Elizabeth Ann Farley (1802-1865) was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1802. She married George Washington Heard (1793-1863) in 1823 and had six children: John; Augustine; Margaret; Albert Farley; and George Washington, who later legally changed his name to George Farley Heard. George Washington Heard's brother, Augustine Heard, was a successful merchant dealing in the China trade. Augustine did not have any children, and therefore Elizabeth and George Washington's four sons all took their turn working for the family business in China. George Washington was involved in business in Ipswich until 1837 when he moved to Boston to become a partner in James Haughton & Company, a dry goods dealer. While George worked in Boston, Elizabeth continued to live in Ipswich at the family homestead and became actively interested in the education of young women. She met Zilpah Polly Grant who founded the Ipswich Female Seminary and contributed money to similar endeavors. While in Ipswich she received letters from her sons discussing their love for her and their worldly view as businessmen running a family company.
Augustine Heard (1785-1868), Elizabeth's brother-in-law, sailed to Canton, China in 1830 and entered into the trading firm of Russell & Company at the age of 45. By 1838 he began his own China trading firm with his friend Joseph Coolidge under the name Augustine Heard & Company. Elizabeth's first son, John Heard (1824-1894), sailed in 1841 at the age of 17 to Canton with his uncle Augustine to work in his uncle's trading firm. Uncle Augustine retired in 1844 leaving John as head of the firm until his retirement sometime in 1852. Augustine Heard, Jr. (II) (1827-1905) graduated from Harvard in 1847, and sailed for China to join John in order to learn the family business. He was employed in Canton and Hong Kong and served as the head of company and later as a roving agent in Europe. Albert Farley Heard (1833-1890) graduated from Yale University in 1853 and began working in the family firm in China shortly thereafter. George Washington Heard, Jr. (1837-1875) sailed to China in 1859 as private secretary of the American delegation at the negotiation of the Treaty of Tientsin. After the Treaty negotiations were complete he entered his uncle's business as manager at Canton. He was the last of his brothers to serve the company. After the firm filed for bankruptcy he sailed for the United States aboard the S.S. Anadye, but died at sea in 1875.
From the guide to the Elizabeth Heard papers, 1829-1864, (Baker Library, Harvard Business School)