Thomas Willing Balch - Author/Family Historian

*This page is currently under construction - some of this information may be inaccurate - needs further verification*


*The text below is borrowed and adapted from the The Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Balch Family papers*

Thomas Willing Balch (July 23, 1821 - March 29, 1877) was born in Leesburg, Virginia to Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch and Elizabeth Willis Weaver. He attended Columbia University and moved to Philadelphia, where he was admitted to the bar in 1850.

In 1852, he married Emily Swift (1835-1917) and together they had three children (several sources indicate there were actually four children): Elise Willing Balch (1853-1913), Edwin Swift Balch (1856-1927), and Thomas Willing Balch (1866-1927). The Balch family resided in Europe from 1859 to 1873 during which time Thomas (d. 1877) conducted research for several of the books and articles he wrote. His two most notable works are Les Francais en Amérique Pendant le Guerre de l’Indépendence, which explores France’s role in the American Revolution, and International Courts of Arbitration, which was written in aftermath of the sinking of the Alabama during the Civil War.

Thomas Balch passed away in 1887 in Philadelphia. His sons Edwin Swift (d. 1927) and Thomas Willing (d. 1927) both graduated from Harvard University with law degrees. Much like their father, they pursued writing careers instead of careers in law. Edwin immersed himself in geographic exploration and wrote several articles and books about the Antarctic region. Edwin married Eugenia Macfarlane and upon her death in 1921, he married Emily Clark. Thomas (d. 1927) combined the interests of his father and brother and wrote several works about the Alaskan border and Candian-American relations. He also translated his father’s Les Francais en Amérique and issued another version of International Courts of Arbitration after his father’s death. Thomas (d. 1927) also wrote books relating to Philadelphia history and the history of his ancestors, including The Philadelphia Assemblies, Willing Letters and Papers, and The Swift Family of Philadelphia.

Thomas Willing Balch married Dulany Whiting in 1923. Elise Willing Balch, the older sister of Edwin and Thomas, never married and passed away in 1913. Emily Swift Balch died in 1917 and her sons died ten years later only months apart in 1927. Elise, Edwin, and Thomas did not have children.

Genealogy of Thomas:

Father: Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch
Mother: Elizabeth Willis Weaver

Wife1: Emily Swift
Married: 1852


1. Elise Willing Balch
2. Edwin Swift Balch
3. Joseph Swift Balch
4. Thomas Willing Balch

Primary Sources/Links:

Balch Genealogica - By: Thomas Willing Balch

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha Balch

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Balch Family papers

Additional Information/Links:

International Courts of Arbitration - By: Thomas Willing Balch

Silver and gold and their relation to the problem of resumption - By Samuel Dana Horton

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