"ANDALUSIA" This place has been handed
down in uninterrupted succession to the members of the same family since its acquisition
in the year 1795. It was purchased at that time by Mr. John CRAIG, a well
known and distinguished merchant of Philadelphia, and, through his eldest daughter's
marriage in 1811 to Mr. Nicholas BIDDLE, has descended to their issue,
and is occupied by them and their descendants at the present time.
The BIDDLE family has been prominent in Pennsylvania
since a very early day. William BIDDLE (3d) married in 1730 the daughter
of Nicholas SCULL, surveyor-general of the province of Pennsylvania, and,
dying in 1756, left a numerous family. His son Charles was an active patriot during the
revolution, and vice president of the State of Pennsylvania between 1785 and 1788, when
Benjamin FRANKLIN was the president. Another son was Captain Nicholas BIDDLE,
a comrade in early life of Horatio NELSON, when both were midshipmen in
the English navy. His later career in the navy of our own country is well known. It was of
him Paul JONES writing of the "five Captains" appointed in the
revolution, said: "Four of them were respectable skippers; and they all outlived the
war! One of them was the kind of naval captain that the God of Battles makes. That one was
Nick BIDDLEpoor, brave Nick! and he died in hopeless battle with a
foe double his own strengthhalf of his flagship going down, and the other half going
up by explosion of his magazine."
Vice-president Charles BIDDLE married, in 1778,
Hannah SHEPARD, and had ten children. Two of these, Edward and James,
went into the United States navy. Edward died during his first voyage, but James became
one of the most famous naval officers. He served under Commodore BAINBRIDGE
on the coast of Tripoli, and shared with the crew of the ill-fated
"Philadelphia" the long period of imprisonment to which they were condemned by
the Tripolitans. He was first lieutenant of the sloop-of-war "Wasp," in the sea
fight with the British sloop-of-war "Frolic," and led the boarders when the
decks of the Englishman were carried. He was captain of the "Hornet," in the
action with the British ship "Penguin," when the latter was captured after a
furious conflict, her captain being among the list of killed. He was afterwards commander
of the navy yard and governor at the naval asylum at Philadelphia, from 1838 to 1842.
Among special services rendered by him was the taking possession of Oregon territory in
1817; the signing of a commercial treaty with Turkey in 1826; he exchanged ratifications
of the first treaty with China, and acted as United States commissioner to that country;
he also touched at Japan and made an earnest effort to conciliate by kindness and
forbearance its singular and exclusive people.
Nicolas BIDDLE, whose name is first associated with
"ANDALUSIA," (son of Vice-president Charles) was during many
years the most noted member of the family. He was secretary to General ARMSTRONG
United States Minister to France, in 1804, and was present at the coronation of Emperor
NAPOLEON in Paris. At this time the purchase of Louisiana and the indemnification
for injuries to American commerce were in progress, and, although but eighteen years of
age, young BIDDLE managed the details with the veterans of the French
bureau, in whom his juvenile appearance and precocious ability excited much surprise.
Leaving the legation, he traveled in the continent of Europe, adding to his classical
attainments a thorough mastery of the modern languages which he retained through life. On
reaching England, he became secretary to Mr. MONORE, then our Minister to
London. On his return to America in 1807, he engaged in the practice of the law and
devoted a portion of his time to literary pursuits. He became associated with Joseph
DENNIE in the editorship of the "Portfolio" in 1811. His papers on the
fine arts, biographical sketches and critical essays exhibit a discriminating taste. When LEWIS
and CLARK had returned from their explorations their journals
and memorandums were placed in the hands of Mr. BIDDLE, who prepared from
them and the oral relation of CLARK the narrative of the expedition.
Published in 1814, it has gone through various editions, and is recognized to-day as an
authoritative and admirably compiled account of this noted journey.
He was in the state legislature in 1810, advocating a system of
popular education. It was not until 1836 that the ideas broached by him were fully carried
out by legislative enactment. When the renewal of the charter of the old United States
Bank was under discussion in 1811, he advocated the measure in a speech which was widely
circulated at the time, and gained the distinguished approval of Chief Justice MARSHALL.
During the war with England he was elected to the state senate and gave a zealous and
powerful support to the measures of the national administration for carrying on the
contest. He and all of his brothers were now engaged in the service of the countryin
public councils, the navy, the army, and the militia; of whom Commodore James BIDDLE,
Major Thomas BIDDLE, and Major John BIDDLE gained
particularly military reputation. The youngest of the brothers, Richard BIDDLE,
during the war a volunteer at Camp Dupont, afterwards settled at Pittsburg and was for
many years an acknowledged leader of the bar of that city.
After the capture of Washington; when an invitation of
Pennsylvania was expected, Nicholas BIDDLE in the senate initiated the
most vigorous measures for the defense of the state. Towards the close of the war he
replied to the address of the Hartford convention by an elaborate report which was adopted
in the Pennsylvania legislature, a state paper which attracted universal attention and
added greatly to the reputation of its author. In 1819 he became a government director of
the Bank of the United States on the nomination of President MONROE and
under a resolution of Congress prepared a work on the laws and regulations of foreign
countries relative to commerce, moneys, weights and measures. This was known in its day as
"The Commercial Digest." In 1823, on the retirement of Mr. Langdon CHEVES,
Mr. BIDDLE was elected to the presidency of the bank and to the conduct
of its affairs he thenceforth devoted all his energies. The history of the bank is public
knowledge, it has been recounted and touched upon in writings and biographies dealing with
the events and characters of the time. Only recently (1903) a work entitled "The
Second Bank of the United States," by Ralph C. H. CATTERALL,
published under the auspices of the University of Chicago, has appeared giving a full
account of what in its day was long a "burning question." After the smoke of
battle had cleared and when passions had cooled, it was found that political antagonists
were ready to bear testimony to the high character of Nicholas BIDDLE, Mr.
C. J. INGERSOLL, a political opponent on the bank question, writing of
the war, says: "Nicholas BIDDLE was as iron-nerved as his great
antagonist, Andrew JACKSON; loved his country not less, and money as
little." The last years of Mr. BIDDLE's life were spent at "ANDALUSIA"
and there he died on the 27th of February, 1844.
"ANDALUSIA" is noted for the fine timber
growing upon it, splendid specimens of the American tulip, catalpa, chestnut, Spanish
chestnut, and varieties of oak, adorning the lawns, while towering evergreens surrounded
the mansion house. Many of these trees were planted in the time of Mr. CRAIG..
Nicholas BIDDLE did much to adorn and beautify the place, adding a very
striking portico in the Grecian style with Doric columns to the river-front of the house.
He was an enthusiastic agriculturist, devoting time and thought to the cultivation of the
grape and importing the first Alderney cattle to this country.
He was a member and served as president of the Agricultural Society,
resigning only the month before his death. His son, Judge Craig BIDDLE,
inherited his tastes in this direction, serving the society before its dissolution in the
capacity of president, also, and he continues to direct the farming operations at "ANDALUSIA."
William W. H., A. M. History of Bucks
County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The
Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III
January, 2001 as part of the Bucks
Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html
January 2001 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/