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Noble Family Papers
mssNBL 1-875  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Noble Family Papers
    Dates: 1801-1912
    Collection Number: mssNBL 1-875
    Creator OR Collector: Noble (Family : Abbeville, S.C.)
    Extent: Approximately 788 items
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the personal and professional correspondence of the Noble family of South Carolina, mostly of attorney Edward Noble (1823-1889) and his son Patrick Noble (1849-1920). The Nobles were closely related through various marriages to the Calhoun, Green, Clemson, Bratton, Pickens, McCaws, Cuningham, and Gadsden families.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Noble Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of P. N. Jenkins, November 2007.

    Biographical Note

    The Nobles of Abbeville, South Carolina, closely related through various marriages to the Calhoun, Green, Clemson, Bratton, Pickens, McCaws, Cuningham, and Gadsden families, was one of the most prominent planter families of the "featherbed aristocracy" of South Carolina. The Noble family was of Scots-Irish ancestry; the first Nobles came to America in the early 1700s and settled in Augusta County, Va. Major Alexander Noble (1733-1801), married to his first cousin Catherine Calhoun, moved to South Carolina and made his home in Abbeville District, near Willington. During the Revolutionary War, he was Captain of the state militia and later became an aide-de-camp to General Andrew Pickens. Major Noble's eldest son John (1774-1819) went to Princeton, studied medicine in France, and the set up medical practice in Charleston. His brothers Ezekiel Noble (d. 1732), William (1777-1823), and Alexander (1794-1821) ran family plantations, including Vienna Plantation on the Savannah River and were engaged in cotton trade. Joseph Noble (1792-1822), a Yale educated lawyer left for Alabama. Patrick Noble (1787-1840), the 57th Governor of South Carolina was the most prominent among Alexander Noble's sons. He was born in Abbeville and graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1806. In 1809, he was admitted to the bar and set up a law practice in partnership with John C. Calhoun. In 1814, Noble was elected to the state legislature. In 1830, the General Assembly elected him as 34th Lieutenant Governor; in 1836, he became state senator, and in 1838, the General Assembly elected him Governor of South Carolina.
    Patrick Noble's son Edward Noble (1823-1889) graduated from South Carolina College in 1844 and practiced law in Abbeville and Charleston. He was a well respected lawyer and also served as the alderman. He was the legal advisor to the family of his cousin John C. Calhoun and a trustee to Anna Calhoun Clemson. On February 4, 1849, Edward Noble married Mary Means Bratton (1827-1905) of the Yorkville Brattons, sister of the Confederate general John Bratton. The couple had five children: Patrick (1849-1920), Belle (1852-1866), Edward (b. 1855), Floride (b. 1859), and Mary Bratton Pickens (1861-1898). A nullifier, Edward Noble represented his district at the South Carolina's secession convention and signed the state's Ordinance of Secession on December 20, 1861. In 1862-1863, he served for 90 days as Major of the 5th South Carolina Reserves. After the war, he returned to Abbeville to his farming and law practice. In the 1880s, he joined his son Patrick in San Francisco; he died there in 1889.
    Patrick Noble (1849-1920) studied at South Carolina College. During the Civil War, he briefly fought in the Confederate Army, and then returned to Charleston to his studies. In 1868, Patrick Noble moved to California and became a clerk at Pacific Rolling Mills Co., the first iron and steel foundry in the West that had been founded two years earlier by William Alvord and James G. Fair. In the 1880s, Noble was the company's president. After the Pacific Rolling Mills' original operation closed at Potrero Point, Noble reorganized the company at its new location on 17th and Mississippi Streets. Patrick Noble passed away in October 1920, and his son, Edward B. Noble continued leading the company through successive mergers until he retired 1945.

    Scope and Content

    Personal and professional correspondence of the Noble family, mostly Edward Noble and his son Patrick Noble, as preserved by Patrick Noble's family. The collection also includes a group of letters addressed to Edward Noble's uncle John Noble (1774-1819), and the correspondence of Floride Calhoun (1792-1866) and James Edward Calhoun (1826-1861), wife and son of John C. Calhoun, about the administration of Calhoun's estate and property. There are also several documents about slaves owned by the Calhoun, Cuningham, and PIckens families as well as legal documents used in various law suits brought about by the various family estates and property.
    John Noble's correspondence includes letters from his brothers Alexander, Ezekiel, and Patrick. In his letters, Alexander Noble discusses the disposition of the estate of Nicolas Cooper; his business affairs, including management of the Vienna Plantation, cotton trade, and family slaves (including news of a fire set by the enslaved woman Hannah). Ten letters by Patrick Noble (1805-1818) describe his studies at Princeton and his trip home in the fall of 1806; admission to the bar, partnership with John C. Calhoun, his legal practice, and state and national politics. Also included is the letter to Patrick Noble from John C. Calhoun (1828, Sep. 19, NBL 165), discussing the tariff controversy.
    Correspondence of Edward Noble includes his letters to his wife and son; his business correspondence, including communications with the Calhoun and Clemson families, and letters from his friends, family members, colleagues, and political allies, including John Bratton and Francis Wilkinson Pickens. The letters of Edward Noble and Patrick Noble (1849-1920) describe Patrick's school studies; Edward Noble's trip to New York, Washington, D.C., White Sulphur Springs, Va. in the summer of 1860; the South Carolina Secession Convention in Charleston (December 1860-March 1861); Noble's service in the Confederate Army (February 1862-June 1863); the politics of Reconstruction in South Carolina and particularly in Abbeville (including the activities of the local Ku Klux Klan), Patrick's life in California, news of friends and family, etc.
    Other prominent participants include: Thomas W. Bacot, South Carolina lawyer and politician; Andrew Pickens Calhoun, son of John C. Calhoun; author Floride Clemson; professor R. Means Davis; businessman and Senator James G. Fair; General John T. Morgan; businessman J. Mora Moss; Mexican journalist Manuel Payno; Francis W. Pickens, South Carolina representative; Charles P. Stone, U.S. Army officer; and Major Jasper S. Whiting.


    The collection is arranged chronologically. It is housed in sixteen boxes.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Personal Names

    Bacot, Thomas W. (Thomas Wright), 1849-1927
    Calhoun family
    Calhoun, Andrew P. (Andrew Pickens), 1811-1865
    Calhoun, Floride, 1792-1866
    Calhoun, James E. (James Edward), 1826-1861
    Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850
    Clemson, Floride, 1842-1871
    Davis, R. Means, 1849-1904
    Fair, James Graham, 1831-1894
    Morgan, John Tyler, 1824-1907
    Moss, Joseph Mora, 1809-1880
    Noble family -- Archives
    Noble, Edward, 1823-1890
    Noble, John, 1774-1819
    Noble, Patrick, 1849-1920
    Payno, Manuel, 1810-1894
    Pickens, F. W. (Francis Wilkinson), 1805-1889
    Stone, Chas. P. (Charles Pomeroy), 1824-1887
    Whiting, Jasper S.

    Corporate Names

    Ku Klux Klan (19th century) -- South Carolina


    Administration of estates -- South Carolina
    African Americans -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Cotton growing -- Southern States -- History -- Sources
    Cotton trade -- Southern States -- History -- Sources
    Freedmen -- Southern States -- History -- Sources
    Fugitive slaves -- South Carolina
    Iron ores -- South Carolina
    Lawyers -- Southern States
    Plantation owners -- Southern States -- Archives
    Plantations -- Southern States
    Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Sources
    Secession -- Southern States -- Sources
    Slaveholders -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Slavery -- Confederate States of America
    Slaves -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Women -- Confederate States of America -- Correspondence
    Women plantations owners -- Southern States

    Geographic Areas

    Abbeville (S.C.) -- History
    Charleston (S.C.) -- History
    Confederate States of America -- History -- Sources
    Fort Hill Plantation (S.C.)
    Sonora (Mexico : State) -- Description and travel
    South Carolina -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
    South Carolina -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865 -- Sources
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
    Winnsboro (S.C.) -- History


    Family papers -- United States -- 19th century
    Legal documents -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century