David T. Marvel family correspondence

Biographical and Historical Notes

Delaware native David T. Marvel (1851–1931) was a lawyer who held several important posts in the state government before becoming a state Supreme Court justice in 1893, a post he held until the adaptation of the new State Constitution in 1897.

Born November 2, 1851, in Nanticoke Hundred, Delaware, Marvel graduated Princeton College in 1873. Following college, Marvel studied law with Thomas F. Bayard for two years and passed two years of study at Harvard Law School before being admitted to the bar in Delaware in April 1879. He began his practice in Georgetown, Delaware. He was listed as a solicitor for the Court of Chancery of Sussex County.

David T. Marvel married Mary Robinson Wootten, daughter of Judge Alfred P. R. and Mrs. Rhoda Wootten. Judge Wootten was the Attorney General of Delaware at the time of his death in 1864. The Marvels had one daughter, Ann Burton Marvel.

Marvel was also editor of the Sussex Journal from February 7, 1880 until January 27, 1883. He purchased the newspaper in 1880 with McKendree Downham. In 1882 J. B. Clark became editor with Marvel, and Clark continued as editor after Marvel's retirement in 1883.


Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware 1609-1888. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co., 1888. pp. 461, 565-566, 592, 607.

Jones, Daisy (Marvel). "A Brief History of the Marvel Family." Unpublished, 1960. 13 pp. Available at the Delaware State Archives in Dover.

Scope and Content Note

The sixty-five letters in the David T. Marvel Family Correspondence span the dates 1876–1905. In addition to letters from David Marvel to his wife Mary and his daughter Ann, the collection includes letters from Mrs. Rhoda B. Rondebush to Mrs. Marvel, several letters from different individuals to Judge E. Wootten (Marvel’s father-in-law), and a letter from Thomas F. Bayard to David Marvel.

The collection also includes a variety of notes responding to the various dinner or wedding invitations from the Marvel family.

The following are names of other correspondents in this collection: Mary D. Budlong, Helen T. Scott, Mr. Baldasseroni, Florence Curtis Cullen, John J. Turlto, Mame Riondas, Mrs. Lofland, Dr. Martindale, George Collins, Louise W. Kidder, J. P. Comegys, Willis and Hiesler Harrington, Dail Coulbourn, Phyllis Ridgely, Dorman Robinson, Alfreda Wootten, Willie S. Van Leuman, Ruth Maples Day, and Lloyd P. Rayner.

Most of the family correspondence deals with the marital and family concerns of David T. Marvel and his wife Mary Robinson Marvel, as well as the education of their daughter, Ann Burton Marvel. The letter from Thomas F. Bayard discusses Delaware politics in 1880, and several letters to Judge Wootten regard legal questions. The collection is arranged in chronological order.