unc logo

Collection Number: 04973

Collection Title: Martin Browne Papers, 1770-1830 and undated

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was processed with support, in part, from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 71 items)
Abstract A native of Leeds, York County, England, Martin Browne worked in the early 1770s as a merchant's clerk in Leeds, and later became a haberdasher in London. Between 1778 and 1789, he immigrated to Virginia and opened a tavern in Frederick County outside Winchester, Va. Browne also farmed; speculated in the flour trade between the Shenandoah Valley and Alexandria and Fredericksburg, Va.; and traded in cloth. His wife Molly was a weaver and also helped run the tavern until its close around 1805. The collection is primarily ledgers, day books, and other volumes, 1789-1808, with scattered financial and legal papers, 1770-1809 and 1830, documenting Martin Browne's tavern in Frederick County, Va., and providing glimpses into his household and farm finances and his legal affairs. A few early items pertain Browne's life in England in the 1770s. Financial and legal papers, almost all 1770-1809, include indentures, correspondence, receipts, accounts and account statements, loan notes, and memoranda. They best describe the tavern business; the flour trade between the Shenandoah Valley and Alexandria and Fredericksburg, Va.; and debt and class relations in the area surrounding Battle Town, Va., and Winchester, Va. One letter contains a copy of an 18th-century drinking song. Some items offer insight into slave-owner relations, especially an 1806 letter in which Browne detailed plans to sell a slave who had poisoned his wagon horses and included a draft bill of sale. The six volumes, 1789-1808, contain tavern and personal accounts; notes and memoranda on customers (some of whom were slaves), personal finances, the flour trade, farm affairs, legal difficulties, and a trip planned to Kentucky in 1804; and recipes for distilling liquors. Volume entries provide information on the occupations of customers; the wages paid day laborers and servants; the local economy, including the role of barter, cash, and debt; the drinking habits of customers and attitudes toward drinking; and the work of local weavers, including Molly Browne.
Creator Browne, Martin, fl. 1770-1830.
Language English.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Martin Browne Papers, #4973, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Provenance
Purchased from Terry Alford of Annandale, Va., in April 1999 (Acc. 98344).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

A native of Leeds, York County, England, Martin Browne (fl. 1770-1830) worked in the early 1770s as a merchant's clerk in Leeds, and later became a haberdasher in London. He left the haberdasher's business in 1778, and sometime between that year and 1789 immigrated to Virginia, where he opened a tavern in Frederick County outside Winchester, Va. Browne, along with his wife, Molly Browne (fl. 1789-1805), operated the tavern until at least 1805. In the early 1800s, Browne also speculated in the flour trade between the Shenandoah Valley and the Alexandria and Fredericksburg, Va., areas, and traded in cloth. Molly Browne was also a weaver. Martin and Molly had several children, including Martin, Jr., and Abel.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Primarily ledgers, day books, and other volumes, 1789-1808, with scattered financial and legal papers, 1770-1809 and 1830, documenting Martin Browne's operation of a tavern in Frederick County, Va., in the early national period, and providing glimpses into his household and farm finances and his legal affairs in the same period. A few early items pertain Martin Browne's career as a merchant's clerk in Leeds, York County, England and as a haberdasher in London in the 1770s. These papers, however, offer little insight into his career and no information on his decision to emigrate.

Financial and legal papers, almost all 1770-1809, include indentures, correspondence, receipts, accounts and account statements, loan notes, and miscellaneous memoranda. They best describe the tavern business, the flour trade between the Shenandoah Valley and the Alexandria, Va., and Fredericksburg, Va., areas, and debt and class relations in the area surrounding Battle Town, Va., and Winchester, Va. . One letter contains a copy of an 18th-century drinking song. They also offer some insight into slave-owner relations. Included is an 1806 letter in which Browne detailed plans to sell a slave who had poisoned his wagon horses.

The six volumes, 1789-1808, contain tavern and personal accounts; notes and memoranda on customers (some of whom were slaves), personal finances, the flour trade, farm affairs, legal difficulties, and a trip planned to Kentucky in 1804; and recipes for distilling liquors. Volume entries provide information on the occupations of customers; the wages paid day laborers and servants; the local economy, including the role of barter, cash, and debt; the drinking habits of customers and attitudes toward drinking; and the work of local weavers, including Molly Browne.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Financial and Legal Papers, 1770-1809, 1830, and undated.

59 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Financial and legal papers, 1770-1809, 1830, of Martin Browne relating to his operation of a tavern in Frederick County, Va., 1790-1805; his household finances and speculation in the flour trade, 1790-1809; and his career as a clerk and as a haberdasher in England in the 1770s. Only two items are dated 1830. Papers include indentures, correspondence, receipts, accounts and account statements, loan notes, and miscellaneous memoranda.

Early papers are a 1770 agreement (OP-4973/1) signed by Browne to work as a clerk for merchant Robert Green of Leeds, York County, England; an undated list of bags of goods received from various drapers by Robert Green; and a notice, 25 November 1778, of the dissolution of Browne's partnership with Richard Green in the haberdasher's business in the Haymarket area of London.

A few tavern records, 1792-1805 and undated, include letters requesting payment of accounts, account statements, orders Browne placed with individuals for goods, and receipts for accounts paid. Undated items include recipes for distilling liquors and notes Browne made concerning distances between various Virginia locations.

Personal items, 1790-1809 and undated, are scattered correspondence, receipts, loan notes, and statements of Browne's accounts with dry goods merchants, tanners, blacksmiths, and grocers in Battle Town, Va. Many receipts pertain to Browne's activities as a speculator in the flour market between the Shenandoah Valley and the Alexandria, Va., and Fredericksburg, Va., areas. A few undated items are accounts and notes relating to a court case, McKern v. Browne, which seems to pertain to his flour market activities. A number of items, 1802-1806, including correspondence, receipts, and account summaries, relate to Browne's final settlement of his accounts with the estate of John O'Bannion.

Two letters of note appear in the correspondence. One, 27 February 1799, to Browne from John Green, a fellow immigrant who was teaching school in Virginia, discusses Green's school and the inoculation of children in the neighborhood against smallpox. Enclosed is his transcription of a drinking song, "The Drunkard's Consolation on Ale Being Raised." Another letter, February 1806, from Browne to Thomas Stribling, details Browne's plans to sell a slave named Tom, who had poisoned his wagon horses. A draft notice of sale for Tom appears at the bottom of the letter.

Two items dated 1830, are indentures promising to pay for items bought at a sale Browne held. Miscellaneous undated items include a list of prices for European engravings, notes on the rental of farm land, and a multiplication table.

Folder 1

1770, 1778, and 1770s #04973, Series: "1. Financial and Legal Papers, 1770-1809, 1830, and undated. " Folder 1

Folder 2

1790, 1792, 1797, 1799, 1801-1809, 1830 #04973, Series: "1. Financial and Legal Papers, 1770-1809, 1830, and undated. " Folder 2

Folder 3

1790s-1809 #04973, Series: "1. Financial and Legal Papers, 1770-1809, 1830, and undated. " Folder 3

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1789-1808.

12 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Ledgers, a memorandum book, and day books, 1789-1808, relating to Martin Browne's operation of a tavern in Frederick County, Va.; his distillation of alcoholic beverages; his household income and expenditures; his speculation in the flour trade; his legal affairs; and Molly Browne's activities as a weaver. The volumes provide some information on the Brownes' farming activities and offer insight into the social, economic, and occupational structure of the countryside around Winchester in Frederick County. Years best documented are 1789-1804. No entries appear for the year 1806.

Volume 1, a ledger, 1789-1804, contains accounts Martin Browne maintained for histavern. The vast majority of entries, made by customer name, are dated 1789-1796. A handful are dated 1801, 1803, and 1804 (see pages 8 and 11); there are none for 1802. Volume 2 is an index to Volume 1. Volume 3 is a similar tavern ledger for 1797-1804. Volume 3 entries, also made by customer, are in summary form. The accounts in these volumes are with local residents for alcoholic beverages, molasses, vinegar, honey, tobacco, and sundries, and with travelers and other boarders for drink, food, lodging, and laundry services. Entries suggest that many of Browne's customers paid him by bartering goods (such as wheat and salt) and services (such as farm work, carpentry, shoemaking, and weaving). Marginal notes Browne made in the volumes and the occasional household and other accounts included provide information on the occupations and racial and ethnic backgrounds of customers and employees; on wages paid to day laborers and to a servant, Betsy Duty, who seems to have worked at the tavern; on tavern, household, and farm expenditures; and on the drinking habits of area residents. On occasion, Browne also made notes to himself on directions and distances to local destinations and on the activities of Molly Browne, who helped maintain the tavern, settling accounts and purchasing goods in her husband's absence. Information on Molly Browne's weaving activities, as well as those of other area weavers, appears in many of the entries.

In Volume 4, a memorandum book, 1793-1805, Martin Browne recorded a few accounts, memoranda to himself on various subjects, and recipes for distilling liquors. The memoranda note his and his wife's activities and tasks to be done; comment on the actions of boarders and employees; discuss problems with livestock; mention land purchases made; detail preparations for a trip to Kentucky in 1804; and record promises made concerning future payment of accounts. For recipes and notes on distilling ale, a peach cordial, and cherry bounce, see pages 19 and 25-30. Accounts, 1793-1798, entered by customer name, are for tavern purchases. There are no accounts for 1799-1802 or 1804. Of interest is a long memorandum (p. 6, 8, 10-11, 17-18) Browne wrote on 13 October 1803 concerning the possibility either of building a distillery and cooper's shop on land he owned in the Virginia mountains or of selling the land and purchasing land in Kentucky or the Ohio River valley instead. Enclosures to the volume include two letters, 7 October 1803, discussing Browne's imprisonment for debt in Wincester and requesting that a debtor to Browne settle his accounts so that Browne could pay off his own.

Volume 5, a day book, 1797-1805, contains entries, organized by date, of payments received or made for tavern goods bought and sold and for purchases made by Martin Browne and Molly Browne for foodstuffs and dry goods in Battle Town, Va., and Winchester, Va. Entries also include expenditures for doctor's services, tavern licensing fees, and sheriff's fees. There are also notes on farm, tavern, and household matters. Scattered for most years, the entries are fullest for 1797-1798 and 1800-1803. No entries are dated 1804.

Volume 6 is a similar day book with entries dated 1803-1808. Entries are incomplete, with 1803-1805 being the best represented. No entries are dated 1806. The volume documents tavern transactions, 1803-1805, and Browne's participation in the flour trade between the Shenandoah Valley and the Alexandria, Va., and Fredericksburg, Va., areas (all entries for 1807-1808 concern the flour trade). Memoranda also appear on Browne's boarders, neighbors, and customers. Of interest are entries for dates noted as Tryal day, which illustrate the importance of such days to tavern income.

Folder 4

Volume 1: Ledger, 94 p., 1789-1801, 1803-1804 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 4

Folder 5

Volume 1 enclosures #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 5

Folder 6

Volume 2: Index (alphabetical by name) to Volume 1, 21 pages, undated #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 6

Folder 7

Volume 3: Ledger, 22 pages, 1797-1804 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 7

Folder 8

Volume 3 enclosures #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 8

Folder 9

Volume 4: Memorandum book, 35 pages, 1793-1798, 1803, 1805 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 9

Folder 10

Volume 4 enclosures #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 10

Folder 11

Volume 5: Day book, 38 pages, 1797-1803, 1805 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 11

Folder 12

Volume 5 enclosures #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." Folder 12

Oversize Volume SV-4973/6

Volume S-6: Day book, 41 pages, 1803-1805, 1807-1808 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." SV-4973/6

Oversize Paper OP-4973/1

Agreement between Martin Browne and Robert Green, 3 December 1770 #04973, Series: "2. Volumes, 1789-1808." OP-4973/1

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Items separated include an oversize paper (OP-4973/1) and an oversized volume (SV-4973/6).

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Jill D. Snider, August 1999

Encoded by: Jill D. Snider, August 1999

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

This collection was processed with support, in part, from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

Back to Top