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Henry Drinker Letters to Isaac Hicks


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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

Henry Drinker (1734-1809) was a successful Philadelphia Quaker merchant and active in the Society of Friends. He was the son of Henry and Mary (Gottier) Drinker and married first Ann Swett in 1757 (died 1758) and second, Elizabeth Sandwith, with whom he had nine children. A member of the shipping and importing firm James and Drinker, he also was a significant landowner. In 1777 Drinker was one of the "Virginia Exiles," a group of pacifist Quakers who were forcibly exiled to Winchester, Virginia, on claims that they were loyalists. He served as clerk of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and as an elder. A strong proponent of education, he was on the first committee of Westtown School and on the Board of Overseers of Public Schools in Philadelphia. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and served as President of the Abolition Society and Director of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Isaac Hicks (1767-1820) was a cousin of the Quaker artist and minister Edward Hicks and Quaker minister Elias Hicks. A prominent New York City merchant, in 1796 he established a large fleet of international trading vessels. He retired in 1806 and became deeply involved in Quaker concerns, traveling widely with his cousin, Elias Hicks (1748-1830), the prominent New York Quaker minister.

This series of letters offers insight into the close friendship and business relationship between two prominent Quaker merchants, Henry Drinker of Philadelphia and Isaac Hicks of New York City. The two men relied on each other in financial matters, particularly as they were part of the Quaker business community. For example, Drinker notes that debts owed by Robert Brown and Joseph and Nathaniel Pearsall will not be repaid unless the Meeting Overseers enforce it.

The letters are arranged chronologically.

The manuscript dealer's essay with some brief excerpts is included in folder.

Purchase, Acc. 2016.056

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Susanna Morikawa
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