University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Shipley Family Papers

1841 - 1911


Manuscript Collection Number: 248
Accessioned: Gift of Moyerman Family, 1972
Extent: 229 items (.75 linear ft.)
Content: Correspondence, financial and legal documents, receipt and account books, and printed materials
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Fall 1991 by Neva J. Specht

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Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Thomas Shipley was a conveyancer and dealt primarily in the business of drawing deeds, leases, or other writings for transferring the title of property, and settling estates. He worked from his office located at 21 North 7th street in Philadelphia. His business thrived for almost four decades, beginning around 1850 and lasting until 1888 when his son, who had joined his father's business in 1883, left to form his own firm. Thomas Shipley was married to Eliza M. Drinker and they had a son, Walter Penn. The Shipleys were active members of the Society of Friends. They were also political supporters of the Republican party.

Walter Penn Shipley was born on June 20, 1860. He attended Haverford College prior to graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1883. He studied law with P. Pemberton Morris before being admitted to the bar in 1883. After working with his father for five years, he joined with Effingham B. Morris and George Vaux, Jr. to form the firm Morris, Shipley and Vaux in 1888. Following the death of both his law partners, Walter Shipley continued his general law practice independently until his own retirement in 1927.

Walter Penn Shipley had a lifelong interest in chess. He wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer's chess column for 34 years, co- authored the “History of Chess in Philadelphia,” and won numerous city and state tournaments as an amateur player. In addition to his chess interests, Walter Penn Shipley was a director for the John C. Winston Company, a member of the Friends Meeting house at Green and Coulter streets, served as treasurer for the Germantown Preparative Meeting of Friends, and was involved in helping the Home of Aged and Infirm Colored Persons.

Walter Shipley married Anne Emlen on October 17, 1879. They had three sons: Thomas Emlen Shipley (b. 1890); James Emlen Shipley (b. 1894); and Walter Penn Shipley, Jr. (b. 1897). On February 17, 1942, at the age of 81, Walter Penn Shipley died at his home in Germantown where he had lived most of his life.


“Walter P. Shipley, Expert on Chess” (obituary), New York Times, February 18, 1942, p. 19, section 3.

Note: Biographical information on Thomas Shipley was derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Shipley Family Papers contain 229 items including correspondence, printed documents, receipts, and account books pertaining to Thomas Shipley and his business, as well as to his son Walter Penn Shipley. The bulk of the material relates to the years when Thomas Shipley was most active as a conveyancer, 1850- 1888; however, a few items date from the 1840s, and Walter Penn Shipley's correspondence reaches into the first decade of the twentieth century.

This collection contains many documents which deal with title transfers, leases, and real estate sales in Philadelphia. In addition, the collection contains correspondence, documents, and receipts that relate to the settlements of the estates of Samuel J. Henderson, John W. Furlong, Joseph Banes, Reynolds Hamm, and John Phillips. Much of the correspondence between Thomas Shipley and his clients concerns problems with tenancy, especially such problems as evictions, rent collection, maintenance of property, and real estate sales. Also in the collection are receipt and account books which deal with Samuel J. Henderson's estate, Thomas Shipley's personal expenses, rents and small accounts, and his household accounts. The household, double entry account book documents purchases for the Shipley household for 1859-1861. Also included in the collection is a receipt book from Walter Penn Shipley's business.

Other items include plans and maps of the Philadelphia surrounding area showing proposed railroad routes, and property divisions; letters between Walter Penn Shipley and his friends about his July 1880 vacation to Hot Springs, Virginia, and about his interest in chess. There are also letters from job applicants to Walter Shipley's wife, Anna, about an opening in 1907 for Matron of the Industrial Home for Colored Women.

Arrangement Note

The papers have been arranged chronologically and divided into three series. Series I consists of the correspondence and documents that relate to Thomas Shipley and his business. The last folder in this series contains the undated items in the collection pertaining to Thomas Shipley. Included in Series II are miscellaneous items. These include plans and maps, newspaper clippings, and Thomas Shipley's various receipt and account books. Series III includes correspondence and documents of members of the Shipley family. Included are letters to and from Walter Penn Shipley, letters to Anne Shipley and a receipt book for Walter Shipley's business.

Series List

I.   Correspondence and Documents of Thomas Shipley, 1841-1885

II.  Miscellaneous, 1845-1889

III. Family Correspondence and Documents, 1876-1911

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Correspondence and Documents of Thomas
          Shipley, 1841-1885
          181 items, 235 leaves
          Includes correspondence and documents relating to
          Thomas Shipley and his business.

1    F1   Correspondence and Documents, Dec 1841-Jun 1847
          Includes title transfers and documents related to
          the John Northrop estate.

     F2   Correspondence and Documents, Mar 1850-Jun 1851
          Includes printed document of legal claim by Samuel
          J. Henderson, the defense attorney in Barnet vs.
          Darrah, for a new trial; documents dealing with resale
          of four lots owned by the Mentz family in Bristol
          township; settlement of John A. Drew real estate; and a
          rough draft of a letter concerning the estate of Mr.
          Henderson for whom Thomas Shipley was the executor.

     F3   Correspondence and Documents, Sep 1852-Dec 1855
          Includes documents pertaining to the John W.
          Furlong estate; a release of lien to Edmund R.
          Helmbold, and a bond of indemnity between Helmbold and
          Thomas Shipley; and miscellaneous business receipts.

     F4   Correspondence and Documents, Jan-May 1856
          Transactions with the William P. Hamm estate;
          notice for advertisement to be placed in the Public

     F5   Correspondence and Documents, Feb 1857-Aug 1860
          Second account of Samuel J. Henderson; documents
          related to the Furlong estate; list of mortgages; tax

     F6   Correspondence and Documents, Apr 1863-Dec 1874
          Printed pamphlet “Brief of title to 25 contiguous
          lots of ground situated on the Southside of Master
          Street”; correspondence on J. Northrup estate; building
          permit requests; tax receipts.

     F7   Correspondence and Documents, Apr 1875-Dec 1879
          Tax receipts, note and poem sent to Thomas
          Shipley's doctor; documents about life insurance; rough
          draft and printed letter to the editor about the naming
          of the Germantown Railroad station.

     F8   Correspondence and Documents, Mar 1880-Jun 1881
          Notice for a meeting of the Conveyance association
          with attached documents with proposed changes; tax and
          other miscellaneous receipts for Joseph M. Banes
     F9   Correspondence and Documents, Jul-Dec 1882
          Correspondence concerning the Banes estate from E.
          Hopper, Sarah Banes, John Rees, Howard Banes, Richard
          Hulme, Phillip Leman, Henry K. Pearson, and Thomas
          Shipley.  Also included a list of the Banes tenants.

     F10  Correspondence and Documents, 1883-1885
          Includes printed document about Perot Lardnes
          estate; list of Banes's tenants and amount owed;
          correspondence on taxes; fence construction contracts
          for Thomas Shipley residence.

     F11  Correspondence, Documents and Miscellaneous notes,
          Includes two pages of algebra notes; John Watts
          epitaph; sonnet on the Lord's Prayer by Judge Conrad;
          real estate appraisals; miscellaneous receipts;
          descriptions of real estate; list of attorneys; and
          abstract of a will.

          Series II.  Miscellaneous, 1845-1889
          Includes items associated with Thomas Shipley and
          his business.  Includes receipt and account books,
          plans, maps, and newspaper clippings.  Dates are listed
          when available.  17 items.

2    F12  Plans and drawings, 1845-1882
          5 items, 5 leaves
          Includes a plan of H.H. Houston, December 28,
          1882, railroad penciled on map; drawing of Pulaski and
          Wayne Streets in Philadelphia shows a drawn red line
          that appears to be plans for a proposed railroad; 1880
          drawing of planned route for the Pennsylvania RR
          through Chestnut Hill [oversized]; plan of Olney,
          estate of Samuel C. Ford, in Bristol Township, drawn
          October 1845 by William L. Roberts [Oversized]; copy of
          a 1751 drawing of Lower Merrian Township copied from
          the Charles Lehmans Survey Book [oversized].

     F13  Preservation copies of newspaper articles, [n.d.]
          Unidentified clippings from The Semi-Weekly Times.
          Include articles on 1856 Democratic Presidential
          convention, North and South Notions on dueling, speech
          by Wm. H. Seward on “Political Parties of the Day,” and
          a congressional report on the attack of Senator Preston
          Brooks on Senator Charles Sumner May 28, 1856.                                              

     F14  Original Newspaper clippings, [n.d.]
          Unidentified clippings from The Semi-Weekly Times.
          See F13, above, for subjects covered.

     F15  Receipt books, 1846-1851 and 1853-1865
          General receipt book for Thomas Shipley for the
          period 1846-1851 and Estate receipt book for Samuel J.
          Henderson for the period 1853-1865.

     F16  Rent book, 1879-1889
          Thomas Shipley Rent book containing accounts of
          tenants and accounts of interest money for the period

     F17  Household Account Book, 1859-1878
          Double entry account book kept by Eliza Shipley.
          Shows what was purchased for household and how much it
          cost for the period 1859-1878, (bulk dates 1859-1861).

          Series III.  Family Correspondence and Documents,
          30 items, 35 leaves
          Includes correspondence and documents from Thomas
          Shipley's son Walter Penn and his business.  In
          addition there is a small group of letters written to
          Anne Shipley (Thomas Shipley's daughter-in-law).

3    F18  Walter Penn Shipley's Correspondence and Documents,
          Includes correspondence concerning a trip in July
          1880 to Hot Spring, Va., and chess, documents about
          land settlement, and descriptions of property.

     F19  Mrs. Anne Shipley's Correspondence, 1907-1911
          Includes correspondence concerning the hiring of a
          person for Matron of the Industrial Home for Colored
          Women.  Letters are from both job applicants and

     F20  Walter Penn Shipley's Receipt Book, 1900-1903
          Includes receipts and accounts of interest for
          land and estates.

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