William Skinner papers  1768-1779 (bulk 1778)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Skinner papers consist of Skinner's financial records from the last decade of his life. Primarily the collection contains his bills and receipts from London merchants, though tax records and lottery tickets are also included in the collection.

Skinner's accounts with London merchants cover many aspects of life for a wealthy Londoner in the 1770s. His diet is documented through accounts with butchers, grocers, tea dealers, "oylmen," barmen, dealers in bran and oats, and cheesemen. Each account lists the individual items Skinner purchased from cuts of meat to types of tea.

Skinner's wardrobe is also described on many of the receipts, as he visited various linen-drapers, mercers, hatmakers, leather workers, button makers, shoemakers and others. Other accounts include various household expenses, such as for snuff, newspapers, coal, candles, soap, and services including watch repair, washing, and lamp lighting.

Skinner also maintained a carriage and horses. Accounts from John Write describe in detail a carriage he made for Skinner, including two receipts for a carriage tax (folders 21 & 24). In addition, other accounts are for straw and hay, as well as the care of horse and livery stables. A receipt from Thomas Bedford "Sadler & Cap Maker" lists "Sponges for y. Coachman" (folder 1) and other accounts describe livery for coachmen and footmen.

In addition to owning a stable, Skinner maintained a house at Number 13 Wimpole Street in London and possibly additional properties. His accounts document building materials purchased, and they frequently identify the work done by various builders. A receipt from John Clark is for a "½ Day Work Tining top of a Manger & Bottom rail of Rack & fixing 2 Rock Staves in one of the Standing in Stable & Cutting 2 Wine Casks to Make tules" (folder 3). Another receipt from Thomas Cranfield, a bricklayer, is for "Altering the kitchen Range and taking down the Oven and Resetting ditto" (folder 4).

Additional building materials came from the merchant represented most frequently in the collection, "Moody & Meader, Wharfingers," who, between 1773-1779, sent Skinner 50 accounts. The most common item purchased of the wharfingers was timber, including decorative wood and laths and, on one receipt, Moody & Meader are identified as "Timber Merchants" (folder 13). Additional receipts from Moody & Meader reflect a variety of goods bought mostly in bulk, including coal and oats, butter by the firkin, and beer by the hogshead.

Three doctor's accounts for Skinner, as well as other members of Skinner's household, are from "Stale and Coleman." One account lists medical fees over the course of ten years, 1768-1778, and includes a range of services such as "A Draught and Mixture of Butter," "Cinnamon Water and Bottle," "Salt of Tarter," "Bleeding and Eye Water," and "A Journey: Bleeding and Blister Foot" (folder 18).

While most accounts are addressed to Skinner and for goods or services he purchased, his mother-in-law Lady Warren and daughter Miss Skinner are mentioned on some receipts. Others are addressed to or for goods purchased by Mr. Farmer and other men, who may have been extended family members or employees in Skinner's household.

In addition to documenting the purchases of one man, the accounts are also representative of receipts from the 1770s. The receipts are on a variety of sizes of paper and vary in style, with some including personal notes. An account from John Roberts is on the same page as a letter to Skinner, which includes news of the Revolutionary War (folder 16). Many of the merchants had printed letterheads on their accounts, some of which include advertisements for products. S. Brunt who sold "Mineral Waters Wines &c." included his account on a sheet printed with a list of his wares and prices (folder 2). Edward John's bill is written on the back of a printed list of metal items sold, including "Copper Kitchen Furniture," silverware, ranges, and "Japanned Tea Urns" (folder 9).

Merchants also advertised themselves on their accounts, such as John Shearwood, whose printed header described him as "Hatter to their Majesties, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Princess Amelia" (folder 17). Other merchants included illustrations representing the names of their shops, such as the "Plume of Feathers" (folder 3) the "Golden Ball" (folder 15) or "The Good Woman," for which the letterhead portrayed a woman without a head (folder 4).

Miscellaneous expenses include receipts for land, window and carriage taxes; pew rentals, taxes to the Parish of Mary-le-Bone, a Tithe of Westbury, rent for water (folder 24), and four lottery tickets. (folder 25).

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