Finding Aid: John Cockton Account Books, 1769-1794, PC.AB.78


Finding Aid: John Cockton Account Books, 1769-1794, PC.AB.78


The John Cockton general store opened in North Landing (Currituck County) in February 1772 and moved to Currituck Court House a year later. John Cockton was the sole proprietor.
The collection consists of a day book and a ledger. Recorded merchandise in both volumes includes food, clothing, sewing essentials, building materials, ammunition, kitchen ware, and food staples. The store also served as a wayside inn or tavern. Attached to this finding aid are partial indexes of customers from two distinct store locations.

A sampling of customers' names from the North Landing store (1772-1773) is available by clicking on this link. A sampling of customers' names from the Currituck Court House store (1773-1788) is available by clicking on this link.

General merchandise. Daybook and ledger.

Descriptive Summary

John Cockton Account Books, 1769-1794
Call Number
Cockton family
2.00 volumes
State Archives of North Carolina

Series Quick Links

  1. Collection Contents

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.78, John Cockton Account Books, 1769-1794, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

These volumes record daily transactions of two stores/taverns located in Currituck County and owned by John Cockton. The stores sold ready-to-wear clothing in addition to cloth and sewing essentials. Cockton stocked kitchen wares, lumber, hardware, and ammunition. A selection of meats, shellfish, and fish were available, including mutton, lamb, game, and oysters. Tavern customers imbibed in a variety of beverages including juleps, sangoree [sangria], punch, grog, cider, and toddy. In addition, there are frequent references to dinner, club, breakfast, lodging, and feeding of travelers' horses.
Cockton's customers offered him various forms of payment. Some provided day labor or other services in exchange for items purchased. For example, the work of the blacksmith John Williams (active 1775-approximately 1786) is noted as a credit against items bought at the store. Other customers bartered with timber, corn, hogs, fowl, deer skins, oysters, and fish. Some paid with paper money, including Virginia currency.
The day book appears to have been used on occasion as a copy book. The daughters' maiden names were recorded on the inside front cover. Barbara's married name is also written there, along with the record of her marriage to John Corpren [Corprew] (active 1788) on 1 August 1788. By the time Cockton's will was written around 1789, Mary had married a Tatom (active 1789) but this is not mentioned in the day book.

General merchandise. Daybook and ledger.

Arrangement Note

Volume 78.1 is a day book arranged by date, then name. Volume 78.2 is a ledger with entries for debits and credits, arranged by name first and then by date.


Evidence suggests that John Cockton (died 1789) was a yeoman farmer in Westmorland, England [later Cumbria] before immigrating to the United States. Records show that Cockton married Agnes(s) Rudd (active 1760-1789) at St. Lawrence Church in Appleby [later Appleby-in Westmorland] on 29 April 1760. She gave birth to daughters Mary and Barbara in 1761 and 1763, respectively. Both were christened at St. Lawrence. According to a 1789 will filed in Currituck County, the colonial John Cockton named his wife Agness and daughters Mary Cockton Tatom and Barbara Cockton Corpren [Corprew] as heirs.
Further corroboration of Cockton's origins is provided by quarterly session records in Westmorland, England. These reveal that the English John Cockton and his associate John Graham (died 1787?) were accused of assaulting their neighbor. They appeared before judges in the spring of 1770 but were released during a recognizance hearing for "good behavior towards John Hall." John Graham was a yeoman farmer who worked for Cockton in 1769; his labor is recorded in the day book. John Cockton brought this farm account book with him when he immigrated and converted it to a store account book in colonial North Carolina.
After emigrating from England, John Cockton opened a general store in North Landing in February of 1772. One year later, Cockton closed this store and opened a second one at Currituck Court House. The second location was sometimes called Currituck Shore or simply Currituck. This location thrived until June 1788. John Cockton was the sole proprietor of this establishment. Both stores appear to have operated as wayside taverns.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Day Book, 1769-1788

This volume was leather bound but most of the leather has worn away, leaving the cardboard underneath exposed. The volume was identified, apparently by the storekeeper, as the John Cockton Day Book. The earliest date entered is 8 June 1769 and the last is 31 May 1788. The total number of pages is 122, with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Some pages are missing and appear to have been cut from the front and back of the volume. Other pages are torn or damaged. The first legible page includes a list of weights and measures. Measurement of volume in inches: 8 3/4 x 12 7/8 x 3/4

Ledger, 1794

This volume is missing its binding. It was used as a ledger, with debits on the left and credits on the facing page. There are 121 pages enumerated at the top left verso (LH), with the same number repeated on the top right recto (RH) for a total of 242 pages. Two to three loose pages have become separated from the volume. Many of the pages are crumbling. Measurement of volume in inches: 8 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 7/8

Subject Headings

  • Cockton, John
  • John Cockton
  • General stores--North Carolina--Currituck County
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Currituck Court House
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--North Landing
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Currituck Court House
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--North Landing
  • Merchants
  • Stores, Mercantile
  • Consumer Goods
  • Business
  • Currituck County (N.C.)
  • Currituck Court House (N.C.)
  • Currituck Shore (N.C.)
  • North Landing (N.C.)
  • Cumbria (England)
  • Westmorland (England)
  • North Landing (N.C.)
  • Currituck Courthouse (N.C.)
  • Currituck County (N.C.)
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Currituck Court House
  • Grocers--North Carolina--North Landing
  • Acquisitions Information


    Processing Information

  • Finding aid prepared by Lea Walker, November 2012