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John Herdman's Day Book

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0147

Scope and Content Note

John David Herdman, Jr.'s, mostly single-line daybook shows the transactions for his hotel and tavern, located in New Ark (now Newark), Delaware. The daybook includes the purchase of alcoholic beverages with the price, product, and amount sold. The types of alcohol include: brandy, gin, wine, "cherry," beer, porter, cider, and whisky; whisky being the most frequently purchased. The serving sizes for the tavern include: half-gill, gill, mug, half-pint, and pint. Included among the purchases are charges for lodging in the tavern, apparently to men only, and money loaned.

Herdman's establishment had a competing business in the opposite end of the city, but attracted travelers from a nearby turnpike. The book includes payments for turnpike bills. In 1811 Herdman raised funds to have roads paved in Newark by managing a lottery. Another transaction not related to the tavern and hotel is a $12 payment to a Sarah Massey for the services of a "black boy" who was being returned to her.

The book itself, paper sheets and binding, were made locally. The paper came from the Milford Paper Mill, built by Thomas Meteer in the late eighteenth-century and operated by the family until 1841. The Curtis family purchased the mill soon after and operated it until 1997. The book has comb pasted paper covered boards for the exterior; decorative, scissor-cut paper label, titled in the manuscript, applied to the upper board; 77 leaves of laid paper with the watermark "Meteer" containing 154 pages of ink and, occasionally, red pencil manuscript or more modern ballpoint pen.

Listed on the front endpaper of this account book are names of expensive brands of alcohol: "Madeira Wine, Champagne, Lisbon Wine & Malaga d[itt]o., Sherry & Tenneriffe [sic] Wine, Sicily Muscat Port & Burgundy." These items do not appear in the daybook, but may have been in the inventory for wealthier clientele.

On the front, inside cover is an attached sheet with the genealogy of John David Herdman's family written on lined paper with ballpoint pen.


  • Creation: 1816 January 2-1818 June 30


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

John David Herdman, Jr., (1770-1832) was a tavern and hotel owner. This business had previously been owned by Joseph Hossinger and was located in the town of New Ark, now Newark, Delaware. Herdman's son, William David Herdman (1805-1882), served in the Delaware House of Representatives and the State Senate during the 1830s.

This extensive account of a local business's financial transactions may contain useful information on the way of life for Delaware citizens in the early 19th century. Some of the customers listed in the book are William Watson, George Crookham, John Brower, David Colwell, John Atkins, Benjamin Holland, and Doctor Handy.

Biographical information derived from collection.


1 volume (154 pages) ; 32 cm


This Newark, Delaware, hotel and tavern daybook belonged to owner, John David Herdman, Jr. It covers transactions for two-and-a-half years of the business with over 3000 entries, including the sale of beer, wine, and spirituous liquors from the tavern as well as charges for lodging at the hotel.


Purchase, May 2012.

Materials Available in Alternative Format

A digitized copy of the daybook is available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0206, James Hossinger papers

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

Shelving Summary

  1. Item 0147: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096


Processed and encoded by Marrette Pearsall, October 2012.

Finding aid for John Herdman's Day Book
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2012 October 17
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