Edward Carrington (1775-1843) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. As a young man, he came to Providence, R.I., where he worked as a clerk and supercargo for local merchants Seth Wheaton, Samuel Butler, and Richard Jackson. He resided in Canton, China from 1802 to 1810, serving as American Consul, acting as an agent for other American merchants, and amassing a considerable fortune by trading on his own behalf. The collection documents his mercantile and shipping activities in China, South America and Europe during 1802-1857. It also documents his other business enterprises in the textile industry in Rhode Island with the Hamlet Mill and Manufacturing Company, 1834-1860 and the Blackstone Canal Company, 1823-1831. The collection also contains the personal papers of Edward Carrington, his son Edward II, and Edward II's wife Candace (Dorr) Carrington.
Correspondence, financial records and diaries, mostly of merchant John Francis, his wife Abigail (Brown) Francis, their son Gov. John Brown Francis, and his wife Ann B. (Carter) Francis. Among the most important items are John Francis's two 18th century mercantile diaries; Abigail (Brown) Francis's diary/memorandum book from 1792-1815; and eight of John Brown Francis's political letters from his tenure as Governor of Rhode Island.
James Brown II (1698-1739) was born in Providence. His father was Elder James Brown (1666-1716), a pastor on the First Baptist Church; his mother was Mary (Harris) Brown. James II established himself early in the mercantile business, trading in rum, molasses, slaves and less controversial wares.
John Brown (1736-1803) was born in Providence, R.I., the fourth son of merchant James Brown II (1698-1739) and Hope (Power) Brown (1702-1792). He began his working life in partnership with his three brothers (Nicholas, Joseph and Moses) and his uncle as Obadiah Brown & Co., a mercantile firm that traded in rum, slaves, molasses and other goods. The firm was renamed Nicholas Brown & Co. after the death of Obadiah in 1762.
Obadiah Brown I (1712-1762) was born in Providence. His father was Elder James Brown (1666-1716), a pastor on the First Baptist Church; his mother was Mary (Harris) Brown. Upon reaching adulthood, Obadiah joined his older brother James Brown II (1698-1739) in the mercantile trade, which included traffic in cocoa, rum, molasses and slaves.
William Read Bowers (1800-1841) was a sea captain and ship owner of Providence. He was the son of Asa Bowers and Candace Hoppin; his mother was a member of one of the leading merchant families of the city. By 1832, William was the owner of at least three ships: the Abeona (Samuel Read, master), Almira (Ephraim Eldredge, master) and the Phebe (William Davis, master). William Earle (1808-1879) was the son of Oliver and Sally Earle of Providence. He was employed at William R. Bowers and Co. beginning in the early 1830s, and purchased the firm upon its bankruptcy in 1837, with partner Lloyd Bowers (1786-1864). He continued operating the chandlery as William Earle & Co. through about 1877, and died two years later. His wife was Mary A. Chandler.