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Burd-Shippen Family Papers

What's online?

The entire collection is scanned and online. 

Documentation includes transcripts of letters dating to 1823; though many letter transcripts have no original date on them. There are transcriptions of letters from Mrs. Margaret Shippen Arnold to her family and friends. Within the Letters and Papers of Lewis Walker is a transcript of the "Last Will and Testament of Benedict Arnold" and the "Last Will and Testament of Margaret Arnold." The papers also contain Lewis Burd Walker's hand-written manuscript of "A Few Glimpses of Our Little Peggy," a story about the life of Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Coxe.

What's in the entire collection?

The Burd-Shippen papers contain personal and business correspondence, legal documents, business records, and manuscripts. Many of the legal documents and business records pertain to both Edward Burd and Edward Shippen's legal practices as well as their positions in Pennsylvania government.

About the Burd and Shippen Families

The Shippen family traces their lineage back to Edward Shippen I (1639-1712), a Quaker who moved to Philadelphia from Boston in 1693. Edward Shippen I's great-great-grandson, Edward Shippen III (1703-1781), had three children: Edward Shippen IV (1729-1806), Sarah Shippen (1731-1784), and Joseph Shippen (1732-1810).

Edward Shippen IV, a wealthy and prominent lawyer in Philadelphia, held multiple public offices by royal appointment. He fathered six surviving children, including Elizabeth Shippen (1754-1828) and Margaret "Peggy" Shippen (1760-1804). During the American Revolution, Edward Shippen IV lost his appointments, yet managed to keep his family financially afloat by remaining politically neutral. Both of his daughters married American revolutionaries. Elizabeth married her cousin, Edward Burd (1751-1833), while her younger sister, Peggy, married Benedict Arnold.

Sarah Shippen married James Burd (1726-1793) in 1748. A Scotsman by birth, James Burd commanded Fort Augusta during the French and Indian War, rising to prominence afterwards as a merchant and colonial magistrate. Their son, Edward Burd (1750/51-1833), served as a major in the Revolutionary War. Following the war, he was prothonotoray and later justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Edward Burd was a friend and business associate to his uncle and father-in-law, Edward Shippen IV. Edward Burd wrote Neddie Burd's Reading Letter, a history of the Berks County bar.

Elizabeth Shippen and Edward Burd had one son, Edward Shippen Burd (1779-1848). He married watercolorist Eliza Howard Simms (1793-1860) and resided in Philadelphia, where he worked as an attorney specializing in property law. Edward Shippen Burd was also involved in real estate and business ventures, including the Philadelphia Arcade and the Philadelphia Ice Company. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and, with his wife, donated extensively to philanthropic projects, particularly St. Stephens Church and the Protestant Episcopal Hospital of Philadelphia.

The Burd-Shippens are related to the Hubley and Walker families. Edward Burd Hubley, (1792-1856) a lawyer from Reading, Pennsylvania, served the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Congresses as a representative from Pennsylvania. He later became a canal commissioner of Pennsylvania and then a commissioner of Cherokee affairs.

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