Farnborough village 1821 Census Thomas Elkington Downloads and links Contact
Go to the Littlebeams site to see more Little Histories, mainly in Warwickshire. Go to the Littlebeams home page to see details of more Little Histories A Little History of Farnborough, Warwickshire

Thomas Elkington His Book  1758-9

Accounts of an estate servant to William Holbech of Farnborough Hall

Introduction to the Accounts

These accounts are record payments made and expenses incurred by Thomas Elkington during the period February 1758 to February 1759, and noted by him in the blank pages of his 1758 Rider’s British Merlin almanac.

His little pocket book measures 3½ x 5 ins. (9 cm by 12.5 cm) and is  bound in roughly stitched and now tattered hide, a binding possibly even made by Thomas himself. It provides a fascinating glimpse of his wider world, on a planet created, we are told, 5,707 years previously.

Thomas appears to have been an outdoor servant of William Holbech of Farnborough Hall, which is to this day the residence of members of the Holbech family, although now owned by the National Trust.

To judge from the entries recorded, Thomas was responsible among other things for procuring game for his master’s table. A finely built game larder still stands in the grounds of the Hall. He records his annual “wager” as £6, which suggests a status equivalent to a groom or under-gardener.


Based purely on historical inflation rates this would amount to only £1,000 today. However, it would quite probably have been “all found”, with free board and also lodging, if, that is, he did not sleep at home, which was almost certainly little more than a mile/1.6 km  away from the Hall. As for clothing, we know that he paid 16 shillings (80p) for “two new hatts” and three shillings (15p) for “two pare of new Gloves”, and also bought a wig, but whether or not they were for himself, they are also included as expenses. Then there was his horse: a new “Sursingle” (surcingle,) a girth or strap for securing a saddle, cost him 1s 6d (8p) and a “Cropper” (crop?) 5p. “Shoeing & bleeding & Oyling” was also 1s 6d.

This Thomas Elkington may have been the son of another Thomas, a yeoman farmer of Mollington, Oxfordshire, just over the county boundary from neighbouring Farnborough. Thomas senior was baptised at nearby Cropredy, Oxon, in 1688, and buried there in 1765, having had at least seven children - three sons and four daughters - by his wife Elizabeth (née Toms). He thus outlived his son Thomas, the possible owner of the pocket book, who was christened at Mollington on April 15 1733 and buried at Cropredy at the early age of 29 or 30 years, on February 18 1763, apparently unmarried.

Accounts 1  4 + index Accounts 3 Ancestry of Thomas Elkington Accounts 2

Farnborough Hall was rebuilt in the 1740s in the fashionable Palladian style. Characterised by Classical forms, symmetry, and strict proportion, the exteriors of Palladian buildings were often austere. Inside, however, there was elaborate decoration, gilding and ornamentation. The building we see today is largely unchanged, so just as Thomas Elkington would have known it.