The Orford Papers

Scope and Content

This collection was given to the John Rylands Library by Lewis Hadfield Orford in 1968.

It consists mainly of the papers of various local families and their estates, such as title deeds, personal accounts, residuary papers and correspondence.

The first family is that of Brewis, landed gentry whose papers consist of title deeds relating to land in Blackley, Cheetham and Broughton, (near Manchester), and to the family seat of Ibstone House, Tetworth (Bucks. & Oxon.). Many of the documents relate to the Scholes family, who previously held much of the Manchester estate.

The second group comprises the papers of the Oldham family. These are mainly residuary papers, correspondence and copy deeds concerning the settlement of the estate of Mr J.L. Oldham after the death of his main beneficiary. There is a large amount of correspondence between his executors and the parties involved, detailed accounts for the estate, bundles of receipts, copies of the relevant birth, death and marriage certificates, and declarations made by witnesses. The title deeds relate to various properties in Stockport, namely two cotton mills and the surrounding land, and various houses built by Charles Henry Oldham in 1903.

The third set of documents consists mainly of the residuary papers of Mrs Enriquetta Augustina Rylands, who died in 1908. It includes Inland Revenue forms, the accounts of the executors with receipts and correspondence attached, papers relating to the memorial monument for the Rylands family, photographs, plans and documents concerning the building of the John Rylands Library, and deeds and papers concerning properties owned by Mrs Rylands and sold after her death. Lewis Orford acted as Mrs Rylands' solicitor during her lifetime, and became one of the trustees of her estate after her death.

An unsorted group of title deeds relates to land at Richard's Castle, Brimfield and Staunton Lacy, in Herefordshire and Shropshire (in the environs of Ludlow). Dating from 1710 and concerning various different parcels of land in the area, the bulk of the deeds seem to be connected with the Taylor family.

The penultimate, and largest, group of deeds and papers relates to the White family, who held land in Manchester and its surrounding area (Sale, Cheetwood, Salford, Gorton, Levenshulme and King Street in the City centre), Audley in Staffordshire, and Mapesbury manor (prebendary) and land at Bethnal Green in Middlesex.

Lastly, there are two bundles of deeds for an estate at Hollingworth, Cheshire, partially owned by Miss Clara Lees, which prove her title to part of the property.

The collection had been roughly ordered into the papers of various families, and it is to be assumed that this arrangement represented in some way the original order of the documents. Thus they have been arranged much the same way in this list.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lewis Hadfield Orford (1899-1972) was born on 8 October 1899 at Prestwich, Lancashire, the son of Lewis Alfred Orford (1865-1948), a Manchester solicitor, and his wife Frances. He was educated at Uppingham School and then joined the family legal practice of Orford, Cunliffe and Greg. In March 1931 Orford was appointed Deputy Registrar of the Diocese of Manchester, and became Registrar in May 1933. From 1948 he also served as Chapter Clerk to the Cathedral, a position which his father had also held. He married Elizabeth June Worthington in June 1926. He served as a representative governor of the independent John Rylands Library from March 1937 to until his death. He held the position of Honorary Secretary from 1949, was appointed a Trustee of the Library in March 1959. He also served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Registrar's Association, 1963-69. He died on 8 February 1972.

Source: obituary of Lewis A. Orford in the Manchester Guardian, 19 January 1948, p. 6; notice in the Manchester Guardian, 29 May 1933, p. 11; obituary of Lewis H. Orford in the Manchester Guardian, 10 February 1972, p. 5; minutes of the Council of Governors of the John Rylands Library, JRL Archive, JRL/1/3/2/8.


The collection has been divided into seven sub-groups:

  • ORF/1: Brewis family papers;
  • ORF/2: Oldham family papers;
  • ORF/3: Rylands family papers;
  • ORF/4: Deeds relating to Ludlow;
  • ORF/5: White family papers;
  • ORF/6: Lees family papers;
  • ORF/7: Miscellaneous deeds.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Custodial History

This collection was donated to the John Rylands Library by Lewis Hadfield Orford in 1968.

Related Material

Family trees which may prove useful have been added to this list. In the case of the Oldham, Taylor, White and Lees families, the trees have been collated entirely from the remaining family documents, and are therefore somewhat incomplete, although useful for the purposes of this collection. The Brewis lineage may be found in Burke's Landed Gentry, 1899. Although details about the Scholes family, have proved elusive, earlier family members are mentioned in Rev John Booker's A History of the Ancient Chapel of Blackley, in Manchester Parish, (Manchester: George Simms, 1854).

The archives of Rylands and Sons (RYL) and the John Rylands Library Archive, both of which contain papers relating to the Rylands family and to the building and maintenance of the Library.

Geographical Names