Journal Entry – William Hooper – 14 Mar 1833

Document Type: Journal Entry
Date: 14 Mar 1833
Correspondent: William Hooper
Archive Source: TNA ADM 80 16
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Thursday 14th March 1833

Resumed my examination early this morning by visiting Newlands South Farm and Mill, and found the latter, in common with all the Mills of the Hospital I have yet seen, to be a sort of incubus, a dead weight upon the Revenue.  A new Water-wheel is about to be put in, ordered last year, and estimated at £118.19.4., and there are now other necessary repairs which will cost 40 or 50 more.  I inspected and minutely noted all that seemed requisite, but would decide on nothing without further enquiry and consideration.  Met Mr Robinson the tenant of the Colliery Farm, and Richley who rented the Colliery, when the latter gave his assent to my terms, and immediately proceeded with Mr Robinson to give him quiet possession – I trust the Board will consider the circumstances sufficiently strong to justify this arrangement, which if not settled on the spot, would have led to greater sacrifice and inconvenience, for the tenant of the farm had a just claim on the Hospital for any damage he might sustain, in consequence of his having taken the farm when the Colliery was off work, and when there was no expectation of its being re-opened. – Mr Robinson agreed to pay £20 a year for the Colliery from May next.  

My next examination was Newlands Haugh Farm, where the House and Homestead is in a dangerous and ruinous condition, but the tenants, over-rented on the one hand, and having an arrear of £200 on the other, cannot possibly undertake the leading, and the New Buildings have been delayed in consequence.  I have already mentioned that the Estimate for the Buildings ordered is above £700, and this does not include any cart-shed, Hemels, or Barn, all necessary to the Homestead, and which upon the scale of the other Estimates cannot be less than three or four hundred pounds more.  I feel peculiar difficulty about these tenants, for while I believe them to be honest industrious young men, who are struggling hard to pay off the arrear accumulated by their father, I can see nothing but ruin in the accumulation of difficulties – the Commissioners have consented to accept the arrears by instalments of £25 a year, but I fear their present high rent will render even this impossible, so that to incur expense in leading is hopeless and yet the Commissioners ought not to depart from this principle of the tenants leading, for many obvious reasons, and there is a striking instance at the West farm here of the evil of such departure, and yet the Fewsters must have relief – My opinion is that a House and Homestead may be planned upon a more moderate scale of expenditure, and that the tenant should rub on this year, which is the worst known for farmers in this County within the present generation, in his present ruinous habitation.  Next year the Buildings should be commenced on the tenants undertaking to lead, and provided they keep up the prompt payment of growing rents, they should be forgiven so much of the arrear as will cover the expense of leading, or the whole of the arrear in the expense of leading exceeds it.  In my examination of these farms, I have carefully and attentively enquired into the circumstances, prospects, and views of the tenantry, and the condition of the farms, with reference to the petition forwarded by them to the Board through Mr Silvertop, and I do not hesitate to say that in the wretchedly depressed state of agricultural produce, the rents are more than can be kept up, and if such a state continues, reduction or ruin must ensue, but I regret to add that this fact is equally applicable to a very large proportion of the Hospital’s estates in this County, and if the Commissioners yield to dimunition they must be prepared to do it very generally.  The tenantry of these farms are generally speaking industrious and highly respectable, many of them born on the Estate, and I believe with only one exception, all occupied Farms in the former leases.  These were taken in 1809 when rents were very high, but fortunately for the tenants the Enclosure of the Commons began in 1812, and as the Allotments were appended to the farms, they reaped the advantage of them without additional rent, and the new land assisted by a good coating of Lime Manure, became very productive for two or three courses of husbandry; enabling the farmer to keep up his rent and do well.  This naturally led to a spirited competition on the new letting in 1829, and maximum rents were obtained:- the enlargement of the farms by the enclosure, required larger Homesteads, and the large expenditure of the Hospital in Buildings involved the tenants in heavy expenses for leading – this has brought on a difficulty in raising rents, and a consequent false economy in sparing expense for Lime manure, which the ground essentially requires, but which is very difficult to obtain owing to the great expense of leading as it cannot be obtained nearer than Corbridge – the want of Lime is I believe now felt in failure of Crops, and without care and judgement both tenants and Lords will materially suffer – I find that some proprietors of adjoining lands of similar character have been induced to pay for the lime, provided the tenants lead and lay on a given quantity – the stipulation for our farmers is 3 fodders of lime per Acre in the fallow quarter, but to do any real good I am told this land should have nearly treble that quantity, and it will be worthy of attention to consider how the tenants can be best encouraged to do justice to the land.  I cannot but hope that the great depression of the present year is a temporary evil, occasioned by a failure, both in quantity and quality, in the crops of Northumberland, while the produce throughout England was a fair average crop; so that to the general evil of the low price of Corn, is to be added the local disadvantage of failure.  A relief of ten or fifteen per cent drawback on the amount of rent paid at the ensuing rent-day, might be a seasonable, and perhaps prudential relief, but I am not prepared to defend all the consequences of such a measure, as establishing a precedent which it may be hereafter difficult to controul.  It is my aim and object to give the Tenant every possible encouragement consistent with the Hospital’s interests, and in ordering drains, or other improvements, I have put as much as possible under the controul of the Tenant, so that after using every precaution to prevent any one from gaining an undue advantage of us, I have tried to secure that if anything be gained, it shall be done by the tenants.          

In consequence of a letter written by Mr Silvertop to these tenants, in which he states with perhaps more of kindness than discretion, that he knows the truth of all their statements, that their rents ought to be reduced, and speaks of his interview with Lord Auckland in terms calculated to encourage their expectation of relief, they all expected me to be the harbinger of good news in announcing at least fifteen per cent reduction, so that all my efforts to encourage fell far short of their expectations, and I had but disappointed countenances to look upon.  I have already mentioned the very bad state of the roads, which, owing to the neglect of their not having been passed by the magistrates, fall entirely upon the Hospital, and the tenants have never contributed even their statute labour – it is important to lose no further time in getting these roads put into such a state as will enable the magistrates to pass them, and I would invite the tenants to make proposals for repairing the whole so as to obtain the magistrates certificate by getting proposals generally we shall secure competition, and ascertain the real value of the work to be done, and upon the terms thus ascertained to be fair, I would offer to each tenant to undertake a portion of the Work, according to the size of his farm – covenanting that it is not to be paid for until the Magistrates have actually passed the roads.  An arrangement of this kind would be likely to benefit all the tenants and secure the performance of the work at the cheapest rate to the Hospital, and it is by such indirect means of encouragement that we can alone hope to struggle on without positive reduction.  The foot-bridge from Newlands to Ebchester across the Derwent, is in a very dangerous state of dilapidation, and the Tenants called my attention and told me it must belong to the Hospital as the Water was claimed by it, and Mr Jowett paid an acknowledgement to the Hospital for the use of the Water; but it appears to me that acknowledgement is for forming the Mill-dam on the Hospital lands, and I much doubt if the Bridge belongs to the Township, but I will endeavour to ascertain.

The inspection of Newlands Town Farm completed my examination of these Estates and I proceeded in the evening to Newcastle to settle some business with Mr Fenwick, and the Bank and to meet Mr Taylor & Mr Leadbitter relative to the sale of Wark.

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467