Institution and estate accounts

This guide was last updated in 2014

If you are lucky, you may find your tradesman mentioned in account books.

Those for institutions such as workhouses, prisons and hospitals are most likely to have survived, but church and estate accounts may also have survived and be found in local record offices.

Mary Berry was lucky to find that her ancestor Robert Houghton supplied bread to the workhouse and prison in Norwich. Such institutions kept good records of payments to suppliers in minute books and accounts.

Those held at Norfolk Record Office for 1834 for example show Robert Houghton being paid 4/6 for supplying 580 loaves. Mary’s printer ancestor, Christopher Berry, is also listed in the workhouse accounts in the early 1800s as receiving regular payments of between one and four pounds for printing services.

Check the relevant local archive’s online catalogue to see if there are any likely surviving records that may list your ancestor.

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