Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Suckley Family Papers, 1791-1885

Finding aid created by
Manuscript Division Staff

Summary Information
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
Acquisition Information:

1983, 2002. M-2076, M-4245.6.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Suckley family papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

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).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • African Americans.
    • Architecture.
    • California--Description and travel.
    • Charity.
    • Cholera.
    • City missions--New York (State)--New York.
    • Clothing and dress.
    • Crime.
    • Death.
    • Depressions.
    • Education.
    • Epidemics.
    • Farm management.
    • Farm produce.
    • Garrettson, Freeborn, 1752-1827.
    • Holy, Newbould & Cuckley (firm)
    • Home economics.
    • Indians of North America.
    • Landlord and tenant.
    • Lawrence & Willard (firm)
    • Livingston, Sarah Suckley.
    • Love letters.
    • Maine--Description and travel.
    • Marriage.
    • Medicine--Practice.
    • Mental illness.
    • Methodist Church.
    • 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.
    • Real property.
    • Servants.
    • Shipping.
    • Slavery.
    • Speculation.
    • Teachers.
    • Wages.
    • Weather.
    • Wills.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Accounts.
    • Business records.
    • Essays.
    • Estate administration records.
    • Financial records.
    • Maps.
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Correspondence,  1791-1885 [series]:
    Box   1 Folder   1-61
    Correspondence,  1791-1829
    Box   2 Folder   1-79
    Correspondence,  1830-1839
    Box   3 Folder   1-90
    Correspondence,  1845-1885,  undated
     
    Business and legal papers [series]:
    Box   4 Folder   1
    Business correspondence,  1808-1829
    Box   4 Folder   2
    Business correspondence,  1830-1839
    Box   4 Folder   3
    Business correspondence,  1840-1869
    Box   4 Folder   4
    Business correspondence,  1870-1886,  undated
    Box   4 Folder   5
    Correspondence: Notes of introduction and requests for personal favors
    Box   4 Folder   6
    Essays: Birds, medicine, misc.
    Box   4 Folder   7
    Estates of Alexander Dunlap; John Grant, executor, 1822 John Grant; George Suckley, executor,  1827
    Box   4 Folder   8
    Estate of Thomas M. Harvey, George Suckley, executor,  1806-1836
    Box   4 Folder   9
    Estate accounts: Miscellaneous
    Box   4 Folder   10
    Legal agreements, indentures, land records
    Box   4 Folder   11
    Maps
    Box   4 Folder   12
    Newspapers and calling cards
    Box   4 Folder   13
    Rutsen Suckley stock investments, Thomas Reed & Co., agents
     
    Accounts and financial records [series]:
    Box   5 Folder   1
    Account books: a. John Rangley & Sons, 1801-6 Ranford & Stone, 1801-11 Suckley rental accounts, 1846-50 b. Suckley rental accounts, 1851-55
    Box   5 Folder   2
    Accounts: Merchant shipping via water
    Box   5 Folder   3
    Accounts: Miscellaneous
    Box   5 Folder   4
    Bills and receipts: Coal, transportation, livestock and garden, construction
    Box   5 Folder   5
    Bills and receipts: Food, clothing, yard goods, furniture, housewares, jewelry
    Box   5 Folder   6
    Bills and receipts: Medicine, newspapers, education, charity, memberships
    Box   5 Folder   7
    Rental properties: Balance sheets--Income and expenses, Abner L. Ely, manager
    Box   5 Folder   8
    Rental properties: Bills from suppliers and workmen
    Box   5 Folder   9
    Rental properties: Balance sheets and bills (unsorted)
    Box   5 Folder   10
    Rental properties: Insurance
    Box   5 Folder   11
    Rental properties: Taxes
    Box   5 Folder   12
    Rental properties: Utilities--Gas light bills
    Box   5 Folder   13
    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.
          • David Suckley
          • Edward Suckley?
          • Joseph Suckley?
      • 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.
      • James
      • Thomas
      • Obadiah
      • H. married George Suckley, 1796? and died 1798?
        • John Lang Suckley
      • Elizabeth
      • Maria
    Partial Subject Index
    Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.)
    • 3:58
    African Americans
    • 1:1,52
    • 2:8a
    Alabama
    • 2:62
    American Bible Society
    • 2:23,73
    André, John, 1751-1780
    • 3:12
    Architecture
    • 2:18,19
    • 3:87,89,90
    Armstrong, John, 1758-1843
    • 1:29
    Asylums
    • 2:75
    Auctions
    • 2:13
    Baltimore (Md.)--Description and travel
    • 2:62
    • 3:17
    Bank of the United States
    • 2:62
    Birds
    • 4:6
    Black River (Fla.)--Description and travel
    • 2:77
    Blindness
    • 1:3
    Boyd, James R.
    • 1:50
    Boyd, John
    • 1:49,50
    Budd, William A.
    • 2:31
    California--Description and travel
    • 3:6,24,26,27,37,38
    Camp meetings
    • 1:32
    Canada--Boundaries--United States
    • 2:78
    Catholic Church
    • 2:63
    Charity
    • 2:27,45
    • 3:55,82
    • 5:6
    Cholera
    • 2:14,45,46
    Christmas
    • 3:51,52
    Circuit riders
    • 1:4
    City missions--New York (State)--New York
    • 3:49,50,79,80
    Clothing and dress
    • 1:1
    • 2:74,75
    • 5:5
    Coke, Thomas, 1747-1814
    • 1:2
    Commerce
    • 2:43
    • 3:78
    Cookery
    • 1:13,31
    Courts
    • 1:49
    Crime
    • 1:2,43,50
    • 3:35
    Day, George
    • 2:40
    Death
    • 1:15,50
    • 3:69,73
    Depressions--1836-1837--United States
    • 3:73
    Depressions--1873
    • 3:59,60,62
    Dunlap, Alexander, d. 1822?
    • 4:7
    Education
    • 2:40
    • 3:5
    • 5:6
    Education--Costs
    • 1:59
    English
    • 1:23
    Epidemics
    • 2:14,45,46,55
    Essays
    • 4:6
    Europe
    • 2:56
    Family arguments
    • 3:7,10
    Farm management
    • 2:5,9,47
    • 3:84 See also letters by John Reed.
    Farm produce
    • 1:57,61
    • 2:5
    • 3:46,47
    Farms
    • 1:58,60
    Fashion
    • See Clothing and dress
    Florida--Description and travel
    • 2:77
    Fuel
    • 5:4
    Furniture
    • 5:5
    Games
    • 3:83
    Garrettson, Freeborn, 1752-1827
    • 1:21-23,25,26,32
    Geology
    • 3:10
    Grant, John, d. 1827?
    • 4:7
    Great Britain--Description and travel
    • 3:12
    Gridley, J. S. J.
    • 2:30
    Hair--Dyeing and bleaching
    • 3:14
    Harvey, Thomas M.
    • 4:8
    Holy, Newbould & Cuckley (firm)
    • 1:12,13,27,33,34
    Home economics
    • 1:22,29,31,32
    Horses
    • 3:9
    Hospitals
    • 2:8a
    Hotels
    • 5:5
    House furnishings
    • 5:5
    Hubbard & Crown (firm)
    • 2:25,37
    Indians of North America
    • 3:8,28,30,31,33
    Industrial relations
    • 1:57
    • 2:8
    Insurance
    • 5:10
    Jewelry
    • 5:5
    Jews
    • 2:79
    Landlord and tenant
    • 1:43
    • 2:1,4,11,12
    • 3:2
    • 5:1,7-13
    Lawrence & Willard (firm)
    • 1:36-38,41,42,47
    Letters of introduction
    • 2:20,31,40,63
    • 3:19
    • 4:5
    Lewis, Morgan, 1754-1844
    • 1:24
    Lexington (Ky.)--Commerce
    • 2:46
    Lexington (Ky.)--Description and travel
    • 2:46
    Libraries
    • 2:52
    • 3:76
    Life-preservers
    • 3:18,19
    Livestock
    • 3:16
    Livingston, Edward
    • 2:6,45
    Livingston, Sarah Suckley
    • 2:52,55,57
    • 3:41,43
    Love letters
    • 1:7,14,22,23
    Maine--Boundaries--New Brunswick
    • 2:78
    Maine--Description and travel
    • See letters by John Rangeley
    Marriage
    • 1:26,53
    • 2:2,50,52
    • 3:28,83
    Medicine--Practice
    • 1:23
    • 2:7
    • 3:22,74
    • 4:6
    • 5:6
    Mental illness
    • 2:52,55,57,64
    • 3:43
    Merchandizing
    • 1:51
    Methodist Church
    • 1:4,10,11
    • 2:14,21,29-31,35
    • 3:11,40,45,55,61,63,64,71
    Mineralogy
    • 3:10
    Mission of Dolores (California)
    • 3:6,24
    Missions
    • See also City Missions
    • 2:21
    • 3:63
    Missions--New York (State)--New York
    • 3:49,50,79,80
    • 3:49,50,79,80
    New Brunswick--Boundaries--Maine
    • 2:78
    New Orleans (La.)--Commerce
    • 1:54
    New Orleans (La.)--Description and travel
    • 1:54
    New York (N.Y.)--Commerce
    • 1:49
    • 2:9
    • 3:35
    • 4:1-4
    • 5:1-13
    New York (State)--Description and travel
    • 1:30, 32, 58
    Newbould, William, d. 1816
    • 1:35
    Newspapers
    • 2:49
    • 5:6
    O'Brien, Dr.
    • 2:63
    Ocean travel
    • 1:55
    • 2:77
    Ohio--Description and travel
    • 1:48
    • 2:25,37
    Olympia (Wash.)--Description and travel
    • 3:11
    Oregon--Description and travel
    • 3:10,13-15,25,30,31,33
    Palatka (Fla.)--Description and travel
    • 2:77
    Paris (France)--Description and travel
    • 3:12
    Pesticides
    • 1:56
    Pets
    • 2:19
    Philadelphia (Pa.)--Description and travel
    • 1:1
    • 2:55
    Postal service
    • 3:8
    Prisons
    • 2:61
    Prisons--New York (State)--New York
    • 2:61
    Quakers
    • 1:1
    Radford & Stone (firm)
    • 5:1
    Railroads
    • 2:58
    Rangeley, John & Sons (firm)
    • 5:1
    Reading
    • 1:18
    Real property
    • 2:4,5,9,16,17,20,25,58
    Reed, John
    • 1:57
    • 2:1
    Reed, Thomas and Co.
    • 4:13
    Reformatories
    • 3:16
    Religion
    • See also American Bible Society, and Methodist Church
    • 2:51
    Religion and science
    • 3:33
    Riley, John
    • 3:11
    Rogers & Gracie (firm)
    • 1:39,40
    Rutsen, John
    • 1:21
    Sabbath
    • 1:13
    Saint Augustine (Fla.)--Description and travel
    • 2:77
    Salt
    • 2:43,59
    Saratoga (N.Y.)--Description and travel
    • 1:31,32
    Segregation
    • 1:1
    Servants
    • 1:1,29
    • 3:16
    Sexual ethics
    • 3:15
    Shipping
    • 1:19,20,49,50
    • 5:2
    Simpson, Matthew, 1811-1884
    • 3:14,21
    Slave-trade
    • 1:54
    Slavery
    • 1:54, 58
    • 3:17
    Speculation
    • 2:4,5,9,16,17,20,25,58
    Stock companies
    • 4:13
    Suckley, Catherine Rutsen, d. 1826
    • 1:50
    Suckley, John
    • 2:33
    Suckley, Mary, d. 1872
    • 3:56
    Suckley, Thomas Holy
    • 2:9,14
    Sunday schools
    • 3:57,61
    Tanning
    • 1:8
    Taxation
    • 5:11
    Teachers
    • 2:61,63
    • 3:20,52,74
    Transportation
    • 5:4
    United States--Boundaries--Canada
    • 2:78
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 3:39
    United States--History--War of 1812
    • 1:26
    Vacations
    • 1:21
    Vacations--New York (State)--Adirondack Mountains
    • 3:58
    Vaccination
    • 2:55
    Venezuela
    • 1:49
    • 2:7
    Wages
    • 2:15,24,26,32,36,38,39,42,66,69
    • 2:70
    • 3:84
    Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel
    • 3:11
    Weather
    • 1:14,30,51
    • 2:6,56,62
    Wesley, John, 1703-1791
    • 1:2
    Whitney, Joel
    • 2:20
    Wills
    • 1:12
    • 2:76
    • 3:29
    Wine
    • 3:1
    Zinzendorf, Nicholaus Ludwig, Graf von, 1700-1760
    • 1:18
    Zoning
    • 3:4