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Offley Family Papers

Identifier: Mss. Acc. 2008.164

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection details the history of the Offley Family from 1826 to 1916 through correspondences, diaries, photographs and personal effects. Its creators include multiple generations of Offleys and their associates. The papers provide insight into the daily life of the era as well as major geopolitical events such as the Greek War of Independence, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and World War I. Many of the Offleys served in the United States armed forces. The collection also includes photographs of individuals unrelated to, but, of the same era as, the Offley Family.

Finally, there is a letter from Richard Offley to Mary Offley Sharpless about the health of a family member and a letter from David Offley to Mary Offley about his understanding of the theology and practice of Islam as he has seen it in Turkey, including his admiration for the religion.


  • Creation: 1818-1916


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

John Holmes Offley, the son of David Offley and Mary Ann Greer Offley, was born at Brooke Court-House, Virginia on 13 October 1802. Educated in Philadelphia, he first traveled to Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey in 1815 where his father, David Offley, had established the first American commercial firm, Woodmans and Offley, in the Levant. John Holmes Offley later entered into a commercial partnership at Trieste with his brother Richard Jones Offley (Richard & John Holmes Offley Co.). He later served as a ship chandler, contracted to provide provisions for the American squadron then stationed in the Mediterranean. John Holmes Offley returned to the United States with his family in 1835. He served, for a time, as the Inspector of Customs for the port of New York City. He moved to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. in 1838. After serving on special assignment for the U.S. War Department, he was appointed as Corresponding Clerk in the U.S. War Department, and later saw service as the Acting Chief Clerk of the U.S. War Department. He served as vestryman for St. Johns Episcopal Church of Georgetown from 1840 until the time of his death. It was at that church that he married Catherine Van Rensselaer Heaton (1806-1887) on 22 September 1823. John Holmes Offley died on 20 December 1845. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


0.60 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

The collection is organzied chronologically within three boxes, with undated material at the back of box three.

Acquisition Information:

Purchased from Hamilton's Rare Books. Acquisition information for material received after 7/13/2009 is available by consulting a Special Collections Research Center staff member.


Acc. 2012.351 was added to this collection in November 2012 and did not come in with the orignial set of papers.

Physical Description

76 items

Processing Information:

Acc. 2012.431 accessioned and minimally processed by Benjamin Bromley in December 2012. Folders marked 2008.164

Guide to the Offley Family Papers
Peter Klicker, SCRC Staff. Matt Niendorf, SCRC Apprentice.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository