Old Philadelphians

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Old Philadelphians, also called Proper Philadelphians[1] or Perennial Philadelphians[2], are the First Families of Philadelphia, that class of Pennsylvanians who claim hereditary and cultural descent mainly from England, Wales and Germany and who founded the city of Philadelphia. They settled the state of Pennsylvania.

They are considered part of the historic core of the East Coast establishment, along with other wealthy families such as Boston Brahmins of Boston and The Four Hundred of New York City.[2] These families were influential in the development and leadership of arts, culture, science, medicine, law, politics, industry and trade in the United States.[2]


In 1963, Nathaniel Burt, a chronicler of Old Philadelphia, wrote that of Philadelphia's most notable early figures were listed in "the ancient rhyme, rather out-of-date now, called the Philadelphia Rosary," which goes:

Morris, Norris, Rush and Chew,
Drinker, Dallas, Coxe and Pugh,
Wharton, Pepper, Pennypacker,
Willing, Shippen and Markoe.[3]

Burt's full list of prominent families (with those in the poem in italics):

Members of these families are generally known for being fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and well educated. These families often have deeply established traditions in the Quaker and Episcopal faiths.[4] Many Old Philadelphia families intermarried and their descendants summer in Northeast Harbor, Desert Island, Maine.[2] Many of these families trace their ancestries back to the original founders of Philadelphia while others entered into aristocracy during the nineteenth century with their profits from commerce and trade or by marrying into established Old Philadelphia families like the Cadwaladers and Biddles and Pitcairns.[2] Note the following incomplete history of the Penn-Gaskel Hall's 3 who persist to today (2017) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1914979?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Clubs and societies[edit]

Old Philadelphia exclusive clubs and societies[1][2]

See also[edit]