Ref NoGB1752.CON/4/1/1
Alt Ref NoBR61/2-3
TitleTitle Deeds relating to J&J Colman and various company properties
DescriptionScanned copes available of CON/4/1/1/1/1-19 (also available at NRO and HEART)
Scanned copies and facsimiles available for: BR61/3/129, 1,3,5,6,16,19,20,22,26,37-50 in e-archive and e-library

There is no shortage of printed material on the history of the Colman firm and various members of the family including a biography of Jeremiah James, the man under whom the move to Norwich and the expansion of the Carrow site was made. He was of considerable standing in the City of Norwich, being not only Sheriff in 1862 - 3 and Mayor 1867 - 8 but also representing the City in Parliament for 24 years from his first election in 1871. The story of the family business begins however in 1814 when Jeremiah Colman (1771-1851) the founder, leased a mill at Stoke Holy Cross for flour and mustard milling, (for the deeds of the mill see Norfolk Record Office, Long of Dunston collection) which was the focus of the firm until the move to the Carrow site in 1854/1856. In 1823 Jeremiah took his nephew James into partnership and in 1844 James' brothers Jeremiah and Edward were also taken into the firm as partners and based in Cannon Street, London.

When "Old" Jeremiah died in 1851, Jeremiah James became a partner and three years later James died leaving Jeremiah James a sole partner in Norwich and he became the patriarchal figure at the head of the firm there until his death in 1898. In 1875 the partnership consisted of three cousins, Jeremiah James at Norwich and Jeremiah II and Frederick in London; 9 years later another Jeremiah III, later Sir Jeremiah of Gatton Park and Russell James were also take into partnership. In 1896 the firm became a private limited company with a capital of £1,350,000 and Jeremiah James was the first Chairman, to be succeeded on his death in 1898 by Frederick Edward. All these changes in partnership are reflected in the parties in the deeds, land being conveyed throughout the period in question and at an increasing rate as the expansion of Carrow got under way. In the calendar Messrs. Colman has been used for conveyances to Jeremiah James, Jeremiah and Frederick Edward and the firm's deed register has supplied information concerning the wholesale conveyance of property to J. and J. Colman Ltd in the years following 1896 when the company became a private limited company.

The move to Carrow was important not only in terms of the firm's development but also in terms of the flagging economy of the City of Norwich. The census statistics shows that by 1893 over 2,000 inhabitants of the City were Colman employees. The move as partly necessitated by difficulties in renewing the original lease at Stoke, but also the development of the business made it preferable to work nearer Norwich where road, rail and river transport were available, and due to collapse of the local textile industry, land and labour were cheap and plentiful. The far-sighted Jeremiah James chose a site south of Norwich near the junction of the rivers Yare and Wensum and the main rail approach to Norwich. The proximity to the rail link is also reflected in the deeds with conveyances to and from the Great Eastern Railway Company in particular, but the London and North Eastern Railway Company, Norfolk Railway Company, Norwich and Brandon Railway Company and Yarmouth and Norwich Railway Company also featured. Production continued at both Carrow and Stoke until 1862 when the latter was relinquished.

The first mustard mill rose on the Carrow site in 1854/56 and thereafter the site grew and new buildings such as granaries, boiler houses, engine houses, etc., were erected. Adjoining the works is the site of Carrow Abbey (Alt Ref BR 61/3/29/1-131) which became the home of James and Laura Stuart and then Helen and Ethel Colman after it had been bought by the Company in 1878 and its restoration was finished in 1886. The house and grounds incorporated the remains of the twelfth-century Benedictine Nunnery of which the church and virtually all the buildings, with the exception of the Prioress' Lodging, were demolished at the Dissolution. The site and revenues of the Abbey were presented to Sir John Shelton, it is alleged because of the execution of Anne Boleyn who was Lady Shelton's niece, and the deeds relating to the site and Manor of Carrow include copies of the original grant of 1538. A deed of 1682 has a full and interesting description of the site at that date.

The firm pioneered what would now be viewed as aspects of social welfare including workers' houses, a school in 1857, a hot meals service in 1868 - vegetable stew and a pint of coffee cost 4d. - and a dispensary founded in 1864 which is referred to in the deeds (Alt Ref BR 61/3/54 and 61). Also the Carrow Fire Brigade was created in 1882 and Lakenham Cricket Ground was acquired by the firm in 1878 and has continued to be the focus of Carrow sport.

Cannon Street, the London site of the firms operations and base of Jeremiah II and Frederick Edward Colman also features in the deeds (BR 61/3/94 and 95). 108 Cannon Street played an important and prominent part in the life of the Street itself and was a valuable link for the firm with the capital.

The deeds also include some relating to the Crown Point Estate (Alt Ref BR 61/3/37-53; see also MC 138/43 and 44). The Hall being the family home of Russell Colman until his death in 1946 and is now Whitlingham Hospital. The Hall is in the Elizabethan style by the architect Henry Edward Coe (1826-85) c 1865 and BR 61/3/51 included his tracing paper plans and architectural details and elevations. They are dated 1865 with the address 6 Stratton Street, London. Additions were made to the Hall by Edward Boardman in 1902 when it was purchased by Russell Colman. Coe was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott and his other works include Framlingham College, Suffolk; Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire and several churches including Holy Trinity, Worthing, Sussex

Also deposited by Colmans were a small group of medieval deeds Alt Ref (BR 61/2/1-19) covering 1294-1574 of lands in Alderford, Bixley, Trowse, including the Manor of Trowse with Newton, and elsewhere. These were apparently acquired at some time by the firm or family because of their antiquarian and historical interest. They come from the archives of the Great Hospital in Norwich, part of which were dispersed in the 18th or early 19th centuries.

Colman's of Norwich have a Deed Register which is still used very much as a working record. The information contained in it includes references to estate registers, ledgers, maps, details of the property such as the type of tenure and acreage, details of the last conveyance and remarks such as whether there is a map on the document and so on. The register also has a fairly comprehensive index. In the cataloguing of these deeds therefore it proved extremely useful for supplementing the information in the deeds, supplying details of missing material and of the uses to which Colman's put the land and in the final arrangement of the deeds. The Colman number added at the end of the most calendar entries is the reference number to the Deed Register and indicates the rough chronological order in which the Colmans acquired the property. This also applies to some bundles in MC 138 which were deposited by Timothy Colman and relate to the Bixley Estate and this serves to demonstrate the close links between firm and family which prevailed well into this century
Custodial History Transferred to Unilever Archives in May 2000 except for the manorial records at Alt Ref BR 61/3/28/1-8 and Alt Ref BR 61/3/132/1-8.

Arrangement: In this list the bundles are arranged geographically. First in alphabetical order then by the date of the last document in the bundle - Wills are arranged by the date of probate unless otherwise stated. For the City of Norwich the arrangement is alphabetical by parish then, if known, by street and for places outside Norfolk by County then place. There are some documents in the Collection which do not lend themselves to geographical arrangement and these are in chronological order at the end of the list. Original bundles have been retained as far as possible.

About 34 volumes, 19 parchments, 11 files, 168 bundles, 2 papers, 1 booklet
Returned to Unilever Archives in May 2000 except for the manorial records at Alt Ref BR 61/3/28/1-8 and Alt Ref BR 61/3/132/1-8 GB1752.CON/4/1/1/5 and GB1752.CON/4/1/1/15.
Date1294 - 1955
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