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.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Samuel S. Biddle papers
1764-1895 and undated
Biddle, Samuel Simpson, 1811-1872
2 Linear Feet, Approx. 3,500 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

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.

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How to Cite

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

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

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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

Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.