Dacre and Howard of Naworth families
The bulk of the Howard estate records relate to former Dacre lands which came to the Howards following the marriage in 1577 of Lord William Howard to Elizabeth Dacre, co-heiress of Thomas, Lord Dacre, of Gilsland, Cumberland, although Lord William only finally gained full possession of his wife's inheritance in 1601 following a long period of litigation with other members of the Dacre family and an attempt by the Crown to claim the estates. By 1607 Lord William had established the family seat at Naworth Castle, situated in the Barony of Gilsland, from which this branch of the Howards derives its family name.
Lord William Howard himself was a member of a family of some significance, being the 3rd son of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk, and, despite his quarrel with the Crown, his fortunes were notably enhanced by the Dacre marriage alliance. Lord William and many of his descendants made their mark both locally and nationally, and in 1661 Lord William's great- grandson Charles Howard was created Earl of Carlisle, a title still held today by his descendants. The eldest son and heir of the Earl of Carlisle is known as Lord Morpeth.
Between 1854 and 1889 (in which year George James Howard became 9th Earl of Carlisle) the estates were administered by trustees, headed by the Duke of Devonshire, whose name often features in the records. Trustees were required because the 8th Earl of Carlisle, a clergyman, was a patient in a mental home. Reference will also be found to Lord Lanerton (died 1880), brother of the 8th Earl and one of the trustees, who lived at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.
Howard of Corby family
The manor of Corby in Cumberland, situated just to the east of the Barony of Gilsland, never belonged to the Earls of Carlisle. It was given by Lord William Howard to his second son, Sir Francis Howard, and passed to the latter's descendants, who were known as the Howards of Corby. Very few Howard of Corby records survive among the Howard of Naworth Papers (see under Scope and content).
Howard of Unthank family
This family was possibly descended from Lord William Howard. It is represented in this collection by a very few records, all relating to the Northumberland manors of Haltwhistle and Hartleyburn, perhaps purchased by Lord William ca.1609, and Plenmeller; the Howards had apparently sold these properties by ca.1663 (see also under Scope and content).
Geographical range of the Howard estates - Cumberland
The largest section of the Howards' estates and their main landed base has always consisted of their Cumberland properties, centred around the Barony of Gilsland, an ancient administrative unit to the east of Carlisle made up of twenty manors (listed below). The chief manor in the Barony was originally Irthington, but this was later superseded by Brampton.
At various times the Earls also held other manors and properties elsewhere in Cumberland, including in the 17th century the manor and socage of Carlisle, and in closely adjacent parts of Northumberland (Thirlwall and Featherstone). The Cumbrian and adjacent Northumbrian properties were generally referred to as the Naworth estate, in reference to Naworth Castle, which is situated in the manor of Brampton, although the northern, larger, section of its park is in Denton manor.
Barony of Gilsland manors: Askerton, Brackenthwaite and Newbiggin, Brampton, Bruthwaite, Carlatton, Castle Carrock, Cumrew, Cumwhitton, Farlam, Geltsdale, Hayton, Irthington, Lanercost or Abbey Lanercost (from 1736), Laversdale, Nether Denton, Newby, Talkin, Triermain or Troddermain, Upper Denton, Walton Wood.
Other Cumberland manors owned by the Howards: Ainstable (just south of the Barony of Gilsland); Brunstock, Crosby and Walby (just east of the Barony of Gilsland).
The Cumberland manors of Ainstable, Brackenthwaite and Lanercost and the Northumberland manors of Featherstone and Thirlwall were sometimes referred to as the out-manors.
Gilsland village itself is situated right on the western edge of the Barony in Triermain manor, and perhaps also partly in the adjacent Northumberland manor of Thirlwall.
Geographical range of the Howard estates - Northumberland
This estate, often referred to as the Morpeth estate, was centred around Morpeth, previously owned by the Merley, Greystock and Dacre families and acquired by Lord William Howard through his marriage to Elizabeth Dacre in 1577. Many of the properties on the estate were sold by the Howards between ca.1888 and 1890 and in 1915. The Howards' Alston Moor (Cumberland) and Stanhope (County Durham) properties were generally administered with their Northumberland estates.
Chief places covered by the Northumberland section of the papers: Cumbria: Alston Moor. Durham County: Stanhope. Northumberland: Angerton, Barmoor (Morpeth parish), Bedlington, Benridge, Bothal, Catchburn (Morpeth parish), Clifton (Morpeth parish), Cottingwood (Morpeth parish), Dinnington, Featherstone, Gubeon (Morpeth parish), Haltwhistle, Hartburn, Hartleyburn, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Hepscott (Morpeth parish), Killingworth, Knarsdale, Lambley, Longbenton, Longhorsley, Mitford, Morpeth (including the two manors called respectively the manor and borough of Morpeth and the manor and barony of Morpeth Castle), Murton, Netherton, Newbiggin, Newburn, Parkhouse (Morpeth parish), Plenmeller, Preston, Shadfen (Morpeth parish), Stannington, Stobhill (Morpeth parish), Thirlwall (purchased ca.1750), Tranwell (Morpeth parish), Tynemouth, Ulgham, Widdrington, Woolsington.
Geographical range of the Howard estates - Yorkshire
This estate centred on Castle Howard, designed by John Vanbrugh for Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle, in the early 18th century and built on the site of the old castle of Henderskelfe. Castle Howard, described in 1881 as the third largest house in England, was an impressive symbol of the growing status of this branch of the Howards.
Changes in the estates prior to the early 20th century
Estates are not static entities - rather they grow and contract at different periods as the lord buys, sells, leases or mortgages properties. In the case of the Howards the core of the estate, the old manors of the Barony of Gilsland, remained fairly stable from the time the Howards acquired it, but other lands were only added at later dates and sometimes had a different status; for instance Lanercost (or Abbey Lanercost) manor was only conveyed to Lord Carlisle in 1736, and Lanercost priory site and demesne lands were leased from the Crown by Lord Carlisle for many years and only finally purchased in 1869. Thirlwall manor and castle in Northumberland, with other properties in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, were purchased by Lord Carlisle in ca.1750 from Matthew Swinburne and his wife Eleanor, née Thirlwall.
In addition individual properties, chiefly farms, were bought and sold by the Howards in the same way as any other owner might traffic in property. As a result the geographical range of the collection fluctuated from year to year, and there were major changes between 1888 and 1890 and in 1915, when most of the Northumberland estates were sold (although some Northumberland records were retained by the Howards after the sales, especially in cases where mineral rights were reserved to the Earl of Carlisle).
20th-century changes in the estates
Under the wills of George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle (died 1911) and his widow Rosalind (died 1921) and a subsequent family settlement embodied in a 1922 deed (copies of all of which documents are held in this collection) the estates were divided between various descendants of the 9th Earl:
The 11th Earl of Carlisle (the 10th Earl having died in 1912) received Naworth Castle and parts of the Cumberland estates, together with the manorial rights over the Barony of Gilsland manors (except Askerton), the other Cumberland manors and what was left of the Northumberland manors. Many of the manorial rights (but not the documents associated with them) were sold in the later part of the 20th century.
The manor of Askerton in the Barony of Gilsland went to Dorothy, daughter of the 9th Earl of Carlisle, who married Lord Henley. It is currently owned by Jane Eden, her granddaughter.
Mary, daughter of the 9th Earl of Carlisle (married Gilbert Murray: descendants include Toynbees, Hendersons and Murrays) had originally been left Castle Howard but gave it to her brother Geoffrey and in return received some Cumberland properties.
Geoffrey Howard, son of the 9th Earl of Carlisle, received Castle Howard and most of the Yorkshire estates. His descendants still own it.
The Carlatton estate in the Barony of Gilsland went to the children of Michael, son of the 9th Earl of Carlisle, who had been killed in 1917 (descendants are called Jolly).
Cecilia, daughter of the 9th Earl of Carlisle (married Charles Roberts, M.P.: children were Wilfrid Roberts, Winifred [died 1981], first wife of Ben Nicholson, and Christina [married A.L.S. Wood], all of whom have descendants), the children of Oliver, son of the 9th Earl of Carlisle (descendants include Howards and Crewdsons), and Aurea, daughter of the 9th Earl (married Thomas Macleod, no children) also received portions of the estates (the 1922 deed of settlement gives details). Aurea's share included a life-interest in the Slingsby, Yorkshire estate.
The Howard estates are now managed by the family company, M.R.H. Minerals Ltd.
Types of tenure on the Howard estates and related documentation (with particular reference to Cumberland)
1. Leasehold properties. Unlike the other sorts of tenure found on the estates leasehold was not feudal in origin. Leasehold tenures appeared comparatively late on most estates. On Lord Carlisle's lands their emergence was a slow process, beginning in the 17th century but only really gathering momentum in the 18th century. Many leasehold farms were either former demesne farms or farms which had been enclosed from former waste and common land.
If tenants leased properties, for instance farms, from Lord Carlisle for a term of years or a number of specified lives, then the most likely document concerning the transaction to survive will be a counterpart lease. In the Howard of Naworth Papers these leases are not usually kept together in any sort of comprehensive system. The chief means of tracking them down is to search the indexes to the catalogues for the names of the properties in question or of the lessees. Apart from the odd lease register (e.g. HNP C129A/5, 1770) there is no series of volumes containing registered copies of leases.
2. Manorial tenures. Most tenants, both on Lord Carlisle's estates and elsewhere, held their lands not by leasehold but by some form of manorial tenure, which had feudal origins:
2.1 Free tenants. One type of manorial tenants on the Howard estates consisted of a small group holding what were known as free tenements. Originally the occupiers of these lands would have been freemen as opposed to serfs or slaves. By the post- mediaeval period they were practically freeholders, but they still owed suit of court to the lord of the manor, their relationships were regulated by the manorial court baron, that is the assembly of the free tenants of a manor under the lord or his steward, and they paid a small annual free rent, but not the greenhues or customary services owed by customary tenants. Records of free tenants among the Howard of Naworth Papers include a series of court books (HNP C178/1-7 and C178A/1-10) which record the proceedings of the court baron of the Barony of Gilsland from 1576-1652. These include lists of free tenants, names of jurors in the court, names of constables, and details of cases heard by the court, generally pleas of debt brought by one tenant against another.
2.2 Customary tenants or copyholds. By far the majority of manorial tenants on the Howard estates were called customary tenants or tenants at the will of the lord (although it should be remembered that tenants could hold a mixture of free and customary tenures). Customary tenements were sometimes called copyholds because the title to a tenement or property consisted of copies of the entries in the manorial court rolls or books recording the various transactions relating to the property. In practice customary tenants, like free tenants, behaved in almost the same way as freeholders; they could buy, sell, mortgage or inherit their lands without interference from the lord provided that they kept the customs of the manor, but they were subject to the constraints mentioned below.
Customary tenements were held from the lord in return for firstly a very low customary rent (or ancient rent), secondly the customary services of the manor, which meant various tasks performed for the lord (later often commuted to a money payment), and thirdly the payment of a fine on certain specified occasions. These fines, not penalties but rather lump sum payments, were of two sorts, a general fine, thought to be set at twenty times the ancient rent, which was levied on all tenants, including free tenants, following the death of the lord of the manor and payable to his successor, and dropping fines, payable to the lord whenever a new tenant (probably only customary tenants) inherited a tenement in a manor (this type of dropping fine is sometimes called a descent fine) or whenever such a tenement was sold (this type of dropping fine is sometimes called a purchase fine) or mortgaged.
There has been some disagreement among scholars as to how dropping fines were assessed. Some argue that they were originally fixed at a certain proportion of the ancient rent but that later, as ancient rents failed to keep up with inflation, dropping fines were related to the notional improved rent or annual value of a tenement, i.e. not the rent which the tenants actually paid but that which the lord would have received if he had let the tenement at its full annual value. Others had earlier argued that dropping fines continued to be related to ancient rents.
The records also contain sections headed cottagers. These were customary tenants who occupied less than four acres of land. Cottagers generally had to supplement their incomes by casual labouring or agricultural work etc.
Records of customary tenures on the Howards' Cumberland estates: unfortunately the chief series of books which recorded the admittances of tenants to such properties on the Cumberland estates no longer survives apart from two registers of admittances, covering 1849-1850 and 1865. A helpful source, however, consists of the call books or call rolls for the Barony of Gilsland, the main series of which runs from 1674 to 1923 (HNP C180, C180A-C180D, and HNP vols. 13/10-17). These cover all the manors in the barony except Lanercost and Brackenthwaite and Newbiggin. They do not cover manors outside the Barony. They contain lists of tenants both free and customary and of the properties in respect of which they were summoned to the manorial court twice yearly to pay their rents etc.. These call books do not always indicate the relationship of a new tenant to the old one, and they sometimes omit names of properties, but if searched with care they can be useful. There are also various fine books (e.g. HNP vols. shelves 11, 15 and 41, and HNP C611/15 and C659-663), dating from the 17th century onwards and recording details of the lump sum payments mentioned above for which tenants were liable at specific dates. These sources are supplemented by a large number of rentals of various sorts, giving details of tenants and the rents they paid (as well as frequent lists of those who were in arrears with their payments).
Records of customary tenures on the Howards' Northumberland estates: the chief sources are an extensive series of court books for the two manors of the manor and borough of Morpeth, 1696-1883 (HNP vols. 43/1-6), and the manor and barony of Morpeth Castle, 1706-1874 (HNP vols. 43/7-9). Supplementary material relating to tenants on the Morpeth manors, together with odd items relating to other Northumberland manors, is found in various sections of the collection, especially the main series of Northumberland material and the separate volumes series.
2.3 Enfranchisement of manorial tenements. From the 18th century onwards, and especially following the 1772 Act to enfranchise customary lands in the Barony of Gilsland (HNP C166/1-166/1A), there are examples of customary tenements on the Howard estates being enfranchised, that is converted into freehold by agreement between lord and tenant and on payment of a lump sum by the tenant to the lord in compensation for the latter's loss of rent etc.. Most such tenements remained as customary tenements until well into the 20th century, however, and were only enfranchised subsequent to the Law of Property Acts of the 1920s, which provided for all customary lands to be turned into freehold.
Enfranchisement produced various records, notably enfranchisement deeds, of which there are a number scattered throughout the collection (for example in HNP C166 and the 1967 and 1971 supplementary deposits), together with various schedules of enfranchisements from the 18th to the 20th centuries (HNP vols. 57/4, index of enfranchisement deeds for Barony of Gilsland and out-manors, 18th-20th centuries, and HNP 1971 deposit, box XV, schedule of enfranchisements, 1844-1903). Recent enfranchisement deeds still remain with the Howard family solicitors.
Record keeping on the Howard estates
For several generations after Lord William Howard's time the chief Howard seat was Naworth Castle in Cumberland, but from the early 18th century onwards, up until the late 19th century, the Howards spent an increasing amount of time at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, with just occasional visits to Naworth, and this had certain implications for the administration of their estates and for record-keeping. Documents were sent backwards and forwards between Yorkshire and Cumberland, as well as to and from lawyers and agents in London; obviously this meant items could be lost, end up in the wrong place or face other hazards. For instance in January 1830 nine boxes of documents en route from Naworth to Castle Howard survived a ship-wreck in the River Humber.
However, the event which probably most influenced the fate of the Howard records was the above-mentioned division of the estates following the deaths of George James Howard, the 9th Earl of Carlisle, in 1911 and of his widow Rosalind in 1921. This division led to a complementary division of the related records. It was decided that most of the personal and political papers should remain at Castle Howard, together with the bulk of the Yorkshire estate records, while the majority of the Cumberland and Northumberland estate records were to be kept at Naworth, though most of these were later sent for storage to the Cumberland estate office at Boothby, and others were transferred to the offices of a local firm of solicitors, Messrs. Cartmell of Carlisle and Brampton. The division between Yorkshire and Cumberland was not as tidy as it might have been, however, with the result that strays are found in both places, while some records, e.g. bound volumes, covered the whole estates and could not be divided.
At the request of the 11th Earl of Carlisle and his wife, the Naworth Papers housed at Boothby and elsewhere in Cumberland were surveyed in January 1954 by Joan Wake, who in 1944 had reported on the Yorkshire estate records at Castle Howard. In February 1954 she produced a report (see Publication note) recommending that all the Howard of Naworth Papers except those needed for current administrative purposes should be sent for safekeeping to the University of Durham, where they could be made available for purposes of historical research (see Immediate source of acquisition for details of the deposits made in Durham).