William Redwood account books


Collection Amb.7256

( Bulk, 1775-1790 ) 1749-1814
(1.25 Linear feet ; 10 volumes)

Summary Information

Repository
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Creator
Redwood, William, 1726-1815.
Title
William Redwood account books
ID
Amb.7256
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1775-1790
Date [inclusive]
1749-1814
Extent
1.25 Linear feet ; 10 volumes
Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto
Sponsor
Processing made possible by generous donations from David Hoffman and Edith Newhall.
Language
English
Text [Volume]
1-10
Abstract
William Redwood, son of Abraham Redwood and his second wife Patience Phillips, was born in 1726 in Newport, Rhode Island. There he worked for a number of years as a merchant in partnership with Elias Bland. Redwood moved to Philadelphia 1772 where he continued business. From 1782 to 1787, Redwood lived at and helped maintain the family's plantation on the island of Antigua in the West Indies. This collection consists of ten account books (ledgers, journals, and daybooks) associated with Redwood. Most of them document his work in Philadelphia; however two volumes contain information on his Newport business and partnership, and two contain detailed financial records concerning the family's Antigua plantation.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited volume and page number here], William Redwood account books (Amb .7256), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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Background Note

William Redwood, son of Abraham Redwood and his second wife Patience Phillips, was born in 1726 in Newport, Rhode Island. He worked for a number of years in partnership with Elias Bland. Together as local merchants, they imported goods from Britain, China, and India for their customers. Redwood moved to Philadelphia 1772 where he continued his mercantile pursuits.

In addition to these New England connections, the Redwood family (through Abraham's marriage to his first wife, Mehetabel Langford) also owned an estate on the island of Antigua in the West Indies. The estate was maintained by a number of Redwood's half-siblings. When his nephew Jonas Redwood died, Redwood traveled to Antigua to help take care of the estate. He lived there from 1782 to 1787 and helped run a plantation located on the estate.

Redwood returned to Philadelphia in 1787 and continued his work as a merchant. He married twice, first to Hannah Holmes, daughter of Samuel and Hannah Holmes, and second to Sarah Saunders, daughter of Joseph and Hannah Saunders. Each marriage produced several children. For a time, Redwood helped keep track of the finances of Joseph Saunders's estate after his death. William Redwood died in Philadelphia in 1815.

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Scope and Content Note

The William Redwood records are comprised of ten financial volumes, journals, daybooks, and ledgers. They span Redwood's career from Newport to Philadelphia to Antigua and date from the mid 1700s to the early 1800s. Redwood's records are exceptionally thorough and highly legible. The Antigua journal (Volume 5) and daybook (Volume 6) contain detailed plantation records, including the hiring and upkeep of workers (with notes on race), frequent recapturing of runaway slaves (who are usually identified by name), a high turnover in overseers, crop plantings, and commerce in farm products.

Other volumes in the collection document Redwood's trade and import business, along with his involvement in specific voyages, including voyages between Newport and Philadelphia as well as to Canton and London. Both the Newport (Volumes 1-2) and Philadelphia (Volumes 3-4, 7-10) account books contain numerous records on trade in a vast array of items from fabrics, knives and forks, clothing articles, to pins, buttons, and sealing wax. In addition to these regular home goods and others, like pens and papers, Redwood also dealt in foodstuffs. These volumes indicate trade spices, salt, cocoa, flour, muscovado sugar, molasses, raisins, coffee, tea, liquors (especially rum), beef, and cheese. Other items of note that appear in Redwood's record include planks of various wood, saltpeter, goat hair and wigs, gold dust, cooperage oil, and indigo.

These volumes also document Redwood's customer base. A number of members of old Philadelphia families appear regularly, such as Thomas and Joshua Gilpin, Edward and Isaac Penington, John Chew, James and William Logan, Thomas and Charles Wharton, Samuel and Levi Hollingsworth, and Clement Biddle. Other business associates who regularly appear include Captain Valentine Wightman, John and Robert Barclay (of London), William Sansom, Thomas Penrose, and William Lippencott, as well as several members of Redwood's own family.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 2013

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-732-6200

Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Provenance unknown.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Commerce.

Personal Name(s)

  • Bland, Elias.

Subject(s)

  • Business records--Pennsylania--Philadelphia--19th century.
  • International trade--18th century.
  • International trade--19th century.
  • Merchants--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--18th century.
  • Merchants--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--19th century.
  • Merchants--Rhode Island--Newport.
  • Newport (R.I.)--Merchants--18th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)–-Merchants-–18th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)–-Merchants-–19th century.
  • Slavery--West Indies--18th century.
  • Trade--China--18th century.

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General note

Project themes: African American; Previous Collection or Call Numbers: 1729

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Collection Inventory

Volume

Journal (Newport) 1749-1760 

1

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Ledger (Newport) 1749-1763 

2

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Wastebook (Philadelphia) 1775-1797 

3

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Ledger (Philadelphia) 1775-1814 

4

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Journal (Antigua) 1782-1787 

5

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Daybook (Antigua) 1782-1787 

6

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Ledger (Philadelphia) 1787-1796 

7

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Journal (Philadelphia) 1787-1790 

8

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Daybook (Philadelphia) 1787-1790 

9

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Daybook (Philadelphia) 1797-1814 

10

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