Extensive records provide valuable insight
James Clitherow (1731 – 1805) was the fourth Clitherow to own the Manor of Boston in Brentford and the third one called James. He inherited on the death of his father and wrote two years later - ‘On my father’s death May 3rd 1752 I found myself then above 20years old in possession as it appeared to me to be a plentiful estate in land and on first view of things a large sum of ready money, but happily for me I had the prudence to make a thorough inspection into the whole before I settled the future plan of my life, happily I say for had I not done so in all probability great hardship, mortifications if not utter ruin had been my lot’.
He found he was responsible for debts, repairs, taxes and legacies ‘a sum much beyond what I can ever hope to discharge without a large increase in fortune’ he wrote and therefore resolved ‘to pursue my journey in life guided by Integrity, Honour and Prudence’ and described how he proposed to set out his accounts following the example of his grandfather, Christopher.
The majority of the family papers in the London Metropolitan Archives that cover over 300 years history have more documents, records, leases, account books and letters from the period of this James’s ownership than any other and give fascinating glimpses of life in the 18th century.
They also give rise to many questions.
His book that details the household expenses covers the period from 1757 when, as he says ‘I married and started housekeeping’ to 1804 when his handwriting deteriorated shortly before his death. James married Ann Kemeys of Bartholey in Monmouthshire on January 28th 1757. His expenses that year showed he had paid £24.7.6d for his Monmouthshire journey and later 15/- for a ‘new side and glass for the post chaise’. I wonder if it was damaged on the trip. Certainly he recorded buying a coach and gelding from Mr Greening presumably to provide them with more comfortable travel.
On June 13th 1759 Ann had a new gown that cost £10.10.0.
The sepia copy of this picture in the 1920s sale catalogue shows them on the west bank of the river Brent with the house visible through a break in the trees to the east.
Over 30 years later another cascade is mentioned after the building of the Grand Junction Canal in 1794.
That was probably what is now the weir where the river Brent curves off the canal and bye passes what is now Clitheroe Lock.
James and Ann had two daughters born in 1760 after which Ann was ill and James records the cost of the doctor, surgeon, apothocary and midwife ‘attending my dearest during her long illness’. Ringers at the church were paid after the birth of the eldest daughter but not, it seems the following three or the two after the son and heir, another James who was born in 1766.
Then, as well as the nurse and midwife, the minister and clerk, ringers were paid and £5 was ‘given ye poor in meat and money ye day my Boy was christened’.
In 1778 a harpsichord was bought that cost £54.1.6 but as a gift of £21 had been received from his aunt this was noted as being deducted from the cost. An entry the following year ‘pd my wife ye Dancing master 4 Girls £21’ with a week later ‘Musick master 2 eldest £29’ followed by ‘Writing master 3 Girls 1 year £13.3.0’. Later the cost of ‘picture frames for my girls drawings £1.18.6’ was recorded.
In 1773 son James went away to school. It’s recorded as ‘pd Entrance for my Dear Boy at Mr Longmore’s school at Kensington £6.6.0’ and his school fees appear regularly until the cost of setting up his accommodation at Christ Church, Oxford.
In 1784 ‘Mr Romney’ was paid £21 for painting ‘my Son’s Picture, a Present to Dr Heath’. The frame cost £2.10.0 and a copy that cost £24 was paid for the following year. A later descendent has made a note in the book that the second picture was the one hanging in the house at the time he was writing early in the 20th century but who was Dr Heath and is the one now in the house the first or second picture?
There was continuous work in the house and on the estate.
October 26, 2012