Mill Account Books

Scope and Content

The old mill near the Hall at Dunham Massey was built in 1616 by Sir George Booth (1566-1652). It was powered by water fed from the moat and functioned as a corn mill until the nineteenth century when it was converted into a saw mill. It was not the miller (who was paid a fixed wage) but the farming steward who accounted to the owner of Dunham Massey for the profit of the mill. This derived in part from the exaction of a toll from the lord's tenants who were required under the terms of their leases to grind their corn at the lord's mill. The toll was a fixed proportion of the corn ground, although it appears to have been commuted in the nineteenth century to a monetary fee.

In the weekly accounts toll corn was treated separately from other categories of milling, with the following information provided: the name of the tenant, the type of grain (wheat or barley), the quantity of toll (in pecks), and the monetary value. It is not clear whether payment was made in kind, or was commuted to an equivalent monetary sum. Quantities of toll are not recorded after the 1820s, suggesting that by then they had been commuted to a monetary fee.

Following the toll corn, other receipts for rolling malt and grinding corn are recorded in the weekly accounts, for which the following information is given: the name of the client, the type of grain, the quantity (in loads), and the sum paid. As well as wheat and barley, oats, beans and offals were ground.

From December 1782 there are annual summary accounts which include: receipts and disbursements for toll corn and rolling malt; receipts for rolling malt and grinding wheat and barley for the Hall and for the poor, and for grinding meal for poultry; payments including the miller's wages and bills for repairs to the mill; finally a calculation of the clear profit for the year.

The accounts were returned in the names of Joseph Yearsley (1784-1785), John Carter (1786-1787), Joseph Carter (1788-1797), John Astley (1797), John Davenport (1797-1835), and William Thornton (1836-1844), [farming stewards].

Acquisition Information

All items were received from Dunham Massey Hall on 27 March 1992; provenance: Instrument Room off the Library.