If you have arrived here from an external catalogue or site welcome to ‘Dukesfield Documents’. Please take a look at the features on offer within this large 17th-19th century North-eastern history research archive centred on the Blackett and Beaumont lead business records by clicking on ‘Dukesfield Documents’ on the left of your screen.
The Allendale Estate papers at Woodhorn include most surviving papers, ledgers, accounts and office correspondence of the 18th century business of the Blackett family, commencing soon after the estates were inherited by Sir Walter Blackett in 1728, and passing from him to his cousin Sir Thomas Wentworth, who took the name Blackett on inheriting in 1777. He was succeeded by his daughter and son-in-law, Diana and Col Thomas Richard Beaumont in 1792, and they in their turn by their son Thomas Wentworth Beaumont in 1831. His descendants own the Allendale Estate today. The Blackett and Beaumont businesses were overseen by a chief agent. While their precise duties varied through time, they were generally responsible for all aspects of the management of the landed estate, lead and coal concerns, working from a succession of offices in Newcastle. Their voluminous records contain a huge amount of information from the late 1720s onwards, and are described fully within the Northumberland Archives catalogue. The papers transcribed within ‘Dukesfield Documents’ are as follows.
Agent Copy Letter Books (NRO 672/E/1E/1-7)
Outgoing business correspondence to sub-agents, lawyers, merchants, bankers, proprietors and others was copied by clerks into a series of ledgers. They survive in a nearly unbroken series from 1754, although the volume covering the years 1800-08 is now held by Tyne & Wear Archives rather than Woodhorn. A further isolated volume covering the years 1728-34 is now at the British Museum, but Woodhorn has a copy. Transcripts of both are included within ‘Dukesfield Documents’. Volumes which presumably once covered 1734-54 are now lost. Volume /4 overlaps with volume /3 and /5, appearing to have started at a time when management of the business was in transition between Henry Richmond and John Erasmus Blackett, Blackett starting volume /4 while Richmond was still alive and using volume /3. Unsurprisingly, given the length of the period covered, changing responsibilities and -it is suspected- the interests and focus on the successive postholders, the content and coverage of the letters varies greatly.
Lead Production Accounts (NRO 672/E/1B/1-6)
Financial accounts and ledgers survive for most years between 1727-1840, in varying levels of detail. They were summarised quarterly and annually in a series of journals (NRO 672/E/1B/1-8) under numerous account headings. Those relating to lead production have been abstracted into standard tables for each year (currently covering 1728-1800) together with miscellaneous line items as a single file available for download. This is in spreadsheet format to allow for further manipulation by researchers. Further information is given on the first tab of the file. This data is not included in the searchable text database. A different perspective on the financial state of the lead business is available, mostly for 1793, from presently uncatalogued Allendale Estate papers and transcribed for download here.
A great deal of further financial detail is available to the serious researcher amongst other ledgers in this series held at Woodhorn, for full details of which reference should be made to the Northumberland Archives catalogue. They include cash books covering household accounts as well as the lead and land business (672/E/1A/1-17, covering 1722-1845), ledgers organised by various sub-accounts related to the mining areas, mills, lead purchasers etc. (672/E/1C/1-10, 1723-1832) and ledgers recording the despatch of lead and payments (672/E/1D/1-6, 1789-1840).
Transcripts of a small number of other items of potential lead industry interest within the Allendale Estate collection are also available here. They include the full contents of an important single volume of office copies of reports (672/E/1F/1) from the various field agents presented in letter format, which give detailed information on the Beaumonts’ lead mines and smelting mills between 1806-17, and – for the later years at least- details of the mining bargains struck with the various partnerships of lead miners. The letters in 672/A/34/9 are a selected extract from papers concerning the affairs of Mary Loraine (1716-79) who owned the Blackhall Smelting Mill for several years. It is possible they ended up amongst the Hexham Manor Court Clerks papers through John Bell, clerk of the court, and who seems from some of the contents to have been on good terms with Mrs Loraine. Legal judgements from 1767 in a case concerning Embley Fell, to the east of Devil’s Water in Hexhamshire are in NRO 672/A/34/14. This was very close to the mine documented at NRO 452/E/2/3/2 – see Miscellaneous. Within the collection of copy wills & inventories lodged in the Hexham Manor Court Office (NRO 672/A/31/38) is the will of Isaac Hunter II, one of the Dukesfield mill agents, accompanied by a set of letters from nearly 4 decades later which shed some light on the apparent defrauding of Hunter’s heirs by his brother-in-law and trustee Robert Surtees. A later deposit of papers at Woodhorn (NRO 2762) has yet to be fully catalogued. Selected contents from a number of boxes within this deposit are included here as Miscellaneous letters 1767-1846. They include -in Box C105- various letters of lead interest, including the original and slightly longer versions of some of John Mulcaster’s 1808-9 smelting mill reports, (copies of which are in NRO 672/E/1F/1 as described above). From Box C74 is a legal opinion on Sir William Blackett’s will, prepared for the Beaumonts in 1793, from Box C97 a few letters concerning the Rookhope to Allenheads road in 1839-42, and from C122 is a long letter from Thomas Sopwith in 1846 regarding the validity of a claim from the industrial chemist Thomas Richardson. NRO 2762 E/X16 contains a copy of Lord Chancellor Judge Jeffrey’s verdict in the Blackett vs Fenwick case of 1687, and the agreement between Fenwick and Blackett over mining rights in the manor of Hexham in 1695.