[Washington Irving's brother-in-law Henry Van Wart.] Signed bill, 'To Mess. P. Irving & Co | Merchants | Liverpool', 'In re Peter Irving & In re Washington Irving', carrying bankruptcy order; and Promissory Note; both payable to Messrs. Lewis C & Co.
The context of these documents is as follows. His brother Peter having fallen ill, Washington Irving had taken over the running of the Liverpool office of his family firm, which was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1818. Irving's brother-in-law Henry Van Wart had worked for the firm, but had now moved to Birmingham, where he would flourish.
Both items are in fair condition, on aged and worn paper. The bill is Van Wart's hand, but the promissory note only carries his signature. Both have writing on both sides.
The bill (10 x 23.5cm) is embossed with a 7s 6d tax stamp. It reads: 'No. 1459 £439. 18. 6 Birmingham 1st Novr. 1816 | Nine months after date pay to the order of Mess. Lewis, Cooper & Co. Four hundred & thirty nine pounds 18/6 - value received | Henry Van Wart | To Mess P. Irving & Co | Merchants | Liverpool | M115'. Countersigned : 'Accepted, payable at dup & Rec'd Irving & Cos | London | P Irving & Co', and with two manuscript notations. On the reverse are three notes, two of which read: 'In re Peter Irving & In re Washington Irving | Exhibited March <?> 1818 | Henry Lawrence'[presumably the bankruptcy proceedings] and 'We the undersigned do hereby agree to release the within named Henry Van Wart from payment of this Bill in consideration of his having given us his note dated 1st July 1817 for 9/- in the Pound on the full claim against him & his Estate but without prejudice to any claim against the acceptors | for Lewis Cooper & Co | <?>'.
The promissory note (8.5 x 20cm) is embossed with a 5s tax stamp. It reads 'No. 272 £195 - 12 - 9 Birmingham 1st July 1817 | Eighteen Months after date, I promise to pay Messrs. Lewis Cooper & Co. or order, One Hundred & Ninety five pounds twelve shillings & nine pence value received - | Henry Van Wart'. On reverse: 'Octr. 7th. 1818 | Exhibited to | N G C | A M | J. C' [again, paret of the bankruptcy proceedings]. Van Wart's name is often given with a small 'v' to the 'Van', but it is clearly a capital in these two signatures.
Note: Apparently no similar material concerning Washington Irving's time in his brother's business survives, nor anything signed by Henry van Wart.