Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Suckley Family Papers, 1791-1885
Finding aid created by Manuscript Division Staff
Title: Suckley family papers Creator: Suckley family Inclusive dates: 1791-1885 Extent: 2.5 linear feet Abstract:
The Suckley family papers provide documentation of family life, mercantile business, and the Methodist Church in antebellum New York City.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
1983, 2002. M-2076, M-4245.6.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Suckley Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
As a young man in England, George Suckley (1765-1846) was converted to Methodism by the ardent preaching of the Wesleys, and by the 1790s, he had become serious enough in his religion to agree to accompany his friend, Bishop Thomas Coke (1747-1814), on a missionary voyage to America. Suckley decided to remain, settling in New York city. By 1796, he was serving as American representative of the mercantile firm of Holy, Newbould, & Suckley, headquartered in Sheffield, England, and was well on his way to earning a substantial fortune. Although his business pursuits occupied much of his time, Suckley never flagged in his religious zeal. He was accepted into membership of the John Street Church, where he served on the Board of Trustees for many years, and he later helped to found the Wesleyan Chapel in Vestry Street. His religious zeal crossed denominational bounds in the 1830s, when he became Vice President of the American Bible Society. Throughout his adult life, Suckley was acquainted with many of the most prominent Methodists in the United States. Francis Asbury (1745-1816) was a frequent visitor to the Suckley home, and even sat out a yellow fever epidemic of 1805 with the Suckleys in Greenwich Village. Only a few months before his death, Asbury recorded a visit to the Suckleys in his journal.
In 1796, Suckley returned to England to marry the daughter of Obadiah Lang, presumably an old acquaintance. During this visit, Suckley prepared his will, naming his mother and sister in England and a brother John, a minor living in Philadelphia, as beneficiaries. At the time, his estate included his share of the mercantile firm as well as extensive land holdings in New York and North Carolina. After returning to the United States in 1798, Suckley's young wife gave birth to a son, John Lang Suckley, but it appears that she either died in childbirth or not long after. By the end of the year, George had remarried, joining Catherine Rutsen, daughter of John Rutsen, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., who was not coincidentally a close friend of the wife of the renowned Methodist preacher, Freeborn Garrettson (1752-1827). George and Catherine Suckley were the parents of six children.
Collection Scope and Content Note
This Suckley collection is only a small residuum of a much larger collection, yet what remains provides important documentation of several aspects of nineteenth century life, particularly relating to commercial life in antebellum New York City and the Methodist Church.
Boxes 1 and 2 consists primarily of in-coming correspondence dated between 1791 and 1839, centering on the personal and professional life of George Suckley, with the earliest material originating in the family of his first wife, Miss Lang, in England. The letters contain some information on English Methodism (1:1-6, 16-18). Of particular interest are the letters of the Methodist missionary, Francis Asbury (1:10-11) and of the wife of Richard Reece, who began his itinerant ministry in 1787 (The Christian Advocate and Journal, May 13, 1846, contains a brief sketch of Reece's life). The letters of Catherine Rutsen Suckley and Joseph Holdich include discussions of the Methodist Church in America, and the missionary Freeborn Garretson, is discussed in several letters (1:21-23,25,26,32).
George Suckley's business correspondence includes dealings with the English firm of Holy, Newbould and Suckley (1:33-42,47) and two sets of letters from agents who Suckley retained to manage his vast land holdings, John Reed in upstate New York and John Rangeley in Maine. Among the personal correspondence are several letters from Philadelphia lawyer(?) Cornelius Comegys and letters from three of George Suckley's sons. John Lang Suckley wrote frequently to request money to pay his servants; Rutsen Suckley assisted in managing his father's properties, and Thomas Holy Suckley was a college student.
Box 3 contains family correspondence written after George's death in 1846. Among the family members represented are George's children Rusten, Mary, and Thomas Holy Suckley, and his grandson Dr. George Suckley (1830-1869). George's letters are the most intrinsically interesting, as they were written during a period in the 1850s when he was practicing in Oregon and Washington Territory and considering land investments in California. During this same period, Dr. Suckley was the recipient of several letters from David and Jack Green (apparently cousins of some sort). One item (3:39) relates to George's Civil War service. The later correspondence heavily concerns New York charities. One interesting letter (3:52) is a stableman's apology for drunkenness on Christmas.
Boxes 4 and 5 are arranged in folders by subject. Of particularly interest are folders 5:7-13, which contain documentation on the various New York City rental properties owned by Rutsen Suckley, recording rents collected and upkeep expenses between the 1840s and 1870s. The cost of living in New York can be calculated from bills and receipts for a wide range of products and services (5:4-6).
California--Description and travel.
City missions--New York (State)--New York.
Clothing and dress.
Garrettson, Freeborn, 1752-1827.
Holy, Newbould & Cuckley (firm)
Indians of North America.
Landlord and tenant.
Lawrence & Willard (firm)
Livingston, Sarah Suckley.
Maine--Description and travel.
Missions--New York (State)--New York.
New York (N.Y.)--Commerce.
New York (State)--Description and travel.
Ohio--Description and travel.
Oregon--Description and travel.
Estate administration records.
Receipts (financial records)
Container / Location
Correspondence, 1791-1885 [series]
Correspondence, 1845-1885 and undated
Business and legal papers [series]
Business correspondence, 1808-1829
Business correspondence, 1830-1839
Business correspondence, 1840-1869
Business correspondence, 1870-1886 and undated
Correspondence: Notes of introduction and requests for personal favors
Essays: Birds, medicine, misc.
Estates of Alexander Dunlap; John Grant, executor, 1822; George Suckley, executor, 1827
Estate of Thomas M. Harvey, George Suckley, executor, 1806-1836
Estate accounts: Miscellaneous
Legal agreements, indentures, land records
Newspapers and calling cards
Rutsen Suckley stock investments, Thomas Reed & Co., agents
Accounts and financial records [series]
Account books: a. John Rangley & Sons, 1801-6 Ranford & Stone, 1801-11 Suckley rental accounts, 1846-50 b. Suckley rental accounts, 1851-55
Accounts: Merchant shipping via water
Bills and receipts: Coal, transportation, livestock and garden, construction
Bills and receipts: Food, clothing, yard goods, furniture, housewares, jewelry
Bills and receipts: Medicine, newspapers, education, charity, memberships
Rental properties: Balance sheets--Income and expenses, Abner L. Ely, manager
Rental properties: Bills from suppliers and workmen
Rental properties: Balance sheets and bills (unsorted)
Rental properties: Insurance
Rental properties: Taxes
Rental properties: Utilities--Gas light bills
Rental properties: Utilities--Water bills
Additional Descriptive Data
Suckley family genealogy
Mr. Suckley married Mary, who was living, 1796
Elizabeth Suckley, unmarried in 1796.
John Suckley, a minor living in Philadelphia in 1796. Married February 18, 1830, Miss Christina Sands.
George Suckley (eldest?) born in England, 1765. Partner in Holy, Newbould and Suckley, Sheffield, England. To America, 1790s. Married 1796? Miss H. Lang, daughter of Obadiah and H. Lang, who died 1798?
John Lang Suckley, born 1798? Became an M.D. and married Maria L. Died before 1849, when his wife appears to be married to Mr. Price.
George Suckley, born New York City, 1830. M.D., College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York; three years on staff of N.Y. Hospital. Asst. surgeon, U.S. Army, 1853-56; surgeon, U.S. Volunteers, 1862. Author in fields of geology and geography. Married? to Mary. Died July 30, 1869.
John Hart Suckley, student in Hoboken, 1849.
George Suckley married second Catherine Rutsen (d. 1826?) of Rhinebeck, New York, daughter of John Rutsen. Children (probably in age order):
Rutsen Suckley, b. before 1804, d. after 1872. Unmarried.
Mary Suckley, b. before 1808, d. August, 1872. Unmarried.
George Suckley, Jr. b. before 1808. No further information.
Sarah Suckley, b. before 1808, married between 1827 and 1835 to Edward Livingston. Mental health failing, 1835; institutionalized 1837, 1869-73, and probably in between.
Thomas Holy Suckley, b. between 1808 and 1816; living in 1886. Married Kate. Ran a dairy farm, Rhinebeck, New York.
Rutsen Suckley, b. July 3, 1853
Robert Suckley, schoolboy, 1870
Catherine Suckley, b. before 1816. No further information.
Lang Family genealogy:
Obadiah Lang married a woman whose first initial was H.
William, schoolboy in 1791, London.
H. married George Suckley, 1796? and died 1798?
John Lang Suckley
Partial Subject Index
Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.)
American Bible Society
André, John, 1751-1780
Armstrong, John, 1758-1843
Baltimore (Md.)--Description and travel
Bank of the United States
Black River (Fla.)--Description and travel
Boyd, James R.
Budd, William A.
California--Description and travel
City missions--New York (State)--New York
Clothing and dress
Coke, Thomas, 1747-1814
Dunlap, Alexander, d. 1822?
3:84 See also letters by John Reed.
See Clothing and dress
Florida--Description and travel
Garrettson, Freeborn, 1752-1827
Grant, John, d. 1827?
Great Britain--Description and travel
Gridley, J. S. J.
Hair--Dyeing and bleaching
Harvey, Thomas M.
Holy, Newbould & Cuckley (firm)
Hubbard & Crown (firm)
Indians of North America
Landlord and tenant
Lawrence & Willard (firm)
Letters of introduction
Lewis, Morgan, 1754-1844
Lexington (Ky.)--Description and travel
Livingston, Sarah Suckley
Maine--Description and travel
See letters by John Rangeley
Mission of Dolores (California)
See also City Missions
Missions--New York (State)--New York
New Orleans (La.)--Commerce
New Orleans (La.)--Description and travel
New York (N.Y.)--Commerce
New York (State)--Description and travel
1:30, 32, 58
Newbould, William, d. 1816
Ohio--Description and travel
Olympia (Wash.)--Description and travel
Oregon--Description and travel
Palatka (Fla.)--Description and travel
Paris (France)--Description and travel
Philadelphia (Pa.)--Description and travel
Prisons--New York (State)--New York
Radford & Stone (firm)
Rangeley, John & Sons (firm)
Reed, Thomas and Co.
See also American Bible Society, and Methodist Church