The household account books contain weekly accounts of the consumption of foodstuffs, beverages, animal fodder and other consumables at Dunham Massey Hall, Stables and Home Farm. The account books provide valuable information on the household economy and organisation of a large country house, and on the relationship and interaction between the Hall and estate. They are also of interest to studies of agricultural practices, the prices and supply mechanisms of foodstuffs and household goods, and the dietary preferences and habits of the elite.
Each week's account is laid out on a single page, and is divided into the following sections:
1) Housekeeper's Bills: for items such as butter, eggs, fish, fowl, game, fruit, cakes, grocer's bills, thread, sand, earthenware. From February 1742/3 to October 1746 the housekeeper is named as Mrs Kinaston.
2) From the Dairy: items such as milk, butter for the kitchen, butter for the still room, cheese, eggs, geese, chickens, pigeons, game, pigs. From January 1821 items from the dairy or farm are recorded under the Housekeeper's Bills.
3) Used this Week: recording consumption of items such as soap, butter, cheese, pigeons, game; also items sent away as presents. The expenditure on these items is recorded in other sections; this section does not form part of the financial accounts.
4) Farming Steward's Accounts: recording the consumption of grain and meat at Dunham Massey Hall, Stables and Home Farm. The accounts specify the quantity and value of grain consumed under the following categories: wheat, malt, oats, "coachman" [oats for coach horses], poultry oats, draught [horse] oats, swine meal, "shulling" [i.e. shelling, husks] for dogs and poultry, pigeon barley etc. The number, weight and value of animals slaughtered (cattle, sheep, lambs, pigs etc.) are also specified. Accounts are entered in the names of Thomas Hardey (Feb 1742/3-Dec 1760), Mr [Joseph] Phethean (Jan 1761-Mar 1774), Joseph Yearsley (Mar 1774-[c 1786: gap in records]), John Carter (Jan 1787-Apr 1788), Joseph Carter (Apr 1788-Jul 1797), John Astley (Jul-Sep 1797), John Davenport (Sep 1797-Jan 1836), William Thornton (Jan 1836-Dec 1838), and Henry Thornton (Jan 1839-Dec 1841).
5) House Steward's / Butler's Accounts: for wines, spirits, ale, and tallow and wax candles. The accounts are entered in the names of the house stewards, Mr [Thomas] Walton (Feb 1742/3-Mar 1747), George Cooke (Mar 1747-Dec 1790, with occasional entries in the name of Thomas Burgess between 1747 and 1753), Joseph Tubbs (Nov 1791-Mar 1792), William Bickers (May 1792-May 1793), James Amatt (May 1793-Feb 1799), Thomas Flood (May 1799-Feb 1800), Robert Foot (Jun 1800-May 1813), and John Parkhurst (May 1813-Aug 1819). Between 1787 and 1815 it was customary for the house steward or butler from Enville Hall to accompany the Grey family during its annual period of residence at Dunham Massey between July and November or early December each year. During these periods the accounts are entered in the name of this servant, rather than the resident Dunham house steward: Mr Warwick (1787-1792), Mr Fletcher (1793-1794), William Gibbons (1795), Joseph Edge (1796-1799), George Parsons (1800), and John Tyler (1801-1815, thereafter residing permanently at Dunham until Aug 1819). Parkhurst was succeeded as house steward by John Poole (1819-1834), John Howe (1834-1838) and George Anthony Dean (1838-1846). However the accounts are not entered in their names, but in that of the butler, Philip Osgood (though there are entries in Howe's name in the period Dec 1835-Aug 1836).
Total expenditure for the week is calculated at the foot of the page.
At the beginning of each year (on 25 March until 1752, thereafter on 1 January), an inventory of stock was taken: the housekeeper's stock of fowls (ending 1793); the livestock in the Stables and on the Home Farm (specifying numbers of coach horses, saddle horses, cart horses, brood mares, colts, yearlings, ponies, hack horses; milk cows, scotch milk cows, beef cows, scotch beef cows, bulls, bullocks, heifers, calves; wethers, rams, ewes; boars, sows, sucking pigs); the house steward's stock of wines and spirits in the cellars; and wax candles. The last inventory recorded was taken on 1 January 1835.
Items /1-8 are entitled "House Book" on the front covers.