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Richard Blow Papers

Identifier: Mss. 65 B625

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Papers, 1772-1872, of the Blow family. Chiefly business papers, 1772-1820, of Richard Blow of Portsmouth and "Tower Hill," Sussex County, Va. and his son George Blow, Sr. and George Blow, Jr. of 'Tower Hill' and Williamsburg, Va. Richard Blow was a partner in stores in Virginia and North Carolina (trading as Richard Blow and Co., Briggs & Blow, Baker & Blow [South Quay, Nansemond County, Va.], Blow & Barksdale [Petersburg, Va.], and Blow and Scammel). He was also a plantation owner that operated in part by labor of enslaved persons. He shipped the goods produced by the plantation by sea, often to European markets. His correspondence and papers during this period provide a model source on plantation management, sea trade, trade during the American Revolution, and trade during the War of 1812. Includes correspondence, plantation accounts, ship accounts, and legal papers.

Subjects covered in the collection include trade, tobacco, prices, Whiskey Rebellion, thoroughbred horses, banking (Bank of the United States and Farmers Bank of Norfolk), Dismal Swamp Canal, the Embargo of 1807-1809, and the War of 1812. There are letters from merchants in Great Britain and in the West Indies.


  • Creation: 1772-1872

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:

Richard Blow (1746-1833) was a native of Southampton County, Va. He was born in 1746, the son of Samuel Blow and Martha (Drew) Blow. He married Frances Wright in 1786. He owned "Tower Hill," plantation in Sussex County, Va. and was a partner in stores operated in Virginia and North Carolina. He furnished ships to trade American goods abroad. He was the first president of the Farmers Bank of Norfolk and was president of the Dismal Swamp Canal Company. Blow died in Portsmouth, Va. in 1833. He was survived by his only child, George Blow (1787-1870). Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki:


16 Linear Feet (39 Century boxes.)

Arrangement of Materials:

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information:

Gift; 137 items, 1/26/1942; gift; 717 items, 2/18/1942; gift 12,193 items on 5/22/1946; gift 2,655 items on 5/22/1947; gift 21 items on 3/3/1948; gift 197 items on 5/29/1948; and gift 150 items on 3/20/1961; gift ALS from Hugh Nelson to Richard Blow, 20 June 1794 & ALS from William Archer to Richard Blow, 17 March 1808, on 3/11/1983.

Related Materials:

Blow Family Papers (Mss. 65 B63), Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary; and Richard Blow Papers (PH 28), Rockefeller Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.


Mss. 2008.18 Blow Family Genealogy

Guide to the Richard Blow Papers
Special Collections Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository