Shareholder Spotlight: Miers Fisher (1748-1819)

Dana Dorman, Archivist, Library Company Papers Project

Receipt for a Library Company share dated 1733

Image: Receipt for a Library Company share, 1733.

We continue our monthly “Shareholder Spotlight” series by taking a closer look at Share #456 and its first owner, Miers Fisher (1748-1819).

Shareholders have always been the backbone of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Starting with the first group of fifty tradesmen who formed the library in 1731, shareholders have provided crucial financial support each year for our mission to “pour forth benefits for the common good.”

We keep careful track of who has owned each historic share, and our list of 9,800+ shareholders includes signers of the Declaration and Constitution, merchants, doctors, soldiers, scientists, artists, philanthropists, politicians, and much more.

Share #456

This share was first issued to Miers Fisher (1748-1819) on December 9, 1778.

Fisher was a lawyer, a businessman, and a Quaker. He became a Library Company shareholder the same year he returned from house arrest in Virginia, where he’d been exiled for roughly eight months under suspicion of being a Loyalist.

Lithograph portrait of Miers Fisher with his signature below

Image: Max Rosenthal, Miers Fisher (Philadelphia, circa 1850-1890). Lithograph.


Fisher was one of the “Quaker exiles” who had been rounded up in Philadelphia in the fall of 1777 upon the order of Congress as being possible enemies of the new nation. Not all of the arrested men were Quakers, but most were. Those who refused to take an oath of allegiance were exiled to Virginia to prevent them from possibly helping the British. Some of the exiles died in Virginia, some escaped, and Fisher and the others returned to Philadelphia in the spring of 1778.[i]

Fisher’s reputation was not damaged irreparably by his time in exile. The Library Company board certainly approved his bid to become a shareholder in December 1778, and he served as the first counselor of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. He was eventually elected to serve in the city’s Common Council from 1789-1791 as well as in the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1791-1792.

On February 10, 1803, as he neared retirement, Fisher sold his Library Company share to his son Miers Fisher, Jr. (1786-1813), with his sons Redwood Fisher (1782-1856) and Samuel R. Fisher (1789-1812) serving as witnesses to the transaction.

Photograph of share record transaction showing Miers Fisher transferring share to Miers Fisher Jr.

Image: Detail from Share Record Book B, Library Company of Philadelphia Records (MSS00270).

Miers Jr. was a merchant, and he clearly did not use the Library Company extensively since he spent the last few years of his life out of the country building his mercantile business. He died in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1813.

Nevertheless, the Library Company share remained in Miers Jr.’s name for a few more years after his death. It was finally transferred to his brother Jabez M. Fisher (1801-1876) on February 7, 1823.

The share passed out of the Fisher family in 1827, and it has been owned by thirteen people total in its history.

Not yet a shareholder?

Share #456 is currently available. We work hard to match potential shareholders with historic shares that match their interests, and we would love to match you with Miers Fisher’s share or another option. To learn more, reach out to our Development Office at or 215-546-3181 ext. 133.


[i] On April 8, 2024, historian and Library Company shareholder Norman E. Donoghue II presented a Library Company members program about his extensive research into the history of the Quaker exiles. If you missed the program, check out his recent book: Norman E. Donoghue II, Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile 1777-1778 (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2023).