April 15, 1771 at The Philadelphia Contributionship

April 21, 2021

William Birch’s Second Street North from Market St. w.th Christ Church, Philadelphia

Ever wonder what a difference a day makes – or in this case 91,312 days -in the workings of The Philadelphia Contributionship?

Two hundred and fifty years ago today, on April 15, 1771 the Board of Directors met a week after the annual meeting of members on April 8, 1771.

That Annual or General meeting was held at the Court House on Second Street which is shown here in William Birch’s Second Street North from Market St. w.th Christ Church, Philadelphia.

The following week, on Monday, April 15th, the Directors met at Josiah Davenport’s on Third Street, an establishment they had used since early 1769. At that time Josiah Davenport had been requested to “make provision accordingly. “ Davenport had notified the public in June of 1768 that he had moved into the old Bulls Head Inn (to be known as the Bunch of Grapes) on Third Street between Market and Arch and found it ideal for an inn, noting that it also had “an elegant and spacious room for the accommodation of large companies who may have occasion to meet on business…” The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 23, 1768, p. 4 (The Board’s May meeting was the last to be held at Mr. Davenport’s as they moved first to the Golden Fleece and then settled on the George Inn on the southwest corner of Second and Arch Streets.)

This April 15th meeting at Mr. Davenport’s was the Company’s organizational meeting and the employee. They also reappointed Gunning Bedford and Samuel Wetherill, Jr. as surveyors. They were paid for each survey they did and a small extra sum for recording those surveys. Joseph Rakestraw was appointed to put up the “badges” or fire marks. In this case he too would receive a set amount for the badge and a set amount for installation.

Directors’ fines were also continued as before: one shilling for non-attendance and six pence for “not meeting at the Hour” – in other words showing up late .

Fines for the directors were kept in separate accounts and the ones in these years possibly used to pay for the milestones placed on the southern road leading to Baltimore such as this one originally placed at Marcus Hook but now in The Contributionship’s garden. There is no mention of fines in the 1772 organizational meeting and this may have been the last year the practice was continued.

It’s hard to imagine what our 18th century predecessors would have thought of an annual meeting held via zoom and board meetings as well. Still the Directors would have applauded innovation as they, too, adapted to changing times.