Boston Brahmin

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A Boston Brahmin is a member of Boston's traditional upper class. Members of this class are characterized by their highly discreet and inconspicuous lifestyle. Members of Boston's Brahmin class form an integral part of the historic core of the East Coast establishment, and are often associated with the distinctive Boston Brahmin accent, Harvard University, and traditional Anglo-American customs and clothing. Descendents of the earliest English colonists, such as those who came to America on the Mayflower or the Arbella, are often considered to be the most representative of the Boston Brahmins.[citation needed]

The term was coined by the physician and writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., in an 1860 article in the Atlantic Monthly.[1] The term Brahmin refers to the highest ranking caste of people in the traditional Hindu system of castes. In the United States, it has been applied to the old, wealthy New England families of British Protestant origin which were influential in the development of American institutions and culture. The term effectively underscores the strong conviction of the New England gentry that they were a people set apart by destiny to guide the American experiment as their ancestors had played a leading role in founding it. The term also serves to illustrate the erudite and exclusive nature of the New England gentry as perceived by outsiders, and may also refer to their interest in Eastern religions, fostered perhaps by the impact in the 19th century of the transcendentalist writings of New England literary icons as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, and the enlightened appeal of Universalist Unitarian movements of the same period.

Characteristics[edit]

The nature of the Brahmins is hinted at by the doggerel "Boston Toast" by Harvard alumnus John Collins Bossidy.

And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.[2][3]

Many 19th-century Brahmin families of large fortune were of bourgeois origin and, the same as the Puritan founders of Boston, were not of aristocratic descent. These families were often the first to seek, in typically British fashion, suitable marriage alliances with those old New England families that were descended from landowners in England itself to elevate and cement their social standing. The Winthrops, Dudleys, Saltonstalls, Winslows and Lymans (typically descended from English gentry) were, by and large, happy with this arrangement. All of Boston's "Brahmin elite," therefore, maintained the received culture of the old English gentry including cultivating the personal excellence that maintained the distinction between gentlemen and freemen, and between women and ladies. They saw it as their duty to maintain high standards of excellence, duty, and restaint. Cultivated, urbane, and dignified, a Boston Brahmin was supposed to be the very essence of enlightened aristocracy.[4][5] The ideal Brahmin was not only wealthy, but displayed suitable personal virtues and character traits. The Brahmin was expected to maintain the customary English reserve in his dress, manner, and deportment, cultivate the arts, support charities such as hospitals and colleges, and assume the role of community leader.[6]:14 Although the ideal called on him to transcend commonplace business values, in practice many found the thrill of economic success quite attractive. The Brahmins warned each other against "avarice" and insisted upon "personal responsibility". Scandal and divorce were unacceptable. The total system was buttressed by the strong extended family ties present in Boston society. Young men attended the same prep schools and colleges, and private clubs [7] and heirs married heiresses. Family not only served as an economic asset, but also as a means of moral restraint. Most belong to the Unitarian or Episcopal churches, although some were Congregationalists or Methodists. Politically they were successively Federalists, Whigs, and Republicans. They were marked by their manners and once distinctive elocution, the Boston Brahmin accent, a version of the New England accent. Their distinctive Anglo-American manner of dress has been much imitated and is the foundation of the style now informally known as preppy. In proper Boston society "who" has always mattered more than "how much" and although they have, for the most part, relinquished their historic role as leaders of Massachusetts government, they are still to be found on boards of financial institutions, schools, and arts organizations quietly setting the example of disinterested public service in the manner of their distinguished forebears.

Brahmin families[edit]

Many of the Brahmin families[citation needed] trace their ancestry back to the original 17th- and 18th-century colonial ruling class consisting of Massachusetts Governors and magistrates, Harvard Presidents, distinguished clergy and fellows of the Royal Society of London (a leading scientific body) while others entered New England aristocratic society during the 19th century with their profits from commerce and trade often marrying into established Brahmin families such as the Welds, Saltonstalls, Lymans, Sargents, Emersons, Winslows, Warrens and Winthrops. A few families are listed here.

Adams[edit]

Adams family

Amory[edit]

Amory family

Appleton[edit]

Appleton family [8]

Patrilineal line:

Other notable relatives

[9][10][11]

Bacon[edit]

Bacon family

Bradlee[edit]

Bradlee family [12] [13] [14]

  • Nathan Bradley I: Earliest known member born in America in Dorchester, Boston, Mass. in 1631
  • Samuel Bradlee: Constable of Dorchester, Massachusetts
    • Nathaniel Bradlee: Boston Tea Party participant; member of Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association
    • Josiah Bradlee I: Boston Tea Party participant m: Hannah Putnam
      • Josiah Bradlee III, (Harvard) m: Alice Crowninsheld
      • Frederick Josiah Bradlee I: (Harvard); Director of the Boston Bank
        • Frederick Josiah Bradlee, Jr. (Harvard-1915); on the first All-American football team at Harvard m: Chevaliere Josephine de Gersdorff
          • Frederick Josiah Bradlee III: acted on Broadway, writer
          • Chevalier Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee (b. 1921), (Harvard-1942): Fmr. Chief Executive Editor of the Washington Post
    • Samuel Bradlee, Jr. Lieutenant Colonel during the American Revolutionary War
    • Thomas Bradlee: Boston Tea Party participant; member of Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association; Member of the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons
    • David Bradlee: Boston Tea Party participant; Captain in the U.S. Continental Army, Member of the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons
    • Sarah Bradlee: "Mother of the Boston Tea Party"

Cabot[edit]

Main article: Cabot family

Chaffee/Chafee[edit]

Chaffee family, originally of Hingham, Massachusetts[15]

Choate[edit]

Choate family

Codman[edit]

Codman family

Coffin[edit]

Coffin family, originally of Newbury and Nantucket

Coolidge[edit]

Coolidge family

Cooper[edit]

Cushing[edit]

Cushing family, originally of Hingham, Massachusetts[16]

Descendant by marriage:

Crowninshield[edit]

Crowninshield family

Descendant by marriage:

Dana[edit]

Dana family

Delano[edit]

Delano family

Dudley[edit]

Dudley–Winthrop family

  • Thomas Dudley (1576-1653): Governor of Massachusetts, a founder of Harvard College
  • Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612–1672): first American poet, wife of Royal Governor Simon Bradstreet
  • Joseph Dudley (1647-1720): Royal Governor of Massachusetts, President of the Dominion of New England, Chief Justice of New York, Member of Parliament, Lt. Governor of the Isle of Wight
  • Paul Dudley (1675-1751): Chief Justice of Massachusetts, Member of the Royal Society, Founder of the Dudleian Lectures at Harvard
  • Paul Dudley Sargent, (1745-1828) Army Colonel and Revolutionary war hero
  • Dudley Saltonstall, (1738-1796) Naval Commodore during the revolution and successful privateer

Dwight[edit]

New England Dwight family

Eliot[edit]

Eliot family

Descendant by marriage:

Emerson[edit]

Emerson family

Endicott[edit]

Endicott family

Salem:

Dedham:

Forbes[edit]

Forbes family

Gardner[edit]

Gardner family, originally of Essex county

Healey / Dall[edit]

Holmes[edit]

Holmes family

Jackson[edit]

Jackson family

Johnson[edit]

Lawrence[edit]

Lawrence family

Descendant by marriage: Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856–1943): President of Harvard University

Lodge[edit]

Lodge family

Lowell[edit]

Lowell family[19]

Lyman[edit]

Melville[edit]

  • Rev. Thomas Melvill (ca. 1695-1769)
    • Allan Melvill (1728-1761): merchant
      • Maj. Thomas Melvill (1751-1832): merchant, American patriot
        • Allan Melville (1782-1832): married Maria Ganesvoort (1791-1872) daughter of Gen. Peter Gansevoort (1749-1812)
          • Gansevoort Melville (1815-1846)
          • Herman Melville (1819-1891): novelist, author of Moby-Dick
            • Malcolm Melville (1849-1867)
            • Stanwix Melville (1850-1886)
            • Elizabeth Melville (1853-1908)
            • Frances Melville (1855-1938)
          • Thomas Melville (1830-1884): sailor

Minot[edit]

Minot Family

Norcross[edit]

Norcross family, original settlers of Watertown, MA

Otis[edit]

Otis family,[20]

Parkman[edit]

Parkman family

Peabody[edit]

Peabody family

Perkins[edit]

Perkins family

Phillips[edit]

Phillips family

Putnam[edit]

Putnam family

Quincy[edit]

Quincy family

Rice[edit]

Rice family, originally of Sudbury, MA

Saltonstall[edit]

Saltonstall family[22]

Sargent[edit]

Sears[edit]

Sears family

Tarbox[edit]

Tarbox Academic and Political Family.

Thorndike[edit]

Thorndike family

Tudor[edit]

Tudor family

Warren[edit]

  • Richard Warren (1578– 1628) London merchant, Mayflower passenger
  • James Warren (1726 – 1808) revolutionary General, paymaster of American Army, president of Massachusetts Congress
  • Mercy Otis Warren (1728–1814): playwright, historian, pioneer feminist, revolutionary
  • Dr. Joseph Warren (1741 – 1775) Major-General, hero/martyr of Bunker Hill, president of Massachusetts Congress, sent Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride
  • Dr. John Warren (1753 – 1815) surgeon at Bunker Hill, co-founder Massachusetts Medical Society, founder of Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. John Collins Warren (1778 – 1856), surgeon, gave first public demonstration of surgical anesthesia, a founder of New England Journal of Medicine, president of the American Medical Association. founding Dean of Harvard Medical School and a founder of Massachusetts General Hospital
  • John Collins Warren, Jr. (1842-1947) American surgeon and president of the American Surgical Association

Weld[edit]

Weld family

Wigglesworth[edit]

Wigglesworth Family

Williams[edit]

  • Elisha Williams (1694 - 1755), Connecticut Congressman, judge, rector of Yale College
  • Ephraim Williams (1715–1755), American soldier, benefactor of Williams College in Massachusetts, memorialized in an original verse of "Yankee Doodle"
  • Col. Israel Williams (1709 - 1788) judge, military leader, founder of Williams College
  • William Williams (1731 - 1811), signer of the Declaration of Independence

Winthrop[edit]

Winthrop family[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Brahmin Caste of New England", The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 5, Issue 27, Chapter 1 (1860). The series of articles that this article was part of eventually became his novel Elsie Venner, and the first chapter of that novel was about the Brahmin caste.
  2. ^ Andrews, Robert (ed.) (1996). Famous Lines: A Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-10218-6. 
  3. ^ McPhee, John. Giving Good Weight. p. 163. 
  4. ^ Ronald Story, Harvard and the Boston Upper Class: The Forging of an Aristocracy, 1800–1870 (1985).
  5. ^ Paul Goodman, "Ethics and Enterprise: The Values of a Boston Elite, 1800–1860", American Quarterly, Sept 1966, Vol. 18 Issue 3, pp 437–451.
  6. ^ Peter S. Field Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Making of a Democratic Intellectual Rowman & Littlefield, 2003 ISBN 0847688429. ISBN 978-0847688425
  7. ^ Ronald Story, "Harvard Students, The Boston Elite, And The New England Preparatory System, 1800–1870", History of Education Quarterly, Fall 1975, Vol. 15 Issue 3, pp 281–298.
  8. ^ Farrell, Betty (1993). Elite Families: Class and Power in Nineteenth-Century Boston. SUNY Press. ISBN 1438402325. 
  9. ^ Muskett, Joseph James, ed. (1900). "Appleton of New England". Suffolk Manorial Families (Exeter: William Pollard & Co) 1: 330–334. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ Jewett, Issac Appleton (1801). Memorial of Samuel Appleton of Ipswich, Massachusetts: With Genealogical Notices of Some of His Descendants. Boston. 
  11. ^ Ipswich Historical Society (1906). "A Genealogy of the Ipswich Descendants of Samuel Appleton.*". Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ Quinn, Bradlee. "David Bradlee". Internet Archive. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Quinn, Bradlee. "David Bradlee". Boston Tea Party Museum. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Quinn, Bradleeq. "Sarah Bradlee". Boston Tea Party Museum. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  15. ^ History of the Town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Solomon Lincoln Jr., Caleb Gill, Jr. and Farmer and Brown, Hingham, 1827
  16. ^ History of the Town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Solomon Lincoln, Jr., Caleb Gill, Jr. and Farmer and Brown, Hingham, Mass., 1827
  17. ^ Hall, Alexandra [2009]. The New Brahmins. Boston Magazine
  18. ^ http://www.masshist.org/findingaids/doc.cfm?fa=fa0057
  19. ^ Lowell, Delmar R., The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899; Rutland VT, The Tuttle Company, 1899; ISBN 978-0-7884-1567-8.
  20. ^ John J. Waters, The Otis Family in Provincial and Revolutionary Massachusetts (U. of North Carolina Press, 1968)
  21. ^ https://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/about/history/month/apr
  22. ^ Robert Moody, The Saltonstall Papers, 1607-1815: Selected and Edited and with Biographies of Ten Members of the Saltonstall Family in Six Generations. Vol. 1, 1607-1789 vol 2 1791-1815 (1975).
  23. ^ Malcolm Freiberg, "The Winthrops and Their Papers," Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, 1968, Vol. 80, pp 55-70

External links[edit]