I'm reading David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas", and the narrative is written in very distinctive style, and the most striking characteristic of it is the use of ampersand (&) instead of "and", in every single instance. A representative quote:
Disgusted, I retorted that I was a husband & a father! & that I should rather die than abase my dignity & decency with any of his poxed [word removed for decency].
Similarly, "etc." is styled "&c."
For context, the narrator is a notary from California, and the events take place in mid-XIX century (from various references in the text, a few years after 1838).
Is such pervasive use of ampersand in writing common for the period?