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Guide to the Burling Family Papers
1666-2001 (bulk 1789-1860)
  MS 89

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Gregory Tavormina

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 19, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Burling Family Papers
Dates: 1666-2001 (bulk 1789-1860)
Abstract: This collection outlines the religious, economic, and genealogical aspects of an old prominent New York family. The papers contain bonds, Burling family genealogy papers, real estate documents, certificates, illustrations, personal letters, newspaper clippings, Quaker documents, receipts, slave transactions, and wills. Bound volumes include Burling genealogies and business transactions.
Quantity: 1.0 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 89

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Biographical Note

The Burling family traces its origins to Barking, a town in east London, England. The earliest known Burling ancestor is Edward Burling (c. 1613-1677), who married Katherine Bowler (c. 1618-1678) in 1638. His son, also named Edward (1639-1697), was also a skilled wheelwright. It was he who immigrated to the Colony of New York around 1680 with his wife Grace Norington (c.1651-1715) and three children. The Burlings were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and had experienced some religious persecution in Barking. It is thought that the combination of religious persecution, the political turbulence of 17th century England, and economic pressures led the Burling family to seek a new life in New York.

Once in America, the Burlings excelled in various trades, such as farming, carpentry, and shipping. The Burlings initially lived on a lot of property located on lower Manhattan's East River waterfront that eventually became known as Burling Slip.

Many of the documents contained within this collection concern those descendents that had settled in New York City and Westchester County. In particular, William Burling (1750-1832) and Thomas Burling (1741-1820), both sons of John Burling (1703-1785), were especially involved in real estate deals in locations such as Fort Schuyler, Newcastle, Ulster and Westchester County.

The next most-represented people within the collection are William and Thomas' brother James Burling (1752-1840), and his son John Burling (1807-1870). Their presence largely takes the form of business receipts. Both worked as farmers in Purchase, New York.

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Scope and Content Note

Financial documents of all kinds make up the bulk of the collection. Deeds to property and mortgages are especially well represented. Notable ones include a 1666 Royal Grant signed by Esquire Governor General Richard Nichols issuing land in Eastchester, New York to Philip Pinkney, James Evetts, and William Harden; a 1785 sale of land in Mamaroneck, New York to Edward Burling by John, Joseph, and Benjamin Cornell; and a 1790 deed to land in Westchester County, New York from Samuel Deen to Thomas and William Burling.

Indentures also revolve around land purchases, such as one signed in 1787 between Thomas Machin and Thomas and William Burling concerning a tract of land in Montgomery County, New York.

In addition, there are business receipts for numerous Burlings, but particularly James Burling (1752-1840), and his son John Burling (1807-1870). There are also receipts for stock purchases by George T. Burling.

There are also a few records of slave transactions, such as an agreement signed in 1805 in which a certain Peter Shule sold Peter Burling a black slave named "Mago," and a copy of an 1801 certificate by which a certain Elias Purdy freed a slave named Tom "for the gradual abolition of slavery."

Wills include those of John Burling and Phobe Burling and supporting documents.

Other specific financial items of interest include Edward Burling's Bill of Lading Book, John Burling's receipt book, a business ledger, and slim notebooks containing receipts and calculations.

There is a wealth of information about Burling family Genealogy. The Burling family genealogy papers contain a list of births, marriages, and deaths, an 1803 record of intent to marry between James Burling and Hannah Field, and an 1829 certificate of marriage between John Burling and Adeline Taylor. Bound volumes include a 2001 two-volume publication chronicling the Burling family genealogy.

As the Burling family members were Quakers, there are numerous documents concerning the Quaker community. There are religious reflections dated from 1765, a 1768 report presented at a Quaker meeting at Westbury, a 1723 acknowledgement of recommendation for John Burling (1703-1785) to Friends Meeting in Barbados, and a 1734 Quaker Plea to England in regards to an incident of Quaker persecution in the Colony.

Certificates include a certificate of scholarship for George G.T. Burling to attend a course at Bryant & Stratton's International Chain of Mercantile Colleges 1864 and a certificate of inspection of George T. Burling's White Plains home dated 1919. Images include a Chinese relief rubbing and a printed trading card. Other documents include a formula for McNeil's Salve, personal letters, newspaper scrap, and a pass issued to John Burling by George Clinton.


The collection has been arranged into folders by type of material. Items within the folders are arranged chronologically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Burling, James 1752-1840
  • Burling, John, 1807-1870
  • Burling, Thomas, 1741-1820
  • Burling, William, 1750-1832

Document Type

  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Ephemera
  • Invoices
  • Legal documents
  • Mortgages
  • Programs

Subject Topics

  • Genealogy
  • Quakers
  • Real property - New York (State) - New York

Family Name(s)

  • Burling family

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Administrative Information


Donation by Lawrence Prince, 2007.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Burling Family Papers, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Slave Transactions
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Quaker Documents
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Deeds
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Indentures
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Mortgages
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Bonds
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Burling Family Genealogy Papers
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Pass Issued to John Burling by George Clinton
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Certificates
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Receipts
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Receipts
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Wills
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Personal Letters
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Formula for McNeil's Salve
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Undated Receipts & Calculation Notes
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Painted Trading Card
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Newspaper Scrap
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Chinese Relief Rubbing
Box: 2 Folder : The Burling Books (Vol. 1)
Box: 2 Folder : The Burling Books (Vol. 2)
Box: 2 Folder : Ledger
Box: 2 Folder : Edward Burling's Bill of Lading Book
Box: 2 Folder : Book of Calculations
Box: 2 Folder : Receipt Book
Box: 2 Folder : Receipt Book of John Burling

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