Thomas Elkington His Book 1758-
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-
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 -