Larkin Turner Collection

Manuscripts Collection 95

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Turner, Larkin, b. 1781
Title: Larkin Turner Collection
Dates: 1797-1854 (bulk 1804-1832)
Extent: 29 items
Abstract: Three scrapbooks containing correspondence, receipts, wills, and other documents and papers, relating chiefly to Turner’s seafaring activities; 9 journals kept by Turner aboard the ships CALUMET, PRINT, and PACTOTUS, sloop NABBY, and brig TRIM; 2 journals kept by Turner’s son, Thomas Larkin Turner (b. 1812) aboard the ship HENRY and brig PALESTINE; and genealogical information.
Identification: Coll. 95

Biography of Larkin Turner

Capt. Larkin Turner is an apt illustration of the force of character. Born in Grafton, Mass., in the house of his grandfather, Col. Luke Drury, a combination of circumstances supplied him with his Christian name, which he received, without any relationship existing between the families, from Dea. John Larkin, of Charlestown, Mass. Having received his preliminary education of six months during the Winters, when nothing different could be found for him to do, at the age of fourteen he as “put out” to learn the trade of shoemaker. Soon, however, he conceived the idea of entering into something more active. His ardent temperament suggested to him the sea; and as his uncle, John Drury, was in the practice of medicine at Marblehead, Mass., thither he repaired. Here, scarce sixteen years of age, he commenced in his new career under that uncle’s guidance. And, after passing through all the grades of an arduous seafaring life, resulting, at the age of twenty-two, in the command of a vessel from the counting house of that prince of merchants, William Gray, Esq.

A strict disciplinarian, severe as occasion called, cautious in management on shipboard, and to his crews ever kind, treating them with parental anxiety. During near forty years there were few parts of the world to which he had not navigated, and few experiencing less accidents usually resulting therefrom.

The want of early education beset him at every turn; but his indomitable perseverance supplied the deficiency. He gave himself instruction as occasion called for new efforts; enabling him, as a merchant and ship master, to take high rank in the business undertaken.

His modest and gentlemanly bearing at once gained him friends, and caused in him to be placed implicit confidence. In 1831, John Randolph, of Roanoke, then minister plenipotentiary to the Russian court, did him the honor to make him his confidential agent and bosom friend. And in the years 1836 and 1837 he was twice sent to the Massachusetts Legislature, to represent his adopted town of Charlestown, declining the tender made of him of a third nomination.

In 1832, after an eventful life incident only to a sailor, and seeing an extra “shot in his locker,” he concluded to moor his yet sturdy bark in that happy haven, in the bosom of his family, in perfect health, at his country seat in the patriotic town of Lexington, Mass. (Written by Thomas Larkin Turner, ca. 1850)

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.


Turner family
Turner, Thomas Larkin,–b. 1812

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Calumet (Ship)
Henry (Ship : 1834)
Nabby (Sloop)
Pactotus (Ship)
Palestine (Brig)
Print (Ship)
Trim (Brig)


Charlestown (Boston, Mass.) Massachusetts–Genealogy


International trade
Seafaring life

Document Types:


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 95, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Papers; 1852-1854
Box Folder
1 1 Genealogy entitled Descendants of Humphrey Turner; 1852 Jul
2 Copy of miniature of Capt. Larkin Turner; 1854 Sep 1
Volumes, “Private Papers of Capt. Larkin Turner”
1 “Private Papers of Capt. Larkin Turner” collected by his son, T. Larkin Turner<
2 “Private Papers of Capt. Larkin Turner” collected by his son, T. Larkin Turner
3 “Private Papers of Capt. Larkin Turner” collected by his son, T. Larkin Turner
Volumes, Journals; 1804-1834
4 Journal, Ship CALUMET; 1804 Jan 31-Aug 5
5 Journal, Ship CALUMET; 1804 Aug 30-1805 Jan 13
6 Journal, Ship PRINT; 1805 Apr 19-Nov 8
7 Journal, Ship PRINT; 1805 Nov 9-1806 May 11
8 Journal, Ship PRINT; 1806 May 12-Aug 9
9 Journal, Ship PACTOTUS; 1807 Mar 15-Aug 21
10 Journal, Sloop NABBY; 1810 Sep 10-Nov 28
11 Journal, Sloop NABBY; 1811 Jul 15-Oct 1
12 Journal, Brig TRIM; 1819 Aug 20-Sep 24
13 Journal, Ship HENRY; 1834 Oct 13-Nov 4
14 Journal, Brig PALESTINE; 1832 Feb 3-Nov 20

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