Rawle family papers
The Rawle family, which produced some of the leading legal minds in early Pennsylvania history, first immigrated to America in 1686 to escape the persecution their Quaker faith invited in England. From his arrival in Pennsylvania, Francis Rawle Jr. (1663-1727) became involved in the religious and l...
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10.0 Linear feet 14 boxes, 37 volumes, 10 flat files
The Rawle family, which produced some of the leading legal minds in early Pennsylvania history, first immigrated to America in 1686 to escape the persecution their Quaker faith invited in England. From his arrival in Pennsylvania, Francis Rawle Jr. (1663-1727) became involved in the religious and legal life of the colony, a position bolstered by his marriage to Robert Turner’s daughter Martha in 1689. Francis’s grandson William (1759-1836) was the first Rawle to rise to prominence in the legal profession, serving as Pennsylvania’s first U.S. attorney and founding a prestigious law office, now known as Rawle and Henderson and recognized as the country’s oldest practice. Rawle was followed in his legal career by a number of subsequent generations of Rawle men, most of whom were also named William. This list includes William Rawle Jr. (1788-1858), his son William Henry Rawle (1823-1889), and William Rawle Brooke (1843-1915), known for most of his life as William Brooke Rawle. In addition to their legal activities, the Rawles served as founding and/or contributing members of a number of Philadelphia institutions, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
This collection contains legal documents related to the firm of William Rawle and his descendants, personal and professional correspondence, and a substantial amount of genealogical material. The personal material is mostly found in the correspondence of William Rawle Sr., William Rawle Jr., William Brooke Rawle, and Rebecca Rawle Shoemaker, as well as journals kept by William Rawle Sr. and Rebecca Rawle Shoemaker. Professional materials document William Rawle Sr.’s career and term as Pennsylvania’s U.S. Attorney and William Brooke Rawle’s research on the cavalry conflict at Gettysburg. Genealogical material includes numerous newspaper clippings related to the family, a book of family trees, and four large scrapbooks further documenting the family history. A number of related families are also represented in this collection, including the Shoemaker, Brooke, Porter, and Hall families. There are also portraits of various Rawles, as well as a set of portraits produced by the Treasury Department and ostensibly purchased by the Rawles, which includes images of prominent political, military, and literary figures.
Extracts from William Rawle's journal published in P.M.H.B., 25 (1901): 114-117, 220-227.