Flooding, Helen, Volunteer Project

LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS: 17th and early 18th century mill accounts

We are looking for one or two volunteers to examine two sets of eighteenth century mill accounts from Burton-on-Trent and Stafford to reconstruct expenses and grain prices over short (roughly five to ten year) periods. This will help the historic flooding and drought project, raise the profile of the accounts in the Record Office’s collection, and will help create resources for future research and outreach. 

This project involves looking at the accounts for Burton mills 1703-1708 and Stafford mills 1630-1680. Both contain accounts for grain sales and expenses so have the potential to be an insight into grain prices and mill functioning in 17th-18th century Staffordshire. If you are interested, you’ll be asked to transcribe the accounts into a spreadsheet so that the information can be used more easily. This might result in graphs of grain prices, better cataloging of the accounts, or be used for future public engagement, as well as benefiting the flood and drought project.

The Burton accounts (shown above) are very clear and straightforward to read. They have excellent handwriting and are very neatly laid out. They contain weekly grain sales, wages, and expenses for the care of the mill horses. Because they are so straightforward, the Burton accounts are probably the best place to start!

The Stafford accounts are a little messier, and more piecemeal. The only consistently present accounts are between 1670 and 1680. They will prove a little more challenging, firstly in figuring out how the different accounts fit together and relate to one another, and dealing with the rather messy handwriting! However they are also formulaic (due to their nature as accounts) which will help hugely when deciphering them!

You would have the assistance from Helen and Alice, and project could be an interesting chance to expand palaography skills. We run the Historic Flood and Drought volunteer group on Thursday’s from 10 til 12, so ideally you would attend to work alongside the other volunteers. However if time or distance is a problem, there is the possibility of photographing the documents to view at home or working at the Staffordshire Record Office in your own time. It’s likely to take abround 3 months, but there are not time constrictions if it turns out to be quicker, or need longer.

If you are interested, either email helenh@liverpool.ac.uk or fill out the form below:


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