The collection contains copies of the diaries of William Gould in microfilm format (MS 736/1-4) and in modern transcription and extract form (MS 736/5-8).
They provide a rare insight into the working life of an 18th-century land agent, responsible for many aspects of the administration of two substantial Mdlands estates. There is particular interest in the details provided about the lives and estates business of the Cavendish family (Dukes of Devonshire) and the Cavendish-Bentinck family (Dukes of Portland) at the end of the 18th century. In addition to their personal wealth and status, the two families wielded enormous local influence through their extensive landholding and their political interests. As their land agent, Gould had a close knowledge of their interests and activities.
The diaries also describe Gould in his domestic and social context, providing evidence of contemporary family life, local connections and social occupations.
The diaries complement the University's existing extensive holdings about the Cavendish-Bentinck Dukes of Portland, both within the main Portland (Welbeck) estate papers and in the Portland (London) collection, which includes correspondence of Gould.
The microfilms (MS 736/1-4) show that the four surviving diaries have vellum covers and contain the bookplate 'Ex Libris Geoffrey Briggs' [Geoffrey Gould Briggs (1914-1993), British lawyer and judge]. An earlier volume from April 1780 seems to have been lost. Gould wrote up the diary entries retrospectively from rough drafts.
There is a complete edited transcript of the diaries, 1783-1795, by M.J. Hanson on compact disc, including front matter, maps and indexes of individuals mentioned (2011) (MS 736/7).
The collection also contains various earlier typescript editions of the diaries by M.J. Hanson, as follows:
'Portland and Devonshire Agent: the Diary of William Gould, 1783-1795: Part One: 1783-1786' (2002) (MS 736/5/1)
'Portland and Devonshire Agent: the Diary of William Gould, 1783-1795: Part Two: 1787-1788 and Indexes to 1788' (2002) (MS 736/5/2)
'Portland and Devonshire Agent: the Diary of William Gould, 1783-1795: Part Three: 1789-1792 and 1795' (revised and amplified 2005) (MS 736/5/3)
'Portland and Devonshire Agent: the Diary of William Gould, 1783-1795: Part One: 1783-1789' (draft, June 2000) (MS 736/5/4)
'Portland and Devonshire Agent: the Diary of William Gould, 1783-1795: Part Three: January 1789-March 1792' (2004) (MS 736/5/5)
The collection also contains various digital versions of Hanson's earlier typescript editions:
3.5 inch floppy disc versions of Parts 1-2 of Hanson's typescript edition: 1783-1788 (2002), in MS Word for Mac format (MS 736/6/1-2)
CD containing PDF versions of Part 3 of Hanson's typescript edition: 1789-1792 and 1795 (2005), and of Part 4 which is not present in typescript: 1792, contains parts of 1793 and 1794, and all of 1795 (2005) (MS 736/6/3)
The collection also contains a typescript draft of 'Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Surnames, 1783-1792' by Michael Hanson (2004), an analysis of surnames encountered in the Gould diaries (MS 736/8).