The master builder Samuel Powel has commonly been mistaken for the wealthy and socially prominent Mayor of Philadelphia, Samuel Powel (1738-1793), grandson of Samuel Powell. The date of this Powel's election to The Carpenters' Company is unknown; he is first mentioned as present at a meeting on October 23, 1769, and was appointed to committees or elected to offices within The Company in the 1770s. These early references fit the possibility of a birthright membership for the grandson of the Company founder, and it should be kept in mind that Philadelphia Mayor Samuel Rhoads and Speaker Joseph Fox both were members of The Company. However, Louise Hall ("Artificer to Architect in America") discovered that in 1786 Powell was in arrears on his dues and his son William received for him in 1791 repayment of his contribution toward building Carpenters' Hall. In 1808 Powel was in Handcock Town, MD, when he signed a note to borrow $40.00 from The Company. According to Company records, Powel died in 1815. None of these post-Revolution references fit the facts of Mayor Powel's life. Unless later research proves that there were two Samuel Powels who were members of The Carpenters' Company in the eighteenth century, it must be assumed that previous histories of The Company, including those by this author, are incorrect.
Roger W. Moss.
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