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John Greenhow, merchant

money on desk
  • Born 1724 in England
  • Enterprising merchant with store on Duke of Gloucester St.
  • Schooner carried goods to and from Philadelphia
  • Died 1787
  • Buried in Bruton Parish Churchyard

Reared in Westmoreland County, England

John Greenhow was born November 12, 1724 and spent his early years in Westmoreland County, England. He may be the same John Greenhow whose bankruptcy in nearby Lancaster, England, was announced in a 1752 issue of the Universal Magazine. Greenhow's name first appeared in Virginia records about that time. By the 1760s, newspaper advertisements indicate his home and his store were located on Duke of Gloucester Street across from James Geddy's property.

Traded goods on three-man schooner

John Greenhow was an enterprising and far-ranging merchant. His eight-ton, three-man schooner, "The Robert," regularly plied the waters between the James River and Philadelphia carrying peas, pork, lard, and butter northward. The return journey brought earthenware, flour, bread, bar iron, chocolate, coffee, iron skillets, saddletrees, soap, and furniture such as chairs, tables, and chests of drawers. Greenhow operated a second store in Richmond.

Advertisements listing the variety of imported goods stocked by John Greenhow appeared regularly in the Virginia Gazette, most especially before sessions of the General Court and the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which brought large numbers of people to town. Greenhow's stated policy of selling for "ready money only" was probably intended just for nonresidents. Had his account books survived, they undoubtedly would show that he occasionally sold goods to townspeople on credit.

John Greenhow died August 29, 1787. He is buried in Bruton Parish Churchyard, where his tombstone still stands.

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