Guide to the West Family Papers, 1798-1899

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.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
West Family Papers
West family
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 West Family Papers, 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.

Subject Headings

  • Personal Name
    • Bunker, Sarah West, 1817-1858.
    • West, Benjamin, 1814-.
    • West family.
    • West, Paul, 1778-1862.
    • West, Phebe Ann, 1819-1899.
  • Corporate Name
    • Brant Point Light (Mass.)
    • Second Congregational Church (Nantucket, Mass.)
    • Straight Wharf (Nantucket, Mass.)
  • Geographic Name
    • Nantucket (Mass.)—Genealogy.
  • Topical Term
    • Businesses—Massachusetts—Nantucket—19th century.
    • Lighthouses—Massachusetts—History.
    • Women—Massachusetts—History—19th century.

Biographical Information

Descended from Charles West (1742-1821) and his second wife, Hepsabeth Paddock Barnard West (1744-1820), this branch of the West family was active in Nantucket education, local politics, and business.

Paul West (1778-1862) was born in Nantucket, Mass., to Charles and Hepsabeth West. He served on whaleships beginning at age thirteen, and, after building a reputation on voyages departing from the port at Dunkirk, France, was appointed master of the ship Cyrus in 1803.

During the Napoleonic Wars, he commanded armed vessels as a whaler and a privateer simultaneously. His financial success in these ventures allowed him to retire to Nantucket at the age of thirty-nine. In Dunkirk he married the daughter of a Nantucket captain, Phebe Hussey (1783-1846), and together they had three children, Benjamin H. West (1814-?), Sarah West Bunker (1817-1858), and Phebe Ann West (1819-1899). Sometime after Phebe’s death, Paul was remarried to Lucy Coffin (1785-1871).

Scope and Content

The West Family papers consists chiefly of personal papers from Paul West and his children. Included among the papers of Paul West are items concerning Straight Wharf, the Second Congregational Meeting House and Town Clock restorations in 1830-31, and the construction of lighthouses in Nantucket, Mass. Letters of Sarah, Benjamin, and Phebe primarily relate family events, though a series of Phebe Ann West’s exchanges with Thayer, Brigham and Company from 1872 until 1880 document her business affairs and investments. The collection also includes awards of merit for performance in school awarded to Benjamin and Sarah, as well as two diaries belonging to her.


Processing Information

Processed by NHA staff. Finding aid by Abbie Minard and Amelia Holmes, June 2018.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

We use cookies to deliver our online services. Details and instructions on how to disable those cookies are set out in our Privacy Policy. By clicking I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies unless you have disabled them.

> >