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A Guide to the Noah Scovell Papers

Finding aid created by Wondy Joseph

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
January 2016

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Scovell, Noah, 1759-1821
Title: Noah Scovell Papers
Dates: 1797-1806
Abstract: This collection contains manuscript documents of Noah Scovell relating to the coffee and cotton trade in Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Liverpool. Records include invoices, sales and wage receipts, account statements, inventories, and similar documents.
Extent: 0.10 Linear feet. 10 Folders.
Identification: MSS 0350
Language(s): Includes materials written in English and French.

Biographical/Historical Note

Noah Scovell (1759-1821) was a merchant, shipbuilder, and sea captain. His vessels primarily traded in the West Indies and along the Eastern seaboard, and included the Cotton Planter, the Ann, the Commerce, the Fairplay, and the Eliza Wheeler. Scovell was involved in the West Indian slave trade from 1796 to 1799, particularly as agent/owner of the brig named Ann. Scovell also served as master of vessels that sailed for foreign ports from 1804 to 1817; one of these vessels, Eliza Wheeler, was captured as a prize vessel in 1813 and Scovell spent two years as a prisoner of war in Great Britain.

Born in 1759 in Potapogue Parish, Saybrook, Connecticut, Scovell married Desire Pratt (1759-1821) of Essex and together they had five children. Scovell's eldest son, Noah Jr. (1781-1833), was Scovell's chief business agent and partner in New York City from the mid-1790s to the time of his death and Noah Jr. followed in his father's trade.

The Scovells were associated with over 130 vessels, usually as masters, builders, owners, or partners in ownership. Their trade spanned from Europe, including Liverpool, London, Amsterdam, Cadiz, and Lisbon; to Canton in China and Caribbean islands such as Haiti and Guadeloupe. Noah Scovell's father, grandfather to Noah Jr., Noah Scovell (1732-1782) was also a mariner, ship-owner, and merchant. His vessels included the sloop Maria, two brigs Peggy and Manufacture, and two ships Nancy and Patty and Julia. He was the son of William Scovell (1705-1754) who married Ruth Webb. The family are descendants of Arthur Scovell who immigrated to America from Shapwick, Dorset, England, in the mid-eighteenth century.

Scope and Content

This collection houses manuscript documents of Noah Scovell's engagements in trade in Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Liverpool. The collection contains mainly invoices and sales receipts for coffee and cotton, wage receipts, bills of exchange, statements of accounts, and inventory and provision lists.

Fifty-nine of the seventy-six documents are papers of Noah Scovell, master of the merchant schooner Gallant of New York, from a voyage to Guadeloupe and Haiti. These documents include a memorandum of coffee and cotton inventory on board, a detailed account of expenditures, several itemized invoices, and merchandising receipt slips made out to various clients and marked "bill paid" on verso, as well as receipts for wages paid. Five of the documents are dated in 1797, including the Ship Chandler's book, and some receipts; forty-seven of the documents are dated in 1798, featuring an assortment of ten manuscript receipts that were made in Jacmel, Haiti from March to April, some of which are in French; seven further documents are not dated but bear the ship's name.

Scovell wrote the last seventeen documents between 1804 and 1806. These deal with a voyage funded by British commission merchant William Lees. These documents, which are primarily letters, copies of correspondence in a three party transaction, and account statements, reveal that a new enterprise had been formed by Lees and that the firm had invested in the purchase of the vessel Cotton Planter with Captain Scovell.


The collection is arranged in chronological order.

Access or Use Restrictions


This collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Scovell Family Papers (Connecticut Historical Society)

Noah Scovell Papers (New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library)

Noah Scovel papers (New York Public Library)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Noah Scovell Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased in 2014.

Contents List

Box Folder
11 Documents from the Gallant, including ship chandler's book, receipts, and notes. 1797-1798
12 Wage receipts. 1798 January-June
13 Invoices. 1798
14 Merchandising invoices and receipts (2 of them for John R. Livingston). 1798
15 Receipts written in Jacmel, Haiti. 1798
16 Letter, possibly from Scovell's son. 1804 April 24
17 Letters regarding the coffee and cotton trade. 1804
18 Reports and letters. 1804-1805
19 Statements of accounts. 1804-1806
110 Inventory. undated

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Coffee industry
Cotton trade
Scovell, Noah, 1759-1821

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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