financial account Books

Scope and Content

These financial account books, other than a few exceptions, were largely the result of the administration of the Cavendish family estates and households across Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire, under Sir William Cavendish and Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury; William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire; William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire; Christian Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire and wife to the 2nd Earl; Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire and wife to the 3rd Earl; and to a lesser extent William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire.

The financial accounts include books of both expenditure and income. There are different types of books: summary financial account books providing a brief of receipts and payments (brief books); day books for kitchen financial accounts; Privy Purse financial accounts; stable financial accounts; household steward financial accounts; rental financial accounts; as well as financial account books for Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, Countess Christian and Countess Elizabeth's personal expenditure. These financial accounts reflect the system in use and are often interlinked.

Taken as a series, the financial accounts are a rich source of detail about aristocratic life in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, yielding information on such diverse subjects as the employment details of servants to the annual cost of a New Year's gift to Queen Elizabeth I. Many volumes were extensively annotated by the family members responsible for them.

Elizabeth Talbot's financial accounts for the building of Hardwick Hall can also be found in this series. The financial accounts cover her time as wife to William Cavendish, William St Loe and George Talbot.

Under the 1st Earl's management of the Cavendish family estates there developed a system whereby the finances were managed by two main Receivers in Derbyshire and London. The Derbyshire Receiver's financial accounts show that he made local payments, disbursed money to sub-financial accountants or upper servants and financial accounted for income received from bailiffs of northern estates rents, the sale of crops, livestock and coal and returned any left over money to the London Receiver. The London Receiver in turn had a larger outgoing of disbursements to the Earl, stewards and upper servants, as well as making some payments and receiving income from mostly southern estates rents via bailiffs, windfall from land sales and returns on investments in overseas ventures with companies such as the East India Company.

The expenditure from disbursements made to upper servants is recorded in itemised detail through the day books kept by these individuals and the record of the House Steward's disbursements to other servants are recorded in his financial account book with finer detail in their own books. Only a small example of these day books kept by other servants now exist (e.g. stable financial accounts for 1666-69). The financial accounts of the London Receiver are similarly largely lost and only known from copies written into the Derbyshire Receiver's financial accounts and brief books. Across this series, the survival of financial account books has been haphazard and what remains is a small selection of the many that would have been in use during this century and a half.

As well as providing very granular detail of what the family spent money on over the course of the late 16th and 17th century, as a group these financial accounts also provide some insight into the roles of key players who assisted with the management of the estates. The various and changing roles of individual upper servants like Timothy Pusey, Roland Harrison, Humphrey Poole, Richard Derrey and James Whildon can also be tracked through these records. They are also a rich resource for research into local families in the employ of the Cavendishes. Servants' wages which are often included in the financial account books list names as well as amounts paid and sometimes work carried out by these people. Certain servants clearly worked on these estates for their entire lives.

The following shows where certain financial accounts can be found in the volumes that relate to the Receiver financial accounting system catalogued here:

London Receiver receipts: briefs

HMS/1/18 (formerly HM/27)

HMS/1/23 (formerly C/34)

HMS/1/ 26 (formerly HM/30b)


London Receiver payments

HMS/1/16 (formerly HM/29)

HMS/1/18 (formerly HM/27)

HMS/1/20 (formerly HM/30)

HMS/1/21 (formerly C/32)

HMS/1/23 (formerly C/34)

HMS/1/26 (formerly HM/30b)


Disbursements by London sub-financial accountants: House Steward

HMS/1/19 (formerly HM/30a)

HMS/1/31 (formerly HM/32)

HMS/1/28 (formerly HM/33)

HMS/1/37 (formerly HM/36)

HMS/1/36 (formerly HM/66a) - missing

HMS/1/39 (formerly HM/16)

Kitchen financial accounts

HMS/1/22 (formerly C/29)

HMS/1/43 (formerly HM/41)

HMS/1/45 (formerly HM/41a)

Derbyshire Receiver receipts: brief books

HMS/1/18 (formerly HM/27)


HMS/1/23 (formerly C/34)


HMS/1/40 (formerly C/33)


Derbyshire Receiver receipts day books

HMS/1/24 (formerly HM/31)

HMS/1/30 (formerly HM/35)

HMS/1/44 (formerly HM/40)

Derbyshire Receiver payments: brief books






Derbyshire Receiver payments in full

HMS/1/16 (formerly HM/29)

HMS/1/17 (formerly HM/29B)

HMS/1/29 (formerly HM/34)

HMS/1/35 (formerly HM/42A)

The following item is missing: HM/66a - House Steward financial account book of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, 1663-1667 (HMS/1//36). It may in fact be HM/36 mistakenly recatalogued by Strong.

Administrative / Biographical History

Timothy Pusey was Ellizabeth Talbot's steward and business manager. He had considerable legal experience and travelled with Elizabeth on her eight-month stay in London in 1591. His hand can be seen in a number of the account books in this series.

Humphrey Poole was auditor for the accounts c.1642 under Countess Christian and then became derbyshire receiver and bailiff for the Chatsworth, Hardwick and Nottinghamshire estates. He died on 5 August 1667. His distinctive hand can be seen in a number of the brief books.


The account books have been arranged chronologically because so many volumes no longer exist, it would not be possible to reconstruct the full arrangement of the accounts in a hierarchically meaningful way. Additionally some accounts are inserted within other books or other collections.


Some rearranging of the individual account books took place when these were rebound in the 19th/20th century.

Separated Material

Account material that is evidently related to the Hardwick Manuscripts can be found in the AS (Additional Series) series at Chatsworth Archives. The item listed below are separated items in the AS series (dating from 1681-1699) that were most likely separated from the main account run due to either being located elsewhere such as the Estate Office or due to being individual sheets that may have once been inserted into some of the bound volumes of HMS/1 such as HMS/1/42 (for the most part each reference below includes one sheet). The relevant items are as follows:

J. Whildon's Disbursements:

AS/485 summary accounts (1695-1696)

AS/1119 statement of steward accounts (1688-1690) 22 sheets

Chatsworth Subsidiary Accounts:

AS/134 Accounts at Chatsworth rough day copy (1681 - 1682)

Accounts of Robert Stafford (includes entries for husbandry, stables, household charges, building and alterations - some garden work)

AS/399 (1684-1685)

AS/400 (1685-1686)

AS/401 (1686)

Steward Accounts of Joseph Randall

AS/498 (1670)

AS/499 (1673)

AS/504 (1673)

Chatsworth Garden Accounts

AS/502 (1668-1681)

AS/396 (September 1684-March 1685)

AS/397 (September 1684-March 1685)

Chatsworth Granary Accounts

AS/394 (1684-1685)

AS/395 (1685-1686)

Chatsworth Cattle and Sheep Accounts

AS/392 (1685)

AS/393 (1686)

Farm Accounts

AS/134 (1681-1682)

AS/503 (1681-1682)

AS/133 (1682-1683)

Stables Account

AS/489 (1677-78)

Custodial History

The survival of these account books at Hardwick over such a long period is in part due to the relatively unchanging way in which the Cavendish family compiled accounts for the best part of a century from the time of Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, to William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire. Once this accounting system changed by 1700 and Chatsworth became the main family seat after 1694, the manuscripts probably remained at Hardwick, there being no reason for them to be moved at that time.

This collection is by no means a complete sequence of accounts and many volumes have likely been lost, damaged or discarded over the centuries.

There are also a number of similar account books which were not listed in Strong's original 1908 catalogue owing to them being held elsewhere. C/29, C/32, C/33 and C/34 came to Chatsworth Archives from the estate office in Edensor along with the rest of the composite C series collection of estate papers, in the 1950s. Given that their administrative relation to the rest of the account books in the Hardwick Manuscripts collection is evident, and the C series is largely an artificial composite collection, it was decided that these item should be removed and placed back with the Hardwick Manuscripts, as Strong may well have done, had she known of their existence.

Related Material

The continuation of the accounts for the building of Chatsworth in the later 17th cenutry, under the 1st Duke of Devonshire, are catalogued as GB 2495 CH37.

HMS/5/3 is an account book belonging to William St Loe which would have been kept during the time Elizabeth Cavendish was married to St Loe.

GB 2495 H/144 includes some loose accounts dating from 1602-1705.

GB 2495 H/143 includes a number of loose bills relating to the accounts of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, c.1650-60s.


An introduction, indexes and calendar of HMS/1/15 and quotes from HMS/1/13 are provided in: Riden, Philip. The Household Accounts of William Cavendish, Lord Cavendish of Hardwick, 1597-1607. Chesterfield: Derbyshire Record Society, 2016, Vol. XL, Part 1-3.

A transcript of HMS/1/27 is available in: Brodhurst, Frederick, Accounts of lady s waiting woman, for Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire, (1656 1662) , Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 27, (1905), 1 10.

Discussion of the accounting system in use in the 17th century by the Cavendishes can be found in: Riden, Philip, The Hardwick Estate: Report prepared for the National Trust, Victoria County History Trust, 2004, pp. 18-68.

The Historical Manuscripts Commission's third report (1872) mentions these account books in brief on p. 43-44.

Family Names