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Guide to the G.M. & A.W. Speir Records on the Estate of William Payne
1842-1888 (bulk 1873-1888)
 MS 3057

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ariana Heinsdorf

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 13, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The records in this collection were kept by G.M. & A.W. Speir, Counsellors at Law. The majority of the documents were created after William Payne's death in 1873 and used to settle his estate, while some were created during his lifetime. These include two accounting and stock ledgers kept personally by William Payne during the course of his business from 1847-1873. There are substantial records collected and presented for Jemima Payne's court case against James Sutherland and documents Speir used to finalize James Payne's estate. The collection includes deeds, wills, correspondence, inventories, contracts, financial receipts, power of attorney documents, mortgage agreements, hand-drawn property maps, schedules, account records, legal filings, and case documents. The geographical locations covered in these documents include New York City, Mt. Vernon, NY, Berrien County, Michigan, and Shrewsbury, New Jersey.


The collection is arranged by subject matter, retaining the original connections among documents as formed by the firm of G.M & A.W. Speir.

The documents were received by N-YHS in their original condition, tri-folded into several bundles tied together with ribbon. Each bundle held documents related to a particular aspect of the Payne case. Most of these bundles held only one or a few individual documents. Seven bundles were more extensive, comprised of one or more "sub-bundles" each holding documents on some aspect of a particular bundle's overall subject matter. The processing archivist opened all of these bundles, flattening the tri-folded documents. In order to retain the original connections among documents, the archivist did the following, as reflected in the container list below:

The content of each bundle was placed in its own folder; all folders include documents from one and only one bundle. For example, the folder designated in the container list as Box 1, Folder 1 includes all the documents from one particular bundle; Box 1, Folder 2 includes the documents from another bundle; and so on.

For "sub-bundles" that comprised an overall bundle, a consistent root folder number is used to link them, followed by a decimal number indicating each individual sub-bundle and its relation to the whole. For example, in Box 1, Folders 3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 hold the loose documents and four bundles that were found tied together; Folder 3.3.1 holds the content of the sub-bundle found within the bundle designated as folder 3.3 in Box 1. There are seven such multi-level bundles in the collection.

The folder labels/titles were transcribed from G.M. & A.W. Speir's original labels on the bundles. In instances where the bundles were not labeled, the processing archivist created titles that are designated by text within [brackets].

The date ranges shown for each folder are based on the dated material they contain. Many of these folders also hold undated material, which is not specifically indicated. Undated material may fall outside of the indicated date range. "Undated" is only used for a folder's date range when there is no dated material within it. There was no overall original order to the various bundles. The processing archivist sequenced them in rough chronological order and by related subject matter.