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Families of Philadelphia papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1184

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of the correspondence and papers of members of twelve different families in the Philadelphia area. A great deal of the correspondence relates to concern for health and relationships among family members. The papers are often concerned with matters of business as well as estates, both in terms of the exchange of property, but also as property and possessions of deceased family members. Many of the principals in the collection traveled for business or pleasure. As some of the families or family members were Quaker, issues such as attendance at meetings and the conduct of business are also discussed. There are some photographs and other images.

There are many correspondents in this collection. Among the most prolific and/or significant are: Isabella Macomb Bloomfield, Joseph Bloomfield (1753-1823), Benjamin Coates (1808-87), Benjamin Hornor Coates (1797-1881), George M. Coates (1845-94), Rebecca Hornor Coates (1781-1853), Sarah Hornor Coates (1825-1912), William Morrison Coates, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Caleb Cresson (1775-1821) Francis Macomb Cresson, George Vaux Cresson (1836-1908), Isabella Bloomfield Gumbes Cresson (1844-1913), Mary B. Cresson, Sarah E. Cresson (1787-1870), Susan Vaux Cresson (d. 1890), William Penn Cresson (1814-1892), Stephen Grellet (1773-1855), Frances Gumbes, Rebecca W. Gumbes (1789-1869), Samuel Wetherill Gumbes (1813-65), Benjamin Hornor (1737-1823), Benjamin Hornor (1769-1810), Benjamin C. Hornor (1806?-1875), Sarah Hornor (1767-1848), William A. Muhlenberg, Isabella Wetherill (1807-71), Samuel Wetherill (1736-1816).


  • Creation: 1700-1942

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Bloomfield (1753-1823), lawyer and soldier, was the son of Dr. Moses Bloomfield and Sarah Ogden Bloomfield. Dr. Moses Bloomfield was a founder of the New Jersey Medical Society and a member of the colonial assembly and of the provincial congress, who freed fourteen enslaved people on July 4, 1783, to prove his belief in the Declaration of Independence. Joseph was educated at the Rev. Enoch Green's Classical Academy in Deerfield Street, Cumberland County, he then studied law under Cortlandt Skinner, the Colony's royalist attorney-general, at Perth Amboy. He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1775, but in 1776 was commissioned captain, later major and judge advocate of the northern army. He m. Mary McIlvaine in 1778. She died in 1818 and his second wife was Isabella Ramsay Macomb. There were no children.

In 1794 Bloomfield commanded an infantry brigade of New Jersey militia and took an active part in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed. He was mayor of Burlington, New Jersey between 1795-1800, clerk of the state assembly for several years, register of the court of admiralty, and attorney-general of New Jersey, elected in 1783, re-elected in 1788, resigning in 1792 when he served as a presidential elector, opposing John Adams. Changing his politics to Jeffersonism, he was elected governor by the New Jersey legislature, 1801, over Richard Stockton and served until 1812. In 1804, he signed the gradual emancipation act, which reduced the enslaved population of New Jersey from six percent of the total in 1800 to eighteen individuals by 1860. Bloomfield, as governor, requested the prosecutor of Bergen County to enter a nolle prosequi to the indictment of Aaron Burr for shooting Alexander Hamilton in their duel at Weehawken. This was done, as urged by leading Republicans, and Burr thus left free to preside at the impeachment trial of Justice Samuel Chase of the United States Supreme Court. In 1812 President Madison appointed Bloomfield brigadier-general in the U.S. Army. He was twice elected to Congress, sitting from 1817 to 1821. (Information from Biography Resources)

George M. Coates (1845-1894) was the son of Joseph Coates and Elisa Troth Coates. He graduated from Haverford College in 1863 and received an M.A. from Haverford in 1866. He was a member and president of the Everett Society while at Haverford and later became a wool merchant in Philadelphia.(Information from internal evidence, and the Matriculate Catalog (HC))

Caleb Cresson (1742-1816), son of James and Sarah Emlen Cresson, apprenticed to become a merchant. In 1791 he journeyed with Thomas Scattergood to New England. He was assistant clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He married Sarah Hopkins (1767), Annabella Elliott (1772) and Jane Evans (1795). (Information from Dictionary of Quaker Biography)

Caleb Cresson (1775-1821), son of Caleb and Annabella E. Cresson, was a Philadelphia merchant and farmer. A philanthropist, he was one of the founders and members of several institutions, including the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of their Reason (later Friends Hospital) and the Philadelphia Prison Society. He married Sarah Emlen in 1807. Caleb Cresson (1839-), son of William P. Cresson and Susan Vaux Cresson, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He married Isabella Gumbes. (Information from Colonial Families / Jordan)

Elliott Cresson (1796-1854), son of John Elliott and Mary Warder Cresson helped to buy land in Liberia and was the author of "What can colonization do?" which appeared in the Boston Daily Advertiser and advocated for supporting the resettlement of free African Americans in Africa, a cause that was funded and encouraged by the American Colonization Society, whose members were largely white and included both abolitionists and enslavers. (Information from Dictionary of Quaker Biography, "What can colonization do?", Britannica)

George Vaux Cresson (1836-1908) was the son of William P. and Susan Vaux Cresson. He married Mary Beavan. He was president of the George V. Cresson Co. in Philadelphia. He was also president of the Manufacturers' Club, a member of the Franklin Institute and a vestryman at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. William P. (Penn) Cresson (1814-1892) was an attorney who retired from active business life in 1857. He continued to work in the law, but perhaps only on a personal basis, as for example, with the estate of his mother, Sarah Emlen Cresson who died in 1870. He was president of the Howard Hospital in Philadelphia and a charter member of the Holy Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church and one of its vestrymen. He was a charter member of the Philadelphia Art Club and a member of the Union League. He married Susan Vaux Cresson. (Information from Colonial Families / Jordan and internal evidence)

Sarah Hornor (1767-1848) and her cousin Elizabeth Lawrence were Quakers. (Information from internal evidence)

John Price Wetherill (1794-1853), son of Samuel and Rachel Price Wetherill, was involved with his father and grandfather's drug, chemical and paint manufacturing business. He married Maria Kane Lawrence. He was a vice-president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society and Franklin Institute. He was elected to the Common Council of Philadelphia and later to the Select Committee. He was a clerk of the Society of Free Quakers. He was president of the Schuylkill Bank from 1846 until his death.

Samuel Wetherill (1736-1816) was in the fabric business, and, establishing a chemical laboratory for dyes, created an industry for the manufacture of drugs and chemicals. He married Sarah Yarnall, daughter of a minister of the Society of Friends. Wetherill supplied cloth for the Continental army and his connection caused his Quaker meeting, Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia, to disown him in 1779. Samuel's son, Samuel joined the business, Wetherill's Drug Store, in 1785, pioneers in the manufacture of white lead in America. Samuel Wetherill joined other disowned Quakers who had participated in the struggle for Independence forming the Free Quakers. A subscription was taken up to build a meetinghouse to which Washington, Franklin and others contributed and it was erected at Fifth and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. Samuel Wetherill was its first clerk and preacher. He was a member of Common Council of Philadelphia.

Samuel Wetherill (1764-1829), son of Samuel Wetherill, became a partner in his father's drug and chemical business. He succeeded his father as clerk of the Society of Free Quakers. He married Rachel Price.

William Wetherill, M.D. (1804-1872), son of Samuel and Rachel Price Wetherill, practiced medicine in Philadelphia and with his brother, John Price Wetherill, was a partner in the Wetherill White Lead Works. He married Isabella Macomb.

William H. Wetherill (1838-), son of William and Isabella Wetherill, took over the Wetherill White Lead Works after his father's death. Wetherill was an Episcopalian, but was also clerk of the Society of Free Quakers for over 30 years. He was a member of numerous organizations. He m. Elizabeth Putnam. (Wetherill family information from Colonial Families / Jordan and internal evidence)

In his book History of the religious Society of Friends, called by some the Free Quakers, in the city of Philadelphia / by Charles Wetherill originally published in 1894, he lists the following people represented in this collection as members of the Free Quakers: Samuel Wetherill, John P. Wetherill, Samuel Pr. Wetherill, William H. Wetherill, Isabella B. Wetherill, Frances S.D. Gumbes, Isabel G. Cresson, Francis M. Cresson, Caleb Cresson, Susan V. Cresson, Rebecca W. Gumbes.


16.5 linear ft. (33 boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers of the Philadelphia families Bloomfield, Coates, Cresson, Emlen, Gumbes, Horner, Howel, Lloyd, Macomb, Moore, Vaux and Wetherill families from the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of these families were Quaker, including Coates, Emlen and Vaux; others had some Quaker family members, including Cresson, other families, including Gumbes and Wetherill, did not remain Quaker.


Content is organized alphabetically by family name

Series I. Bloomfield family Series II. Coates family Series III. Cresson family Series IV. Emlen family Series IV. Gumbes family Series V. Hornor family Series VI. Howell family Series VII. Lloyd family Series VIII. Macomb family Series IX. Moore family Series X. Ramsay family Series XI. Vaux family Series XII. Wetherill family Series XIII. Photographs and Miscellaneous


Transfer from the Free Library of Philadelphia, May 2002

Related Materials

Vaux Family papers, MC 1167. Other repositories that contain Vaux family materials include the Library Company of Philadelphia, which has graphic materials created by the Vauxes.

Processing Information

Original processing information unknown. Reboxed and finding aid updated November 2021 by Lauryn White and Hannah Kolzer.

Families of Philadelphia papers, 1700-1942
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • November, 2021: Reboxed and finding aid updated
  • May 2022: by Nathaniel Rehm-Daly, Harmful Language Revision Project

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

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