Virginia Historical Society
Department of Manuscripts and Archives
William Gray (1793-1873) Papers, 1819-1875
Mss1 G7952 a FA2
Description & Guide
Main Entry: Gray, William, 1793-1873. Title: Papers, 1819-1875. Size: ca. 4,000 items. Biographical Note: William Gray (1793-1873) was a prominent tobacco shipper and manufacturer associated with several firms in Manchester, Va. Born in Prince Edward County, Gray moved to Manchester (part of Chesterfield County incorporated into the City of Richmond in 1910), around 1810. In 1821, Gray became a partner in Gray & Pankey and, twelve years later, established his own firm, William Gray & Co. He directed the company’s operations until his death in 1873. Summary:
William Gray’s papers have been divided into two groups: those that relate to his personal life and those that deal with his tobacco businesses. In addition to his tobacco ventures, Gray was a director of the Bank of Virginia, a trustee for the Manchester Methodist Episcopal Church, a trustee for the town of Manchester, and a justice of the peace for Chesterfield County. Much of his personal correspondence concerns these subjects. Researchers should note that many of these letters from friends and family also concern tobacco and leasing of slaves for tobacco factories. It should also be noted that additional William Gray papers are located at the Valentine Museum in Richmond. A partial index to Gray’s personal letters appears below.
Other prominent or frequent correspondents include: Richmond attorney Arthur Alexander Morson, Randolph-Macon trustee and benefactor, D’Arcy Paul, and Philadelphia businessman and son-in-law, Osbourn Wattson. A letter of 15 August 1861 from William Gray’s nephew, John A. Garnett, concerns the 44th Virginia Infantry in Highland County; another of 30 September 1861 concerns the Cheat Mountain campaign; and a third of 19 January 1862 discusses camp life and desertions in Greenbrier County. Letters from James Gray discuss the financial panic of 1837 while letters of 15 and 20 September 1853 concern White Sulphur Springs and Hot Springs. Two 1864 letter from James Thomas Gray, Gray’s son, discuss prisoner exchanges and conditions at Point Lookout, Md. A letter of 11 April 1862 from another son, William Granville Gray, concerns the 21st Virginia Infantry, Co. F., and Turner Ashby.
Provenance: Gift of Robert B. Mayo in 1986. Restrictions: None.
Series 1: Correspondence of William Gray (1793-1873), Manchester, Va. (boxes 1-6)
Letters received by William Gray & Co. are typical of those written by factors; they acknowledge the receipt of tobacco shipments and of drafts on account and give the general market conditions as well as the status of the manufacturer’s brands. Many 1837 letters, especially those of Cornelius DuBois & Co., describe the financial panic of that year. An 1859 letter from the New York firm of Sawyer, Wallace & Co. discusses northern reaction to the capture and execution of John Brown.
Through the Gilliat houses of London and Liverpool, Gray’s tobacco reached markets in continental Europe and Africa. Because of this, Gilliat’s letters often discuss the international climate and its effect on the tobacco market. These letters are especially noteworthy during the 1861-1863 period, when they give a good assessment of English merchant opinion and reaction to secession, Lincoln’s call for troops, the blockade, and the Trent Affair. Occasionally, personal letters appear among this correspondence; in 1858, for example, Algernon Gilliat toured the United States and wrote Gray concerning his observations and reactions.
A 1 Jan. 1868 letter from Methodist minister James A. Riddick concerns Reconstruction and the Underwood convention. Another from Methodist minister, William B. Rowzie, describes conditions in Danville in the final days of the Civil War.
Boxes 1-6: letters, 1833-1873 (arranged alphabetically)
Series II: Gray & Pankey (Box 7)
In 1821, William Gray entered into partnership with his brother, James Gray, and Loring Young Pankey, in operating a tobacco shipping and manufacturing firm under the name Gray & Pankey. The company’s papers, filed in box 7, include letters, accounts, and miscellany. Several accounts pertain to the purchase of cotton. Miscellany includes shipping agreements and a power of attorney.
Box 7: letters, 1819-1827; accounts, 1819-1832; agreements and powers of attorney, 1819-1827
Series III: William Gray & Co. (Boxes 7-21)
The papers of William Gray & Co., which constitute the bulk of this collection, consist of letters, accounts, checks, tobacco circulars, prices-current and cash and tobacco receipt books. Letters, which are arranged alphabetically by year, are primarily from northern and European tobacco agents (or “factors”). Major factors include: William H. Gilliat and its successor John K. Gilliat & Co. (London and Liverpool), Cornelius DuBois & Co. (New York), and John Wilson & Co. (New York). A more extensive, although by no means complete, index of Gray’s correspondents appears below. Although primarily a shipper of tobacco, Gray was involved at various times in its manufacture, and there are some letters addressed to Samuel Hardgrove & Co., a manufacturing firm, during the 1837-1844 period. In 1856, Gray went into partnership with Joseph H. Harris to establish a tobacco stemmery in New Providence, Tennessee. Although Harris was killed two years later, Gray retained his ties to New Providence. There are letters addressed to Joseph H. Harris for the years 1856 to 1858. There is also a letter from D. W. Kennedy of the Northern Bank of Tennessee on 2 February 1858 which describes the murder of Gray’s partner, Joseph H. Harris, and subsequent lynching of the accused slave.
Financial records (boxes 14-18) include both accounts receivable from tobacco purchasers and accounts payable for tobacco and factory expenses. These are arranged chronologically. Cash books list deposits and withdrawals from the Bank of Virginia, 1845-1853, and the National Exchange Bank, 1865-1868. The tobacco receipt books of Joseph H. Harris & Co. contain only several entries and are undated, although they would be from the 1856-1858 period. Listings of prices-current, mostly from Liverpool, Mobile and New Orleans, contain market information on tobacco and other commodities, particularly cotton. Circulars are mostly from Liverpool and New York and pertain primarily to tobacco and cotton.
The folder of miscellany (box 21) contains several items of note. These include: an 1825 petition to establish a boarding house in Manchester, an 8134 order to Richmond’s City Sergeant, a bill of complaint for Howard & Lawrence v. Winchester’s executors, an insurance policy and financial statements of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia, report cards for two of Gray’s children from Randolph-Macon College (1859-1861 and 1870-1871), and an order to E. H. Ripley from Richmond Provost Marshal Frederick L. Manning (USA) on April 3, 1865.
Boxes 7-13: letters, 1833-1874 (alphabetically by year) Boxes 14-18: accounts, 1833-1874 (chronologically) Box 19: checks, 1833-1875 Box 20: cash book, 1845-1853; cash book, 1856-1868; 2 tobacco receipt books of Joseph H. Harris & Co. Box 20: prices-current:
Liverpool, 1836-1837, 1848-1852, 1854, 1858
Mobile, 1848-1849, 1853-1856, 1858-1859, 1870
New Orleans, 1833, 1836, 1838, 1840-1843, 1845, 1851-1860, 1866-1867, 1870-1872
St. Louis, 1871
Box 21: circulars, 1825-1873 Box 21: miscellany
A. Subject Index to Selected Correspondents of William Gray (Boxes 1-6)
Bank of VirginiaAtkinson, Thomas Pleasants
Harwood, William B.
Hubard, Robert Thruston (10 Feb. 1856 and 2 Dec. 1861)
EducationClopton, Maria G. (Foster) (Manchester School)
Davis, J. H.
Hanes, Garland Brown
Lefebvre, Hubert Pierre
McKim, William A.
Royall, T. E. (Montgomery, Ala.)
Salter, Gawin Lane Corbin
Smith, William Waugh
Wooldridge, Daniel S.
Emancipation/FreedmenGraves, Richard F. (1855)
Riddick, James Andrew (8 Aug. 1865 and 8 Sept. 1865)
Hubard, Robert Thruston (1866-1867 letters)
ManchesterScott, Robert Gourmain
Smith, Edward W.
Swan, George E. (Turnpike Co.)
Mayo, Rivan (free Negro)Brown, R. J.
Robinson (Walter G.) & Co. (28 Feb. 1855)
Flournoy, Richard West
Martin, William T.
MethodismBrown, Alexander Gustavus
Cooke, Philip St. George
Early Thomas Howard
Edward, John Ellis
Marshall, C. K.
Read, Charles Henry
Riddick, James Andrew
Rowzie, William Brookings
Randolph-Macon CollegeDuncan, James Armstrong
DuVal, Benjamin R.
Lambert, J. W.
Smith, William Andrew
Slaves, FugitiveCampbell, B. M.
Stiff, Lewis L.
Slaves, Hiring or Purchase ofBraxton, Corbin
Brown, J. T. (Howard’s Grove Hospital, 1864)
Claiborne, Herbert Augustine
Findlay, Alexander (22 Jan. 1851)
Gilliam, George W.
Hodsden, John G.
Nance, Thomas (concerns Maurice Langhorne)
Riddick, James Andrew (concerns Midlothian coal mines)
Somerville, Laura Anna (Gray)
Tyler, John P.
Walker, John Stewart
Wiglesworth, Robert L.
Word, C. P. and J. H.
Young, Joseph H.
Slaves, MiscellaneousCamel, Peter (Slave)
Woodson, Jacob (instructions for visiting slave)
Bolling, Susan M.
Carter, John C.
Crowder, John M.
Crowder, Thomas W.
Crowder, Thomas W., Jr.
Elam, William P. (also William P. Elam & Co.)
Garnett, John A.
Gray, James Henry
Gray, James Thomas
Gray, William Frederick
Gray, William Granville
Gray, William W.
Hubard, Robert T. 28 April 1863 - CSA regulations on tobacco
Lodge, Samuel P.
McGalsson, Marcus J.
Smith, Thomas (also, estate of Thomas Smith, Sr.)
Smith, Thomas (d. 1855)
Taylor, Jacquelin Plummer
Whig/Democratic politicsCheatham, Silas
Crane, Adonirum Judson
B. Index to selected Correspondents of William Gray & Co. (Boxes 7-13: arranged alphabetically by year)
George W. Abbot, Boston, Mass. (1845-1847)
Samuel L. Abbot & Co., Boston, Mass. (1835)
H. E. Beatty, Williamsport, Pa. (1845-1846, 1848) - concerns planking
Bell, Pace, Lavender & Co., New York, N.Y. (1856-1860)
Angus Belmont, New York, N.Y. (1846-1848, 1867)
J. R. Callender & Brothers, Glasgow, Scotland (1851-1852)
Thos. Callender & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland (1852-1854)
Callender Brothers, Liverpool, England (1853)
H. A. Clark, Farmville, Va. (1865, 1868)
Charles M. Connolly, New York, N.Y. (1845-1849, 1854-1855)
Craig & Maury, Liverpool, Eng. (1855-1856)
Cram, Cahoon & Co., Portland, Me. (1835-1836)
N. Cram & Co., Portland, Me. (1836)
J. R. Dailey, Monrovia, Liberia, (1868-1870, 1872)
Charles R. Danenhower & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. (1846-1848)
Davidson & Dodge, Georgetown, D. C. (1833-1835, 1837)
F. & A. H. Dodge, Georgetown, D. C. (1838-1844, 1846)
Cornelius DuBois & Co., New York, N.Y. (1833-1838)
DuBois & Vandevoort, New York, N.Y. (1846-1849)
David Dunlop, Peterburg, Va. (1858-1859)
J. W. Dunnington, Farmville, Va. (1857, 1865-1866)
R. e. Duvall, Georgetown, D. C. (1841-1842, 1844) - concerns planking
Fisher & Co., Boston, Ma. (1840-1843, 1845-1848, 1850, 1857)
John K. Gilliat & Co., London and Liverpool (1850-1874)
William H. Gilliat, London and Liverpool (1839, 1842-1845, 1848-1853)
Gwathmey, Forbes & Co., Mobile, Ala. (1855-, 1858, 1860)
Hagarty & Judein, Liverpool (1835-1837)
Hamilton, Young & Bush, Mobile, Ala. (1862, 1865)
Giles Harris, Owensboro, Ky. (1872-1873)
Joseph H. Harris & Co., New Providence, Tenn. (1856-1858)
Heald, Buckner & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. (1845-1848)
Heald, Woodward & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. (1837, 1841, 1844-1845)
Jacob Heald & Co., Baltimore, Md. (1837-1839, 1841-1842, 1845-1851, 1857-1861)
Hornberger & House, Clarksville, Tenn. (1858-1859)
J. H. Johnson, Montgomery, Ala. (1867) - concerns destruction of cotton
T. L. Lamoltz, Bremen (1837)
P. Lorrilard & Co., New York, N.Y. (1856-1860, 1866)
Maury Brothers, New York, N.Y. (1853-1854)
Rutson Maury, Liverpool, New Orleans, New York (1854-1857, 1859)
James Maury & Sons, Liverpool, England (1838-1839)
Mercer & Brother, Philadelphia, Pa. (1837-1840)
W. H. Miller, Alexandria, Va. (1833-1835, 1837)
Miller & Duvall, Georgetown, D. C. (1844-1845) - concerns planking
Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia, Richmond (1842) - concerns loss at warehouse
Norman & Courtney, Baltimore, Md. (1838-1839)
M. S. Norman, Baltimore, Md. (1845-1848)
Northern Bank of Tennessee, Clarksville (1858-1861)
John Stewart Oxley & Co., London and Liverpool (1866-1867)
James A. Patteson, New York, N.Y. (1858-1859)
Patteson, Adams & Co., New York, N.Y. (1853)
Patteson & Dortic, New York, N.Y. (1849-1850)
Patteson & Price, New York, N.Y. (1850-1852)
R. S. Paulett & Co., Farmville, Va. (1846, 1867, 1869-1870)
Thomas F. Pettus, New Providence, Tenn. (1865, 1867-1868, 1870-1873)
Thomas F. Pettus & Co., New Providence, Tenn. (1858-1861)
Pollard, Pettus & Co., New York, N.Y. (1870-1873)
Benjamin S. Rehnett, Charleston, S.C. (1844, 1846)
Walter G. Robinson & Co., New Orleans, La. (1852-1862) - also concerns cotton
Rogers & Co., New York, N.Y. (1837-1839, 1841, 1843)
Rose & Merrill, Baltimore, Md. (1841-1843)
John B. Roy, New Orleans, La. (1836-1837)
Ruger Bros., New York, N.Y. (1868-1869, 1871-1872) - ship brokers
Sawyer, Wallace & Co., New York, N.Y. (1859-1860)
C. S. Shepherd, New Orleans, La. (1863, 1870-1872)
John Smidt & Co., Louisville, Ky. (1857)
Benjamin R. Smith & Co., Charleston, S. C. (1833-1843)
J. M. Smith & Brother, Norfolk, VA. (1847-1849)
Smith and Rhett, Charleston, S.C. (1841-1842)
Smith, Fisher & Co., Norfolk, VA. (1841-1843, 1847)
William O. Smith, New York, N.Y. (1868, 1870-1871, 1873)
Southern Bank of Kentucky, Russellville (1855-1861)
William F. Speer, New York, N.Y. (1847-1848)
Stevens, Fisher & Co., Boston, Mass (1833-1836)
Benjamin F. Tyler, Newburgh, N.Y. (1847-1853) - concerns butter
Friedr M. Vietor Sohne, Bremen (1865-1867)
William Sidney Warwick, London (1833-1836)
Warwick & Clagett, London (1836-1837)
Daniel Wheeler & Co., Mobile, Ala. (1856-1858, 1860, 1862-1865, 1867-1868, 1870-1874) - also concerns cotton
Daniel Wheeler & Sons, New Orleans, La. (1870-1871)
Wheeler & Shepherd, New Orleans, La. (1857-1860, 1865-1870) - also concerns cotton
A. & B. C. Wherry, Petersburg, Va. (1836-1838, 1840)
John Wilson & Co., New York, N.Y. (1837-1848)