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Thomas Family papers

 Collection 0145-MDHC

The Thomas Family papers include eleven letters and six documents from three generations of the Philip Thomas family of Cecil County, Maryland. All but one of the letters were received by Philip Thomas, Jr.; the additional documents consist of a bond, a bill of sale, a land indenture, two wills, and a military certificate. There are records that indicate the Thomas family enslaved up to 45 people. Major topics include family concerns, the Napoleonic wars, social life in the early nineteenth century, the Society of Friends, and business concerns in Maryland and Holland.


  • 1793-1816
  • Majority of material found within 1804-1810

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


17 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The Thomas Family papers consist of eleven letters and six documents which span the period 1793 to 1816; the bulk of the materials fall between 1804 and 1810. All but one of the letters were written to or received by Philip Thomas Junior. The other letter was received by his father, Philip Thomas Esquire. The six additional documents in the collection are a bond, a bill of sale, a land indenture, a military certificate, and two wills. There are also records that indicate the Thomas family enslaved up to 45 people. Major topics include family concerns, the Napoleonic wars, social life in the early nineteenth century, and business concerns in Maryland and Holland.

Family History

The Thomas Family papers include letters and documents from three generations of the Philip Thomas family of Cecil County, Maryland. The Thomas family was originally from Wales and traces its lineage in Maryland back to Philip and Sarah Harrison Thomas, who arrived in the colony from Bristol, England, in 1651. Three of the couple's children were born in England, and two others arrived after their settlement in Maryland. The Thomas family settled in Anne Arundel County, where Philip Thomas was granted a tract of five hundred acres of land called Beakely or Beckly in April 1651. His will, probated in 1675, lists several tracts of land in Anne Arundel County and homes in Bristol as part of his estate. Initially a leader of the Puritan party within the colony of Maryland, Thomas later became a Quaker. His wife Sarah was also an active member of the Society of Friends.

Their son Samuel Thomas was born in Maryland in 1655 and married Mary Hutchins in a Quaker ceremony in 1688. Samuel and Mary had eight children together, one of whom was born in 1694 and named Philip Thomas. This Philip Thomas married twice, secondly to Anne Chew in 1724. Philip sired at least seven children with his two wives, and one of his sons was also named Philip Thomas. The younger Philip was born sometime in the 1720s, married Anne Harris Galloway in 1754, and sired one child, a son named Philip. He inherited one-half of his father's estate, "Mount Ararat," at the Susquehanna Ferry in Cecil County. At least some members of the Thomas family had remained in Anne Arundel County since the arrival of the first Philip Thomas in 1651. It is possible that the Philip Thomas born in 1694 moved his family to the northeastern section of Maryland, near the Susquehanna River. Another son of Philip and Anne Chew Thomas named Samuel lived at Perry Point on the Susquehanna River across from Havre de Grace; Samuel owned the ferry rights to both sides of the river.

Most of the materials in the Thomas Family Papers concern the son of Philip and Anne Harris Galloway Thomas named Philip Thomas [Philip Thomas Esquire in the records]. He married Sarah Margaret Weems in 1783, and together the couple had seven children: Philip [Philip Thomas Junior in the records], Mary, John Weems, George, Catherine (Kitty), James, and Ann Weems. Sarah Weems was originally from Crumpton Hall in Elkridge, Maryland. Her husband Philip died circa 1809 at their Rockland estate in Cecil County. The Thomas family, especially this generation, appears to have been wealthy. Philip Thomas Esquire often wrote about his lands, crops, and business dealings, which were extensive. The federal census for 1790 lists Philip Thomas, Esquire of the North Susquehannah Hundred as head of a household that included ten free whites and forty-three people enslaved by the Thomas family. Ten years later, his household had increased to sixty-nine people, including forty-five people enslaved by the family. The extant records also indicate that the Thomas family remained members of the Society of Friends into the early nineteenth century. In an 1806 document, the word "oath" was crossed out and replaced with the word "affirmation"; Quakers refused to take oaths.

Please see the family tree to alleviate some of the confusion caused by the repetitious use of the name Philip Thomas throughout the different generations.


The Thomas Family Papers have been organized as two series:

Series 1
Series 2
Legal and Financial Records

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Philip Thomas Family Papers from Charles Apfelbaum in 1990.

Related Material

  1. Peden, Henry C., Jr. Quaker Records of Northern Maryland: Births, Deaths, Marriages and Abstracts from the Minutes, 1716-1800. Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1994. Maryland Stacks F190.F89P42 1994
  2. Thomas, Lawrence Buckley. Genealogical Notes: Containing the Pedigree of the Thomas Family, of Maryland, and of the Following Connected Families: Snowden--Buckley--Lawrence--Chew--Ellicott--Hopkins--Johnson--Rutherford--Fairfax--Schieffelin--Tyson and Others. Illustrated by Views and Coats of Arms. Baltimore: Lawrence B. Thomas, 1877. Maryland Folio CS71.T47 1877
  3. Spencer, Richard Henry, editor. Genealogical and Memorial Encyclopedia of the State of Maryland: A Record of Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: American Historical Society, Inc., 1919. Maryland Stacks F180.S74 vol. 1

Processing Information

All materials have been flattened, encapsulated, and placed into an oversized acid-free box.

Guide to the Thomas Family Papers
Processed by Pamela Alsop
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742