The central figure in this collection, John Gorham Palfrey (1796-1881), was a Unitarian minister, professor, editor of the North American Review, congressman from Massachusetts (1847-1849), postmaster of Boston (1861-1867), and historian, best known for his multi-volume History of New England. His grandfather William Palfrey (1741-1780) was a business partner of John Hancock and Pay Master General of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. His father John Palfrey (1768-1843) was a merchant in Boston and later owned a plantation in Attakapas, La. John Gorham Palfrey's son, John Carver Palfrey (1833-1906) was a military engineer during the Civil War and was later an officer in the textile manufacturing business. His daughter Sarah Hammond Palfrey (1823-1914) was a novelist and poet.
From the guide to the Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)