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SAMUEL MEREDITH PAPERS

 

1730 – 1823

(bulk dates 1764 – 1823)

 

 

Manuscript Collection Number 240

 

Accession: Gift of Anna D. Moyerman, 1972

 

Extent: .2 linear ft (ca. 2,060 items)

 

Content: Bills, cancelled checks, bank notes, blank checks, correspondence, receipts, account books, and a deed

 

Access: The collection is open for research.

 

Processed: 1991 by Lori Bridgers; revised July, 2000 by Anita Wellner and April, 2005 by Colleen E. Lemke


 

Table of Contents



Biographical Note

            Samuel Meredith (1741 – 1817) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of merchant Rees(e) Meredith and Martha (Carpenter) Meredith.  After being educated privately in Philadelphia and Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Meredith joined his father's mercantile business. In the 1760s, Samuel and his father Rees(e) also entered into business with George Clymer. The partners engaged in extensive land speculation in western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, Delaware, New York, and northeastern Pennsylvania.

            Samuel Meredith entered public life as a signer of the non-importation resolutions adopted in Philadelphia in 1765.  He attended the Provincial Convention as a deputy from Philadelphia in 1775.  During the Revolutionary War, Meredith served as an officer of the 3rd Battalion of Associators, also known as the "Silk Stocking Company."  He served with distinction in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown.  Because of his outstanding service, he was promoted to brigadier-general of the Pennsylvania militia on 5 April 1777.  He resigned from the army in 1778 and returned to business.

            Between 1778 and 1783, Meredith served three terms in the Pennsylvania Colonial Assembly, and in 1786 was elected to the Congress of Confederation, in which he served until 1788.  After serving less than a year as surveyor of the Port of Philadelphia, Meredith accepted an appointment as the first Treasurer of the United States, at the urging of George Washington, a family friend.  He began his duties on 11 September 1789, and served until his health and financial matters required his retirement on 31 October 1801.  During his tenure in office Meredith lent the government more than one hundred thousand dollars—a sum that was never repaid.  According to biographical information, Samuel Meredith then returned to his estate, Belmont Manor, in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, to manage his interests. The majority of the nineteenth century letters in the collection, however, are addressed to him in Philadelphia or Trenton.

            Samuel Meredith married Margaret Cadwalader on 19 May 1772.  They had six children.  One daughter, Martha Meredith, married John Read, (also called John Read, Jr.), a lawyer and senator Their son, Thomas Meredith, was born in Philadelphia in 1779. He studied law with his brother-in-law John Read, and was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar in 1803. He subsequently served the United States army in the War of 1812, eventually becoming a Major. Meredith also served as the register of Wills and Deeds for Wayne County from 1820 – 1823. In 1822 he married Sarah Gibson. The couple built a home near Carbondale, PA, known as Meredith Cottage, and had several children.

 

Sources:

Dictionary of American Biography.  New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961.  Vol. 6.

 

Graham, S. M. Meredith.  A Short History of the Three Merediths, [n.d.]



Scope and Content Note

            The Samuel Meredith Papers, spanning the dates 1730 to 1832 (bulk dates 1764-1823), consist of two linear feet (ca. 2,060 items) of letters, receipts, bills, checks, a deed, and account books. The majority of the papers belonged to Samuel Meredith, the first treasurer of the United States, though a small portion of the collection represents the correspondence of Thomas Meredith, Samuel Meredith’s oldest son. The collection was a gift of Anna D. Moyerman in 1972.

            The bulk of the Samuel Meredith Papers consist of bills, receipts, and cancelled checks for purchases of the Meredith Family in the late eighteenth century. These items are particularly rich in accounts for textiles and clothing. Details about fabric types and amounts, thread types, colors, and styles appear with costs from a variety of vendors. Specifications and orders for women’s, servants’, and “negro” clothing all appear. In addition, a sizeable number of the bills are payable to woman seamstresses and merchants. Several of these receipts are addressed to or signed by Mrs. Meredith, or one of the Misses Meredith, including Margaret, Peggy, and Maria. Craftswomen or female merchants whose accounts can be found in the collection include Elizabeth Ervin, Mary Potts, Sarah Clarke, and Susannah Hood.

            Another large portion of the bills and receipts reflect the foods stuffs being purchased or sold by the Meredith family in the late eighteenth century. Several receipts from Sarah Betteston, a female baker, record the delivery of many loaves of bread in 1778 and 1779. Mrs. Meredith’s account with Susanah Barnes records the purchase of several Pound Cakes. There are also several receipts for large quantities of chocolate in the collection. In addition, the papers contain ample evidence of Samuel Meredith’s involvement in the Apple Cyder [sic] trade in the late eighteenth century. Several letters discuss apple crops and prices for casks of cider. In addition to letter describing shipments of apples and sales, there are also receipts relating to the cider business. Additonal receipts related to food consumption include a bill from Ann Gallagher for a variety of dishes, and a detailed estimate from David Evans for “the expense of building a kitchen 16ft square” in 1796.

            A view into the leisure activities of the family can also be gleaned from the receipts and checks in the collection. For example, the collection contains several early subscription receipts to the Library Company of Philadelphia. Additional receipts reflecting reading materials include the purchase of a magazine subscription to American Museum, and receipts for the purchase of several encyclopedia volumes. Another leisure activity reflected in the accounts is a charge for piano tuning in 1796.

            Tuition receipts for the Meredith children are also found throughout the collection. Some indicate lessons and board charged for Thomas Meredith and John Meredith at places such as the College and Academy of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. Also included are several tuition or tutoring bills for “Miss Meredith.” This includes 1792 receipts from a tutor, Mary Hart, and other undated receipts from Mrs. Gratten for “lessons” given to “Miss Meredith.” Another interesting receipt is a bill from Doctor Benjamin Rush for medicine for the family, including a daughter, Samuel Meredith himself, and a “Black Girl.”

            Additional receipts include those of various craftsmen including wheelwrights, coach makers, tailor, and laborers. Several accounts record building developments at various lands held by Meredith. Though these rarely mention the specific location of the work, a 1796 letter does contain an account of a worker’s injury and subsequent payment of wages to him, perhaps an early example of worker’s compensation.

            Among the letters included in the collection, the vast majority are about the management of Meredith’s lands. One 1801 letter from John B. Risberg contains an account of the travels of the Commander of the Delaware, another letter mentions Thomas Meredith’s overseas travels to Holland and India. However, most of the letters in the collection were sent by Meredith’s son-in-law, John Read. Read, son of George Read, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was an eminent lawyer, and was married to Meredith’s daughter Martha. He assisted Samuel Meredith in business and legal matters, including land sales and management. It is clear in the letters that Samuel Meredith had engaged in extensive land speculation throughout Western Pennsylvania. From 1801 to 1817, it is also clear that while Meredith held a great deal of undeveloped lands, he was cash poor, and was having trouble with his expenses. The responses of Read to inquiries for money are particularly poignant during the War of 1812, when Read was unable to forward funds because of his own financial trials.

            One of the most detailed business accounts reflected in the collections are the letters from Read discussing the Conewago Canal. Meredith had joined a group of other investors in the early 1790s to contract for the building of this canal on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The construction of the Conewago Canal was deemed necessary because it would enable boats to circumvent the Conewago Falls. The Conewago Canal was the first built in Pennsylvania; from 1793 to 1797 the canal was under construction. The costs of building the canal grossly exceeded the original estimates, and in 1801 the Conewago Canal Company was auctioned off to repay some of the debts. According to the letters in this collection. Samuel Meredith had invested more than forty thousand dollars for the canal, and when the canal was purchased by the company treasurer, Thomas W. Francis, in 1801, Meredith understood that his shares in the Canal would still be honored. At some point in the next years, however, Francis began to deny Meredith’s claims, and a legal battle ensued. Meredith decided to sue Francis, and John Read’s letters reflect the case being brought to Chancery Court.

            An additional concern reflected in the letters to Samuel Meredith and Thomas Meredith concerns the estate of George Clymer. Before the Revolution, George Clymer had entered into business with Rees(e) Meredith, father of Samuel Meredith, and in 1765, Clymer married Elizabeth Meredith, sister of Samuel Meredith. The Clymer and Meredith families had joined several family lands and investments together in a company called Merediths & Clymer. Some of the letters in this collection reflect the attempts of John Read to untangle the interests of the Clymer and Meredith families after the deaths of George Clymer and Reese Meredith. Many more letters relating to the business affairs of Samuel Meredith and George Clymer can be found in the Read Family Papers, MSS 237.

 

 

Related Collections

MSS 239 Samuel Meredith Letters and Documents

MSS 237 Read Family Papers



Series Outline

I. Samuel Meredith

            1. Letters and Receipts, 1730 – 1823

            2. Checks, 1779 – 1811

            3. Account Books, 1782 – 1813

II. Thomas Meredith



Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

                        Series I. Samuel Meredith

                                    This series includes receipts, bills, checks, and letters of Samuel Meredith, primarily concerning family expenses and the Meredith lands in Pennsylvania.  Removal sheets have been placed in folders where items have been removed to the oversize section

 

                        Series I.1 Letters and Receipts, 1730 – 1823, [n.d.]

 

1

            F1        1730, 1764-1769                                 7 items

 

            F2        1772-1775                                           25 items

                        Includes a tuition receipt for boarding Thomas Meredith, 1775

 

            F3        1776-1777                                           23 items

                        Includes a bill from Elizabeth Ervin for shoes, cloth, a frock, and boarding fees, dated 7 March 1777

 

            F4        1778-1779                                           21 items

                        Includes accounts charged to Mrs. Meredith from Mary Potts for clothing such as breeches ordered for a “negro man John.” Also includes several receipts from Sarah Betteston for bread, showing that 4 to 20 loaves were delivered to the Meredith household daily in 1778-1779, and receipts for sugar and chocolate.

 

            F5        1780-1782                                           25 items

                        Includes receipts for sizable quantities of textiles and fabrics

 

            F6        1783                Jan-Aug                       25 items

 

            F7        1783                Sep-Dec                      20 items

                        Includes receipts from Sam Wilcox about Meredith’s “cyder” interests and several letters from Caleb Carmalt, who managed some of Meredith’s affairs

 

            F8        1784                Jan-Jun             21 items

 

            F9        1784                Jul-Dec                        19 items

                        Includes a letter recounting the Brig Flora, and an accident at Bombay Hook. Also includes several letters about “cyder” and the apple market

 

            F10      1785                Jan-Jun             14 items

                        Includes additional letters from Caleb Carmalt about Meredith’s business affairs and the sale of apples and “cyder”

 

            F11      1785                Jul-Dec                        20 items

                        Includes an account of Margaret Meredith’s

                        Series I.1 Samuel Meredith Letters and Receipts (continued)

 

            F12      1786                Jan-Jun             22 items

                        Includes accounts of Margaret Meredith

 

            F13      1786                Jul-Dec                        25 items

 

            F14      1787                Jan-Jul              36 items

                        Includes letters about competing land claims and information about lawsuits Meredith considered bringing for infringement on his property rights; also includes a letter that mentions “Bordentown” as a site for building

 

            F15      1787                Aug-Oct                       37 items

                         Includes a list of laborers working on Meredith’s property, though the location is unnamed

 

            F16      1787                Nov-Dec                      26 items

 

2

            F17      1788                Jan-Jun             36 items

                        Includes a receipt for subscription to the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1788. Also includes a letter discussing the business relationship between Meredith and Cadwallader

 

            F18      1788                Jul-Dec                        29 items

                        Mentions work in progress at a house in the “Northern Liberties” neighborhood in Philadelphia, near Ridge Road

 

            F19      1789                Jan-Jul              28 items

                        Includes tuition receipts from Meredith’s children

 

            F20      1789                Aug-Dec                      38 items

                        Includes additional accounts for labor expenses at the house in Northern Liberties

 

            F21      1790                Jan-Apr                        30 items

                        Includes letters addressed to Meredith as the “Treasurer of the United States”

 

            F22      1790                May-Sep                      40 items

                        Includes a letter from Musser about land purchases in Pennsylvania. Also includes a tuition bill for John Meredith from the College & Academy of Philadelphia, a magazine subscription to American Museum, and a letter from Sam’l Anderson that mentions business affairs with Hamilton

 

            F23      1790                Oct-Dec                       26 items

 

                        Series I.1 Samuel Meredith Letters and Receipts (continued)

 

2

            F24      1791                Jan-Jun             32 items

                        Includes a receipt for subscription to the Library Company of Philadelphia

 

            F25      1791                Jul-Dec                        28 items

                        Includes tuition receipts to the College & Academy of Philadelphia for Thomas Meredith. Also includes letters discussing property in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

 

            F26      1792                                        27 items

                        Includes a tuition bill for the University of Pennsylvania, and tuition receipts from Mary Hart for tuition owed for the schooling of “Miss Meredith”

 

            F27      1793                Jan-Jun             36 items

                        Includes a letter reminding Meredith of a meeting of the “President and Managers of the Schyukill and Susquehanna Navigation Society” and receipts to Mrs. Meredith from Sarah Clarke. Also includes the receipt from Doctor Benjamin Rush for medicine.

 

            F28      1793                Jul-Dec                        19 items

 

3

            F29      1794                Jan-Apr                        27 items

                        Includes a receipt from Susannah Hood for linens and draperies

 

            F30      1794                May-Jul                        19 items

                        Includes a bill form Ann Gallagher for dishes sold

 

            F31      1794                Aug-Dec                      18 items

 

            F32      1795                Jan-Feb                        19 items

                        Includes letters from John Watts about “military conveyances”

 

            F33      1795                Mar-Jun                       23 items

 

            F34      1795                Jul-Oct                         24 items

 

            F35      1795                Nov-Dec                      31 items

                        Includes additional letters from Watts about land deals concerning William Morris, and a receipt to Miss Meredith for dying Satin

 

 

 

                        Series I.1 Samuel Meredith Letters and Receipts (continued)

3

            F36      1796                Jan-Apr                        26 items

                        Includes an account from Elizabeth Griffith to Miss Meredith. Also includes an “Estimate of the Expense of Building a Kitchen 16ft. square” from David Evans, and a letter about an injured worker and the additional wages to be paid him.

 

            F37      1796                May-Jun                       22 items

 

            F38      1796                Jul-Dec                        21 items

                        Includes a bill for piano tuning

 

            F39      1797                Jan                               10 items

                        Includes a bill from Elizabeth Tebigen, to whom rent is owed

 

            F40      1797                Feb-Jun                        14 items

 

            F41      1797                Jul-Dec                        12 items

 

            F42      1798                Jan-May                       16 items

                        Includes receipts for clothing for Miss Peggy and Miss Maria Meredith

 

            F43      1798 – 1799                                        23 items

 

4

            F44      1800                                                    16 items

                        Includes a letter from John B. Risberg, that mentions the commander of the Delaware, and the voyage of the Grace to Calcutta, India

 

            F45      1801                                                    15 items

                        Includes a letter and receipts referring to Thomas Meredith’s trip to Amsterdam. Also includes letters from John Read about Meredith’s business affairs, land holdings, the Treaty of Amity, and Colonel Pickering; a letter from P. Bondor about Treasury business; and an account balance sheet of the Bank of the United States showing treasury account balances with the War, Naval Department and other agencies

 

            F46      1802-1805                                           6 items

                        Includes letters from John Read about taxes and land disputes in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, and information about incorrect titles issued in the region. There is also information from Read to Meredith about a suit brought by Mary Hopkins against Meredith.

 

 

 

                        Series I.1 Samuel Meredith Letters and Receipts (continued)

4

            F47      1806                                                    10 items

                        Includes letters from John Read about Wayne County lands and the affairs of the Gashill Family. Also includes information about Mr. Howell, the “author of the map of Pennsylvania” and his anticipated new edition of the map

 

            F48      1807                                                    9 items

                        Includes letters from John Read about the Conewago Canal, and the debts of the Canal Company to the Bank of North America. Read’s letters also contain gossip about Nancy Clymer’s marriage. It is evident in Read’s letters by this time that Meredith is “cash poor”

 

            F49      1809-1811                                           11 items

                        Includes letters from John Read, one of which discusses American Ships seized in battle, and several of which discuss the Conewago Canal and Meredith’s business interests.

 

            F50      1812                                                    12 items

                        Letters from John Read, several of which are in response to Samuel Meredith’s requests for cash money, information about new land surveys and roads in Pennsylvania, and letters about the Conewago Canal Company and the disputes between Meredith and Francis. The letters also contain references to the conditions endured during the War of 1812, including a brief account of the defeat of the American Army at Fort Eric

 

            F51      1813                                                    13 items

                        Letters from John Read, including one discussing the illness of “Uncle Clymer,” also includes a letter about various bank notes held by Meredith and a resulting currency confusion

 

            F52      1814                                                    5 items

 

            F53      1822, 1823                                          2 items

 

            F54      [n.d.]                                                    20 items

                        Includes several written statements of Samuel Meredith’s accounts with various banks

 

            F55      [n.d.]                                                    20 items

                        Includes a bill from Mrs, Gratten for “lessons” given to Miss Meredith, and bank notes from the Philadelphia Bank. Also includes receipts from Susanah Barnes for Pound Cakes baked for Mrs. Meredith

 

 

                        Series I.1 Samuel Meredith Letters and Receipts (continued)

4

            F56      [n.d.]                                                    20 items

                        Additional accounts and receipts

 

            F57      [n.d.]                                                    20 items

                        Additional accounts and receipts

 

            F58      [n.d.]                                                    20 items

                        Additional accounts and receipts

 

            F59      [n.d.]                                                    40 items

                        Additional accounts and receipts

 

            F60      [n.d.]                                                    32 items

                        Additional accounts and receipts

 

            F61      Fragments, [n.d.]                                  12 items

 

 

                        Series I.2.  Checks, 1779-1811, [n.d.] 

                        Canceled checks written and signed by Samuel and Margaret Meredith.  Checks are sorted by year, but not by month. These checks are issued to settle many of the accounts billed for in Series I.1.

 

5

            F62      1779-1786                               6 items

            F63      1787                                        50 items

            F64      1787                                        50 items

            F65      1788                                        28 items

            F66      1789                                        55 items

            F67      1790                                        49 items

            F68      1790                                        44 items

            F69      1790                                        44 items

            F70      1791                                        47 items

            F71      1792                                        47 items

            F72      1793                                        52 items

            F73      1794                                        21 items

            F74      1795-1798                               59 items

            F75      1800-1801                               30 items

            F76      1805-1806                               41 items

            F77      1807                                        46 items

            F78      1810-1811                               24 items

            F79      [n.d.]                                        11 items

 

                        Series I.3.  Account Books, 1782-1813

                         This series contains records of various banks accounts held by Samuel Meredith

 

6

            F80      Society for Promoting the Improvement of Roads and Inland Navigation, 1792.

                        Treasurer's account book;. 48 pages, 2 with writing, and one laid-in page listing members of the society.

 

            F81      Cash Account Book, 1794.  7 pp.

 

            F82      Trenton Banking Company, 1808-1810.  30 pp.

 

            F83      Bank of Columbia, 1800-1801.  19 pp.

 

            F84      Bank of New York, 1789-1790.  10 pp.

 

            F85      Bank of North America, 1782-1789.  38 pp.

 

            F86      Philadelphia Bank, 1804-1813.  22 pp.

 

            F87      Bank of the United States, 1792-1794.  45 pp.

 

            F88      Bank of the United States, 1794-1975.  28 pp.

 

            F89      Bank of the United States, 1795-1796.  27 pp.

 

            F90      Bank of the United States, 1796-1798.  56 pp.

 

            F91      Bank of the United States, Check Book, 1801.

                        9 leaves, 4 with writing, 5 with blank checks, and one laid-in fragment.

 

 

                        Series II.  Thomas Meredith, correspondence, 1787-1821, [n.d.]

                        Consists of business letters addressed to Thomas Meredith, son of Samuel Meredith.  The majority of letters are from John Read, and address Samuel Meredith’s business affairs.

 

6

            F92      1787-1811                               9 items

 

            F93      1812-1821 and [n.d.]               12 items


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