Despeaux Account Book, 1807-1820, MS 294

Despeaux Account Book, 1807-1820
Maryland Historical Society  

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Despeaux Account Book, 1807-1820
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Special Collections Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Descriptive Summary

Despeaux Account Book, 1807 - 1820.

MS 294

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674



Series Description

A journal of work performed at his Fell's Point shipyard, giving material and labor costs, debits and credits. This volume was compiled during the above dates but also recapitulates some work performed between 1800 and 1806. From 1807 to 1810 the accounts are recorded in French but starting in 1811 until the end in 1820 it is kept in English.

The volume through age has become unbound and now consists of separate signatures and a fair number of individual sheets. It is complete and boxed in proper sequence but some of the paper is fragile. For this reason it requires much care in handling.

There is a complete index to the volume, located on the lower level of the manuscripts stacks in the bank of 3 x 5 card files, in the drawer marked `MS 294 Index' and is continued in the drawer marked `MS 260 Calendar', which is adjacent.

The index is composed of several series. The first series is an alphabetical index to the persons mentioned in the accounts. These cards show the person's name to the left on the first line and on the same line to the right is recorded his occupation when known. Below that is the index, showing, on one line for each mention, whether the account is a debit or credit, the year, page number and a two or three word description of the nature of the account.

The second series is an alphabetical index to the ships mentioned in the accounts. These cards show the vessel's name to the left on the first line and on the second line to the right is recorded the person responsible for the account. This probably is the owner in most cases but may be an agent, charterer or merchant. This person may differ in subsequent entries and in that case the name is placed under the first one. On the second line to the left is recorded the master of the ship, when known and subsequent masters immediately under the first one. Below this is the index, showing the same information as for the Persons series, above. The top line on the right gives the vessel's rig.

The above are in drawer `MS 294 Index'. In drawer `MS 260 Calendar' there is series three and four.

Series three is a cross reference index filed alphabetically by proper name and giving the person's name on the first line and below that a list of all the vessels, associated in some way with that person.

Series fouris a brief glossary of French terms with their English equivalents as complied from the account book. These are almost all shipbuilding terms.

The spelling of proper names of persons or vessels varies considerable, as can be noted in a series of cards on the same name. Some of this may be do to difficulty in deciphering the manuscript but most of the variations are due to the wide spread use of phonetic spelling. This is compounded by the added problem of converting French to English sounds and vice versa. Mr. Despeaux and his wife were both illiterate. No attempt is made to reconcile this and all variant spellings are used, leaving the reader to choose among them. Words enclosed in parentheses are doubtful because of illegibility.



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