On February 13, 1776 Thomas Nevell credited Thomas Proctor for a “Uniform Coat” and Edward Bonsall for a “pair of Lether breechs”. July was six months off but the Continental Congress had previously met in Philadelphia at Carpenters’ Hall, which Nevell had helped design and build, in 1774 and 1775. In December 1775, John and Margaret Macpherson’s son John had been killed in the Battle of Quebec, perhaps the first commissioned officer from Philadelphia to die during the Revolution. Nevell anticipated war and readily took up the patriots cause, serving for several years as an officer in the Continental Army. He ordered and paid for his own blue coat and leather pants, the uniform of the day. A uniform we have all been reacquainted with thanks to a extraordinary recent Broadway play.
There is a gap in the entries in Nevell’s daybook from November 9, 1777, less than two months after the British Army began their occupation of Philadelphia, until January 12, 1780, when there is one entry, then another gap until August 16, 1782.
After the war the scope of Nevell’s business changed. He was 62 years old in 1783 and now began spending more time measuring other tradesmen’s work than on arduous building projects.
In 1784 Nevell was given a last, large project by the State of Pennsylvania, building Charles Wilson Peales Arch of Triumph across Market Street celebrating the end of the war. We will leave that story, and the story of its “miscariage” for another time.