1585 – 1656
Lady L’Estrange [née Stubbe], keeper of household and estate accounts at Sedgeford estate, was the only child of Richard and Anne Stubbe. Richard Stubbe had two distinct families and estates. His elder daughter Dionsina, from his first marriage, married Henry Yelverton of Rougham in 1589. Alice, from his second marriage, acquired knowledge of farm management and account keeping from her father, for which she demonstrated a considerable ability.
Richard Stubbe played a role in the upbringing of Sir Hamon L’Estrange, nephew of Anne Stubbe’s first husband, who married Alice on 8 June 1602. He described her as a ‘pearl above price’ (NRO, LEST/P8). In his will he thanked her for her ‘ever incessant industry to the just, faithful and laudable advantage and advancement of my estate’ and for ‘the most pious and painful care in the education of my children’ (NRO, LEST/AE 8).
They had eight children, of whom four survived to adulthood. The sons, like their father, all produced published work: Roger became an accomplished pamphleteer, Hamon specialized in theological works, while Nicholas compiled a jest book which attributes forty-three jokes and anecdotes, some of them quite bawdy, to his mother, Alice.
Alice’s bookkeeping for the estate and household began in 1609, taking over the household accounts from Hamon, following the death of their daughter Dorothy. From 1613 she kept weekly kitchen accounts itemizing the purchase, production, and consumption of food and drink by the household, and from 1617 she recorded the profits of her dairy. In 1618, as her father’s health declined she assumed responsibility for the Sedgeford estate. This involved not only receiving rents, but keeping the intricate sheep accounts, organizing grazing regimes and crop rotations, drawing up rentals and field books, and commissioning a survey. From 1621 she kept building accounts for Hamon, and from 1631 she rationalized and maintained the records for the entire estate at Hunstanton, Heacham, and Ringstead. During the civil war, when husband and sons were heavily committed to the royalist cause, Alice managed the household and estate single-handed, recording their losses and rising debts. Her accounts only ceased in 1654 on Hamon’s death. She died in 1656 at Hunstanton Hall and was buried at Hunstanton church on 9 November.
Find out more: You can see a rental agreement written and signed by Lady Alice L’Estrange at the Norfolk Record Office – LEST/BK 15