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5 shillings
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Martha Ballard and Money

Martha Ballard and her neighbors lived in a time of scarce money. They carried on their traded by using many currencies. When no money was available, they resorted to credit and barter.

Before the American Revolution, New Englanders kept their records in pounds, shillings, and pence (American, not British Sterling). After the Revolution, the U.S. government declared U.S. dollars and cents the official currency of record. The habit of keeping records in shillings and pence persisted, however. These were written using a virgule (/). Six pence were written as /6. Six shillings were written as 6/. Shillings and pence together had the virgule written between them, as in five shillings six pence (5/6), and so on. Look in the diary entries for this kind of notation.

Martha Ballard also used XX in her record-keeping system. The XX in her left margin meant that a birth fee had been paid.

When Martha was writing in her diary, foreign currencies were still legal tender. The diary gives us an idea of what kinds and amounts of currency went through the hands of common people.

  There are 25 entries for this theme:
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April 14, 1785, Thursday

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14 5



Clear & very Cold for Apl. I was at home. Let John Sahaw have 1 oz of salve; prs Eight pence.  


November 12, 1785, Saturday

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12 7



I am at home. Doct Wms Calld here on his return from mr Babcocks. Enforms me yt She is Some more Comfortable; he has hopes She may recover. mr Smily here. we bt 18 lb of Buttr of him. we paid him one Dollar in Cash & three at Davess Store; we are to give one Shilling pr pound.  


November 21, 1785, Monday

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21 2


X Birth. Cowens Dafter. XX

at Cowens Still, Shee unwell yet. Jonas Clearks infant had a fitt; they Calld me to See it. mrs Cowen Calld her women together this Eving. was Safely Delivd of a Dafter about ye middle of ye night & is Comfortable. fee & medisin 10/. May 5, 18001 recd 10/ by his Dagt [bitsy].  


September 2, 1786, Saturday

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2 7



I have been at home. Benjamin White Brot me a pair of Flat Irons, prs 6/, which is my fee, 2/ remains, Due for remidies. Dolly is 14 years of age this Day. Parthena Barton here. mr Ballard mett ye Select Gentlemen at mr Pollards this fore noon.  


October 10, 1786, Tuesday

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10 3



a clear day. I Came from mr Porters at Sun rise, was at mr Westons, Pollards, & Brookses. Bt a Black handkercf of a Dutchmn, a Case of knives & forks of mr Brooke. have had much Labour to perform ys Day. Sister Williams Came here about 1/O Clok. Jonn killd a Steer. Cyrus went to ye hook for some Earthen ware. mr Pollard gave a dollar which was Left for me by a man from winthp.  


February 28, 1787, Wednesday

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28 4



Cloudy, a little Snow. mr Ballard at mr Fosters. I Combd 10 lb of flax. Pamila finisht her skirt & Jackat. Joseph Foster had 1-1/2 oz tinctr, /9d. he carrid 20 pills to mr Childs.  


July 21, 1787, Saturday

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21 7



Clear. I went to See David Densmoores knee. mr Barton & Betsy Town went from here. I Settld with Pamela This Day. Shee has Lost 1 months time, or rather workt for her Self since Shee came here & had, 20 yd s Cloth at 2/8 pr yd 2:13:4 Lawn for an apron : 7:6 2 pair shoes 12/ Leather & makeing :17:1 Paid mrs Densmore for Cuting her gown :6 Credit by her Labour 4:--:- Detr to 1/7 in cash : 1:7  


January 29, 1790, Friday

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29 6


X Birth. Moses Sewalls Son. XX.

Clear & very Cold. I was Calld to Moses Sewalls wife in travil at 1 h morn. Shee was Delivrd at 4 of a Son. I Left her Cleverly after Dinner. receivd 1 lb Chocolat & 1/2 lb Tea. he paid 2/8 at Arnals Store for me. at mr Sewalls. Birth 3d.


January 14, 1793, Monday

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14 2


X. Birth mr Thwings Son. XX. Birth mr Suells Son. X.

Clear. mr Ballard & Cyrus went to Town meeting. I Bakt & Brewd & was Calld to See mrs Thwing at 6h Evn. Shee was Deld at 10 off her first Born, a Son. I was waited for by mr Brown to attend mrs Suell who we arivd there at 11 30m. Shee was Deld off a Son at 12. I tarried there thro the night. my Patient is Cleverly. receivd 7/4 march 18 1794. at mr Thwings & Suells. Birth 1st. Birth 2nd. receivd 6/ of mr Thwing.


June 27, 1793, Thursday

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27 5


X. Birth Thos Stikneys Son. XX.

Clear & warm. I was Calld to Thomas Stickneys wife in Labour at 8h morn. Shee was Safe Delivd at 10 of a Son, her first Born. I receivd 6/ as reward, left her Cleverly at 3 pm & returnd. Cyrus Sleeps here. Borrowed 13-3/4 lb veal of mr Densmr. at Thos Stickneys. Birth 32nt.
  There are 25 entries for this theme:
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-25
next 10 >

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