MG 238 - Maclay, William Collection

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Scope and Content

The collection contains accounts, books of expenditures, invoices and receipts, legal documents, personal correspondence, and biographical research. Most of the papers deal with bills and receipts following William Maclay's death in 1804 and the settlement of his estate. The items also reflect the transition from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars.

One letter in the correspondence series written by William Maclay on January 18, 1804, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Simon Snyder, informs him that he was giving five acres of land to the Commonwealth in order that houses could be built for the representatives while they were conducting legislative business in Harrisburg.

The last will and testament of William Maclay is also included in the collection.

The collection has extensive biographical information on William Maclay and his mansion on Front Street in the form of a reprint from the Northumberland County Historical Society of "The Life of William Maclay" by Heber G. Gearhart, a research paper by Gerald Shannon, and newspaper columns by Paul Beers.


William Maclay was born in Chester County in 1737 and died in Harrisburg on April 16, 1804. He is best known for being elected the first United States Senator from Pennsylvania, but he was also a soldier, surveyor, land agent, land owner, as well as a statesman. He was married to Mary McClure Harris, daughter of John Harris, founder of Harrisburg, and laid out the town for his father-in-law in the spring of 1785. He built a stone mansion along the Susquehanna River on the corner of his farm north of the original limits of the borough. His home is now owned by the Pennsylvania Bar Association located on the corner of Front and South Streets.

Date(s): 1797-1970

Extent: 1 box, 13 folders, 112 enclosures