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Charles Smith papers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

Charles Smith was born in Pennsylvania in 1765 to William Smith (1727-1803), a Scottish immigrant and promoter of higher education in North America, and Rebecca Moore (1733-1793). Charles attended Washington College, a school founded by his father in Chestertown, Maryland, and studied law before being admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1786. In 1791 he married Mary Yeates, daughter of Sarah (1748/9–1829) and Jasper Yeates (1745–1817), an associate justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mary and Charles Smith had eight children, one of whom married into the Brinton family of Philadelphia. Smith entered politics in 1806, first serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, then in 1816 he joined the state senate. In 1819 he became President Judge of the 9th Judicial District in Pennsylvania which included Cumberland, Franklin and Adams Counties. The following year he was made the President Judge for Lancaster County and held that position until he retired in 1824. Between 1824 and 1827 Smith lived with his family in Baltimore, Maryland, before returning to Philadelphia. He died in that city in 1836.

“Appendix C of the William Smith Papers.” University of Pennsylvania Archives. Accessed October 1, 2006.“Smith’s Laws.” The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau. 2002. Accessed October 1, 2006.

The Charles Smith papers consists of 1.6 linear feet of material including a collection of trial notes, letters pertaining to his career as a lawyer and judge, business receipts, papers related to state business, personal letters and bank books, all of which range from 1795 to 1847. The collection came to the University of Delaware as a gift of the Moyerman family in 1972. The manuscripts are divided into three series – business, personal, and family papers – and are arranged chronologically within each series.

The trial notes make up the largest portion of the collection, dating from 1795 through 1831. The trials range from debt to trespass to boundary disputes, appeals, motions for new trials, recovery of property and to questions about indenture. In most instances the names of the litigants are included, along with witness testimony, and at times the outcome of the case. The name “Judge Yeates” appears occasionally in the trial notes, and probably refers to Jasper Yeates, Smith’s father-in-law.

The business papers also include letters sent to Smith discussing his cases and asking for his assistance or castigating him for his failure to perform his duties. His career put him in contact with other Pennsylvanians, prominent in both state and national history. Business letters came to him from Tench Coxe (1755-1824), a Philadelphia native active in commerce, land speculation, and the promotion of manufacturing; Simon Gratz (d. 1856), a Philadelphia lawyer and legislator who raised money for the Committee of Defense in preparation for the possible invasion of Philadelphia by British Forces; Alexander Nisbet (1777-1857), the son of Dickson College’s first president, Charles Nesbit, who served as a judge in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as a railroad president; and James Ross (1762-1847), a lawyer and United States senator from York County, Pennsylvania, who acted as a commissioner in dealing with the Whiskey Rebellion.

A small group of papers relate to Pennsylvania politics, including the purchase of a bridge in Lancaster County and the 1803 impeachment of Judge Alexander Addison.

Smith’s personal papers span thirty years between 1803 and 1833. The earliest materials are bank books, but the collection also includes letters written to him about his son’s debts, tuition at Harvard University for law instruction, and a letter of introduction for his son Theodore to a woman in London. A group of items cover the administration of his father’s will.

The last section of family papers includes the letters and trial notes of Frederick Smith. His relationship with Charles Smith is unclear. The same name appears on a list of graduates of the University of Pennsylvania in 1792, and “F. Smith” is occasionally listed as a lawyer in the trial notes, often as opposite council to Charles Smith. A document from Orphans Court related to the administration of a trust for Mary Yeates Smith is also included. As with Frederick, her relationship to Charles Smith is unclear, though she was most likely a granddaughter, possibly the daughter of Charles Edward Smith (1804-1829), who predeceased his father.

Boxes 1-5: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Gift of the Moyerman family, 1972

Processed by Jennifer Vess, October 2006. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, July 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 July 19
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

This series includes trial notes, business letters to Charles Smith, and political papers. While women rarely played a role in the trial notes, folders which contain cases involving women as the litigants have been noted. Also of interest is the mixture of English and German surnames among the litigants and witnesses.

Law notebook, undated.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Contains definitions of legal terms, and legal explanations. Also poetry (The Lawyer’s Farewell to his Muse), religious writings, information on China, and other notations seemingly unrelated to law. Undated, though the portions on China were written after 1792.

Trial notebook, 1814-1826.
Box 2 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

A mostly blank book containing trial notes with an attached paper tentatively linking the book to Charles Smith.

Bankruptcy law notebook, undated.
Box 2 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Includes cases and notes on “An Act to establish a uniform system of Bankruptcy throughout the United States.”

Trial notebooks and account books, 1796-1803.
Box 2 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Trial notebooks and accounts books related to Charles Smith's work in law

Trial Notes, undated.
Box 3 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

The trials include: Land disputes, debt, stolen property, trespass, destruction of property, embezzlement, destruction of a will, order of removal, actions for malicious prosecution, and the prevention of the exercise of the vote by a Justice of the Peace.

Trial Notes, 1795-1799.
Box 3 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

One printed form for bond of debt and autograph trial notes, dealing with property rights and debt payment. A bond case between Hauburger and Kreitzer includes testimony dealing with the language issues, specifically the use of contracts written in English for a German speaking community.

Trial Notes, 1800-1802.
Box 3 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, road petition, trespass, and stolen calico.

Trial Notes, 1803-1805.
Box 3 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, damages, action for value of property, action for legacy, road petition, action for money had and received, and dispute over the obstruction of a street.

Trial Notes, 1806.
Box 3 Folder F8
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, fine for not failure to serve in militia due to matters of conscience, labor and service compensation, attachment and exchange of land, and copies of judges’ opinion.

Trial Notes, 1807-1810.
Box 3 Folder F9
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, question of receipt for money, ejectment for land, assumpsit, partition, and account of administration of a will.The Berks County trials include names of the attorneys including F. Smith, probably Frederick Smith, and C. Smith, probably Charles Smith.

Trial Notes, 1811-1813.
Box 3 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Cases include: ejectment, trespass, debt on arbitration bond; road petition, water rights and division of water course, promissory note, and dispute over the health of a cow at time of sale. Two of the trial notes from 1811 have margin doodles.

Trial Notes, 1814-1816.
Box 3 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Cases include: road petition, disputed title to land, fulfillment of contract, action for words, collection of rent, and action to recover money. A March 1815 case mentions German speakers.

Trial Notes, 1817-1818.
Box 3 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Cases include: ejectment, action of debt, procuring a purchaser, promissory note, and motion for new trial. One of the litigants in this file was a woman.

Trial Notes, 1819.
Box 3 Folder F13
Scope and Contents

Cases include: ejectment, trespass, replevin for goods (with inventory), sheriff’s sale, and case of responsibility for debt between partners.

Trial Notes, 1820.
Box 4 Folder F14
Scope and Contents

Cases include: dept, ejectment, promissory note, dispute over water course, and payment of field rent with crops.

Trial Notes, 1821.
Box 4 Folder F15
Scope and Contents

Cases include: bond of dept, action of debt, breaking of covenant, payment for labor, and “money had and received.”

Trial Notes, 1822.
Box 4 Folder F16
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, non assumpsit, arbitration for condition of sale, non compliance with lease agreement, validity of promissory note, dispute over terms of will, motion to set aside sheriff’s sale, and void of sale. Two of the cases involve female litigants.

Trial Notes, February 22 – May 31, 1823.
Box 4 Folder F17
Scope and Contents

Cases include: ejectment, covenant, bond for land, debt non assumpsit, debt payment with leave and issue, and motion to set aside sheriff’s sale.Two cases (March and May) involve female litigants.

Trial Notes, June 2 – December 18, 1823.
Box 4 Folder F18
Scope and Contents

Cases include: non-assumpsit, debt payment with leave and issue, and ejectment. One case in June involves a female litigant. The December ejectment case has an associated map.

Trial Notes, 1824.
Box 4 Folder F19
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, ejectment, trespass; services rendered, and breach of official duty as sheriff. Two cases (February and March) involve female litigants.

Trial Notes, 1825-1826.
Box 4 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

Cases include: debt, mill output, court costs, lien on property, administration account for the deceased. Case of Sept, 1825 involves the Bank of Pennsylvania calling in a debt.

Trial Notes, 1829-1831.
Box 4 Folder F21
Scope and Contents

Cases include: ejectment, mortgage, and evidence for a case involving an immigrant of Nova Scotia and several witnesses with French names.

Receipts, 1789-1799.
Box 5 Folder F22
Letters to Charles Smith, 1800-1808.
Box 5 Folder F23
Scope and Contents

Letter subjects include: matters of debt (payment by proxy, settlement for an estate, and request for intervention), demand for money from an estate, requesting the writing of a formal agreement of land ownership, setting up a time to cross-examine a witness, selling land on another’s behalf, evidence for a trial, question of title, and payment of services. The file also includes an 1806 copy of “Distances of places of holding courts from each other.”

Letters to Charles Smith, 1810-1819.
Box 5 Folder F24
Scope and Contents

These years cover Smith’s time as a lawyer and as a judge. Subjects include: cancellation of a suit, depositions, information requests, concerning debt, concerning subpoena of a witness, business of the administration of an estate, request for copies of official papers, payment of debt, question of state citizenship, payment of fees, Smith’s accusations of bad treatment with regards to the administration of an estate. Letters Smith received as a judge include: requesting his presence at a court in Carlisle, asking for opinion on cases. Two letters involve issues of slavery and abolition. A May 1818 letter deals with the sale of a “Negress” and includes the name of a member of the Abolition Society. The second case concerns a “Negro Boy” also called “Negro George” and his indenture and his freedom.

Letters to Charles Smith, 1820-1833.
Box 5 Folder F25
Scope and Contents

Letter subjects include: a list of writs of error issued during the Presidency of Judge Smith, requests for case notes and sending case notes, requests for his opinion, and a request for a pardon and early release. One letter castigates Smith for his neglect of a client.

Papers relating to local and state politics, 1803-1819.
Box 5 Folder F26
Scope and Contents

These papers include: information on the transfer of ownership of Witmer bridge to Lancaster County, a letter asking about the boundaries of newly created Penn County, an irregular election, and notes pertaining to the grounds for impeachment specific to the case of Judge Alexander Addison.

Charles Smith bank books, 1803-1824.
Box 5 Folder F27
Scope and Contents

Book 1 and 2 of Charles Smith’s account with the Office of Discount and Deposit of Lancaster, and one book of his account with the Bank of the United States.

Charles Smith bank books, 1824-1836.
Box 5 Folder F28
Scope and Contents

Book 1 and 2 of Charles Smith’s account with the Bank of Pennsylvania and one account book at Baltimore.

Charles Smith letters, 1821-1833.
Box 5 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

The file includes: a list of subscribers for building a Presbyterian meeting house on Charles Smith’s land, request for the payment of his son’s debt, notice from Harvard University on tuition fees for law school with seal intact, a letter of introduction for son Theodore on Grand Tour, note on the calendar system, a letter by Smith to Lawrence Keene discussing Keene’s health, family and Smiths writings under the name Lucius.

Charles Smith administration of William Smith’s estate, 1803-1813.
Box 5 Folder F30
Scope and Contents

The file includes: account book, Treasury office forms from the land office, receipt, and statement of debt.

Frederick Smith Papers, 1801-1826.
Box 5 Folder F31
Scope and Contents

Frederick’s papers include: trial notes and demands for official papers to be entered into court. Cases include libel and debt.

Auditors Report on Trust of Mary Yeates Smith, 1847.
Box 5 Folder F32
Scope and Contents

Auditors Report upon allowance for maintenance and education of Mary Yeates Smith from her trust.

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