Papers of the Estates of the Earls of Londesborough (Incorporating the Estate Papers of the Earls of Burlington and the Papers of Selby Abbey)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The papers of the Yorkshire estates of the earls of Londesborough arrived in the Brynmor Jones Library in 1974 in two deposits. Comprising around 8000 items, the collection falls into basically two types of record - medieval charters relating to the administration of Selby Abbey and its estates and later estate papers of the Boyle family, the earls of Cork and Burlington, and then the Denisons or earls of Londesborough.

DDLO is by far the larger deposit and comprises the following: estate papers for the manor of Brayton (1485-1935), including court rolls 1485-1550, a 1638 list of pains and 19th century court rolls and jury verdicts; court rolls for the manor of Brayton and Thorpe Willoughby (1440-1615); the 1426 court roll for the manor of Crowle; manorial records for Eastoft (1318-1425), including the 1318 court roll, the bailiffs account rolls for 1356-61 and servants' accounts 1425-6; manorial records for the prebend of the prebendary of Fridaythorpe with Goodmanham (1707-1951), including court rolls, jury verdicts, surrenders and admissions; the same sorts of manorial records for the manor of Gannock (1772-1860), Goodmanham (1707-1896; including a 1776 survey of the allotments within the manor), Hambleton (1701-1952 including the sale in 1849 to Laura Petre of some closes), Hillam (1811-1951; including extracts of the will of the Reverend Thomas Chester of Lodsham); manorial records of Londesborough largely of the eighteenth century (1704-1874), including a case involving the earl of Londesborough about responsibility for waifs and strays circa 1705, a settlement certificate of William Cobb and his wife Alice of 1768 and a letter dated 1805 from Rowland Croxton to James Collins about the attendance of tenants at the Londesborough court; manorial records for Market Weighton and Shipton (1674-1951) divided into 1500 surrenders and admissions (1674-1897) and 800 jury verdicts (1714-1913) for the king's court and 1500 surrenders and admissions (1715-1908) and 800 jury verdicts (1705-1913) for the lord's court and miscellaneous records for both including accounts of fines received, four letters, the proclamation of the earl of Burlington at the opening of a fair in 1806 and an original bundle of papers relating to a case of the earl of Burlington against Thomas Worsley 1701-10 over the use of common land in Weighton and North Cliff; manorial court records for Middleton (1679-1945) including two letters from Suckling Spendlove to James Collins about a mortgage on a cottage in 1770 and the 1847 letter of Elizabeth Petch about the death of her husband who had been bailiff; manorial records for Monk Frystone (1815-1950), including an extract from the 1841 will of Richard Connell; intermittent court rolls from the manor of Monk Frystone and Hillam (1411-1671); call rolls and verdicts for North Dalton (1764-1857); the same for Nunburnholme (1750-1850); a small number of the same for Osgodby (1824-1856); court rolls for the manor of Over Selby alias Bondgate from 1399-1418 and then sporadically until 1552; manorial and miscellaneous records for Seamer (1743-1852), including jury verdicts, presentments and call rolls, the 1790 appointment of John Lockwood of Beverley as estate steward, a 1790 list of tenants and 1791 letter about estate boundaries and a copy of the 1809 enclosure case; court rolls and other manorial records for Selby cum Membris (1322-1950; these are very complete from 1322-1630); records for the manor of Selby (1522-1915), including 68 jury verdicts from the late 19th century; the court roll of Selby Waterhouses (1323-1374); two court rolls for Snaith (1458, 1521); manorial records for Thorpe Willoughby (1450-1913), including court rolls from the 1510s to circa 1550 and jury verdicts from the late 19th century; manorial records for Thwing (1722-1863) including call rolls and jury verdicts largely dating from the 1720s to the mid-19th century; court records for Tibthorpe (1774-1862); court records for Watton (1773-1857) and court records for Willerby (1810-1856).

DDLO/20 contains the following account rolls for Selby Abbey: bursar (1431-1532, intermittent); pittancer (1403-1517, intermittent); abbot's proctor (1397-1398); kitchener (1412-1414, 1438-1439, 1475-1476); sacristan 1413-1414, 1494-1538, intermittent); extern cellarer (1391-1402, 1413-1414, 1489-1490); granger (1349-1350, 1404-1405, 1413-1432, 1474-1475, 1490-1491); infirmarer (1399-1403); chaplain to the abbot (1413-1414); almoner and keeper of the chantry (1434-1435); cellarer (1479-1480) (See entry in Religious Archives for details of full Selby Abbey holdings including papers catalogued as DWE).

In addition, DDLO contains a miscellaneous section at DDLO/30 which includes 18th century drainage and navigation plans, late 19th century memoranda about the earl of Londesborough holding courts and a catalogue of property at Middleton on the Wolds, North Dalton, Skipton, Market Weighton, Goodmanham, Nunburnholme, Watton and Sutton Cranswick dated 1921.

DDLO(2) also contains largely manorial court records, most of them being very complete and unbroken for Brayton (1901-1935); Fridaythorpe with Goodmanham (1820-1851); Hambleton (1701-1952); Hillam (1855-1951; with a copy of the 1811 Hillam enclosure award); Market Weighton with Shipton (1714-1951); Middleton, court rolls (1772-1945) and minute books (1772-1853); Monk Frystone court rolls (1854-1950); for Selby, a court roll of 1554-5, a call roll 1699-1781 and a jury minute book 1780-99 as well as some miscellaneous account books and rentals (see further details below); court rolls for Over Selby/Bondgate (1520-1552); unbroken court rolls for Selby cum Membris 1673-1950 and court minute books 1772-1805; records for Thorpe Willoughby (1658-1950) including a court roll 1933-50 and a miscellany of earlier items. DDLO(2)/12 is a section of miscellaneous items which includes early 20th century plans of the earl of Londesborough's East Riding and West Riding estates.

Administrative / Biographical History

Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey is located approximately 22 kilometres south of York, close to the Ouse river. It was an independent Benedictine house which came under the diocese of York. In addition to the manorial records held at the Brynmor Jones, DDLO/20 comprises a large number of the abbey's surviving account rolls, mostly from the 15th century. Many of these have been translated and printed in John Tillotson, Monastery and society in the late middle ages: selected account rolls from Selby Abbey, Yorkshire, 1398-1537 (1988). Tillotson has located 132 account rolls for Selby Abbey, 65 of them at Hull and a remaining third at the Westminster Diocesan Archives, which were transferred to the Brynmor Jones in 1993 and are catalogued as DWE. From these Tillotson has reconstructed life at the abbey and a full account of the history of Selby Abbey is to be found in the entry for Religious Archives. After the reformation, old abbey lands changed hands a few times, being owned by the Petre family during the 18th and early 19th century before coming in to the Denison family and incorporated into the diffuse estates of the earls of Londesborough in the mid 19th century.

The Clifford, Boyle and Denison families of Londesborough estate

The 19th century estates of the earls of Londesborough stretched from Selby south of York to Seamer, near Scarborough (the only medieval records in the collection apart from those for Selby are for Seamer). The heart of the estates was Londesborough which was bought by Lord Albert Denison in 1850. Prior to his ownership Londesborough had passed down through the Clifford and Boyle families and their estate records date from the late 17th century.

Londesborough had originally been an outlying portion of the archbishop of York's manor of Everingham which passed in 1389 from the Fitzherberts to the Broomfleet family. Henry Boomfleet (d.1469) left no male heir and Londesborough passed from him to the heirs of his daughter, Margaret, who had married John de Clifford (b.1435). The Cliffords owned Skipton castle and John de Clifford was a leading Lancastrian who was killed just before the battle of Towton in 1461. His estates were forfeited and his son, Henry (b.1454), went into hiding disguised as a shepherd before being reinstated to his lands by Henry VII in 1485. He died in 1523 and was buried in the chancel of Londesborough with his mother (Neave, Londesborough, pp.8-9; Robinson, Some notes, p.6; Wilton, The Cliffords and Boyles, pp.18-19).

Henry Clifford's son, also Henry, became friendly with the young Henry Tudor (Henry VIII) and was later made 1st earl of Cumberland. The 2nd earl of Cumberland, also Henry, left his land at Londesborough and Weighton to his younger son, Francis Clifford (b.1559), for life tenure. His eldest son, George 3rd earl of Cumberland, reverted the land to the use of his brother and his brother's heirs permanently in 1587, leading to a lengthy and bitter dispute between Francis and his niece, Anne Clifford. He then died without leaving a male heir to the title and Francis Clifford became 4th earl of Cumberland in 1605. He inherited Skipton castle, but he and his wife, Grisold, lived much of the time in the house they had built at Londesborough upon their marriage in 1589 and she was buried there (Neave, Londesborough, p.9; Neave, `Londesborough Hall'; Wilton, The Cliffords and Boyles, pp.20-1; Robinson, Some notes, p.7).

Francis and Grisold Clifford had a son, Henry (b.1592), and a daughter, Margaret, who married Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford (executed 1641). Francis Clifford died in 1641 and his son inherited the title but only outlived him by two years. Henry Clifford's sons had all died in infancy and the title became extinct upon his death in 1643 and the Londesborough estate was inherited by his daughter, Elizabeth, who had married Richard Boyle (b.1612). Boyle was the 2nd son of the 1st earl of Cork and in 1664 Charles II made him earl of Burlington for his royalist services during the civil wars. The estate papers largely begin with this generation of the family and it was Elizabeth and Richard Boyle who employed the architect Robert Hooke to reconstruct the Elizabethan house. The result was a `Wren-style country house'. They also built new stables and gardens as well as making improvements to the village, including the building of a hospital for twelve poor people of the parish and this still exists (Neave, Londesborough, pp.10-13, 30; Neave, `Londesborough Hall'; Wilton, The Cliffords and Boyles, pp.28-9; Robinson, Some notes, p.7).

Both Elizabeth and Richard Boyle were long-lived, Elizabeth dying first in 1690 and Richard in 1698. Their son and successor died in 1694 and his son, Charles, succeeded as 2nd earl of Burlington for just three years until he too died in 1703. They were all buried in the Burlington vault which had been built under the chancel of the church at Londesborough. The estate was inherited by Richard Boyle (b.1694), 3rd earl of Burlington. He married Dorothy, daughter of the marquess of Halifax. Richard Boyle was the last and most significant earl of Burlington to own Londesborough. He was a patron of the arts and an architect and landscaper, who rebuilt his own houses (including Londesborough in the 1730s), advised people like the Maister family on how to build theirs and was responsible for building the assembly rooms at York. He held several government offices and was on the privy council. He was thus required to be away from Yorkshire for most of each year and he returned to Londesborough for a few weeks of each year at most (Neave, Londesborough, pp.14-19; Neave, `Londesborough Hall'; Wilton; Robinson, Some notes, p.8).

When Richard Boyle died in 1753 the estates were inherited by his daughter, Charlotte, who was married to William Cavendish, the marquess of Hartington. Sadly Charlotte died at Londesborough only a year later at the age of 23. Therefore, in 1755 when William Cavendish succeeded to the titles of his father, the estates came into the possession of the dukes of Devonshire. The 4th duke of Devonshire visited Londesborough several times after his wife's death, but after a while his visits became less frequent and the history of Londesborough from this time is one of neglect. William, 5th duke of Devonshire (b.1748), succeeded his father upon his death in 1764, but as he had no attachment to Londesborough he visited very infrequently (Neave, Londesborough, pp.16-18; Neave, `Londesborough Hall').

William married Georgiana, daughter of Earl Spencer and their son inherited Londesborough on William's death in 1811. The 6th duke of Devonshire had several houses, some, including Londesborough, in need of repair. His choice, in 1818, was to sacrifice Londesborough in order to spend money on Chatsworth. He used the old bricks to build and repair farms in Londesborough. In 1839 he built a new house, the Shooting Box, but as he continued to find the Londesborough estate a drain on his finances he sold up for 470,000 in 1845. The new owner was George Hudson, the railway entrepreneur, whose purchase of 12,000 acres in this area enabled him to block anyone else's access to building the York to Market Weighton railway line (Neave, Londesborough, pp.18-20; Neave, `Londesborough Hall').

George Hudson's tenure was brief; he was forced to flee abroad due to financial malpractice and the estate was sold in 1850 to Lord Albert Denison. Albert Denison was the son of the marchioness of Conyngham, mistress of George IV (he was born Albert Conyngham). The marchioness of Conyngham was the daughter of a Leeds banker who had acquired considerable estates especially around Seamer, near Scarborough. Her brother succeeded to these estates and when he died without a male heir they were transferred to his nephew, Albert Conyngham, who was then required to take the name Denison. One of the other requirements was that Albert (Conyngham) Denison use some of his inheritance to purchase further estates and this he did, a year after his uncle's death, when he acquired Londesborough (Neave, Londesborough, pp.21-3).

Albert Denison took the title Londesborough when he became baron in 1850, but he chose to live in Grimston, only coming to Londesborough for shooting. He died in 1860, when his son, William Henry Forester Denison (b.1834), succeeded. William Denison was Liberal MP for the corrupt boroughs of Beverley and then Scarborough and on joining the Conservatives he was made 1st Viscount Raincliffe and 1st earl of Londesborough. He inherited 2 million in stocks and a shares and a yearly rental roll of 100,000, but he had been given a taste of an extravagant lifestyle at his coming of age, an extended and lavish affair held in every estate over several days and involving thousands of guests, and so he proceeded to spend all his money. He had to sell Grimston Park in 1872 to pay off debts. He died in 1900 and his son, Francis Denison (b.1864), kept up the pattern, hosting expensive royal visits and shooting parties. He was fond of fire brigades so he created one in the village. In 1905 he held a vast village fete complete with six travelling pygmies and in 1909 he eventually leased the house to an Austrian nobleman (Neave, Londesborough, pp.23-5; Pine, The new extinct peerage, p.183).

When Francis Denison died in 1919 he was succeeded by his eldest son, George (b.1892), as 3rd earl of Londesborough and when he too died in 1920, his younger son, Hugo (b.1894), became the 4th and last earl of Londesborough until 1937. In 1923 he sold most of the estate and since that time the Shooting Box (now divided into Londesborough Hall and Londesborough Park) has been owned by Dr and Mrs Ashwin who live in one half while the other is leased out. Although the earldom became extinct, the barony did not, passing laterally to Hugo Denison's cousin, Ernest William Denison, and it has since passed down through his heirs. The current owner of the papers is Richard John Denison, 9th Lord Londesborough (b.1959) (Neave, Londesborough, pp.23-8, 32; Pine, The new extinct peerage, p.183).

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Note

Originally published by Access to Archives - A2A. The data in this finding aid is in the copyright of the place of deposit.

Other Finding Aids

Listed to item level

Related Material

DWE (complementary records for Selby Abbey - see entry under Religious Archives for full details of scope and historical background); DDCA(2)/54/58; DDCV(2)/55

Related material in other repositories: Londesborough household account books, Bolton Abbey; Londesborough settled estate papers, Humberside County Record Office; Londesborough papers, Chatsworth; Selby Abbey papers, York Minster Library (a few more in Lincoln Record Office, Sheffield Record Office, British Library)

Bibliography

Neave, David, `Londesborough Hall', Georgian Society of East Yorkshire, 5 (1978)

Neave, David, Londesborough: history of an East Riding estate village (1977)

Pine, L G, The new extinct peerage 1884-1971 (1972)

Robinson, Hilary I, Some notes on things of interest at Londesborough (1934)

Tillotson, John H (ed. & trans.), Monastery and society in the late middle ages: selected account rolls from Selby Abbey, Yorkshire, 1398-1537 (1988)

Wilton, R C, The Cliffords and Boyles of Londesborough (1907)