Richard Hutton's Complaints Book: 1713-15 (nos 1-12)

Pages 1-9

Richard Hutton's Complaints Book: The Notebook of the Steward of the Quaker Workhouse At Clerkenwell, 1711-1737. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1987.

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1. [Inside front cover] 1717 Memorandum, March.

12 August, lent to Jonathan Burton, George Keith's Way Cast Up. (fn. 1)

16 August, and Bob Barclay's Apology (fn. 2) lent to W. Wall.

Stephen Crisp's Works (fn. 3) lent to Elizabeth Honnor.

Jacob Boehme's to Edward Durston.

Hospital at Hall in Germany (fn. 4) to Benjamin Mason.

Stephen Crisp's 3 volumes of sermons to Joseph Clutton, apprentice.

2 April, John Jeffreys, Webster's On Bookkeeping. (fn. 5)

2. Loving friend John Heywood, I desire thee to take some care and notice of little Charles Toovey that is in the workhouse, that he may not do such work as spin mop yarn. I suppose thee knew his mother, Grace France that lived in London, an acquaintance of my husband's and mine, Joseph Chalk's wife's sister, of this town. I have a great respect for the child, he lived with me many years. I shall be glad to hear from thee and the child by the bearer. My dear love to the child. I rest with kind love to thyself from
thy loving friend,

Tuxbury 8 June 1719 &c.

3. [p. 1] From 29 September 1712 to 29 September 1716 the boys' earnings, including the profits of the yarn, comes to £567 2s. 6¾d.; the profit about £190 2s. 9d. . . .

4. [p. 2] Furmenty, milk pottage and pudding was made as followeth at the time we came into the house, viz:

To make furmenty formerly was put 12 quarts of milk, 12d. [worth of] wheat and 2½lb. of sugar.

Now, 15 quarts of milk, 12d. wheat and 2½lb. of sugar.

To make plum pudding was put 12 quarts of milk, 6lb. of suet, 4lb. of plums.

Now we put 15 quarts of milk, 10lb. of suet, 10lb. of plums. So for the advance of 3 quarts of milk we add 4lb. of suet & 6lb. of plums.

5. [An account of the finances of the house in 1716.]

6. [p. 3] Agreed with the baker that when the household bread is appointed in the weekly bill to weigh 16 ounces avoirdupois, that he shall take 8s. 6d. per hundredweight. And for every eight drams it alters in the weekly bill he will rise or fall 3d. per hundredweight in price as the following tables:

12 ounces avoirdupois £ 10s. 6d.
12 ounces 8 drams 10s. 3d.
13 ounces 10s.
13 ounces 8 drams 9s. 9d.
14 ounces 9s. 6d.
14 ounces 8 drams 9s. 3d.
15 ounces 9s.
15 ounces 8 drams 8s. 9d.
16 ounces 8s. 6d.
16 ounces 8 drams 8s. 3d.
17 ounces 8s.
17 ounces 8 drams 7s. 9d.
18 ounces 7s. 6d.
18 ounces 8 drams 7s. 3d.
19 ounces 7s.
19 ounces 8 drams 6s. 9d.
20 ounces 6s. 6d.
20 ounces 8 drams 6s. 3d.
21 ounces 6s.
21 ounces 8 drams 5s. 9d.
22 ounces 5s. 6d.
22 ounces 8 drams 5s. 3d.
23 ounces 5s.
23 ounces 8 drams 4s. 9d.
24 ounces 4s. 6d.
24 ounces 8 drams 4s. 3d.
25 ounces 4s.
25 ounces 8 drams 3s. 9d.

7. [p. 4] To the committee, 11 May 1713.

Friends, some of the ancient friends being uneasy with the smallness of their allowance in diet, I thought it my place to let you know what they are now allowed, as also their allowance at the first settlement, by which you may see whether there is any just cause of complaint. The first bill of fare brought in may be seen at large . . . in the old minute book, page 28, (151) where they are allowed 7 oz. of butter and 14 oz. of cheese per week, and for every ounce more of butter to abate 2 oz. of cheese, 13 oz. of bread per day, 6 oz. of flesh per meal, 9 oz. of pudding per meal and furmenty &c a sufficient quantity.

And now by custom which continuance hath made a rule, they are allowed each: 8 oz. of butter and 16 oz. of cheese per week, about 14 oz. of bread (it not being weighed except Daniel Rosier's, who has 18 oz.) per day, 8 oz. of flesh per meal & if not enough they are desired to send for more, 19 oz. of pudding per meal, and more if they can eat it (which is 10 oz. per meal more than the former allowance), furmenty, milk &c a sufficient quantity, to some a quart. So friends be pleased to take in consideration some methods you think fit or a new bill of fare, the diet in some respects being altered, that there may be no uneasiness in the family or reflecting on the plentiful provisions of the house, either at home or abroad; which has very lately been done, besides the . . . hard censures I and my wife are under having the management under you.


Richard Hutton

8. [p. 5] Some of John Gorden's behaviour in the house.

Besides several faults too tedious to mention here, he lately pick[ed] one boy's pocket of six pence and another of three pence and ran away and spent it. And at another time he went to a neighbour's and told them he had not victuals enough and desired trust for buns &c. He had then stole a knife and fork from [a] boy and one of the house knives and sold them for three half pence, which, when I knew, I sent for again, since we found a knife in his pocket belonging to the house. At another time he got a candle over night and got up about twelve a clock at night and took a pane of glass out of the storeroom window and got in, from whence he took about four pounds of plum pudding, although he, as well as the rest of the big boys, had a full pound for dinner besides their suppers. And he ate so much in the storeroom he could not come thence without leaving behind him what is not fit here to mention. And about a week ago he privately stole the key of the street door. Towards night we suspected him and tasked him with it, but he confidently denied with such a countenance, as if he had really been innocent, so that we searched diligently for it a great while, but in vain which made us very uneasy. However, about 5 next morning we went up where he lay and asked him about it again, but he denied it. Then we made him come out of bed and found the key under him. He intended, as he confessed, to have taken the knives out of the drawers and to have sold them with the key. We have since kept him as close as we can but he has been up, dressed in the middle of the night for what intent we do not certainly know, for there is no believing him; so that every day we are in danger of having things stole, and every night of some misfortune or other [p. 6] for he said openly to the ostler, if any body should fire . . . the hay in the stable he believed it would burn the house or something to that purpose. And nobody knows but he may at one time or another put such bad thoughts in practice. And if at any time he is corrected for his faults, he cuts his truss and lets down his rupture, so that we find him not only to be a very bad example to the rest of the children, but indeed very unsafe to live in such a house as this is.

9. [A list of bills due to the workhouse, 7 December 1713.]

10. In order to settle the accounts in the ledger and then find the stock or state of the house, as also the gain or loss in any one desired time:

1st Post the cash and expense book &c into the ledger to the day intended to balance, and the linen book.

2d Procure the bills of all such debts as are owing to workmen for repairs, the farrier for shoeing, for grazing, provisions, coals, wool &c or whatsoever money is due from the house.

Also the total of all the debts due to the house whether for yarn, spinning, mops &c or anything else.

3d Beginning at the first page in the ledger and proceeding to the last page: charge. Charge each monthly meeting (in this house as pensioners) with their quarterly allowances for their board and each tenant with their quarterly payment of rent and give each servant credit on their account for their quarterly wages.

4th Weigh all the yarn in the house, as also take an account of the mops remaining unsold and find the weight of the wool unspun thus:

Add one part in four, but clean middle wool or good locks one part in five, of the weight of all the yarn that is made of the wool that is spinning at the time of balancing to the whole weight of the said yarn, and subtract the sum from the weight of the wool first bought. The remainder is the weight of the wool (as near as can be supposed) remaining in the house unspun. Used mops to wear and tear.

[p. 7] 5th See what provision, malt &c, rests in the house.

6th Find what taxes is due on the house and tenements at the time of balancing.

7. Write out the horse bill for the meeting of twelve and all other horse bills if any.

8. See what hay, corn, straw &c remains unspent and take the same of the coals burnt since the last balancing from the coals then remaining in the house. The remainder is the present stock in coals.

9. Write out the monthly meetings' bills and all bills due to the house of whatsoever sort.

10. Subtract the wear and tear of the brewing vessels to the time we balance to, from the sum that hath been laid out on them to the said time whether for prime cost, repair cost or improvements. The remainder is the stock in brewing vessels.

And to find the loss by the wear of them in the time between the balancing, take what sum is laid out on them in the said time from the wear and tear of them in the same and the remainder is what's required.

11. Settle every account in the ledger and find both the stock and loss or gain thereon, thus:

Add up the debtor side, then the creditor side. Charge whatsoever sum is owing for that account (as particularly as bills due to workmen &c in repairs, all money due for taxes in the account of taxes, all bills due to the farrier, grass, hay, corn &c as also the ostler's board and wages in the stable account [)]. Add the said debts to the sum of the debtor side and proceed to add up the creditor side of the same account, and under the sum charge all debts due to that account (as horse bills &c in the stable account), as also whatever remains in the house (as yarn, wool and mops in the wool account . . . and as hay and corn in the stable accounts . . . and provision in the house expenses). Add the said stock to the sum of the creditor side and compare the debtor side therewith by subtracting one from the other. And if the debtor side appear to be more than the creditor side the difference is the loss on that account, there having been more laid out thereon than the income & stock will defray, but if the creditor side exceed the debtor there is so much gained as the one is more than the other.

[p. 8] To make the account balance add the difference under the title of profit and loss to that side as is wanting. So shall the account be finished as was required.

And whatsoever sum or sums is charged as stock on the creditor side of any account in order to the balancing, it must be transferred to the debtor side of that account for the next quarter's stock, which sum or sums will be the stock of the same account in the state of the house.

And whatsoever sum or sums is charged on the debtor side of any account in order to balancing it must come on the creditor side of the same account for the next quarter and will be what the stock or state of the house must make good or pay and therefore be debtor. For excepting the ostler's board and wages, which must be dropped as stock, he being servant to the stable and receiving his wages from them, the stable should be debtor to his service. Yet his service being employed in the said account already balanced cannot be a stock for the time to come.

12. Upon a piece of waste paper or rather in the bill book, collect what's due to all servants for wages to the time of balancing.

13. Also collect (in the said book) the rent due from each tenant into one sum till the time of balancing.

14. To find the stock or state of the house:

Having things in such a readiness as is above directed, on a sheet of paper write, stock debtor per contra creditor with the day of the month. First, to give stock credit by the total of each bill due from the monthly meetings and all other bills due from any persons for allowances with collecting them by any method out of the ledger. Because . . . they stand scattered throughout the said ledger, for which its advised to enter the bills first. Then beginning at the letter A in the alphabet in the ledger, proceed alphabetically to the letter Z and in whatsoever account there appears anything remaining in or due to the house let the same be carried to the creditor side of the stock.

And on the contrary, in whatsoever account there appears to be anything due from the house, or that the house oweth . . . let the same be carried to the debtor side of the stock.

Subtract the debtor side from the creditor; the remainder is the neat or clear stock or state of the house.

[p. 9] 15. To find the profit and loss balance:

In the bill book collect the bare allowance (without anything paid for necessaries) of each monthly meeting out of the bills and carry the sums of each to the creditor side of the balance. Note: if the balance is for one quarter, collect the bills for one quarter, but if the balance be for a longer time collect the allowance for the same time. And always remember to collect the allowances from the commencement of the balance to its ending. Observe this method through all the accounts in balancing.

The reason whereof is because the income of any quarter &c is only proper to compare with the expenses of the same quarter &c. In order to find the gain or loss therein:

Collect all the rents contracted by the tenants between the balance into one sum and carry the same to the debtor side of the balance.

Beginning at A in the alphabet in the ledger and proceeding to the Z, in whatsoever account there appears to be any gains let the same (whether for ¼ year, ½ year &c, or for what time we purpose to balance) be carried to the creditor side of the balance.

And by whatsoever account there appears to be any loss, let the same loss be carried to the debtor side of the balance.

Compare the sum of the debtor side of the balance with the sum of the creditor side and find the total gain or loss.

So is the balance ended or finished.

11. [p. 10] As there is nothing does more universally commend a man to any office or employment as to be a dextrous and ready penman and accurate accomptant, so there is nothing can be more pleasing to the ingenious or universally acceptable to mankind than to trace and chalk out such a method as will infallibly help and assist them in attaining those qualifications which are so useful and necessary, so much wished for and desired by all ranks and degrees of men. Some few years after I had first begun to teach school I observed frequent complaints of youth not being able readily to apply to business what they learned at the writing school, notwithstanding they were capable to write a pleasant fair hand in a copy book after the master's copy. Now the main ground and reason of this complaint I conceive chiefly to be, first of all because many youths . . . have not sufficient time allowed them to acquire a natural freedom of habit or writing before they go forth to prentice. Although they may have learned a fair character, they learned at their writing school. Secondly, the natural tendency of youth to sloth and idleness, a neglect of their practise and a want of keeping up to the character they learned at writing school. Thirdly, their not being employed at school to write other business besides their copies. Now as the two first causes do many time arise from themselves and those that dispose of them, so the latter may some times proceed from their master or teacher. This put me on a design of curing as well as I could this general complaint by employing some scholars at night and other times to write without lines either the forms of letters, acquittances, receipts or six or eight verses out of the Bible, or some other book. Some times I made them write out my tradesman's copy book, the forms of bills of sale, the methods of keeping a cash book &c. Sometimes they copied out their sums and rules of arithmetic, which method I found so successful that many scholars could write . . . without a copy as well as with one; which experience drew from me the method here presented you in this book, which has not failed of its desired success where duly applied. I found it very helpful to such dull youths as had spent a great deal of their time at the Latin school to so little purpose that they know not how to write or spell English in any tolerable measure. It was also of great use to the children of the poor ordinary tradesmen, whose parents' [p. 11] poverty cannot spare so much money nor yet allow their children to spend so many years at the grammar school as is necessary to qualify them in that desired accomplishment of writing true English. I find the poorer sort of people (I cannot learn how thus unhappily misled) think if they can but send their children to the Latin school for two or three years it will be a means to make them understand and write true English; whereas it will require much more time than they can commonly well allow them at the grammar school before their child can be thoroughly capable to apply his grammatical learning in order to make him such a writer of English as they intend.

By what is here offered in relation to the children of poor people, and such whose capacities can never attain the Latin tongue, I would not be presented as an enemy to Latin, which is a noble, useful and excellent accomplishment. But it requires the assistance of an able purse, good parts and sufficient time to go through the classical authors to be rendered true grammarians. Now should none learn the Latin tongue but such as had parts fit for it, and had the other qualities before mentioned to make it truelly useful to them, our public schools would be found almost sufficient to teach such youths the Latin and other . . . learned tongues, and the greatest number of private school masters might find themselves employment enough to teach the rest of our youths the true use and knowledge of their own mother tongue. For . . . [then] the poor handicraft tradesman [could] be persuaded to keep their children wholly to the English school till they could read pronounce and spell any word distinctly, and understand the meaning of what they read (which will be difficult to do without the use [of] English dictionaries) were this method well observed. And that those I warn of private grammar schools (especially in the out parts of the town [)], all of them pretending to teach Latin, Greek and Hebrew, if the most of these learned gentlemen could be prevailed with to teach nothing but English, and would take care to learn their scholars to make good English exercise, which is altogether as useful and necessary, and almost as difficult, as to make good Latin, the poor would find it much more for their children's profit and advantage than to murder three or four years time in the learning Latin to little or no [p. 12] purpose.

And herein I appeal to thousands that miserably suffer by their education for want of true knowledge of the English tongue. If the parents design their children for the mechanic or handicraft they should send them to the drawing schools (to spend some part of the day there for three or four years) rather than to the Latin school; by which means the kingdom would in a few years be furnished with the best artists and workmen in the world.

The poor are generally very solicitous to give their children learning and spare for no cost in their power to make them happy in that respect; it being a common saying with them that learning is all the portion they can give them, and a very good one too, if well directed. Which consideration has, in great measure, drawn from me so large a preface.

We are very apt to cry up the French and other foreigners for writers; and to do them justice many of them write well, natural and free; and so may most in England too, if they'd pursue the same method, viz: by an early considering which way to dispose of their children in the world. I have been informed that if they design them for trade or clerkship in France, Holland and other countries beyond sea, they rarely discontinue them from the writing schools. Now after a youth comes once to a natural habit of writing well, two or three hours in a week with a writing master will both keep it up and improve it. For it is rare to find any so excellent as those whose art grows up with their years by which it becomes natural habit with them.

That so many amongst us can never be brought to write so dextrously well, notwithstanding the art of writing was never at more perfection than now, is because . . . as soon as children can make their letters and put them together that their Latin master can just read their exercise, they are commonly taken off from the writing school before any habit is acquired, and then six or seven years or more is spent in a continual scribble of their exercise. And the usual saying is, a quarter or two at the writing master's just before they go apprentice will do the work, not considering that it is a task much more difficult for any master to teach and break the ill habits, than it is at first to teach. And then that which they formerly most slighted is now most coveted and desired as being like to be of greatest use and service to them in the whole course of their life. But by reason of ill contracted habits [p. 13] cannot be so easily (if ever) attained to that perfection which is desired. It is not to be denied but any that is a master of writing, and understands to demonstrate the reason of letters, may teach a lad of a competent genius, that never learned before, to write a fair legible hand in a month or six weeks' time or less. But yet it requires some considerable time to make that writing habitual, natural and free to them; and indeed it is for want of that, and of constant practice, as we said before, and care of keeping to the character after youths are taught, that there are such frequent complaints they can do so little when they come into the shop or counting house. Now to enable youths to write as readily in the shop book as their copy book and to prepare them for business, I could think of nothing proper for their excercise and practice at night when they left school than the alphabet of names to make them ready in great letters and spell any names, the contraction of words to dispatch business, bills of parcel accompts taken out of the debt book, bills of exchange, both foreign and domestic &c [and] forms of country chapman's letters . . . The frequent writing out of these and such like sometimes for tasks, I found to be an excellent means to enable youths to perform their business, and write things readily and freely of hand.

For after a youth has formed his hand at the writing school, if he would write neat and free in a short time, he must write much and elsewhere besides his copy book. And parents . . . [should] think their children . . . [a] part of their care . . . [and] look better after them than many do, and find them some business to employ them either in writing bills or copy letters after they come home from school, and not suffer them to play about streets and leave all to the child's master as if they had no interest or concern in the matter.

In the whole, I have endeavoured to make the book as universally practical as is possible in so short a compass; and though some things relating to merchandise may be above the capacity of such teachers as are ignorant of accompts, yet the greatest part of it is proper for the most common and ordinary trades, and of great use to such as teach scholars writing, arithmetic and accompts. Having had experience how defective the most ingenious youths (many times) are in practical parts of business, I have here given them the forms of several foreign invoices and accounts of sales to instruct them as well in method as in casting up [p. 14] and reducing the foreign coin to Sterling money. Lastly, as an appendix, I have framed such questions in numeration, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division &c to the rule of three, that will very much assist youths in the right understanding the rules aforesaid, which too many are ignorant of even after they have run through all the rules in arithmetic. That youth may not only have the forms of business in trade, but also a fair copy to imitate after they go apprentice, I have engraved a book called the Apprentices Companion, or, Tradesman's Copy Book, wherein receipts, bills of parcels, bills of debts, bills of exchange, accounts of sales, and the form of a cash book &c are all fairly written in the merchant-like running hand now in use, designed for an assistance to this book. Now if this book be carefully written and gone over two or three times at the writing school it must necessarily set a lad a year forward or more in the service of his master, by which it will be a great pleasure to his master to have a servant so capable of his service. And again, it will make the apprentice's business more delightful and pleasant and his service more easy when he readily understands how to perform his business and please his master. To render this book further useful with the large addition now added, I will conclude with some short observations concerning the regular making and orderly ranking of figures, which to perform nicely is esteemed a qualification almost equal to that of a good hand. And since none of the ancient or modern school masters (that I know of) have yet undertaken to instruct us in the English, French and Italian method of ranking figures, I have adventured to offer some thoughts about it. I observe there is now in use, two ways or orders of ranking figures . . . One is the old way (heretofore generally used) following the order of the Roman print, in which the figures are mostly set upright as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, where you may observe that only 1, 2, 0, stands upon the line, except 6 and 8 whose heads are as much above the top of 1, 2, 0, as the tails of 3, 4, 5, 7 & 9 are made to come below the line. From whence may be derived this general rule viz: those figures which are not lineal, i.e., of an equal height and depth in the order of the nine figures, may yet by accident become lineal when they happen in conjunction together, as 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 8 & 6. The 6 in my opinion will not properly become lineal with any of the figures except the 8, only as 86.

12. [p. 15: Blank in the original]


  • 1. George Keith, The way cast up and the stumbling-blockes removed from before the feet of those who are seeking the way to Zion (London, 1677).
  • 2. Robert Barclay, An apology for the true Christian divinity (4th edn., London, 1678-9).
  • 3. Stephen Crisp, A memorable account of the Christian experiences (London, 1694).
  • 4. August Franck, Piettas Hallensis: Or an abstract of the marvellous footsteps of divine providence in building a very large hospital . . . at Gloucha near Hall (London, 1706).
  • 5. William Webster, An essay on book-keeping . . . by double entry . . . an attempt towards rendering the education of youth more easy and effectual (London, 1721).