Papers of the Booth Family

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 EGR3
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      Language: all items are in English  unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      Medium: paper unless otherwise stated.

Scope and Content

The subfonds EGR3 contains all archive material that is directly attributable to a member of the Booth family (including Mary Countess of Stamford). The criteria for attribution are that material should be written in, or bear annotations in, the hand of a member of the Booth family, or contain other evidence that they were kept in the personal possession of a member of the family. Records dating from the Booth era at Dunham Massey that cannot be attributed to members of the family are arranged in separate subfonds, principally title deeds and settlements (EGR1), manorial records (EGR2), household records produced by Hall staff (EGR7), and estate records from Dunham Massey Hall (EGR11).

The Booth family papers include: patents and commissions; official papers generated in the course of service by members of the Booth family in the offices of sheriff, lord lieutenant, deputy lieutenant, justice of the peace etc.; financial papers; papers relating to the administration of Dunham Massey Hall and the estates, which are directly attributable to an individual member of the Booth family, as opposed to papers generated by the agent and other estate officials; and personal papers such as private correspondence, memoranda, speeches, notes etc.

The quantity of Booth family papers is disappointing: the material occupies a mere sixteen archive boxes, compared with over one hundred for the Grey family papers. Only a handful of items predate 1600. Records survive for only seven members of the Booth family (eight if one includes Lady Elizabeth Booth). The majority of the papers relate to George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, and his daughter Mary, Countess of Stamford.

Particular reasons for the poor survival rate may be surmised, over and above the customary hazards to archives from fire, water, vermin, poor storage conditions and accidental loss. The almost total absence of material bearing on the Booth family's activities during the civil war period may be the result of the expedient destruction at that time of all potentially incriminating documentary evidence. Other material may have been discarded when the Booth line came to an end and Dunham Massey passed to the Grey family with the death of Mary Countess of Stamford in 1772. While the preponderance of papers from the period after 1700 suggests that major losses had occurred before the eighteenth century, very little of what may be termed private and family correspondence has survived even for the 2nd Earl of Warrington and his daughter; unless such material was lost during the lifetimes of George Booth and Mary Booth (by no means inconceivable), the papers must have disappeared during the Grey era. One may conjecture that the Grey family did not feel any great attachment to their predecessors' papers, and that routine papers and Booth family papers of a purely personal nature with no obvious historical importance or continuing relevance to the administration of the Hall and estates perished through neglect or deliberate destruction. Finally, other Booth family papers may have been lost when Dunham Massey Hall was vacated by the 7th Earl of Stamford during the 1850s, and the archives were transferred to Ashton Old Hall and later the Ashton Estate Office.

Administrative / Biographical History

The history of the Booth family is described in the headnote to the archive as a whole, EGR above.


i) Original Arrangement of Documents

The Booth family papers were found intermingled with those of their successors, the Greys, and with other categories of material at numerous locations throughout the Hall. There is no evidence that these locations are of any antiquity or are archivally significant, but wherever possible they have been recorded. During his survey of the archives at Ashton under Lyne in 1922 Dr Guppy numbered the bundles, volumes and individual papers from 1 to 211, and adhesive paper labels carrying these numbers are attached to many items. The numbers have been recorded here as former references, although the surviving schedule reveals that Dr Guppy listed the documents more-or-less at random.

ii) Present Method of Arrangement

In accordance with the principle of provenance, the papers of each member of the Booth family have been kept separate. Thus the papers of Henry Booth, 1st Earl of Warrington, form a distinct sub-subfonds, within which are two series, patents and commissions, and official papers. This form of arrangement was considered more sympathetic to the principle of provenance than the alternative method of arrangement whereby all documents of a particular type, such as patents, or official papers, would be grouped together, regardless of which individual gave rise to the records.

It has been possible to identify the provenance of almost all items. In the very few cases where provenance is doubtful, this has been recorded in the item- or piece-level descriptions. An item has been attributed to a member of the Booth family if it satisfies either of the following criteria: it was addressed or directed to that person, or otherwise acquired by that person, in the course of his/her official business or private life; or it was produced by, or on behalf of, that person in the course of his/her official business or private life, but not passed on to another person or group. Thus a copy letter would be included within the papers of the author, but an original letter would form part of the recipient's archive.

The papers of Mary Countess of Stamford are included within the subfonds, although she married into the Grey family, because it was as the daughter and heiress (notwithstanding the legal device of trustees' holding the estate on her behalf) of George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, that she was intimately involved in the administration of the Dunham Massey estate. It may truly be said that she was the last of the Booths.

The subfonds EGR3, Papers of the Booth Family, comprises seven sub-subfonds:

  • EGR3/1: Papers of Sir Robert Booth (d 1460), 1442/3-c.1450
  • EGR3/2: Papers of Sir William Booth (d 1477), 1471
  • EGR3/3: Papers of Sir George Booth (1566-1652), 1603/4-1648
  • EGR3/4: Papers of Sir George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer (1622-84), and of Elizabeth his wife, 1644/5-1688/9
  • EGR3/5: Papers of Henry Booth, 1st Earl of Warrington (1651-94), 1678/9-1693
  • EGR3/6: Papers of George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington (1675-1758), 1693/4-1758
  • EGR3/7: Papers of Mary Countess of Stamford (1704-72), 1744-1772

Acquisition Information

The majority of items in EGR3 were transferred on deposit from Dunham Massey Hall to the John Rylands University Library by the National Trust on 12 September 1978. Further, smaller, deposits were made on 29 June 1990, 24 January 1992, 8 May 1992 and 15 May 1995. When the provenance of an item or piece is not stated it may be assumed to have formed part of the 1978 deposit.

Custodial History

The custodial history of the Booth family papers before the seventeenth century can only be surmised. Sir Peter Leycester inspected the archives at Dunham Massey in 1666 (Ormerod, vol. 1, pp. 520-6), but in his account he does not cite any items within EGR3. During the second half of the nineteenth century many of the Dunham Massey archives, including the papers of the Booth family, were transferred to Ashton Old Hall, and were subsequently moved to the muniment room in the Stamford Estate Office at Ashton under Lyne. The Secretary to the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts visited the Ashton Estate Office in 1909; his (unpublished) report records, among other items, several Booth family papers that now form part of the Dunham Massey archive. The identifiable items recorded as being at Ashton under Lyne in 1909 are: EGR3/4/1/2, EGR3/5/1/3, EGR3/5/1/4, EGR3/5/2/3, EGR3/5/3/1, EGR3/5/3/3, EGR3/6/2/1, EGR3/6/2/3, EGR3/6/2/8, EGR3/6/14/7-9?, EGR3/7/1/7, EGR3/7/2/1, EGR3/7/3/1, EGR3/7/3/7. The descriptions of other documents in the list are not sufficiently detailed to permit definite identification.

Upon his coming of age Roger Grey, 10th Earl of Stamford (1896-1976), sought the return of the Old Cheshire Documents to Dunham Massey Hall. Henry Guppy of the John Rylands Library was commissioned to carry out a survey of the collection at Ashton, in the course of which he numbered all bundles and loose items. After the resolution of several legal and insurance difficulties the documents were returned to Dunham Massey in June 1922.

Related Material

Documents relating to members of the Booth family enrolled among the recognizance rolls of the Chester exchequer between 1298 and 1640 are included in the calendar of recognizance rolls published as appendices to the 36th, 37th and 39th Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (D.K.R.): see 36 D.K.R., 1875, App. II, p. 43. (1298-1412/3); 37 D.K.R., 1876, App. II, pp. 57-62 (1414-1508); 39 D.K.R., 1878, App. I, pp. 22-3 (1511-1640). The limitations of the calendar as a source are discussed in D.J. Clayton, The administration of the county palatine of Chester 1442-1485, Chetham Society, 3rd series, vol. 35 (1990), pp. 14-15.

The following wills and inquisitions post mortem of members of the Booth family have been published:

Will of George Booth of Dunham Massey esq (c.1445-1484), made 17 Mar 148[-], no date of probate. Source: Rev G.J. Piccope (ed.), Lancashire and Cheshire wills and inventories from the ecclesiastical court, Chester, part 2, Chetham Society, 1st series, vol. 51 (1860), pp. 1-2.

Will of George Booth of Dunham Massey esq (c.1491-1531), made 6 Oct 1531, no date of probate. Source: Rev G.J. Piccope (ed.), Lancashire and Cheshire wills and inventories from the ecclesiastical court, Chester, part 1, Chetham Society, 1st series, vol. 33 (1857), pp. 93-7.

Will of Cicily Booth of Dunham Massey [daughter of George Booth (c.1491-1531)], made 27 Dec 1557, no date of probate. Source: Lancashire and Cheshire wills, pt. 1, pp. 49-50.

Will of Robert Booth of Dunham Massey gent [younger son of George Booth (c.1491-1531)], made 3 Jan 1558/9, proved 31 Mar 1573. Source: Lancashire and Cheshire wills, pt. 2, pp. 57-9.

Will of Sir William Booth of Dunham Massey (1540-79), made 25 Nov 1579, proved 10 Dec 1579. Source: Lancashire and Cheshire wills, pt. 2, pp. 65-7.

Inquisition post mortem of William Booth of Dunham Massey esq (-1636), held 1 Sep 1636. Source: R. Stewart-Brown (ed.), Cheshire inquisitions post mortem Stuart period 1603-1660, vol. 1, A-D, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 84 (1934), pp. 42-8.

See also the sub-subfonds descriptions for individual members of the Booth family, EGR3/1-7 below.