Main content

John Cadwalader estate volume


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

John Cadwalader was born January 10, 1742 in Trenton, New Jersey to Dr. Thomas Cadwalader (1706-1779) and Hannah Lambert (1712-1786). He had a brother, Lambert, and four younger sisters; Mary, Rebecca, Margaret, and Elizabeth. The Cadwalader family moved to Philadelphia in 1750. John worked as a merchant before establishing for himself a successful military career. During the Revolutionary War he organized 84 men into the volunteer “Greens,” or “Silk Stocking Company,” which trained at his house in Philadelphia. After news of the Battle of Lexington in April 1775, he became colonel of the Third Battalion of the Philadelphia Association of Volunteers. He was at the head of his battalion for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in the State House yard on July 8th, 1776. John participated in the December 1776 Battle of Trenton and crossed the Delaware River, but was unable to unload his artillery onto the ice in Burlington, New Jersey. After the war, he moved to Shrewsbury, Maryland, where he eventually served three terms in Maryland's House of Delegates. John was married twice. His first marriage was in 1768 to Elizabeth “Betsy” Lloyd, of Wye, Maryland. Betsy had three daughters, Anne, Elizabeth, and Maria. Betsy died of complications eleven days after Maria’s birth, in February of 1776. John remarried in 1779 to Williamina “Willy” Bond (1753-1837). Together the couple had three children, Thomas, Frances, and John (who died in infancy of smallpox). John died February 10, 1786 after catching pneumonia at his estate on the banks of the Sassafras River at Shrewsbury, Kent County, Maryland.

One of the executors of John Cadwalader’s estate was his cousin Philemon Dickinson. Philemon Dickinson (April 5, 1739 – February 4, 1809) was born at ‘Crosia-dore,’ near Trappe, Talbot County, Maryland. When he was around one year old his family moved to Delaware then to Philadelphia. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1759 and then studied law and was admitted to the bar. Philemon married his first cousin Mary Cadwalader (1746-1781) on July 14, 1767. They had two children Mary (1768-1822) and Samuel (1770-1837). Philemon and his family moved to Trenton, New Jersey in 1767. He later became a delegate to the New Jersey Provincial Congress in 1776. He was then commissioned brigadier general in 1776 and in 1777 became major general in charge of the New Jersey Militia. Philemon was also a member of the Continental Congress from Delaware 1782 to 1783 and was elected to the United States Senate from New Jersey. He served from 1790 to 1793 before retiring to his estate The Hermitage near Trenton, New Jersey. Philemon Dickinson died February 4, 1809 and is buried in the Friends Meeting House Burying Ground, Trenton, New Jersey.

The second executor was John Cadwalader’s brother Lambert Cadwalader. Lambert Cadwalader (December 1742 – September 13, 1823) followed a similar path to that of his older brother. In 1757 he attended the University of Pennsylvania then left before graduating to go into the merchant business with his brother John. Lambert was also a part of the revolution efforts; they signed the non-importation agreement in 1765, he spoke out against the Stamp Act, and he became a captain in the militia. In 1776 Lambert was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Third Pennsylvania Battalion of the Continental Army. Lambert was taken as a prisoner of war after the surrendering of Fort Washington but quickly released by General Howe. He resigned from the army in 1777 and relocated to Trenton, New Jersey after the British occupied Philadelphia. Lambert served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1784 until 1787. He also served on the First Congress (1789-1791) and Third Congress (1793-1795). Lambert Cadwalader married Mary McCall (1764-1848) in 1793. They had a son Thomas McCall Cadwalader (1795–1873). Lambert died at the family estate Greenwood in Trenton, New Jersey on September 13, 1823. He is also buried at the Friends Burying Ground in Trenton.

This ledger documenting the administration of John Cadwalader's estate is maintained in two back to back sections, one entitled Book of memorandums, inventories, and miscellaneous transactions of the Exter [Executor] to the estate of John Cadwalader, Esqr (begun March 1786), and the second untitled section consisting of memoranda and receipts by the estate begun November 1790.

These memoranda, receipts, and other lists were maintained by the two executors of Cadwalader’s estate; Philemon Dickinson and Lambert Cadwalader. Both deal largely with the administration of Shrewsbury Farm, with references to other Cadwalader holdings. The volume contains details on the family's ownership of enslaved peoples. In addition to general listings of the men, women, and children that were enslaved on the estate, there are, for some individuals, agreements concerning exchanges between other neighboring farms and family members. Some of these family members include John Cadwalader’s daughters, Maria’s husband’s family the Ringgolds, and Lambert Cadwalader’s in-laws the McCalls. These agreements contain names, dates, and profits made related to the dissemination of these enslaved peoples. They are signed by the person receiving the enslaved people, and either Philemon Dickinson, Lambert Cadwalader, or William Gough, the overseer. There are also a few copied out receipts from John Cadwalader’s previous business transactions in the 1770s. The ledger also contains significant details on items owned by the family, including furniture, house wares, and livestock, especially horses. There are several pages of receipts showing mares and stallions that were sold by the estate. One of the ledger sections also details the division of the estate between John’s widow Williamina, and daughters Nancy (Anne), Betsy, and Maria including who received what furniture and housewares. There is also a room by room inventory of what furniture resided in specific rooms at Shrewsbury Farm.

Transcribed selections from the volume pertaining to enslaved people managed by the estate are available online as a pdf and with the copy of this finding aid in HSP's library.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Annie Halliday.
Finding Aid Date
; 2018.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from Howard and Maxine Lewis.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest