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Isaac Bell papers, 1787-1940 

Bell, Isaac, 1768-1860
Phys. Desc: 
0.5 linear feet (0.5 linear feet 1 box)
Call Number: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Isaac Bell, an East India merchant, was born in Stamford CT in 1768. His Loyalist family brought him to New York City in 1776 and to St John, New Brunswick in Canada for the duration of the Revolutionary War. He entered the shipping business, returned to New York in 1792 and sailed as supercargo in 1798 on the first of three voyages to China which would secure his fortune. He was associated in business with Archibald Gracie and with Moses, Nehemiah, and Fitch Rogers. His fortune later declined due to both the Panic of 1837 and to disastrous fires. He died in 1860.

Scope and Contents

There is a letterbook/accountbook of 347 p., 1790-1856, containing 466 draft copies of his commercial and social correspondence with shipping agents in Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Germany, China, Canada, as well as in the United States. The correspondence concerns Bell's business arrangements, the various cargos he shipped and their disposal, political affairs affecting the shipping trade, laws and treaties of various countries to be dealt with, taxes, embargoes, piracy, threats of war, and other pertinent events A second account book of 84 p. (many are blank), 1787-1852, for the Ship Stephania and others contains ships' records for 1799 to 1828 and miscellaneous accounts up to 1857. There is a one volume carbon typescript (113 p.) of genealogical notes and reminiscences by Gordon Knox Bell (Regent of the University of the State of New York and grandson of Isaac Bell) and others, ca.1940. There is also an essay and lists of the residents of Greenwich Street (including the Bell and Rogers families) by Elizur Yale Smith with related correspondence, 1940.