Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Imlay and John Imlay, Jr., Collection, 1795-1824

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: John Imlay and John Imlay, Jr., collection
Creator: Imlay, John, 1749-1813 and Imlay, John, Jr.
Inclusive dates: 1795-1824
Bulk dates: 1795-1801
Extent: 46 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of 46 business letters and financial records, which primarily relate to commerce in and between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Caribbean, 1795-1801. Early manuscripts primarily relate to fabrics, buttons, and similar materials traded by Philadelphia merchant John Imlay. Later business letters are addressed to his son, John Imlay, who lived in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and also participated in West Indian commerce.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1987. M-2373.6.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

John Imlay and John Imlay, Jr., collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

John Imlay was born in New Sharon, Pennsylvania, on December 18, 1749, the son of Johnston Imlay and Isabella Montgomery. After his father's death in 1763, he took charge of the family's wheelwright business. By 1776 he had moved to Philadelphia, where he became a successful merchant, primarily interested in the Caribbean trade. In 1783, he moved to Allentown, New Jersey, where he lived until his death in 1813. He married Elizabeth De Bow on January 25, 1773, and they had twelve children, including John Imlay, Jr. Following Elizabeth's death, John Imlay, Sr., married Ann Cafferty. John Imlay, Jr., lived in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and also worked as a merchant.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 46 business letters and financial records, which primarily relate to commerce in and between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Caribbean, 1795-1801. Early manuscripts primarily relate to fabrics, buttons, and similar materials traded by Philadelphia merchant John Imlay. Later business letters are addressed to his son, John Imlay, who lived in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and also participated in West Indian commerce.

The Imlay collection includes financial documents, such as receipts and accounts, related to the Imlays' shipping interests and to their involvement in the clothing trade between 1795 and 1796. Among other items, they dealt in ribbon, linen, and buttons. Later business correspondence (1795-1801) comprises the bulk of the collection, and is addressed to the elder John Imlay or to his son. Correspondents from locations such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Tortola, St. Thomas, and other Caribbean locations discussed the shipments of rum, sugar, and other goods. Some letters relate to the capture of merchant ships by privateers or allude to conflicts with France (May 22, 1799, and January 14, 1800, for example). Though most letters are purely financial in nature, correspondents occasionally provided local news. Some letters are addressed to other merchants operating in similar industries and regions. Post-1801 items include a financial document regarding the estate of Thomas Leavett, settled in 1817, and a 2-page manuscript of one-line notes about planting crops on an unidentified farm between May and October 1824.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Baltimore (Md.)--Commerce.
    • Caribbean Area--Commerce.
    • Clothing trade.
    • Merchants.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Commerce.
    • Privateering.
    • Saint Thomas (V.I.)
    • Shipping.
    • United States--Commerce--Caribbean Area.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   32, Small Collections  
    John Imlay and John Imlay, Jr., collection [series]:
    Folders   16-20  
      January 5, 1795-May 5, 1824, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Storms, F. Dean. History of Allentown, New Jersey. Allentown, N.J.: Allentown Messenger, 1965.