The bundle contains quarterly statements of the account of George Cooke [house steward at Dunham Massey Hall], with the Earl of Stamford. Each quarterly account consists of a single sheet of paper. On the left-hand side are recorded debit items, receipts of cash for which Cooke was answerable to Lord Stamford. On the right-hand side are recorded credit items, disbursements allowed to Cooke. The balance, the sum due to the Earl of Stamford from Cooke is calculated by deducting the total on the credit side from the total on the debit side.
Debit items consist of cash receipts from Isaac Worthington on account for the Earl of Stamford, receipts of interest on a mortgage and bond from Sir Henry Mainwaring bart, and occasional receipts from sales of scrap iron, lead, bricks and other old materials.
In 1773 credit items are listed chronologically. From January 1774 onwards credit items are arranged by category; from September 1774 there are invariably three categories, headed "To the House" (household expenditure), "To the Poor" (money used for charitable purposes) and "Other Payments".
Household expenses include: repairs and redecoration to Dunham Massey Hall, including bills from carpenters, plumbers, blacksmiths, coopers, plasterers, painters and glaziers; furniture and furnishings; kitchenware, household goods, tin goods, cutlery, porcelain, paper, candles; repairs to and cleaning of silverware, clocks and locks; salt, hops, malt, wines and spirits, bottled water; and carriage of goods. In early years the category also includes the making and repairing of servants' livery, clothes and shoes, but these items are later transferred to Other Payments.
Money expended on the poor includes: money distributed among the poor in several townships; donations to individual poor persons; payments for the schooling and maintaining of poor scholars and the apprenticing of poor children; purchases of cloth and clothing; medical bills; payments to poor persons in compensation for the loss of cows and fire damage to their property; repairs to Seamon's Moss School.
Other payments include: travelling expenses, carriage of maids to and from Enville Hall [co. Staffs], conveyance of hounds and horses to and from Enville and Bradgate [co. Leics], conveyance of game, and carriage of goods and letters; payments of interest on bonds; disbursements on roads; payments to servants for disbursements; newspapers and bookbinding bills; farriers' bills; payments to William Wainwright for tuning musical instruments and "fiddling for the ladies".
Particular instances of the recurrent items of receipt and expenditure listed above have generally been omitted from the following piece-level descriptions. However, information has been included on more unusual or noteworthy items of receipt and expenditure. Fractions of pennies have been omitted, resulting in minor arithmetical discrepancies.
Most pieces are endorsed "Mr Cooke's Accounts" in the hand of the 5th Earl of Stamford.