Elias H. Derby (1739-1799), a prosperous merchant of the eighteenth
century, grew up in the house at 27 Herbert St. (Richard Derby House/Derby-Ward
House) built for his father, Richard (1739-1799), a successful sea
captain and ship owner, in 1738. In the Custom House chapter of The
Scarlet Letter Hawthorne refers to E.H. Derby
as "King Derby." (courtesy of the Ohio
State University Press)
The Simon Forrester House at 188 Derby St. at the corner of Hodges
Court was the home of Simon Forrester, a prosperous merchant, in 1791.
The house is located next door to the Custom House and was convenient
to the Central Wharf. Forrester, of Scotch Irish ancestry, was brought
to the U.S. by Captain Daniel Hathorne (1731-1796), Hawthorne's grandfather,
who married Rachel Phelps, Nathaniel's first cousin. Forrester became
wealthy during the Revolutionary War, but his reputation is tainted
by stories of his alcoholism. Hawthorne inserts Forrester into The
Custom-House Sketch, calling him "old Simon
Forrester." (courtesy of the Ohio
State University Press)
"Grimshawe" and "The Dolliver Romance"
The Peabody House (aka Grimshawe House) at 53 Charter St.
is where Grimshawe and his wards, Ned and Elsie reside in "Grimshawe" and where Dr. Dolliver and Pansie reside in the "The Dolliver Romance." Both are unfinished works of Hawthorne's last years.
The House of the Seven Gables
The Philip English House, built in 1683 at the head of what is
now English St., not far from Collins Cove, was a house of many
gables thought by some to be the house of Hawthorne's novel, The
House of the Seven Gables. Called "The Great House," it was
considered the most lavish home in Salem of that time. Philip and
his wife, Mary, lived here in 1692 when they were accused of witchcraft.
Initially imprisoned in the Cart and Wheel Inn in Salem, they were
moved to Boston in June and placed under house arrest after the
intervention of friends. Allowed their freedom during the day in
Boston because of their upper-class status, they fled on a ship
to New York in August before their trial in Salem. A secret garret
room that was discovered when the house was razed may have been
built after Philip and Mary returned to Salem as a hiding place
should it ever be needed.
The Gardner-Pingree House, 128 Essex St., was built by Salem merchant John
Gardner, Jr., in 1804-5, and in 1811, because of financial difficulties,
he sold the house to Nathaniel West who sold the house three years
later to Joseph White. It is here where Captain Joseph White lived
and was murdered in April 1830, an event that shook the town of
Salem and one which intrigued Hawthorne. Some scholars see the influence
of this trial on The House of the Seven Gables.
"Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe"
Some scholars believe that the murder of Captain Joseph White (1748-1830) and the subsequent trial also influenced Hawthorne's writing of "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe." Captain White was murdered in the Gardner-Pingree House at 128 Essex St. where he lived.