Powel family papers
The papers of several related families, long prominent in Philadelphia, Newport, R.I., and Jamaica, B.W.I., are represented in this collection. The first part contains business letters and records, 1700-1748, of Samuel Powel, the original settler, and of his son Samuel. They were general merchants... Full description
|Collection Information:||Powel Family Papers (#1582)|
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50.0 Linear feet 70 boxes, 385 volumes, 48 flat files
The papers of several related families, long prominent in Philadelphia, Newport, R.I., and Jamaica, B.W.I., are represented in this collection.
The first part contains business letters and records, 1700-1748, of Samuel Powel, the original settler, and of his son Samuel. They were general merchants trading with Europe and the West Indies. The next Samuel Powel was mayor of Philadelphia in 1775 and again in 1789. He married Elizabeth Willing who became well known as a social leader. Present are Samuel Powel's exercises at the University of Pennsylvania, 1759; his business papers, 1767-1771; and a list of his property, 1779. The papers of Elizabeth Powel comprise a group of pocket almanacs, 1793-1822, with diary entries; receipt books, 1793-1801; personal account books, 1794-1800; and correspondence, 1772-1823, including copies of her own letters. Among the correspondents are George Washington, Bishop William White, William Bingham, Rev. Jacob Duché, and others of equal prominence.
The remainder of the Powel papers are those of Elizabeth's nephew and adopted son, and his descendants. John Hare Powel, who changed his name from John Powel Hare in 1807, was active in public affairs and was much interested in improving breeds of cattle in America. His correspondence, 1806-1839, contains much on these matters as well as on early railroads, the location of tracks in the city of Philadelphia, and on canals. A group of papers, 1830-1850, on coal lands in Pennsylvania describes their possibilities. Personal papers include: a diary, 1806, of a trip to Calcutta; letter books, 1827-1830 and 1849-1853; a commonplace book; and an abridgement of Robertson's History of Charles V complete his personal papers. His business papers showing the activities of a well-to-do landowner cover the years 1820-1856.
Samuel Powel, son of John Hare Powel, lived in Philadelphia and Newport. His papers largely supplement those of his father and deal with similar subjects. They include business papers and accounts, 1843-1885, with many bills and receipts, 1856-1857, on the construction of the Newport house; a diary kept while in Europe, 1841, and personal correspondence, 1843-1884, containing many letters to members of his family and a number, 1843-1869, from Dorothea Dix.
Among the remaining Powel papers are those of Mary Edith Powel, including her garden notebooks, 1894-1919; journal, 1898-1907, 1923-1926; correspondence, almost entirely personal, 1883-1925; genealogical notes; and several scrapbooks and notebooks.
Samuel Powel married Mary Johnston who was born in Jamaica, B.W.I. Through her came a large group of papers of the Johnston, Taylor, and Cole families of Jamaica. They deal largely with the operation of plantations on that island. Dr. Alexander Johnston, a physician, is represented by daybooks, 1782-1783; ledgers, 1764-1769, 1773-1775; journal, 1760-1772; diaries, 1773-1775 and 1787; and commonplace book, 1764, containing medical discourses delivered at Aberdeen, Scotland. Of James Johnston there is correspondence, 1807-1836; accounts, 1821-1830; and a few military papers, 1793-1833, showing the life of a Jamaica planter.
The bulk of the Johnston papers are those of Robert Johnston, who spent most of his life in England, moving to Newport, R.I., about 1832-1834. The Robert Johnston papers include the original journals of his travels in northern Europe and Russia, 1814, in Scotland, 1810 and 1813, and in Ireland, 1812. Also included are journals of a voyage from London to Jamaica, 1813, and one of his residence at Newport, 1835-1839; correspondence, 1802-1839, dealing with business, literary, and personal affairs; and business papers, 1817-1836, concerning his Jamaica plantation and a projected railroad from London to Southampton, a plan he originated.
Business papers, 1783-1813, of John Taylor and of Jacob Thomas Cole, Jamaica planters, are also in this collection.