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Sparrow was very busy and successful as a merchant following his move from Marylan: evidently successful
enough to purchase much coastal land in 1700-1730 during Bath’s early years: a 330 ac. Bath plantation and land
near the village of Beaufort and Cape Lookout, 2400 acres on Harker Island, formerly known as Craney Island.
His friend merchant Turner also bought much land near Beaufort which was growing and which became North
Carolina’s second official port town in 1723.
Below Image: The Shipping Merchant's Office A.C. Hauck, probably Rotterdam, 1783
This watercolor painting shows a merchant in his
busy office seated behind his big desk wearing a
blue outfit and tricorn hat. His patterned dress,
influenced by Oriental fashion and dyed with
costly indigo, indicates the wealth and worldliness
associated with the mercantile business. Robert
and Richard would have been dressed like the two
merchant apprentices with quill feathers and ink in
hand maybe even wearing wigs. Notice the courier
delivering sealed correspondence, open chests filled
with money, along with globes, maps, statue of
Mercury (messenger of the gods and god of
commerce and travel),
Apprentices and family members from Europe
were often sent by their families to Carolina and
Virginia and the West Indies. Children of successful merchants families needed to gain business training in
plantation trade bookkeeping and inventory control. Merchants in the eighteenth century used apprentices to
maintain account books to keep track of customer debts and
payments and to keep up to date letter book with copies of
correspondence. Tracking a customer's account in daily
ledgers and journals was crucial to maintaining a profitable
and trustworthy business.
Below are some transcribed examples of Sparrow’s many
deed book entries made to record apprentice contracts and
terms as well as land and business transactions.
January 6, 1708 - Robert ALDERSON, late of Virginia, age
about 25 years, to Thomas SPARROW, merchant. Robert
ALDERSON agrees to serve 4 years in any lawful occupation.
Thomas SPARROW to "allow said servant sufficient meat,
drink and apparel and other things needful for a servant and to pay him his freedom dues according to the custom of
the country at the expiration of 4 years."
Witness: Levi TRUEWHITT
Jan. 5, 1708 - John WALKER binds his son, Richard WALKER, age unknown, as apprentice to Thomas SPARROW,
Bath Co., until he reaches age of 21 years. SPARROW to teach to read and write a legible hand.
Wit: Nicholas DAWS, James LEIGH, Joel MARTIN Acknowledged Jan. 8, 1708/9
Image of Colonial Merchant and townspeople re-enactors
retrieved from Williamsburg Foundation website Nov.27,
2015
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