Skip to main content

Levy family (New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore) Papers

Identifier: P-120

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of the following members of the Levy family: Moses Levy (1665-1728), two legal documents regarding actions taken in the Mayor's Court of New York (1710-1711), and photocopies of five miscellaneous personal items (1717-1720); his sons Nathan (1704-1753) and Isaac (1706-1777) Levy, a co-signed receipt (1739); his son, Samson Levy (1722-1781), a letter to his (Samson's) son Moses Levy (1776), a signature on a document renouncing allegiance to King George III, also signed by his son, Moses (1778), and the accounts of his estate (1781-1789); his son, Benjamin Levy (1726-1802), Continental currency signed by B. Levy (1776-1777), a photostat of a personal letter to Major Horatio Gates (1775) [appears in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, vol. 25, p. 143], a autograph personal letter to Robert Morris (1776), and a letter concerning a debt (1804); his grandson, Asher Levy (1756-1785), his will; his grandson, Moses Levy (1756-1826), a militia document signed by Levy as secretary (1776), twelve miscellaneous items reflecting Levy's legal career (1785-1819), a photostat of Levy's picture, thirteen personal items including stock certificates from the Pennsylvania Property Company signed by Robert Morris and Thomas Fitzsimons (1794-1826), a list of special jury trials, December term 1797, in which Moses Levy and his brother, Samson Jr., are among the attorneys listed, and among whom the litigants are a Nones and a Moses (1797), correspondence regarding a lawsuit (1800), and Moses' (1756-1826) handwritten will with codicils (1825); Samson Levy, Jr. (1764-1831), two items relating to legal matters (1799, 1801), and a document admitting James Madison Porter to the bar (1813); Nathan Levy (1759-1846), a customs document signed by Nathan Levy as U.S. consul on Saint Thomas (1835); Daniel Levy (1766-1844), a land deed (1796).

Includes former P-123, P-127, P-563, & P-567


  • 1710-1835


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Moses Raphael Levy was born in Niedersachsen, Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany in 1665. He and his first wife, Richea (Rycha) Michaels (1667-1716), had five children, Bilhah (Abigail) Franks, (1696–1756), Asher (1699-1742), Nathan (1704-1753), Isaac (1706-1777), and Michael (born 1709). After Richea died in 1716, Moses married Grace Mears in 1718 and together they had seven children, Rachel Franks Seixas (1719-1797), Miriam Hart (1720-1748), Esther (Hetty) Hart (1721-1785), Samson (1722-1781), Hannah (Hindlah) Isaacs (1723-1751), Benjamin (1726-1802), and Joseph (1728-1772). Moses arrived in New York from England in 1695 where he became a successful merchant with a fleet of trading ships, a land owner and as a successful real estate investor. He was made a freeman in New York in 1695, enabling him to vote and own land. He was influential in establishing the Jewish community in New York, served as the president of Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation in the colonies, and he and his wife contributed to the building of the first synagogue in North America, consecrated on Mill Street in 1730. When Moses died at the age of 63 in 1728, he was considered one of New York's wealthiest citizens. He was buried at Chatham Square in New York, the oldest Jewish cemetery in America.

Moses' sons and grandsons were mainly merchants in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, although several also had business dealings in the southern colonies and the Caribbean islands. Benjamin and Samson Levy both signed the Non-Importation Agreement of 1765, aimed at the repeal of the British Stamp Act. Benjamin was one of the authorized signers of bills of credit during the American Revolutionary War. Moses Levy (1756-1826) and his brother Samson Levy, Jr. (1764-1831) were both prominent lawyers in Philadelphia.


1 Manuscript Boxes

0.25 Linear Feet


This collection contains the legal and personal papers of several generations of the Levy family, including Moses Levy (1665-1728); Moses' sons Nathan Levy (1704-1753), Isaac Levy (1706-1777), Samson Levy (1722-1781), and Benjamin Levy (1726-1802); Samson's sons Moses Levy (1756-1826), Samson Levy, Jr. (1764-1831), and Daniel Levy (1766-1844); Isaac's son Asher Levy (1756-1785); and Benjamin's son Nathan Levy (1759-1846). Materials include business and property records, a letter of renunciation of allegiance to King George III during the American Revolution, correspondence, Continental currency, and wills.


This collection has been arranged chronologically by the date of birth of each individual, then alphabetically by folder contents.

Acquisition Note

Gift, in part, of the Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang Foundation in 1979.

Gift, in part, of Yosef Goldman in 1984.

Digitization Note

Collection was digitized in its entirety by Adam Matthew Digital in 2010. The digitized material has been made available for research by the American Jewish Historical Society, on the folder level, in 2016.

Related Material

The American Jewish Historical Society Library and Archives have numerous materials related to Jews in Colonial America, including books and archival collections. Some of these collections include materials directly related to the Levy family and some relate to families and congregations with which the Levy family was involved. These include:

Aaron Lopez Papers, P-11

Seixas Family Papers, P-60

Jacques Judah Lyons Papers, P-15

Papers of the Gomez Family, P-62

Papers of Uriah Phillips Levy, P-43

Papers of the Franks Family, P-142

Records of Congregation Shearith Israel, I-4

Records of Congregation Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia, Pa.), I-26

Guide to the Levy family (New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore) Papers, 1710-1835 P-120
Finding aid created by marc2ead_ajhs.xsl
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-10-19: Container list added. Finding aid encoding revised. Historical Note, Arrangement note and Related Material note added. Rachel S. Harrison
  • November 2016: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • April, June 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States