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Guide to the John Hook papers, 1737-1889 and undated

Abstract

Scottish merchant and Tory, of Hale's Ford (Franklin Co.), Va.

Letters, papers, and mercantile records belonging to John Hook of the mercantile firm of Bowker Preston, Hook's son-in-law, and Smithson H. Davis at Goose Creek, Bedford Co., Va.; and of a similar firm of Asa, Smithson H., and Alexander G. Holland and John D. Booth at Hale's Ford and Germantown, both in Franklin Co., the Holland family apparently being connected with the Hook family by marriage. John Hook's papers consist of daybooks, ledgers, letter books, and memoranda of his mercantile firm and its branch stores, as well as plantation and land records of his extensive holdings and genealogical materials. There is also information concerning sequestration proceedings brought against him by David Ross, a former business partner. The records span the last quarter of the eighteenth century and document the American colonial and post-revolutionary trade system. Records of Bowker Preston and Smithson Davis concern the operation of their mercantile firms, 1813-1830, and include information on goods purchased in Philadelphia, New York City, and Richmond and Lynchburg, Va., and on the tobacco trade in Virginia, especially the effects of the panic of 1819. Records of the Holland family consist of merchants' correspondence, ledgers, account books, and daybooks.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Hook, John, 1745-1808.
Title
John Hook papers 1737-1889 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
30 Linear Feet, Approx. 7392 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Letters, papers, and mercantile records of John Hook (1745-1808), wealthy Scottish merchant and Tory; of the mercantile firm of Bowker Preston, Hook's son-in-law, and Smithson H. Davis at Goose Creek, Bedford County, Virginia; and of a similar firm of Asa, Smithson H., and Alexander G. Holland and John D. Booth at Halesford and Germantown, both in Franklin County, the Holland family apparently being connected with the Hook family by marriage.

The records of John Hook are comprised of daybooks, ledgers, letter books, and memoranda of the mercantile firm of Ross and Hook at New London, Campbell County Virginia, 1771-1784, of branch stores at Bedford Court House and Falling River in Bedford County, and of John Hook's mercantile establishment in Hale's Ford from 1784 to 1808. These records reflect the nature of goods in common use, the volume of trade, the large trade in iron, the manufacture of plantation tools at Hook's blacksmith shop, and the operation of his distillery. Concerning the mercantile operations are various memoranda and notes kept by Hook relative to debts due him, places of abode of the debtors, and the type of security for the debts; schedule of court days in the various counties of Virginia; inventories of goods; and letters relative to the operation of his business. Many of the records reveal information on the operation of Hook's valuable plantations, two in Franklin County and one in Montgomery County; much concerning the purchase, prizing and shipment of tobacco, usually on the barter basis; and information on large-scale purchase of Revolutionary land warrants with long lists of land owned by Hook.

A great proportion of Hook's papers relate to sequestration proceedings brought against him by David Ross, his partner in business from 1771 until after the Revolution. Concerning the suit are numerous depositions, explanations, histories of the operation of the firm, letters, inventories, lists of questions to be asked of his lawyers (Edmund Randolph and Philip Norbonne Nicholas) and witnesses, copies of letters and documents, and petitions to the Court for various concessions. There are many papers and letters relative to Hook's efforts to recover from Congressman George Hancock a slave, kept as a mistress by Hancock, whom Hook's enemies claimed to have been either a free black woman or a white woman kidnapped and held in slavery. Included are long lists of slaves; many papers concerning Hook's determination to serve as administrator of the estate of an Englishman, Jeffrey Gresley, who had owed Hook a large sum; many papers concerning the suit of sequestration after Hook's death; papers dealing with the administration of Hook's estate; numerous depositions and other papers relative to the disposition of the estate of Henry Hook, son of John Hook; and letters discussing the Revolutionary War, fugitive slaves, and prominent political figures.

Included also are papers concerning Hook's troubles with the Bedford County Committee of Safety, and two letter books. The papers connected with the Committee of Safety consist of a summons, a rough draft of Hook's reply, his discharge from jail, his oath of allegiance, and others of a similar nature, all bearing on an accusation that Hook had disseminated pamphlets antagonistic to the American cause. The letter books, 1763-1784, contain much information on mercantile pursuits in colonial Virginia, Hook's partnerships, analyses of trade opportunities at various locations, and information on several Scottish merchants prominent in colonial Virginia and their connections in Scotland. Included also is much information concerning David Ross and his connections with Hook before the Hook-Ross suit was started. Among the letters is information on Hook's family life, his wife, his children, his father and his father's family in Scotland, and his brothers in Jamaica. Records centering around Bowker Preston and Smithson H. Davis pertain to the operation of mercantile establishments at Goose Creek and Falling River in Bedford County from 1813 until about 1830, with letters between the partners concerning goods purchased in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York City, and Richmond and Lynchburg, Virginia; the purchase, prizing, and sale of tobacco; and the disastrous effects of the panic of 1819. There are also inventories of goods, including one in 1819 which contains the titles of many books and different types and styles of merchandise in common use; ledgers, daybooks, and other mercantile records; and personal letters to Preston after the dissolution of the firm.

Records pertaining to the Holland family are, with the exception of a constable's records kept by Asa Holland while an officer of Franklin County, confined to correspondence, ledgers, account books, and daybooks for the mercantile firms of Asa and Smithson H. Holland and John D. Booth.

Included also are manuscript arithmetic books kept by Robert Hook, Peter D. Holland, and John Hook, Jr., and numerous volumes containing accounts of the Ross-Hook lawsuit. Scattered through the papers and memoranda are various recipes for the cure of rheumatism, an affliction of both Hook and Preston. Among the correspondence are a few perfunctory letters from James Innes, H. H. Leavitt, B. W. Leigh, P. N. Nicholas, and Edmund Randolph. Included also are numerous documents signed by W. W. Hening and copies of Hook's letters and legal documents concerning the Ross-Hook suit.

Administrative Information

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

1737-1774 June
Box 1
1774 June-1778 October
Box 2
1778 November-1789 February
Box 3
1789 March-1793 August
Box 4
1793 September-1796 October
Box 5
1796 November-1799 April
Box 6
1799 May-1801 June
Box 7
1801 July-1804 December
Box 8
1802
Box 9
1803
Box 10
1804 January-1805 February
Box 11
1805 March-1806 September
Box 12
1806 October-1807 July
Box 13
1807 August-1808 April
Box 14
1808 May-1808 August 7
Box 15
1808 August 10-1810 August
Box 16
1810 September-1814 August
Box 17
1814 September-1816 October
Box 18
1816 November-1817 May
Box 19
1817 June-1817 September
Box 20
1817 October-1817 December
Box 21
1818 January-1818 March
Box 22
1818 April-1818 June
Box 23
1818 July-1818 October
Box 24
1818 November-1819 January
Box 25
1819 February-1819 May 17
Box 26
1819 May 18-1819 August
Box 27
1819 September-1819 November
Box 28
1819 December-1820 April
Box 29
1820 May-1820 October
Box 30
1820 November-1821 May
Box 31
1821 June-1822 February
Box 32
1822 March-1822 October
Box 33
1822 November-1823 July
Box 34
1823 August-1826 May
Box 35
1826 June-1829 May
Box 36
1829 June-1832 May
Box 37
1832 June-1837 February
Box 38
1837 April-1843
Box 39
1844 January-1848 July
Box 40
1848 September-1889
Box 41
Undated letters
Box 42
Undated letters
Box 43
Undated letters
Box 44
Undated letters
Box 45
Undated letters
Box 46

Volumes Series, 1771-1852

(18 boxes and 42 oversize volumes)
Daybook, 1771-1784
Box 47
Daybook, 1773-1774
Box 48
Daybooks, 1784-1791
Box 49
Daybooks, 1793-1798
Box 50
Daybooks, 1798-1799
Box 51
Daybooks, 1802-1807
Box 52
Daybooks, 1808-1844
Box 53
Account books, 1790-1792
Box 54
Account books, 1773-1819
Box 55
Arithmetic, 1796
Box 56
Indexes
Box 56
Inventories, 1795-1808
Box 56
Land Lists, 1788 and 1804
Box 56
Lists of Balances, 1792-1795
Box 56
Lists of Tax Accounts and Tickets and Fines, 1850
Box 57
Lawsuit Briefs, 1771-1807
Box 57
Market Book, 1818
Box 57
Tax List, 1786-1792
Box 57
Tobacco Records, 1821
Box 57
Estate Inventory Books, 1771-1808
Box 58
Records of Business Transactions, 1771-1801
Box 58
Account Book, 1803-1804
Box 59
Invoice Book, 1799-1807
Box 59
Letter Book, 1763-1772
Box 59
Memorandum Books, 1771-1847
Box 60
Ledgers, 1771-1795
Box 60
Ledgers, 1782-1785
Box 61
Ledgers, 1786-1814
Box 62
Letterbooks, 1774-1809
Box 63
Holland, Peter D.: Arithmetic Book (mss.), 1815-1819. Franklin County, Va., 201 pages, cloth, 33x23 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Account Book, 1818-1819. Bedford County, Va., paper, 30x20 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Day Book, 1816. Bedford County, Va., cloth, 30x22 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Fee Book, 1824-1825. Goose Creek, Va., mutilated.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Inventory, 1819. Goose Creek, Va., unbound, 30x20 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Sales Book, 1817-1818. Goose Creek, Va., paper, 30x20 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Ledger, 1820. Goose Creek, Va., unbound, 40x28 cm.
Box 64
Davis and Preston: Ledger, 1812-1813. Goose Creek, Va., unbound, 45x30 cm.
Box 64
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1838-1839. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 326 pp., cloth, 40x20 cm.
Volume F:1853
Holland and Booth: Day Book, 1839-1840. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 338 pp., cloth, 40x20 cm.
Volume F:1854
Holland, Asa: Day Book and Statements, 1840-1842. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 132 pp., boards, 40x15 cm.
Volume F:1855
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1840-1841. Germantown, Va., boards, 40x18 cm.
Volume F:1856
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Day Book, 1840-1841. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 368 pp., boards, 40x18 cm.
Volume F:1857
Holland and Booth: Day Book, 1841-1853. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., cloth, 40x18 cm.
Volume F:1858
Holland and Booth: Day Book, 1835-1836. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 330 pp., cloth, 32x22 cm.
Volume F:1859
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1835-1842. Hale's Ford, Va., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1860
Holland, Thomas: Day Book, 1837-1838. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 433 pp., cloth, 32x22 cm.
Volume F:1861
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1842-1844. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., boards, 40x15 cm.
Volume F:1862
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Day Book, 1843-1845. Germantown, Va., 272 pp., boards, 30x20 cm.
Volume L:1863
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1844-1845. Germantown, Va., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1864
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1844-1847. Germantown, Va., 107 pp., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1865
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1846-1847. Germantown, Va., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1866
Holland, Asa: Day Book, 1847-1848. Germantown, Va., 78 pp., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1867
Holland, Asa: Book of fees for summons, 1851-1852. Germantown, Va., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1868
Holland, Asa: Fee Book, 1851-1869. Germantown, Va., boards, 38x15 cm.
Volume F:1869
Holland and Booth: Journal, 1837-1840. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 273 pp., calf, 42x28 cm.
Volume F:1870
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Journal, 1845-1848. Germantown, Va., 447 pp., calf, 37x24 cm.
Volume F:1872
Holland, Asa: Ledger, 1831-1832. Germantown, Va., 113 pp., boards, 34x20 cm.
Volume F:1873
Holland, Thomas and Asa: Ledger B, 1833-1850 (Blacksmith Shop). Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 374 pp., calf, 34x20 cm.
Volume F:1874
Holland and Booth: Ledger A, 1835-1837. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 266 pp., calf, 38x24 cm.
Volume F:1875
Holland and Booth: Index to Ledger A, 1835-1837.
Volume F:1875A
Holland and Booth: Ledger B, 1837-1840. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 361 pp., calf, 40x30 cm.
Volume F:1876
Holland and Booth: Index to Ledger B, 1837-1840. Halesford, Va.
Volume F:1876A
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Ledger, 1840-1841. Germantown, Va., 280 pp., calf, 40x30 cm.
Volume F:1877
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Ledger, 1841-1843. Germantown, Va., 280 pp., calf, 32x20 cm.
Volume F:1878
Holland and Booth: Ledger, 1841-1843. Germantown, Va., 390 pp., calf, 35x25 cm.
Volume F:1879
Holland, Asa: Ledger, 1842-1845. Germantown, Va., 257 pp., calf, 42x28 cm.
Volume F:1880
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Journal, 1843-1846. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 262 pp., calf, 36x25 cm.
Volume F:1881
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Ledger, 1844-1845. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 260 pp., boards, 34x20 cm.
Volume F:1882
Holland, Asa and S.H.: Ledger, 1845-1847. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., 389 pp., calf, 35x25 cm.
Volume F:1883
Holland, Asa: Ledger, 1847-1848. Germantown, Va., 93 pp., boards, 32x20 cm.
Volume F:1884
Holland, Asa: Record Book, 1851-1852. Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Va., calf, 34x20 cm.
Volume F:1885
Holland, Asa: Court Records, 1850-1851. Franklin County, Va., 222 pages, calf, 32x20 cm.
Volume F:1886
Holland, Asa and M.D.: Record of Receipts, 1831-1833. Virginia, 165 pp., calf, 20x16 cm.
Volume M:1887
Holland, Asa: Shop Book, 1840-1846 (Ledger of Blacksmith Shop). Germantown, Va., 173 pp., boards, 40x15 cm.
Volume F:1888
Davis and Preston: Day Book, 1816-1817. Goose Creek, Va., 720 pp., calf (mutilated), 50x30 cm.
Volume ff:3987
Davis and Preston: Journal, 1817-1818. Goose Creek, Va., 742 pp., calf, 50x30 cm.
Volume ff:3990
Davis and Preston: Journal, 1818-1819. Goose Creek, Va., 730 pp., calf, 50x30 cm.
Volume ff:3991
Davis and Preston: Ledger, 1817-1818. Goose Creek, Va., unbound, 50x30 cm.
Volume ff:3993
Davis and Preston: Index to Ledgers, 1821-1823. Goose Creek, Va., calf, 48x35 cm.
Volume ff:3996

Historical Note

John Hook (1745-1808) came to Virginia at the age of twelve or thirteen years in 1758 as a clerk for William and James Donald, Scotch merchants and ship owners of Greenock, Scotland. He later married Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Colonel John Smith of Goochland to which union six children, at least, were born: Henry Hook (1775-1811), who was educated at William and Mary but died young of alcoholism; John Hook, Jr., a physician who died mysteriously in 1807 in Nashville, Tennessee; Elizabeth, who married Christopher Clark, an attorney and U.S. Representative from Virginia (1804-1806) of Bedford County, Va., and had at least six children of her own; Charlotte, who married Dr. Samuel Griffin first, and had at least four children, and married second William Shrewsbury; Margaret (d. 1822), who married Thomas West, had one daughter, and probably married Smithson H. Davis second; and Catherine, who married Bowker Preston and had at least four children.

Hook's career as a merchant is reflected clearly in his papers after 1771 when he entered into partnership with David Ross, but the place and number of branch stores operated are not always clear. From 1771 to 1784, his main store was located at New London in Campbell County, and during that period and later, he operated a store at Bedford Court House and another known as the Falling River Store in Bedford County. In 1784, he moved to Hale's Ford (also spelled Hailsford), Franklin County. Here he operated a store, a distillery, a blacksmith shop, and three plantations: one on which he lived at Hale's Ford, another one probably more valuable called Maggotty because of its location on Maggotty Creek in Franklin County, and another known as Burksfork in Montgomery County.

Following the Revolutionary War, a significant portion of Hook's life was devoted to the sequestration proceedings instituted against him by David Ross. This suit remained in the courts from 1791 until 1850, long after the death of both principals. The sequestration trials began after Ross criticized Hook's numerous lawsuits, brought against his debtors after the Revolutionary War when the latter were unable to repay. In one case, Hook sued an army commissary, Venable, who had taken Hook's cows for troops in 1781. (Venable was defended by Patrick Henry, whose speech against Hook only added to Hook's unpopularity as a Tory.) When the sequestration proceedings began in 1791, Hook began repeated trips to Richmond and hired lawyers such as James Innes, Edmund Randolph, Philip Norbonne Nicholas, John Marshall, and Patrick Henry. He also attempted to obtain William R. Davie. Following his death, William Wirt and Benjamin Watkins Leigh were employed by his heirs. The suit resulted in Hook's store, distillery, and shop being locked by the sequestrators, as well as an attempt to haul his property eighteen miles from Hale's Ford to the court house for public auction. It also led to animosity towards him in the community.

Another significant portion of the collection centers around the activities of Bowker Preston, Hook's son-in-law, whose mercantile firm was Davis and Preston at Goose Creek (later called Davis Mills) in Bedford County. This firm, composed of Preston and Smithson H. Davis, seemed to prosper until the panic of 1819, after which time it was continued for a while but under great difficulty. After 1819, John O. Leftwhich entered the firm, and by 1830 it appears that all partners were almost bankrupt.

Subject Headings

Related Material

Related Material

The Asa Holland Papers are also held by Duke University's David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The collection consists of routine forms and correspondence relating to Asa Holland's position as postmaster of Hale's Ford, Virginia; letters from Jubal A. Early concerning financial matters; and papers relating to the Rocky Mount Turnpike and the Sons of Temperance.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Hook Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The John Hook papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 1950s.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, 1950s

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2011

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.