Hm Swt Hm

Our house isn’t exactly historic, but at 130 years it is quite old. When we moved in the solicitor handed over an envelope full of old legal papers relating to the property because they don’t hang on to them any more. I’ve always meant to have a sift through to do some of that house history stuff and this week was the week when I finally got round to it.

It’s quite interesting, to me at least if no-one else. The original owner of the land on which the house stands was a surgeon born in 1809 and he sold it in 1881 to a retired primitive Methodist minister on which to build “two good and substantial semi-detached messes or dwghses.” The deal was that this should provide a rental income of at least £12 a year (worth £5,840 based on 2010 average earnings rate according to this site). Of this, the landowner got £6 and the retired reverend the rest.

He didn’t rent the house for long though, selling it in 1888 for £200, the mortgage lender being a widow from Whalley Range, demonstrating the relaxed approach to mortgage lending that got us in the sub-prime mess.  Maybe this was the reason the house was sold again not long after to another owner — a cotton mill owner who had previously gone bankrupt.

In fact the second owner and his family were the most settled residents, the house passing to his son when he died in 1907 and then to his daughter in 1932 before she finally sold up in 1941.

I have a pretty good idea of who lived here and when, but as I said, that is of more interest to me than you. What I did want to point out is the phrase quoted in the second paragraph — the messes and dwghses. The whole document is littered with text-speak. For example, “…always resvd into the sd landowner his hrs and assns all mines and minerals in and under the sd plot.”

Or, “…in conson of the rent thrinar resvd and of the costs on the pt of the sd purchaser thrinar contd the sd purchaser thrny granted unto sd hrs and assns,”  The other similarity to texting, of course, is a complete absence of punctuation. It goes to show that text-speak isn’t quite as recent as we thought and in a legally binding document at that.

But some of it had me scratching my head. The dwghses was easy to work out, but messes? No, not a comment on the state of the place, but short for the plural of messuage.

That’s our house above by the way, taken circa 1900. If you click on the image, it’s the last on the left. The gaslight has gone and there are now more houses beyond, but otherwise not much has changed.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 18th June 2010

    Four things
    1. Are you in the choir of nearby St Mark’s Church?
    2. That’s not text speak it’s just evidence that illiteracy was rife in Manchester even in those days.
    3. Send me a cheque for fifty guineas as agreed for advertising “Shooting Parrots” on my own blog.
    4. Have a nice day

  • Polly 18th June 2010

    Four replies:
    1. No, Mrs P is the singer in the family, though secular rather than religious. But the original owner of the land did install stainglass windows at St Mark’s in memory of his wife.
    2. Again Manchester was achieving standards not reached in Sheffield until the second half of the 20th century.
    3. The cheque is in the post.
    4. Likewise, especially at the final whistle tonight.


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