Warburton of Arley Charters

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive comprises charters and other documents concerning the ownership of property, plus some letters and receipts, relating mainly to the Dutton and Warburton families and their Cheshire estates, from the 12th to the 18th centuries.

The archive commences in the late 12th century (c.1170) with a gift to Adam de Dutton (fl 1172-1212), and continues through the family's change of name to 'de Warburton' in the early 14th century, until 1783, with documents relating to the fifth and last baronet, Peter XI. The charters concern the Dutton and Warburton Cheshire estates in Appleton, Aston by Budworth, Aston by Sutton, Chester, Dutton, Great Budworth, Lower Walton, Lymm, Newton by Chester, Northwich, Poulton, Pulford, Sutton, Thelwall, Warburton, Wincham and Winnington. Included amongst the charters are examples relating to the constables of Chester [c.1172-1211], several monastic charters, plus some Papal bullae. There are also some Yorkshire deeds of the 13th and 14th centuries mainly relating to Beverley in Yorkshire.

The receipts include payments of tithes, marriage portions and tradesmen's receipts, c.1310-1677 (mainly 16th century). In addition there is a small number of letters and other material relating to the advowson of Lymm cum Warburton in the 18th century, some miscellaneous estate and family related material of around the same date, plus a pedigree of the Warburtons of Hargrave [Cheshire] of 1696.

The archive is of national importance, notable for the large number of early charters. The collection includes a number of seals, including those of the [de Lacy] Constable of Chester, Royal (Great Seals), monastic and Papal examples, plus many from the Duttons/Warburtons and other Cheshire families.

The archive provides a valuable record of the history and development of a landed family over 500 years. Topographical names and details, some of which may have long-since vanished, will be a rich resource for local historians.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Warburton Family of Arley, Cheshire

The first member of this family was Odard (fl.1066), a Norman who was appointed, shortly after the Conquest, as steward by Nigel, first Baron of Halton. Odard's son, Hugh (fl.1119-35), also enjoyed the patronage of the Barons of Halton, such as William son of Nigel. Hugh married Murial, and his sons included Adam de Dutton, Hugh de Dutton (fl.1173-1212); and Geoffrey de Dutton (fl.1200).

Hugh's second son, Adam de Dutton (fl.1172-1212), also benefited from the patronage of the Barons of Halton. He was appointed to represent the Baron of Halton as Steward of Widnes, and from 1178 also as Steward of Blackburnshire, a role which he fulfilled for over thirty years. Adam married Agnes, daughter of Roger son of Alured, and had two sons, John and Geoffrey. The elder son, John, died without issue, so Adam's younger son, Geoffrey, was his successor.

Sir Geoffrey de Dutton I (d.1248) employed the name 'de Dutton' but also on occasion used the name 'de Budworth'. He was a member of the retinue of John de Lacy, Constable of Chester, on Crusade in the Holy Land in 1218. He returned to Cheshire at some time before 1228, and later served as Steward of Halton. He married Alice, the daughter of John de Lacy, and his estates were inherited by his son, Sir Geoffrey de Dutton II (d.1278). Sir Geoffrey II's son and heir was Sir Peter de Dutton (d. before 1315) who was knighted at some time after 1294. He employed the name 'de Dutton' until around 1311, after which date he preferred the name 'de Warburton'. His sons were Sir Geoffrey de Warburton III and Peter de Warburton.

Sir Geoffrey de Warburton III (d.c.1343) was Sheriff of Lancashire in 1326-7, and had been knighted by Edward III c.1328/9. He married Margaret, and had two sons, Geoffrey IV and Robert (fl.1327). In 1335, Edward III commanded Sir Geoffrey, amongst other leading Cheshire gentry, to conduct men at arms on royal service into North Wales. Later, during the Black Death of 1348-9, Sir Geoffrey served as Steward of Trafford and Dunham-on-the-Hill. Sir Geoffrey III's son and heir was Geoffrey IV (d.c.1370), whose son and heir was Sir Geoffrey V (d.1382).

Sir Geoffrey Warburton V was knighted at some time before 1360. In 1367, he was retained by Edward, Prince of Wales (d.1376), known as the 'Black Prince', to serve him in peace and war with two esquires. He married firstly to Ellen, and they had several children, including Geoffrey and John; and he married for the second time to Alina de Eland of Carlyna Hawe. Sir Geoffrey's eldest son, Geoffrey (d.c.1358), married Nichola, daughter of Sir John Danyers, but died without issue. Sir Geoffrey V's heir was his second son, John I (d.1391), who was contracted to marry Agnes, daughter of Richard de Wevre, in 1372.

John Warburton I's son and successor, Peter II (1372-1420), was a minor at the time of his father's death, and his wardship was granted to Sir John Massey of Tatton. Peter II received livery of his lands in 1393 and, on 21 July 1403, he fought at the Battle of Shrewsbury. However, he subsequently received a pardon from Henry IV on 5 September 1403 (which was later renewed on 6 February 1404). On 16 February 1407, Peter II was granted an annuity of 10 Marks p.a. by Henry, Prince of Wales (later Henry V). Peter II had married Alice, daughter of Henry de Baylesford in 1402, and his eldest son was Peter III (d.c.1428) who had married Alice Atherton (d.1428) of Bickerstethe but died without issue some time before 1428.

Peter Warburton III's younger brother, Sir Geoffrey VI (d.1448), married Ellen, daughter of John Bruyn. In February 1440, he was appointed, by Edward Neville, Lord Abergavenny (d.1476), as one of his special attorneys to receive the attornment of his Welsh tenants in the manor of Bromfield and Yale. In September 1441, Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Buckingham (1402-60), who was the Steward of Widnes and Halton, appointed Geoffrey as his lieutenant or deputy-steward with a salary of 100s. p.a. In February 1442, Geoffrey was imprisoned in Chester Castle on charges of making an illegal distress in the county of Meirioneth. It was on 1 September 1448 that Geoffrey VI made his last will and testament, which was proved shortly afterwards.

Sir Geoffrey Warburton VI's was succeeded by his eldest son, Peter IV (c.1427-95), who does not appear to have taken any active part in the Wars of the Roses, though it appears that he enjoyed the confidence of Eleanor, Lady Stanley, the sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (d.1471). On 27 October 1461, Peter IV was also retained for life, for 6 Marks p.a., by Sir William Stanley (d.1495) of Holt, brother of Thomas, Lord Stanley, later Earl of Derby. Peter IV was married firstly to Elizabeth Mainwaring, but after the dissolution of this marriage, he married for a second time, in 1469, Ellen, daughter of Sir John Savage. Peter IV's estates were inherited by his son, John II.

Sir John Warburton II (d.1524) was Sheriff of Cheshire in 1494-5, 1504-5, and from 1508 until his death. He became one of Henry VII's knights of the body (1504), and his royal service was rewarded, in March 1505, when he was appointed Steward of Halton. He was awarded a general pardon by Henry VIII on 10 May 1509 (which was later renewed in 1515).

John II's son was Sir Peter V (d.1551) who married Elizabeth (b.1501), daughter of Richard Winnington of Winnington, Shropshire, in 1511. He was knighted at some time after 1539 and perhaps on Edward VI's accession. He died on 5 June 1551, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John III.

Sir John Warburton III (1523-75) married Mary, daughter of Sir William Brereton of Brereton, Cheshire. On 2 April 1570, he was granted 100 Marks for his service by Elizabeth I. Sir John III died, aged 52, on 31 August 1575, and was succeeded by his son, Peter VI (d.1613), who served as Sheriff of Cheshire in 1593-4. He married Mary, daughter of Sir John Holcroft of Holcroft, Lancashire, but died without issue, and his estates were inherited by his nephew, Peter VII, son of George (d.1612), who lived at the Lodge, Crawley.

Peter Warburton VII's son, Peter VIII (d.1638), inherited his father's estates whilst he was a minor. In 1638, he married Eleanor, daughter of Robert Needham, 2nd Viscount Kilmorey (d.1653), but he died of smallpox, without issue, shortly afterwards.

The Warburton Baronetcy

Peter Warburton VIII was succeeded by his brother, George Warburton I (1623-76), who was created a Baronet by Charles II (1660), and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire (1662). He died, aged 53, on 18 May 1676, and was buried at Budworth, Cheshire. The second baronet was Sir Peter IX (d.1698) whose son was the third baronet, Sir George II (1675-1743). Sir George was elected as Member of Parliament for Cheshire from 1702 to 1705 and from 1710 to 1722, but died without issue. His successor, the fourth baronet, was Sir Peter X (c.1708-74), the son of Sir George's brother, Thomas. Sir Peter married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby (1689-1776), and their eldest son was the fifth baronet, Sir Peter XI (1754-1813).

The Egerton Warburton Family

The death of the fifth Baronet, without issue, ended the baronetcy, but his estates were inherited by his grand-nephew. Sir Peter XI's sister, Emma, had married John Croxton of Norley Bank, Cheshire, and their daughter, Emma Croxton (1782-1881) had married Rev. Rowland Egerton (1778-1846) who assumed the additional name Warburton by royal licence in 1813. It was the eldest of their sons, the poet Rowland Eyles Egerton Warburton (1804-91), who inherited the Warburton estates from the last Baronet, his grand-uncle. One of Rowland's younger brothers was the explorer Peter Egerton Warburton (1813-89). It was at the request of Rowland Egerton Warburton that the antiquary, William Beamont (1797-1889), compiled a calendar of the family's charters in 1866.


The original numbering of each document was based on their location within a specific box (e.g. 1/1), and it was this numbering which was used in the published catalogue of the Arley Charters completed by William Beamont (1866), and therefore may have been Beamont's own creation. This numbering, based on the old boxes, was retained after the documents were re-packaged into new boxes in 1997.

In the catalogue, all place-names have been identified with their modern equivalents and the modern form of spelling has been adopted, irrespective of the spelling in the original documents (for example, Apulton, is rendered Appleton). Where it has not proved possible to identify a place-name, the spelling from the original document has been used (such as 'Colswrtynesoke'). Similarly, all Latin forenames have been translated into their English equivalents (thus Willelmus is rendered William), and all forenames appear in their modern standard spellings whenever possible (apart from some exceptions, such as 'Aytrop' or 'Gralam'). Likewise, all Latin surnames have been translated into their English equivalents (thus venatore is translated as 'the hunter'). The spelling of all toponymic surnames has been standardised to correspond with modern place-name spellings wherever possible. When this has not proved possible because of the difficulty of discerning the corresponding place-name (for instance 'Lymme' may refer to either Lymm or Lyme), the spelling in the original document has been retained. Other popular surnames (such as Starkey) appear in their modern spelling.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The Arley charters were placed on deposit at the John Rylands Library by Viscountess Ashbrook in 1954. In 1980 the early charters were purchased by the Library, leaving on deposit 115 items from Beamont's catalogue, plus some 45 items not included therein. Some additional deeds and papers from the 16th century onwards were received on deposit from the same source in 1975, whilst a charter of 1344, which had become separated from the other charters, was given to the library in 2013 from an independent Cheshire source, via Arley Hall.

Separated Material

The main, deposited collection comprises the muniments of the Warburton family of Arley Hall, Cheshire (16th to 19th century) (reference GB 133 WAR). It consists of muniments of title, settlements, mortgages, leases, bonds, rentals, manorial records, Acts of Parliament, plans, estate correspondence, papers relating to enclosure, roads in Warburton, Great Budworth and other churches and schools, Croxton family papers, and an extensive collection of 18th century accounts for the house and estate at Arley and the family residence in London. Some of the material is currently located at Arley Hall.

Papers relating to the navigation of the River Weaver in the 1750s and 1760s, including correspondence of Sir Peter Warburton, accounts and contemporary official documents, are located within the John Rylands Library, but are not listed with the charters. A few Warburton property deeds can also be located within the collection of John Rylands charters (GB 133 RYCH).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The charters have been handed down through various generations of the Dutton/Warburton family. Following the death of the fifth baronet, Sir Peter Warburton XI, in 1813, the estates passed to the latter's grand-nephew, the poet Rowland Eyles Egerton Warburton (1804-91), and great great grandfather of Arley's present owner, Lord Ashbrook. Rowland Egerton Warbuton not only built the present hall on the site of the earlier house of 1469, but was responsible for commissioning the calendar of family charters by the antiquary, William Beamont in 1866. The charters were placed on deposit at the John Rylands Library by Viscountess Ashbrook in 1954.

Related Material

Some deeds and other documents relating to the Warburtons of Arley and the Egerton Warburtons may also be found in The National Archives and in Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.


Damian Atkinson, 'Warburton, Rowland Eyles Egerton (1804-1891)', The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Geoffrey Barraclough (ed.), The Charters of the Anglo-Norman Earls of Chester, c.1071-1237, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 126 (1988).

Geoffrey Barraclough (ed.), Facsimiles of Early Cheshire Charters, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 107 (1957).

William Beamont (ed.), Arley Charters: A Calendar of Ancient Family Charters, Preserved at Arley Hall, Cheshire, the Seat of R. E. Egerton-Warburton (London: McCorquodale, 1866).

C. A. Harris, 'Warburton, Peter Egerton (1813-1889)', rev. Elizabeth Baigent, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

George Ormerod, The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, 2nd edn, ed. Thomas Helsby (London: George Routledge, 1882).

A Guide to Seals in the Public Record Office, Public Record Office Handbooks No. 1, 2nd edn (London: HMSO, 1928).