He became a merchant at an early age, and amassed a large fortune in the East Indian trade, which he spent liberally in benevolent enterprises. He contributed largely to the establishment of the Widows' and Orphans' Asylum and the Mariner's Church in Philadelphia, founded the Pennsylvania Bible Society (then called the 'Bible Society at Philadelphia'), which was the first of the kind on this continent, and in 1819 became first president of the board of education of the Presbyterian church.
- Merged into the Old Pine Street Church in 1965. See Presbyterian Historical Society and The Old Pine Story.
- Ralston's letter to a friend in Britain expressing his idea to start the Bible Society. See 
- Webster, J.P. (2014). Vanishing Philadelphia: Ruins of the Quaker City. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-62585-134-5. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.