Portsmouth Marine Society, 1808-1896 – MS026

Portsmouth Marine Society, 1808-1896 – MS026

Provenance: Donated by William Manning Rollins on behalf of the heirs of his uncle William H. Rollins. William H. Rollins apparently acquired the records after serving as proxy for his brother Charles H. Rollins, a longtime member of the Society.

Citation: Portsmouth Marine Society, MS026, Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: 1 Hollinger Box and 1 Flat Box

Access: No restrictions


Minutes, financial records, articles of incorporation, and other records.

Scope and Content

Records contain the articles of incorporation and by-laws of the Portsmouth Marine Society, the membership lists, financial ledgers, and minutes of the society’s meetings. The earliest items date from 1808, and include the articles of incorporation and the by-laws of the society along with the signatures of the original members.

Financial records include the general ledger, day book, and receipts of final dividend payments. These records outline assistance payments to disabled seamen and their families as well as investments made by the society to generate additional working capital.

The meeting minutes provide lists of officers and managers throughout the history of the society. The minutes also illustrate the day-to-day affairs of the society, including the collection of nautical information and discussion of other maritime issues.

Historical Note

The Marine Society was incorporated by the State of New Hampshire on June 6, 1808. The society was formed with two primary goals in mind: to provide relief to old and disabled seamen, their widows and orphans, and to collect and disseminate nautical information and ideas which might improve the maritime industry. The members were separated into two categories, maritime (active and retired ship captains, who made up about two-thirds of the membership) and honorary (men who weren’t seafarers). Five-sixths of all funds were required to be used for the relief of members and their families while the final sixth went into a permanent fund to help pay for the administrative costs of the society itself.

The society was presided over by a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and a thirteen-member board of managers. All of these positions were filled annually by a vote of all the members. The entire society met semi-annually on the second Tuesday or July and January and attendance was strongly encouraged. All members were required to report any nautical information to the society immediately upon their return from sea.

The first meeting of society was held on July 12 th, 1808 in the State House in Portsmouth, with Thomas Thompson, president; Thomas Manning, vice president; George Long, treasurer; and George Smith, secretary. There were only five secretaries over the society’s history: George Smith, 1808-1811; Enoch Parrott, 1812-1815; Sam Hutchins, 1816-1836; William Shackford, 1837-1875; and Charles Rollins, 1876-1893. The Portsmouth Marine Society originally had eighty-one maritime members and nineteen honorary members with forty-five maritime and five honorary members being added over the next eighty-seven years. Meetings of the society were held in many locations throughout Portsmouth, until 1824 when the society began to hold its meetings in the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

In 1895 the members, feeling that the society had outlived its usefulness, requested that the society be dissolved, its holding sold and the proceeds distributed to the stockholders. This request was granted and the funds were distributed from January to April 1896.

In January of 1982 the society was reincorporated to underwrite the research and publication of books related to the Portsmouth of Portsmouth’s maritime heritage and to cooperate with other groups who share that goal. The society was reincorporated with one hundred sixty-seven members.

Historical Timeline

1808 Portsmouth Marine Society incorporated by the state of New Hampshire to aid seaman and their dependents and to disseminate nautical information. Thomas Thompson is elected President; Thomas Manning, Vice President; George Long, Treasurer; and George Smith, Secretary. The society meets at various locations throughout Portsmouth.

1812 Enoch Parrott elected Secretary

1816 Samuel Hutchins elected Secretary

1824 The society begins holding its meetings in the Portsmouth Athenaeum

1827 The society passes a motion to require all of its members to fly a white flag with a number on it in order to conspicuously identify themselves as members

1837 William Shackford elected Secretary

1876 Charles H. Rollins elected Secretary

1893 Vote taken to repeal the articles of incorporation

1895-1896 Payment of final dividends to members

1982 Reincorporated with 167 new members, to promote study of maritime heritage in the Portsmouth area

Series Listing

I. Administrative and Organizational Records, 1808-1895

II. Financial Records, 1808-1896

III. Miscellaneous Records


I. Administrative and Organizational Records, 1808-1895

Printed pamphlets and record book with articles of incorporation and by-laws. Includes lists of active and deceased members. Minutes of society meetings, 1808-1895. Draft of request for dissolution of the society. Certificates empowering individuals to collect debts owed to the society after its dissolution.

Folder 1 Record Book: Articles of incorporation, by-laws, and original list of members, 1808-1884 and financial records, 1808-1831

Folder 2 Pamphlet: Articles of incorporation and laws revised 1823 and list of members

Folder 3 Pamphlet: Articles of incorporation and laws revised 1877 and list of members, 1873

Folder 4 Letters: Drafts of request for the dissolution of the society, ca. 1892-1893

Folder 5 Certificates: Empowering individuals to collect debts owed to the society, 1895

Phase Box 1 Minutes of society meetings, 1808-1895

II. Financial Records, 1808-1896

General ledger and index, and daybook of the society; receipts of final dividend payments to stockholders; and miscellaneous financial notes found in the general ledger.

Folder 6 Record Book: General ledger, 1831-1895

Folder 7 Pamphlet: Index to the general ledger

Folder 8 Record Book: Day Book, 1831-1895

Folder 9 Final dividend payment receipts, 1895-1896

III. Miscellaneous Records

Miscellaneous notes found in the general ledger and day book, 1895-1896.

Folder 10 Miscellaneous financial notes found in the general ledger

Folder 11 Miscellaneous notes found in the general ledger and day book, 1895-1896