Biographical / Historical
The Parrish family, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family, moved north from the western shore of Maryland to Philadelphia in the middle of the 18th century. John Parrish (1729-1807), the son of John, was married to Ann Wilson at Philadelphia meeting in 1753. His brother, Isaac (1734-1826), married Sarah Mitchell six years later. Isaac's youngest child, Joseph (1779-1840) was born in 1779 and married Susanna Cox, daughter of John Cox and Ann Dillwyn in 1808 in Burlington, New Jersey. Joseph was a prominent Philadelphia physician and philanthropist.
Deborah Parrish (1773-1856), daughter of Isaac, married William Wright of Columbia, Pennsylvania, in 1800. William Wright was an ardent abolitionist who was actively involved in the Underground Railroad in Lancaster County.
Joseph and Susanna's oldest son, Dillywn Parrish (1809-1886) graduated from the College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia. A member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting he served as Overseer, Clerk, and Elder. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the Condition of the African Race from 1832-1886 and served as its President in 1851.
Edward Parrish was the eighth child of Joseph and Susanna, born on May 31, 1822. In 1845 he married Margaret Shreve Hunt. Also trained as a pharmacist, he operated a pharmacy in Philadelphia with his brother, Dillwyn, and taught at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Edward Parrish was active on the committee of members of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore Yearly Meetings (Hicksite) which sought subscriptions for the founding of a college, and he was a member of the Board of the Friends Education Association which adopted a constitution in December 1862. Swarthmore College was incorporated in 1864, and Edward Parrish was one of its primary fundraisers. He was elected president of the College in May 1865, and raising money for the fledgling college continued to be one of his most important jobs. The College opened in the fall of 1869 in a large stone building known then simply as 'The College' and now as Parrish Hall.
In addition to serving as president of the College, Parrish was also a professor of ethics, chemistry and the physical sciences. His ideas on education and the discipline of students clashed with some of the more conservative members on the Board of Managers who believed that the College should foremost provide a 'guarded' education for Quaker youth. The differences in philosophy regarding discipline, the role of the president, and the mission of the College caused Parrish to resign in February 1871. After his resignation, the Board assumed most of the executive powers and appointed as president Professor Edward H. Magill.
Edward Parrish was active in a number of Quaker social concerns, and in 1872 he was appointed to a Commission to negotiate a treaty with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. While on this mission to Fort Sill in the Indian Territory, Edward Parrish died of malaria at age 51 on September 9, 1872.
Edward and Margaret Parrish had four sons and a daughter. Their oldest child was Thomas Clarkson Parrish (1847-1899). A member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, part owner of a Colorado silver mining company, and collector of autographs, Thomas died at his home in Colorado Springs, CO. Clemmons Parrish was the second child (1848-1912); he trained as a pharmacist and joined his father in business. Clemmons married Emma Powell in 1872, and they had two sons, Henry C. and Edward. Clemmons gathered and arranged the autographs in a scrapbook which apparently subsequently descended to his son, Henry. Henry married Bertha Lippincott, and they had four children, Edward Dillwyn, Henry L., Alice L. and Lawrence L. Parrish. Henry and Bertha and their sons were graduates of Swarthmore College.