The Tong Manuscripts

Lilian Robinson

(First published in 1985 in volume 1, pp. 11-18, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

1. The Manor of Tong

In 1899 Tong, along with Idle, Eccleshill, North Bierley and Thornton, was annexed by Bradford, and in 1920 the parish of Tong became part of the new diocese of Bradford. In earlier days Tong was in the 'Wappontake of Morley, Parish of Birstall and Honour of Pontefract'. The tithe award of 18481 shows that the township comprised (excepting glebe lands) 2643 acres - at that time 550 acres of arable land, 1738 of meadow and pasture, 318 of woodland and plantation and 38 of public roads and wastes. The story of the development of parochial matters up to 1925, when Mrs Tempest transferred the patronage of Tong Church to the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, may be found in Craddock's History of the Ancient Parish of Birstall.

A scholarly history of Tong was written by the late Wilfrid Robertshaw in the Bradford Antiquary,2 of which he was a distinguished editor. In two articles he traced the descent of the manor from its appearance in the Domesday survey as 'Tuinc', through the annals of the Tong family down to the Mirfields, who acquired it by marriage in the fifteenth century. Again, by marriage, the manor passed to the Tempests, and in 1763 Elizabeth Tempest married Thomas Plumbe, who purchased Tong Hall. Their son took the name Plumbe-Tempest, and in this way Tempests continued in ownership of the manor until 1941, when properties were sold off and the association ended.

Wilfrid Robertshaw, through his position as Director of Bradford City Art Gallery and Museums, would have easy access to the Tong Manuscripts, for he refers to 'the Tempest family muniments now in the Cartwright Memorial Hall, Bradford', but he quotes from them sparingly. In recent times the value of this large and important collection of original papers has been greatly enhanced by a comprehensive two-volume index, which illustrates almost every aspect of life in a West Yorkshire community over a span of more than six hundred years. Field books and rentals, supported by leases, tithe charges, apprenticeship records and manor court rolls introduce us to the old families of Tong, whose names recur in a variety of contexts throughout this long period. At a higher social level the changing fortunes of the lords and ladies of the manor show up through wills, marriage settlements, law suits and correspondence.

The last lady of the manor, Mrs Henrietta F.M. Tempest, who died in 1948, was a Vice-President of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society, whose links with the Tempests go back at least to 1900. In the Bradford Antiquary of that year Mrs Tempest of Broughton-in-Craven wrote on 'The Tempest Family of Bowling Hall'3 and followed this with two articles on 'Broughton Hall and its Associations' (1913-15)4.

Henry Tempest, lord of the manor in the seventeenth century, kept in his own hand, 'A booke contayning the briefe Copies of all the evidences and most auncient deeds, belonging to the Manours of Tong and Colynghead in Aredale … 7th October 1639'5. He carefully recorded evidence of the early history of the manor, such as detailed freeholders' deeds (1527-1611), grants of common land, and rent charges. Later in the book are enumerated the houses built in Tong at his expense (1639-1649), and other houses and barns built at the expense of his tenants. He recorded offices and honours bestowed on him from 8 June 1645, and the advice he gave to his son and heir on 16 February 1648. The final pages contain 'Receipt for ye Gascoigne Powder', and 'Jelly of Snake Scins', followed by a scribble of derisory comment.

Militia papers record matters ranging from appointments of members of the Tempest family to posts of high rank from the year 1642, to humbler things, such as the order made in 1822 to the Overseers of the Poor to make an allowance to the family of a deserter.

Everyday life presents itself through the manor court rolls, and records of the Overseers of the Poor. Many orders of the Overseers refer to maintenance of illegitimate children. In November 1800, expense was incurred 'conveying Jeremiah Hodgson, blacksmith, to the House of Correction, Wakefield, for neglecting and non-support of his wife and family'. Many times people from other places, who tried to settle in the township, were told to move on. Only occasionally was settlement allowed.

The poor and needy did not always humbly accept their lot. Several times during the nineteenth century the Overseer was called before H.M. Justices of the Peace to show cause why he had neglected to relieve some poor person.

In June 1819 a special committee was appointed to manage town affairs. A list dated 1820 names those who subscribed towards the provision of a well, sunk by the pinfold, 'for betterment of water to the village'. The well is still there. Rules and regulations for the town were drafted in 1822 and an abundance of similar information takes us well into the present century.

Documents contained in the collection date from 1327. Readers with, out knowledge of palaeography might find the original early manuscripts difficult to understand, but a brief description of these, and all other items, may be found in the index.

Even those who take only a passing interest in local history will be entertained by a browse through these two volumes. Those whose pleasure or business is research will recognise them as the key to a treasury.


1. Sheepscar Library, Leeds. (back)

2. Bradford Antiquary, (New Series) Pts. 36, 37. (back)

3. ibid., (New Series) Pt. 5. (back)

4. ibid., (New Series) Pts. 17, 18. (back)

5. Tong MSS 3/813. (back)

2. 'My Aunt Duckenfield' and The Duckenfield Disbursements

The Tong Manuscripts, 'My Aunt Duckenfield' (Ref. 5A 1) and the Duckenfield Disbursements (Ref. 40-77) provide a valuable record of early seventeenth-century Tong.

Robert Duckenfield, of Duckenfield, Cheshire, and Margaret his wife were the parents of Katherine, who married John Tempest, lord of the manor of Tong. John Tempest died in May 1623 and in the same year his widow married Henry Fairfax of Bolton Percy. Henry, the Tempest heir who inherited the manor of Tong, was baptised on 11 September 1621 and John, the second son, was baptised in February 1622 (a space of 17 months according to the old calendar reckoning). Henry Tempest became a King's Ward. That Katherine's new husband became guardian to the infant John, then about three years old, seems to be confirmed in an account dated 1624, shortly after his mother married Henry Fairfax.

"Moneys Layd out for John Tempest the Ward Concerning the Procuring of the wardship, the charges thereof and Mr Houldsworthes charges and my mans 2 Journeys to London."

Presumably Mr Houldsworthe was a lawyer. The items include a charge for 'enrolling the grant and sealing'; for 'my othe'; 'hyring of horses' and 'sundrie journeys on the ward's business'. Of the further accounts relating to the Ward an interesting one is for clothes:

Disbursements for John Tempest Since Ester last 1624    
Imprimis for 1 payr of Socks   viiid
It. two shirts 2 aperons 2 cradle headclothes iiijs vjd
a qrter (doz?) bibbes   vjd
2 capps threed and clothes making ijs iiijd
two yards 3 qrters of greene clothe for a coate vijs iiijd
For an Undercoate of Cottne is   iiijd
for a payre of Sleeves for ye childs coate ijs  
For lace and Makeing ijs vjd
The xvith Jannurie one coate vs iijd
for lace lining and makeing is xd
for Mr John Tempest against Ester xls xd
to Mr Musgrave for his Ester - cominge xxs  
to William Wainwright for the childs Table xxs  
to William Wainwright the Second of Jann xxxiijs iiijd
for one payre Showes (shoes)   vd

From 1633 a Henry Hurst was deputed to collect rents for the lordship of Tong. In that year his expenses included 'His Dyett & horse and his paines in collecting rents at Whitsuntide'. Payments made at the same time include:

Chancerie Rent to the Oritor   3 4
To Mr Beeston, Schoolmaster at Tong Chappel   1 8
King's Rent Due at Martinmas 12 0 0
An acquittance for the said Rent   4 0
A quietus for the said Rent   5 4
To him that paide the office and procured a Discharge   5 0
A true account of all such money as I Frances Duckenfield have disbursed for the use of John Tempest, beginning 28 September 1630      


Similar accounts for the years 1631 to 1645 give further insight into the life of the times.

Leases and rents are detailed in a much tattered 4-page document. Included are:

William Goodale: Lease of housinge and grounde made 2nd October, 9th James (1611) Rent xxxs at Penticoste and Martinmas, Boones: One Syth boone, twoo ,sickle boones, half a plowe boone @ one harrow boone, one Capon & one henne at the Nativitie. Term xxi yeares.6
William Pollard: Lease of housing and groundes made 28 April, 8th James (1610) Rent xxs at Penticoste and Martinmas, Boones: one Sythe boone, one harrow boone, half a plowe boone, twoo sickle boones, one Sack of oates, one Capon and one hen at the Nativitie. rerm xxi yeares.
Richard Procter: Lease made 12 Maye, 8th James (1610) Rent xxs at Penticost and Martinmas. fowre sickle boones, one sythe boone, one harrow boone, twoo hens at the Nativitie. Term xxi yeares.
Robt Lacie: a house and lathe tok out a lease as I heare.
John Brooke: a farm called The Rakes dated the fowrthe Daie of December in the fifth yeare of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord King James (1607). Rent xis atPenticost and Martinmas, one plowe boone, 1 harrow boone, one sythe boons, twoo Capons at the Nativitie. Term xxi yeares. This lease is given to Christopher Tempest when the yeares are out.
Christopher Nettleton: a close of the domayne caled Heleye Shawes before Mr Hartley's Lease dated the xxiiijth daie of July in the Tenthe yeare of the Raigne of our Soveraigne Lord King James (1612) for xij yeares. Rent viij (£8) at the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Michael.

An account of Freeholders' rents follows.

A comparison of rents, and conditions, for the years 1626-27-28 and 1642 may be made by reference to 4D-77 and 1. Not only are the rents detailed, but also boons for 'plowe , harrows, sickel, syth, daies of hay making, greenhues'7 and, occasionally, 'Sack of oates 3/4d', '6d for a hen due at Christmas.' The formidable list of freeholders in arrears with their rent includes Sir George Savill, giving an impression that it was fashionable for freeholders of the time not to pay for anything a moment before they must.

In passing, it is interesting to discover that not all those listed on the 1642 rent roll signed the 1642 Protestation Return for Tong. Perhaps old men were not required to sign. Absentee landlords may have signed elsewhere. Nevertheless, Yorkshiremen have always been independent. The statement 'None Refuseth' appended to the Protestation Returns for the West Riding was doubtless true. But had all men been asked to sign the return?

An account of June 1628, detailing the boons due from 13 inhabitants includes:

"Richard Pollard Wife: one capon 1/-, 4 hens 2/-, 2 harrows twelvepence, one day mowing sixepence, five day shearing fifteene pence & twopence for greenhewes. All is five shillings & a peny for thre farms."( 'all', by modern reckoning, should be 5/11d).

"Walter Hoole: one hen Sixpence, 2 day Shearing sixepence, Sixe chickens twelve pence, greenhues threepence. Two shillings three pence."

"Thomas Croft: one hen Sixpence, two day shearing 6d, for greenhues 4 pence. One shilling four pence."

On the back of this document is written, twice, as though the writer admired the sentiment:-

"Love makes man Sometimes merry Sometimes Sad
untamde men milde and many a milde man Mad"
Margret Duckenfield

Seventeenth-century Tong is brought to life in the Duckenfield Papers. Many of the names and places in the Rentals recur over the years and the information gleaned is supplemented by reference to other of the Tong Manuscripts, where the same names are found time and again. A superfluity of Pollards, Goodalls, Gomersalls and the like make it difficult to follow particular families through their history, especially as these families tended to use the same Christian names for offspring in all their branches. All the same, a glance through the index of the manuscripts sometimes helps us to trace the transfer of a particular property.

We may visualise events, but the available documents do not always give an answer to the queries arising from them. For instance, from the manor court rolls we learn that from 1679 some farmers in the Westgate Hill area were ordered to 'make noe highway for cart, carriage and drift of cattel from Bentham Fold to Hilleyshaes' (an area north-east of Westgate Hill). As with other orders of the manor court this was repeated many times. It seems that people did nothing until action was taken against them.

The manor court rolls are missing for some years after this. When they re-appear we fmd that from 1698 the inhabitants around Westgate Hill are ordered to attend to their Doles8 on 'the new lane (wainway) between Bentham Sike and Hilleyshaes'. Did public opinion lead to the acceptance ot a right of way? Was the way really a lane, as we understand it, or just a track? Some of the manor court orders to people to attend to their Doles related to ways which are now but woodland paths, and were unlikely to have been more than paths at any time.

This example provides one small item for conjecture. The Tong Manuscripts give many more.


6. Boon: A stated service (by this time translated into cash) to be rendered to the lord of the manor by a tenant. (back)

7. Greenhues: Payment for the right to cut greenery for fodder in wintertime. (back)

8. Doles: Responsibility for a share of road maintenance. Sometimes inhabitants living along a certain way were summoned to meet on the site in order to agree their respective 'Doles'. (back)

Yorkshire Archaeological Soc. MS41, page 57, contains copy of a document relating to the Wardship of Henry Tempest. It is difficult to read and I do not know how accurate the transcriber was.

Tong Protestation Returns: transcripts are at the Bradford Central Library.

The Duckenfield papers were the only ones which seemed to form a compact 'collection'. Transcriptions are attached, so that anyone seeking further information need not know how to read old documents.

(L.R. modestly refrains from mentioning that these transcripts, like many others in the Tong collection, are hers. Ed.)

3. Key to Index of Tong Manuscripts at Bradford Central Library

1. Bills and Receipts pp. 1-27
2. Correspondence pp. 27-46
3. Deeds pp. 46-145
4. Estate Records pp. 145-157
  a) Field Books and Fields.  
  b) Financial Accounts of the Plumbe and Tempest estates.  
  c) Mining and Quarrying Records.  
  d) Rentals of Tempest and Plumbe families - various estates, also miscellaneous rentals.  
  e) Tong tithes.  
  f) Woods in Tong.  
  g) Miscellaneous.  
5. Family Records pp. 157-166
  a) Accounts.  
  b) Copies and extracts of birth, marriages, burials.  
  c) Letters of Attorney.  
  d) Marriage Settlements.  
  e) Wills.  
  f) Miscellaneous.  
6. Friendly Societies p. 166
7. Legal Papers pp. 167-172
  a) Cases: Tempest vo Tempest.  
  b) Case: Tempest v. Fairfax.  
  c) Cases: Tempest v. others.  
  d) Cases: Plumbe v. others.  
  e) Juries.  
  f) Miscellaneous.  
8. Manorial Records pp. 172-177
  a) Court Baron of Tong (Court Rolls etc.)  
  b) Tong Manor - miscellaneous.  
  c) Other manors.  
9. Maps and Plans p. 177
10. Militia Papers pp. 177-181
11. Official Papers pp. 181-189
  a) Acts.  
  b) Game Certificates.  
  c) Knighthoods.  
  d) Parliamentary Elections.  
  e) Taxation Papers.  
12. Parish and Ecclesiastical Records pp. 189-258
  a) Apprenticeship Indentures.  
  b) Tong Church - Churchwardens' and other accounts.  
  c) Constables' Accounts.  
  d) Examinations.  
  e) Filiation Orders.  
  f) Highway Accounts (Surveyors).  
  g) Overseers of the Poor Accounts.  
  h) Overseers', Churchwardens', Surveyors' Accounts (combined).  
  i) Removal Orders.  
  j) Settlement Certificates.  
  k) Miscellaneous.  
13. Miscellaneous pp. 258-260

© 1985, Lilian Robinson and The Bradford Antiquary