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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 66 - 1953  page 100

of several miles and sometimes a tradesman’s customers might be scattered over half the county. The radius of trade was naturally affected by the type of trade carried on. A supplier of food such as a butcher or baker usually served a smaller area than a carpenter, builder or tailor, while wine merchants and sellers of ale, and porter seem to have had particularly large areas of trade. Gunsmiths and grain-merchants also seem to have drawn their customers from a fairly wide area, and professional men such as lawyers, auctioneers and valuers had clients from a large part of the county. A certain brandy merchant of Greenwich, called John Slee, had a very extensive trade. He supplied brandy to inns all over the country including many in the Midlands, Lancashire and Cheshire. A number of the debtors came from that part of Kent which is now in the London area, and some even from within London itself. Two account books and a letter book of a London merchant importing muslin from the Low Countries, France and Germany, are among the more interesting items in the collection. As might be expected, close trading connections between Kent and London are apparent. Kent tradesmen bought goods from London tradesmen, presumably wholesale, in order to resell them, and London tradesmen naturally had customers in Kent. The contents of some of the account books in which important local families figure as customers, supplement information provided by the account books of the same families among the private estate and family collections in the Archives Office.

   In almost all cases where the name of the prison is given, the debtors were imprisoned at Maidstone, no matter where they lived. There are only three instances where another prison is noted, namely, Canterbury, Gravesend, and "The Debtors’ Prison" at Hoo. Maidstone lawyers appear to have had almost a monopoly of dealing with the debtors’ cases. Where the lawyer’s name is given, five, four of them definitely styled "of Maidstone," dealt with the bulk of the cases, two others dealt with a few cases and six other names appear once only.
   Many of the account books of these debtors are exceedingly rough and some are almost incomprehensible. In some cases it is by no means easy to find out in what trade the accountant was engaged. There are two main types of account book, rough Day Books giving details of the items sold, or the work done on a particular day and the amount of money charged, and ledgers with the accounts arranged under the names of the customers. The knowledge of book-keeping displayed is in most cases rudimentary, and judging by this it is not surprising that the owners of these books became insolvent. The accounts were seldom balanced and the tradesmen can have had little idea of an overall picture of his financial affairs at any one time. Often the books deposited for one particular tradesman only cover a few years

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