Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts

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Summary catalogue - Class J


1. Half-yearly Bursars' Accounts (Computi)

13 volumes 1568 - 1844, in good condition with very few gaps and imperfections.  An earlier volume 1544 - 1568 was seen and largely transcribed by Clark[15] about 1910, but is now missing.  Summaries of regular income and expenditure of all kinds are given, with details of miscellaneous expenditure - Minutae Expensae, later 'Contingents'.  Latin, of a cryptic and inventive kind, is generally used except for 1575 - 1637 and 1816 - 1844.  A typical list of early seventeenth century Minutae Expensae might contain 50 - 60 detailed entries covering minor building works, kitchen equipment, gardens, fuel, charitable donations, hospitality, pump maintenance, legal expenses, cleaning, clearing the privies, carriage of supplies, chains for the library, estate repairs, expenditure on feasts, etc.  The pattern continues but gradually falls into a briefer and stereotyped style, with much less detail, about 1750 until the early 19th century, when there is an expansion and academic expenses begin to appear.  The general character of the entries seems to be similar to those in the Lincoln College Accounts which are quoted by Green [16].

2. Annual Bursars' Accounts

11 volumes, 1672 - 1883; printed annual accounts, 1865 - 1981; mostly in excellent order.  These accounts are more formal than the half-yearly accounts but nevertheless often have detail which complements the latter up to 1844.  From 1845 the practice of drawing up half-yearly accounts was abandoned and the last three volumes of hand-written accounts 1845 - 1883 are very detailed.

3. Battels and Buttery Books

'Battels' is Oxford jargon for an individual's College bill.  Some 600 volumes and parcels, 1576 - 20th century with few gaps, but many volumes are in a mutilated and/or fragile state.  The chief interest of these is in connection with membership and residence.  Clark digested them for his annual lists (see II. C. 3).

4. Caution Money Books

'Caution Money' is the payment made until only a few years ago, albeit at token level, by new members to guarantee their credit.
7 volumes, 1610 - 1926.

5. Bursars' Ledgers and Miscellaneous Books

Some 500 volumes, 16th - 20th centuries, although the majority are of the 19th - 20th centuries. Of particular interest are the following:

  • Ledgers: 1670 - 1671, 1671 - 1672. These have greater detail than the other accounts of the period.
  • Treasury Books: 1637 - 1689 and 1689 - 1712, 1829 - 1855. These record movements of deeds and cash in and out of the Treasury.
  • Arrears Books: 17th - 19th centuries. Accounts and notes regarding members in arrears with battels payments. 6 volumes.
  • Rent and Miscellaneous Book: 1 volume, most entries ca. 1655; a rough notebook of details of bursarial transactions; includes a long table of wheat and malt prices at frequent intervals, 1615 - 1689.
  • Weekly Battels Books: 5 volumes, 1922 - 1958.  These are in excellent order and complete.  They provide easy access to the battels of individuals in this period.
  • Books concerning Scholarships, etc.: 13 volumes, 1868 - 1971; accounts and other records regarding payments to Scholars, Exhibitioners, etc.
  • Senior Common Room Books: charges to Fellows on battels, 1871 - 1879, 1929 - 1935, and 1939 - 1960, which reveal details of their residence and social activity.
  • Subscription Books: 18 volumes, 1892 - 1973, recording subscriptions to societies, etc. made by individuals via battels.  These enable the nature and extent of an individual's participation in College life to be discovered.

a sample of 1922 invoices & receipts

6. Room Lists

19th - 20th centuries, but with many gaps.  Searches to identify rooms occupied by alumni (a frequent request) are usually fruitless.  The rooms have changed so much that the exercise is pointless in any case.

7. Tradesmen's Accounts and Receipts

18th - 20th centuries, but relatively few in number.  A fairly full group of the late 18th century is of interest, giving, e.g. details of gardening and building work done, Common Room expenditure, etc.  In the 16th - 17th centuries tradesmen's receipts are often written directly into the Bursars' half-yearly account books.

8. Inventories

17th - 20th centuries, including complete inventories of furniture: 1640 (the entire College); 1934 (FF Urquhart's rooms); 1939 (Staircases I - XVI); and 1949 (the Master's Lodgings).

9. Domestic Staff

The names of College employees can often be found in the Bursars' account books, from the 16th century.  More systematic sources - wages books, pension records, etc. - exist from about 1870 to the present day, but are incomplete.  Written instructions regarding the duties of porters, staircase servants, etc. survive from the early 19th century.

10. Printed Ephemera

Rules and Regulations, notices, circulars, etc, 19th - 20th centuries.  This class includes material solicited from most of the other Colleges for comparative purposes at times when the College was reviewing its own rules and charges - there are especially full collections for 1912, 1948, and 1964.

11. Bonds

About 100 loose bonds given to or by the College, mostly 1550 - 1750, including bonds given on appointment by manciples, etc. and bonds given by tradesmen with whom the College deposited modest sums (e.g. £100 with Henry Clements the bookseller in 1710, interest at 5% still being paid by Daniel Prince in 1770).  Bonds (e.g. guaranteeing payment of battels) are sometimes found written directly into the early Bursars' Books.

12. Investment and Banking Records

18th - 20th centuries, including records relating to the College in account with Childs Bank, 1781 - 1885.

13. Gardens

The Bursars' Books contain occasional entries for expenditure on the gardens at all periods. There are also some loose papers, notably the following:

  • Bills, with great detail, from Robert Penson and James Tagg, for ornamental trees and shrubs supplied for a replanting programme, 1793 - 1794.
  • A botanically exact list of trees, shrubs and wall-plants planted, 1904 - 1926.
  • A botanically exact list of trees and shrubs around the walls, 1980.

14. Correspondence

19th - 20th centuries, very substantial in amount.  The Bursars' Letter Books of 1888 - 1919 (20 volumes) are of particular interest because of their completeness.

- John Jones

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