The accounts have been listed to reflect the various sections of Yelf's business. The bulk of the collection covers the selling of wines and spirits [YEL/C/ and YEL/D/]. In an effort to deal with deliveries to houses let on very short leases, Robert Yelf the younger introduced ledgers headed and indexed under the address [YEL/G/1-3]. At the same time, he ran another ledger headed and indexed under surname, for customers who were thought to be residents of the town [YEL/F/4-10].
The farming and property interests of Robert Yelf the elder are to be found in YEL/A/1 and YEL/B/1, and those of his son in YEL/D/, YEL/J/ and YEL/K/. The Farming Record and Account Books [YEL/J/1-4] give details of cropping, labourers and wages on the farms. The Letter books [YEL/M/1-10] are a near unbroken series from 1832 to 1877, and give a good insight into the wine and spirits business of the 19th century. The Account of the receipts, etc., by the executors of the late R. Yelf [YEL/L/1] are very helpful for sorting out the various interests of Robert Yelf the elder.
The odd item in the collection is YEL/N/1, which is the valuation of property in the parish of St Helens. It is thought to be in the collection because Robert Yelf the younger was a Guardian of the Poor.
|Administrative / biographical background:
Robert Yelf was born in 1761, the second son of John Yelf. Robert married first Ann Goodall [d.1812], and second Jane Wavell, widow. He died 15 April 1834.
Robert first came to Ryde in 1794 when, upon the death of Miss Margaret Collier, he took over her cottage in Upper Ryde. He was an executor of Miss Collier's will, and there was a connection with the Goodall family. In 1800 he took a lease upon some property on the west side of Union Street. He opened a business selling wines, spirits and tobacco in 1801 [YEL/A/1]. At the same time he rented the hotel next door for £75 per annum from John Cooper, brewer of Ryde. In 1804 Robert purchased the hotel and outbuildings for £2200 [YEL/A/1].
In 1805 Robert had a Tapp Room built at the hotel at the cost of £468, and in the following year he had new stables and coach houses built. Mrs Jacob's dwelling house in George Street was purchased in 1807 for £345 and in 1809 it was rebuilt using stone from Puckpool Cliffs.
After a break of some eleven years, Robert Yelf continued his expansion in 1820 by purchasing the carriage house, cottage and land of Thomas Bush in Cross Street for £123. In 1827, new coach houses and stables were built of the site. Clifton Cottage, Upper Ryde, was purchased in 1821 for £203, and became Robert Yelf's house. In 1824, a cottage in West Street was purchased for £215, and £350 was spent on it. A house called Shattons was purchased in 1830 for £800, and in the following year Robert had a house built in Union Street, adjoining Riddetts, for a Post Office, at a cost of £435 [YEL/A/1].
In addition to his town property, Robert had considerable farming interests. At one time he held Mumhouse Bargain, including West field which he later sold to Earl Spencer in 1810. Little Haylands came into Robert's hands in 1801, and by the time of his death in 1834 he farmed Whitefield, Millhouse, Haylands and Play Street farms [YEL/L/1]. The businesses and farming interests passed to his eldest son Robert Yelf the younger, who married Sarah Mew in 1822, and died 21 November 1882, aged 85.
The main series of cash books [YEL/C/ and YEL/D/] were introduced when Robert Yelf the younger took over. The son had been taken into the business before his father's death, and in 1832 he had reached an agreement with the Postmaster-General to carry the Royal Mail between Ryde and Newport. In 1836 this side of his interest expanded further with his starting a stage-coach service from Ryde to Ventnor. The coach was called "Felicity", and ran daily, Sundays excepted, until the coming of the railway in August 1864. The coach was sold to Thomas Vanner, who ran a service from Ryde to Newport, for a total of £40. The Bought ledger [YEL/K/4] shows the stage-coach receipts for 1861-64, and the Letter Book [YEL/M/1] gives details of the stage-coach duty payable under Act 2 & 3 Victoria, CAP.66, 6 October 1839. Most of the receipts and expenditure concerning posting and stage-coach working were accounted for under "Hay and Crops".
Sturbridge House was built for Robert Yelf the younger from 1861, to designs by the architect Thomas Hellyer [YEL/K/4]. In 1874 Robert sold it to Sir William Hutt, and moved to Uplands, Bullen Cross, near Ryde, which remained his home until his death. The hotel was sold to John Wavell in about 1862. No accounts for the hotel appear to have survived.
After the death of Robert Yelf in 1882, it seems that the business was disposed of, and towards the end of the 19th century it came into the hands of W. Pearce [YEL/K/2], a descendant of whom deposited the collection at the Record Office in 1982.