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Philpot-Randall family papers

Identifier: MS 2816


This collection consists of manuscript items, legal documents, and correspondence belonging to the Philpot and Randall families, 1726-1936.


  • 1726-1936
  • Majority of material found within 1850-1900


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Sketch

The Randall and Philpot families are among the most prominent and influential families in the history of Baltimore City and County. Brian Philpot, Sr., son of John Philpot of Stamford, England established the Philpot family in this country. He came to Maryland in 1734 with a special license from King George II to conduct business and became a prominent and successful merchant in Baltimore before the revolution.

His son, Brian Philpot, Jr. (1756-1812) was a Revolutionary War soldier and prominent Baltimorean. Philpot Street in Baltimore is named after Brian Philpot, Jr., the patriarch and first generation of Philpot's born in this country. The street which runs from Jones Falls to Thames street stands on a portion of substantial lands purchased by Brian Philpot and received the name as early as 1765; additionally a bridge, a point and a hill were named after Mr. Philpot who was Commissioner of Baltimore Town at the time. Brian Philpot, Jr., married Elizabeth Johnson and their children were Brian, Mary Ann, John, Elizabeth, Clara and Edward.

John Philpot (1801-1879), second son of Brian Philpot, Jr., received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Schnectady, New York in 1821, studied law with Judge Dorsey and eventually moved back to Baltimore to begin the practice of law. In 1829 John married his cousin, Susan Isabella Stewart and their five children were Mary D., Thomas, Elizabeth B., Catherine and Anna. John Philpot took an active role in the political, civic and business affairs of Maryland and Baltimore City and County and counted among his friends, family and associates many influential Baltimore citizens, including Nicholas Merryman, the Reverend John Blanchard, and members of the Stewart and Buchanan families. As an admirer of Henry Clay he ran as the Whig candidate for Congress in 1844 but went down to defeat with the Whig Party. He became a democrat after the Whig Party dissolved. He also held the positions of Commissioner of Insolvent Debts and Registrar of Wills in Baltimore County and was one of the first directors of the Susquehanna Railroad. John Philpot lived a long and successful life, dying of paralysis at the age of seventy-eight in 1879. His only son Thomas Philpot succeeded his father as Registrar of Wills for many years and was greatly admired for his service to the community.

The Randalls and Philpots share a common lineage through John Philpot and his sister Elizabeth Philpot Blanchard whose daughter Elizabeth Blanchard Randall married Alexander Randall. Alexander Randall (1803-1881) was a prominent lawyer and businessman in Annapolis. He was a U.S. Congressman (Whig Party) from 1841 through 1843 representing Anne Arundel and part of Howard County as well as sections of Baltimore City. As a strong Unionist, he served from 1864 through 1868 during the Civil War and Reconstruction era as Attorney General of Maryland.

Alexander Randall and Elizabeth Blanchard Randall (1827-1896) had seven children, Blanchard, Burton, Elizabeth, Henry, Daniel, Wyatt and Adelaide. Their son Blanchard Randall (1857-1942) was a prominent businessman in the firm of Bill and Fiske in Baltimore and a philanthropist who served on the City-Wide Congress held in 1911 to establish the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wyatt Randall, another son, was a distinguished and well-respected chemist and science educator. In both his teaching and professional career as a public health official, he advanced and promoted better public health and hygiene programs. Daniel Randall, Alexander Randall's closest brother served in two wars and as a paymaster in the Army traveled to many of the newly settled outposts of the West's early history.

Susan Katherine Brune (1860-1937), wife of Blanchard Randall, was the great-granddaughter of Ambrose Clark, a prominent Baltimore merchant who traded with the West Indies and Europe in the late 18th and early 19th Century.


2.09 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



Series Description

Philpot-Randall family papers consist of 6 major series:

I Business and personal papers of John Philpot

II Correspondence and papers of Susan and Mary Philpot

III Papers of David Owen, bookseller in Baltimore

IV Papers of Randall family members consisting mostly of correspondence

V Papers of Ambrose Clarke

VI Biographical and genealogical materials

Although the papers in the collection range from 1726 through 1936, the bulk of the papers cover the years 1825 through 1880. Each series is divided into appropriate subseries as listed below. Arrangement is generally chronological except as noted.

Series I: John Philpot Papers, 1726-1894 (Approximately 3 boxes)

Legal Papers, account ledgers and books, business and personal correspondence, business and personal invoices and receipts, and miscellaneous papers and memorabilia. Arrangement within each subseries is chronological with undated documents last. Additionally, there are distinctive subject divisions within the legal papers subseries. The majority of the documents fall within the dates 1820-1850.

Subseries 1: Legal Papers, 1726-1894 (1 Box)

This subseries is divided into wills, deeds, leases and surveys, court documents and case files, and miscellaneous legal documents. Documents included are wills, leases, land surveys and deeds, a fire insurance policy, interrogatories to a party in a lawsuit, complaints, various court documents, bank charter and by-laws, promissory note, debt notices from Commissioner of Insolvent Debts, creditors list, arrest warrants, debt notices from Court, John Philpot's admission to the Bar, Petition to appoint Justice of the Peace, manumission papers and bills of sale for slaves, and other miscellaneous legal instruments. Arrangement is chronological within each subject division.

Subseries 2: Account Ledgers and Books, 1827-1845 (Box 2, folders 1-5)

Account ledgers with local merchants, ledger book and bank book of John Philpot. Arrangement is chronological.

Subseries 3: Correspondence, 1824-1840 (Box 2, folders 6-16)

Incoming letters concerning both business and personal matters, one outgoing business letter and various other letters written by associates and friends concerning John Philpot's affairs. Arrangement is chronological.

Subseries 4: Receipts and Invoices, 1825-1846 (Box 3, folders 1-15)

Personal and business invoices, bills and receipts for merchandise, services, and debts of or for John Philpot. Arrangement is chronological with undated documents first.

Subseries 5: Memorabilia, 1821-1840 (Box 4, folders 1-8)

Diploma, advertisement, notes, stamp book, recipes, slate of presidential electors, and other memorabilia.

Series II: David Owen Papers, 1839-43 (Box 4, folders 9-18)

Business receipts and correspondence of David Owen, bookseller of religious and legal books. Arrangement is chronological.

Series III: Susan and Mary Philpot Papers, 1827- 1882 (Box 5, folders 1-10 folders)

Outgoing and incoming letters, a poem and travel diary of John Philpot's wife, Susan, and outgoing letters of his daughter, Mary D. Philpot Arrangement is chronological under each family member with undated documents first.

Series IV: Randall Family Papers, 1811-1936 (Box 5, folders 11-29; Box 6, folders 1-18)

Incoming and outgoing letters for each family member, a military order, will and executors' accounts, land grant, passport, typed transcription of letters, and reminiscences. Documents are arranged chronologically with undated documents first under each individual family member except that family members with smaller amounts of materials are grouped together. The majority of the documents fall within the dates 1850-1930.

Series V: Ambrose Clarke Papers, 1796-1810 (Box 6, folders 19-22)

Receipts, correspondence and the shipping invoice for sailing vessel of Ambrose Clark, a Baltimore merchant who traded in foreign commodities in the late 18th and early 19th Century.

Series VI: Biographical and Genealogical Materials (Box 6, folders 23-27)

Newspaper clippings of obituaries and special family mementos, Governor Smallwood autograph, genealogies of the Philpot, Stewart and Buchanan families, inventory of property and other miscellaneous items. Arrangement is generally chronological with undated documents first.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Randall Beirne and Cameron Slack, 1988-1991.

Related Materials

MS 2004, Brune-Randall family papers, 1782-1972

Separated Materials

Catalog entry indicates a collection of glass plates, coins, and medals missing to date. Other photographic material was transferred to Graphics in 1974 and is now housed in PP 248.

Scope and Contents

The Philpot and Randall families share common ancestry as well as the distinction of being among some of the most influential political, business and civic-minded families in Baltimore City and County. The Randall-Philpot family papers span over 200 hundred years, with the earliest document dated 1726 and the latest 1936, although the bulk of the documents cover the mid to late 19th century.

The papers of John Philpot provide the majority of the documents in the collection. Although his life spans from 1801 through 1879, most of the documents in the collection cover only the years from 1820 through 1850. The rest of the collection contains a substantial number of letters received or written by Susan and Mary D. Philpot and numerous Randall family members. In addition to these letters there are a diary, poem, civil war documents, reminiscences, a land grant, genealogical materials and miscellaneous receipts in the papers of the Randall family.

John Philpot's papers include legal documents, personal and business correspondence, and receipts and accounts of his business dealings. His legal, civic and political activities during this period brought him into contact with the political affairs and influential citizens in Baltimore City and County before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Mr. Philpot as a practicing lawyer left papers from his law practice as well as personal and family legal documents. Within his papers is an array of legal documents representative of a legal practice in the early 19th century, including interrogatories, a civil complaint, case files of an insolvent debtor, a probate file, and various other court filings. John Philpot seems to have had a string of bad luck in the 1830s and his papers indicate outstanding debts generated a series of warrants for his arrest for bad debts. It is ironic that John Philpot was appointed Commissioner of Insolvent Debts for Baltimore County; among his papers are a series of notices to insolvent debtors. A certificate in the collection indicates that John Philpot was not admitted to the Bar of Maryland until 1837. There are also a number of wills of family members and friends and land deeds, surveys and leases of some of the property held at one time by the Philpot family, including Nicholson's Manor, Shoemaker Hall, Gunpowder Mills, Phoenix Manufacturing and Rockport, the family home. There are a series of manumission papers, dated 1836 issued by Stephen Brooke freeing two of his female slaves; bills of sale for Negro slaves, owned primarily by the Philpot family, are also included within the legal papers.

Among his business and personal papers, there are a representative sample of account ledgers with local Baltimore businessmen, including a boarding house bill and the other accounts listing the purchase of many household items and clothes. Undated incoming letters (probably around 1830) from his brother-in-law, the Reverend John Blanchard of St. John's Parish, discuss Episcopal church politics. Other incoming letters to John Philpot cover a variety of business affairs and political matters, including, among others, the election of Andrew Jackson, influence of Henry Clay, construction of the Erie Canal, nullification, National Bank question, the Nat Turner Rebellion, and southern attitudes during the period. Personal letters from his brother, Brian and his mother Elizabeth indicate that John was having financial problems sometime between 1834 and 1839. Miscellaneous memorabilia of John Philpot include his diploma awarding the B.A. degree, advertisements, notes and other miscellaneous materials and memorabilia. The documents cover only the period 1839-1843, but list an interesting series of legal, religious and classical editions of books popular at the time.

The remainders of the papers of the Philpot family included in the collection are those of Susan Stewart Philpot, John Philpot's wife and Mary D. Philpot, his daughter. Letters to Susan Philpot are from her sister Mary, her friend Mary Burkett, and her husband written to her when she was a young woman and newly-married. Her only outgoing letter is from her new home in Stamford to her friend Katherine Stedman, a native of St. Thomas. The letter indicates her close association with important officials on the Island of Bermuda, including the Governor. There is also a poem written to her when she was still unmarried, and a travel diary of her trip through Bermuda, Panama and Santa Cruz from 1827 through 1828 before she was married. Mary Philpot's correspondence from 1881 through 1882 is to female family members written while she was on an extensive tour of European cities, including Dresden, Munich, Venice, Rome, Naples, Paris, York and Inverness.

The remaining documents are the papers of the Randall family, the majority of which is correspondence generally covering a later period, 1860-1936. The papers of Daniel Randall, his brother and sister-in-law, Alexander and Elizabeth Blanchard Randall and their son Blanchard Randall are the more interesting and larger portions of the Randall family papers.

All outgoing correspondence from Daniel Randall is to his brother Alexander Randall of Annapolis. Daniel, as a paymaster in the Army, wrote from various army outposts including Tallahassee, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Fort Lincoln, Nebraska. His letters provide a picturesque description of the landscape, the Native American tribes and matters taking place in the settlement of these areas from 1826 to 1850.

Alexander Randall's letters to his wife Elizabeth Blanchard Randall cover a 20 year period beginning just before the Civil War in 1861. The content of the letters ranges from vivid personal accounts of the Baltimore Riot and the Civil War, to discussion of routine personal matters. There is a series of letters to Gerard Hague of the Gas Light Company, discussing the installation of artificial light in the City of Baltimore around 1880. Alexander Randall served as Attorney General of Maryland during the Civil War and in that capacity his papers include a letter signed by Vice Admiral of the Navy Daniel O. Porter with a copy of same to Gideon Welles, and military draft orders issued by Lincoln. There are documents dated 1864 from the U.S. Board of Claims indicating that Elizabeth and Alexander Randall will be compensated for slaves they owned who had enlisted in the U.S. Army. A land grant from the United States Government to Alexander Randall for property in Edwardsville, Illinois dated 1838 is included.

Elizabeth Blanchard Randall's correspondence includes letters to her husband at the beginning of the Civil War, numerous personal letters to and from family and friends throughout her life, including her sons, Wyatt and William Blanchard (W.B.) and grandson Blanchard. A typed transcription of letters written in 1884 about her extended European vacation includes descriptions of the ocean voyage and trips to London, Cambridge, Rome, Amiens, Rheims, and lastly Oxford University. There she and her son Wyatt, a young scientist, attended the annual meeting of the British Association, a scientific organization which has held annual conferences for scientists as well as lay persons since 1831. She describes the events and speeches of such famous scientists as Lord Kelvin, Professor Thomas Henry Huxley (grandfather of Aldous and Sir Julian Huxley) and Lord Salisbury, Chancellor of Oxford.

Blanchard Randall (1857-1942), son of Alexander Randall and Elizabeth Blanchard Randall, was a prominent Baltimore businessmen and philanthropist. Letters written to Blanchard Randall are from all over the globe and from illustrious businessmen and politicians as well as family members, including: Lee Pepper, U.S. Senator; Newton Baker, Secretary of War; Daniel Willard, President, B& O Railroad; and Charles Bonafant, President of Yale. The period of time is from 1891 through 1936 and the letters cover his business dealings, work with the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, and the construction of the Baltimore Museum of Art. There are also some interesting typewritten reminiscences of his childhood experiences of the Baltimore Riots of April 19, 1861, and his family's acquaintance with General Lee and Jefferson Davis.

The collection also includes lesser amounts of correspondence from various Randall, Brune and Stewart family members. These family members include John, brother to Alexander Randall, his sons Burton, Daniel and Wyatt and Blanchard's wife, Susan Brune Randall and Susan's father, Frederick W. Brune.

The Papers of Ambrose Clark are included in this collection. Mr. Clark was a Baltimore merchant who traded with the West Indies and Europe. These 18th Century documents include receipts, correspondence and shipping invoices of a sailing vessel. Ambrose Clark was the grandfather of Frederick William Brune and great grandfather of Susan Brune Randall.

Biographical materials include the Buchanan-Philpot-Stewart genealogies, family obituaries, and tributes to Randall family members. Other miscellaneous memorabilia include an autograph of Governor Smallwood and an inventory of property for Rebecca Nicholson.

Guide to the Philpot-Randall family papers
Under Revision
Iris Bierlein and Faye Haskins
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-19: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States