Guide to the Samuel Simpson Biddle papers, 1764-1895 and undated


Planter and merchant families of New Bern (Craven County), North Carolina.

Business and personal correspondence of four generations of the Biddle and Simpson families of New Bern, N.C. Most notable are the papers of John Simpson (1728-1788), locally a prominent Revolutionary figure; his son, Samuel; and his great-grandson, Samuel Simpson Biddle (1811-1872). Topics include financial affairs, including deeds, property in Boston, and the shipment of goods; activities of the Baptist Church in the New Bern area; agricultural and business interests; education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and children's education in the 19th century. Many letters were written during the Civil War and revolve around the activities of S.S. Biddle, Jr. and James W. Biddle, containing brief descriptions of campaigns, troop movements, traitors, fortifications in South Carolina, camp life, and epidemics. The collection also has 12 volumes of plantation and personal accounts, bills, and receipts, loose deeds and notes, as well as information from the estates of Samuel Simpson and William Biddle.

Descriptive Summary

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Biddle, Samuel Simpson, 1811-1872.
Samuel S. Biddle papers 1764-1895 and undated
Language of Material
2.0 Linear Feet, Approx. 3,500 Items
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Business and personal correspondence of four generations of members of the Simpson and Biddle families in North Carolina, principally those of John Simpson (1728-1788), locally a prominent Revolutionary figure, his son Samuel, and his great-grandson Samuel Simpson Biddle (1811-1872), both families being prominent in local affairs. The early letters, including several from John Simpson's brother in Boston, are largely concerned with business, including deeds, Simpson's property in Boston, and shipment of goods. One letter, in 1790, indicates that Simpson was associated in business with Dr. Hugh Williamson in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Other correspondence is concerned with probable purchase of land from John Haywood; one contract, 1810, with a tenant on Simpson's land; agricultural and business interests of Samuel Simpson Biddle in the 1840's and 1850's; the education of Samuel Simpson Biddle at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the education of several of his children at various schools in North Carolina, including Wake Forest College, Louisburg Academy, Chowan Female College, Oxford Female College, and a school at Warrenton.

William P. Biddle, father of Samuel Simpson Biddle, was a Baptist minister, who associated with his father-in-law in farming and business. Many letters of other ministers are included, with considerable information on activities of the Baptist Church in the area of Fort Barnwell and New Bern. There are also minutes of Neuse (Baptist) Association, November 4, 1843, and of a conference meeting of the Baptist Church of Christ at Harriett's Chapel, September, 1853.

A large proportion of the letters refer to the Civil War, S. S. Biddle, Jr., and James W. Biddle having enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. These letters contain descriptions of campaigns, troop movements, camp life, and epidemics among soldiers and civilians. References are also made to naval conflicts along the coast, Federal prisoners, execution of deserters and of Southern traitors, fortifications at James Island, South Carolina, various generals, including P. G. T. Beauregard and Wade Hampton, and the confiscation of Southern property by Federal forces. There are also comments on the comparative merits of Z. B. Vance and W. W. Holden as governors.

There are many notes, deeds, and wills, and numerous letters from two of Samuel Biddle's daughters, Mary and Rosa, and from a son, B. F. Biddle, at Wake Forest College, and lists of names and valuations of slaves left by Samuel Simpson and William P. Biddle to their children. There are eleven account books, five small stud books, and a large number of bills and receipts concerned with the mercantile and farming interests of the Simpsons and Biddles. Among the correspondents are John D. Bellamy, William Gaston, John Haywood, Thomas Meredith, and John Stanly.

Administrative Information

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warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Letters and papers, 1764-1859
Box 1
Letters and papers, 1860-1895 and undated
Box 2
Bills, 1771-1849
Box 3
Bills, 1850-1859
Box 4
Bills, 1860-1895 and undated
Box 5
Oversize volume (accounts?)
Volume L:322
Plantation accounts and memoranda, Ft. Barnwell, N.C., 1846-1853
Volume L:323
Personal accounts, New Bern, N.C., 1851-1852
Volume S:324
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1854-1855
Volume S:325
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1858-1859
Volume S:326
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1858-1859
Volume S:327
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1858-1861
Volume S:328
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1860-1861
Volume S:329
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1863-1865
Volume S:330
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1866-1867
Volume S:331
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1868-1869
Volume S:332
Personal accounts, New Bern, 1869-1971
Volume S:333

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Samuel Simpson Biddle Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Samuel Simpson Biddle papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff.

Encoded by Carrie Mills, May 2011

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.