Thomas Willing

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Burke, James (2007). American Connections: The Founding Fathers. Networked . New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. pp.  157–58. ISBN   978-0-7432-8226-0. richest man america 1800.</ref>


Early life

Thomas Willing was born in Philadelphia, the son of Charles Willing (1710–1754), who twice served as mayor of Philadelphia, and Anne Shippen (1710-1791), granddaughter of Edward Shippen, who was the second mayor of Philadelphia. His brother, James Willing, was a Philadelphia merchant who later served as a representative of the Continental Congress and led a 1778 military expedition to raid holdings of British loyalists in Natchez, Mississippi. [3]

Thomas completed preparatory studies in Bath, England, then studied law in London at the Inner Temple. [4]


In 1749, after studying in England, he returned to Philadelphia, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits in partnership with Robert Morris. [5] [6] They established the firm Willing, Morris and Company in 1757, which exported flour, lumber and tobacco to Europe while importing sugar, rum, molasses, and slaves from the West Indies and Africa. [7] Their partnership continued until 1793. [5]

He was elected to the revived American Philosophical Society in 1768. [8]

Political career

A member of the common council in 1755, he became an alderman in 1759, associate justice of the city court on October 2, 1759, and then justice of the court of common pleas February 28, 1761. Willing then became Mayor of Philadelphia in 1763. In 1767, the Pennsylvania Assembly, with Governor Thomas Penn's assent, had authorized a Supreme Court justice (always a lawyer) to sit with local justices of the peace (judges of county courts, but laymen) in a system of Nisi Prius courts. Governor Penn appointed two new Supreme Court justices, John Lawrence and Thomas Willing. Willing served until 1767, the last under the colonial government. [9] :52 [5]

A member of the Committee of Correspondence in 1774 and of the Committee of Safety in 1775, he served in the Continental Congress. In 1775 and 1776 he voted against the Declaration of Independence, [10] but later subscribed £5,000 to supply the revolutionary cause. [5]


After the war, he became president of the Bank of North America (1781–1791), preceding John Nixon, and then the first president of the First Bank of the United States from 1791 to 1807. During his tenure there he became the richest man in America. Burke, James (2007). American Connections: The Founding Fathers. Networked . New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. pp.  157–58. ISBN   978-0-7432-8226-0. richest man america 1800.</ref>

In August 1807, he suffered a slight stroke, and he resigned for health reasons as president of the bank in November 1807. [9] :189 [11]

Personal life

Anne McCall Willing and William Shippen Willing, by Charles Willson Peale Mrs. Thomas Willing (Ann McCall) and Her Son William Shippen Willing.jpg
Anne McCall Willing and William Shippen Willing, by Charles Willson Peale
Portrait of Willing, by Charles Willson Peale Charles Willson Peale - Portrait of Thomas Willing.jpg
Portrait of Willing, by Charles Willson Peale

In 1763, Willing married Anne McCall (1745–1781), daughter of Samuel McCall (1721–1762) and Anne Searle (1724–1757). Together, they had thirteen children, including: [5]

Willing died in 1821 in Philadelphia, where he is interred in Christ Church Burial Ground. [13]


Willing was the great-uncle of John Brown Francis (1791–1864), who was a governor and United States Senator from Rhode Island. [14] [15]

Willing was also the grandfather of Ann Louisa Bingham (b. 1782), [16] who married Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton (1774–1848), in 1798, and Maria Matilda Bingham (1783–1849), who was briefly married to Jacques Alexandre, Comte de Tilly, a French aristocrat and later married her sister's brother-in-law, Henry Baring (1777–1848), until their divorce in 1824. Maria later married the Marquis de Blaisel in 1826.[ citation needed ] Their brother, and Willing's grandson, William Bingham (1800–1852) married Marie-Charlotte Chartier de Lotbiniere (1805–1866), the second of the three daughters and heiresses of Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière by his second wife Mary, daughter of Captain John Munro, in 1822. [5]

See also

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  1. Horle, Craig (2005). Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania vol. 3. Harrisburg, Pa.: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. pp. 1427–1457. ISBN   0966779452.
  2. "WILLING, Thomas, (1731–1821)". Biographical Information of the United States Congress. US Congress. June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  3. The American Monthly Magazine. National Society. 1902. pp. 109–.
  4. "Thomas Willing (1731–1821), University of Pennsylvania University Archives". University of Pennsylvania . Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Balch, Thomas Willing (January 1, 1922). Thomas Willing of Philadelphia (1731–1821). The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  6. Wright, Robert E. "Thomas Wllling (1731–1821): Philadelphia Financier and Forgoten Founding Father". Biographical Directory of Early Pennsylvania Legislatures Project. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  7. "Thomas Willing". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  8. Bell, Whitfield J., and Charles Greifenstein, Jr. Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society. 3 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1997, I: 32, 33, 199, III: 27, 117–23, 118, 179.
  9. 1 2 Konkle, Burton Alva (1937). Thomas Willing and the First American Financial System. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  10. "Thomas Willing |". Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  11. Wright, R. E. (1996). "Thomas Willing (1731–1821): Philadelphia Financier and Forgotten Founding Father". Pennsylvania History. 63 (4): 525–560. JSTOR   27773931.
  12. ALBERTS, ROBERT C (1969). The Golden Voyage . Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp.  435.
  13. Society, Sons of the Revolution Pennsylvania (1898). Decennial Register of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution: 1888–1898. F. B. Lippincott. p.  44 . Retrieved February 11, 2017. Thomas Willing (1731–1821).
  14. "FRANCIS, John Brown – Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress . Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  15. "Guide to the Francis Family Papers 1783–1901 (bulk 1783–1838)" (PDF). Rhode Island Historical Society. 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  16. "Lady Ashburton". Maine Memory Network.


  • Wright, Robert E. "Thomas Willing (1731–1821): Philadelphia Financier and Forgotten Founding Father". Pennsylvania History, 63 (Autumn 1996): 525–60.

Further reading

Thomas Willing
Thomas Willing by John Wollaston (1706-1805).jpg
President of First Bank of the United States
In office
October 25, 1791 November 10, 1807
Preceded by
Mayor of Philadelphia
Succeeded by
Thomas Lawrence (II)