In other correspondence, Gordon wrote that people kept the best articles and paid out the ones which were
below their legal rating, for it was more profitable to use the latter as money than to sell them on the market
Transatlantic Bills of Exchange- for England and Foreign
Def of Bills of Exchange…..hand written promises to pay or exchange in Sterling Money.
Credit transaction terms were the same 300 years ago as today: Amount of principal or debt, % of interest rate,
term in days, months or years of the credit loan. Colonial planter-merchants and consumers benefited from
credit by the ability to consume beyond current financial resources, as well as security from theft. Sellers gained
by faster sales of goods and interest charges if not mentioned specifically were often hidden in a higher price of
Bills of Exchange for England Two examples: Transaction returns to the Lords Proprietors in London from
Carolina, Virginia, Jamaica and Barbados sales were to be submitted by colonists as Bills of Exchange.
Instructions were given for returns to be sent and credited to the Lord Proprietors’ account with a London
merchant, John Danson. Two documentary examples on colonists’ use of Bills of Exchange are shown below,
one taken from John Lawson’s book on the “History of Carolina” and one drawn from a letter from Craven
House, Lord Craven a Lord Proprietor.
Bills of Exchange example one: 1709 John Lawson on Provisioning Virginia and Maryland Ships and Naval
Stores. (p. 167 History of Carolina). Great number of ships which come within those Capes, (Ed. Cape Henry
and Cape Charles) for Virginia and Maryland, take off our Provisions, and give us Bills of Exchange for
England which is Sterling Money. The Planters in Virginia and Maryland are forc’d to do the same, the great
Quantities of Tobacco that are planted there, making Provisions scarce; and Tobacco is a Commodity
oftentimes so low, as to bring nothing, whereas, Provisions and Naval Stores never fail of a market.
Bills of Exchange example two: 1712 Virginian, Jamaican, Barbadian and Leeward Island Commodities NC
Council Minutes April 27 1713 GO 111 Letter from Richard Shelton to Daniel Richardson Receiver General of
NC, Craven House June
1712. Sir, You are to take the direction and advice of two or more of the Lords
proprietors Deputy’s for the time being to what place and to whome such goods and Comodity’s which you
shall receive to their Lordships use shall be sent and consigned, allways takeing the first opportunity of
shipping them off and giving Instructions along with them that such Goods as Shall be Sent to New England, the
returned thereof shall be made in peeces of Eight or Christian or Arabian Gold all Goods Sent to Virginia…..
The returns must be in bills of Exchange, all goods sent to Jamaica in pieces of Eight, to South Carolina in Rice
to Barbados, or any of the Leeward Island in Muscavada Sugar, to any other ports in as Convenient a
Commodity as may be procured there. All which returnes upon the Lords Proprietors Account must be Sent
away by the First Opportunity and Consigned to Mr. John Danson Merchant in London. Bills of Ladeing are
Constantly to be Sent therewith and advice must be given to the Lds. Proprietors of the Same. By their
Lordshipps Speciall Comand.R. Shelton
1730 Bills of exchange passed along from Nassau sea captains/pirates to Bath resident Moseley to London
Merchants – not honored
Mr. Samuel Wragg Merchant in London for the use of E. Moseley two Bills of Exchange not honored for 10
Pound Sterling Feb 1 1730 and one for 13 pound Sterling GB. Mr. Robert Montague at Colonel Ramonds in
Leadenhall Street London refused to pay. Woodes Rogers was the drawer of the said Bill, issued in New
Providence to Capt. Joseph Blodworth (GO 112.1 Records of the Executive Council p. 614)