By Costantino Spinosa

An insurance policy dated “on or about the tenth day of August 1772,” was issued to Philip Varlo of Portsmouth regarding a fire that damaged utensils and stock within his storehouse. At the time Varlo was working as a block maker, a craftsman who engraved the blocks used in the printing industry, but has historically been documented for having been a five-time mayor of Portsmouth (1764, 1768, 1770, 1774, and 1776).[1] Receipts regarding his policy list multiple payments made by Varlo regarding the restoration of his storefront, one of which includes an unusual and rather humorous payment. The receipt (see below), most likely recorded on the day of the fire, notes that “By Cash paid for Mr Love for Beer on the Day Fire & Removing the Rubbish.” It appears Varlo had no problem rewarding a laborer with a nice cold beer for his work cleaning up the damages to the storehouse.

[1] “History In Portsmouth”, n.d.

Phillip Varlo Fire Insurance Policy Receipt 1772