Catholic Heritage Blog

Archive of the Month: Farm Street Minister's Log Books (Jesuits in Britain Archives)

Picture showing open log book entry with a small card menu inserted.Welcome to Catholic Heritage’s very first blog post, created by the Jesuits in Britain Archives. After a recent enquiry requried us to consult these records, we have decided to feature the Farm Street Minister’s Log Books, which were kept daily by the Minister of the Farm St community between 1859, at which point the community lived at Hill Street before moving to Mount Street in 1868, and 1988.

 ‘Father Minister’ was, of course, a title, not a name. The minister is the business manager, guest master, accountant, and general factotum on the administrative side of a Jesuit community. (Obedient Men, D Meadows, 1953, p9)

The Minister was responsible for food, clothing and other temporal things, so the log books account for the movement of the community, the arrival and departure of guests and details of meals, as well as a list of services celebrated and who by.  Occasionally additional material such as a menu or instructions are inserted into the volume. It is a useful and rich resource for finding out more about the daily life of the community and to track the movement of a particular individual, though it would be time consuming to do so.

The following excerpts are fairly typical of the kind of information recorded:

2nd Wednesday [July 1884]: Renovation of Vows-Reverend Brother Masterson, Redington, Tansley-Wine given-2 glasses during dinner & 2 glasses after-Fr Partanella Superior of New […] arrived before dinner & is lodged in the house-Father Papall arrived about 7pm - he went out & had supper when he returned about 10.30 pm- he sleeps out.

10th Friday [April 1885]: 2 French Fathers from the Continent for Slough breakfasted & lunched passing through. Fr Gouttipagnor left after B’fst [Breakfast] also Fr Croonenberghs for Manresa. Mgr Pollen dined. Br Bash arrived for Supper & bed.

Reading the log books can prove difficult as some of the handwriting is less legible than others and gives all those doing so practice of their palaeography skills. There is the added challenge that abbreviations and terminology is used that was no doubt familiar at the time or to the Jesuits, but for an outsider now may be perplexing. Nonetheless, the information contained can make it a worthwhile endeavour.

If you are interested in this collection or any others held by the Jesuits in Britain Archives, please contact us.

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