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Early accounts of the British Museum
London, England, AD 1773
Between 1761 and 1803 the Principal Librarian's clerk kept a neat and careful record of all the official payments which were made by the Principal Librarian. These two pages cover the months February to April 1773, at which time the Principal Librarian was Dr Matthew Maty. Before making any payments on behalf of the Museum, he had to have permission from the Trustees to 'draw upon' (get money from) Edward Stone of the Bank of England, the Museum's banker and stockbroker.
The payments shown here begin with fees paid to tradesmen and craftsmen who were working on the Museum building. Among them were a 'plaistere' (plasterer), James Browne, a paviour, Thomas Phillips (who supplied paving-stones for the courtyard), a painter, Morris Marsault, and a chandler (seller of candles), Edith Richards. There were also payments to the Museum's messenger, Joseph Lockwood, who had been been working at the Museum for sixteen years.
On 22 April Dr Maty and Mr Harper, one of the librarians, were 'impowered to lay out' (given permission to spend) up to £200 at a sale of books belongong to Mr West, though the follwing day Maty reported that in the event he had spent only £47.