300th Reunion

Biddle Family History and Timeline

1633

William & Sarah Biddle

  • William Biddle (1633-1711) and wife Sarah (1634-1709) were early members of the Religious Society of Friends in England along with George Fox, William Penn, and others. William helped develop detailed plans for the eventual proprietary colony of West Jersey that included provisions for governing by the people, an improved judiciary system, reforms in land ownership, and freedom of religion. William 1st, as he was later known, Sarah, and their two children immigrated to Burlington in 1681, where he served as a judge, assemblyman, member of the Governor’s Council, Proprietor, and a leader of his Quaker religion. Two of his grandchildren, William III and John, brought the Biddle family to Philadelphia in the early 1700’s.

1737

Owen Biddle

  • Owen Biddle (1737-1799) son of John Biddle (1707-1789) was a clockmaker, astronomer, member of the American Philosophical Society, and member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. In June 1777, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Forage under his brother Clement and was charged with finding supplies for the revolutionary forces. In 1794, he was a founder of Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

1738

Edward Biddle

  • Edward Biddle (1738-1779) served in the provincial forces during the French and Indian War. He later practiced law in Reading and was a member of the First Continental Congress and speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly.

1740

Colonel Clement Biddle

  • Colonel Clement Biddle (1740-1814) fought in the Battle of Brandywine, was quartermaster general and a close advisor to General George Washington. His admiration for the General was such that he named one of his sons George Washington Biddle.

1745

Charles Biddle

  • Charles Biddle (1745-1821), father of Nicholas and James, was a friend to Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, who dueled with Alexander Hamilton. Letters from Burr to Biddle shortly after the duel are housed in the Andalusia archives. He served as the Vice President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania during Franklin’s presidency of that body.

1750

Captain Nicholas Biddle

  • Captain Nicholas Biddle (1750 -1778), brother of Charles and uncle of Nicholas and James, was one of the first five ship captains appointed to the Continental Navy. In 1776, he was named Captain of the USS Randolph. On March 7, 1778, Biddle died in an explosion on the Randolph when engaged with the HMS Yarmouth near Barbados. Throughout history, four Navy ships have been named in honor of Captain Biddle.

1774

Owen Biddle Jr.

  • Owen Biddle Jr. (1774-1806) was an architect and master builder. He was a member of the Carpenters Company of Philadelphia and published the handbook The Young Carpenters Assistant in 1805, which was one of the earliest books on architecture ever published in the United States. He designed and built the Arch Street Quaker Meeting House in Philadelphia.

1783

Commodore James Biddle

  • James Biddle (1783-1848), an older brother of financier Nicholas Biddle, served in the U.S. Navy for 48 years. The Commodore’s service spanned from naval officer to international diplomat. As a midshipman and member of the crew of the ship Philadelphia, Biddle was captured off Tripoli and imprisoned by the Barbary pirates for 19 months. Later he successfully claimed the Oregon Country for the United States, and along with David Offly, negotiated and concluded a trade treaty with Turkey in the 1820s.
  • In 1845, the Commodore exchanged ratifications of the Treaty of Wanghia which was the first trade treaty between the United States and China. With the backing of two warships, he then attempted to extract a similar treaty from Japan, but was ultimately unsuccessful. As a result of his efforts, Commodore Matthew Perry used four warships to successfully open trade with Japan seven years later.
  • Biddle was instrumental in establishing organized study for Midshipmen in the 1830s. The Philadelphia Naval School in Philadelphia became the precursor to the U.S. Naval Academy.

1786

Nicholas Biddle

  • Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844) is the patriarch of Andalusia who made it into the Greek Revival home so well-known today. In 1811, Nicholas married John and Margaret Craig’s daughter, Jane, acquring Andalusia from her family’s estate in 1814. Nicholas was a writer, poet, planner of an expanded Andalusia, and an experimental farmer. History may best remember him as a master of finance and a political adversary to President Andrew Jackson.
  • Nicholas, a child prodigy, graduated as valedictorian of his class at Princeton at age 15. While still a teenager, he served as secretary to the U.S. minister to Napoleonic France, working on the financial details of the Louisiana Purchase. Later, he was secretary to James Monroe, the U.S. minister in Britain and future president. He prepared the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition for publication and was editor of a magazine called Port-Folio. Biddle served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1810 and the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1814. He originated a bill favoring public education almost 25 years before the adoption of the Pennsylvania common-school system.
  • Although he was admitted to the bar, Nicholas was most interested in banking and the economy. In 1822, at age 37, Nicholas was selected as President of the Second Bank of the United States. Nicholas was a master of finance with vision, engaging in techniques of central banking by controlling the nation’s money supply, regulating interest rates, lending to state banks, and acting as the government’s fiscal agent. He rescued troubled state banks and restrained state banks from excessive lending. His ideas laid the groundwork for the modern-day Federal Reserve Bank.
  • In 1840, Nicholas chose Andalusia as his year-round residence where he remained until his death at age 58.

1787

Charles Biddle

  • In 1835, Charles Biddle (1787-1836), Nicholas Biddle’s brother, was asked by his close personal and political friend President Andrew Jackson to investigate trade routes across Central America and the Isthmus of Panama. In Bogota the following year, he obtained a concession of the right to navigate the Cruces River and to construct a railroad, or a macadamized road, to Panama as well as the exclusive right to steam navigation on the Magdalena River. In 1846, Charles Biddle’s son, James Stokes Biddle (1817-1900) married Nicholas and Jane Craig Biddle’s daughter, Meta (1825-1913).

1790

Major Thomas Biddle

  • Nicholas Biddle’s brother Thomas Biddle (1790-1831) , a distinguished War of 1812 veteran, dueled with Congressman Spencer Pettis on Bloody Island in the Mississippi River near St. Loius in 1831.. The disagreement began when Thomas Biddle took exception to Pettis’s remarks attacking the Second Bank of the United States, of which Nicholas was the president. Pettis challenged Biddle to a duel. Biddle accepted and stipulated that the distance be at five paces. Both men were fatally wounded and were buried with honors and eulogized as choosing “death to avoid dishonor.”

1792

Major John Biddle

  • Nicholas Biddle’s brother John Biddle (1792-1859) served in the United States Army during the War of 1812. He spent most of the war in the Niagara Frontier as an aid to General Winfield Scott. After the war, he commanded Fort Shelby in Detroit and became register of the land at Detroit. In 1827, he was elected mayor of Detroit and later elected to represent the Michigan Territory in the U.S. House of Representatives. Grandson John (1859-1936), a son of William Shepard Biddle (1830-1901), became Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Great-grandson, William Shepard Biddle III (1900-1981), attended West Point and became a Major General in the Army.

1796

Edward Biddle

  • Edward Biddle (1796-1859), cousin to Nicholas Biddle, was born in Nova Scotia and settled in Mackinac Island, Michigan around 1820, becoming a successful fur trader. He and his wife, Agatha (1797-1873), a member of the Odawa tribe had close business ties to the American Fur Company established by John Jacob Astor. The Biddle House, thought to be the oldest on Mackinac Island, is a contributing resource to the island’s status as a National Historic Landmark.

1796

Richard Biddle

  • Richard Biddle (1796-1847), youngest brother of Nicholas Biddle, volunteered in the Washington Guards during the War of 1812. He was admitted to the bar in 1817 and practiced law in Pittsburgh. Richard lived in England from 1827-1832 and published works on discovery and travel including “The Life of Sebastian Cabot”. He served in the U.S. Congress from 1837-1841.

1816

William Canby Biddle

  • William Canby Biddle (1816-1887) and his brother Robert Biddle (1814-1902), grandsons of Owen Biddle Sr., were two of the founders of Riverton, New Jersey in 1851, the first totally planned residential community in America.

1817

Henry Jonathan Biddle

  • Henry Jonathan Biddle (1817-1862) attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of Brigadier General George MCall during the Civil War. Severely wounded on June 30, 1862 at the Battle of Glendale, Virginia, he was taken to the Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond where he died on July 20. In 1865, his remains were exhumed and returned to his family in Philadelphia where he was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery. In 1867, his wife, Mary Baird Biddle (1829-1900), seed funded Biddle University in Charlotte, North Carolina, a school to educate freed Black men, today called Johnson C. Smith University.

1822

Chapman Biddle

  • Chapman Biddle (1822-1880) commanded the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division of the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. He received a head wound on Seminary Ridge, received treatment on the battlefield, and immediately returned to fight with his men. An attorney, he later served as general counsel of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

1823

Judge Craig Biddle

  • Son of Nicholas and Jane, Craig Biddle (1823-1910), he served during the Civil War on the staffs of General Robert Patterson and Governor Andrew G. Curtin. Craig was seated on the platform when President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. He was a judge, a gentleman farmer, and caretaker of Andalusia, where he lived with his sisters Adèle (1828-1909) and Jane (1830-1915).

1844

Charles Miller Biddle Sr.

  • Charles Miller Biddle, Sr. (1844-1922) was head of the Biddle Hardware Company in Philadelphia which served as a distributor of hardware supplies throughout the United States. He was, for many years, a director of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Treasurer of Swarthmore College. He also served as a director of the United States Centennial International Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876.

1853

General William Phillips Biddle

  • General William Phillips Biddle (1853-1923) commanded a Marine Corp detachment aboard the USS Olympia, on which he served during the Spanish-American War, and was with Admiral George Dewey at the Battle on Manila Bay. General Biddle, who served 38 years in the Marine Corps, was the 11th Commandant of the Marines from 1911-1914. The USS William P. Biddle is named in his honor.

1862

Henry Jonathan Biddle Jr.

  • Henry Jonathan Biddle Jr. (1862-1928), a geologist, engineer, and naturalist, received a geology degree from Yale University. He was a son of Captain Henry J. Biddle (1817-1862), who died during the Civil just two months after Henry Jr.’s birth.
  • Henry Jonathan Biddle Jr. served as Director of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1881, he was informally attached to John Wesley Powell’s survey of the Zuni Pueblos, eventually settling in the Pacific Northwest. In 1915, he acquired Beacon Rock to save it from demolition. At 848 feet, it is one of the most prominent geological features in the Columbia Gorge and was first described by Lewis and Clark on the Voyage of Discovery in 1805. An avid hiker, Biddle created a trail to the top of Beacon Rock, now known as Biddle Trail; Biddle Butte, also owned by Henry J. Biddle, is nearby. After his death in 1928, Biddle’s children gave Beacon Rock to the state of Washington as a public park.

1864

Letitia Glenn Biddle

  • Wife of Charles Biddle (1857-1923), Letitia Glenn Biddle (1864-1950) grew up in Baltimore and was a founding member of the Garden Club of America. In 1913, Letitia and several other women met in the Billiard Room at Andalusia to draft the Constitution for the Garden Club of America. Letitia also greatly influenced the gardens at Andalusia. Arriving as a new bride in 1888, she noted in her journal that the garden contained mostly vegetables with only a few flowers. Thus, she worked to ensure that more flowers were planted and the grounds beautified, beginning with the area that housed the Graperies before they were destroyed in a hailstorm a decade earlier.

1869

Ellen Biddle Shipman

  • Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869-1950), an early 20th-century landscape designer, was the daughter of Colonel James Biddle (1832-1910) and Ellen McGowan Biddle (1841-1922). She spent her childhood in Texas and the Arizona Territory, where her father, a career Army officer, was stationed. Ellen’s two brothers, David Harmony Biddle (1867-1949) and Nicholas Biddle (1878-1923) also served in the Army. Nicholas Biddle was a financier who managed the estate of John Jacob Astor IV after Astor’s death on the Titanic. Ellen’s mother wrote of her experiences on the western frontier in “Remembrances of a Soldier’s Wife”. Influenced by English designer Gertrude Jekyll, some of Mrs. Shipman’s gardens include Bayou Bend in Houston, Longue Vue in New Orleans, and Duke University’s Sarah P. Duke Gardens. She practiced for forty years, and in 1933, House and Garden named her “Dean of Women Landscape Architects.”

1885

George Biddle

  • George Biddle (1885-1973) was an American artist best known for his social realism, combat art, and his strong advocacy of government-sponsored art projects. He was a classmate of Franklin Roosevelt at the Groton School. Later, his correspondence with President Roosevelt contributed to the establishment of the Federal Art Project, an arm of the Works Progress Administration that produced several hundred thousand pieces of publicly funded art. Biddle himself completed a five-panel mural series the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C., and made sketches of the opera Porgy and Bess during its late 1930s tour. His works were exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

1886

Francis Beverley Biddle

  • Brother of artist George Biddle, Francis Beverley Biddle (1886-1968) served as Attorney General of the United States under President Roosevelt during World War II and served as the primary American judge during the postwar Nuremberg trials.

1890

Charles John Biddle

  • Charles J. Biddle (1890-1972) served with the French Air Force in World War I before the United States was involved. Later, he was a member of the Lafayette Escadrille 73. He was a World War I flying ace who downed seven enemy planes. The French awarded him both the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre, and he received the American Distinguished Service Cross and the Belgian Order of Leopold II. After the war, Biddle wrote a book entitled Fighting Airman, The Way of the Eagle.
  • Biddle began his law career working with his father, Charles Biddle. In 1924, Charles J. Biddle joined the law firm later known as Drinker, Biddle, and Reath as the firm’s first lateral partner. In the mid-1960s, he worked with William T. Coleman to desegregate Girard College as part of the Civil Rights Movement. Charles J. Biddle was the last member of the Biddle Family to be a full-time resident at Andalusia’s “Big House” and diligently worked to preserve the area surrounding Andalusia.

1896

Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Jr.

  • Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr. (1896-1961) was ambassador to nine exiled governments during World War II. Beginning with the invasion of Poland in 1939, and continuing through the Nazi occupation of Europe, Ambassador Biddle was a champion of both the refugees and the governments in exile. Using the protective veil of U.S. neutrality, he personally led an exodus of Polish refugees to ports where they could make their way to the United States and safety. Then, he successfully moved all of Europe’s exiled governments to London. His role as Ambassador to eight exiled governments, as well as to General De Gaulle’s Free French, earned him a key place in American history. Strongly believing that saving these countries from Hitler only to turn them over to Stalin was morally wrong, he resigned his posts after the agreement at Yalta.
  • Ambassador Biddle did not remain in retirement from his service to the United States. He worked with President Eisenhower in planning Operation Overlord and the creation of what is now NATO. Later, he was called back to diplomatic service by President Kennedy as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, where he served until his death in 1961.
  • Ambassador Biddle topped the list of the “Best Dressed Men in the World” from 1930 until his death.

1898

Eric Harbeson Biddle

  • Eric Harbeson Biddle (1898-1993) served as Executive Director of the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children which assisted in the evacuation of children, and the supervision of their care, during World War II. Eric also worked for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in creation of the United Nations through numerous international missions.

1900

Major General William Shepard Biddle III

  • Major General William Shepard Biddle III (1900-1981) commanded the 113th Mechanized Cavalry Group when it landed in Normandy in June 1945. Post-war duties included assignments in Europe, Japan, and Korea, as well as deputy commanding general of the Fifth Army. During his career, General Biddle was awarded thirty-nine military decorations including two Distinguished Service Medals and the Silver Star Medal.

1918

Livingston L. Biddle

  • Livingston L. Biddle (1918-2002), author of short-stories, novels, and non-fiction works, also wrote the legislation that led to the creation of the National Endowment of the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1977, he was appointed by President Carter as the third chairman of the NEA.

1929

James “Jimmy” Biddle

  • James “Jimmy” Biddle (1929-2005) was Curator of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He established the Andalusia Foundation in 1980 and opened the Big House and grounds to the public.
  • He served as President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for twelve years and was known as a leader who promoted the cause of historic preservation. During his tenure, the reach of the Trust extended from the East Coast to California. He worked tirelessly on projects such as Grand Central Station and the original exterior of the U. S. Capitol.
  • As Curator of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he expanded the collection from the colonial period to the 19th Century and beyond. Both Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson sought his counsel on matters of American art while in the White House and his expertise was vital to President Richard M. Nixon on the country’s bicentennial celebration.
  • Jimmy was the force behind the preservation of Andalusia. Building on the tradition of his parents Charles J. and Katharine Legendre Biddle, he believed that Andalusia was too valuable historically to be modernized. Instead, he founded The Andalusia Foundation and opened the Big House and grounds to the public in 1980.
STEP INSIDE THE

Historic House

Learn More

Enter the Grandeur Of

The Gardens

Learn More

See the Beauty of The

Arboretum

Learn More