Robert Carlisle Broadley came from a thriving Hull merchant family; their business enterprise went back at least to the seventeenth century when Thomas Broadley bought land at Sutton, Stoneferry, Ferriby and Hull. Two of Robert Carlisle Broadley's ancestors, Thomas Broadley and Robert Carlisle, were aldermen in the 1690s and by the first half of the eighteenth century his father, Thomas Broadley (d.1784), was one of the leading Hull importers. His mother was Anne Grundy, whose own father acted as factor for Thomas Broadley and Co. founded in 1749. The Broadleys became Hull's most voracious land buyers; their land-buying was a means of supporting their trading activities. At the time of the journal, Robert Carlisle Broadley was a young man living at his father's house in North Ferriby, where the Sykes family had also invested in a lot of land (Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, pp.28, 96-7, 108-15, 121, 264).
In the late eighteenth century the Broadley connection with the Sykes family was cemented not only by neighbourhood, but with the establishment of the East Riding Bank of Malton and Beverley in which they were partners along with Ralph Creyke and John Lockwood. This was a country bank that supported agricultural ventures. However, its Hull branch, of which Robert Broadley was the main partner, increased in importance during the early nineteenth century and when Christopher Sykes retired from banking, Broadley went into partnership with Robert Raikes. By the 1810s he was a major landholder in the Sutton, Sculcoates and Drypool estates and he was an underwriter whose accounts often totalled over £30,000. He died in 1812, without issue, and was succeeded by a nephew, Henry Broadley (b.1793). Henry Broadley was a Conservative MP 1837-51 and was first chairman of the Hull and Selby Railway Company 1836-43. He bought Welton House from the Raikes and Williamson families in 1848 and died in 1851. He also left no children and the property was passed first to his sister, Sophia Broadley (d.1864), then from her to a nephew, William Henry Harrison (1820-1896) who added the name Broadley and when he also died unmarried it passed to his nephew, Henry Broadley Harrison-Broadley (1853-1914). The latter was Conservative MP for Howdenshire from 1906 until his death and he inherited 14,877 acres which brought in a rental of over £23,000 per annum. The vast mansion at Welton remained a symbol of the prosperity of the Broadley family until it was left empty in 1926, whereupon it fell into decay before being demolished in 1952 (Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, pp.151, 213; Allison, History of the county of York, i, pp.307, 464, 469, 475; Sheahan, History of the town and port of...Hull, p.401; Watersort, 'Welton House'; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, p.44).
The journal and personal account book of Robert Broadley was one of two miscellaneous purchases made from Jabez Elliott of Ringwood, Hants. in January 1966. It comprises a small exercise book filled with notes made by Robert Carlisle Broadley between 1768 and 1773 about his personal accounts and his social life. Most of these are quite hasty jottings and they include notes on his weight (10 stone 6 pounds), on local elections, on his hunting and gambling pursuits (usually horse racing and card games with friends for low stakes), on plays and books and on social gossip about local families such as the Grimstons and the Maisters (a fairly full description of the contents of the book is in Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, pp.265-6).