Messrs May, Wyborn, White & Mercer, Bankers: Letter Books and Papers

Scope and Content

1-3. Letter books (outgoing letters), 1771-1829

The three volumes contain two main sections: letters of 'JM', 1771-1801, in four sequences (vols. 1-2); and a sequence of unsigned 'general' letters, 1824-1829, with an index (vols. 2 and 3). The earlier letters deal with a variety of legal and financial buisness and are written in the same hand. A few are signed 'John May'. The later sequence is in a different hand.

1. Letter book, with three sequences of letters and a partial index.

(a) Apr. 1771 - Jan. 1778. John May to people in Kent and London, concerning legal and financial business.

(b) Aug. 1828 - May 1829. Unsigned 'General letters', pp. 1-142, with an index of addressees.

(c) Apr. 1771 - Mar. 1774. John May to Geo. Jennet, Attorney, London (running from the back of the volume).

2. Letter book, marked 'I Bankers', with two sequences of letters and no indexes.

(a) Oct. 1793 - Feb. 1801. John May to Messrs Hoare, bankers, London.

(b) Aug. 1799 - Apr. 1801. John May to Mr Smith, Lothbury, about stocks and consols (running from the back of the volume).

3. Letter book, with one sequence of letters and an index.

Sep. 1824 - Aug. 1828. Unsigned, in the same hand as 1 (b), pp. 1-173, with an index of addressees.

4. Bundle of letters and documents, c. 1810-1826

Miscellaneous letters and printed notices of various dates, many dealing with the bankruptcy of the company in 1825-1826. There are also sale particulars for a Manor and farm at Oxney in 1810 and 1819, and letters and particulars from Daniel Smith and Sons about the sale of Manor Farm, Appleton in 1825. The papers also include the articles of co-partnership between the four men, 21 Oct. 1813, and resolutions and notices of their creditors.

5. List of debts, undated (c. 1826)

List of 671 debts 'proved under the commission against all the bankrupts'. Numbered entries giving name, address and profession of each creditor, and the amounts owed.

6. Research notes

File of notes relating to the collection, with details of bankers in Deal, etc.

Administrative / Biographical History

The co-partnership of Messrs May, Wyborn, White&Mercer was established in 1813 by an indenture dated 21 October, made between John May and James Wyborn of Deal, bankers, and William White and John Mercer of Deal, gentlemen. May and Wyborn had been in business with James Shipdem (or Shipden), and following his withdrawal, took White and Mercer into partnership for 21 years, the business to be carried on 'in certain premises of John May and John Mercer situate in Queen Street in Deal erected for that purpose'. Documents in the collection indicate that the four men became bankrupt about 1825-1826, and that a large proportion of the debts were settled from the estate of 'the late James Wyborn'.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Deposited from the papers of Prof. D.M. Joslin by Mrs. Joslin, 1971.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Custodial History

The papers were formerly in the possession of David Joslin (1925-1970), Professor of Economic History in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Pembroke College.

Geographical Names