The papers are arranged in three sections. First, those relating to the Cockerell family, including letters to Sir Charles Cockerell from his brother Colonel John Cockerell, 1779-98, correspondence concerning the financial affairs of the Marquis of Wellesley, 1817-35, and correspondence and papers of Sir Charles's wife Harriet, 1810-50, and other members of the family.
The second section comprises correspondence and papers of John Wallis Grieve and his wife Elizabeth, 1808-71. Grieve was educated at Eton and Cambridge, and in 1813 bought a cornetcy in the Second Life Guards. His correspondents were mainly Old Etonians, and friends from the army who were serving in the Peninsular War and with Wellington immediately before the battle of Waterloo, as well as his brother-in-law, Sir Charles Cockerell. In 1821 Grieve, who had been in financial difficulties for some time, and was living in France to avoid imprisonment for debt, was superseded from the army for failing to return from leave. His efforts to return to the army became an obsession, and the correspondence includes draft letters to Lord Cathcart, Colonel-in-Chief of the Guards, and memorials to George IV.
The third section comprises correspondence of Charles Rivington, 1833-80, solicitor to both families.