Gwydir Estate, Conwy Valley

Scope and Content

Gwydir estate papers including deeds for Betws-y-coed, 1872-1937, Dolwyddelan, 1869-1886, Llanrhychwyn, 1804-1915, Llanrwst, 1796-1922, Trefriw, 1668-1893, Trewydir, 1899-1934, all in Caernarfonshire, and London and North Western Railway (Betws & Ffestiniog Railway), 1869-1916; estate papers including rentals, 1758-1866, accounts, 1813-1972, general business papers, 1824-1938, lead mining and slate quarrying records, 1867-1973; and a manor court book of Maen Homan, 1832-1871. The archive also includes charity records relating to Llanrwst Grammar School and almshouses, 1849-1959, and tithe accounts of the parish of Eglwys-fach, Caernarfonshire, 1840-1891.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1678 Mary Wynne married Robert Bertie (1660-1723), 1st duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, and carried the Gwydir estate into that family. The 4th duke dying unmarried in 1779, the Ancaster, Kesteven and Lindsey titles passed to his uncle, while the rest of his titles fell into abeyance between his two surviving sisters, his heirs general, who also received his estate. The elder sister, Priscilla Barbara Elizabeth Bertie (1761-1828) married in 1779 with Peter Burrell (d. 1820), and secured the Gwydir estate, the Grimsthorpe Castle estate in Lincolnshire, and the title of Baron of Willoughby de Eresby. Her husband was created Baron Gwydir in 1796, and acted as his wife and sister-in-law's deputy in the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain of England. His son, Peter Robert Burrell (1782-1865), 21st baron Willoughby de Eresby and 2nd baron Gwydir, married Clementina, daughter and sole heir of James Drummond, Lord Perth, and took the name Peter Drummond-Burrell. Peter was succeeded by his only surviving son, Alberic Drummond-Burrell (1821-1870), 22nd baron Willoughby de Eresby and 3rd baron Gwydir. In 1829, he and his sisters took the surname Drummond-Willoughby in lieu of Drummond-Burrell. He died unmarried, when the Barony of Gwydir devolved on his cousin and heir male, while the Barony of Willoughby de Eresby again fell into abeyance between his two surviving sisters, his heirs general. Clementina Elizabeth (1809-1888), the elder daughter, secured the title. She had married in 1827 with Gilbert John Heathcote (1795-1867), son and heir of Sir Gilbert Heathcote, baronet, of Normanton Park, Rutland. In 1872, she took the name Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby in lieu of Heathcote for herself and her issue. According to the 1873 return of owners of land, the Gwydir estate amounted to an estimated 30,391 acres in Caernarfonshire and 296 acres in Denbighshire, with an estimated rental of £8,521. Baroness Willoughby de Eresby also owned an estimated 24,696 acres in Lincolnshire (£36,520) and 76,837 acres in Perthshire (£28,965), giving her a total of roughly. 132,200 acres with a rental of about £74,000, and making her the 17th largest landowner (with the 12th largest rental) in the United Kingdom. This is irrespective of the Heathcote family estate, held by her son, Gilbert Henry Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby (b. 1830), second baron Aveland, and which consisted of about 17,600 acres (£27,000) in Lincolnshire and 13,600 acres (£20,000) in Rutland. The Gwydir estate was sold in or about 1895 to Charles Robert Carrington, Baron Carrington of Bulcot Lodge and Baron Carrington of Upton, who was created Earl Carrington in the same year. His mother was Charlotte Augusta Annabella Drummond-Willoughby (1815-1879), the younger surviving sister of Alberic, 22nd baron Willoughby de Eresby, above. In 1880 he changed his name to Carrington, and in 1896 to Wynn-Carrington.


Arranged into the following: manorial records; Gwydir estate deeds; other estate deeds and allied records; estate rentals; estate accounts; mining and quarrying; general estate business; Gwydir charity; and miscellaneous records.

Access Information

No restrictions


Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Griffith, John Edwards, Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families, (Wrexham, 1998 reprint); Complete Peerage, (London, 8 vols, 1887-98), vol. 8; James, Brian, 'The Great Landowners of Wales in 1873', National Library of Wales Journal, XIV (1965-6).

Other Finding Aids

Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Caernarfon Record Office and the National Register of Archives. Further details regarding the manorial documents can be accessed on-line from Manorial Documents Register.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Caernarfon Record Office have been retained

Custodial History

This collection was found in a derelict building in the Conwy Valley


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

The most important Gwydir estate papers, 1515-1690, are National Library of Wales, Wynn (of Gwydir) Papers in National Library of Wales MSS 407, 463-470, 9051-9069. Other Gwydir estate records held at the National Library of Wales include Gwydir (BRA) Papers, Sir John Williams Deeds and Papers 101-119a, and National Library of Wales MSS 9719-20, 9725-27.