Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John L. Tillinghast Distillery Ledger, 1786-1789

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, March 2012

Summary Information
Title: John L. Tillinghast Distillery ledger
Creator: Tillinghast, John L.
Inclusive dates: 1786-1789
Extent: 1 volume
This ledger, kept by John L. Tillinghast between 1786 and 1789, contains financial records related to his New York distillery. Tillinghast primarily traded rum, and his customers included prominent New York residents such as Isaac Roosevelt and Henry Rutgers.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2005. M-4490.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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 L. Tillinghast Distillery Ledger, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John L. Tillinghast operated a distillery in New York City between 1786 and 1789. Its products included rum, shrub, and wine, and his business took him to Alexandria and Yorktown, Virginia; Charleston, S.C.; and Providence, Rhode Island.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This ledger, kept by John L. Tillinghast between November 11, 1786, and June 11, 1789, contains 110 pages of financial records related to his New York distillery. Each entry documents transactions with a particular individual or company, with facing pages providing debits and credits. Tillinghast primarily sold rum, wine, and shrub, with rum usually priced by the barrel. His accounts also document payments for sugar, fruit juices, labor, and molasses. Though all of the accounts were written in New York, Tillinghast recorded dealings from business trips to Alexandria, Virginia (p. 2); Charleston, South Carolina (p. 4); Yorktown, Virginia (p. 20); and Providence, Rhode Island (p. 41). He also sent goods for "speculation," including a consignment of pimentos to Amsterdam (p. 46).

His accounts occasionally contain additional information, such as the names of consignment agents and ships' masters, the different prices of wine in New York and Charleston (p. 4), and transactions with a notary public in Yorktown (p. 20). Other accounts reflect the purchase of salt, cherry rum, and cordial (p. 17). Though he most frequently received payments in cash, he accepted sugar as exchange from Isaac Roosevelt (p. 9), allowed Henry Ort to pay for his liquor by working in the distillery (pp. 14 and 48), and accepted waived rent as payment from Henry Rutgers (p. 19).

Tillinghast did business with notable individuals, including:

  • Marinus Willett (p. 3)
  • Isaac Roosevelt (p. 9)
  • Doctor Malachi Treat (p. 10)
  • Henry Rutgers (p. 19)
  • George Clinton, Esquire (p. 37)

The account book also holds "stock accounts" on pages 1, 11, 25, 35, 40, and 47, as well as "commission accounts" on pages 6, 34, and 49.

Subject Terms

    • Alcoholic beverages.
    • Allspice.
    • Clinton, George, 1739-1812.
    • Fruit--Prices.
    • Molasses.
    • New York (N.Y.)--Commerce.
    • Roosevelt, Isaac, 1726-1794.
    • Rum--Prices.
    • Rutgers, Henry, 1745-1830.
    • Willett, Marinus, 1740-1830.
    Genre Terms:
    • Business records.
    • Financial records.
    • Ledgers (account books)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    John L. Tillinghast Distillery ledger,  1786-1789 [series]