Guide to the Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School, 1806-1837

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Research Library at the Nantucket Historical Association. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the internet.


Correspondence, including information relating to the origins and correct title of the school; together with town marriage records kept by Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School
Coffin School (Nantucket, Mass.); Coffin, Isaac, 1759-1839.
Nantucket Historical Association
Material is in English.

Information for Users

Restrictions to Access: No restrictions. Open for research.

Restrictions to Use: No usage restrictions.

Copyright Notice: Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], in the Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School collection, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:


Sensitive Materials Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Nantucket Historical Association assumes no responsibility.

Related Collections

  • MS326 Coffin School Records, Nantucket Historical Association.
  • MS486 Andrew Pinkham/Stackpole Collection, Nantucket Historical Association.

Subject Headings

  • Personal Name
    • Coffin, Isaac, Sir, 1759-1839.
    • Coffin, Gorham, 1784-1849.
    • Coffin, William, 1798-1838.
  • Corporate Name
    • Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin Lancasterian School, 1854-
  • Topical Term
    • Education.

Biographical Information

Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School was founded in 1827, at the height of Nantucket’s whaling era, by English Baronet Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, a descendant of Tristram Coffin, one of the Island’s original English settlers. First situated on Fair Street, a new school was built in its present location on Winter Street after the Great Fire of 1846. In addition to “giving a good English education to youth who are descendants of late Tristram Coffin” (which included almost every child on Nantucket), the school emphasized nautical skills. For that purpose, the Admiral purchased the first training ship in America — the Clio, an 87-foot brig that took Nantucket boys as far as the coast of Brazil. The Coffin School (as it is called today) closed as an academy for a brief period, 1898–1903, and reopened as a manual training school and home economics for the Nantucket Public Schools until 1978. In recent decades, the school has housed various non-profit organizations and is now the home of the Egan Maritime Foundation.

Scope and Content

This collection includes correspondence of members of the Coffin’s family including Isaac Coffin, Gorham Coffin and William Coffin, a copy of the act of incorporation of the Coffins School, and Nantucket marriage records from 1806-1809.


Folder 1 Marriage Records, 1806-1809

Folder 2 Incorporation, 1827

Folder 3 Correspondence Gorham Coffin Letters In, 1835, 1836

Folder 4 Correspondence Gorham Coffin Letters Out, 1836

Folder 5 Correspondence William Coffin Letters In, 1827-1834

Folder 6 Correspondence William Coffin Letters Out, 1826-1834

Folder 7 Correspondence Sir Isaac Coffin Letters In, 1827-1832

Folder 8 Correspondence Sir Isaac Coffin Letters Out, 1827-1832

Folder 9 Correspondence, 1827-1837

Processing Information

Finding aid by Thomas Perich, June 2022.

Materials in this collection were digitized with support from Connie and Tom Cigarran.


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