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Derby, Elias Hasket (16 August 1739–08 September 1799), merchant, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Richard Derby, an established ship master and merchant, and Mary Hodges, a merchant’s daughter. His father’s rise as a prominent general merchant was instrumental in lofting Derby to the position of one of the wealthiest and most successful merchants of his age. As an apprentice in his father’s counting-house, young Derby assisted in the management of a burgeoning shipping business through the 1750s and 1760s. He became adept at keeping the firm’s books and coordinating the flow of New England fish, lumber, and produce, West Indies sugar and molasses, and Southern tobacco and naval stores. As his aging father gradually withdrew from the business, the younger Derby assumed full control of counting-house operations, introducing new practices to adapt to the increasing complexity of the Atlantic trade. In 1761 he married Elizabeth Crowninshield; they had seven children....

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Leacock, John (21 December 1729–16 November 1802), Philadelphia silversmith, merchant, and revolutionary propagandist, was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Leacock, a pewtersmith and shopkeeper, and Mary Cash. Leacock was born into a prosperous family that had moved from Barbados, where his father had sold his plantations, to Philadelphia to invest in land and in the earliest iron furnaces in the province. Like his two brothers, he was probably apprenticed at a relatively young age to an established gold- and silversmith; he may have worked in a metalworkers’ shop owned by his father. In the early 1750s Leacock had evidently worked hard enough to create his own establishment on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. He married Hannah McCally in August 1752; they had two sons, one of whom died in infancy. When his father died late that year, he used his inheritance to move his smithing trade to “the sign of the Golden Cup” on Front Street, the center of Philadelphia’s gold- and silversmithing business....

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Moses, Isaac (1742?–16 April 1818), Jewish merchant and revolutionary, was born in Giessen, Germany, the only child of Rischa Levy Moses and David Moses, whose occupations are not known. Isaac as a child was reared and educated in this small German town. In 1764 he went to New York City in search of business opportunities. He was probably brought there by his uncle Hayman Levy, a prosperous New York merchant. Four years later Moses became a naturalized citizen of the colony of New York. Between 1764 and 1775, he developed numerous business skills, working in Levy's lucrative Bayard Street mercantile firm that especially became known for its predominant role in the fur trade. During these years, the ambitious Moses sold deerskins, bearskins, Indian blankets, spermaceti oil, and logwood to European merchants. He also was a distributor of English woolens, Irish linens, French wines, and West Indian rum in domestic markets. On 8 August 1770 Moses married Reyna Levy, the daughter of Sloe and Hayman Levy. The couple had ten children....

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Pettit, Charles (1736–03 September 1806), merchant and New Jersey and Pennsylvania state official, was born near Amwell, New Jersey, the son of John Pettit, a wealthy Philadelphia import merchant and an underwriter of marine insurance. His mother’s name is unknown. Of French Huguenot stock, Charles apparently received a classical education and planned to practice law. In 1758 he married Sarah Reed, with whom he had four children. His wife’s father was Trenton merchant Andrew Reed, John Pettit’s business associate in Philadelphia, and her half-brother was ...

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Pollock, Oliver (1737?–17 December 1823), merchant, planter, and American revolutionary patriot, was born near Donagheady, Northern Ireland, the son of Jared (also spelled Jaret) Pollock and his wife, about whom little else is known. Raised in a farming and linen-producing region near Londonderry, Pollock learned the merchant trade. He emigrated to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1760 after the death of his mother, accompanied to America by a younger brother and his father. For two years thereafter, he worked as a merchant associated with commercial houses operated by Daniel Clark and William Plumstead. Pollock went to Havana in 1762 when that port fell to the British navy during the Seven Years’ War. He specialized in trade between Cuba and British ports in North America. Taking advantage of his Roman Catholic Irish background, Pollock remained in Havana after the city was returned to the Spanish by the Peace of Paris, 1763....