Wentworth-Gardner Association Records (1753-1781, 1939-1975) – MS043

Provenance: On deposit from the Wentworth-Gardner – Tobias Lear House Association

Citation: Wentworth-Gardner Association Records, MS043, Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: .25 linear feet (½ Hollinger box)

Access: No restrictions

Processed by: Processed by Lindsay Wycoff and Susan Stowe Kindstedt, October 2004

Scope and Content

The records include both collection pieces and institutional records. Collections pieces all relate to Samuel Hale of Portsmouth. The majority of the records are institutional papers including correspondence related to collections pieces (donations and loans). There are also papers related to the operations of the museum, tours, events, etc. as well as maintenance of the houses, painting, wallpapering, etc. The collection also includes financial materials and tax returns.

The first series, Samuel Hale materials, inlcudes a letter from George King, written from Albany, N.Y., relating to a shipment of Schenectady, N.Y., wheat, sent to Hale in Portsmouth on the schooner Esther, mastered by Daniel Moses; letter (1753) to Hale from Joseph Atkinson, Newbury, Mass., concerning the death of Enoch Robinson and other family members due to an epidemic; materials (1761) from John Noyes reflecting Hale’s administration of the estate of Thomas Wright, particularly regarding Wright’s pew rent at South Church; legal accounts with the town of Portsmouth reflecting Hale’s efforts to discount the taxes of William Hart and others, with the signed approval of selectmen William Langdon, George Gains, and Supply Clap; and Hale’s petition to Gov. John Wentworth requesting 200 acres of land to replace the poor land contained in a large tract of land surveyed and laid out by Capt. Walter Neale, as well as complaining about his small military pension received for his participation in the 1st Expedition to Louisbourg.

The second series, Institutional Records of the Wentworth-Gardner – Tobias Lear House, inlcudes deeds and abstracts of deeds to the Tobias Lear and Wentworth-Gardner houses, historic buildings owned by the association; bills and receipts; lists of items donated to the association and correspondence relating to these gifts; correspondence; newspaper clippings; minute book; photographs; income tax forms; and other records.

Historical Note

The Wentworth-Gardner House was built ca. 1760 as a wedding gift for Thomas Wentworth (1740-1768). Major William Gardner purchased the house in 1793. After changing hands several times during the nineteenth century the house was purchased by Wallace Nutting in 1915. In 1918 Nutting sold the house to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The museum had plans of moving the house to New York as an exhibit. A local group formed to save the house and by 1940 the Association had purchased the Wentworth-Gardner House and the nearby Tobias Lear House. The Tobias Lear House was built ca. 1740 by Tobias Lear (the third). Later it was home to Tobias Lear (the fifth) who served as secretary to George Washington.

Series List

I. Collection pieces – Samuel Hale Materials

II. Institutional records

I. Collection pieces – Samuel Hale Materials

Box 1

Folder 1 Samuel Hale Papers 1753-1781

1753 Oct. 3 Joseph Atkinson, Newbury to Samuel Hale, “Piscataqua,” announcing the death of Enoch Robinson and two of the Atkinson children.

1755 Oct. 14 John Noyes, Newbury to Samuel Hale, Portsmouth, desiring a letter from Hale, interested in reading books.

1756 July 1 Samuel Hale estate information concerning Thomas Wright and Thomas Parker

1756 July 2 Samuel Hale and George King agreement concerning purchase of wheat

1773 Jan. 14 Samuel Hale petition to Governor John Wentworth regarding an “unimprovable tract of land” that Hale was granted, outlines the financial hardships Hale was facing due to poor crop production

1781 March 24 Receipt for Samuel Hale from the town of Portsmouth

II. Institutional records

Box 1

Folder 2 Collections Correspondence 1939-1949

Folder 3 Collections Correspondence 1950-1972

Folder 4 Collection Inventories, part 1

Folder 5 Collection Inventories, part 2

Folder 6 Museum operations

Folder 7 Meeting minutes 1939-1941

Folder 8 Research requests

Folder 9 Financial

Folder 10 Tax documents 1964-1975

Folder 11 Cancelled checks

Folder 12 Lear House Deed 1940


Book 1

Leonard Cotton Account Book, 1825-1826 (added in 2009)


Book 2

Leonard Cotton Account Book, 1846-1864 (added in 2009)