[Massachusetts]: 1808-1815. Folio ledger, 8 1/4" x 13 1/4". Original brushed leather with tooled borders and tooled spine pattern [some rubbing, boards detached but present], gilt lettered red morocco spine label. Unlined laid paper bearing watermark "PW" with the image of an eagle. About 178 pages completed in neat ink manuscript with incoming and outgoing records reversed on opposite sides of the ledger, and about  unnumbered pages left blank in the center. 132 hand numbered pages of outward cargo invoices (1808-1818), and  unnumbered pages of inward cargo invoices (1809-1815). Light age toning of some pages, a few loose but present. Very Good.
The Rotches of Nantucket and New Bedford were an affluent Quaker family, vital in the development of their communities as centers of the whaling industry. William Rotch, Jr. [1759-1850], to whom this ledger belonged, was the grandson of Joseph Rotch [1704-1784]. Joseph came to Salem from England as a young man, and moved to Nantucket in 1725 where he became a Quaker and prominent leader of his church. In Nantucket he entered the whaling industry and owned the well-known international whaling firm Joseph Rotch & Sons. He relocated to New Bedford in 1765, but the business remained in Nantucket until 1791 when William Jr., having taken over the business after his grandfather's death, moved the firm to New Bedford.
William Jr. owned the Dartmouth, the first whale oil ship launched in Bedford Village and one of the vessels boarded by the Boston Tea Parties in 1773 when his Uncle Francis was the managing owner. William Jr. and his sons [William R., Joseph, and Thomas] owned or financially supported the following businesses between 1787-1896: William Rotch Jr. & Sons, William R. Rotch & Company, Rotch Wharf Company, Rotch Candle House, and New Bedford Cordage Company. Sons Joseph and Thomas also operated as family agents in Philadelphia, and several Rotches held interest in local banks and textile mills. William Rotch, Jr., like several other Rotch men, built a large home in New Bedford. Its plain exterior hid an impressive custom-designed interior in order to conform to Quaker guidelines modesty. The house is now a registered National Historic Landmark under the US National Park Service. William Jr. was a pacifist and abolitionist with a devotion to education; he established the Friends Academy in New Bedford. By 1828 he, his father, and brother-in-law were the wealthiest men in the City.
Transactions recorded in this ledger include incoming shipments of sugar, coffee, rice, iron, bales of cotton, green seed cotton, Nicaragua wood, hemp, sailcloth, tobacco, wood, hides, and other goods; outgoing shipments of whale oil, spermaceti oil [head matter oil], spermaceti candles, medicinal spermaceti, winter pressed oil, elephant oil, whale bone, cordage, hoop iron, Swedes iron, bars of Russia iron, horse hides and other items. Examples of entries: Page 22 - spermaceti candles were destroyed by fire; Page 32 - 1600 horse hides shipped to New York, 250 eaten by worms; Page 59 - bundles of yellow nankin [sturdy cotton cloth] sent to Lisbon and later returned because prohibited there; Page 63 - parcel marked # can be recommended as oil of superior quality for gentlemen's glass lamps, and other parcel equal to Nantucket oil.
Several pages have signatures of captains for receipt of goods consigned to them aboard their vessels, i.e., pages 26 [Samuel Church], 69 [Gideon Randall, Ship Barclay], 89 [Jonathan Card], 94 [Cornelius S. Howland, Schooner Clipper], and 108 [Jacob Almy] .
Some other ships mentioned: Sloop Sophia under Seth Presbury, Schooner Sun under Richard West, Brig Indian Chief under Joseph H. Allen, and Sloop Rosetta under Master Samuel Chadwick.
The Ship Barclay, while Gideon Randall was its owner, was captured in March 1813 by the Peruvian Corsair Nereyda [allied with Britain in the War of 1812] near Lima. Captain David Porter was despatched to Lima and recovered the Barclay on April 5, 1813.
["Inventory of the Rotch Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library," Mss Number: Mss 2, accessed at the New Bedford Museu Da Baleia; "New Bedford is Rich in History," accessed at Destination New Bedford website; "When Whales Made Kings" by Christopher Klein, dated 6/28/2009, accessed at the website of the Boston Globe; "Shedding light on William Rotch, Jr." by Pamela Marean, July 20, 2008, website of SouthCoastToday.]. Item #33899