Guide to the Thomas Nesbitt (1760-1819), Merchant Record Books 1787-1826 MG 130


Descriptive Summary
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information

Container List


Guide to the Thomas Nesbitt (1760-1819), Merchant Record Books
MG 130
The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2005 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Kim Charlton as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. January 2006. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Nesbitt, Thomas, 1760-1819.
Title: Thomas Nesbitt (1760-1819), Merchant

Record Books

Dates: 1787-1826
Abstract: Consists of twenty-one volumes of daybooks and account books kept by Thomas Nesbitt, a merchant who operated in Millstone, Mount Pleasant, Plainfield, Raritan Bridge, Scotch Plains, and Springfield, New Jersey. Thomas Nesbitt was born in County Armagh, Ireland and came to America in 1784. His brother, Hugh, became a business partner of John Ralston and his son, also Hugh, married Ralston’s daughter.
Quantity: .75 linear feet (21 volumes)
Collection Number: MG 130

Biographical Note

Thomas Nesbitt (1760-1819) emigrated from County Armagh, Ireland to the United States in 1784 probably with his brother Hugh Nesbitt. He eventually settled in New Jersey, moving progressively west over the years from Springfield, Scotch Plains, and Plainfield, then probably part of Essex County (now in Union County) to Millstone, Mount Pleasant, Raritan Bridge, and finally Somerville, in Somerset County. He married, had at least one son, Hugh, and operated a general store in Somerville and probably other towns in New Jersey (it is unclear how many stores he had because of changing town names and borders).

On January 27, 1818, Hugh Nesbitt (d. 1827), Thomas’s son, married Mary Ann Ralston, the daughter of John and Margaret Ralston, also from County Armagh, Ireland. John Ralston, who lived in Mendham, New Jersey (part of which was later called Ralston), was a merchant and the partner of Hugh Nesbitt, Thomas’s brother. Hugh (d. 1827) joined his father’s business in Somerville until Thomas Nesbitt’s death in 1819, at which time he moved with his family to Mendham where he became a farmer and businessman. Hugh and Mary Ann Nesbitt had three children before Hugh’s death in 1827. Their only son was named after Mary Ann’s father, John Ralston Nesbitt.

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Scope and Content Note

The Thomas Nesbitt Records consist of twenty-one volumes of daybooks, account books, and a notebook, used in Nesbitt’s general store. The record books date from 1787-1826 and document the purchase or barter of dry and wet goods, such as butter, molasses, handkerchiefs, buttons, rum, and spirits. The volumes are arranged by record type and then by date.

The collection contains sixteen daybooks, dating from 1787-1826, and labeled with the various town headings of Springfield, Scotch Plains, Plainfield, Millstone, Mount Pleasant, Raritan Bridge, Somerville, and Mendham. The series of daybook entries from the last town, Mendham, date from 1821-1826, and are probably from either Thomas Nesbitt’s brother, Hugh Nesbitt, who ran a store in Mendham, or from his son, also named Hugh, who lived there. The daybook entries are chronological and record customer name, purchase, and price.

The collection contains four account books, dating from 1788-1816. Two of the volumes were labeled as “Ledger C” and “Ledger F,” while two have missing covers and are therefore unlabelled. The volumes all refer to other ledgers, for example “Ledger E.” The accounts are by customer and contain debit and credit sides, the former of which includes date, item purchased, and price, while the latter includes date, and how the debt was paid, for example “by cash,” “by bushels of corn,” or “by work at a wagon.” Each of the account books contains an index.

The remaining item in the collection is a small notebook containing a list of boarders, a recipe for dying fabric or yarn blue, and an “account of work at the sawmill.” The notebook dates from 1810-1813.

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Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
Nesbitt, Thomas, 1760-1819.
Subject Topics:
Dry goods–New Jersey.
General stores–New Jersey.
Merchants–New Jersey.
Subject Places:
Mendham (N.J.)
Millstone (N.J.)
Mount Pleasant (N.J.)
Plainfield (N.J.)
Raritan Bridge (N.J.)
Scotch Plains (N.J.)
Somerville (N.J.)
Springfield (N.J.)
Document Types:
Account Books.
Letters (Correspondence).

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Related Material

Manuscript Group 152, John Ralston (d. 1819) Records

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as:Manuscript Group 130, Thomas Nesbitt (1760-1819), Merchant

Record books, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. E. J. Rood, 1927.

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Hopler, Martha G., et al.Cyclopedia of New Jersey Biography Memorial and Biographical The Mendhams (Mendham Township Committee: Brookside New Jersey, 1964), pgs. 83-89.

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Container List


Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Daybook – Springfield 1787 July-1788 Mar.
1 2 Daybook – Scotch Plains 1791 Aug.-1792 May
1 3 Daybook – Scotch Plains 1792 May-1793 Feb.
1 4 Daybook – Plainfield 1793 Mar.-1793 Dec.
1 5 Daybook – Plainfield 1793 Dec.-1794 Aug.
1 6 Daybook – Plainfield 1795 July-1795 Nov.
1 7 Daybook – Millstone 1796 June-1796 Sept.
1 8 Daybook – Millstone / Mount Pleasant 1797 Nov.-1797 Dec.; 1798 Jan.-1798 Dec.
1 9 Daybook – Mount Pleasant / Raritan Bridge 1799 Jan.-1801 June; 1801 June- 1801 July
1 10 Daybook – Raritan Bridge 1801 July-1802 Nov.
1 11 Daybook – Raritan Bridge / Bedminster 1802 Dec.-1804 June; 1822 June-1825 Apr.
1 12 Daybook – Raritan Bridge 1806 Feb.-1807 Nov.
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Daybook – Raritan Bridge 1807 Nov.-1809 July
2 2 Daybook – Raritan Bridge 1812 June-1816 Feb.
2 3 Account book – “Ledger C” 1788-1797
2 4 Account book 1789-1797
2 5 Account book – “Ledger F” 1792-1794
2 6 Notebook 1810-1811, 1813
Box Title Date
3 (Ledger size) Daybook – Somerville 1815 June-1816 Mar.
Box Title Date
4 (Ledger size) Daybook – Somerville & Mendham; “Sundry accounts to H. Nesbitt” 1816 Mar.-1818 Apr. & 1821 Apr.-1826 Sept.; 1817 May-1821 Dec.
Box Title Date
5 (Ledger size) Account book 1804-1816

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