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Sydney V. James and Gail Fowler Mohanty

Brown, Moses (12 September 1738–06 September 1836), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of James Brown, merchant, and Hope Power. The father died the next year, leaving a variety of properties and businesses, which indicates that his family was far from poor. Moses Brown had a few years of formal schooling before being apprenticed to his merchant uncle, Obadiah, to learn the intricacies of eighteenth-century commerce and to be adopted as a son and partner. After Obadiah died in 1762, Moses managed the business, and in 1774 married Obadiah’s daughter Anna, who bore three children, two of whom lived to maturity. Moses joined his three surviving brothers in the firm of Nicholas Brown & Co. to operate the family businesses. The profits of trade were diversified by manufacturing and money-lending. The Brown brothers inherited profitable candle and chocolate works and started a plant to smelt and work iron. They also tried at least one ill-fated slaving voyage....

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Brown, Obadiah (15 July 1771–15 October 1822), merchant and manufacturer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Moses Brown, a merchant, and Anna Brown. He sometimes used the name Obadiah M. Brown to distinguish himself from other Browns with the same first name. Sickly as a child, he initially was educated at home and then attended the Friends New England Yearly Meeting School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1784 and 1788. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Almy and Brown, a Providence cotton textile manufactory established by his father, one of four brothers who were successful Providence merchants and manufacturers. The manufactory was initially managed by Obadiah’s brother-in-law, William Almy, and a cousin, Smith Brown, although under the watchful eye of Moses Brown....

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Etting, Solomon (28 July 1764–06 August 1847), Jewish merchant and Baltimore civic leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania; he was the second oldest of the eight children of Elijah Etting, a Frankfurt merchant who came to York in 1758, and Shinah Solomon of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a boy, Solomon acquired business skills, working in the family store. After Elijah Etting, who was an Indian trader, died in July of 1778, Solomon did not go to Baltimore with his mother and his sisters. Along with his brother Reuben, he stayed in York, evidently to protect and preserve the family's business interests. Solomon in 1782 also became an authorized slaughterer of kosher meats ( ...

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Evans, William (05 October 1787–12 May 1867), merchant and Quaker leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Evans, a house builder and Quaker elder, and Hannah Bacon, a Quaker minister. Nurtured in an influential family in the Religious Society of Friends, Evans was educated in Quaker primary schools and in 1799 enrolled in the new Westtown school, just outside Philadelphia. At age fourteen, he went to a countinghouse to learn bookkeeping but, finding himself unchallenged, was apprenticed to another Friend to master the drug business. In 1808 he opened his own small drug and paint store, which he owned if not operated the rest of his life. Though serious of mien and adust in personality, Evans found a wife in Deborah Musgrave on 11 December 1811; the union produced two children before her early death in 1815. Summoned to militia duty during the War of 1812, he refused to appear but escaped further proceedings. The cautious Evans waited nine years before getting married again, this time to Elizabeth Barton on 23 December 1824, when he was thirty-seven and she thirty. In the Quaker fashion their local meeting recognized them both as ministers, he in 1822. When he rose to speak in a meeting, he could be pointed in his criticism of those who disagreed with him on some practice or point of doctrine. His tart-tongued contemporary ...

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Gratz, Barnard (1738?–20 April 1801), and Michael Gratz (1740?–08 September 1811), Jewish colonial and revolutionary merchants, were born in Langensdorf, Upper Silesia, the sons of Solomon Gratz, a moderately successful dry goods merchant. (Their mother’s name has not been recorded.) Barnard attended school before his parents died in the late 1740s; he went in 1750 to London to work in the export and import business of his cousin Solomon Henry. While in London Barnard continued to study Hebrew, learned English, mathematics, and geography, and, of more importance, acquired business knowledge and skills. While working in Henry’s business, he bought and sold sugar, tea, lumber, and textiles. The business opportunities in America and the close connections between Solomon Henry and ...

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See Gratz, Barnard

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Hays, Moses Michael (09 March 1739–09 May 1805), Jewish merchant and Masonic leader, was born in New York City, the oldest of the eight children of Judah Hays, a Dutch merchant who had come to that city in 1733, and Rebecca Michaels Hays, the daughter of New York merchant Moses Michaels. Judah Hays, who became a freeman in 1735 and was naturalized in 1740, took his son Moses Michael into his prospering export and import business during the late 1750s. The young Moses acquired business skills from his father, for Judah purchased and sold food supplies and guns to the British during the French and Indian War and accrued profits from transporting such goods on his ship, the ...

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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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Maule, Thomas (1645–1724), Quaker polemicist and merchant, was born near Coventry, England. Little is known of his family background. At age twelve, he emigrated to Barbados, where he apparently learned tailoring. One of the many poor settlers uprooted by the sugar revolution that was transforming the island’s economy, in 1666 he moved to New England. After a brief stay in Boston he settled in Salem among the town’s Quaker minority, in his words, “a people of few words and good works.”...

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Meade, George (27 February 1741–09 November 1808), merchant and Roman Catholic layman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Meade, a merchant, and Mary Stretch. The father was born in county Limerick, Ireland, lived in Philadelphia from about 1732, and had commercial interests in St. Croix and Barbados. George Meade was privately educated by his maternal uncle, George Stretch, in Barbados and was resident there in 1754 when his father died in St. Croix. By 1761 he entered into a business partnership with his elder brother in Philadelphia. The firm of Garrett and George Meade imported rum, sugar, and slaves, usually small groups of girls and boys, from Barbados and other West Indian ports. Enslaved Africans were employed as skilled and unskilled laborers by local farmers, artisans, merchants, and urban householders. Both Garrett and George Meade signed the Non-Importation Agreement of 1765 in opposition to the Stamp Act. Since the firm was not engaged in trade with Great Britain, nonimportation had little or no impact on their business, while opposition to the stamp tax was politically popular....

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Samuel Willard Crompton

Murray, John (1737–11 October 1808), Quaker merchant, was born on Swatara Creek, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of John Murray, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1732. His mother’s name is unknown. Murray worked with his older brother Robert Murray in the operation of a flour mill on Swatara Creek. In 1753 the two brothers moved together to New York City, where they formed a mercantile partnership. Within fifteen years, the Murray brothers had become the largest shipowners in the thirteen colonies, and their enterprise had become the largest import-export business in New York City, bolstered by the contract demands of provisioning soldiers and sailors during the Seven Years’ War in North America. In 1766 Murray married Hannah Lindley....

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Samuel Willard Crompton

Murray, Robert (1721–22 July 1786), Quaker merchant, was born in Scotland, the son of John Murray. His mother’s name is unknown. He immigrated with his father to the colony of Pennsylvania in 1732. As he grew to adulthood, he operated a small flour mill on Swatara Creek, in present-day Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. In 1744 he married Mary Lindley, with whom he had twelve children. He went on trading voyages to the West Indies and lived in North Carolina from 1750 to 1753. During these early years, he refined his merchant skills. In 1753 he and his younger brother ...

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Norris, Isaac (26 July 1671–04 June 1735), Quaker politician, provincial Pennsylvania officeholder, and merchant, was born in Southwark, London, England, the son of Thomas Norris, a Quaker carpenter, and Mary Moore. About 1678 his family immigrated to Port Royal, Jamaica. The extent of his formal education is unknown, but in adulthood he was well read in both classical Latin authors and the best of contemporary English literature. He first visited Philadelphia on a trading voyage in 1692; during his absence his father was killed in the earthquake that destroyed Port Royal on 7 June 1692, and his brother and sister died shortly thereafter. Norris settled permanently in Philadelphia about 1693. He gained important political and commercial connections through his marriage in 1694 to Mary Lloyd, a daughter of ...

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Norris, Isaac (23 October 1701–13 July 1766), Quaker political leader and Philadelphia merchant, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Isaac Norris and Mary Lloyd, who as members of the Society of Friends joined in William Penn’s “Holy Experiment” and settled in Philadelphia in 1694. The junior Isaac Norris was educated at the Friends’ School. In adulthood he was, like his father, devoted to books; as his biographer George Washington Norris wrote, Norris “might indeed be called learned; for, in addition to a knowledge of Hebrew, he wrote in Latin and French with ease, and his reading was extensive.” By the time Norris came of age, his father had been for many years one of Philadelphia’s most successful merchants. The family was prosperous enough to send Norris to England in 1722 for several months; he returned to England for a longer visit in 1734–1735, at which time he also traveled on the Continent. He managed the family firm, Norris and Company, during his father’s later years and became the senior partner after his father died in 1735. Norris married Sarah Logan, ...

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Parris, Samuel (1653–27 February 1720), merchant and minister, was born in London, England, the son of Thomas Parris, a merchant, and Susannah (maiden name unknown). In the 1660s Parris moved with his family to Barbados, where both his father and uncle, John Parris, had prospered as sugar planters and merchants. After attending Harvard College in the early 1670s, Parris returned in late 1673 to Barbados and soon became executor of his father’s estate. He spent seven years as a plantation owner and sugar broker on the island, but the sustained low price of sugar and a devastating hurricane revealed his vulnerability as a second-rate planter. Consequently, he sold the property and moved to Boston in 1680. There Parris struggled to compete with the merchant elite of the provincial capital. He married Elizabeth Eldridge shortly after his arrival in Boston; the couple had three children....

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Pemberton, Israel (19 May 1715–22 April 1779), Quaker merchant and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Israel Pemberton, a merchant and religious leader, and Rachel Read of Burlington, New Jersey. He attended the Friends Public School and then entered his father’s mercantile trade. In 1737 he married Sarah Kirkbride of Bucks County, who died in 1746; they had seven children. A year later, Pemberton married Mary Jordan. His younger brothers, James Pemberton and ...

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Penington, Edward (04 December 1726–30 September 1796), Quaker merchant, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Penington and Ann Biles, farmers. The Penington family was related by marriage to William Penn and Edward’s grandfather had accompanied Penn on his second voyage to America in 1698. The Peningtons received land grants from Penn and were a wealthy family by the time Edward was born. In 1754 Penington married Sarah Shoemaker, the daughter of Benjamin Shoemaker of Germantown, a provincial councilor. Six of their ten children survived to adulthood....

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Phillips, Jonas (1736–29 January 1803), merchant and Jewish civil rights leader, was born Jonas Phaibush in Buseck, Germany, the son of Phila Stein Phaibush and Aaron Phaibush (other spellings of this name found in the biographical literature include Faibush and Feibush), a clothing merchant. There is little known about the early life of Jonas in Buseck, a Rhenish village then under the dominion of Prussia. In 1756 he traveled to England, where he assumed an English surname, Phillips, which he retained thereafter. In November of that year, he sailed on the ship ...

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Rice, Abraham Joseph (1802–29 October 1862), rabbi and businessman, was born in Gochsheim, Bavaria, Germany, the son of Meir Rice. His mother’s name is unknown. Abraham Rice received an intensive Jewish education, studying under the guidance of Rabbi Abraham Bing at the Würzburg yeshiva and with Rabbi Wolf Hamburger in Furth. After obtaining rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Bing, Rice served as a Talmud instructor in Zell, Germany....

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Shippen, Edward (1639– August 1712), merchant, religious martyr, and political leader, was born in Yorkshire, England, the son of William Shippen, a prominent landholder, and Mary Nunnes (or Nuns). Although his older brother earned degrees at Oxford and became an Anglican clergyman, Edward in 1668 emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, a wilderness town of about 3,500. In 1671 he married Elizabeth Lybrand; they had eight children during their seventeen years together. Not long after he joined an artillery company, Shippen converted to his wife’s faith and became a member of the Society of Friends....