Pascoe Grenfell and Sons

The collection covers 1783-1897 and contains partnership agreements, company records and office papers, including financial records, as well as family and trustee papers. 

In a pilot employabilty opportunity two students were invited to promote the archives, and one of the students, Rachael Thomas, chose to examine the Pascoe Grenfell and Sons collection and to show the variety of uses that these can be put to when undertaking research.

Pascoe Grenfell and Sons

Business and Economics

WHAT IS IT? This collection holds information about the company Pascoe Grenfell and Sons Ltd, from its creation (originally as Pascoe Grenfell and Sons) in 1829, until its voluntary liquidation on 7 October 1892. This is a very interesting collection of various materials highlighting business topics over a period of 63 years.

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES? There are sources held in the collection that encompass the economics of all involved in the company, such as: articles of partnership; copies of contracts; information on shares; account books; ledgers and financial papers; tax records; director’s meetings minute, attendance, and agenda books. These documents track the highs, and eventual lows of the company, and detail the running of the company.

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING? What makes this collection quite special is that it documents the voluntary liquidation of the company. The continuing question as to exactly why the company went into voluntary liquidation (and the fact this decision was made at all) is a topic with the great potential for dissertation research. The collapse of the company is a strong theme of the whole collection. The materials track the process of liquidation, from how and why the company decided to liquidate, to its final days.


WHAT IS IT? This collection not only holds information about Pascoe Grenfell and Sons Ltd, it also contains material relating to the Grenfell family themselves. The influence of the family on the business and the local community in Swansea is undeniable. The information contained in this collection allows us insight into the personal lives of different family members, insights into society and the classes, and the life of the Grenfell family, across a period over half a century long.



WHAT ARE THE SOURCES? There are materials in the collection covering all stages of life: from marriage settlements; estate correspondence; and lists of heirlooms, to letters and telegrams between the family members (and some famous faces such as, Queen Victoria), to condolences on the death of Grenfell members and wills.

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING? The family themselves and their personal lives. This collection allows us insight into both the business and personal lives of an influential nineteenth-century family. Their lives can be examined to a fuller extent through this dual aspect of the collection to create a fuller impression of the family and the upper ranks of society in the 1800s.

Gender and Finance

WHAT IS IT? Throughout the collection there are examples of the experience women had with their money: namely that the men in their lives controlled their access to, and use of, their money and seriously limited the women’s control of their own finances.


WHAT ARE THE SOURCES? This was a sporadic element to the minute book but there are interesting examples like the entries that describe the conditions women had to accept to gain access to their money, such as the money only being paid out to them “under legal advice”. Also, the Deed of Appointment by Charles Pascoe Grenfell in favour of his daughter Maria Georgiana Grenfell expressly leaves his daughter "one equal fourth part" of £10,000 and no more when he dies. The marriage settlement of William Grenfell and Mrs Frances Dorlase and the post-nuptial settlement by Thomas Frances Leyshon and wife Eleanor Du Pre Leyshon, all depict the control the male trustees had over the women’s finances.

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING? The extent that sexism is shown in the records. There is plenty to learn about the society and times of the 1800s from these sources. They provide fascinating examples of the limitations placed on women in the later 1800s and could, for example, be a useful source to use in the study of women's financial position in this period. They could also provide details for anyone interested in researching a case study on the Grenfells as a rich family, to see where and how they spent their money and how they organised their personal and business finances.


WHAT IS IT? As the collection is centred on the business of the company, the theme of employment is an important one. It can also provide unique information as a collection that reflects the changes the employees experienced once the company went into liquidation.

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES? The majority of the sources relating to employment are located in the director’s meetings minute book, which details events the company experienced such as the potential for strike action by the workers. The list of the salaries paid to managers and clerks employed in Swansea and London also highlights the experience of the workers in both branches of the company.

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING? Anyone interested in the experience of workers in a company in liquidation could use these entries to see how the position of the men in the company correlated to how much notice they were given, from a week's notice to the mill hands to three months given to Mr Bishop (the manager). Prior to the liquidation the problems within the company led to strikes and a strained relationship between the men and the management. As such, this collection holds intriguing information for anyone interested in researching employment or the experience of workers in the 1800s.