Pinney Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of several categories of material relating to the business of the Pinney family:

Account books - 93 account books, covering business expenditures, farming revenue details, the accounts of Pinney family members' financial ventures and details of personal wealth. Dates covered: 1650-1884.

Letter books - 69 volumes of family and business letter books detailing outgoing correspondence of the Pinney family regarding both their business and personal lives in the West Indies and England, as well as business ventures with the Tobin family. Dates covered: 1688-1850.

Miscellaneous Volumes - these 50 volumes cover a diverse array of subjects, from the notebooks of Anna Maria Pinney (1812-1861) and correspondence with William Wordsworth to findings of Select Committees of the House of Commons and legal and business papers, notes and lists of deeds held by the Pinneys, as well as family diaries and inventories of books owned by family members. Much of the subject matter is closely related to the family - either their property, possessions or their thoughts. Dates covered: 1688-1902.

Anna Maria Pinney boxes - 12 archive boxes containing Anna Maria Pinney's notes on Pinney family history, language, theology, philosophy and music. Dates covered: 1789-1861.

Red Boxes - 15 archive boxes containing receipts, correspondence and notes belonging to Pinney family members, organised by family member. Dates covered: 1638-1877.

Domestic Deeds - 9 archive boxes containing deeds to properties held at Racedown, Bettiscombe and Broadwinsor by the Pinney family in England. Dates covered: 1577-1948.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection contains the records of the Pinney family of Broadwinsor and Pilsdon in Dorset. As merchants and landowners, the Pinney family held extensive plantations in the West Indies, particularly on the island of Nevis. Bristol was the headquarters of their business within the United Kingdom, and they also held property interests within Bristol and in surrounding Somerset. The Pinney family's interest in the West Indies began when Azariah Pinney sailed to the island of Nevis in 1685 equipped with a Bible, six gallons of sack, four gallons of brandy and 15. He spent much of the rest of his life on Nevis, bound there for a period of ten years by an edict of James II and then until his death in 1719 by the difficulties of plantation management. Over time the family's holdings prospered and grew until they held several large estates in England and the Leeward Isles. Some members of the family ran the estates personally, and some governed as absentees from Racedown and Bristol. The Pinneys continued to be an influential family in both trade and politics throughout the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, and continue to play an active role in the preservation and management of their family archives today.

Access Information

Accessible to all bona fide readers.


Compiled by Martin Hall, Assistant Archivist, University of Bristol Information Services - Special Collections.

Other Finding Aids

Typescript catalogue available in Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be obtained from University of Bristol Information Services - Special Collections.