Shipley, Joseph, 1795-1867.

Birth 1795
Death 1867

Biographical notes:

Joseph Shipley of Wilmington, Del., and Liverpool, England, was a merchant and banker and a partner in the Anglo-American banking houses later known as Brown Brothers & Company and Brown, Shipley & Company.

Joseph Shipley was born in Wilmington, Del., on December 4, 1795. His great-grandfather, William Shipley, had come to Philadelphia from Leicestershire in 1725. In 1735 he settled in Wilmington. His only son, Thomas Shipley, purchased a part of the Brandywine water power and established the flour mills that were the foundation of the family fortune.

Joseph Shipley's business career began in 1813 in the Philadelphia counting house of his cousin, Samuel Canby, Jr. In 1819 he went to Liverpool as an agent for John Welsh, a Philadelphia merchant. By 1822 the firm of Shipley, Welsh & Company was active in financing Anglo-American trade, particularly the shipment of cotton to England. Shipley attained a high reputation, which resulted in his being offered a partnership in the house of William & James Brown & Co. in 1826.

Alexander Brown, the father of Sir William and James Brown, had established Alexander Brown & Sons in Baltimore in 1800. Branches were established as William & James Brown & Co. in Liverpool in 1810, John A. Brown & Co. in Philadelphia in 1818, and Brown Brothers & Co. in New York in 1825. William Brown was in poor health, and Shipley handled most of the day-to-day management of the Liverpool office. He was rewarded by being made a partner of all four Brown firms in 1836. In recognition of his services during the Panic of 1837, particularly in negotiations with the Bank of England that saved the credit of the firm, the Liverpool office was renamed Brown, Shipley & Co. in 1839. Brown Brothers emerged from the crisis as one of the strongest Anglo-American banking houses, rivalled only by the Barings.

Joseph Shipley retired in 1850 and returned to Delaware, where he constructed a country estate, Rockwood, in Brandywine Hundred north of Wilmington. He resided there until his death on May 9, 1867.

From the description of Papers, 1741-1898 [photoprints and microfilm]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122333726


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Ark ID:


  • Hicksites
  • Panic of 1837
  • Cotton trade
  • Society of Friends
  • Commerce
  • Bankers
  • International finance
  • Merchant banks
  • Grain trade
  • Port Royal (S.C.) Expedition, 1861
  • Flour and feed trade
  • Banks and banking
  • Banks and banking, International--19th century
  • Quakers
  • Merchants
  • International trade


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  • Polynesia (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Liverpool (England) (as recorded)
  • Tahiti (as recorded)
  • Delaware (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)