Welcome to our spring newsletter.
A farm we have been researching in south Shropshire has revealed a much earlier footprint that was marked on a map in 1613. Sue discovered a hidden staircase in the cellar she could trace through the house to the attics, while I followed the trail of the family who owned the house and redeveloped it in the early 19th century. I got slightly sidetracked by the account of a pig-snatching incident at the farm on Christmas Day 1850 which resulted in the culprit receiving a 4-month prison sentence with hard labour. Our client has provided some of her photo archive of changes to the house so that together we have produced a comprehensive history to celebrate their 30 years at the property.
Head to toe
That must have been how some of the children slept in a Welsh cottage we have been researching, for how else could so many have fitted into one bedroom? The property was part of a 400-acre estate which the owner repeatedly mortgaged until he started running out of people willing to lend to him on the diminishing value of his collateral. With a debt standing at a quarter of a million pounds in today’s money he sold the estate to another local landowner who made rather a better job of managing it. He in turn left the house to his niece who married a singing and harp-playing poet who also happened to be a member of the clergy. Their son was a distinguished soldier who bred racehorses and won the Derby in 1886.
A large mansion we are researching was bought by a Shrewsbury draper who in 1738 had one of his staff compile an inventory of the goods he was moving. Copious quantities of sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, napkins and towels filled chests, cupboards, and closets. There were so many they were counted in dozens, and pity the poor maid who had to do the ironing. Two generations later when his grandson died, his probate inventory ran to eight pages and very conveniently described every room in the house. By far the most interesting was the first floor Cheese Chamber which contained 63 cheeses, 54 old cheeses, a clothes maid, 2 spinning wheels and a chimney board. The maid’s room was next door and I bet her sinuses were clear.
I’m not complaining
I don’t know how courts store their hard copy documents these days but let’s hope it’s not like this:At least if they ever want to find anything again. This is a roll of bills of complaint handled by the Court of Chancery in the early 19th century stored at The National Archives. This is one of those collections that rapidly unrolls itself when you untie it, then doesn’t want to get back in the bag when you’ve finished. It was worth the struggle though because it described the prosecution’s case concerning the administration of an estate during the minority of the young man who had inherited it, with accusations of plundering rents and removing the title deeds from the principal property – the one I am researching. Definitely worth getting my hands dirty for.
From the archives
Lancashire Evening Post
26 September 1939
‘It looks very much as though many Germans will have to eat their sausages this winter, if there is any sausage meat in Germany, without skins.
Ten hogsheads of Chinese sausage skins meant for Germany have been seized as contraband and are now in the cargo sheds of a certain British port.
The hogsheads hold a surprising number of skins, and an expert estimates that the whole ten contain no less than 900,000 feet of skin, or about 170 miles.
Put in another way, this would mean that the sausage skins seized would stretch about half the length of the Siegfried Line.’Posted in News