Frost family business records, 1727-1884 (inclusive), 1764-1884 (bulk)

About this Collection

Frost family.
Account books.Daybooks.Ledgers (account books).Letters.Ships' papers.Shipping records.
Collection Title
Frost family business records, 1727-1884 (inclusive), 1764-1884 (bulk)
8 linear feet (70 volumes, 1 carton, 4 boxes)|Copies: 1 microfilm reel.
Baker Library, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Content Notes

The Frost family business records include daybooks, ledgers, correspondence, ships' papers, bills, and accounts, dated 1727-1884. The papers mainly concern general stores operated by George Frost, Sr., his son, and grandsons in Durham, New Hampshire, as well as shipping and lumber interests of the family. The collection contains several account books of George Frost Jr.'s father-in-law, Newmarket merchant John Burleigh, and his estate, dated 1764-1789. Also included are wood and lumber accounts (1806-1833) and packet accounts (1818-1822) of Frost, Jr.; accounts for Mellen and Frost (1821-1827) and Mooney and Frost (1826-1836), and for Moses Hall of Durham (1817-1818); and records of George and William P. Frost.Records of George Frost, Sr., include accounts of voyages financed by his uncle William Pepperell to Europe before Frost came of age and joined Pepperell's counting house, and ledgers, daybooks, and letters related to operation of general stores in New London, Connecticut, and New Castle and Durham, New Hampshire; consignment sales in Newfoundland; shipping and shipbuilding; and mill operations and lumber trade. The volumes show import and sales of West Indies commodities like molasses, sugar, and rum, salt and indigo from Europe, and powder, shot, hardware, and dry goods from Great Britain. There are accounts of vessels owned by Frost, including the schooner Miriam and brigantine Postilion, and the schooner Flying Fish, which he commanded on voyages to the West Indies and Canada. Some accounts concern and spinning, weaving, and sewing done by women. The Frost family probably enslaved at least one man, and some accounts with customers or other merchants were balanced by labor of slaves. One account book indicates Frost was involved in the transport of an African boy to America in 1753. There are additionally references to the family's land investments in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and accounts of a farm Frost owned, as well as some records of legal fees associated with Frost's tenure as a justice.George Frost, Jr.'s records include ledgers and daybooks for the Durham general store, where he carried on his father's business, as well as stores he opened in Barrington and Northwood, New Hampshire. Frost, Jr., sold general merchandise and lumber, and his accounts also show charges for his legal services as magistrate and management of the family's property in Chichester, New Hampshire.
  • is available on microfilm (1 reel, 35 mm.) for use in the Historical Collections Reading Room, Baker Library. Order no. 91-3059.
  • Robert W. Lovett, "A Tidewater Merchant in New Hampshire," Business History Review, vol. 33, Spring 1959, pp. 60-72.

Biographical Notes

The Frost family were merchants and keepers of a general store in Durham, New Hampshire. George Frost, Sr., (1720-1796) entered the counting house of his uncle, William Pepperell (1696-1759), of Kittery, Maine, and began his maritime career in 1740 as a supercargo and captain on Pepperell's vessels. Frost was a ship master for about twenty years, in addition to carrying on his mercantile interests. In 1748, he opened a general store in New London, Connecticut, before moving back to his place of birth in New Castle, New Hampshire, in about 1750 and opening a store there. Frost partnered with London merchant George Richards, and married his widow at some point in the 1750s. In 1764, he married Margaret Weeks Smith, widow of Deacon Ebenezer Smith, apparently gaining control of mill operations she owned or inherited. By 1770, Frost and his family were settled in Durham, where he opened another store. Frost imported West Indies and British goods on vessels he owned, which he sold at retail or on consignment to other merchants in New England and Newfoundland. He was also involved in shipbuilding, farming, and lumber trade, and Frost was a justice in the Court of Common Pleas (1773-1791) and New Hampshire delegate to the Continental Congress (1777-1779). George, Jr. (1765-1841), Frost's son with his second wife, took over his father's business in Durham and the family farm, and also operated stores in Barrington and Northwood, New Hampshire. He additionally served as a local magistrate and state representative. He married Margaret Burleigh (1770-1846), daughter of John Burleigh (1717-1776), merchant of Newmarket, New Hampshire, and owner of a store and a saw mill located at the lower falls of the Lamprey River. His sons, George Frost III (1801-1879) and William P. Frost (1802-1893) managed the business as G. and W. P. Frost from about 1826.