Fonds Accessions 2008-026, 2013-030. - A. Belcher & Co fonds

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A. Belcher & Co fonds

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  • Variations in title: Messrs. A. Belcher & Co fonds.
  • Attributions and conjectures: Copy letter book is attributed to A. Belcher & Co. based on comparison of the copied letter p. 446 dated 6 March 1833 and original letter sent to Richard Brown of Sydney and preserved at the Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University, Sydney, NS. in MG 14.19.4.b.

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Accessions 2008-026, 2013-030.

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Physical description

8 cm of textual records

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Administrative history

A. Belcher and Co. was a partnership between Andrew Belcher and Mather Byles Almon, which operated out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The business was primarily an agency for mercantile trade, shipping goods to and from Halifax, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the British West Indies. The company also sold insurance. Mather Byles Almon, merchant, banker, politician, and philanthropist, was the partner in Halifax. He was born in 1796 at Halifax, the son of William James and Rebecca (Byles) Almon. Almon helped establish the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1832 and became its president in 1837. He died in Halifax on 30 July 1871.
Andrew Belcher, merchant, justice of the peace, and politician, was born in Halifax on 22 July 1763, the son of Jonathan and Abigail (Allen) Belcher. He operated a number of successive partnerships including the one with Mr. Almon. He removed to England in 1811 where he worked as a non-resident member of the Halifax merchant class. Belcher’s fortunes took a downward turn and he moved back to Halifax in 1829. From 1827 to 1833 Belcher was Halifax agent for the General Mining Association (GMA), also known as Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, a British company involved in large-scale coal exports from Nova Scotia to the United States. Early in 1834 Mr. Belcher lost the appointment to rival shipping entrepreneur Samuel Cunard. Belcher died in Boulogne-sur-mer, France, on 17 November 1841. It is not known when the partnership of A. Belcher & Co. ended.

Custodial history

The incoming correspondence was purchased in June 2008. The copy letter book was donated in 2012.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence documenting the business operations of A. Belcher & Co. and of Andrew Belcher’s activities as agent for the General Mining Association (GMA). The incoming correspondence are 41 letters (1825-1832, 1865) addressed to either Belcher or Almon which document shipments of coal, flour, cheese, gunpowder, fish and lumber; itemize contracts undertaken; and give details about other business dealings including mortgages, construction projects and outstanding debts. It also includes one letter written to Almon a number of years after the business had ceased operation.
The outgoing correspondence is a copy letter book attributed to A. Belcher & Co., 520 pages with a name index, covering 11 Sep 1830 to 16 Sep 1833. There are lengthy letters to supervisors of the coal mines in Sydney, Albion Mines (Stellarton), Bridgeport and Pictou, NS, as well as letters to Richard Smith, visiting GMA engineer; G.P. Duval the GMA contact in London; the London office of A. Belcher & Co.; and business contacts in New York, Jamaica, Bermuda, Boston, Newfoundland and Quebec. The contents document shipments of food stuffs and supplies, especially coal and the parts needed for the newly invented steam engine being installed in the coal mines by Richard Smith of London. One personal correspondent is with William Archer, a former enslaved man living in Bermuda, writing Belcher for help to free his mother. Belcher also comments on the postal service, an independent Cape Breton, and growing competition from the United States and Samuel Cunard.

Notes area

Physical condition

The incoming letters are stained by mold, water damage, some have iron gall ink and tears.

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No photocopying of the original incoming letters due to their fragile condition.

Finding aids

A file list for the incoming correspondence is available online. [See link below].

Uploaded finding aid

Associated materials

See also Almon family fonds - MG 1, Vol. 10-17A, Mather Byles Almon fonds - MG 1, Vol. 18-83, Belcher family fonds - MG 1, Vol. 1738 in Nova Scotia Archives.

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