This series of material relates to the management of property and land, mostly in the Cavendishes' posession. It includes rentals, surveys and memoranda books relating to Cavendish family estates in: Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Somerset. It also includes items about land that was not owned by the Cavendish family but has had some connection to the family either through marriage or in Sir William Cavendish's case because of his role as a courtier.
The rentals provide a lot of information about how much income was being returned from which estates as well as the names of tenants who resided there. They also include information about the types of property rented, the bailiffs who were responsible for collecting these rents and the frequency with which rents and heriots (a tax of money, equipment or livestock owed on the death of a tenant) were collected or tenants fined.
The surveys mostly relate to land which William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire or his mother, Elizabeth Talbot, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, had acquired, including from his uncle James Hardwick. The survey of Ireland and the financial account of William Brabazon in Ireland are some of the anomalies in the group in that they do not relate to land owned by the family. Howeve they may have come to be in the collection due to Sir Henry Cavendish's deployment to Ireland in 1540. Similarly the Fairfax evidences do not relate to Cavendish-owned land. However, these were acquired much later and would not have been part of the original records compiled by the earls.
The memoranda books in this series seem to mostly relate to receipts for rent and livestock, as well as notes regarding leases and inventories of various kinds. They are largely authored by upper servants of the househould and most that survive in this collection were Humphrey Poole's working documents. A lot of these memoranda books cover a large date span and may have been used by multiple people. The fact that a number of the memoranda books are rough in nature and rentals are compiled over some time in various hands by Derbyshire receivers Humphrey Poole and Richard Derrey, suggest that the collection was a result of their daily work rather than solely the records kept by the earl and countesses for their reference or examination.
The only volume here that likely had a more formal use is HMS/2/15 which contains as well as lease and rental information, copies of wills, letters patent and other indentures relating to the family and specifically property ownership. Having said this, it may well have functioned in a similar way to the other rougher memoranda books, as a reference copy for receivers when dealing with the management of the land. Countess Christian enabled the restoration of the family finances after her husband the 2nd Earl died in debt, through the careful management of land and leases and this is reflected to an extent in the indentures copied into this large book.
Unlike the financial account books, many of these volumes have kept their original binding, which is of fine material such as suede calf and vellum, suggesting they were intended to last through many decades of use.