Old Rights Warrant to First Purchaser Humphrey Morrey

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William Penn granted Old Rights Warrant D-69-63 on “23 Fifth Month [July] 1683” to Humphrey Morrey (circa 1650–1716), a prominent Quaker slave owner residing in New York, for 250 acres of land in Philadelphia County. As a First Purchaser, Morrey also received three Philadelphia town lots. Within two years, by August 1685, he had acquired several additional town lots and erected a large timber frame house with brick chimneys on Chestnut Street. In 1685, he was appointed a justice of the peace and two years later chosen a delegate to the Pennsylvania Assembly. In 1688, Morrey purchased 350 acres of rural land, a bank lot opposite his Chestnut Street residence and, on December 15, 1689/90, a city lot depicted in Survey D-69-80.

After Penn had returned to England, Acting Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Lloyd issued a charter on March 20, 1691, incorporating Philadelphia, which contained provisions for appointing a mayor, recorder, sheriff, alderman, and councilors. Under this charter, Morrey was appointed Philadelphia’s first mayor and prominent merchants who tended to be members of the anti-proprietary faction assumed the other offices. The incorporated government may have been suspended by the new royal governor, Benjamin Fletcher, in 1692 after King William revoked Penn’s governorship, or subsequently by William Penn after control of the Province was restored to him two years later. This form of government was no longer functioning by 1701 when Penn issued a new city charter under which he appointed Edward Shippen as mayor.

Beginning in 1702, the Common Council of Philadelphia elected the mayor from among its members. The Provincial Assembly abolished the city government in 1776 and a new charter granted by an Act of the Assembly on March 11, 1789, resumed the earlier practice of electing a mayor by and among the council members. In 1826, the council was given the right to elect the mayor from the city’s entirte citizenry. In 1839, the citizens won the right to directly elect their mayor.

The original warrants for Humphrey Morrey’s Philadelphia city and county land grants are indexed in the Philadelphia Old Rights, 1682–1745, series 17.79, and recorded among the Original (Loose) Surveys, 1662–present, series 17.112, in the Records of the Land Office, Record Group 17, safeguarded by the Pennsylvania State Archives.