An Inventory of the Ferris Family Papers, 1737-1940

(27 boxes; 13.5 linear ft.)

RG 5/040

© Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.  
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081-1399 U.S.A.  

Seal of Swarthmore College
Table of contents
The Ferris family was a Quaker family of Wilmington, Delaware. John Ferris (1710-1751), a Quaker tanner, moved to Delaware from Connecticut in 1748 and died of small pox three years later. They were active in a variety of social reform causes. The collection contains correspondence, journals and other writings, business and legal papers, and miscellaneous ps of the Ferris family of Wilmington, Delaware. Of particular note are the correspondence and writings of Benjamin Ferris concerning the Separation in the Society of Friends and Elias Hicks, as well as the journals and diaries of Anna M. Ferris, David Ferris, Matilda Ferris, Benjamin Ferris, and Henry Ferris. This collection includes a great variety of family correspondence that reveals much about the life of a Quaker family in Wilmington and of the reform activities of members of the Society of Friends, especially in the areas of abolition and peace.

Background note:
BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL NOTE The Ferris family was a Quaker family of Wilmington, Delaware. John Ferris (1710-1751), a Quaker tanner, moved to Delaware from Connecticut in 1748 and died of small pox three years later. His second son, Ziba, was born in 1743. The latter was apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Wilmington and married Edith Sharples of Chester Co., Pa., in 1769. Ziba and Edith had seven children, among whom were John, who married Sarah Harlan, and Benjamin, who married Frances Canby. John Ferris was a cabinetmaker who died of yellow fever in 1802, and Benjamin Ferris worked as a surveyor and as a conveyancer. He was a prominent member of the Hicksite branch of the Society of Friends in Wilmington, Delaware. Benjamin's son, David Ferris, was born in 1821; he married Sarah Underwood in 1849. An Elder of Wilmington Monthly Meeting, David was active in a variety of social reform issues. Henry Ferris, his son, was born in 1855, and married Elizabeth Masters.

Scope and content
SCOPE AND CONTENT OF THE RECORDS The collection contains correspondence, journals and other writings, business and legal papers, and miscellaneous ps of the Ferris family of Wilmington, Delaware. Of particular note are the correspondence and writings of Benjamin Ferris concerning the Separation in the Society of Friends and Elias Hicks, as well as the journals and diaries of Anna M. Ferris, David Ferris, Matilda Ferris, Benjamin Ferris, and Henry Ferris. Correspondents include William Lloyd Garrison, William Gibbons, Isaac T. Hopper, Joseph Bringhurst, Mary Gibbons, William Poole, Mary Biddle, Joseph Rakestraw, Halliday Jackson, and John Jackson. This collection includes a great variety of family correspondence that reveals much about the life of a Quaker family in Wilmington and of the reform activities of members of the Society of Friends, especially in the areas of abolition and peace.

Arrangement The collection is divided into six series:

Added entries

  • Biddle, Mary, 1780-1849
  • Bringhurst, Joseph, 1767-1834
  • Ferris family.
  • Ferris, Anna M., 1815-1890
  • Ferris, Benjamin, 1780-1867
  • Ferris, David, 1821-1908
  • Ferris, Fanny, 1778-1833
  • Ferris, Henry, 1855-1941
  • Ferris, John, 1775-1802
  • Ferris, Matilda, 1853-1937
  • Ferris, Ziba, 1743-1794
  • Genealogies
  • Gibbons, Mary, 1754-1797
  • Gibbons, Mary, 1795-1876
  • Hopper, Isaac T. (Isaac Tatem), 1771-1852
  • Jackson, Halliday, 1771-1835
  • Jackson, John, 1809-1855
  • Poole, William, 1764-1829
  • Quaker social reformers
  • Quakers -- Controversy
  • Quakers -- Delaware
  • Quakers -- Diaries
  • Quakers -- Peace
  • Quakers -- Social life and customs
  • Quakers abolitionists
  • Rakestraw, Joseph, 1780?-1860
  • Slavery - United States
  • Social reform
  • Society of Friends -- Hicksite separation
  • Society of Friends -- Peace testimony
  • Wilmington (De.) -- Quakers
Additional Authors and Contributors
  • Hicks, Elias, 1748-1830.
Processed by: Finding Aid Prepared by FHL staff
Date: 1960
Restrictions: Use Restrictions Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical ps and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.
Sponsor: Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries


Note to Researchers: To request materials, please note both the location and box numbers shown below:

Ser. 1. Correspondence of the Ferris Family, 1737-1940
Chronological listing of correspondence, 1794-1819:


Clement Biddle, Phila

Charles Townsend, fellow apprentice, Phila

Aunt Rachel, Phila

Betsy Gilmore, Phila

Nancy Thomas, Phila

RJ Biddle, Phila

Jacob, Anna, Ruth Lindley, Phila

Thomas Parker, Phila


John N. Dickinson, Wilmington

Rebecca Thomson, Phila

Hannah Coxe & Susan Vaux, Phila

John Hollingsworth, Phila

R. Harrison, Phila

Thomas Humphrey, Phila

Joseph Bringhurst, Phila


John N. Dickinson, Wilmington

J. Milner, Phila

J. Warner, Phila

Bissell Yarnall, Phila

James Logan, Phila


Anne Biddle, Phila

Priscilla R. Thomson, Phila


John Parrish and Phila. friends who went with him on trip to Columbia

John Phillips

James Jackson's wife

Jemmy Lindley

Jesse Kersey's brother

"The Doctor"; Wm. Sibbilla & Rebecca Embree & their parents, Downington

John Humphrey, Derby

Charles Townsend, Phila

Joshua Pusey, Frankford

Wm. William Paxon, Phila

Ziba Ferris, brother


Margaret R. Garrigues, Phila

Clement Biddle, Phila

Robert Mott, Phila

M. Paxson, Phila

Betty Canby, Phila


Peter Barker, Phila

Matthew Freanklin, Quaker mininster, New York

Margaret R. Garrigues, Phila

William Savery, Phila

Sarah Talbot, Phila

M. Newlin

Merrit Canby, Fanny's brother, Phila

C. Roberts, Phila

Margaret Canby, Fanny's sister

Fanny, Anna, and Joseph Potts (J the father of Anna), Phila

William Franklin, Phila

Samuel Parrish, Phila

Moses Gillingham, Phila

Nathan Harper, Phila

Dr. Rouan (?), Phila

Pricilla Townsend, Frankford

Patience W. Wright, Phila

John Newton, Phila

Anne Biddle, Phila

Phinehas Potts, Phila

Nathan Hunt, Phila

Jacob Lindley & Ruth Anna, Phila

George Dillwin, Phila

John Cox, Phila

Alexander Wilson, Phila

M. Routh, Phila

Rebecca Jones, Phila

P&R Thomson, Phila

Cyrus Newlin, Phila

J. Milner, Phila

William Paxon, Phila

Aunt Sally, Phila

James McElnee, Phila

Marthan Prouth, Phila

Eliz. Foulke, niece of J. Bringhurst, Phila

Ann Alexander

Joseph Cloud, Quaker minister

Caleb Havilan, Wilmington

Bergerac, financier (?), Wilmington

William Crouch, Phila


Charles Marshall, Phila

Isaac Morris, Bristol

Wm. Webb, Conestown, Pa.

Isaac Jackson, New Garden

Jacob R.A. Lindley, Phila

Jonathan Jessops, York, Pa.

Mary Warrington, servant, Phila

Capt. Morris, Phila

Dr. J. Parrish, Phila

Charles Townsend, Phila

J. Biddle, Phila

William Paxson, Phila

Grace Burk, Phila; Ashton Richardson, Phila; Merrit Canby, Phila

John Morton, Jr., Phila

Dr. Wistar (Caspar W.?), Phila; James McCliver, Phila

Bergerac, Wilmington

Mary and Sally Canby, Bristol

Cousins Buckleys, Bristol


Wm Crotch, minister, Phila

Joseph Head

Jesse Waln

Bergerac, Wilmington

Robert Morris, Phila

Isaac Parrish, Phila

John Dickinson, Wilmington

William Jackson, Wilmington

Sarah Lindley, Wilmington


Davenport Marot, neighbor, Phila

Merrit Canby, Phila

*Margaret R. Garrigues, Derby

Joseph & Martha Mifflin, Derby

Cyrus Newlin, cousin, Derby

William Allinson, Burlington, N.J.

Mary Potts, Frankford

Moses Gillingham, Frankford

Jacob & R.A. Lindley, Frankford

Nathaniel Yarnall, Frankford


Mrs. S.N. Dickinson, Wilmington

Bergerac, Wilmington


* Anna Canby, Brandywine

Caleb Harlan, cousin, Brandywine


Robert Newlin and Philadelphia friends who went with BF to NY

Anna Clement Biddle

Tor. (?) Byrnes, Placa?; Cyrus and Sarah Newlin, Beekman (alias Durlings) Meeting

Isaac Thorn, Jr. wife, Nine Partners

James and Richard Mott (father & son), Nine Partners

Anna & Adam Mott (Anna was James' daughter), Nine Partners

S. Kelly & family, Poughkeepsie

Weyman Ferris, New York

Abraham Lower, Phila

G. Dylwin & wife (Geo. Dillwyn), New York

Evan Thomas, New York; Thomas Buckley & family (cousins), New York

Esther Griffin daughter, H.G. Field, New York

John Saunders, Quaker minister, New York

Elias Hicks, New York


Sally Lindley, New York

Elias Hicks

John Tatum & wife, Phila


Beulah Sansom, minister, Phila

Eliz. Griffith, minister, Horsham

Samuel Bittle, minister (Bettle?), Phila

Mrs. Bittle, elder, Phila

Dr. Griffith, elder

Catherine Morris, elder

Hannah Elliot, elder


Joseph Read, Wilmington

Jesse Kersey, Phila

Richard Jordan, Phila

John Parker, Phila

Willet Hicks, Phila

Hugh Judge, Phila

George Dilwyn, Phila

Ellis Yarnall, Phila

William Poole, uncle, Phila

J or I Ferris, Phila

Abraham Lower, Phila

P. Thomson & Anne Biddle, Phila

J. N. Dickinson, Phila; C & S Newlin, Phila; E. Shipley, Phila

Maria Logan, Phila

E. Kimber, Phila

E. Hilles (or Hickes?), Phila

J. Bullock, Phila

Dr. Parrish, Phila

John Cox, Phila

Anna Parry, Phila

Thomas Roger wife, Jane, Phila

Abby Barker (Abegail), Phila; C & P Townsend, Phila

Eliz. Coleman, Phila


Charles & Priscilla Townsend, Phila

J. T. Hoppers & family, Phila

John Tatum, Phila

Gulidma Smith & family (Gulielma), Phila

J. Sharples cousin, Phila

Piesley, minister (Amos Peaslee- Ferris called him a “second Job Scott”), New Hampshire

J.N. Dickinson, Wilmington

Susan & Richard Smith, Wilmington


Wm Wright, 1819, Columbia

Thomas Gilpin, Phila; Joseph Lancaster, Baltimore

n.d., 1737-1940

Correspondence of Ferris family n.d., 1737-1804 Box 1

Correspondence of Ferris family 1805-1819 Box 1A

Correspondence of Ferris family 1820-1846 Box 2

Correspondence of Ferris family 1847-1873 Box 3

Correspondence of Ferris family 1874-1878 Box 4

Correspondence of Ferris family 1879-1880 Box 4A

Correspondence of Ferris family 1880-1883 Box 5

Correspondence of Ferris family 1884-1886 Box 6

Correspondence of Ferris family 1887-1904 Box 7

Correspondence of Ferris family and miscellaneous.
See also Series 5.
1905-1940 Box 7A

Ser. 2. Biographical and genealogical papers of the Ferris family, 1740-1969

The Record of My Ancestry, Frances C. Ferris 1942 Box 8

Ferris family notebook Box 8

Birthday books of the Ferris family 1879, 1882 Box 8

Ancestral chart of Henry and Elizabeth M. Ferris 1885 Box 8

Anna M. Ferris, Diary 1860-1865 (reprinted) Box 8

David Ferris, Essay on Marriage n.d. Box 8

Memoirs of the Life of David Ferris 1825 Box 8

Golden wedding anniversary of Henry and Elizabeth M. Ferris Box 8

Journals, 1740-1786 Box 8

Benjamin Ferris of Oblong (1708-1775), Film MS-F13 n.d. Box 8

Benjamin Ferris (1740-1771) [v.1]
Also includes v.3, 1764-1770, n.d., Film MS-F13.
1740-1757 (copy?) Box 8

John Ferris, Account Book 1778-1786 Box 8A

John P. Ferris, miscellaneous Box 8A

George A. Ferris, miscellaneous Box 8A

Matilda Ferris, Dairy 10mo 9-10mo 17, 1878 Box 8A

Zachariah Ferris, Journal 1790-1791 (reprinted) Box 8A

Ziba Ferris, memorandum on cabinet-making 1790 Box 8A

Will, deeds, and marriage certificates of the Ferris family Box 8A

Miscellaneous legal papers of the Ferris family 1784-1938, n.d. Box 8A

Photographs of members of the Ferris family (2 folders) Box 8B

Signatures and memoirs Box 8B

“Friend in Wilmington” 1969 Box 8B

Ferris and Canby family papers Box 8B

Canby family Box 8B

Masters family notebook Box 8B

Masters family legal papers 1748-1781 Box 8B

Sharples-Ferris family Box 8B

Underwood family Box 8B

Miscellaneous deaths and marriages
See also: papers of Benjamin Ferris and David Ferris.
Box 8B

Ser. 3. Business papers of John and Benjamin Ferris

John Ferris (fl. 1783) Box 9

Benjamin Ferris (1780-1867) and others
Includes will and deeds.
Box 9

Surveyor's drawings, Benjamin Ferris Box 9A

Trusteeships, Benjamin Ferris Box 9A

Ser. 4. Benjamin Ferris (1780-1867) papers, 1770-1852, n.d.
Box 10

Biographical and genealogical
Includes a note on his life by his daughter Anna, 1867. For memorials and biography, see Historical Society of Delaware Memorial; Memorials and drawings.
Box 10

Financial notes and paper Box 10

Two day-books Box 10

Photographs and autograph of friends Box 10

Dates from Family Bibles (photostats) Box 10

Genealogical notes on other families collected by Benjamin Ferris Box 10A

Genealogical Memoranda of the Shipley, Canby, Tatnall, Marriott, Sharple and Ferris Families, etc. (2 copies, both photostats, one bound) Box 10A

Marriage certificate of Benjamin Ferris to Hannah Gibbons
See: Chart Case A Marr. F.
1835 Box 10A

Drawings: see folder marked Memorials and drawings
Includes pictures of Wilmington Meeting House.
Box 10A

Memorabilia, 1770-1840, n.d. Includes: Box 10A

A testimony re: George Mason by Benjamin Mason Box 10A

A testimony by George Fox Box 10A

A letter from William Penn to the Indians Box 10A

A letter from William Wharton to Benjamin Ferris Box 10A

Printed books, 1770-1840: (four books)

The American Primer 1804 Box 10A

A New History of England 1770 Box 10A

The Whole Duty of Woman 1785 Box 10A

The Case of the Seneca Indian... 1840 Box 10A

Poems and diaries
Includes vopybook, notebook containing some journal entries and drawings.
Box 11

List of library books Box 11

Journal, Eastern journey 1831 Box 11

History of Quakers, translated from French Box 11

Rough drafts of articles Box 11

Rough draft of introduction to David Ferris' journal Box 11

Scrapbook of Aquila paper and other articles in print (Intelligencer) Box 11

Biographical sketches by Benjamin Ferris Box 11

Two unpublished papers Box 11

Memorial and drawings on death of Anna
Also includes other drawings.
1814 Box 11

Primitive Quakerism illustrated Box 11

Maps of meetings in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting 1827 Box 11

Separation writings and reference material, 1779-1852, n.d.: Box 12

Writings of Benjamin Ferris, 1827-1852, n.d.:

An Account of the Separation... 1827 Box 12

Luke Howard's “Friend in America” Box 12

Rise and Progress of the Separation, Historical Review 1852 Box 12

*Paper on Joseph J. Gurney. Box 12

Rough sketch of misc. mss fragments for essay on the division Box 12

Paul and Anicus
See also Misc. mss. fragments folder.
Box 12

Reference material, 1779-1841, n.d.:

Joseph Turner: Epistle of Orthodoxy Box 12

Anna Braithwaite discussion Box 12

Orthodox defender Box 12

Description of some episodes Box 12

Miscellaneous papers about the Separation Box 12

Picture of Elias Hicks Box 12

Remarks on material in Friends Monthly Magazine Box 12

John Comly papers Box 12

Pamphlets 1828-1839 (5 pamphlets) Box 12

Peace Testimony Box 12

Questionnaire on Separation and replies from 27 meetings Box 12

Friends meetings collected by Benjamin Ferris Box 13

Early Meeting records
Includes Purchase and Middletown Minutes and proceedings of Com. appointed...Green Street..., etc.
1827 Box 13

Early Yearly Meeting epistles (before 1827). Box 13

Accounts of sufferings of several Friends 1779-1781 Box 13

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting: minutes and papers Box 13

Wilmington Monthly and Preparative Meetings, miscellaneous papers, 1812-1841

Wilmington Preparative Meeting minutes.
For drawings of the meeting house, see Box 10A.
Box 13

Queries Box 13

Epistles to Quarterly Meeting at Concord Box 13

Other miscellaneous meeting papers Box 13

General epistle to Those Without our Yearly Meeting Box 13

List of books containing Ferris signatures Box 13

Ser. 5. David Ferris (1821-1908) papers, 1838-1936, n.d.

Diaries, account books, piece book 1838-1908 Box 14

Journal 1838-1843; 1843-1849 (2 vols) Box 14A

Biography, will, correspondence and other writings and drawings Box 15

Biographical and genealogical material kept by David Ferris: Box 15

Marriage certificate
See Chart Case A Marr. F.
Box 15

Will Box 15

Correspondence 1840-1870s Box 15

David, Sarah, “Mother” Sarah Underwood Hunt Box 15

Lydia Pike from S.A. Underwood Box 15

Essays and poems Box 15

Drawings of farm sold to David in 1853 Box 15

Copybooks of Sarah and her sister, Matilda (6 books) Box 16

Journals (writing of Sarah Ferris?) (9 journals) Box 16

Journals by Matilda, daughter of David and Sarah 1876-1936, gaps (24 vols.) Box 16A

Writings of Matilda: “Some Early Side Lights on the History of Early Friends in Wilmington.” Box 16A

Will of Martha Ferris, sister of David Box 16A

Miscellaneous papers of Martha Ferris Box 16A

Ser. 6. Henry Ferris (1855-1941) papers, 1857-1922, n.d.

Biography, copybooks, diaries, journals, marriage certificate
See Chart Case A Marr F.
Box 17

Writings Box 17

Business paper Box 17

Pictures Box 17

Memorabilia Box 17

Reference material:

American Friends Peace Conference Box 17

American Friends Service Committee Box 17

Conference of All Friends, London Box 17

Friends Advancement Committee Box 17

Friends Disarmament Council Box 17

Friends Historical Association Box 17

Friends Intelligencer Box 17

Green Street Monthly Meeting Box 17

Peace conference Box 17

Pennsylvania Abolition Society Box 17

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends Box 17

Spring Street Settlement Box 17

Whittier Centre Housing Committee Box 17

Woolman Memorial Association Box 17

Genealogical material compiled by Henry Ferris on the following families: Box 18























Van Dusen

Van Tuyl





Ferris family material, 1857-1922, n.d.

Journals and copybooks
See also series 4 and 5.
Box 19

Anna M. Ferris 1857-1890, gaps (13 vols) Box 19

Book of dated events 1867-1891 Box 19

William Canby Ferris, records 1870-1878; 1909-1922 Box 19

Rebecca Kite Masters, 2 diaries
Henry Ferris married Elizabeth E. Masters
1871-1876; 1889-1891.

4 copybooks Box 19

Marriage certificate: Morris E. Masters and Hannah M. Eves
See original certificate in Chart Case 2 Marr. M.
1864 10mo 12 (photocopy and typewritten copy) Box 19

Blue Beard or the Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Philadelphia: 1815?) with fragment of poem about Fanny and Blue Beard. Box 19