As major users of water systems, mills seemed like an obvious place to look for evidence of water management and its problems. This project covers mills just before the industrial revolution, and is looking at their day to day running. I’ve got two main strands of the project I’d like to explore:
– Leases: there are hundreds of leases in the Staffordshire Record Office for mills and the surrounding land, within which there are a few series of leases for individual mills. I’d like people to look through them for terms relating to water, rivers, drainage, maintenance, or anything else that might be interesting. They are mostly in English, in a reasonably neat hand, but do vary in how easy they are to read. So far we’ve found requirements for maintaining drainage, and the Earl of Uxbridge restricting his tenants’ fishing rights!
– Mill accounts: searching the SRO, I’ve found only two sets of accounts for mills in this period. The first, Stafford Mills accounts 1630-1680, have details of profits, quantities of grain milled, repairs and what looks like a major building work. Meanwhile Burton Mills joint annual accounts (no. C.1703-1708) appear to be general accounts, though they currently have very little description in the archive catalogue. The handwriting on the latter is very clear and readable, so would be a good way of easing into reading 17th and 18th century writing, however the Stafford accounts are more challenging. I would like someone to examine the accounts and gather data on expenses and profits, and note any little gems that could be added to the catalogue description!
From this I’m hoping to create new index terms for the SRO catalogue, and see what overlooked information can be gleaned about the history of Staffordshire’s mills. If you’re interested in the project, please contact me through the form below.