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Archives & Manuscripts

Richardson-Yarnall family papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-187

Scope and Contents

The collection contains personal papers, primarily correspondence, of members of the Richardson and Yarnall families, Pennsylvania Quakers who emigrated to America in the 1680s. The families were united by the marriage in 1816 of Nathaniel Richardson and Hannah Yarnall of Byberry. Of special significance are the diaries of Quaker ministers Peter Yarnall (1754-1798) and his second wife, Hannah Haines Thornton Yarnall (1765-1822) and their correspondence with family and fellow ministers. The papers reflect the daily life and concerns of members of two prominent families in southeastern Pennsylvania from the 18th through much of the 20th centuries.

Dates

  • 1722 - 1962

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

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 to the Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Biographical / Historical

Francis Yarnall emigrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1683, and he and his wife, Hannah Baker Yarnall, had eight children including Mordecai Yarnall (1705-1772), a merchant. Mordecai had four children with his first wife, Catherine: Sarah who married Samuel Wetherill; Ellen, married Timothy Matlack; Hannah, married James Yarnall; and Catherine, married Joseph Day. Wetherill and Matlack were members of the Free Quakers.

Mordecai Yarnall married a second time in 1745, to Mary Roberts, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, and they had nine children, including Mordecai (b. 1747) and Peter. Peter, a birthright member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, was born 1754, 2mo, 17. Initially apprenticed to learn tanning, he was dismissed by his master and enlisted in the military. John Pembertons secured his release. Eventually Yarnall took up medicine under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Bond. In 1776 he joined the army as a surgeon's mate, working in various hospitals until he resigned for health issues. In 1779 he received a degree from the College of Physicians in Philadelphia and served at Pennsylvania Hospital. In 1780, he adopted the plain style of Friends and attended meeting, making acknowledgement to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the South District for his military service. Returned to membership in the Society of Friends, he moved to Concord, Pennsylvania, and was acknowledged as a minister by Uwchlan Monthly Meeting in 1780. He transferred his membership to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and then Concord Monthly Meeting. Enthusiastic in his manner, he was advised by prominent Quaker minister George Churchman to moderate his speech. In 1782, he was acknowledged as a minister by Concord Monthly Meeting

In 1782 he married Hannah Sharpless (1765-1795), daughter of Benjamin and Martha Mendenhall Sharpless. In 1785, the family moved to York, Pennsylvania., where Peter took a position as a physician. In 1791, the family transferred to Horsham Monthly Meeting. Hannah died in 1795, leaving six young children: Mordecai (1784-1808), Rebecca (1786-1859), Isaac (1787-1791); Peter (1790-1878); Israel (1792-1799) and Benjamin (1794-1822). Two years later, Peter Yarnall was married under the care of Byberry Monthly Meeting to Hannah Thornton, daughter of Edmund and Elizabeth Haines.

Hannah Haines Thornton (1765-1822) was the widow of Joseph Thornton, a Quaker minister of Byberry Monthly Meeting. Joseph was the son of James Thornton (1751-1794), also a minister, and Mary Knight. The family resided on a large property in Byberry, purchased in 1752. Hannah Haines and Joseph Thornton were married in 1783 at Evesham Monthly Meeting, New Jersey, and they had three sons. Joseph Thornton and two sons died by 1790. Hannah was an Elder and then acknowledged as a minister by Byberry Monthly Meeting. In 1797, she married fellow widower Peter Yarnall and assumed responsibility for the children of his first marriage. Peter Yarnall and Hannah Thornton Yarnall had one child, Hannah (1797-1876), and the family lived on the homestead of James Thornton in Byberry. Peter Yarnall died 1798, 2 month, 20. Hannah Haines Yarnall travelled widely in the ministry and died month 2, 1822.

Hannah and Joseph Thornton's surviving son, James (1785-1858) married first Grace Thornton in 1811. She died in 1813, and he married secondly Rebecca Stokes in 1818 under the care of Moorestown Monthly Meeting. Hannah and Peter Yarnall's only child, daughter Hannah, married Nathaniel Richardson at Byberry Monthly Meeting in 1816, thus linking the Yarnall and Richardson families.

Many of the letters were received by Rebecca Yarnall, the second child of Peter Yarnall and his first wife. Rebecca did not marry, and after her education at Westtown, in 1801 she went to live with fellow Quakers William and Deborah Parrish Wright of Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. Beginning in 1804, the Wrights' home became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Rebecca was the heir to her brother Mordecai's estate, receiving his books and papers, Family friend and distant relation, Benjamin Ferris handled the estate.

In 1816, Peter Yarnall's youngest child, Hannah, married Nathaniel Richardson (1794-1872), son of Joseph and Ruth Hoskins Richardson, uniting the Yarnalls with the Richardson family, renowned Philadelphia silversmiths. Nathaniel's grandfather was Joseph Richardson (1711-1784) known as the greatest gold and silversmith of his day. He married Hannah Worrell in 1741, and they had two children, Elizabeth and Grace. He married second Mary Allen (1716-1782) in 1748 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. They had five children: Hannah (1748-1817) who married Samuel Clark; Mary (1750-1835) married Samuel Taylor; Nathaniel (1754-1827) who remained unmarried; Joseph (1752-1831) married Ruth Hoskins in 1780; and Rebecca (1758-1826), unmarried. The brothers Nathaniel and Joseph started as business partners in Philadelphia. Nathanial subsequently went into business as a merchant, and Joseph continued as a silversmith and assayer. Joseph (1752-1831) and Ruth Hoskins Richardson had six surviving children including Mary (1791-1837) who married John Elliott, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Hannah who did not marry; John (1790-1866) married Martha Gibbons and worked as an assayer and bookseller; and Nathaniel (1793-1872) who married Hannah Yarnall and moved his family to the Thornton homestead in Byberry which had been inherited by his mother-in-law, Hannah Haines Yarnall.

Nathaniel and Hannah Yarnall had twelve children including Mary (1817-1874) who married Thomas J. Husband, manufacturer of Husband's Magnesia. A son, Nathaniel (1839-1920) was a Quaker minister and pharmacist. He married Mary K. Cooper in 1862. The youngest child, Elliott Richardson (1842-1883), a prominent Philadelphia physician, married Achsah Nevins in 1876. Elliott died after a short illness in 1887, and his widow died two years later of tuberculosis. The couple's five young children were raised by their four unmarried aunts (Ruth Anna, Hannah, Sarah, and Maria B.) at their family home, Chestnut Glen, in Byberry. Hannah, the eldest, married Edwin A. Gaskill in 1901. Katharine (1878-1966) was a prominent illustrator and married Henry F. Wireman. The three younger children were all graduates of Swarthmore College. Elliott (1881-1964) married Dorothy Strode and served as long-time manager of Swarthmore Borough, Pennsylvania. James Nevins Richardson (1883-1971) married Estelle Bowman, and Frances Richardson (1886-1973) compiled additional family papers, with transcriptions.

Extent

6 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language

English

Overview

The collection contains personal papers, primarily correspondence, of members of the Richardson and Yarnall families, Pennsylvania Quakers who emigrated to America in the 1680s. The families were united by the marriage in 1816 of Nathaniel Richardson and Hannah Yarnall of Byberry. Of special significance are the diaries of Quaker ministers Peter Yarnall (1754-1798) and his second wife, Hannah Haines Thornton Yarnall (1765-1822) and their correspondence with family and fellow ministers. The papers reflect the daily life and concerns of members of two prominent families in southeastern Pennsylvania from the 18th through much of the 20th centuries.

Arrangement

Arranged in 9 series: 1: Mordecai Yarnall (1705-1772) family correspondence. 2: Peter Yarnall family correspondence: 3: Mordecai and Rebecca Yarnall family correspondence 4: Nathaniel Richardson family correspondence 5: Elliott Richardson correspondence 6: Financial and legal papers 7: Journals and writings 8: Collected Quaker papers 9. Miscellaneous

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited on loan in 1930 by Elliott Richardson of Swarthmore, Pa., and his sisters, Frances Richardson and Katharine Richardson Wireman. In 1961, the family donated Bibles, and in 1962, Elliott Richardson donated family letters and photographs. In 1964 the family formally gifted the papers deposited in 1930. In 1966, Frances Richardson gave additional family papers, photographs, and memorabilia to the Library.

Related Materials

RG5/032, Cooper Richardson Family Papers. SC 132, James Thornton Correspondence.

Richardson family papers, Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

Separated Materials

When sorted circa 1966, genealogical charts were filed in FHL Genealogies. Marriage certificates in FHL Marriage Certificates. Diplomas in FHL Diploma collection. Publications cataloged and transferred to proper location for access. Photographs removed to Richardson-Yarnall Family Pictures, PA 185. Detailed collection inventories as described in 1966 available FHL Accession Files, as well as detailed list of the separated material.

Bibliography

Hark Back with Love, by Frances Richardson, Dorrance and Company, Philadelphia. 1970.

Processing Information

The bulk of the early papers were deposited in 1930 on loan and then subsequently donated at intervals. Typed inventories were created in 1961. In the mid 1960s the papers were divided into eight series, not consistently chronological or topical. Correspondence was grouped into special categories by author, chronlogically, or in special categories without description. The collection was not fully processed and described until 2018. The papers are reorganized into five series of correspondence, arranged by family units. Financial papers, writings, collected Quaker papers, and miscellaneous were created as separate series. The collection was re-titled Richardson-Yarnall Family Papers to better describe the content.
Status
Completed
Author
Susanna K. Morikawa
Date
2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

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