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Item Ref:  BSL - Bareboat Charter


A Magnificent Handwritten Maritime Contract from Colonial America
 signed by Joseph Marion who established the
 First American Insurance Company in Boston in 1724

Joseph Marion (1686 - 1750)


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With commerce booming in the American Colonies, the issuance of a Maritime Charter Party defined the roles and obligations of the Shipowner, the Captain and the Charterers. This extremely rare early American example sets out the "hire" of the boat at "30 Pounds per month New England money" for a voyage from Boston to Jamaica and Honduras, profits to be paid upon its "return to Boston the danger of the Seas only Excepted". Signed by Joseph Marion the First American Insurer in America. A fantastic Early Colonial American Document.

Historical Note

The American Colonies were one leg in the very profitable Shipping Triangle from England to America to the British West Indies. Ships, known as "botttoms", were the engines of such commerce in the Port of Boston. Two Shipowners from Marblehead, Thomas Peach and Ebenezer Hawkes, chartered their Sloop Sarah and Mary to Thomas Clift for a voyage from Boston to Honduras with a stop at Jamaica, no doubt to load cane sugar, molasses and rum. They "Lett” their 6/8's interest in the vessel to the Merchant, Thomas Clift, already an 1/8th part owner, and to the Master of the Sloop, Captain John Logan, who was also entitled to a part. A Charter Party is a written contract by which the owners lease the whole or a part of the ship to a merchant for the transportation of goods on a particular voyage. The document settles the terms upon which the cargo is to be carried. The master or owners usually bind themselves and the ship, tackle and stores (necessarys), that the cargo will be delivered (danger of the seas excepted) in good condition, to the place of discharge. They pledge to sufficiently outfit the ship to properly perform the voyage and to safely stow the cargo. The merchant on his part promises to pay for cargo, duties and port costs and to load and unload in a given amount of time. A reasonable period of time is set for the lease (here it was six months “certain”, i.e., guaranteed minimum, with two months “uncertain”). Both parties agree to penalties for non-performance of their respective obligations (here a steep 800 Pounds). A Bareboat Charter means simply that the Charterer will provide “victualling” and a crew. In a simple Charter the shipper merely buys the space with all the efforting done by the Shipowner's crew. What is particularly interesting about this document is that neither the Shipper/Merchant Thomas Clift, nor his fellow guarantor, Ebenezer Hough ever signs the contract. Instead it is signed by Joseph Marion, perhaps acting as Shipping agent, perhaps as a surety for the Voyage. A fascinating look at Colonial American Maritime Trade:

4 page Document – Signed and Dated: September 1, 1727
Text as Follows:

This Charter Party of Affreightment Indented, made and fully concluded The Fourteenth day of December Anno Domini One Thousand Seven Hundred and Twenty Seven -- Regis Georgi Secundi Magna Britannica -– Priced Between Ebenezer Hawkes, Blacksmith and Thomas Peach both of Marblehead in the County of Essex and Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England owner of Sixth Eight parts of the Sloop Sarah and Mary burthened about Seventy Tons whereof John Logan is at present Master on the One Part and Thomas Clift of Boston in the County of Suffolk and Province aforesaid Merchant of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Ebenezer Hawkes and Thomas Peach hath Granted and Letten To Freight and by these presents Doth grant Lett to freight Six Eight parts of the Hull and Body of the Sloop Sarah and Mary, stores & appointments, unto the said Thomas Clift for a Voyage by Gods assistance to be made in her from the Port of Boston to the Bay of Hundoras and thence to the Island of Jamaica and then back again to the said Bay and from thence to Boston at and for the Rate and price of Thirty pounds per month (for the said Six Eight parts) New England money. For the Space of Six monthly Certain and Two monthly more uncertain. The monthly to be accounted by the Kallender and the Said Sloop is to begin and enter into pay on the day of the date hereof. And the said Thomas Clift hath accordingly hired and Taken Six Eight Parts of the said Sloop by the Month at and after the Rate aforesaid for a voyage to be made In manner as afore Expressed. And the said Thomas Clift or his Agents may Load the said Vessell with such goods and merchandise as they Shall judge meet (Contraband goods only Excepted) in and during the said whole Voyage. And the said Ebenezer Hawkes and Thomas Peach for themselves, their heirs, Executors and Administrators do hereby Covenant and agree at their own Cost and Charge to fitt and Equipp Six Eight parts of the said Vessell with all necessarys for such a Voyage out, in, and during the same. The said Clift and Mr. Ebenezer Hough owners of the other Two Eights being to fitt out their part. And the said Thomas Clift shall and will Victuall and man the Said Sloop out and Home and pay all port Charges. And the said Thomas Clift for himself, his heirs, Executors and Administrators doth hereby Covenant, promise and agree to pay or Cause to be paid to the said Ebenezer Hawkes and Thomas Peach their Executors, Administrators or Assignees the Sum of Thirty pounds – per month New England money for the hire of Six Eight parts of the said Sloop in Manner following that is to say all and Every such sum and sums of money as shall arise and grow due for the hire of the Sixth Eight party of the said Sloop at and upon the day of the Said Sloop’s arrival at Jamaica from the Bay aforesaid and till that time to the Said Hawkes and Peach or their Order in Jamaica aforesaid. And the Remaining parts of the Hire of the Said Sixth Eight parts of the Said Sloop that shall arise and grow due as aforesaid shall be paid to the Said Hawkes and Peach their Order or assignees within The Space of Ten Days next after her arrival and return to Boston the danger of the Seas only Excepted. To the true performance of all and singular the Covenants, agreements & payments the partys to these presents Do bind and oblige themselves, their heirs, Executors and Administrators Each unto the other his Executors, Administrators and assignees in the Sum and penalty of Eight Hundred Pounds Currant money of New England. Firmly by these presents, and for the better security of the performance of this Charter party on the part of the said Thomas Clift & Ebenezer Hough of Boston aforesaid Merchant doth Bind & Oblige himself, his heirs, Executors and Administrators unto the Said Ebenezer Hawkes & Thomas Peach their Executors, Administrators or Assignees in the Sum and penalty of Eight Hundred Pounds in Money. In Witness whereof the party to these present Indentures have hereunto Interchangably sett their hands and seals the day and year first within written. Signed, Sealed and Delivered Ebenezer Hawkes in the presence of Thomas Peach John Logan Joseph Marion Subsequently agreed by the partys within named that five or six days shall be and hereby is allowed to fitt And Equipp the within Vessell Ebenezer Hawkes Thomas Peach Charter Party

Bogardus and Moore in History of Insurance in America, Spreading the Risk, state: "Joseph Marion probably opened the first true American insurance office in Boston in 1724. Four years later, he advertised the availability of fire insurance on household goods in the Boston Newsletter—a futile effort because the public didn't appreciate its importance until much later. Marion’s Boston Evening Post ads appearing late in 1745 read: "The Publick is hereby advertised that the Insurance Office first opened in Boston, Anno Dom. 1724 by Joseph Marion, Notary Publick is still held and kept by him on the North side of the Court house, near the head of King Street, where Money upon the bottom of ships and vessels may also be obtained for a reasonable premium. . . " That Marion not only opened the first Insurance shop run in America, but was still in business and advertising 20 years later is a testament to his judgment of risk. Through land bank fiascos, speculative bubble schemes in trade and land development companies, sovereign overreaching on shipping legislation, wars, French & Spanish privateers, and financial crashes, Joseph Marion survived it all - "the dangers of the Seas only Excepted" While the condition of the document reflects its suitably stormy history, Marion's strong, clear signature on this document, certainly as shipping Agent, and likely as Voyage underwriter as well, is extremely rare, we have never seen another.

Document Specifications:
 Fine Document on Batonne laid Paper, signed by "Joseph Marion" as Witness and dated "Boston, Dec. 14, 1727". Pages Measure approximately 9w x 14h inches (230 x 360 mm). Document is 1 sheet folded into 4 pages and written on 4 sides. Document is fragile and has separated at some of the folds; there are small pieces missing at some of the folds. Two vertical and one horizontal original file folds per page, none affecting signature.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

End of Item - BSL - Bareboat Charter

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