Scope and Contents
The collection contains correspondence, journals and other writings, business and legal papers, and miscellaneous items of the Ferris family of Wilmington, Delaware. Of particular note are the correspondence and writings of Benjamin Ferris concerning the Separation in the Society of Friends and Elias Hicks, as well as the journals and diaries of Anna M. Ferris, David Ferris, Matilda Ferris, Benjamin Ferris, William C. Ferris, Rebecca Masters Kite, and Henry Ferris. Correspondents include William Lloyd Garrison, William Gibbons, Isaac T. Hopper, Joseph Bringhurst, Mary Gibbons, William Poole, Mary Biddle, Joseph Rakestraw, Halliday Jackson, and John Jackson. This collection includes a great variety of family correspondence that reveals much about the life of a Quaker family in Wilmington and of the reform activities of members of the Society of Friends.
Copyright and Rights Information
Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical ps and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.
Biographical / Historical
The Ferris family was a prominent Quaker family of Wilmington, Delaware. The family of Zachariah and Sarah Ferris had its roots in Connecticut. Five of their eight children became members of the Society of Friends, and three of their sons, David Ferris (1707/08-1779), John Ferris (1710-1751), and Zachariah Ferris (1717-1803) removed to Wilmington before 1740. David Ferris became a Quaker minister, and his Memoirs were published in 1825. His son, Benjamin Ferris (1740-1771) also was a Quaker minister. David's younger brother, John, moved to Delaware from Connecticut in 1748 and died of small pox three years later.
John Ferris's second son, Ziba Ferris, was born in 1743 and died in 1794. After his father's early death, he was raised in the household of his uncle, David Ferris, and was apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Wilmington. He married Edith Sharples of Chester Co., Pa., in 1769. Ziba and Edith had seven children, among whom were Deborah (1773-1844), who married Joseph Bringhurst; John (1775-1802), who married Sarah Harlan; and Benjamin (1780-1867), who married Frances Canby. John Ferris was a cabinetmaker who died of yellow fever in 1802. Benjamin Ferris apprenticed as a watch and clock maker in Philadelphia and later worked as a surveyor and successful conveyancer. He was a prominent member of the Society of Friends and the first Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite). Benjamin and Frances ("Fanny") had ten children, and after the death of his wife in 1833, he married her cousin, Hannah Gibbons.
Benjamin Ferris's eldest surviving son, David Ferris (1821-1908), became a farmer. In 1849 he married Sarah Ann Underwood, daughter of Quaker minister Sarah Hunt. An Elder of Wilmington Monthly Meeting, David Ferris was active in Quaker and social reform issues. David and Sarah Ann Ferris had six children: Francis ("Frank"), William C., Matilda, Henry, Alfred, and Walter. Frank, Henry, and Alfred Ferris were involved in the printing business.
Henry Ferris (1855-1941) married Elizabeth E. Masters of Muncy Monthly Meeting in 1885. Henry was active in the Society of Friends and served as editor of the Hicksite journal Friends Intelligencer during WWI. His daughter, Frances Canby Ferris, was the long-time principal of the Friends School in Haverford, Pa.