Masters-Taylor-Wilbur papers  1796-1857
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Biography

Thomas Masters (1781-1844) was born in London, England, to Thomas Masters, Sr., and Sarah Rowley. He married Isabella Caldwell (1783-1841) of Philadelphia on June 3, 1807. They had eight children, including Martha Caldwell Masters, who married Henry W. Taylor, and Sarah Rowley Masters, who married Jeremiah Wilbur. Thomas Masters worked in the mercantile business for thirteen years before collaborating with his brother-in-law Francis Markoe, Sr., in 1810 to form the firm of Markoe & Masters. Francis Markoe (1774-1848) was married to Sarah Caldwell. Masters had important business connections in England, as well as in Philadelphia and New York, while Markoe’s business ties were in St. Croix and Philadelphia. Later, after Francis Markoe fell into debt, they formed a new company under the name Masters & Markoe. Masters was the more active and successful partner, eventually shouldering most of the responsibility for the firm. In the early 1840’s, he was elected director of the Bank of the Manhattan Company. Masters died on November 13, 1844.

Jeremiah Wilbur (born c.1805) and his sister Rachel Wilbur were both born in New Jersey. Jeremiah Wilbur, his wife Sarah Masters Wilbur, and their three children lived in New York City, where Jeremiah worked for his father-in-law’s firm of Masters & Markoe. Rachel Wilbur was married in 1818 to Jonathan Harrison Lambdin (1798-1825); they had three daughters. Both of Jonathan Lambdin’s business ventures in Pittsburg had failed by the time of his death in 1825, and his widow Rachel Lambdin and her young daughters returned to her family in New Jersey.

Backus Wilbur (1788-1818) was born in Richmond, Massachusetts, on November 9, 1788. Backus was well educated, having graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1813, and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1816. Accompanied by a fellow minister, he was sent on a mission to Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois Territory, before being called in August 1817 to be the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio. On March 25, 1818, he married Mary W. Ferguson, but died six months later. Two of his brothers were merchants: Marcus Wilbur of New York City, and Rodney Wilbur of Newark, New Jersey.

Henry Wyllys Taylor (1796-1888) was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, to the Reverend John Taylor and Elizabeth Terry. After graduating from Yale University, he was admitted to the bar in 1819 and a year later he opened his own law office in Canandaigua, New York, where he became a prominent attorney and judge. In 1832, he married Martha Caldwell Masters, the daughter of Thomas Masters and Isabella Caldwell. Taylor was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1837, 1838, 1839, and 1840, and to the Michigan Senate in 1846. He served as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court from 1856-1860. In 1869 he received an honorary law degree from his alma mater Yale. Though the family was rooted in Canandaigua, they lived in Marshall, Michigan between 1840 and 1847, before returning to Canandaigua.

Matthew Matthews (1786-1854) was a slave owned by the Reverend Thomas Harrison, of Prince William County, Virginia. Harrison's son, Philip Harrison, purchased Matthews in 1815 and promised to free him after a number of years of service. Matthews gained his freedom on January 22, 1830, and worked in Washington D.C. However, his wife Mary and their six children were owned by Mrs. Mary F. Spence of Dumfries, Virginia. Spence freed Mary, but their six children remained slaves. Matthews was able to free three of his children with the help of Jeremiah Wilbur and Francis Markoe, Jr., in 1835. Later his other children were freed.