James Canby

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James Canby (1781–1858) was an American businessman, banker and early railroad executive based in Wilmington, Delaware.[1]

He was the son of Samuel and Frances Lea Canby. Samuel Canby was originally trained as a carpenter and cabinet maker and became a miller when he opened a flour mill in 1770 in Brandywine village. James Canby expanded upon his father's businesses by opening several additional mills[2] and became a prominent businessman.[3] Among other interests, he served as president of the Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine[1] and invested in real estate in Baltimore, Maryland, and "western lands".[3]

Canby's interest in railroads stemmed from his belief that the newish transportation method could benefit his milling business.[1] In the 1830s, he helped organize and obtain a state charter for the Wilmington and Susquehanna Railroad, of which he served as president until 1837.[4] From 1835, he also served as a director of the Delaware and Maryland Railroad.[5] The W&S and D&M joined two other railroads to create the first rail link from Philadelphia to Baltimore. (The main line survives today as part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.)

An amateur botanist, Canby planted a rare cedar of Lebanon tree in 1850 at the entrance to Wilmington's Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery, of which he was an officer.[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in 1858 and is interred at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.[7] His service as a railroad executive is noted on the 1839 Newkirk Viaduct Monument in Philadelphia.


  1. ^ a b c Hoffecker, Carol E. (1974). Brandywine Village: The Story of a Milling Community (PDF). Wilmington, Delaware: Old Brandywine Village, Inc. pp. 37–39, 45, 47.
  2. ^ "Canby Mills". www.hagley.org. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b Colonial Families of Philadelphia, John W. Jordan, editor. Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1911.
  4. ^ PRR Chronology, 1837
  5. ^ PRR Chronology, 1835
  6. ^ Maynard, W. Barksdale (2015). The Brandywine: An Intimate Portrait. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-8122-4677-3. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  7. ^ "James Canby". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 26 July 2019.

External links[edit]