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Morrey, Humphrey?, [c. 1650-1716]
17th Century Manuscript Account Book kept by Humphrey Morrey, one of Philadelphia’s First Merchants, First Mayor of Philadelphia, including a Glossary of Lenni Lenape words and phrases used for Trading Purposes with Native Americans, entries dated 1684-1699

narrow octavo, 63 manuscript pages plus blanks, bound in a contemporary vellum wallet style binding of presumably English manufacture, with original brass clasp, vellum is tooled with blind rules, vellum worn, and somewhat soiled, old tear to wallet flap with early sewn repair, some foxing to paper, entries in ink in a 17th century hand.

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Exceptionally rare 17th century manuscript account book very likely kept by an early Philadelphia Quaker merchant, likely Humphrey Morrey, the entries begin soon after Morrey’s arrival in the new city of Philadelphia in 1684. The entries begin three years after the colony of Pennsylvania was chartered in 1681, and two years after the arrival of William Penn in 1682. The entries document goods sold and imported, personal and business expenses, including detailed entries for the construction of a “compting house” and other structures. There are entries for repairs to “Chesnut warf” Humphrey Morrey owned the lot and wharf at Front and Chestnut streets. The account book contains one of the earliest Lenni Lenape vocabularies, a glossary of words used in trading. Quaker historian, Edwin B. Bronner states: “References to economic life in Pennsylvania in this period [1690s] are rare and generally refer to the development of some new type of business venture or to the commerce which flowed in and out of Philadelphia.”1 According to Blackwell’s Rent Roll of 1689 there were only eight “merchants” in Philadelphia at that time, Morrey was one of them.

           Many of the entries deal with the sale of Canary wine, Madeira, claret and “syder royall”, by the barrel and bottle to various early Philadelphians and “First Purchasers”, including: Thomas Hooton, Nathaniel Allen, George Emlen, Thomas Holme, and others. Sales are also recorded to Henry Grub, a tavern keeper of Burlington, New Jersey. These commodities are imported by named ships, the names of their masters are also recorded, sailing from London and Dublin. There are entries recorded for the sale of “provisions” and concerning “Indian corn from the mill.”

       The account book contains entries naming both well-known and unknown Philadelphians, including: George Emlen, the Emlen family is a very well-known Colonial Philadelphia Family. George Emlen (c1664-1710) was married in 1685 to Eleanor Allen (-1689/80), daughter of William Penn’s Commissioner, Nathaniel Allen (1633-1692). Both George Emlen and Nathaniel Allen’s names appear in this account book. Thomas Farman (Fairman) is mentioned as well; he was an assistant surveyor for William Penn, who built the famous Fairman’s Mansion at Shackamaxon, where Penn stayed briefly, and which acted in the early years as a working headquarters for Penn’s colony. Robert Turner (1635-1700), a wealthy Quaker merchant is mentioned. He is also another well-known 17th Century Philadelphian and an early investor in New Jersey. The names of Holme and Markham (Thomas Holme and William Markham) are mentioned in the account book, both of these men were officers of William Penn’s colony. Less well-known Philadelphians like Joseph Growden, John Moon, John Fisher, John Luffe, John Test, Thomas Bristoll, and Benjamin East, have odd enough surnames to make them somewhat distinct in this time period, and all show up on Blackwell’s Rent Roll of 1689 for Philadelphia.2

          The account book was kept by the owner of a wharf, specifically the “Chestnut warf,” Humphrey Morrey owned this wharf, directly in front of his lot on the corner of Chestnut street, in fact his lot extended 250 feet into the Delaware River. On the same page he records payments towards the making of a new Brig. He also records donating towards the construction of the new Friends’ Meeting House at 2nd and High (Market) Streets in Philadelphia proper. Money is also donated to fund a meeting house in the then Frankford section of Philadelphia County. Between 1697 and 1699 he devotes nine pages to detailed entries on construction costs for a counting house and perhaps an addition to his barn or warehouse. Morrey’s wharf, while not identified, can be seen on Peter Cooper’s 1720 painting ”The South East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia”, just north of Samuel Carpenter’s warehouse, wharf and dwelling. This painting the oldest surviving painting of any city in North America, is at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

            One of the most interesting and important features of the account book is its four page list of Lenni Lenape words and phrases, including the numbers (one to ten), and the rudiments of conversation especially concerning trade with the local Native Americans. The phrases include: “How dost thy do friend?” “How came ye to found”, “What hast ye got,” “What shall I give for it,” “I will give so much,” etc. All of these phrases and more are then given in the author’s best phonetic approximation of the Lenni Lenape word or phrase. An examination of the website “Lenape Talking Dictionary” (http://www.talk-lenape.org) shows that the author of the account book was indeed writing out the Lenape words as he heard them. The glossary in this account book is among the earliest Lenni Lenape vocabularies. Preceded only by the short vocabularies included in William Penn’s tract - A Letter from William Penn… London, etc., 1683-4. See Pilling, Bibliography of the Algonquian Languages (Washington: 1891).

           The account book also contains a one page recipe for “An oecalant cordiall”, which calls for mixing a quart of brandy, with a small amount of molasses, some caraway and additional ingredients. This is likely one the earliest extant Philadelphia recipes.

 

The volume is unsigned, however, biographical details and evidence from surviving documentary records point to only two of the handful of the earliest Philadelphia merchants as its author: either Samuel Carpenter (1649-1714), the wealthiest person in the colony and the builder of the city’s first wharf, or Humphrey Morrey (c. 1650-1716), Philadelphia’s first mayor and ancestor of actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson. However, the preponderance of documentary material in historical records points to Humphrey Morrey as the original owner and keeper of this account book. During the time this account book was kept, 1684-1699, there were only a few wharves in Philadelphia and only two close enough to Chestnut Street to be called “Chestnut warf”, those owned by Carpenter and Morrey.

     The well-known historian/genealogist of Philadelphia, the late Hannah Benner Roach, conducted much research on 17th Century Philadelphia, its founding, and early purchasers, or investors. She published several articles on “The Planting of Philadelphia,” and they provide much information on the crucial decade of the 1680s when the city was being founded. She also wrote an article on the “Blackwell Rent Roll of 1689,” an early census of sorts for the city. In this article she shows who was listed on the rent rolls and she records their property lot by lot along the Delaware Riverfront from Vine Street at the north end of the then city limits, to today’s South Street at the southern end of the then city limits, as well as the rest of the then much truncated city. Samuel Carpenter appears on the Delaware River Front between Chestnut and Walnut Streets. He is listed with a lot with 102 feet of frontage.

     Samuel Carpenter arrived in Philadelphia from Barbados in August of 1683, and immediately built what became a main feature of Philadelphia’s waterfront, Carpenter’s Wharf, the first wharf built in the new city, it was located on the Delaware Riverfront between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, in about the middle of the block. He was one of the earliest persons in town to deal in mercantile pursuits, importing merchandise from the British Isles. He owned one of the earliest taverns and coffee houses in town. He was in business with William Penn in a mill for grinding corn and is known to have built a counting house, warehouses, and other stores near his wharf; and these are all things mentioned in the account book.

    Of the other eight men listed as riverfront property owners between Chestnut and Walnut, one of them is Thomas Hooton, who had a partner Anthony Morris. Hooton is mentioned several times in this account book. Morris is also mentioned. Only William Shardlow and his partner William Wood owned a lot as large as Carpenter on this block. Shardlow was from England and is known not to have come to Pennsylvania. He died in 1703. His partner Wood died in 1690. This account book dates from 1684 to 1699. Shardlow and Wood do not appear to have built a wharf at this early stage of the founding of Philadelphia, nor would either be likely to have kept this account book.3

    There were two other early wharves mentioned by Hannah Benner Roach. They include: William Frampton who built a wharf called “Town Wharf” between Walnut Street and today’s Dock Street, which is south of Carpenter’s Wharf and further away from Chestnut Street. The second wharf was built by Robert Turner further north at Mulberry Street (today’s Arch Street), which was called “Mt. Wharf,” due the high river bank at that location. Mt. Wharf was likewise further away from Chestnut Street. In this account book the writer mentions doing business with both William Frampton and with Robert Turner, thus this account book would appear to not belong to either of those men.

    Another early purchaser who owned a waterfront lot between Walnut and Chestnut Streets was Christopher Taylor, a ‘schoolmaster of classical studies,’ and an eminent minister among Friends. He was also a purchaser of 5,000 acres in Penn’s colony. Assigned the 102-foot Front lot immediately north of Samuel Carpenter’s, Taylor appears to have entered into an agreement to sell half of his lot to Thomas Hooten (mentioned above) of Burlington, a Proprietor of West Jersey and cordwainer by trade. Taylor, and probably Hooten as well, both had built on the site. Taylor built a house on his half of the lot. There is no mention that either man built a wharf.4

    Thus, in summary according to Roach’s articles on the development of Philadelphia, the other men who had large waterfront lots near Chestnut Street, did not build wharves. The two other early wharf builders (Frampton and Turner), both were farther away from Chestnut Street than Carpenter, thus Carpenter’s Wharf and “Chestnut Warf,” could possibly be one in the same for this early time period, if not for the fact that Humphrey Morrey built a wharf at the foot of Chestnut Street.

 

         This documentary evidence leans toward Humphrey Morrey as the account books author. Humphrey Morrey, along with three fellow merchants petitioned the Provincial Council in the Spring of 1689 to build a wharf at the foot of Chestnut Street. Humphrey Morrey owned the lot at the foot of Chestnut from which the wharf would be built.

        Humphrey Morrey (c. 1650- 1716)

    Humphrey Morrey first came to Philadelphia from New York early in 1684 and worked as a merchant. On 11 12m (February) 1683/4, Thomas Phillips, attorney of Mercie Jefferson of Rhode Island, widow of Edward, confirmed to Morrey for £50 the house and lot on the south side of Chestnut, between Front and Second Streets, which had been laid out in right of Jefferson’s purchase of 1500 acres. By the beginning of August, 1685, Morrey had built a “large Timber house, with Brick Chimnies” here. The bank lot opposite it he acquired in December, 1688, and the following spring petitioned with other merchants (Phillip Richards, Phillip James, and William Lee) for right to build a wharf at the end of Chestnut Street.

    Humphrey Morrey, Philip Richards, Philip James, and William Lee, all merchants, together petitioned the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania on 26th 1st mo. 1689, for permission to build a wharf at the foot of Chestnut Street.5 Morrey was the wealthiest of the four, about as much the others combined. The request was discussed briefly by the Council, but tabled until the following meeting. However, reading through the minutes of the Colonial Council, we do not find that the petition for building this wharf ever came up again at council meetings. The minutes were examined from the original petition date (26th 1st mo. 1689) through to the end of 1694, over five years of meeting minutes. Nothing was found as to the council making comments on or approving the building of the wharf at the foot of Chestnut Street by either of these four merchants. It was on “1693/4 11 m 12” that our account book author wrote that he was paying for repairs on the “Chestnut Street warf,” However, according to Craig W. Horle et als volume on Colonial Pennsylvania legislators, Morrey did indeed build his wharf:

“He [Morrey] continued to increase his landholdings; by 1695 he had added 309 acres to his Cheltenham estate, 400 acres in Gloucester County, West Jersey, along the Delaware River, and three more Philadelphia city lots, including a bank lot (at Front and Chestnut) subsequently extended into the Delaware River as Morrey’s Wharf. He retained most of these properties until his death.”6

     In 1685, Morrey was appointed a justice of the peace. In 1687, and again in 1690, he was chosen to the provincial assembly. In the charter of March 20, 1691, by which Philadelphia was incorporated as a city, Morrey was appointed mayor. The length of his term was 10 years. His assessed estate was rated at £500 in 1693 Philadelphia County Tax List. In 1701, Morrey was succeeded by Edward Shippen as mayor of Philadelphia, who was appointed by Penn to a one-year term, then re-elected to a second term by the City Council, thus Shippen became the first mayor to be elected, whereas Morrey was the actual first mayor appointed by Penn.

    Humphrey Morrey shows up on “The Blackwell Rent Roll, 1689,” listed as “Humfry Murrey.” In Hannah Benner’s Roach’s article on the “Philadelphia Business Directory of 16907, Roach mentions that there were “eight merchants” in Philadelphia in 1690, as follows:

       -Samuel Carpenter [built a wharf between Chestnut & Walnut Streets]

-Griffith Jones [two lots south of Carpenter on Delaware riverfront, also had a riverfront lot three lots below Robert Turner, not known to have built a wharf]

        -Robert Turner [built wharf at Front & Mulberry (Arch)]

-Robert Ewer [was in Philadelphia by 1683, in 1690 he sold the south half of his bank lot, between Walnut and Chestnut, to Thomas Masters, not known to have built a wharf]

-Andrew Robeson [owned riverfront lot at Front & Vine, from which he purchased from Thomas Ruddiard, who was an original purchaser 51 foot, not near Chestnut Street]

-Humphrey Morrey [Front & Chestnut, same block as Samuel Carpenter, petitioned in spring of 1689 to build wharf, and eventually did build wharf at foot of Chestnut Street, the “Chestnut Street Wharf,” also known as Morrey’s Wharf]

        -Phillip Richards [petitioned with Morrey to build wharf at Chestnut Street]

        -Patrick Robinson [owned waterfront lot on Walnut Street, original purchaser, 51-foot lot, not near Chestnut Street]

     Humphrey Morrey was considered a prominent Quaker merchant.  Roach notes that two prominent New York Quaker merchants, William Frampton and Humphrey Morrey, were assigned lots as early purchasers in William Penn’s “Holy Experiment.” They had been doing business in Delaware for some years and now looked to establish a base of operation in the rising Quaker community. At the time of their applications all the choice front lots were assigned, so they agreed to take lots elsewhere, hoping that later, if the progress of the place warranted the expense, they might be able to buy front lots from original purchasers. To accommodate the brew and bake house Frampton intended to build, Penn assigned him lot 10 on Delaware Second Street. Its location immediately south of Pool Street next to the stream flowing into the northern corner of the Swamp, provided him with access to the river. For Humphrey Morrey, Penn assigned lot 119 on the north side of Holme between Fourth and Fifth Streets, close to the waters of the Coaquannock. Each assignment was predicated on the eventual purchase of country land.8

     Of the nine lots surveyed during February [1684], only three were on Delaware side. One of these was a second lot for Humphrey Morrey, who was still a resident of New York when, in early January, he arranged to purchase the Front lot assigned to the widow Mercy Jefferson, with the “house thereon erected.” That improved lot, at the southwest corner of Wynne (Chestnut) and  Front Streets, was surveyed for Morrey in the middle of February, five days after Penn granted him a warrant which added twelve feet to the lot’s breadth; the excess presumably was the result of a miscalculation by the surveyors when the street was first laid out.9 While Morrey was still located in New York in January and February of 1684, the entries in this Philadelphia account book do not begin until 17th 3rd mo. [March] 1684, thus his arrival in Philadelphia and the beginning of this account book coincide. The position of the Lenni Lenape trading vocabulary near the front of the volume points to the recent arrival of a merchant or trader to Philadelphia who would need to be able to communicate with the Native American population, also an interesting coincidence.

     Humphrey Morrey (also seen as Murray/Murrey/Murry) was the first Mayor of Philadelphia under William Penn's 1691 charter. He was not elected, but was appointed by Penn. He was ancestor to the singer, actor, and political activist Paul Robeson. His descendants include the well-known African-American Philadelphia family of Montier.

     Humphrey Morrey died in 1716. His son, Richard Morrey, received the bulk of his father’s estate. Cremona Satterthwaite was a servant/slave in the Morrey household. After Humphrey Morrey’s death, his son Richard inherited his property. Not long after, Richard freed the family’s slaves, but Cremona remained a servant in the household. Richard fell in love with Cremona. Although they couldn’t legally marry, they did live together as man and wife. They had five children between 1735 and 1745. Richard and Cremona were known as a couple, and accepted as such throughout their community. Richard Morrey died in 1753 and left Cremona 198 acres of land in the Edgehill section of today’s Glenside, Cheltenham Township. This was unheard of for that time. The original two-story barn structure built by Richard and Cremona’s youngest daughter, known as Cremona, Jr., and her husband, John Montier, still stands on Limekiln Pike. They also built a more prominent home in front of it that also still exists. Both homes were built in the late 1700’s, in a time when it was unheard of for African-Americans to own such homes. Later descendants, Elizabeth and Hiram Montier, lived even more lavishly. In 1841 they celebrated their union with elegant wedding portraits. Today, these extremely rare mid-19th Century African-American portraits, hang in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Humphrey Morrey was also one of the 15 founders of Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, which is where he retired after his mercantile life.10

      Paul Robeson, the great African-American singer, actor, and social activist, traces his ancestry back to Humphrey Morrey. Robeson’s great-great grandparents were Elizabeth Morrey (1746-1827), a descendant of the Morrey family, and Cyrus Bustill (1732-1806), a former slave who purchased his freedom and prospered as a baker and brewer, and one of the original members of the Free African Society, a society founded by famed African-American pastors, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. Allen and Jones broke off from the Methodist Church and founded two black denominations. Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church while Jones founded the St. Thomas African Episcopal Church. Historical documents indicate that Cyrus Bustill was close to both religious leaders. Documents and oral history indicate that members of the Montier family have been Quakers and African Methodist Episcopal church members over the years.11

     We have relied on historical records and documents in our attribution of the present account book. We examined the surviving manuscript material in the hands of Samuel Carpenter and Humphrey Morrey. The hand of Samuel Carpenter does not match that in the account book. There simply is not enough surviving material in the hand of Humphrey Morrey to enable a handwriting comparison with this volume. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has several manuscript items that are supposed to be in the hand of Humphrey Morrey, although the cataloguing at times is confusing, one carries a catalogers note that it is a “copy.” Morrey and his grandson had the same first name, and the cataloging does not clarify whether the signatures are those of the “elder” or the “younger.”12

     We have examined the available manuscript material of Humphrey Morrey and a comparison with the present volume is inconclusive. While there are similarities in the handwriting, it may simply be the style of 17th Century handwriting and lettering. However, the surviving historical records cited here, offer more conclusive evidence.


 

1. Bronner, Edwin B., William Penn’s “Holy Experiment.” The Founding of Pennsylvania, 1681-1701. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 224.

 

2. Roach, Hannah Benner, Colonial Philadelphians: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Monograph Series No 3, 1999. “The Blackwell Rent Roll, 1689.” Philadelphia: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 1999, p. 5.

3. Roach, Hannah Benner. Colonial Philadelphians: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Monograph Series No 3, 1999. “The Blackwell Rent Roll, 1689.” Philadelphia: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 1999, p. 5, and, Easttown Deed History http://the2nomads.org/Easttown/easttown.html

 

4. Roach, Hannah Benner, The Planting of Philadelphia: A Seventeenth-Century Real Estate Development. II. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Volume 92, Issue 2, April 1968. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1968. pp. 190-191.

5. Minutes of the Provincial Council of the Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Printed by Jo. Severns & Co., 1852. Volume 1, Page 267.

6. Horle, Craig W. et al. Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume One, 1682-1709. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991, pp. 553-554.

 

7. Roach, Hannah Benner, Colonial Philadelphians. Philadelphia: The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Monograph Series No 3, 1999. “Philadelphia Business Directory, 1690.” Pages: 32, 34, 38, 57n

8. Roach, Hannah Benner, The Planting of a Philadelphia; a Seventeenth-Century Real Estate Development, II. PMHB, Vol. 92, No.2, (April 1968). pp. 148-149. William Frampton was admitted a freeman of New York on Oct 1, 1683. By the following December he had begun building his ‘great brewhouse.”  The first located mention of Frampton in Philadelphia is Feb 20, 1683/4. His lot was surveyed in March, 1684, 102 feet wide, after Penn granted him the adjacent and unassigned lot 9. No survey for Morrey’s lot has been found; the recital in his patent states it was surveyed in 1683, “but no return made.”

 

9. ibid, pp. 171-172. Morrey’s contract, in which he promised to pay £50 before the end of the year, was made through Thomas Phillips, the widow’s agent, whom she married a short time later.

10. Smyles, Karen. “Philadelphia recognizes a piece of regional history through The Montiers family.” March 15, 2018. https://whyy.org/articles/philadelphia-recognizes-piece-regional-history-montiers-family/ on 20 Oct 2018.

11. Scott, Donald, The Montiers: An American Family's Triumphant Odyssey. As viewed on 24 Oct 2018: https://www.afrigeneas.com/library/montier_article.html

12.  The six letters of Samuel Carpenter that we examined are located at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Phila., PA) in the Carpenter Family Papers, Collection 0115. Letters of Samuel Carpenter: to Jonathan Dickenson, 4 5th mo. 1698; to Phineas Pemberton, 1699; to Phineas Pemberton, 25 5th mo. 1700; to Jonathan Dickenson, 29 9th mo. 1708; to Jonathan Dickenson, 20 5th mo. 1708; & to Richard Warner, 14 4th mo. 1710. The surviving manuscript material of Humphrey Morrey were also examined at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Humphrey Morrey receipt to Eliz Cevitt, 14 Aug 1684, Mayors of Philadelphia, Dreer Collection; Signature of Humphrey Morrey as witness to deed, 20 6 mo. 1685, Cadwalader Collection, Phineas – Bond – Moore, Chas. Pickney Papers; Obligation of Humphrey Morrey to Mathew Medcalfe, 7 Mar 1704; D.S. Society Collection; & Letter of Humphrey Morrey to Jonathan Dickenson, dated 25 7 mo. 1712, Penn Papers. Additional Miscellaneous Letters, Vol.1 p.18.