Cumpston Research


Robert Morris Promissory Note, Used As Evidence In His Bankruptcy Trial


Financier of the Revolution forced into bankruptcy court: "Sixty days after date, I promise to pay unto Mr. Mathias Kurlin Junr or Order Thirteen Hundred & forty six Dolls & Sixty Seven Cents for value recd.”
Robert Morris. Autograph Document Signed, December 12, 1794.

Inventory # 20892 $4,500

On the document's verso is a note reading "Exhibited to us under the commission against Robert Morris, Philadelphia, 15th October 1801,"

Signed by John Hollowell and Thomas Cumpston, commissioners appointed to oversee the bankruptcy proceedings after Morris had languished in debtor's prison for three years.

Historical Background:

Robert Morris (1734-1806), signer of the Declaration of Independence, merchant and land speculator, is best known for his role as financier for the Continental Congress. With the national government virtually bankrupt, Morris risked his own personal fortune by purchasing supplies for the army, pressuring the states for cash contributions and securing a major French loan to finance the Bank of North America. He spent his remaining years in various public positions, including senator of Pennsylvania. Morris speculated extensively in Western land after the war, forming the North American Land Co. with James Greenleaf and Jonathan Nicholson. Soon after, however, the land market collapsed and Morris was ruined. The final blow came in 1798, when a minor creditor’s claim sent him to the Philadelphia debtor’s prison. George Washington, a close and long-time friend, could have pardoned Morris, but he was wary of setting a precedent of pardoning friends, though Morris’ services during the Revolutionary War clearly would have justified it. Instead, Washington showed his personal support by dining with Morris in prison, where the latter remained for three years until his wife was able to bail him out.

Will of PRESTON, SARAH. City of Phila. Widow. November 14, 1800. January 24, 1803. 1.68.
All estate to Jane Harrison of Philadelphia, spinster.
Exec:  Thomas Cumpston of Philadelphia, merchant.
Wit: Peter Lohra, John Rishard, Elizth. Smart.

ROBERTS, MICHAEL. City of Phila. Merchant. Proved November 13, 1804. 1.257.
Estate to be divided, according to the Laws of Penna. amongst his wife and children.
Exec. to be guardians of his children, names not given.
Exec: Thomas Cumpston, mercht. of Philadelphia, Joseph Williams of the
Bank of U.S. and wife Francis Roberts.
Wit: Grace Woodruff, Philip Fister.
Joseph Mort of Philadelphia, gentleman, affirmed.
Wills: Abstracts, Book 1 - Part A: 1802 - 1804: Philadelphia Co, PA

Further information about Thomas Cumpston.

 54. An act incorporating the Magdalen Society, in the city of Philadelphia.
 Whereas, for the purpose of mesiorating the distressed condition of those unhappy females, who have been reduced from the paths of virtue and are desirous of returning to a life of rectitude,
History: 1801-1803: Genealogical Data contained in the Statutes at Large, Commonwealth of PA
Cumpston, Thomas 1802-54

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