Salusbury Family Deeds

Scope and Content

A large collection of predominantly sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century deeds relating to North Wales. The vast majority of items concern property in Flintshire and Denbighshire, with a handful relating to Carnarvonshire, Cheshire and Surrey.

Most of the deeds concern the Salusbury family, of which Mrs Hester Lynch Thrale-Piozzi was the most prominent member. Hester Salusbury was born on 16 January 1741 at Bodvel, near Pwllheli, Carnarvonshire. In her childhood, her father, John Salusbury was sent to Nova Scotia on official business at the behest of his patron, Lord Halifax, the then President of the Board of Trade. Hester and her mother went to live with Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton at Lleweny Hall, Denbighshire, later moving to East Hyde, near Luton, and then to live with Sir Thomas Salusbury at Offley Hall, Herefordshire. Hester was a lively intelligent girl who learnt Latin and modern languages from her tutor, Dr Arthur Collier, and had published a paper in the St James Chronicle before she was fifteen. In 1763, at her father's insistence she married Henry Thrale, later MP for Southwalk. The marriage was an unhappy one, and Hester pursued her own brilliant literary and social career. Hester met Samuel Johnson for the first time in 1764, and she acted as his confidant for many years. Three years after Henry Thrale's death in 1781, she met and married Gabriel Piozzi, an Italian musician, and went with him to Italy, to the severe displeasure of Johnson. In 1795 she and Gabriel retired to North Wales, settling at Brynbella, a villa near her ancestral home of Bachegraig, or Bach y Graig.

Numerous items towards the end of the series relate to Mrs Thrale herself. These include an abstract of the settlement made upon her marriage to Henry Thrale (RYCH/1236); the settlement made upon her second marriage in 1784 to Gabriel Piozzi and a copy of the marriage certificate (RYCH/1239-1242); the will of Gabriel Piozzi and documents concerning his legacies (RYCH/1249, /1252-1253); copies of her will (RYCH/1258-1259); and letters of instruction to her executors (RYCH/1260-1261). A number of the documents have endorsements in the hand of Dr Johnson, who evidently explored these papers.

Acquisition Information

Rylands accession no. R71900. Purchased by the John Rylands Library from Mrs R.V. Colman in January 1931 for £600, along with the Thrale-Piozzi Manuscripts .

Separated Material

See also the Thrale-Piozzi Manuscripts at the JRUL.