Papers of the Mellish Family of Hodsock, Nottinghamshire, c.1160-1991

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Mellish papers comprise a substantial family and estate archive, being for the most part records about their North Nottinghamshire estates during the period of the family's ownership. In addition there are some survivals from their merchant origins in London and a number of significant medieval records inherited through property acquisiton.

The collection includes a large number of property deeds, wills and abstracts of title (early 12th century-1803) relating mostly to North Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, but other counties are also represented. These are supported by a substantial body of estate papers and related correspondence, 1523-1863, providing further details about the exchange and ownership of lands and also about the administration of the estates. There is a considerable amount of material from the Mellish Yorkshire estates (papers from the Manor of Tickhill c.1600-1639 are a notable example) as well as those in Nottinghamshire. The latter includes material from the Manor of Blyth.

Unfortunately, no run of estate maps or surveys has survived, although some maps and surveys are to be found scattered throughout the bundles of estate papers, including a survey of the land purchased from Sir Gervase Clifton in 1765.

An extensive body of accounting material from 1648 to 1863 includes a range of different forms of estate, household, business and personal accounts, none of them in a long series. Estate rentals have patchy coverage, but are supplemented by farm cash books. There are two household account books (1784-1816). Some business accounts have been separately listed, 1613-1839.

Thirty-eight bundles of correspondence (1683-1853) cover estate, family and personal, business and social interests. They include letters from prominent members of the family such as Edward Mellish of Blyth Hall (1633-1703), Joseph Mellish (1675-1733), William Mellish (1708-1791) and Charles Mellish (1737-1797). Correspondence includes references to families linked by marriage, particularly the Baker, Gore, Gardner and Chambers families. Other personal letters contain extensive references to the education of the children, including correspondence between Charles Mellish and his son Joseph from 1779.

Business correspondence includes several letter books from the seventeenth century, and evidence of the continued connection of the family with mercantile and professional legal interests. In connection with the family's own business interests, a considerable number of letters relate to the navigation of the River Dun [Don].

The letters of Charles Mellish provide comment and detail about political events and include letters from General Sir Henry Clinton and others concerning the American War of Independence. Foreign matters are also found in a number of journals and travel diaries covering Europe and the Near East, 1621-c.1852. It is not always clear why these journals are present in the family papers. There is for example no obvious explanation for the presence of a copy of a journal relating to the shipwreck of the East Indiaman 'Doddington' and the escape of its crew from Bird Island, 1755-1756.

Legal works from 1587 to the late 18th century include both texts apparently used in the practice of law and documents resulting from legal process.

A series of literary, antiquarian, religious and philosophical papers, together with some genealogical material and printed papers, are also present. Many of these papers were collected by Charles Mellish in the course of his antiquarian studies.

The collection also includes the 15th century 'Rushall Psalter'. Vernacular sections within the volume include items by Lydgate and Chaucer and an account of the Rushall family from the conquest. See J.W. Whiston 'The Rushall Psalter', appendix to N.J. Baker, 'The gatehouse of Rushall hall, Staffs.' in 'Transactions of South Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society vol.xxiii (1983) pp 89-91.

An additional deposit of medieval deeds relating to the Priories of Earls Colne and Hatfield, Essex (Me 3) also includes a stray letter of Napoleon Bonaparte to M. L'Abbé Raynal dated 1790.

A further deposit comprises letters from various members of the Mellish family, including Henry Francis Mellish during the Peninsular Campaign, correspondence of George Samuel Mellish in India, and abstracted correspondence of Edward Mellish 1660-1670. There are also deeds, estate papers, a collection of antiquarian and genealogical notes, and a printed pamphlet collection belonging to Henry Mellish.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Mellish family were originally London merchants. In 1635 John Mellish of London purchased Blyth estate from the Saundersons, but he did not move there. He was succeeded by his eldest son Edward Mellish (1633-1703), at one time merchant at Oporto, Portugal. Edward Mellish rebuilt Blyth Hall in the 1680s. He died unmarried in 1703 and left his estate at Blyth to Joseph Mellish (1675-1733), the son of his cousin Samuel Mellish (1634-1707). Joseph's son William (1708-1791) was MP for East Retford, and undertook extensive work on the house at Blyth and the estates. In the 1760s the family sold a number of small estates in Nottinghamshire to consolidate their holdings in North Nottinghamshire, purchasing Hodsock Priory and estate from the Clifton family in 1765.

Charles Mellish (1737-1797), the son of William Mellish, was interested in the history of Nottinghamshire and in antiquarian study. His son, Henry Francis Mellish (1782-1817) became Lieutenant Colonel and aide de camp to General Ferguson during the Peninsular War campaign. He sold the Blyth estate in 1806 and Hodsock became the main family residence. On his death in 1817 the Hodsock estate passed to his sister and co-heir, Anne (1781-1855), who had married William Cecil Chambers in 1811. The latter also died in 1817. The sons of William Cecil and Anne Chambers, William Mellish and Charles Henry Chambers died in 1845 and 1840 respectively. On Anne's death in 1855, the estates passed to her cousin, William Leigh Mellish (1813-1864), the son of Edward Mellish, Dean of Hereford. Colonel Henry Mellish (1856-1927), the son of William Leigh Mellish, was the last male representative of the family to live at Hodsock. He was a keen meteorologist and his records, taken at Hodsock from 1875-1926, survive separately.

William Leigh Mellish's sister Francis Katharine married the diplomat Sir Andrew Buchanan (1807-1882). The Hodsock estate descended in the female line through her to the Buchanans.

Arrangement

The original collection acquired in 1947 is listed as Me. Further accruals are listed as Me 2, Me 3 and Me 4. Within each catalogue, material is arranged according to form (e.g. correspondence, estate papers) and then mainly in chronological order.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all registered readers.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

2 Typescript Catalogues, 137 pp; 20 pp

At the National Register of Archives, London:

2 Typescript Catalogues, 137 pp; 20 pp

On the World Wide Web:

Catalogue available through the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

The typescript catalogues to this collection are also available online through The National Archives Access to Archives (A2A) web site. Please note that the Manuscripts Online Catalogues have been enhanced and are more detailed than the A2A versions.

Family and Estate Resource relating to the Mellish family and their records, published on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Custodial History

The Mellish Trustees transferred the family manuscripts to the University of Nottingham Library in 1947. A further accrual consisting of similar material was acquired in 1967. Other accruals have since been received from the Buchanan family.

Related Material

The diplomatic and family papers of Sir Andrew Buchanan (Bu)

Mellish of Hodsock records within a collection of meteorological records for Nottinghamshire (Met)

Mellish Meteorological Collection of printed works in Special Collections