Ball families papers

Collection 0028

1672-1917, undated
(6.9 Linear feet ; 10 boxes, 2 flat files)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Ball families.
Ball families papers
1672-1917, undated
6.9 Linear feet ; 10 boxes, 2 flat files
Finding aid prepared by Randi M. Kamine.
This is a collection of papers of the Ball family of Philadelphia. It encompasses the families of William Ball, Joseph Ball, and John Ball. Other persons represented in this collection are Henry Banks, a merchant of Richmond Virginia, Daniel Brodhead, a Philadelphia lawyer, Robert Morris, and the Dupuy family. The collections primarily contains legal and business-reated docuemnts. There are very few personal letters, with the exception of a letter book written by Elizabeth Byles, wife of William Ball Sr.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Ball families papers (Collection 28), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Scope and content note

William Ball, Sr., and William Ball, Jr., were merchants who owned Hope Farm, in Northern Liberties Township (Shakamaxon). Correspondence, accounts, surveys, and other papers (1760-1771), relate to the Nova Scotia Land Company, and a colonizing venture in Nova Scotia. There is a Richmond Meadows Company account book (1760-1762), and an election returns book (1763, 1766). Elizabeth Byles, wife of William Ball, Sr., left a letterbook (1759-1783), and diary (1757-1763). There is a rent and bond account book (1782-1808) belonging to William Ball Jr. and miscellaneous other business, land and estate papers.

Joseph Ball was a Philadelphia merchant, industrialist, insurance executive, and bank director. Documents pertaining to his business include accounts, land agreements, descriptions of the outfitting of several vessels including privateers, and related litigation. There are insurance policies; estate papers and genealogical depositions from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Virginia (1855-1860) gathered in the settlement of his vast estate.

John Ball, brother of Joseph Ball, was a resident merchant at St. Eustatius, St. Thomas and St. Croix for several years, and partner of William Waddrop and Daniel Jennings (Ball, Waddrop and Jennings). The collection has his business papers and correspondence, (1779-1782), including letters to William Bingham.

The bulk of the Ball family material is comprised of documents from William W. Ball (1801-1874); William Ball (1842-1868); Robert H. Ball (born 1811); and Charles D. Ball (born 1850) and their immediate families. The Joseph Ball family papers are also represented, particularly in the early 19th century.

Henry Banks was a merchant of Richmond, Va. His business papers and correspondence relate to commercial activities, land purchases, and privateering, including correspondence with his Kentucky partner in trade and land speculation, John Fowler. Bank's financial problems are revealed in legal papers on various suits and correspondence with Philadelphia lawyer, Daniel Brodhead, in Bank's bankruptcy trial and imprisonment with Robert Morris in 1798. Joseph Ball was a trustee of Morris’s bankrupt estate.

The collection also includes, from the Richards and Dupuy families, a Lewis M. Walker and John Richards receipt book (1817-1821); extracts of Burlington, New Jersey; land surveys (1741-1833); and deeds and other items. Also, a Thomas Witherspoon, Philadelphia merchant, receipt book (1796-1804).

Among the miscellaneous material in the collection is an unidentified Philadelphia merchant's journal (1733-1739), a report of a viewing of a road through William Ball’s property signed by Benjamin Franklin, an Evening Bulletin newspaper article written in 1965 reports on 5,000 Ball heirs suing to collect interest on a loan given to the city of Philadelphia by Joseph Ball.

The dozens of deeds found in the collection could be a significant resource for scholars who are interested in an in-depth look at Philadelphia and its neighborhoods in pre and post-revolutionary times. The deeds track ownership in many addresses in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2019.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Gift of Herbert Dupuy.

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Deeds--18th Century.
  • Estate administration--18th-19th Centuries
  • Land settlement and speculation--18th Century.

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Kinsey, Margaret B. Ball Cousins: Descendants of John and Sarah Ball. Baltimore: Gateway Press,1981.

“Five Thousand heirs Ask Supreme Court to Order Payment of 171-Year-Old U.S. Debt,” by Dorothy S. Byrd, The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, December 8, 1965, p. 23.

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Collection Inventory

Ball and Byles papers 

Box Folder

Description of William Ball’s property written by Samuel Morris 1754 

1 1

Legal documents: John Franck and Robert Wilkins land dispute; last will and testament of Peter Sykill; Land survey 1691, 1700 

1 2

Land indenture (original and photo copy) 1672 

1 3

Ben Franklin report of a viewing of a road through William Ball’s property, with a letter from Whitfield J. Bell to Berenice M. Ball 1745, 1960 

1 4

Will of Ann Hall, William Ball executor 1775 

1 5

Elizabeth Byles Letter book and diary (in the dos-a-dos style); Will of Daniel Byles; land agreement, fragments 1759-1771 

1 6

Obligation to pay loan of sixty-four pounds, twelve shillings that William Thompson of New Castle owed William Ball. 1760 

1 7

Petition of William Thompson from a prisoner in debtor’s prison; list of debts 1761 

1 8

Land indenture; loan obligation with people from Augusta County Virginia; accounts 1762 

1 9

Accounts book of the trustees of the Richmond Meadow Company 1760-1764 

1 10

Loan document; “A true copy of the deed of the Land the Meeting House is Upon” (1728); letter to Reed and Pettit, Malcolm, Lunan and Ball, Merchants from London; notice stating that William Ball commenced a suit against Edward Price Wilmore to repay a debt; Northern Liberties indenture 1728, 1764-1766 

1 11

Lawsuit over will concerning William Ball; maps; indentures; fragments; testimonies 1767 

1 12

Indenture; loan document; accounts 1769-1773 

1 13

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Ball and Banks papers 

Box Folder

Invoice for insurance; various other accounts; letter to Philipp Bowdoin from Mr. Jones 1778-1779 

2 1

Receipt for insurance; accounts; letter to Joseph Ball from a teacher asking for a loan of one or two dollars 1778 

2 2

Invoice, balance due Joseph Ball; an account with Joseph Carson 1780 

2 3

Article of agreement between Joseph Ball and Edward Black; accounts with Joseph Carson 1781 

2 4

Edward Black agreement; business letter from Damer Barr to Henry Banks, Richmond; various bills and receipts; one letter from Alex Russell 1782 

2 5

Loan documents; accounts; insurance agreement 1783 

2 6

Indentures binding servants, Robert Sewell; Drusilla, "a negro woman" 1784 

2 7

Demand to appear in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in case involving Ball; power of attorney signed by John Moylan; accounts; an agreement to finish a Sloop signed by Edward Black; map; land indenture 1785 

2 8

Baulico and Claiborne agreements; Joseph Ball v. Joseph Carson; power of Attorney Henry Banks to Richard Claiborne; loan documents; Richard Claiborne to Henry Banks; letter of recommendation for Robert Smith; document transferring money from Daniel Edwards to William Bell 1786 

2 9

Letter to Henry Banks, esq. in Richmond; John Fowler and Henry Banks agreement. 1787 

2 10

Estate of John Tomkins accounts; agreement between James Ferguson and Philip Bowdoin 1788 

2 11

Henry Banks document; debt obligation 1786 

2 12

Deposition of John Cooper against Issac Smith and Creeson Bowdoin;" letter from Thomas Levy; indenture to build a wharf for Joseph Ball; list of payment from Joseph Ball to Bank of North America 1790 

2 13

Promissory note; documents concerning Richmond; loan agreements; suit of Hunter Banks and Company v. Wills, Cooper and Company. 1791 

2 14

Dr. Thomas Bond of Alexandria, Virginia, to Henry Banks; personal letters from Henry Banks; letter from W.W. Burrows; receipt from Joseph Ball to Robert Morris; Bank of U. S. stock shares 1792 

2 15

Henry Banks and Joseph Ball business letters and accounts; agreement between Richard Thompson of Philadelphia and Joseph Ball concerning tract of land; land-related document between Joseph Ball and William Black 1793 

2 16

Accounts from Henry Banks; agreement between Henry Banks and John Fowler; other agreements 1794 

2 17

Accounts of Henry Banks and Joe Ball 1795 

2 18

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Ball family papers 

Box Folder

Miscellaneous documents: accounts between Robert Morris, John Nicholson, William Sansom; street survey; two small account books; receipt with William Penn mark; map of Delaware River with Ball family property; Bank of North American Bank Notes 1782-1809 

3 1

Mortgage between Thomas Priestly and Mary Andrews; will of Matthew Clarkson; condolence letter from John Robertson to William Ball; account sheets 1755, 1800 

3 2

John Nicholas certificate; indentures between William Ball and Abraham Nippes, John Steinman and James Wismer; Dan Pegg will; note to Phillip Hoffman; payment to Matthew Vanusen 1798, 1801 

3 3

Mortgage Joseph Norris Jr to Joseph Norris; letter: “The indictments against the dog killer are on trial…” 1802 

3 4

Letter to William Ball asking about conditions of a land sale; other notes 1803 

3 5

Mortgages; legal notice 1804 

3 6

List of judgements and mortgages against Charles Lewis; letter to William Ball 1805 

3 7

William Ball, three short documents; receipts 1806 

3 8

Letter Benjamin Young to William Ball 1807 

3 9

Tract of land in possession of Phillip Hoffman; letter to William Ball from John Robertson 1808 

3 10

Lease of William Ball, Esq. to Hugh S. MaGee. 1809 

3 11

Concerning wills, “Answers to the questions proposed by the Executors of William Ball” 1810 

3 12

Indentures; accounts 1811 

3 13

Books of William J. Smith; Large account book. 1812 

3 14

Joseph Ball indenture 1812 

3 15

Various indentures; accounts 1813 

3 16

Indentures; note signed by Cadwalader 1814 

3 17

Letter to Thomas Witherspoon from Alexander Muirhead; documents pertaining to Anna Walsh and Robert Walsh 1815 

3 18

Letter mentioning James Gibson and John Gibson; bond warrant 1816 

3 19

Letter to Thomas Witherspoon; other documents 1817 

3 20

Accounts; indenture of Joseph Ball 1818 

3 21

Two bank loan documents; letter to Thomas Witherspoon from Alex Muirhead; various other documents. 1819 

3 22

Miscellaneous papers of Joseph Ball, Merchant, National Bank Insurance of North America 1751-1821 

3 23

Miscellaneous items pertaining to William Ball, Goldsmith family, Joseph Ball; letter from Herbert DuPuy to the Treasury Department 1776-1825, 1907 

3 24

Letter from Bank of North America to Joseph Ball 1820 

3 25

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Ball family papers 

Box Folder

Critique of the William Ball will; opinion on the William Ball will from John Sergeanto and Rawles; miscellaneous receipts 1821 

4 1

Letter from Samuel Richards; letter about a Water Street property 1822 

4 2

Drawing of the estate of John Ball; account with John Woodroff 1823 

4 3

Listing for William Ball Estate 1824 

4 4

Opinion on William Ball’s will by Charles Chauncy; note from James Gibson; two opinions for the William Ball will; will of Joseph Ball; list of rents in the estate of William Ball 1825 

4 5

Opinions on the William Ball will; Brief of Title for the Ball estate.; history of many Ball famhily wills. Article from the Evening Bulletin, “5,000 Heirs ask Supreme Court to Order Payment of 171 Year Old U.S. Debt" 1826, 1965 

4 6

Inventory for wills; Brief of Title, the Ball estate. 1826 

4 7

Account book; debt notes; affidavit of W. Sargeant 1827 

4 8

Release William W. Ball to Joseph J. Ball; court paper: Extension of Beach Street, Kensington to Richmond Street in the Northern Liberties; loan document 1828 

4 9

Receipts 1829 

4 10

Insurance form for 25 Dock Street; indenture re: a farm in Bensalem, between Aston and Ball. 1830 

4 11

Orphan’s court petition of George Ball and Charles Ball for guardianship of child of Joseph Ball 1832 

4 12

Description and drawing of property 1833 

4 13

Two end of lease notices 1835 

4 14

Loan document of George Ball and Esther Ball 1837-1839 

4 15

Pamphlet: “Statues of Old Mortality and His Pony, and of Sir Walter Scott” at the Laurel Hill Cemetery. 1841 

4 16

Indenture between Charles Ball and George Ball and John Davies; rent agreement; receipts 

4 17

Receipt of payment signed by John Sergeant 1845 

4 18

Title for property between George and Charles Ball; letter asking tenants to leave; indenture between John Peters, lumber merchant and George and Charles Ball. 1847 

4 19

A bill of 28th Congress, 1st session; claims from the Revolutionary war for the relief of the legal representatives of William T. Smith of Phila. from the Committee on Revolutionary Claims; list of the standing committees of the House of Representatives, 29th Congress, 1st session; receipt of loans to the government 1849 

4 20

Personal letter from Charles Dupuy to his father concerning a complex land title; letter to B. Gerhard about a land-related matter 1851 

4 21

Drawing of land; two legal notes on estates 1853-1854 

4 22

Broadside: Orphan’s Court Peremptory Sale, Estate of Charles M. Dupuy, deceased; two newspaper articles. 1870-1879 

4 23

Accounts 1881 

4 24

Drawing of map - state of New Jersey 1897 

4 25

Genealogies and biographies undated 

4 26

Miscellaneous Ball family papers undated 

4 27

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Ball and Dupuy papers 

Box Folder

State of Ohio court appearance papers 1858 

5 1

Pennsylvania court appearance papers; indentures 1857 

5 2

Ohio and Pennsylvania documents, some concerning George Dewes 1856 

5 3

Ohio and Indiana documents; family court documents, some having to do with the death of Joseph Ball. 1855-1860 

5 4

Joseph Clark Wills and agreements 1699-1760 

5 5

Dupuy family accounts 1770 

5 6

DuPuy court document 1771 

5 7

Dupuy papers 1772 

5 8

Dupuy land agreements and loan indenture 1774-1775 

5 9

Loan indenture; accounts 1781 

5 10

Oath of Allegiance of Joseph Ball; miscellaneous papers 1776-1777 

5 11

Invoices to John Ball 1778-1780 

5 12

Request for payment 1782 

5 13

Agreement between John Ball and William Woodrop 1783 

5 14

Letter to John Ball; indenture; accounts 1770-1786 

5 15

Land papers - North Cumberland County, Berks County 1784 

5 16

Map of family real estate plots; agreement with children of Samuel McCall; wills. 1762, 1784, 1811 

5 17

Copies of maps of lots; surveys; personal letter 1771-1787 

5 18

Court documents; maps; land documents; will 1695, 1786, 1788 

5 19

Promissory note; other documents 1699-1799 

5 20

Land deed 1789 

5 21

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Dupuy and Banks papers 

Box Folder

Debt documents 1790 

6 1

Dupuy papers; will of William Morrell; debt note; real estate document 1791 

6 2

Dupuy papers, certified copy settlement on Thom Byles estate 1792 

6 3

Dupuy papers; accounts; miscellaneous documents 1796 

6 4

Dupuy papers; Letters; accounts; legal papers 1797-1798 

6 5

Dupuy papers; Henry Banks papers 1798-1799 

6 6-8

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Deeds 1691-1770 


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Deeds 1771-1791 


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Deeds 1798-1917 


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Box Item

Accounts book 1733-1737 

10 1

Herbert Du Puy account book 1796-1803 

10 2

Account book 1817-1821 

10 3

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Indentures; maps; accounts 1739-1833 

Flat file 1

Map of the Delaware River with the Ball family holdings 1856 

Flat file 2

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