Personal Papers of the Grey Family

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 EGR4
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      Language: all items are in English  unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      Physical composition: all items are single paper sheets unless otherwise stated.

Scope and Content

The subfonds EGR4 contains records that are directly attributable to a member of the Grey family, in that they are written in, or bear annotations in, the hand of a member of the family, or contain some other evidence that they were once kept in the personal possession of a family member. The Grey family papers include the following records: patents and commissions granting or confirming titles and offices; official papers generated in the course of service by the 5th and 6th Earls of Stamford as lords lieutenant of Cheshire, colonels of militia and justices of the peace; political and electoral papers; financial and legal papers; estate papers belonging to members of the family; papers relating to schools, churches, chapels and benefices, charities and local affairs; and personal and family papers, including private correspondence, diaries, travel journals, sermons and autobiographical notes. Certain categories of material are to be found in other subfonds, principally title deeds and settlements (EGR1), manorial records (EGR2), papers of the Booth family (EGR3), household records generated by Hall staff (EGR7), papers relating to Thomas Walton's bequest and the Earl of Warrington's Charity (EGR8 & EGR9), estate papers from Dunham Massey Hall (EGR11) and estate papers from the Altrincham Estate Office (EGR14).

The survival of the papers of members of the Grey family broadly reflects their involvement with Dunham Massey and the Cheshire estate. Thus there are almost no Grey family papers that pre-date the marriage of Mary Booth and the 4th Earl of Stamford, and indeed no records of the latter, save for some few references among his wife's papers. The 10th Earl of Stamford purchased at auction a bound volume containing thirteen documents written by, or relating to, Thomas Grey (1654-1720), 2nd Earl of Stamford, 1681-1723. However, as they do not properly constitute part of the archive of the 2nd Earl the documents are listed among the miscellaneous papers from Dunham Massey Hall (EGR13/1).

The 5th and 6th Earls of Stamford, however, are well represented with considerable correspondence relating to their activities as successive Lords Lieutenant of Cheshire and to the administration of the Cheshire estate. During their periods of absence from Dunham Massey the Earls of Stamford relied on their agents to keep them informed about the running of the estate and about local affairs generally. The agents were given a degree of autonomy in the day-to-day administration of the estate, but invariably sought instruction from the Earls of Stamford before taking important decisions on their behalf. A significant quantity of correspondence between the agents and their masters has survived for the period from the 1770s to the 1840s.

George Harry Grey (1802-1835), Lord Grey of Groby, is represented in the archive in his capacity as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the King's Regiment of Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry, yet his son, the 7th Earl of Stamford, has left few records, and the 8th Earl none at all. The former spent very little time at Dunham Massey, preferring to reside at Enville, while the latter emigrated to South Africa. However, the papers of the immediate forebears of the 9th Earl of Stamford have survived well, in particular those of his grandfather Rev Harry Grey (1783-1860), onetime vicar of Knutsford, his uncle Rev George Grey (1821-1882), his father Rev William Grey (1819-1872) who served as a missionary with the SPG in Newfoundland, and his mother Harriet (1829-1880). There are also small amounts of material for the daughters of the 5th and 6th Earls of Stamford and other family members in the nineteenth century.

Very large quantities of material survive for the 9th Earl and Penelope, Countess of Stamford, and for their son, the 10th Earl of Stamford, including much family and personal correspondence, accounts, and papers relating to the Earls' involvement with charities and societies, both national and local. Roger Grey was reluctant to discard anything, however apparently trivial or ephemeral, and when the National Trust assumed ownership of Dunham Massey Hall it acquired numerous piles of neatly stacked newspapers and magazines.

For reasons set out above, the papers of Mary, Countess of Stamford, wife of the 4th Earl of Stamford, are to be found with the papers of the Booth family (see EGR3/7), while the papers of the 9th and 10th Earls of Stamford and Penelope, Countess of Stamford will be described separately. EGR4/10 contains the residue of personal papers of the Grey family, addressed to, or originally belonging to, several individuals in the first half of the nineteenth century. The decision to treat them as a single sub-subfonds, rather than dividing them into separate sub-subfonds for each individual, was justified both on the grounds of expediency (given the large number of family members involved), and because it was not possible to reconstruct the provenance and history of many items, which appear to have been assembled as an artificial collection by the Earls of Stamford from diverse sources.

Related Materials in Other Subfonds

The subfonds EGR12 contains material from Dunham Massey Hall relating to the Grey family's estates in Leicestershire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, including a household account book for Bradgate House, 1678-81 (EGR12/2). The subfonds EGR13, Miscellaneous Papers from Dunham Massey Hall, includes a bound volume, purchased at auction by the 10th Earl of Stamford, which contains thirteen documents written by, or relating to, Thomas Grey (1654-1720), 2nd Earl of Stamford. The documents include receipts, bonds of obligation, and a rental of manors and advowsons in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and other western counties, 1681-1723 (EGR13/1). There is also a commission from Thomas Grey appointing a deputy lieutenant of Devon, 1696 (EGR13/2), and a fragment of a document bearing Thomas Grey's signature, 1702 (EGR13/3).

Administrative / Biographical History

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


i) Original Arrangement of Documents

The Grey family papers were found intermingled with those of their predecessors, the Booths, and with other categories of material at numerous locations throughout Dunham Massey 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 Grey family have been kept separate. Thus the papers of George Harry Grey (1737-1819), 5th Earl of Stamford, form a distinct sub-subfonds (EGR4/1), within which are twelve series: patents and commissions (EGR4/1/1), papers relating to the lord lieutenancy and militia (EGR4/1/2), papers relating to the commission of the peace (EGR4/1/3) etc. This form of arrangement was considered more sympathetic to the principle of provenance than the alternative method of grouping together all documents of a particular type, such as patents, regardless of which individual gave rise to the records.

The subfonds EGR4 contains 10 sub-subfonds:

  • EGR4/1: Papers of George Harry Grey (1737-1819), 5th Earl of Stamford, 1758-1819
  • EGR4/2: Papers of George Harry Grey (1765-1845), 6th Earl of Stamford, 1780-1845
  • EGR4/3: Papers of Hon William Booth Grey (1773-1852), 1830-1851
  • EGR4/4: Papers of George Harry Grey (1802-1835), Lord Grey of Groby, 1825-1836
  • EGR4/5: Papers of George Harry Grey (1827-1883), 7th Earl of Stamford, and of Katherine, Countess of Stamford & Warrington, 1844-1893
  • EGR4/6: Papers of Rev Harry Grey (1783-1860) and his wives, 1807-1864
  • EGR4/7: Papers of Rev George Grey (1821-1882) and his wife Agnes, 1843-1882
  • EGR4/8: Papers of Rev William Grey (1819-1872), 1836-1872
  • EGR4/9: Papers of Harriet, wife of Rev William Grey (1829-1880), 1846-1873
  • EGR4/10: Papers of various members of the Grey family, 1780-1860

Access Information

The National Trust has placed restrictions on access to the papers of members of the Grey family who were alive during the twentieth century. Prior written permission must be obtained from The National Trust North West Regional Office, Stamford Estates Office, 18 Market Street, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 1PHF, in order to consult the papers of William Grey (1850-1910), 9th Earl of Stamford, his wife Penelope, Countess of Stamford, and Roger Grey (1896-1976), 10th Earl of Stamford. These papers have been excluded from the present catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The majority of items in EGR4 were transferred on deposit by the National Trust from Dunham Massey Hall to the John Rylands University Library on 12 September 1978. Further, smaller, deposits were made on 29 June 1990, 24 January 1992, 8 May 1992 and 23 September 1994. 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

During the second half of the nineteenth century, when Dunham Massey Hall was tenanted, many of the archives were removed from there to Ashton Old Hall in Lancashire, and they were subsequently transferred to the muniment room in the Stamford Estate Office at Ashton under Lyne. In 1909 the Secretary to the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts inspected the documents at the Ashton Estate Office, but only two items in EGR4 are identifiable in his report: EGR4/1/5/3 and EGR4/2/7/2. However, in March 1922 Dr Henry Guppy of the John Rylands Library was commissioned by the 10th Earl of Stamford to conduct a survey of the records at Ashton under Lyne, before their return to Dunham Massey Hall under an agreement made between the 10th Earl and the trustees of the will of the 7th Earl of Stamford on 2 June 1922. Many of the items in EGR4 are recorded and numbered in Dr Guppy's schedule.