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  • Writer's pictureHistory Revealed

Supplying the Store

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

Sometimes the ledgers provide a little levity, as found in today's #TranscriptionTuesday post. When the Colchester store first opened, it needed to have supplies available for its customers which meant buying some items off of competitors rather than waiting for their arrival from overseas.

Alexander Henderson purchased from Messrs Carlyle & Dalton, "1 quarter cask Madeira wine recommended to me by Mr Dalton upon honor to be good but has turnd out upon opening very indifferent indeed."
The Colchester store purchased a cask of turned Madeira wine. Account of Messrs Carylye & Dalton, Colchester 1758/1760 ledger, folio 83.

In June 1759, Alexander Henderson purchased (not quite 1 year after opening the store in Colchester) from Messrs Carlyle & Dalton in Alexandria 280 bushels of salt and a quarter cask of Madeira wine for £35..16..8 (and showing the importance of credit, Henderson didn't actually pay for the salt and wine until 2 months later). Unfortunately for Henderson, it seems as if he was sold wine that was already sour! He noted, "...recommended to me by Mr. Dalton upon honor to be good but has turnd out on opening very indifferent indeed."

Henderson knew about poor quality products and often commented in his letters to John Glassford about their receipt when placing orders. In his first order to Glasgow for products for the store (August 1758), he concluded his list with these observations, "...the Gunpowder last sent turns out extremely bad, almost good for nothing...The Shoes from Killmarnock do not answer...Scots white Linnen is a very bad article have not sent for any of it...There is great complaints of my China. My Brother is of opinion they are not bought of a Good hand. Please order the Gloves from London, those from Glasgow are but mean." At 20 years old, Henderson was certainly not afraid of telling his boss when he felt things were not right!

In looking at all of Henderson's orders, from 1758-1765, he never requested Madeira from Glassford which means he always intended for the wine to be found locally or by other means. Seeking out all these other sources for goods will take time, but is something we hope to do in the future. In the meantime, we looked at what other wine transactions occurred from 1758-1760 and found an earlier purchase of wine from another competitor (Benjamin Grayson) for 3 dozen bottles of Madeira in 1758. Of which, three bottles sold, and an additional 2 gallons, 3 quarts sold with no mention of bottles (probably equates to an additional 11 bottles at 1 quart/bottle). Interestingly, Grayson ended up purchasing 12 of the bottles of wine back the following year!

While there are many other side comments that appear in the ledger, our favorite comment came as part of Henderson's request for goods of Glassford 4 years later (July 1762), when he wrote, "The Inhabitants of this Country have large feet & must have large Shoes, those sent in this year are much too small"!

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