[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].
[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].

[Boston merchant’s rum, molasses and timber trades ledger].

Boston, 1754–1770. 4to (14.5” x 5.75”), full pigskin?. 196 pp. of manuscript. 12 leaves with losses. With label of “Ann & Sarah Stone Stationers and Booksellers” of London.

An extensive ledger kept by a Boston merchant recording fifteen years of maritime trade with Quebec, Newfoundland, Maryland, the West Indies, etc. in the lead-up to the Boston Tea Party; populating these pages are many noted Boston smugglers and merchants.

This ledger was kept by a presently unidentified Boston trader and schooner-owner who ran an operation in Boston Harbor and owned shares in many of the voyages documented here (e.g. “my quarter part of the freight made in schooner Rainbow to Quebec”). It offers an in-depth look at Boston’s role as both importer and exporter in the Triangle Trade. The sheer amount of exported rum it records attests to Boston’s leading export, which essentially served as currency. By the late-18th century, Boston had some sixty distilleries. From 1750 to 1773, however, the series of acts and duties levied by the British against colonial maritime trade diminished revenue, in turn leading to Revolution (the general decline in business recorded in this ledger after 1769 would appear to reflect this downturn). By the time of the outbreak of war, Boston commerce was a distant third behind Philadelphia and New York.

The primary activity recorded is between Boston and Quebec, Maryland (Annapolis Royal), Virginia, Halifax, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. Many voyages to Quebec involve the 20-ton schooner Phoenix—a trip that typically took three months and a week. As recorded here, the amount of rum conveyed to Quebec per trip ranges anywhere from 124 to 6,000 gallons. The ledger-keeper often gives full, detailed accounts of the cargo shipped. Other schooners named include the Mainsail, Rainbow (David Wier, Master), Rose (George Hodgkins, Master), Phoenix, Seaflower (John Barnard, Master), and Dolphin (Henry Hunter, Master). The sloop Sunflower (the first ship to bring expelled Acadians from Nova Scotia to Boston in 1755) also makes an appearance. The primary wharves mentioned are Long Wharf, Wandell's Wharf, and Gray’s Wharf.

Also recorded here are wages paid to various laborers—carpenters, ropemakers, and blockmakers—who repair, outfit, and conduct work on schooners. The work done includes “washing the compasses”; “making a pair of oars”; “planking”; iron work; “painting ye schooner,” etc. In addition to rum, the commodities shipped include rye, wine, sugar, cotton, shoes, candles, timber, Lisbon salt, tobacco, chocolate, tea, sheep wool, canvas, snuff, nutmeg, salt, indigo, coffee, corn, meat, and glass. Passing references are sometimes made to specific voyages (e.g., “8 June 1758. Sent by Elishua Glover to St. Johns in Newfoundland one hundred and thirteen [lbs] of sugar, six pair of men’s shoes [etc.] on board the schooner Dolphin”). The merchant’s wife, Johanna, makes several appearances, and may have worked in some capacity for him (providing a clue to the identity of the present author). Frequently wives and children appear under the accounts of men. The merchant also rents-out property; supplies coffins; pays duties at the Custom House (Boston paid more in customs receipts than anywhere else because the city had more British officials at Customs to pay off); manages estates of individuals; records disbursement paid for voyages and insurance; records earnings from voyages; hires ships, etc.

The ledger is organized primarily by individual/client, and sometimes by voyage. Figures that recur with frequency include William Mackay, David Wier, John Wier, Robert Wier, James Miller, James Fleming, David Malcom, John Greenland, Joseph Whitmore Cooper, Capt. Robert McCurdy, Capt. Hopstill Foster (a Boston gunsmith), Henry Hunter, et al. Some of the men who were most engaged in supplying rum to Quebec include William Mackery and the Wier brothers, who often worked together. Robert Wier (1768–1804) was a distiller and owner of North End Coffee House in Boston, and later owned the Philadelphia Coffee House. Capt. Daniel Malcolm (ca. 1725–1769) was a merchant, smuggler, and member of the Sons of Liberty, known for resisting British authorities and revenue acts in the years leading up to the Revolution (after Daniel’s death in 1769 his wife continues his account here). Daniel’s brother Capt. John Malcom (1723–1788) was a Loyalist Customs officer; he was tarred and feathered twice by the Sons of Liberty in 1773. John is the subject of the well-known British print portraying one assault on him, The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, or, Tarring & Feathering (1774), attributed to Philip Dawe.

Affixed to the front paste-down of this volume is the delightful label of Ann & Sarah Stone, Stationers and Booksellers on London-Bridge, with a highly particularized list of their wares, including “Accompt Books and Shop Books, all sorts of Writing Paper, Gilt paper, and othe sorts, stamp’d Paper, indentures, Bonds and Bills of Lading,” etc., etc.

A rich ledger documenting Boston’s role in the Triangle Trade in the years leading up to the Revolution.

CONDITION: Good, occasional losses to the text; covers fair.

Item #6834

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