William Henry Russell collection of Morris family papers1684-1935
The Morris family of Philadelphia were brewers, merchants, land speculators, manufacturers, and prominent participants in public affairs. Their papers are primarily from Samuel and Isaac W. Morris. However, the collection includes papers from other family members from the first Anthony Morris to John Thompson Morris (1847-1915), the founder of the Morris Arboretum in Germantown. There are also papers from members of the Wistar, Paschall, and Mifflin families allied by marriage.
- Russell, W.H. (Collector, Person)
10.5 Linear Feet
The Morris family of Philadelphia were brewers, merchants, land speculators, manufacturers, and prominent participants in public affairs.
Anthony Morris was born in London in 1654. His father died on a voyage to Barbados about a year after his birth. His mother then went to Barbados to settle his affairs, where she too died, leaving Anthony an orphan in London. Anthony Morris became a Quaker and emigrated to Burlington, N.J., in 1682, relocating to Philadelphia about three years later. Around 1687 he founded the second brewery in the city, which became the basis of the family fortune. He was one of the founders of the William Penn Charter School and served in a number of legislative and judicial offices. After 1701 he retired from business ans devoted much of his time to preaching and the affairs of the Society of Friends. He died in 1721.
His son, Anthony Morris, was born in London in 1681/82 (old style). He continued the family brewing business and, beginning in 1720, made large investments in the iron industry. He became a partner of Thomas Rutter, Thomas Potts, et al., in the Colebrookdale Furnace in Berks County and in 1727 was one of the founders of the Durham Furnace. He also invested in flour mills in Bucks County. He represented Philadelphia in the Provincial Assembly (1721-1726) and was Mayor of Philadelphia (1738-1739). He died on September 23, 1763.
His son, Anthony Morris (1705-1780), continued the brewing business. He was one of the founders of the elite fishing club, the "Colony in Schuylkill." His son, Samuel Morris (1734-1812), was a merchant who was also a member of the "Colony in Schuylkill," the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, and other elite sporting clubs. In 1774 he helped organize the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse and was its commander from 1775 to 1786. He fought at Brandywine, Germantown, and Trenton, where his brother, Maj. Anthony Morris, was killed. During the war he also served two terms in the Provincial Assembly and was Commissary General of the Middle District.
Luke Wistar Morris (1768-1830) and Isaac Wistar Morris (1770-1831), the sons of Samuel Morris, operated the Dock & Pearl Street Brewery in Philadelphia. Isaac W. Morris was also a member of the company formed to promote John Fitch's steamboat. Isaac Paschall Morris (1803-1869), the son of Isaac Wistar Morris, was originally a druggist but abandoned the trade in 1827 to manufacture machinery with his cousin, Levi, and brother, Joseph. The firm became I.P. Morris & Co. in 1841 and developed into one of the city's most important manufacturers.
Scope and Content
The papers are primarily from Samuel and Isaac W. Morris. However, the collection includes papers from other family members from the first Anthony Morris to John Thompson Morris (1847-1915), the founder of the Morris Arboretum in Germantown. There are also papers from members of the Wistar, Paschall, and Mifflin families allied by marriage.
The papers of Samuel Morris include account books, bank books, letter books, correspondence, bills, and deeds. Included are Revolutionary War accounts for hospital and commissary supplies, including accounts of Thomas Stockton at Princeton and John Connor at Valley Forge. The letter books contain a copy of his letter of resignation as commander of the Troop of Light Horse, as well as correspondence relating to his service as Commissary General, his mercantile ventures with his brother Israel Morris and the firm of Morris & Miercken, merchants and sugar refiners. Records of Morris' commissary activities with Pennsylvania hospitals include accounts of the physicians Jonathan Potts, William Shippen, and Thomas Bond. There are also records of the sale of slaves in Trenton, N.J., in 1781, of loans to the Batsto Iron Works, and a plat of the Durham Estate.
The papers of Isaac Wistar Morris include account books, bank books, two letter books (1811-1830), loose correspondence, bills, and deeds. Many of the papers pertain to the family's land holdings in the Philadelphia area and in the northern and western counties of Pennsylvania. The papers also contain material relating to Cedar Grove, the Paschall family estate near Philadelphia, including an inventory of 1831 and notes on the architectural history of the house by Fiske Kimball. Other papers document Morris' role as treasurer of the Friends' Committee for Indian Affairs (1822-1829); his partnership in Kimber, Conrad & Co., booksellers; and as one of the managers of the Westtown School (1812-1824), including lists of legacies, gifts, donors, and debts.
Among the other family members, Dr. Benjamin Morris is represented by a series of letters written while in London and on the Continent as a medical student (1748-1753) which reveal his close association with the eminent London Quaker physician, Dr. John Fothergill. Israel Morris is represented by papers from the mercantile firm of Forbes & Morris. Isaac Paschall Morris is represented by about 70 items, including a recipe book for compounding prescriptions for humans and animals (1824), a booklet on smelting silver ore, and two items from the I.P. Morris Co. John T. Morris is represented by 30 items, including some of his papers as overseer of public schools in Philadelphia.
Papers of allied families include receipt books of Elizabeth Coates Paschall of Cedar Grove (1741-1762), business letters of New York merchant John Franklin, brother-in-law of Samuel Morris, and land records and estate papers of the Wistar family.
Among the miscellany are two printed genealogies of the Wistar family, a history of the Francis Perot's Sons Malting Company of Philadelphia (founded in 1687), a pamphlet issued by British Quakers against the slave trade (1822), a broadside issued by the mayor of Philadelphia in connection with the nativist riots of 1844, and a broadside promoting the proposed Southwark Canal in Philadelphia.
Existence and Location of Copies
Some materials in the collection are available on microfilm. See inventory listing below for microfilm reel numbers.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- Russell, W.H. (Collector, Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- William Henry Russell collection of Morris family papers
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA