THOMAS HACKETT, BISHOP OF DOWN AND CONNER JULY–SEPTERMBER 1674
(PRONI, D2056/1. Household account book kept by Edward Pierce as steward in Lisburn to Thomas Hackett, bishop of Down and Connor, 1674/7)
This is a daily record of the expenditure of the Edward Pierce steward to Thomas Hackett, bishop of Down and Connor, 1672–94. Hackett was an absentee for most of this time, mockingly referred to as the bishop of Hammersmith. He was deprived of the diocese in 1694 for simony, non-residence, and gross neglect. The expenses relate to Pierce’s household—possibly husband and wife and a servant—perhaps equating to small-scale gentry. The total expenditure on food and drink amounted to £35.40.
See J. B. Leslie, Biographical succession lists of the clergy of the Diocese of Down (Enniskillen: R. H. Ritchie, 1936).
FRANCIS HUTGHINSIN, BISHOP OF DOWN AND CONNER, 1729–1734
(PRONI, DIO/1/22/2. Personal expenditure book of Francis Hutchinson, bishop of Down and Connor)
This is a detailed account book kept for the bishop’s household for five years between 1729 and 1734. Hutchinson lived first in Lisburn and then at Portglenone House, County Antrim. In the 1830s Portglenone House stood in a demense of 250 acres that had been planted with beech, yews, and cypress trees in the eighteenth century. The account book relates to the central years of Hutchinson’s episcopacy when he was possibly living in Lisburn. The account is comprehensive, covering all the main categories of expenditure on food and drink. The total expenditure was £992.70.
See J. B. Leslie, Biographical succession lists of the clergy of the Diocese of Down (Enniskillen: R. H. Ritchie, 1936); Angélique Day, Patrick McWilliams, and Nóirín Dobson, Ordnance survey memoirs of Ireland: parishes of County Antrim VIII, 1831–5, 1837–8, vol. xxiii (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, 1993), 12.
THE DAILY ACCOUNT BOOK OF MATTHEW WEEKES, POSSIBLY THE STEWARD OF SIR LUGIUS O’BRIEN, EARL OF INCHIQUIN, OF DROMOLAND, NEWMARKET-ON-FERGUS, COUNTY CLARE, NEAR LIMERICK
(National Library of Ireland, MS 14477. Inchiquin MSS, January–March 1746)
The purchases were on a more or less daily basis for fairly small quantities. The large expenditure on fish may reflect the coastal location of the household. The absence of whiskey, wines, and spirits is probably explained by these expenditures being recorded (p.283) separately; there are purchases of these items recorded in a fragmentary account book of Sir Donat O’Brien in 1715 (NLI, MS, 14472). The total expenditure amounted to £6.23.
See John Ainsworth (ed.) The Inchiquin manuscripts (Dublin: Stationery Office, Irish MSS Commission, 1961).
KING HOUSEHOLD, BALLYLIN, COUNTY OFFALY, MARCH-DECEMBER 1763
(National Library of Ireland, MS 3519. Weekly account book)
This account book recorded approximately weekly purchases of food and drink. The size and status of the household are unclear. There were no purchases of fruit or vegetables recorded; these may have come from their own kitchen gardens. Similarly there were no groceries, wines, spirits, etc. The total expenditure on food and drink was £32.78.
TOWNLEY HALL, NEAR DROGHEDA, COUNTY LOUTH 1774–1777
(National Library of Ireland, MS 11909. Household accounts)
Townley Hall was the home of the Balfours, who were active in county politics and patrons of the arts. The accounts recorded more or less daily purchases of food, usually in small quantities. The exception was meat, which was bought in large joints. Practically nothing was apparently spent on wines, etc. but these were probably separately recorded (a wine book for 1793 survives and shows an expenditure of £150 on wines). Little was spent on fruit and vegetables, although the Balfours were large purchasers of vegetable seeds and fruit trees from a Dublin seed merchant and so presumably had extensive kitchen gardens. The total size of the household is not known. The total expenditure was £193.98.
R. S. GAREW OF WOODTOWN AND CASTLEBOROUGH, CO. WEXFORD,1738–1782, BUT MOSTLY BETWEEN 1746 AND 1780
(A. K. Longfield (ed.), The Shapland Carew Papers (Dublin: Stationery Office, Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1946))
Carew was a landed proprietor and lawyer who also had estates in County Waterford. The accounts recorded only two or three purchases each year, usually in large quantities involving heavy expenditure. They could be merchants’ accounts rather than those of a domestic household. They itemized relatively little meat and no fruit. The vegetable purchases, although small, were dominated by large quantities of potatoes. This series is unusual in that fish, groceries, and wines were the largest categories of expenditure. The total expenditure was £397.13.
(National Library of Ireland, MS 10276(3), doc. 6. Personal account book)
An account of the amount spent on food for five days by a member of the Balfour family of Townley Hall (see above). Nothing was spent on fruit or alcohol. The total expenditure amounted to £4.04.
ADLERCRON FAMILY, MOYGLARE, COUNTY MEATH AND DUBLIN AUGUST 1785–1786
(NLI, MS 3846. Personal account book)
The Adlercron family had land in County Meath and in America. This account recorded generally weekly purchases of relatively small amounts by a lady member of the family living in Dublin, possibly in Dawson Street. Groceries dominated the account, which suggests that other items, especially bread and grain, may not have been recorded regularly, or that the book was intended as a grocery book but was sometimes used for other pruposes. The total expenditure was £6.44.
FINGALL 1781–1799, COUNTY MEATH
(National Library of Ireland, MS 178036. Household accounts)
This is a series of overlapping household accounts, centring on the 1780s, of the Plunketts, earls of Fingall, at their family home, Killeen Castle, Dunsany, Co. Meath. The Plunketts were a prominent Anglo-Irish family active in Irish politics in the late eighteenth century, and during the nineteenth century in agricultural improvement. There were separate account books for meat, bread, wines, etc. that ran in parallel for long periods, although for some periods only certain books survive. Thus the figures presented here are a composite and may be distorted by missing books. The pattern of expenditure suggests that groceries were considerably underrepresented and that accounts for purchases of wines and spirits have survived better than other accounts. The size of the establishment is not known. The total expenditure was £1,028.01.
See Elizabeth, countess of Fingall, Seventy years young: memories … told to Pamela Hinkson (London: Collins, 1937); Margaret Digby, Horace Plunkett: an Anglo-American Irishman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1949); Trevor West, Horace Plunkett: co-operation and politics, an Irish biography, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1986).
CONOLLY, CASTLETOWN, COUNTY KILDARE, 1783–1787
(PRONI, Mic 435, reel 3. Large collection of estate and household accounts)
The Conollys were one of the great landowning families in Ireland, possessing vast estates created from land acquired from the Williamite confiscation by William Conolly, speaker of the Irish parliament. In the 1790s Thomas Conolly MP was (p.285) reputed the richest commoner in Ireland. The account book examined here stretches over four years and relates to an establishment that probably numbered in excess of 100 people, including family, servants, and estate workers. For meat, apart from lamb, bacon, and veal, the accounts listed quantities consumed but not values. The expenditure has been calculated using surrogate prices taken from the Fingall accounts. The justification for computing values is that estate consumption represented income forgone. Similarly the consumption of beer, milk, cream, and butter have been valued according to proxy taken mainly from the Fingall accounts. Wheaten flour has been treated in the same manner, but oat and oatmeal consumption was both recorded by quantity and value. Much of the latter may have been for animal consumption and for distributing to the poor. Groceries, including tea, sugar, and coffee, were entered by quantity only in these books but have been valued according to prices paid in 1791. The 1791 price list also refers to other groceries such as rice, ginger, and currants not included in the 1784–7 accounts. There was apparently no expenditure on wines and spirits; this was kept in separate books, which exist in the 1790s. The only reference to fruit and vegetables (apart from oranges and lemons) was to apples. Otherwise fruit and vegetables presumably came from kitchen gardens. The high level of spending on grain may explain the absence of any spending on bread. The total expenditure is estimated to be £7,130.90
See Stella Tillyard, Aristocrats (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994); Christopher Moore, ‘Lady Louisa Conolly: Mistress of Castletown 1759–1821’, in Jane Fenlon et al., New perspectives: studies in art history in honour of Anne O. Crookshank (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1987), 134–5.
(National Library of Ireland, MS 11909. Domestic account book)
This is another account book from Townley Hall (see above). It listed approximately weekly purchases of food but very little beer and whiskey and no wine or imported spirits. Nearly half the spending went on meat, poultry, and rabbits. The total expenditure was £228.70.
GRATTAN HOUSEHOLD ACCOUNT BOOK, TINNAHINCH, COUNTY LAOIS, 1821–1821
(National Library of Ireland, MS 14168. Account book)
This book records purchases of food and drink (but no wines or imported spirits), mostly in small quantities—except for meat—but usually every two or three days. Groceries costs were understated since quantities of tea and sugar were often entered without a price. This also happened, but less frequently, with oats, cheese, and butter. Meat, including beef, mutton, and bacon, was purchased in quantities of 20 or 30 pounds a time, approximately once a week. There was only one small purchase of salt recorded, suggesting that the household consumed the meat almost immediately. The purchase of ‘bread for haymakers’ in July 1822 hints that the household included farm-workers as well as family members. The total expenditure was £37.70.
(National Library of Ireland, MS 14342. Household account book)
This is a later account book of the Conolly household (see above). It covers only nine months. The meat—beef, mutton, pork—was all from animals killed on the estate. The price was entered, but noted as ‘killed for the house’ and ‘credit’. The total expenditure was £77.50.