Follow the money

Macintosh's House Book

Macintosh’s house book for 1782.

Macintosh was, it is fair to say, seriously committed to record keeping, particularly so in respect of financial transactions. In one letter he expounds at length to his then eleven-year-old son on the benefits of double-entry book keeping. Approximately half of the archival items I examined in Avignon last week related to Macintosh’s financial affairs—both commercial and domestic. These will take serious digestion at some point in the future, but one snippet gives an interesting indication of his (and his family’s) spending habits.

When Macintosh returned from India in the early 1780s, he spent approximately one year in London, working on his book and (presumably) pursing other business interests. His purchases during this time give an insight into his reading habits (or lack thereof); his health; and his domestic arrangement:

29 April 1782: “[Hannah] Glasse’s Cookery”; “[John] Entick’s Dict[ionar]y”, etc., etc. (£13 6s).
6 May 1782: “two weeks lodging” (3 Guineas).
June 1782: “A Second hand Forte Piano”; “A Packing Case for D[itt]o” (£9 17s 6d).
14 June 1782: “An universal sun Dial w[i]t[h] a compass enam[el]l[e]d & a mahogany case” (£10 10s 0d).
25 June 1782: “6 waistcoats on an India Camel hair” (£1 1s 0d).
10 July 1782: “two Glass Stopper Bottles”; “Compound Spirit of Lavender”; “Tartar Emetic & Phial”; “a Box of Aperient Stomach Pills” (£0 9s 8d).
14 September 1782: “a second hand phaeton [carriage] & one harness pole” (£30).
15 September 1782: “a Chestnut Gelding [horse] I warrant perfectly sound” (£16 6s 0d).
29 September 1782: “Mould” and “Candles”.
8 October 1782: “four weeks lodging” (6 Guineas).
21 December 1782: “repairing Cleaning and Polishing the outside of a travelling Box” (£9 6s 0d).

Macintosh’s detailed records (he kept all his receipts) are likely to be useful when it comes to reconstructing his movements, activities, and interests.

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