Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
David Ross Papers, 1771-1803

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: David Ross papers
Creator: Ross, David, 1739?-1817
Inclusive dates: 1771-1803
Extent: 69 items
Abstract:
The David Ross papers contain financial documents and correspondence regarding the estate of Pennsylvania merchant Mark Freeman and the Revolutionary War-era tobacco business of Virginia planter David Ross, who handled Freeman's financial affairs after Freeman's departure for Europe in 1779.
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:

1992. M-2891.5.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

David Ross Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

David Ross was born in Scotland around 1739 and arrived in North America sometime in the middle of the 18th century. Before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Ross established himself as a prominent tobacco merchant in Virginia and owned a plantation outside of Richmond. During the early years of the war, Ross faced accusations of disloyalty to the patriot cause, but he successfully defended himself and became an official agent for Virginia in 1780. Following the war, Ross served in the Virginia General Assembly


Collection Scope and Content Note

The David Ross papers contain financial documents and correspondence regarding the estate of Pennsylvania merchant Mark Freeman and the Revolutionary War-era tobacco business of Virginia planter David Ross, who handled Freeman's financial affairs after the latter's departure for Europe in 1779.

Most early items are financial documents, such as accounts related to Mark Freeman's estate. These pertain to Freeman's purchases in the 1770s and to debts owed after his death. Also included is a power of attorney granting Mark Freeman, William Temple, and Robert Wilson, all of Middletown, Pennsylvania, the right to represent the estate of James Forbes, also of Middletown (May 4, 1776). Other financial records concern the firm Forbes & Patton's purchases of snuff, rolling paper, tobacco, and other goods.

Later items primarily pertain to David Ross, who took over Freeman's affairs in 1779. The collection contains a copy of an indenture allowing Ross to become Freeman's attorney (August 2, 1779) and records regarding Freeman's finances. These documents reflect the difficulties of conducting trade during the American Revolution. Ross traded indigo, tobacco, and other products throughout the war, often in the Caribbean, and repeatedly mentioned the complications presented by the war. In one item, Ross discussed the possible future of Kentucky (January 29, 1781).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Administration of estates.
    • Tobacco industry--United States.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
    Contributors:
    • Freeman, Mark.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Powers of attorney.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   26, Small Collections  
    David Ross papers [series]
    Folders   1-8  
     July 17, 1771-July 3, 1803, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Thomas Gage papers contain a letter written by David Ross to Alexander Cameron, dated December 20, 1768.

    The Nathanael Greene papers contain a letter written by Greene to David Ross, dated May 24, 1781.

    The William Petty, 1st Marquis of Lansdowne, 2nd Earl of Shelburne papers contain a deposition written by David Ross and David Smart, addressed to John Fraizier, dated January 8, 1767.

    Bibliography

    Dew, Charles B. "David Ross and the Oxford Iron Works: A Study of Industrial Slavery in the Early Nineteenth-Century South." The William and Mary Quarterly 31.2 (April 1974). 189-224.