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William Wilson receipt book

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0149

Scope and Contents

This receipt book records payments William Wilson of New Castle County, Delaware, made to his creditors between 1785 and 1798.

The entries in this receipt book reflect payments made by Wilson for various goods and services. After Wilson made a payment, his creditor would record the date, the amount received, and his or her signature in Wilson’s receipt book, providing him with confirmation that his debt was paid. Some entries capture the nature of the transaction while others record only the amount paid. Most of Wilson’s payments were for goods including molasses, sugar, tobacco, soap, candles, rum, salt, coffee, tea, earthenware, wool hats, gunpowder, indigo, chocolate, and brandy.

The book captures transactions with several prominent Wilmington merchants, including Thomas Lea, John Shallcross, Joseph Shipley, Samuel Lovering, and several members of the Gilpin and Mendenhall families. Wilson also frequently transacted with Wilmington shopkeeper John Serrill. In addition to payment for goods, the entries show Wilson paying taxes, purchasing stock in the Bank of Delaware, and paying for a subscription to the Delaware Gazette. Most of Wilson’s early payments were recorded in pounds, shillings, and pence, but by the 1790s a substantial number of transactions were recorded in dollars and cents.

At the back of the volume there is inscription in pencil briefly identifying William Wilson as well a schedule of lessons, including writing, music, dancing, French, and horsemanship.

This volume is bound with brown leather over boards and consists of 242 pages of unlined, laid paper, most with handwritten text in black ink.


  • Creation: 1785 May 29-1798 August 29


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

William Wilson was likely a merchant or shopkeeper located in New Castle County, Delaware, during the last two decades of the eighteenth century. Many of his business associates and creditors listed in this receipt book were Wilmington-area merchants and mercantile firms, including Samuel Lovering, Joseph Shipley, Broom & Shallcross, Tatnall & Lea, and various members of the Gilpin family. Wilson’s payments for large quantities of foodstuffs and dry goods suggests that he was a wholesaler or retailer in the area.

Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware: 1609-1888. Volume 2. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888. John Serrill ledger, 1782-1792, Delaware Historical Society, Wilmington, Delaware. Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 242 pages ; 17 cm


This receipt book records payments William Wilson of New Castle County, Delaware, made to his creditors between 1785 and 1798.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, May 2016

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0096 Account Books and Ledgers collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0149: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Processing Information

Processed by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, December 2017

Finding aid for William Wilson receipt book
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 December 18
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA