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Edenhall: Introduction

Tuesday
Sep152009

1. Preface

 

In 2009, I saw that a dealer on eBay (Dennis Morrison, Border Stamps, Hawick) was selling documents from the Edenhall estate in Cumbria. These were mainly bills and receipts predominantly from the 18th century, with a few documents from the late 17th century and some from the early 1800s. Most of these documents contain personal names, usually the name of the tradesman who had submitted the bill or signed the receipt in addition to the name of the agent or steward who had paid the bill on behalf of the MUSGRAVE family. Some documents contain whole lists of names. In addition to the obvious relevance to family historians, the documents as a group also give a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of the MUSGRAVE family and the expenses involved in running a big household.

It saddened me that a family archive like this was being irretrievably dispersed, and I decided to transcribe the documents still offered for sale from the excellent photographs the seller had provided on eBay. Unfortunately many of the documents had already been sold, and for those the photos were no longer available. The transcriptions in Set 1 therefore only comprise 183 documents (although some of them consist of several original documents, so the total is almost 200). This represents a small fraction of those in the Edenhall archives.

After I completed my first transcription, Dennis Morrison put more documents up for sale. In addition, I found a few billheads advertised by other sellers also referring to the MUSGRAVEs of Edenhall. Therefore a second transcription document became necessary. The dates of the 358 original documents in Set 2 range from the mid 17th century to the late 19th century.

Set 3 contains transcriptions of Edenhall documents from a second box Dennis Morrison bought and put up for sale on eBay. As there are almost 1000 transcriptions in this set, it has been split chronologically into three subsets - Set 3a has documents from 1671 to 1823, Set 3b from 1824 to 1865, and Set 3c from 1868 to 1899.

I bought the remainders of the two boxes from Dennis and I am slowly working my way through the originals. The first five bundles are in Set 4 and range from the 1640s to about 1720 with a few later documents thrown in. Bundles 6-16 are in Set 5 and mainly contain receipts from 1726-1727. Bundles 17-32 and 33-48 are in Sets 6 and 7 respectively and contain documents predominantly from the 1730s. Set 8 comprises Bundles 49-55 mostly from the 1750s to 1760s, and Set 9 consists of Bundles 56-63 which are bills, receipts and many letters from the 1770s to 1790s with a few earlier documents in Bundle 63. Set 10 consists of Bundles 64-66 from 1808, 1816-17 and 1899 and is the end of the first box.

The intention is to donate the original documents to Carlisle Record Office once I have completed the transcriptions.

I have tried to transcribe the documents as accurately as possible and to preserve as much of their style as I could, but of course a typed transcription can never give the same impression as an original document, and in particular it cannot replace the personal touch of people’s signatures and marks. Old handwriting is not always easy to read, and there may well be transcription mistakes as well as typing errors, for which I apologise.

I have used the following rules when transcribing:

  1. All spelling is transcribed exactly as found in the document.
  2. If a word was difficult to read or the transcription made no sense, I have added a question mark or comment in square brackets [?]. If words or letters were completely illegible, they were replaced by asterisks *** .
  3. Surnames have been capitalised. All other use of capitals is as found in the document (sometimes it was difficult to decide whether initial letters were upper or lower case).
  4. Transcribed signatures are preceded by [signed].
  5. The marks made by people unable to write were represented with a letter or symbol as close as possible in their appearance to the original mark, but it was not always possible to find a closely matching symbol.
  6. If there were several pages to one document or several documents in the same lot, different pages and documents were separated by wavy lines ~~~~~~~ .

The documents are listed in chronological order, with a heading and some additional information (e.g. size and condition of the document) based on the seller’s or my own description of the item and occasionally some background information.

Sets 1 and 2 can both be downloaded as .pdf files, which each have alphabetical indexes of all personal and place names which appear in the documents, as well as a list of the MUSGRAVE baronets of Edenhall for quick reference.

The documents on Rumbutter can be searched for specific words with the help of the Rumbutter search engine. The tag system has been used to create an index of surnames by their standard spelling. Several documents had too many surnames for the tag system and have been given the tag “Not fully indexed”. The category system has been used to create an index of occupations and locations (counties and some places).

I hope that researchers will find these transcriptions useful not only as a resource for their own family history research but also as fascinating fragments of social history.

 

Petra E. Mitchinson

London, February 2010

Last updated in February 2012