Scope and Content

Records of the Grosvenor family estates and mineral properties in Denbighshire and Flintshire, [c. 1613]-1951, including mineral leases, 1697-1926: Denbighshire lead mines, 1697-1916; Flintshire lead mines, 1709-1901; Denbighshire coal and ironstone mines, 1854-1926; Denbighshire stone and slate quarries, 1824-1910; Flintshire stone and slate quarries, 1875-1919; and general mineral leases, 1710-1902; Grosvenor minerals, general records, 1641-1951; Denbighshire lead mine records, 1857-1950; Flintshire lead mine records, 1834-1951; Denbighshire coal mine records, 1845-1944; Flintshire coal mine records, 1863-1919; Denbighshire quarry records, 1850-1951; Flintshire quarry records, 1821-1951; Soughton estate minerals records, 1889-1936; records relating to mineral extraction in other counties, 1859-1914; royalties records, 1710-1947; estate papers, 1689-1951, including rentals and accounts, 1812-1951; estate agent records, 1852-1951; Halkyn estate papers, 1778-1951; Holywell, Fulbrook and Greenfield estate papers, 1689-1940; printed books, 1670-1936; estate maps, [c. 1613]-1912; plans, 1791-[c. 1928]; tithe maps, 1839-1841; enclosure maps, 1800-1864; Ordnance Survey maps and indexes, [c.1869]-1938; geological maps, 1875; and geological sections, 1855-1892.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection of records relating to the Grosvenor family's estates and mineral properties in Denbighshire and Flintshire, from their estate office in Halkyn, occupies 215 linear feet of shelving (excluding large maps) and comprises the largest and single most important collection of documents relating to the extractive mineral industries - lead mining, coal mining and quarrying - in north east Wales.

The records may be conveniently divided into three main groups: mineral leases, royalty accounts and papers relating to mines and quarries in the lordships of Bromfield and Yale (Denbighshire) and Coleshill and Rhuddlan (Flintshire) from 1697 to 1951; rentals, accounts and papers of the Halkyn Castle Estate, from 1812 to 1951; and records relating to the manor of Holywell, Fulbrook and Greenfield, and St. Winefride's Well, from 1689 to 1935. In addition, there is a small group of printed books on estate management and mining, including runs of the 'Mining Journal' and 'Mineral Statistics', and a collection of several hundred estate maps and mine plans.

It is likely that these Denbighshire and Flintshire properties were originally administered from the Grosvenor family's seat at Eaton Hall, just across the English border. Early deeds and papers relating to these Welsh estates are to be found among the records at the Eaton Estate Office. From at least the end of the 18th Century, however, the mineral properties in both Flintshire and Denbighshire, and the Halkyn estate, were looked after by an agent in Halkyn, although the Denbighshire lands continues to be administered from Eaton.

The twin lordships of Bromfield and Yale were held by the Crown from 1495, when they were forfeited by Sir William Stanley. The right to mine lead, coal and stone within the lordships was in 1631 granted, with many other properties, by Charles I to William Collins and Edward Fenn, and held by them in trust for Sir William Russell. In 1634 these mines were sold by Collins and Fenn to Francis Gamul and Thomas Bavand as Trustees for Sir Richard Grosvenor, 1st Baronet, but the Grosvenor family had previously held the mines on short-term grants. In 1581 Elizabeth I granted a 21-year lease of them to Ellis Wynne of Gresford and Roger Powell of Mollington, and in 1586 they assigned the coal mines to Richard Grosvenor. The following year the Queen granted all the mines to the court painter and miniaturist, Nicholas Hilliard, for 31 years from the end of the term granted to Wynne and Powell, and the following day Hilliard assigned this grant to Grosvenor, who thus came into possession of the mines at Michelmas 1601.

In the same year, 1601, Richard Grosvenor purchased the mining interests of William Ratcliffe, a London man who in 1589 had been granted the mines in the Crown lordships of Coleshill and Rhuddlan. Ratcliffe erected a smelting mill in Holywell in 1590, and in 1597 leased another smelting mill at Leadmill, Mold. This mill was used to smelt ore from the Grosvenors' mines until 1684, when sir Thomas Grosvenor started to sell his ore to independent smelting concerns, initially in Bristol, and later to the various works established on Deeside.

In 1612 Richard Grosvenor petitioned the Prince of Wales for a grant of the 'ancient mines' of Coleshill and Rhuddlan, which had paid no profits for many years, which grant he received in 1614. There followed a conflict between Grosvenor and the Halkyn miners, who claimed the right to work under the traditional mining laws, similar to those existing in Derbyshire. This claim was resisted by the Grosvenors, who won the ensuing case in the court of Star Chamber. There was no further attempt to revive the mining laws, and the mines were developed to reach an output of about 1,000 tons by 1665. In the early 18th Century, lessees of the mines included the Quaker-owned London Lead Company, who made Halkyn the centre of their operations. But after about 1750, as easily-accessible veins on Halkyn Mountain became worked out, mining activity moved across the county boundary to the Maeshafn-Llanarmon area of Denbighshire, which became the richest of the Grosvenors' mineral properties. In the late 19th Century their mineral agent, George Hughes, estimated that ore worth over four million pounds was produced from this area, half of it from the Nant and Bog mines. The Minera Mines, worked with great success in the 18th Century and from 1849 to 1914, were only partly on the Grosvenor property, but the park mines to the south on Minera Mountain, active in the mid-19th Century, were all on the estate.

The 18th Century mines were mostly shallow, being worked by a series of shafts at 25-yard intervals along the vein, giving the mining areas the pockmarked appearance which they have today. Although the London Lead Company's mines were deep enough to require Newcomen engines to pump water from them, it was the 19th Century which really saw the advent of deep mining. In 1818 Earl Grosvenor commenced the driving of a drainage level, the Halkyn Deep Level, into the Halkyn mines. After 1822 it was let out to private companies, one of which, the Deep Level and Halkyn Mining Company, is extensively documented in this collection.

The 19th Century also saw the introduction of new capital into mining; in the mineral leases local gentry and tradesmen were replaced by investors from further afield. This injection of capital was specifically recommended by the mining engineer, John Taylor, who advised Lord Grosvenor on his mineral properties from about 1821. As well as leases for 21 years, there was also a system of letting out mines to small groups of miners on annual bargains, recorded in a 'takenote'. Such grants were favoured by Taylor 'as they employ a great number of people, contribute a certain revenue and may lead to discoveries.' Although mines were granted in this way well into the 20th Century, these takenotes were increasingly used for letting small quarries as mining declined in the late 19th Century.

Although the 1631 grant of mineral rights in Bromfield and Yale and Coleshill and Rhuddlan to Collins and Fenn implied that the rights covered the whole lordships, in practice they included only the wastes or unenclosed lands, known as 'Mountains', as they existed at the time. The growing practice of encroaching onto these wastes must have been the reason for Sir Robert Grosvenor to employ Thomas Badeslade to survey them and draw two splendid maps at a scale of 8 inches to the mile in 1738-40. For the same reason a series of maps of the Crown wastes in Denbighshire was produced in the early 19th Century as these open lands were enclosed and villages such as Coedpoeth sprang up.

The 1631 grant covered only lead mines in Coleshill and Rhuddlan (coal, stone and lead in Bromfield and Yale), but in the 18th Century other minerals began to be worked. The first of these was calamine, used in the making of brass but in Flintshire, although abundant, it was rejected as worthless until a Somerset man pointed out its value in about 1720. The earliest mention of it in the Grosvenor leases is in 1725. The other zinc ore, blende or black jack, was included in leases fro 1823. Since the 1631 grant mentioned no minerals other than lead, the Crown challenged the right of the Duke of Westminster to collect zinc royalties, the case Attorney-General v. Westminster resulting in victory for the crown in 1898.

The Grosvenors' estate in Halkyn, Northop and adjoining parishes was purchased from Thomas Jones in 1704, and added to by a series of purchases in the 18th Century, and by the sale of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to the Marquess of Westminster of waste land on Halkyn Mountain in 1861. The estate was centred on Halkyn Hall (now Old Hall) until Halkyn Castle was built in 1825-6 by the first Marquess. Although described by the wife of the second Marquess as 'a place which nobody thinks of going to but for a few days a year for Holywell races and which, when finished, Lord Grosvenor will not care a pin for', it was used at frequent intervals by the family until its sale in 1913.

The last major Flintshire property to be added to the estate, the manor of Holywell, Fulbrook and Greenfield, was acquired in 1809. Originally part of the possessions of Basingwerk abbey, it was granted with other lands by James I to John Eldred and George Whitmore of London in 1611; in the same year they conveyed it to Thomas Corbyn and William Gilby, who in 1613 sold it to Sir John Egerton of Egerton and Oulton, Cheshire. His descendant, Thomas, Earl of Wilton, sold it in 1809 to his son-in-law, Robert, Earl Grosvenor. St. Winefride's Well, a centre of Catholic pilgrimage which formed part of the manor, was leased from 1817, first to private individuals, to trustees of the well from 1843, and to Holywell Urban District Council from 1896. Shortly afterwards it was sub-leased to the Roman Catholic Church.


Arranged into the following: mineral leases, by type; mineral papers, consisting of Grosvenor minerals, lead mines, coal mines, quarries, Soughton estate minerals, out-county minerals and royalties; estate papers, consisting of estate rentals and accounts, estate agents, Halkyn estate and Holywell, Fulbrook and Greenfield; printed books; and maps and plans.

Access Information

No restrictions

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Grosvenor Estate Trustees, 1976.


Please order documents using the alternative reference number (where provided).

Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following source was used to compile this description: Flintshire Record Office, Grosvenor (Halkyn) MSS catalogue.

Other Finding Aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available in Flintshire Record Office and the National Library of Wales.

Catalogue is searchable online at:

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following source was used to compile this description: Flintshire Record Office, Grosvenor (Halkyn) MSS catalogue. Catalogue input by Mrs Estelle Roberts.

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Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Flintshire Record Office have been retained.


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Related Material

Further Grosvenor Estate papers are accessible via Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service.