Title Deeds & Settlements

  • Reference
      GB 133 EGR1
  • Dates of Creation
      1291-1773
  • Language of Material
      Language: all items are in English  unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      342 items. Medium: parchment unless otherwise stated.

Scope and Content

The title deeds relate almost exclusively to the Cheshire and Lancashire estates of the Booth family. Almost all the deeds relating to the manor of Warrington and lands therein, purchased by William Booth (d 1636) in 1629, were surrendered when the manor was bought by Thomas Blackburne esq in c.1762. Similarly the majority of deeds relating to Ashton under Lyne and Stayley were relocated to the Stamford Estate Office in Ashton under Lyne. A handful of documents in EGR1 relate to property owned by the Booths in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. However, the Grey family's extensive land-holdings in the Midland counties are not represented here.

The deeds include letters patent, grants, feoffments, final concords, conveyances by bargain and sale and by lease and release, mortgages, quitclaims, assignments, marriage agreements, settlements, probate copies of wills, and subsidiary documents such as bonds, letters of attorney and receipts. The deeds range in date from the late thirteenth century to the mid-eighteenth century. The more recent deeds from the Stamford Estate Office in Altrincham are listed with the Estate Office records (see EGR14/1).

In March 1992 a folio volume entitled Abstract of All the Deeds Belonging to the Estate Of The Right Honourable George Earl of Warrington Compleated In the Year of our Lord 1714 was transferred from Dunham Massey Hall to the John Rylands Library (EGR11/5/3). The main section of the volume consists of very detailed abstracts of all deeds in the possession of George Booth. The abstracts include full descriptions of the parties, recitals, the property concerned, and the main clauses. The abstracts are divided into the following categories:

  • 1) General abstract of deeds relating to the estate of George Booth, including settlements, and deeds relating to the whole estate or several parts of it (folios 1-32).
  • 2) Abstract of deeds relating to the barony and manor of Dunham Massey and lands within Bowdon parish (ff. 37-57).
  • 3) Abstract of deeds relating to the manors of Carrington and Hattersley, and to all lands late belonging to John Carrington of Carrington esq (ff. 61-73).
  • 4) Abstract of deeds relating to the manor or lordship of Stayley in Cheshire, and lands in Yorkshire (ff. 77-84).
  • 5) Abstract of deeds relating to Bollin Fee and lands in Wilmslow parish (ff. 88-95).
  • 6) Abstract of deeds relating to the manor of Ashton under Lyne in Lancashire (ff. 98-105).
  • 7) Abstract of deeds relating to the barony, manor or lordship of Warrington in Lancashire (ff. 109-17).

Within each section documents are arranged chronologically, irrespective of bundle order, and sections 2-7 also include summaries of deeds described in section 1 that relate to the particular property. The volume concludes with several indexes and finding aids, including an alphabetical index of all manors, townships and hamlets mentioned in the abstracts with the dates and folio numbers of the deeds in which they are mentioned (variant spellings of place names are recorded in the headings), and an index of the dates of deeds, arranged chronologically, from 1277/8 to 1753.

Arrangement

i) Original Arrangement of Documents

Almost all items were arranged within bundles that bore several reference codes. Many bundles were identified by a letter written in ink on a slip of paper tied to the outside of, or inserted in, the bundle. These codes are of late eighteenth or early nineteenth century provenance and were superseded by a more comprehensive numbering system applied by Dr Guppy in 1922 during his survey of the deeds at Ashton; in this case the bundles are identified by a number written in pencil on an adhesive label. No reference book or schedule has been found for the earlier sequence.

The 1714 Abstract of Deeds provides valuable evidence for the arrangement of the deeds. In the eighteenth / early nineteenth centuries the deeds were apparently kept in a chest of drawers or desk, for the number of the drawer in which each item was stored is written in ink against its calender entry in the left-hand margin. The Abstract also records the bundle letter of each item. There were 45 bundles, lettered A-Z and A2-W2 (I/J and U/V were undifferentiated). Items in the general abstract are, broadly speaking, to be found in bundles A-W, items relating to Dunham Massey in bundles X-D2, Carrington and Hattersley in bundles E2-J2, Stayley in bundles K2-M2, Wilmslow in bundles N2 and O2, Ashton under Lyne in bundles P2 and Q2, and Warrington in bundles R2-W2.

The Abstract is also annotated in pencil with the numbers assigned to the bundles by Dr Guppy in 1922. While most bundles seem to have remained intact, there is evidence that certain original bundles had been split up or their contents otherwise reordered before 1922. Consequently there is not always an exact correspondence between bundle letters and numbers.

The following is a list of deed bundle codes; the letters and numbers in square brackets are no longer to be found on the bundles but have been supplied from the information provided in the Abstract: 169/U, 170/M, [171/M2 (bundle now missing)], 172/D [also D2 (items now missing)], 173/S, 174/R, 175/F2, [176/L2 (bundle now missing)], [177]/Y, 178/[P2 (part) and Q2 (part)], 181/[B and R (part)], 182/[C], 183/[K], 184, [185/A (bundle now missing)], 186/[L], 187, 188/[P], 189/F, 190/[N2], [191/N (bundle now missing)], 192, 193/[H2], 196, 197, 198, 199/C2, 201/T, 202/[W], 203, 204/[K (part), M (part) and M2 (part)], 205/Q and 206. The following unnumbered bundles survive: O, A2, B2 and E2 (see paragraph below).

Six bundles of early deeds were discovered in a wooden chest, with no other reference than a number recently attributed to each bundle for purposes of identification ("1" to "6"). From the evidence of the 1714 Abstract and the list of records at the Ashton Estate Office compiled by the Secretary to the Historical Manuscripts Commission, it is apparent that the six bundles were formed from original bundles A2, B2 and E2 (loose labels were found in the wooden chest for A2, B2, O and P2).

In the majority of cases all the deeds in a particular bundle relate to one geographical area, such as Bowdon parish, Carrington, Wilmslow or Ashton under Lyne in Lancashire. Bundles of early deeds often cover a very wide chronological span, with individual items relating to a wide variety of transactions. Later bundles tend to consist of documents that concern a single transaction or piece of property. Deeds arising out of family settlements are generally to be found in separate bundles, although the division is by no means clear-cut.

ii) Present System of Arrangement

The present arrangement of bundles is intended to elucidate the two-fold arrangement of deeds relating to geographical areas and documents concerning settlements. Wherever possible the original bundles have been retained, the items within each bundle generally being arranged chronologically. The arrangement of many bundles does not appear to be of great antiquity: the lettered bundles were probably created in the eighteenth century and were subject to some rearrangement thereafter. Therefore obviously 'stray' documents have been inserted in the most appropriate bundle, and the occasional bundle of genuinely miscellaneous material has been broken up. In both cases, however, the reference number of the original bundle has been noted. It should be remarked that the present method of arrangement was devised without the considerable assistance that the 1714 Abstract of Deeds would have afforded.

The sub-group Title Deeds & Settlements comprises:

  • EGR1/1: Deeds for the manors of Dunham Massey, Hale & Altrincham, and property in Bowdon parish, 1319-1729
  • EGR1/2: Deeds for the manors of Carrington & Hattersley and lands of the Carrington family, 1321-1740
  • EGR1/3: Deeds for property in Wilmslow and Thornton le Moors Parishes, 1291-1730/1
  • EGR1/4: Deeds for sundry property in Cheshire and Elizabeth Booth's Charities, 1428-1685
  • EGR1/5: Deeds for property in Lancashire, 1435/6-1709
  • EGR1/6: Deeds for property in Staffordshire, 1591/2-1600
  • EGR1/7: Deeds for property in Leicestershire, 1680/1
  • EGR1/8: Settlements and Related Documents, 1422-1773

Acquisition Information

All items in EGR1 were transferred on deposit from Dunham Massey Hall to the John Rylands University Library by the National Trust on 12 September 1978, except EGR1/8/12/3-4, which were deposited from Dunham Massey Hall on 8 May 1992.

Custodial History

The custodial history of the title deeds before the seventeenth century is uncertain. However, Sir Peter Leycester inspected the muniments at Dunham Massey in 1666: see George Ormerod, The history of the county palatine and city of Chester, 2nd edition revised by Thomas Helsby, 3 vols (London: George Routledge, 1882), vol. 1, pp. 520-6. Almost all the deeds are recorded in the 1714 Abstract of Deeds (see above). During the second half of the nineteenth century, many of the Dunham Massey archives, including old title deeds, were transferred to Ashton Old Hall, and were subsequently moved to the muniment room in the Stamford Estate Office at Ashton under Lyne. The Secretary to the Historical Manuscripts Commission visited the Ashton Estate Office in 1909; his (unpublished) report records, among other items, several deeds that now form part of the Dunham Massey archive. The identifiable items recorded as being at Ashton under Lyne in 1909 are: EGR1/1/1/1, EGR1/1/2/2-5, EGR1/2/1/11-15, EGR1/8/1/3-11 & /17. The descriptions of other documents in the list are not sufficiently detailed to permit definite identification.

Upon his inheritance of Dunham Massey the 10th Earl of Stamford was concerned that the Old Cheshire Deeds be returned to the Hall. Henry Guppy of the John Rylands Library was commissioned to carry out a survey of the collection at Ashton, in the course of which he numbered all bundles and loose items. After the resolution of several legal and insurance difficulties, the deeds were returned to Dunham Massey in June 1922.

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