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Henry Drinker Letters to Isaac Hicks

 Collection — othertype: SC-280
Identifier: SFHL-SC-280

Scope and Contents

This series of letters offers insight into the close friendship and business relationship between two prominent Quaker merchants, Henry Drinker of Philadelphia and Isaac Hicks of New York City. The two men relied on each other in financial matters, particularly as they were part of the Quaker business community. For example, Drinker notes that debts owed by Robert Brown and Joseph and Nathaniel Pearsall will not be repaid unless the Meeting Overseers enforce it.


  • Creation: 1801, 1817
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1801


Conditions Governing Use

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Biographical / Historical

Henry Drinker (1734-1809) was a successful Philadelphia Quaker merchant and active in the Society of Friends. He was the son of Henry and Mary (Gottier) Drinker and married first Ann Swett in 1757 (died 1758) and second, Elizabeth Sandwith, with whom he had nine children. A member of the shipping and importing firm James and Drinker, he also was a significant landowner. In 1777 Drinker was one of the "Virginia Exiles," a group of pacifist Quakers who were forcibly exiled to Winchester, Virginia, on claims that they were loyalists. He served as clerk of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and as an elder. A strong proponent of education, he was on the first committee of Westtown School and on the Board of Overseers of Public Schools in Philadelphia. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and served as President of the Abolition Society and Director of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Isaac Hicks (1767-1820) was a cousin of the Quaker artist and minister Edward Hicks and Quaker minister Elias Hicks. A prominent New York City merchant, in 1796 he established a large fleet of international trading vessels. He retired in 1806 and became deeply involved in Quaker concerns, traveling widely with his cousin, Elias Hicks (1748-1830), the prominent New York Quaker minister.


.1 linear ft. : 16 letters

Language of Materials



Henry Drinker (1734-1809) was a successful Philadelphia Quaker merchant and served as clerk of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. A prominent New York City merchant, Isaac Hicks (1767-1820) was a cousin of the Quaker artist and minister Edward Hicks and of Quaker minister Elias Hicks. Drinker and Hicks were close friends and acted as business agents for each other, reflected in the 1801 correspondence. As prominent members of the Society of Friends, they were active in Quaker concerns, including education. A single letter from Henry Drinker's son, Henry S. Drinker, dated September 3, 1817, acknowledges Hicks's receipt of funds forwarded to support the education of the children of Thomas Potts, a English merchant in Honduras.


The letters are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Acc. 2016.056

Related Materials

Henry Drinker correspondence, 1791-1801, SC/031;

Henry Drinker, Account book, 1757-1809, Haverford Special Collections;

Isaac Hicks Family Papers, RG5/197;

Isaac Hicks Papers at the New York Historical Society.


The manuscript dealer's essay with some brief excerpts is included in folder.


Susanna Morikawa
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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