Mss:301 1761-1795 S657
Smith, Richard. Richard Smith Business Papers, 1761-1795 (inclusive): A Finding Aid
Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: Mss:301 1761-1795 S657
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Richard Smith
Title: Richard Smith business papers,
Date(s): 1761-1795 (inclusive)
Quantity: 1 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, financial records, and legal records related
to the operation of a blast iron furnace and forge in Connecticut by Boston, Massachusetts,
merchant Richard Smith, dated 1761-1795. Smith gained control of the furnace, which
he co-owned with George and Charles Caldwell, in 1771, after filing a petition with
the Connecticut General Assembly, and the collection includes records of the Assembly's
review of the petition and decision. There are additionally accounts, bills, receipts,
and invoices of Smith & Caldwell, Richard Smith, and his Boston partnership of Smith
& Atkinson, as well as property documents and deeds for land in Connecticut.
The Richard Smith business papers were acquired by Baker Library Special Collecions
from John Wright in 1979.
Processed: June 2017
By: Brooke McManus
The collection was processed in June 1983 by Gale Lister and was re-processed as
part of the Arcadia-funded Colonial North American Project at Harvard University.
This collection is open for research.
Cite as: Richard Smith Business Papers. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.
Richard Smith was a merchant in Boston, Massachusetts, active from the 1760s to the
1790s. He traded in dry goods, household wares, liquor, and clothing. Smith entered
into a partnership with Charles and George Caldwell, proprietors of a blast furnace
in Salisbury, Connecticut, that manufactured pig and bar iron, in 1768. The Caldwells
were in debt to him for items purchased from his Boston store, and to resolve the
debt, they signed over a share of their business. Smith continued the partnership
with George Caldwell, who accumulated additional unpaid debts, and in 1771, Smith
successfully petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly to gain control of the furnace's
Smith remained in Boston, where he continued to acquire property to expand the Salisbury
Furnace, managed on-site by Jared Lane, who arranged to acquire charcoal, fuel, and
ore for the furnace, and sell iron and kettles at wholesale or retail. In 1770, Smith
built a forge in Colebrook, Connecticut, and hired Jacob Ogden to oversee the manufacture
of wrought iron. In 1775, Smith, suspected to be a Loyalist, left Connecticut for
England, and the Salisbury Furnace was seized by the government to make cannons for
the Continental Army. His Massachusetts citizenship was also revoked. Smith, in a
letter to Captain William Tiley in 1775, claimed to be sympathetic to the colonies,
and when he returned from England, his citizenship and ownership of the furnace were
reinstated in 1783.
Smith also maintained a partnership in Boston with John Atkinson (1742-1823), a British
merchant and Loyalist, from about 1770 until the start of the Revolutionary War, when
Atkinson fled to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I. Correspondence
- Series II. Financial records
- Series III. Legal records
This collection contains correspondence, financial records, and legal records related
to the operation of a blast iron furnace and forge in Connecticut by Boston, Massachusetts,
merchant Richard Smith, dated 1761-1795. Smith gained control of the Salisbury Furnace,
which he co-owned with George and Charles Caldwell, in 1771, after filing a petition
with the Connecticut General Assembly, and the collection includes records of the
Assembly's review of the petition and decision. There are additionally accounts, bills,
receipts, and invoices of Smith & Caldwell, Richard Smith, and his Boston partnership
of Smith & Atkinson, as well as property documents and deeds for land in Connecticut.
Correspondence is primarily from Jared Lane, Smith's agent at the Salisbury Furnace,
regarding day to day operations of the business. There is also correspondence between
Smith and Captain William Tiley (1711-1781), of Hartford, Connecticut, regarding trade
and Smith's assertion he was loyal to the colonies, and letters among other associates
involved in his business affairs.
The financial records include accounts, bills, receipts, invoices, and memoranda
reflecting the trade of iron as well as dry goods, food, liquor, clothing, and household
wares by Richard Smith, and by Smith & Caldwell prior to the firm's dissolution in
1771. There are also promissory and demand notes for outstanding debts due to Smith,
and the memoranda, often written by Lane, reflect his attempts to recover monies owed
Legal records mainly relate to the General Assembly approval of a petition by Smith
to seize all accounts of Smith & Caldwell, after George Caldwell was unable to fulfill
his financial obligations to Smith. A copy of a General Assembly committee review
and decision in favor of Smith is accompanied by a number of accounts due to Smith
& Caldwell that were turned over to him. There are also several land deeds for property
Smith acquired to expand the furnace, plans for an estate in Salisbury, and writs
for Smith's debtors to appear before a justice of the peace.
- Series I. Correspondence,
Scope and Contents: This series consists of correspondence of Richard Smith and his associates, including
Salisbury Furnace manager Jared Lane and attorney William Tiley, dated from 1770 to
1794. The letters mainly discuss operations of the furnace, the market for iron, and
- Box 1, Folder 1, Assorted business correspondence,
Scope and Contents: Contains a letter from Peter Vandervoort to Samuel Blackden of the Salisbury Furnace
regarding a shipment of salt, and a letter from Jacob Ogden to Elijah Rockwell discussing
settlement of his account with Jared Lane, dated 1770-1794.
- Box 1, Folder 2, Jared Lane correspondence to Richard Smith,
Scope and Contents: Contains letters from Jared Lane to Richard Smith regarding recovery of debts owed
to the furnace, the difficulties in securing cash during the Revolutionary War, prices
current for pig iron, marketing strategies, and updates on accounts and daily operations,
dated 1772-1774. Other topics include boarding clerks and laborers who worked at the
furnace; wages for miners; and legal difficulties with Josiah Stoddard, who pursued
action against one of Smith's coal suppliers, and refused to vacate a house owned
by Smith, and sued Smith over an unidentified issue. The correspondence was cut into
four to six pieces, and some letters are fragmented.
- Box 1, Folder 4, Jared Lane correspondence,
Scope and Contents: Contains incoming and outgoing correspondence of Jared Lane regarding the purchase
or sale of iron and scales, and settlement of debts and other matters of business,
- Box 1, Folder 5, Richard Smith and William Tiley correspondence,
Scope and Contents: Contains a letter from Richard Smith to Captain William Tiley (1711-1781), of Hartford,
Connecticut, regarding the state of his businesses and freighting iron to Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, in February 1775. Smith also mentions he avoided paying duties on consigned
tea and expresses loyalty to the colonies, writing, "I believe none here think me
unfriendly to the country if they knew the most secret sentiments of my mind I am
sure none would think me an enemy to America, and I am not or ever were a vindicator
of the measures of Parliament." In his response one month later, Tiley writes about
trade of iron and pot ash kettles.
- Series II. Financial records,
Scope and Contents: This series consists of accounts, bills, receipts, notes, and memoranda generated
by Smith & Caldwell, Richard Smith as sole proprietor of the Salisbury Furnace, and
the partnership of Smith & Atkinson, dated 1763-1795. The records reflect the trade
of iron as well as groceries and household items, some land transactions, and wages
paid by Smith.
- Box 1, Folder 6, Smith & Caldwell accounts,
Date: 1765 April-1768 October
Scope and Contents: Contains accounts of Smith & Caldwell for the sale of items including cloth, soap,
German steel, and indigo, dated April 1765 to October 1768.
- Box 1, Folder 7, Smith & Caldwell accounts,
Date: 1768 October-November
Scope and Contents: Contains accounts of Smith & Caldwell for the sale of items including ivory combs,
buttons, pipes, books, fabrics, and indigo, dated October-November 1768. Some customers
paid for goods in work at the forge or other commodities like tea.
- Box 1, Folder 8, Smith & Caldwell accounts, undated,
Date: 1768 December-1769 February
Scope and Contents: Contains accounts of Smith & Caldwell for the sale of items including buttons, mohair,
ribbon, and linen, dated December 1768 to February 1769. Payment was received for
some accounts with goods and services such as tobacco and roasting a pig. There are
several undated accounts.
- Box 1, Folder 9, Richard Smith accounts,
Date: 1770 March-1771 June
Scope and Contents: Contains accounts of Richard Smith for the sale of items including buckles, tobacco,
cod fish, rum, flour, iron, and nails, dated March 1770 to June 1771. There is also
an invoice for unpaid ore lent to several people by Richard Smith, which includes
a note that the firm also should inquire about ore stolen from the ore hill the previous
- Box 1, Folder 10, Richard Smith accounts,
Date: 1771 June-1787
Scope and Contents: Contains accounts of Richard Smith for the sale of items including linen, nails, buttons,
silk, rum, mutton, beef, onions, and pig iron, dated June 1771 to 1787. Payment was
sometimes received through services such as shoeing horses. There are also several
accounts of Smith & Atkinson.
- Box 1, Folder 11, Agreements,
Scope and Contents: Contains agreements regarding the trade and shipment of ore, wood, and pig iron by
Richard Smith and his agents, dated 1771-1773.
- Box 1, Folder 12, Smith & Caldwell bills, undated,
Scope and Contents: Contains bills for services including carting pig iron and timber, issued to Smith
& Caldwell, dated 1763-1768. There is also an undated wrapper for a mortgage foreclosure
statement for the forge.
- Box 1, Folder 13, Richard Smith bills,
Scope and Contents: Contains bills to Richard Smith for work performed at the forge, for carting and driving,
and for purchase of equipment for his business, dated 1768-1771. There are also charges
for goods like silk and buttons.
- Box 1, Folder 14, Richard Smith bills, , undated
Scope and Contents: Contains bills to Richard Smith for goods and services, dated 1772-1787. There are
charges for items like mugs, stockings, and women's hats, and for purchase of several
horses. There are also attorney's fees charged to Smith & Atkinson from Jared Lane,
and an undated bill for court fees.
- Box 1, Folder 16, Invoices, undated,
Scope and Contents: Contains invoices of Smith & Caldwell and Richard Smith for commodities sold including
iron, rum, tobacco, and sugar, 1768-1771 and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 17, Lists and assorted papers,
Scope and Contents: Contains several lists of loads carried by carters and colliers employed by Richard
Smith, a list of books and papers belonging to Smith in New York, and notes related
to business, dated 1771-1794.
- Box 1, Folder 19, Memoranda,
Scope and Contents: Contains memoranda primarily written by Jared Lane about the status of Richard Smith's
accounts and attempts to recover debts, land transactions, and other matters of business
conducted by Lane on his behalf, dated 1784-1795. Included is a note explaining how
a Loyalist who moved to Canada during the Revolutionary War can reclaim his land.
- Box 1, Folder 26, Richard Smith receipts,
Scope and Contents: Contains receipts for some payments by Richard Smith and his agent, Jacob Ogden, for
assorted services, and receipts acknowledging delivery of iron by customers, dated
- Box 1, Folder 27, Richard Smith receipts,
Scope and Contents: Contains receipts for payments to Richard Smith, often received by his agents, J.A.
Hill and Jacob Ogden, dated 1784-1785. Also includes a receipt for securities Smith
was selling through his agent Jared Lane.
- Box 1, Folder 28, Richard Smith receipts,
Scope and Contents: Contains receipts of Richard Smith for monies paid to him and for Virginia land warrants,
and receipts for payments by Richard Smith, including an account he settled with John
Atkinson, dated 1786-1794.
- Series: Legal records,
Scope and Contents: This series primarily consists of legal records related to Richard Smith's petition
to the Connecticut General Assembly to transfer control of Smith & Caldwell to him,
after George Caldwell was unable to pay off his debts to him, dated 1768-1791. Includes
a copy of the petition, a report by a committee tasked to review the petition and
the General Assembly's decision, and a deposition. There are also a number of accounts
outstanding that correspond to the committee report and General Assembly decision,
which were remitted to Smith after the Assembly granted the petition. The series further
contain of deeds, property documents, and writs.
- Box 1, Folder 30, General Assembly records,
Scope and Contents: Copy of records and a decision of the Connecticut General Assembly regarding a petition
by Richard Smith to gain sole ownership of Smith & Caldwell after George Caldwell
incurred debts to Smith he was unable to repay. The assembly appointed a committee
to investigate and make a recommendation, comprised of state superior court justice
Eliphalet Dyer (1721-1807), assembly member John Chester (1749–1809), and assembly
member Richard Alsop (1726-1776). After reviewing the firm's financial records and
interviewing Caldwell, in jail at the time for his unpaid debts, the committee concluded
in Smith's favor. Their report includes a list of debts owed Smith, and accounts outstanding
of Smith & Caldwell. The General Assembly approved the petition in May 1771.
- Box 1, Folder 36, Deeds,
Scope and Contents: Contains deeds from various people to Richard Smith for land in Connecticut abutting
the Salisbury Furnace, including Hannah Stevens, who transferred part ownership of
forty-eight acres of land. There is also a bond of Charles Hamilton, and a deed of
mortgage paid by Smith, dated 1760-1772.
- Box 1, Folder 37, Deeds,
Scope and Contents: Contains deeds from various people to Richard Smith granting him land in New Haven
and Chatham, Connecticut, dated 1775-1791. Sharon Pease sold land in Enfield, Connecticut,
in the County of Hartford to Richard Smith for £112/15d. There is also a lease from
Smith to Oliver Burr for the house on his Salisbury property called Furnace Hall.
- Box 1, Folder 38, Property documents, undated,
Scope and Contents: Contains a deed and survey of land around Furnace Pond, grants for land, plans for
an estate in Salisbury, record of the sale of Richard Bishell's land, and a list of
Virginia land warrants, 1775-1785 and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 39, Writs,
Scope and Contents: Contains writs issued by the state of Connecticut for persons to appear before a justice
of the peace for alleged non-payment of debt to Richard Smith, and a writ directing
the Litchfield County sheriff to jail Oliver Church until he has paid what Smith recovered
in a judgment against him, dated 1772-1774
Blast furnaces -- Connecticut -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Blast furnaces -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Forging industry -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
General stores -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Iron industry and trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Iron industry and trade -- Connecticut -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Merchants -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Merchants -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Retail trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Wholesale trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Receipts (financial records).
Connecticut -- Business, industries, and trades -- Iron.
Connecticut -- General Assembly.
Connecticut -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Connecticut -- Land records.
Alsop, Richard, 1726-1776.
Atkinson, John, 1742-1823.
Chester, John, 1749-1809.
Dyer, Eliphalet, 1721-1807.
Smith, Richard, of Salisbury, Conn.
Tiley, William, 1711-1781.
Smith & Atkinson.
Smith & Caldwell.