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Earl of Ranelagh's General Account Book 1692 - 1700

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Earl of Ranelagh’s General Account Book 1692 – 1700. (Part of the Attingham Collection at Shropshire Archives.)

Can you help transcribe the pages of this very interesting account book?

Background on the Attingham Account book.

This is no ordinary account book. This is a book that unlocks how Richard Hill of Hawkstone got his money.

Richard Hill of Hawkstone, also known as, ‘the Great Hill’, diplomatist, public servant and statesman, accumulated his great wealth through a series of profitable appointments and judicious dealings with Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh.

He became acquainted with Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh, through the Earl of Rochester. Ranelagh at the time was paymaster of the forces and subsequently appointed Richard Hill as deputy paymaster of William III to the army in Flanders during the War of the Grand Alliance, 1688–96.

Ranelagh was a man who really enjoyed life. To support his frivolous habit he needed to sustain a substantial income. How did he do this? Well following the Restoration of Charles II he became a member of the Irish Parliament for Roscommon, and in 1668 was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland. He was given a relatively minor role as chancellor of the exchequer, but Ranelagh seized this opportunity and used this position to reinterpret the current financial situation the crown was in as one where far from being indebted, the crown could reap a profit from Ireland if it managed monies owing to the crown and the government finances differently. Ranelagh was granted an 'undertaking' whereby he and a partnership took on the crown debts and effectively 'privatised' the treasury. Ranelagh was rewarded personally with his earldom and the role of vice-treasurer of Ireland.

When the undertaking in Ireland was finished in 1675, it was not renewed, but the Crown was now clear of all debts. Ranelagh ensured regular payments were made to the English Treasury, some of which paid for troops for Charles and some of which went to the renovation of Windsor Castle. This was largely achieved through short payment of the Irish army which was Ranelagh's training ground for his later embezzlements as Paymaster General to the English army. In 1685 he was elected as MP for Plymouth and that same year he was appointed to the lucrative post of Paymaster of the Forces, where he made his fortune.

Ranelagh was expelled from the Commons in 1703 when discrepancies were found in his accounts as Paymaster, and he was discovered to have appropriated more than £900,000 of public finds.

However, Richard Hill was not caught and after he inherited Hawkstone in 1700, he extended his estates at Tern Hall, Atcham, near Shrewsbury (today Attingham Park), and at Shenstone, Staffordshire, and systematically purchased estates in many counties, including Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire, thus adding to his already substantial inheritance with the aim of founding an enduring dynasty.

Now you, our virtual volunteers, have the chance to see and transcribe such an important and interesting account book.

Instructions – Please Read

Task: The Earl of Ranelagh’s General Account Book has over 900 pages, so we think it is better to split the project into sections. (These are found at the bottom of this page).  We suggest volunteers pick a specific section to work on. We would like you to transcribe what is exactly on the page. When you click on a section it will take you to the pages specified, you can then put them into 'Your Favourites' box. We ask that you pick no more than 10 records at a time to edit and if possible we ask that you edit records in order. If you find that you cannot edit a record this means someone else is editing it.  We ask that you put your transcript into the 'Descriptions' box on the edit page for now, but this may alter as the project progresses. If you are not able to write in a box then you need to press the green + button at the side and a new editable box will appear underneath.

**We have done an example page for you so you can see what we are looking for. **


**When you are transcribing a record please remember to include any numbers in that record that are either at the top or bottom of the page.**

**Need some tips on transcribing? Go to the Knowledge Base on the Community page to have a look: **

**If you would like more tips and advice on transcribing, please follow the link to the National Archives website. They give advice, tips and even exercises in transcribing and palaeography.**

**Please note that there will not be instructions available once you open a record to edit** We advise you familiarise yourself with the site and the tasks and for any questions you have please use the 'Knowledge Base' on the community page. This has a list of FAQ's. If you cannot find the question you have, on 'Knowledge Base', you can write a new one and someone will reply with an answer for you. (Please allow for differing working patterns in regards to the speed of the reply.)

**Important message: Please remember that when you registered, you ticked and confirmed that you understood the website Terms of Use. If you wish to use any of the images available on this website for personal use you must obtain permission first**

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Pages 5 – 55                                                                              Pages 515 - 565                            

Pages 56 – 106                                                                          Pages 566 – 616             

Pages 107 – 157                                                                        Pages 617 – 667             

Pages 158 – 208                                                                        Pages 668 – 718             

Pages 209 – 259                                                                        Pages 719 – 769

Pages 260 – 310                                                                        Pages 770 – 820             

Pages 311 – 361                                                                        Pages 821 – 871             

Pages 362 – 412                                                                        Pages 872 – 914             

Pages 413 – 463

Pages 464 – 514