Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Samuel Coates Collection, 1772-1806

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, January 2012

Summary Information
Title: Samuel Coates collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1772-1806
Extent: 11 items
This collection contains correspondence, documents, and a poem related to Philadelphia merchant Samuel Coates, including incoming correspondence concerning nautical travel in 18th-century New York and contemporary opinions on the American Revolution. Four items relate to the late Doctor Samuel Cooper, for whom Coates served as estate executor.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1949-1994. M-763; M-1898; M-2931.4; M-2992.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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:

Samuel Coates Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically, with a bundle of items pertaining to the estate of Dr. Samuel Cooper placed at the end.


Samuel Coates was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 24, 1748, the son of Samuel Coates and his wife, Mary Langdale. Orphaned at a young age, Coates lived with his uncle and mentor, John Reynell, who helped establish Coates as a merchant before he joined Reynell’s firm in 1771. In 1782, Coates gained sole ownership of the company, and conducted business along the Eastern Seaboard, particularly around New England. A prominent resident of Philadelphia, he served with a relief committee during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic, as an overseer of Philadelphia's public schools, as a director of the First Bank of the United States, and as treasurer of the Philadelphia Library Company; he also served as a manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital and, later, as the president of its board. He and his wife, Lydia Saunders, married in 1775 and had four surviving children: John Reynell, Hannah, Joseph Saunders, and Lydia. Following the death of his first wife in 1791, he married Amy Horner in 1791, with whom he had three surviving children: Samuel Horner, Benjamin Horner, and Reynell. Samuel Coates died on June 4, 1830.

Dr. Samuel Cooper was born in Maryland on September 8, 1772. In 1786, he moved to Philadelphia, where he attended a Quaker school. He began his medical studies in Maryland in 1791, and in 1793 became apprenticed to Samuel Coates, Samuel Clark, and Bartholomew Wistar, managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in May 1797, and began to practice medicine in Philadelphia. Cooper died of yellow fever on September 25, 1798.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, documents, and a poem related to Philadelphia merchant Samuel Coates. Most of the material consists of incoming personal letters addressed to Coates, including three letters by Richard Dimsdale, who recounted his recent nautical travels around New York City and throughout the state of New York (June 29, 1773) and provided his opinion on recent social unrest in the colonies (September 9, 1775). Another acquaintance, Joseph Pemberton, inquired about food prices in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, and shared his desire for Washington to surround General Howe and secure victory (January 23, 1777). Additional incoming items include a letter from Ezekiel Edwards (October 25, 1772), a shipping receipt (December 18, 1772), and a letter from William Jones concerning the estate of the late Samuel Cooper (February 4, 1799). The collection also holds two items written by Samuel Coates: a letter to Moses Brown describing a recent epidemic and conditions in the Pennsylvania Hospital (October 30, 1798) and a letter about Samuel Cooper's estate (December 6, 1806). Additional material includes an indenture apprenticing Samuel Cooper to Samuel Clark, Bartholomew Wistar, and Samuel Coates, managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital (January 1, 1793), and a poem written by Enoch Lewis in memory of Samuel Cooper (September 6, [1798]).

Subject Terms

    • Cooper, Samuel, 1772-1798.
    • Merchants--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
    • New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel--Early works to 1800.
    • New York (State)--Description and travel--Early works to 1800.
    • Pennsylvania Hospital (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Commerce.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
    • Coates, Samuel, 1748-1830.
    • Dimsdale, Robert I.
    • Lewis, Enoch.
    • Pemberton, Joseph.
    Genre Terms:
    • Financial records.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Poems.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   6, Small Collections  
    Samuel Coates collection [series]
    Folders   21-23  
     October 25, 1772-October 30, 1798
    Documents pertaining to Dr. Samuel Cooper [subseries]
    Folder   24  
     January 1, 1793-December 6, 1806
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Philadelphia Merchants collection and William Young papers each contain a letter written by Samuel Coates.

    The Gold Star collection holds Mayhew Folger's account of the Mutiny on the Bounty , transcribed by Samuel Coates. The following volume prints a facsimile of the manuscript: Hayes, Walter. . The Captain from Nantucket and the Mutiny on the Bounty: a Recollection of Mayhew Folger, Mariner, Who Discovered the Last Mutineer & His Family on Pitcairn's Island : Together with Letters & Documents Never Previously Published. Ann Arbor, Michigan: William L. Clements Library, 1996.


    Caldwell, Charles. An Eulogium to the Memory of Dr. Samuel Cooper: Delivered by Appointment Before the Philadelphia Medical Society on the Fourth Day of March, 1799. Philadelphia: Printed by Henry Tuckniss, for Mathew Carey, 1799.

    Winslow, Stephen Noyes. Biographies of Successful Philadelphia Merchants. Philadelphia: James K. Simon, 1864.