Papers of Henry Smith and family of Howden

Scope and Content

The collection comprises largely estate papers, especially sale and purchase documents, related to Thorpe Hall, near Howden, and farms with houses and cottages at Eastrington, Ousethorpe and Portington Grange. There is a farm wage cash book for 1932-3 and a few papers of the King and Liversedge families. There are three wills for Henry (Harry) Smith (1908, 1912, 1930).

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Smith was a yeoman, a reasonably large landholding farmer with property on the edges of Howden in the East Riding of Yorkshire. His wife, Mary Ann Small, was part of a successful family whose commercial ventures included bookselling, running lending library services, printing, running the Howden Post Office, selling medicines and banking. Her father may have been Alfred Small who ran a bookselling and printing business in Goole and who began the 'Goole and Marshland Gazette' in 1854 before selling it to the larger newspaper, the 'Goole Times'. It is clear from the family papers that Henry Smith and his family benefited from a trust set up by Alfred Small when he died in 1868. Alfred Small's brother, William Small, ran a similar bookselling and printing operation in Howden and lived with their sister, Justice Small. He was responsible for printing one of the first ever railway timetables in 1837. Justice was named after their uncle, William Andrews Justice (d.1830), who had built up the bookselling business and even set up the Howdenshire Savings Bank in Bridgegate. He appears to have left the proceeds of his business to his two nephews who carried on in the same trade (Butler, Howden, pp.112-13, 118).

Henry and Mary Ann Smith had five children. Their son, Alfred Penrose Smith, appears to have followed his father into farming. In the 1890s and 1900s the family lived at Thorpe Hall which had belonged to Alfred Small. In 1906 Henry Smith bought Grange Court and Portington Grange estate (341 acres) for £9750. He also owned land at Cowick and bought land at Barmby Marsh and his wife inherited a house at Laxton through Alfred Small. Henry and Ann Smith had four daughters, one of whom had become Elizabeth Justice Edwards by 1908 when Henry Smith left his first will. They also had three other unmarried daughters (Dorothy Mary, Emma Martin and Marion Marguerite) whom he decided to provide for by leaving them Portington Grange. His son was to receive various farm lands and his wife was already provided for through her family settlement. When he made his final will in 1930 his son had either died or been cut out and another daughter had married. The property was lived in by the two daughters until the last was sold up in 1940 and the proceeds split between the daughters.

James Willis Mills of Crust, Todd and Mills was a friend of Henry Smith and managed his affairs in the final years of his life, becoming a trustee of his estate after his death.

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