Saturday, September 28, 2013

Researching a small estate - Tring Grove

This month's analysis of the entries in William Brown's Account Book relate to the sale of the Tring Grove Estate in 1854. See Lord Lake & Sale of Tring Grove in 1854.
William Brown was asked to sell the Tring Grove Estate as a result of a dispute in Chancery relating to the will of Lord Lake, of Aston Clinton. The account book describes the preparation for the sale, and expenses relating to the sale - but it does not detail the property -which would have been described in a prospectus. To demonstrate the kinds of information involved in researching a property of this nature I look at various sources.
  • I start by summarising the folios in the account book - with links to the original text.
  • I identify Lord Lake, and briefly refer to the Court of Chancery case - This would make an interesting story in its own right - but will have to wait.
  • I use the British Newspaper Archive to locate the advert for the sale, and an account of the sale which gives the winning bids - but does not identify the buyers.
  • I then look at various printed maps between 1766 and 1898. The early maps show a large house in a park - but this vanishes from the maps - and is not mentioned in the sale. This raises an additional task to solve.
  • I check the main histories of Hertfordshire, and books on Tring. One book lists the owner and tenants at the time of inclosure in 1797 - but otherwise there was nothing relevant. The older histories undoubtedly failed to mention it because it was not a historic manor.
  • I then search the Access to Archives data base to see what kind of material is available in various records offices. Following this up is a later task, but it is useful to know what information will be available later.
  • The next stage was to check the British Newspaper Archive for references to owners and occupiers prior to the sale. The earliest local papers date from the 1830s but some useful earlier references were found. Sometimes information comes in unexpected forms. An article on the advantages of living in America ended with a list of the bigger houses at Tring - which makes it clear that Grove House had been demolished (probably in the 1810s. (If your ancestor left Tring for America in 1828 this article will explain why!)
  • Having identified some names I uses the census to get more details of the farming families in 1851 and 1861. This made it clear that while Grove Park Farm and Tring Grove Farm were separate in 1851, after the sale the two merged to form one larger farm.
  • I then checked some details with county trade directories.
  • In addition to the Account Book I also have minute books for the Tring Agricultural Association and extracted relevant information about the farms.
  • I then summaries what I have learnt about the nine properties which were included in the sale. 
  • I end with an overall summary of what has been achieved so far. In theory I would now be extending the research by visiting various archive offices to look at the documents they have. Because of other demands on my time I have no immediate plans to take this further, but if I am visiting any of the archives for other purposes I will try and find time to consult relevant documents.

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