"the families which now compose the aristocracy of Salem"
American aristocracy (c.1861)
Public DomainAmerican aristocracy (c.1861) - Credit: Daniel Huntington

Ralph Waldo Emerson recorded in his diary in 1843 that, “In Salem, the aristocracy is of the merchants, even the lawyers are a second class.” The families Hawthorne is referring to therefore include the Derbys, Grays and Forresters, together with the descendents of other prominent merchants such as Philip English, Jerathmiel Peirce and Aaron Waite.