Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The random monthly pick: Russell Sturgis, a Boston merchant involved in trade of hats, furs...... & ...opium.

Russell Sturgis Boston c 1822 by Gilbert Stuart
Worcester Art Museum; Gift of the Paine Charitable Trust, 1965.254
from Lawrence Park:
Russell Sturgis (1750-1826) was the second son of Thomas Sturgis (1722-1785) and Sarah, or Sally (Paine) Sturgis of Barnstable, Massachusetts. In 1773 he married Elizabeth Perkins. In or before 1771 he moved to Boston and started in the hat and fur trade. It is interesting to note that his name appears in the first Boston directory, published in 1789. He was a close friend of Gilbert Stuart, who painted three portraits of him.

Russell got his start in the hat and fur trade by apprenticing to his wife’s grandfather in Boston at age 16. He served in the Massachusetts milita, and was active in public affairs; fire warden in earlier years and worked as a representative for Boston in the Massachusetts state senate. "Sturgis's two brothers-in-laws were notable China traders. In 1795 Sturgis joined them in ownership of a new ship, the Grand Turk, which was sent to Canton in March 1796. When the Perkins brothers opened a branch office in Canton in 1803, Sturgis invested substantially, and three of Sturgis's sons subsequently voyaged to China. In 1818 all three were involved in the opium trade as partners in the firm of James P. Sturgis and Company." information from Wiki


Poetikat said...

Fascinating blog. I will have to come back when I have the leisure to really explore.
Thanks so much for your visit. I've seen your name at Hazel's too and have been meaning to check you out.


emikk said...

Do you think GS smoked opium?

Einbildungskraft said...

hi emikk, interesting question. Especially as he was a 'good friend' of Mr. Sturgis (doesn't that mean spending more time with others)...and indeed painted 3 portraits (I would include the other two but I would have to scan out of my Park book and the quality is horrible).
I wonder what kind of evidence one would look find out...
I think I will take a closer look at opium use (socially) around this time.
Thanks Kat for your visit!

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