Forbes Family Papers

Manuscripts Collection 293

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G.W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Forbes Family
Title: Forbes Family Papers
Dates: 1833-1880
Extent: ca. 40 pieces, 10 vols.
Abstract: Primarily logbooks, account books, crew lists, passenger lists, protests, and sailing orders for the ships FRANCIS DEPAU (1836-1843) and SULLY (1833-1835), masters Cleaveland A. Forbes and Thomas Forbes. The collection also includes correspondence, estate papers, diaries, records for the family farm in Perth Amboy, and other family materials.
Identification: Coll. 293

Biography of the Forbes Family

Captain Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (1780-1857) was the son of Captain Alexander Forbes and Susanna Gifford of Newark, New Jersey. During the War of 1812, Captain Cleaveland Forbes sailed as a privateer and from 1833 to 1836 he commanded the FRANCIS DEPAU between New York and Havre, France. Captain Forbes also carried cotton and passengers between Liverpool, Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans on the FRANCIS DEPAU from 1836 to 1843.

C.A. Forbes married Susanna Foster and their children were Alexander Forbes (1805), Catherine Forbes (1807), Anna Forbes (1808), Elizabeth Forbes (1811), Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (1814), and Andrew Bell Forbes (1824). This second generation Cleaveland also became a ship captain [it was most likely this Capt. Forbes who commanded the S.S. CALIFORNIA on her historic passage from New York to San Francisco, October 1848 to February 1849] and who’s letter to his sister Bessie (married to William Henry Pope Benton) is included in this collection.

Second generation Cleaveland married Mary McKinney and their [known] children were Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (1842) and Charles Seymour Forbes (1844).

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Biography of the Ships FRANCIS DEPAU and SULLY

The FRANCIS DEPAU was a 595 ton full rigged ship built in New York in 1833 by Bell and Brown, for the New York-Havre trade. She was slow, and is known as having one of the longest westbound passages of her day. In 1836 she was damaged at Havre, where she was condemned and sold to be repaired. She was intended to be used as a sailing “tramp,” but in fact, she actually returned to active trans-Atlantic and coastal trade. In 1836 she became part of the Orleans Line, and by 1843, part of the Merchant’s Line, carrying cargo between Liverpool, Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans. In 1849 she was sent to California for the Gold Rush and her history from that point on is unknown.

The ship SULLY was a 456 ton ship built in New York by Bergh in 1827. Her service was as part of the Havre Line from 1827 until 1846.

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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.


Benton, William Henry Pope, 1811-1881
Forbes, Cleaveland A., 1780-1857
Forbes, Cleaveland A., b. 1814
Forbes, Thomas

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Francis DePau (Ship : 1833)
Merchant’s Line
Orleans Line
Sully (Ship : 1827)


Perth Amboy (N.J.)


Marine accidents
Shipping–Louisiana–New Orleans
Shipping–New York (State)–New York
Ships–Passenger lists

Document Types:

Account books
Crew lists
Estate records
Family records
Marine protests

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 293, 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.

Documents, papers and booklets 1823-1880
Box Folder
1 1 Papers of ship FRANCIS DEPAU, Cleaveland A. Forbes, master. Includes protest, correspondence, accounts, and disbursements, primarily regarding the wreck, repair, and sale of the vessel at Havre; 1836 Mar-Jun (11 pieces)
2 Papers of ship FRANCIS DEPAU, including correspondence, passenger lists, disbursements, and accounts; 1836-1843 (15 pieces)
4 Letter from Cleaveland A. Forbes to sister Bessy Benton; 1850 May 23 (1 piece)
6 Cleaveland A. Forbes estate papers, miscellaneous family papers, and papers regarding the family farm in Perth Amboy; ca. 1847-1880 (35 pieces)
Volumes 1833-1872
Box Folder
1 3 Vol. 1: Crew’s accounts, ship FRANCIS DEPAU; ca. 1837-1841 (18 pp.)
5 Vol. 2: C.A. Forbes, Esq. bank book from the Commercial Bank of New Jersey; ca. 1823-1839 (16 pp.)
7 Vol. 3: Ship SULLY crew’s accounts (1833-1835), FRANCIS DEPAU accounts in New Orleans (ca. 1836), miscellaneous family accounts. Small pencil sketch of Sandy Hook in volume (ca. 92 pp.)
8 Vol. 4: Logbook from ship FRANCIS DEPAU, Cleaveland A. Forbes, master. Contains small sketches of vessels sighted or spoke and a list of wages advanced to crew; 1836 Jun-1838 Dec (ca. 244 pp.)
9 Vol. 5: Account book from ship FRANCIS DEPAU, crew accounts (1836-1837), sailing instructions (1836), family farm and business accounts (ca. 1843-1854) (ca. 85 pp.)
Vol: 6: Journal of Cleaveland A. Forbes aboard ship FRANCIS DEPAU covering several voyages and containing sketches of vessels seen or spoke; 1836 Oct 10-1840 Jul 9 (ca. 200 pp.)
Box Folder
2 1 Vol. 7: Ship’s accounts for ship FRANCIS DEPAU including disbursements, and portage bills, primarily with Goodhue & Co. N.Y.; 1836 Oct 8-1839 Nov 5 (31 pp.)
1 Vol. 7: Cleaveland A. Forbes personal diary; 1855-1857 (50 pp.)
2 Vol. 8: Journal for ship FRANCIS DEPAU, Thomas Forbes master, for two voyages. Includes a large pencil drawing of the FRANCIS DEPAU; 1842 Oct 9-1843 Jul 4 (72 pp.)
3 Vol. 9: Logbook for ship FRANCIS DEPAU, including harbor logs, crew lists and provisions lists; 1842 Oct 8-1843 Apr 24 (ca. 150 pp.)
4 Vol 10: “Memorandum” expense/account book containing miscellaneous family accounts and memos, primarily of C.A. Forbes and Anna Forbes; ca. 1837-1872 (27 pp.)

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