Comprising groups of family papers, The Hatton Wood Collection, Lord North Papers, Meysey Thompson Muniments, William Davenport and Company papers and a miscellaneous collection.
Family Archives: The Chetwode family papers, number over 600 items and relate mainly to land transactions in Cheshire and Berkshire. A group of 150 pieces, principally dating from the fifteenth century, concern the town of Nantwich. An eighteenth century cartulary of the Chetwode muniments survives. Sixty items relating to the Fox family of Statham Lodge at Lymm in Cheshire are concerned with the sale of properties in Lancashire, Cheshire, Lincolnshire and Westmorland. The muniments of Polstead Hall, Suffolk, comprise some 200 deeds, letters and papers relating to Cambridgeshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Suffolk and the City of London dating from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The Meysey Thompson muniments consist of some 1,200 Yorkshire deeds and family settlements dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. Smaller groups of papers relate to the Whitehouse and Wainwright families of Brierley, Staffordshire, and to the Bulkeley, Lyon of Appleton Hall and Hankinson families of Cheshire, the Devereux family of Hereford and the Smallwood family.
The Hatton Wood Collection: An important collection of medieval deeds.
Lord North Papers: An accumulation of 136 items relating to Lord North and Guilford, later 1st Earl of Guilford. Included are papers from the period when Lord North was acting as executor of William Moore (d. 1746) of Polesden, Surrey and as trustee for Miss Ann Jekyll. Miscellaneous correspondence, papers of various families and items concerned with local government, the armed forces and the colonies are also included.
Meysey Thompson Muniments: A collection of deeds and related papers relating to Yorkshire.
William Davenport and Company: A small eighteenth-century accumulation, records in 16 volumes dating from 1745-1797 the trading activities of a Liverpool firm, Messrs. William Davenport & Co. which was involved in the slave trade. Nine volumes contain invoices of cargoes and accounts for trading with West Africa in slaves and with the West Indies. The remaining volumes comprise a waste book,1745-1766; an entry book with copies of bills of exchange, two ledgers 1763-1775, 1788-1797; a cash book 1764-1775; a register containing details of nearly 3,000 bills of exchange 1769-1786; and finally an account book for beads and cowries,1766-1770. This last item has been used by archaeologists in Canada and the United States to date North American indian graves. In all 63 voyages are recorded.
Miscellaneous Collection: Cheshire items were of special interest to this collector. These include muragers' accounts for the city of Chester, 1800-1809; a sixteenth century notebook of customs and dues payable at Middlewich with lists of inhabitants; a commonplace book of Joseph Warburton of Bowden, 1707; an account book of the executors of Thomas Ekins of Chester, 1745-1753; three eighteenth-century account books relating to Titherington, deeds relating to Thelwall, 1777-1886; a Combermere cropping book; an account book of the Revd. John Parry's printing press in Chester, 1826-1837; James Hall's manuscript volumes relating to Nantwich, Acton, Dorfield, Wistaston, Audlem and Wybunbury; and five seventeenth century items from Prestbury respecting burying in wool, a practice enforced by the Burial in Wool Acts of 1667 and 1678.
Raymond Richards also acquired records of Battleshall or Battleswick Manor, near Colchester, Essex. These include manor court rolls dating from 1418-1792; transcriptions of court rolls; seventeenth century working papers of the courts; papers referring to specific properties; nineteenth century estate correspondence and deeds; and papers relating to manorial rights and duties.
Literary items in the collection include a fragment from a memorandum book of Henry Fielding reflecting his activities as a Justice of the Peace; part of a letter from Samuel Richardson to Susanna Highmore, c.1750; and a letter of Christopher Anstey, author of The New Bath Guide (1766), to his publisher Robert Dodsley have all been published. A holograph poem The Goose, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson survives on a single sheet torn from a notebook. A scrapbook compiled by John Anderson in 1870 with the purpose of displaying autographs includes letters from Charles Dickens, H. W. Longfellow, Maria Edgeworth, Leigh Hunt, W .H. Ainsworth and Harriet Martineau.
A group of letters from Edward VII to Lady Dorothy Nevill is preserved as is a made up volume of items such as seating plans and various kinds of admission tickets printed in connection with Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838. The latter may have been compiled as an official record by someone in the Earl Marshal's office or for private purposes. An album of largely unpublished photographs of the royal family, their relations and friends collected by Miss Hildyard, a governess to the children of Queen Victoria, completes the items of royal connection in the Raymond Richards Collection.
Of considerable interest to scholars is a minute book of the Society for the Improvement of West India Plantership (later the Agricultural Society) which runs from 1811-1816. The Society held monthly meetings when each estate was considered as well as the production of sugar and other matters. Other miscellaneous items of particular note are the building accounts for Blenheim Palace, January 1708, a group of letters, 1876-1879; some of which were written during the Afghan war, of William Simpson special artist to the Illustrated London News; and a release from the Bishop of Ely to Thomas Bycham of messuages in Ely, with the chapter seal, 1472.
The collection also includes several hundred prints, mostly portraits or of topographical interest, formerly held in the library of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. Ephemera includes election posters from Wolverhampton dating from 1820 and 1848 and a group of 18th and nineteenth century playbills, mostly from the Theatre Royal, Chester and the Liver Theatre, Liverpool.
Reference: Keele University, Special Collections and Archives Raymond Richards Collection (http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/li/specarc/archives/richards.htm). Accessed December 2001.