Although receipts are perhaps not an obvious type of record that we would normally keep, they can provide a surprising amount of information, particularly if no other records exist. The ornate style of some receipts is also something that you just don't see in today's modern world.
The receipts of the Bradfield family, millers of East Hendred, consists of over 200 receipts, spanning 40 years of expenditure, from 1860s-1890s (ref. D/EX2637/1-25). The receipts (mainly addressed to Robert Bradfield) document a wide range of expenditure including clothing, household maintenance, groceries, employees, work materials, mill repairs, the family’s lifestyle, interests and activities.
Robert Bradfield was a corn miller and farmer following in his father’s footsteps. He was born in Wantage in 1844 and died in July 1918. He married Anne Kimber in Wantage in 1872 and had five children Elsie (b.1873), Mary (b. 1879), Ethel (b.1882), Fanny (b.1883) and Margaret (b.1884). The family resided at East Hendred Mill (now Ginge Brook Pottery and Mill Cottage, Mill Lane) in East Hendred.
This collection was acquired as it provides an insight into the Berkshire business community at the time - you might recognise some names: Bon Marche, Heelas (now John Lewis, Reading), Bayliss and Co, W. H. Smith and Son.
Here is an example of a grocery list:
Bot Piccalilli [a relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices]
Bot Fch Plums
4 ½ Sponge Rusks
From these receipts once can see that Robert had a successful business in the area including additional land in Milton and Harwell. According to the 1881 census Robert’s land equated to 124 acres and he was employing five men and one boy. The 1939 census reveals that Ann and Mary remained at Mill Cottage and Mary was farming on her mother’s behalf. The receipts provide an insight into the life and business of this family enabling us to understand more about life in the late nineteenth century.