J. & J. Amory records, 1761-1797 (inclusive)

About this Collection

Jonathan & John Amory (Firm)
Account books.Invoices.Ledgers (account books).Correspondence.Legal instruments.Negotiable instruments.Sample books.
Collection Title
J. & J. Amory records, 1761-1797 (inclusive)
4 linear feet (46 volumes, 5 boxes).
Baker Library, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Content Notes

The J. & J. Amory records consist of ledgers, journals, accounts, and correspondence relating to the import of British and European goods, and deeds and legal records, dated 1716-1797. The collection also includes invoice books and other records of merchants John & Thomas Amory. Bound ledgers contain a mixture of accounts of J. & J. Amory, Amory's & Taylor, and Amory, Taylor & Rogers, and it is sometimes unclear with which firm the accounts are associated. There are business accounts with European and British merchants including Harrison, Ansley & Co., Watson & Cassoul, Robert & Thomas Wilson, and Edward Dowling & Sons, and local retail sales to John Adams (1735-1824), Reverend Samuel Dana (1739-1798; Harvard AB 1755), legislator and watchmaker Richard Cranch (1726-1811), and Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Thomas Cushing (1725-1788; Harvard AB 1744), among others. There are additionally payments associated with the Amorys' rental properties in Boston; tenants included women, and during the Revolutionary War, Continental Army officers rented several houses. Also included are records of notes endorsed to J. & J. Amory. J. & J. Amory records further include receipts for shares they owned in a Boston glass manufactory; papers, correspondence, and legal documents related to trading partnerships with New England and Philadelphia merchants, including William Barrell, Joseph Marquand, and Samuel Flagg; and property and estate records, some of which were related to legal disputes over debts owed to J. & J. Amory. Correspondence with merchants and associates including Watson & Cassoul, Edward Dowling & Sons, and Stephen Collins, relate to trade and legal matters, and sometimes reference the Revolutionary War. The collection also contains paid bills and receipts for John Amory Sr.'s and Jonathan Amory's family, household, and farm expenses, which show costs of repairs and upkeep of buildings they owned, wages to skilled and unskilled laborers, and payment for clothing, medical care, and education for their children. John & Thomas Amory records contain invoice books, lists of notes they endorsed, and bills of exchange, dated 1782-1797. The firm imported Bibles, salt, textiles, mirrors, hardware, kitchenware, tableware, carpets, and personal items for family members. They traded with British and European merchants including John Hodson & Son, Niviere, Rousseau & Co., and Harrison, Ansley & Co. The invoices are numbered in chronological order, although the arrangement is unclear. There are also drafts issued by the governments of the United States and France from 1781 to 1783 to purchase munitions and supplies for the French naval fleet commanded by Admiral Fran├žois-Joseph Paul de Grasse (1723-1788), which engaged the British Navy at the Battle of the Chesapeake and later the Battle of the Saintes.

Biographical Notes

J. & J. Amory was the import business of brothers Jonathan (1725 or 1726-1797) and John Amory (1728-1803), likely established in the 1750s in Boston. The company sold textiles, clothing, shoes, hosiery, cutlery, tea, and Bibles, hosiery, hats, cutlery, looking glasses (mirrors), and hardware from Great Britain and Europe. J. & J. Amory sold their imports at wholesale to other merchants in New England and Philadelphia, and at retail at their store on King Street in Boston. The brothers also owned land and farms in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and rented out houses in Boston to individual tenants. The house took on Joseph Taylor (1746-1816; Harvard AB 1765) as a partner in 1769 or 1770, and in 1772, Samuel Rogers (1746-1804; Harvard AB 1765) joined, and the firm was renamed Amory, Taylor & Rogers. John Amory, Sr., left for England in 1775, and lived there and in Brussels for the duration of the Revolutionary War, while Jonathan Amory remained in Boston to oversee the business. When John Amory, Sr., returned to Boston, Amory, Taylor & Rogers dissolved, and the brothers reinstated their business as J. & J. Amory. The also invested in a sail cloth manufactory in the late 1780s The family owned a distillery, as well, run by the eldest Amory brother, Thomas (1722-1784; Harvard AB 1741). John & Thomas Amory was established in Boston during the Revolutionary War by John Amory's two sons, John (1759-1832) and Thomas (1762-1823). The firm imported fabrics, shoes, hardware, and Bibles, as well as salt and leathers, and operated a store in Boston. Thomas' sons, Thomas Coffin Amory (1767-1812) and Jonathan Amory tertius (1770-1828; Harvard AB 1778), formed the company Jonathan and Thomas Amory and Company around 1800. Thomas Coffin Amory later operated his own import/export and shipping business.