became Solicitor-General of Massachusetts.

He was married to Hannah Hill (1734-1782). The couple had three children, Samuel, Thomas, and Hannah. During the American Revolution, Samuel Quincy remained a Loyalist while his father and brother were revolutionaries. He fled Massachusetts during the War for Independence, and his property in America was confiscated. His wife supported the revolution and remained in Massachusetts until her death. Samuel Quincy was appointed Comptroller of the Customs in Antigua in 1779. In 1789, he set sail for England, and died at sea. His remains are interred at Bristol, England.

Hill family
Dr. Aaron Hill (1758-1830) was the son of Deacon Aaron Hill. After studying medicine, he went to sea as a medical surgeon. In 1785 he married Hannah Quincy (1763-1839), daughter of Samuel Quincy. The couple had eight children, Anne, Hannah Bracket (Phillips), Harriet (Phillips), Sophia, Susanna, Thomas, William, and Quincy.

The family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts following the death of his father in 1792, where he inherited a large estate on Brattle Street.

Phillips family
Willard Phillips (1784-1873) was born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College in 1810, and subsequently studied law and established his own practice. From 1825 to 1826 he served as a member of the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1839 he was made a judge of probate in Suffolk County, a post he held until retiring from law in 1845. He authored a number of books on politics and law, and was a founder of (and contributor to) the North American Review, an early and influential American literary publication that was printed continuously from 1815 to 1940, and revived in 1964. The Phillips family had political, business and academic connections with many prominent 19th century dignitaries.

In 1833 Willard Phillips married Hannah Hill, daughter of Aaron Hill and Hannah (Quincy) Hill. The couple had two children, Oliver Pickering and Willard Quincy Phillips. After Hannah’s death in 1837, he married her sister Harriet.

Treadwell family
Willard Quincy Phillips (1834-1913) married Emily Treadwell (1835-1890) in 1863. Her niece, Grace Treadwell (1876-1970), a member of the Cambridge Historical Society, later acquired the papers of the Quincy, Hill, Phillips and Treadwell families.

Stark, James H. The Loyalists of Massachusetts. Boston: J.H. Stark, 1910

Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis and Company, 1884

“Serial Archives Listings for The North American Review”. The Online Books Page. University of Pennsylvania. Web. 6 October 2009

Paige, Lucius R. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1630-1877. Boston: H.O. Houghton and Company, 1877

Abbot, E.H., “News from the Classes 1855.” The Harvard Graduates’ Magazine 22 (1913-1914): 328-329

“Early Vital Records of Massachusetts to the end of 1849.” The Massachusetts Vital Records Project. Web. 23 November 23, 2009.

“Quincy political family.” Wikipedia. Web. 6 October 2009.

Related Collections:

The Massachusetts Historical Society holds collections related to the Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell families, including the Quincy family papers, 1639-1930 and the Willard Phillips papers, 1769-1875.

Scope and Content Note:

The Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell Papers are arranged into four series:

Series I. Quincy family papers, 1699-1792, n.d.
Series II. Hill family papers, 1722-1869, n.d.
Series III. Phillips family papers, 1809-1882, n.d.
Series IV. Treadwell family papers, 1863-1969, n.d.

These papers provide a glimpse into the personal and professional lives of four prominent Massachusetts families over a span of more than two and a half centuries. Their various pursuits involved some of the most influential and famous individuals in 18th to 20th century America. The papers are arranged chronologically by family.

Series I. Quincy family papers, 1699-1792, n.d., are organized into three categories: letters, property deeds and legal documents, and poetry. The letters (1777-1792, n.d.), are addressed to Samuel Quincy, Hannah Quincy, Edmund Quincy and Anna Quincy. They are mainly personal letters from family members and friends and provide an insight into 18th century life, and the thoughts of a family whose loyalties are split between the colonies and the Crown. The Quincy family property deeds (1699-1783), which are numerous, reflect the purchase of large tracts of land in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The folder of poetry from the Quincy family includes a poem about the Boston earthquake of 1755 and an ode to General Montgomery after his death in 1775.

Series II. Hill family papers, 1722-1869, n.d., are arranged in three categories: letters, property deeds and legal documents, and Hill family poetry and other documents. The Hill family letters (1722-1830) include letters to Susan Hill, Hannah Hill, and Aaron Hill. One letter, addressed to a Mr. Whipple (whose connection to the Hill family is unknown), is signed by Daniel Webster.

The Hill family also acquired a substantial amount of property in 18th and 19th century Massachusetts, and the corresponding deeds are contained within this series. Other legal documents are included as well, including a 1774 document recording the ‘Inquisition’ into the death of a ‘Negro boy’ named Tom in Cambridge. The outcome of this investigation is curious, as the inquisitors conclude that an infant threw a knife that happened to sever Tom’s jugular vein.

Hill family poetry and other miscellaneous documents are also included in this series. Among many other items, it contains a pension benefit form for a Revolutionary War solder named William Smith (OS1) and an early 19th century New Hampshire medical degree for William Langdon.

The papers of Samuel Whittemore, 1743-1787 and the papers of Col. John Goffe, 1763-1770 (which clearly document the charter and founding of Goffstown, NH) are included in the Hill family papers. Both men’s connection to the Hill family is unknown. Finally, included are a number of Hill family portraits, several of which are tentatively identified.

Series III. Phillips Family papers, 1809-1882, n.d., consists of letters, land deeds and financial records, a small number of photographs, and one drawing, most belonging to Willard Phillips. The earliest letter is an 1809 letter of recommendation from a Harvard professor, but the series also includes over 60 years of letters from William Cullen Bryant, the celebrated early American poet and editor. Bryant writes about the scope of his work in the North American Review and events in his personal life. A letter from 1865 briefly speculates about the fate of the South and its African-American citizens: “That there is a strong disposition among the late slave holding class of the South to keep slavery alive in some form, there is no doubt, that they will treat Negroes in such a way as to disaffect them greatly…”

There are also numerous letters from Phillips’ business contacts. His ultimately failed investment in a factory in Palmer, Massachusetts, is represented by many letters from various individuals also involved in the project. The Phillips family was well connected in Washington, D.C. as well. Letters from prominent figures include Daniel Webster, Dolly Madison, and Abraham Lincoln.

Phillips family land deeds, along with various legal and financial papers, represent some of their land transactions and other purchases from 1828-1882. Images include a Phillips family portrait and photographs of William Cullen Bryant in his later years, Willard Phillips, and Willard Quincy Phillips.

Series IV. Treadwell Family papers, 1863-1969, n.d., constitute the smallest series in this collection. Included are letters to Grace Treadwell (1913-1969), a folder of Treadwell legal documents (1863-1892), and a folder with 19th and 20th century genealogical research into the Quincy, Hill, Phillips, and Treadwell families, delineating the connection between the families.

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

  • Bryant, William Cullen, 1794-1878
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–1635-1829
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–17th century
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–18th century
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–19th century
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–Intellectual life–19th century
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–History–20th century
  • Phillips, Willard, 1784-1873

Quincy/Hill/Phillips/Treadwell Papers, 1699-1969

[table colwidth=”5%|5%|90%”]

||Series I. Quincy family papers

1|1|Currency, letter wrappers, etc., 1779, 1844, n.d.

1|2|Quincy family letters, 1777-1792, n.d.

1|3|Quincy family poetry, 1754-1775, n.d.

1|4|Quincy family property deeds and other legal, 1699-1783

||Series II. Hill family papers

1|5|Hill family letters 1722-1830, n.d.

1|6|Hill family property deeds and other legal documents, 1718-1799

1|7|Hill family property deeds and other legal documents, 1803-1869

1|8|Whittemore papers, 1743-1787

1|9|Col. John Goffe Papers (founding of New township), 1763-1770

1|10|Hill family poetry and miscellaneous, 1812-1830, n.d.

1|11|Hannah Hill sampler, 1803

||2.01 QHPT – miniature painting of Harriet and Hannah Hill, n.d.
||2.02 QHPT – possibly Willard Phillips, n.d.
||2.03 QHPT – Susanna Hill, n.d.
||2.04 QHPT – possibly Harriet (Hill) Phillips, n.d.
||2.05 QHPT – possibly Harriet (Hill), n.d.

||Series III Phillips family papers

2|1|Willard Phillips letters, 1809-1830

2|2|Willard Phillips letters from William Cullen Bryant, 1817-1870

2|3|Willard Phillips letters, 1821-1830

2|4|Willard Phillips letters, 1831-1850

2|5|Susan Hill Todd letters, 1844-1862

2|6|Willard Phillips letters, 1861-1869

2|7|Savage vs. Moreland property dispute, 1826-1829

2|8|Phillips property deeds and other legal/financial, 1828-1882

2|9|Biographical material, etc., 1834-1864, n.d.

||3.06 QHPT – William Cullen Bryant, n.d.
||3.07 QHPT – Willard Phillips [Black and Batchelder], n.d.
||3.08 QHPT – Willard Quincy Phillips, n.d.
||3.09 QHPT – Phillips family portrait (Willard Phillips with his second wife Harriet, and two sons of first wife Hannah- Oliver Pickering and Willard Quincy), n.d.

||Series IV Treadwell family papers

2|11|Letters to Grace Treadwell, 1913-1969

2|12|Treadwell family legal documents, 1863-1892

2|13|Quincy, Hill genealogy