Appendix - Glossary

Joshua Johnson's Letterbook, 1771-1774: Letters from a Merchant in London to his Partners in Maryland. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1979.

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'Appendix - Glossary', in Joshua Johnson's Letterbook, 1771-1774: Letters from a Merchant in London to his Partners in Maryland, (London, 1979) pp. 161-162. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

(C) Glossary

(Based on John Mair, Book-keeping Methodiz'd: or a Methodical Treatise of Merchant-Accompts. . ., 5th edn., Dublin, 1754; and Thomas Mortimer, A General Commercial Dictionary, 2nd edn., London, 1819.)

allowance tobacco: portion of imported tobacco on which duty was waived when weighed at entry at the Customs House, 8 lb. per hogshead [of approximately 1,000 lb. each] being deducted for 'turn of the scale' and 2 lb. for 'sample'. This 10 lb. per hogshead of duty-free or allowance tobacco could not be exported with drawback (q.v.) but could be sold for domestic consumption.

bill of exchange: a financial document, mandate or security by which a person in one place (the drawer) transferred or realised credits in the hands of another in another place (the drawee). To transfer, the drawer simply drew a bill of exchange upon the drawee ordering him to pay a certain amount to a specified person (the payee). To realise effects, the drawer sold the bill of exchange to another in his own place of residence whom he named in the bill as the initial payee but who could convey his rights to others by endorsement. Bills of exchange from Maryland on London were normally payable thirty or sixty days after presentation (sight). On receipt, a bill of exchange was taken by the ultimate payee to the drawee who either accepted it or noted its presentation but refused acceptance. An accepted bill of exchange passed easily from hand to hand by endorsement and could be discounted at a bank. A noted bill of exchange, if still not paid at the end of the time specified in it, was formally protested before a notary public and returned. The ultimate payee had legal recourse against the person who had conveyed the bill to him and so backwards, signature by signature, to the original drawer of the bill. In Maryland, a fifteen per cent penalty was recoverable on protested bills of exchange.

bill of lading: a document in which a master of a ship acknowledged the receipt of goods as cargo and obliged himself to deliver the same in good condition at the place and to the person consigned.

bill of parcels: a note of the contents and price of goods delivered by the seller along with the goods to the buyer, and normally specifying the place and time of the sale, the buyer's and seller's names, the terms of payment, the marks and numbers of each piece, barrel, etc., the tare, the price of each item and the total value of the sale. In Virginia and Maryland, bills of parcels were sometimes called shop notes.

bounty: a premium or subsidy paid by the government to the exporters of certain items of British growth or manufacture.

certificate: a document testifying to the landing abroad of foreign goods re-exported with drawback (q.v.). Certificates had in some cases to be returned to obtain drawback or cancel bonds given for duties at importation.

discount: (1) an allowance (calculated at a certain percentage per annum) given by a seller to a buyer for payment before the expiry of the usual or agreed duration of credit; (2) the interest in respect of the time until a bill is payable, deducted by a banker on buying (or 'discounting') an accepted bill of exchange (q.v.).

draught: a colloquial term for a bill of exchange (q.v.).

drawback: the repayment by the government at exportation of all or part of the customs duties paid at the importation of foreign goods, or of excise paid at the manufacture of domestic goods.

hogshead (hhd.): large wooden cask containing c. 1,000 lb. tobacco in the 1770s.

hundredweight (cwt.): 112 lb. in England; 100 lb. in Virginia and Maryland.

invoice: a document containing an account of goods or merchandise shipped by merchants for their correspondents abroad, specifying the date of shipment and the marks, numbers, value, etc. of each package or container shipped. In the London-Chesapeake trade, the invoice contained the names of all suppliers whose bills of parcels (q.v.) were usually attached to the invoice.

manifest: a regular list of a ship's cargo, containing the mark and number of each separate package, the names of the persons by whom the different parcels of goods were shipped and those of the persons to whom they were consigned, the specific commodity in each package, and the freight due on each.

price, long: price of export goods including drawback or bounty which was recovered by buyer.

price, short: price of export goods excluding drawback or bounty which was recovered and retained by seller.

primage: a small customary allowance paid to the master and mariners of a vessel on entering or leaving a port; to the master for the use of his cables and ropes in loading or unloading; to mariners for their help in the same.

shop notes: see under bill of parcels.