Shafto (Beamish) Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 33 SHA
  • Dates of Creation
      15th - 20th century
  • Language of Material
      English ; Latin
  • Physical Description
      17 metres

Scope and Content

First deposit consists of: 

    • Nos. 1-456, dated 1400-1918, with copies of two items dated 1277 and [?ca. 1284-1311]. Deeds, arranged chronologically and include title deeds to the main family properties and to premises inNewcastle upon Tyne and The Riding and The Lee in Northumberland, estate leases, wills and other deeds chiefly relating to the Davison family
    • Nos. 457-937, dated 1623-1932. Letters and papers, arranged chronologically, chiefly concerning the above properties, and including some colliery accounts and inclosure material
    • Nos. 938-1443, dated 1635-1742. Deeds, letters and papers re lawsuits over the Bishopton lands, which were acquired by Morton Davison of Beamish in 1742
    • Nos. 1444-1452, 17th-19th centuries. Household and estate books and Acts of Parliament.
  • The material donated in 1964 consists of:
    • Nos. 1453-1687, dated 1803-1942. Deeds, letters and papers
    • Nos. 1688-1703, dated 19th-20th centuries. Books

Second deposit: Chiefly deeds in English or Latin, early 17th - 20th century, but also including some copies of 16th century items, some with good seals, and also some estate papers, accumulated by the Davison, Eden and Shafto families. Untilshortly before their deposit with the University of Durham these documents had been in the custody of the former solicitors of the Shafto family, Wilson Maddison of 5 North Bailey, Durham City. These documents were kept by Wilson Maddison in threemetal trunks. They have now been provisionally sorted and boxed, roughly according to topographical groupings. The documents relate chiefly to the places covered by Part 1 of the collection, but also to Bedburn, Byers Green, the Chester Deaneryestate, Elton, Heworth, Howden-le-Wear, Neasham, Spennymoor, Wadley, Whitworth and Witton-le-Wear in Co. Durham and briefly (one box) to Bavington, Chirdon, Kirkwhelpington, Shitlington, Simonburn, Snabdaugh, Thockrington, Warkesburn etc. inNorthumberland.

Administrative / Biographical History

These papers chiefly concern the Beamish estate in County Durham. This was purchased ca. 1683 by Timothy Davison, a merchant and alderman of Newcastle upon Tyne. After staying with the Davisons until 1774 it passed to their descendants in thefollowing order: 

  • 1. Sir John Eden (nephew of Morton Davison)
  • 2. Morton John Eden (second son of Sir John Eden), who took the name Davison on succeeding to the estate in 1812 and died unmarried in 1841
  • 3. Sir Robert Johnson Eden of Windlestone, County Durham (elder son of Sir John Eden), who died unmarried in 1844
  • 4. John Methold (son of Sir John Eden's daughter Dorothea and her husband Henry Methold), who took the name Eden in 1844 and died in 1885
  • 5. Thomas Duncombe Shafto (son of Sir John Eden's daughter Catherine and her husband Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto of Whitworth Park, County Durham), who took the name Eden
  • 6. Slingsby Arthur Duncombe Shafto (nephew of Thomas Duncombe Shafto), who took the name Eden and died in 1904
  • 7. Slingsby Duncombe Shafto, his son, who retained the name Shafto

At its fullest extent the estate included properties in various parts of County Durham. The nucleus was the manor of Beamish and nearby land and collieries at Tanfield, Burnopfield and Urpeth, which were all originally in Chester-le-Streetparish. The family at Beamish also held property at Monkton and Simonside in Jarrow parish and Shiney Row and Herrington in Houghton-le-Spring parish, together with farms at Westerton in the Auckland area, Little Burdon, Morton Palms, Bishopton andRedmarshall.


See under Scope and content.

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

First deposit (9 metres): The bulk of the collection (items 1-1,452) consists of documents donated in 1961 by Professor E. Hughes, who had been given them by Mr. Robert Shafto, and supplementary donations made in 1964 and 1965 by Dr. W.M. Hughes,son of Professor Hughes. The rest of this part of the collection (items 1453-1703) was donated in 1964 by the Durham County Archivist. It chiefly concerns estate business and may have originally existed as a separate collection in the estate agent'soffice.

Second deposit (8 metres): Deposited on permanent loan on 26 June 1995 by Mrs. M.H.D. Shafto (widow of Mr Robert Shafto, the original donor of the first part of the Shafto (Beamish) Papers), once of Beamish Hall, Co. Durham, later of BavingtonHall, Northumberland.

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue to first deposit

Interim summary list of second deposit as boxed on receipt.

Separated Material

Durham County Record Office: Shafto Family of Whitworth Papers

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Eden Papers