Papers of the Forbes Adam/Thompson/Lawley (Barons Wenlock) Family of Escrick

Scope and Content

In brief, U DDFA and U DDFA2 are largely pre-twentieth century title documents, estate papers and official and personal family papers, including some interesting correspondence. U DDFA3 is a deposit purely of family correspondence from 1724 and it is particularly rich in letters to and from the women members of the family in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. U DDFA4 comprises later documents relating to family estates as well as settlements and wills. U DDFA5 and U DDFA6 comprise twentieth century papers related to the management of estates. The six deposits in detail now follow.

DDFA is a very large deposit comprising mostly pre-twentieth-century documents relating to family estates, some correspondence, appointments, commissions and miscellaneous papers of Beilby Richard Lawley, 2nd Lord Wenlock (1818-1880) and Beilby Lawley, 3rd Lord Wenlock (1849-1912) (including papers of the Halifax Sugar Refinery Ltd. for the 1880s and 1890s; more details below). A section of accounts at DDFA/37 includes the business accounts of the wine merchant Henry Thompson consisting of cash books and journals 1647-8, one of them kept in the wine producing region of Bordeaux; a business journal kept in York and Amsterdam 1655-7; a business journal and letter book 1653-67 and the wine account book of his brother, Edward Thompson, 1662-5, as well as nineteenth century accounts from the family's Yorkshire and Shropshire estates including housekeeping account books and personal accounts such as for clothing and medical attention. Rentals and surveys for Deighton, Escrick, Kexby, Riccall, Skipwith, Wheldrake and others 1742-1884 are at U DDFA/41 and there is a map of the estates in the East Riding in 1851 at U DDFA/45/19. U DDFA also contains sections of bonds (1553-1828); a section of settlements (1681-1882) including family marriage settlements; various deeds (1659-1864) and wills (1619-1882). There is a valuable collection of maps and plans at DDFA/45 including a substantial run of 6 inch ordnance survey maps of Yorkshire from the 1850-7 edition.

U DDFA has a large correspondence section at U DDFA/39 including miscellaneous correspondence described as 'valuable autographs belonging to Lord Wenlock'. There are a number of letters from three periods (c.1660-85, c.1710-25, c.1790-1855). The correspondence of Henry Thompson is here as well as a letter of Thomas Herbert circa 1660, a letter of Brian Fairfax about court affairs dated 1666, letters from the Duke of Buckingham in the 1660s, early eighteenth-century letters of Ambrose Philips, eighteenth-century letters of the bishops of Worcester, Lichfield, Chester and London and one letter from Lord Fauconberg dated 1760. There is a letter to Henry Thompson from Richard Sterne, archbishop of York dated 23 November 1668. There is also some correspondence of Henry Thompson, Edward Thompson and Andrew Marvell 1673-77. These four letters only came to the attention of Marvell scholars through the research of Caroline Robbins who published them along with some of her other Marvell-finds as 'Six Letters by Andrew Marvell' in Etudes Anglaises, 17 (1964). They have since been reprinted in the 3rd edition of H M Margoliouth's 'The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell' (1971). In addition there are letters of Richard Boyle dated 1667 and nineteenth century letters about family affairs (including some specimens of hair) and life in India. The 1865 correspondence of Charles Selby Rigge is about the parliamentary election for South Shropshire and Wenlock (see below for further details about 'valuable autographs').

Miscellaneous material at U DDFA/40 includes the oath taken on 6 July 1668 of Sir Walsingham Cooke, a free brother of the Society of Merchant Adventurers, some eighteenth-century medicinal recipes, a memorandum of the baptisms of John Beilby's children 1662-1674 at Cottingham, a history of King Arthur in rhyme, pedigrees and genealogical material of the Beckwith family, inventories, nineteenth century railway material and an original bundle of muster rolls for the Yorkshire Hussar Yeomanry 1870-5.

Estate papers in U DDFA in detail are as follows: Barlby (1734, 1781); Barmby-on-the-Marsh (1737, 1763); Deighton (1616-1905) including rentals 1799-1859, the tithe apportionment of 1843, the marriage settlements of Ralph Milbanke and Elizabeth D'Arcy (1708), Jeremiah Wright and Sarah Ibbetson (1701), the wills of Elizabeth Smith (1738), Jeremiah Wright (1703), Sarah Wright (1726), Thomas Smith (1746), tithe accounts 1829-64; Elvington (1769-1906) including abstracts of title of the Sterne and Dodsworth families and an extract from the will of George Cock (1831); Escrick and Bardolgarf (1387-1857) including title deeds of Edward, Lord Howard of 1630, an account book of Escrick Overseers of the Poor 1752-1816, the assignment of a pew by the Archibishop of York to Beilby Thompson in 1787, some nineteenth-century valuations and surveys, the subscription papers of the Reverend Robert Ellis as rector of Escrick in 1825, the 1387 gift of Escrick from Thomas Daunay to his heirs, early modern papers of title of the Knyvett family, the wills of William Foster (1612), Thomas Gray (1667), John Davies (1673), George Potts (1667) and Henry Thompson (1681), the marriage settlements of John Foster and Elizabeth Dyneley (1675), 'Sir J C' and Elizabeth Wastell nee Legard (1681); Hull (1556, 1623); Kelfield (1650-1839) including the marriage settlements of Joseph Stillington and Mary Peirse (1729), Edward Stillingfleet and Mary Peirse (1779) and a copy of the will of Joseph Walls (1778); Kexby (1552-1914) including early modern papers of title of the Ughtred and Tanckerd families, a 1752 plan and valuation of the woods, the marriage settlements of Marmaduke Constable and Mabel Cressy (1620) and Charles Headlam and Bridget Mosley (1734) and the wills of Dorothy Sterne (1706), William Headlam (1708), Richard Sterne (1732), Richard Sterne (1743), William Read (1762), John Dodsworth (1809), Thomas Mason (1724), John Leng (1789), John Leng (1795); Millington (1666-1712); Naburn (1621-1826) being largely papers of title of the Palmes family and including the enclosure act of 1766, a survey of Park House Farm 1805 and the will of Thomas Swann (1802); North Duffield (1621-1791); Ottringham (1565-1636) being papers of the Thornton, Kelsey and Swan families.

Estate papers in U DDFA continue with Riccall (1612-1919) which is a large series including a 1755 survey of the estate and a 1724 survey of copyhold land in the open fields by John Colton, an abstract of the title of Lord Wenlock 1858-77, a few manorial records, a bundle of agreements for the sale of common rights in 1829, the wills of Eleanor Waud (1728), Philip Rosendale (1788), John Rosendale (1800), Richard Robinson (1743), Thomas Routh (1800), Richard Baxter (1749), Thomas Thompson (1754), Richard Barnard (1779), Ann Barnard (1784), Thomas Jackson (1796), John Dodsworth (1809), Thomas Harriman (1722), Thomas Harriman (1743), Mary Harriman (1756), William Hawkin (1780), William Walker (1783), William Wormley (1801), Henry Wormley (1805), Edward Wormley (1816), Edward Wormley (1820), Alice Heild (1828), William Smith (1849), George Heild (1848), Josiah Stead (1822), John Boyes (1829), Thomas Greenwood (1815), Richard Baldwin (1775), Richard Wilson (1855), Elizabeth Boswell (1852), the marriage settlement of Peregrine Wentworth and Mary Thompson (1751).

The estate papers in U DDFA follow with a large series for Skipwith (1586-1905) including the marriage settlements of William and Alice Blanshard (1635), Edward Bawne and Alice Doughty (1645), William Ashton and Catherine Johnson (1680), Banister Walton and Jane Toulson (1758), William Mills and Helen Clarkson (1713), early modern papers of the Thompson family and eighteenth-century papers of John Alderson and family, a jury presentment to the manor in 1808, the terrier of Skipwith vicarage in 1817, some nineteenth-century rentals, an account book of rents for wasteland in Skipwith 1807-19 and the wills of William Latham (1658), William Jackson (1658), Jane Blackburn (1684), John Bawne (1690), Leonard Winder (1707), William Kirk (1756), John Summerton (1793), Christopher Nelson (1843), Michael Cooper (1745), George Thompson (1675), Francis Thompson (1681), Robert Herbert (1706), Banister Walton (1781), Joseph Buckle (1815), John Hessell (1715), William Cooper (1743), Thomas Hessell (1863), William Adamson (1806), Hannah Adamson (1810), Robert Atlay (1813), Sarah Atlay (1833), Elizabeth Brewer (1818), William Winder (1719), Ann Burton (1720), William Ashton (1722), Francis Winder (1729), John Winder (1747), John Hardy (1759), Thomas Green (1811), Marshall Cook (1731), John Cook (1774), Margaret Jackson (1833), Matthew Johnson (1849), William Boswell (1865), William Massey (1865), burial certificates for George Brewer (1843), Richard Halliday (1853), Ann Triffitt (1848) and Mary Hawkins (1847) and papers relating to their estates, certificates of births, deaths and marriages of the Batty family of Fulford 1812-57 and the notice to the vicar and churchwardens of Skipwith relating to the 1712 bequest of Dorothy Wilson.

Estate papers in U DDFA continue for: Stillingfleet (1648-1907) including eighteenth-century rentals and manorial records (including a call roll 1775-1778 and a court roll 1756-1768), the 1898 scheme of the church commissioners for the administration of St Peter's School, York, and related education papers, the marriage settlement of Robert Cave and Catherine Perkins (1799) and the wills of John Wastell (1787) and Roger Mainwaring (1784); Sutton on Derwent (1690-1729) including the marriage settlement of William and Elizabeth Tate (1690) and Matthew Tate and Elizabeth Johnson (1722); West Cottingwith (1692-1889) including a petition to Lord Wenlock of 1889.

The section in U DDFA for Wheldrake (1596-1889) is rich in wills and in detail is as follows: the 1596 letters patent granting the manor to Edward Howard, rentals 1839-59, an account book of farm wages 1862-7, the 1872 income and outlay of Wheldrake School, the wills of John Gibson (1704), William Gibson (1721), John Harrison (1733), William Dalston (1681), William Rames (1683), William Walker (1722), Silvester Walker (1753), William Cowper (1816), William Harrison (1815), William Plummer (1752), William Tate (1747), Philip Holmes (1814), Robert Bell (1722), John Rames (1776), Jane Clark (1795), John Fowler (1744), John Fowler (1759), William Thompson (1799), Thomas Reaston (1810), Thomas Reaston (1835), William Walker (1800), Silvester Walker (1829) (also certificates of baptisms, marriages and burials in the Walker family 1828-60), the enclosure act of 1769 and related papers and surveys including a copy of the terrier of the rectory in 1809 and the marriage settlement of William Tate and Anne Rames (1702).

Estate papers in U DDFA continue with: Wilberfoss (1713); various townships (1616-1919) including a schedule of deeds for Escrick, Deighton and other places 1387-1727, and a portfolio of papers relating to the Ouse and Derwent Drainage Commission 1856-64. Other counties represented are Bedfordshire (1864-1865) being papers about Luton parish church and letters about the restoration of the Wenlock chapel; Dorsetshire (1872) being papers related to the will of the Marquis of Westminster; Hampshire (1600-1601); Lincolnshire (1794-1798); Nottinghamshire (1673-1753) being manorial records for Bole including a 1673 rental, a 1704 steward's account and agreement and a 1753 survey; Shropshire (1544-1901) including title papers of the Lawley family including the will of Robert Lawley (1772) and papers related to the Craven Hall estate, the marriage settlements of Thomas Bartlam and Alice Harries (1637) and Robert Lawley and Jane Thompson (1764), some plans of estates and farms for example at Spoon Hill and Monk Hopton, a valuation of the estate of Lord Wenlock in 1882, the Bourton estate rental, cash and labour ledgers 1881-1901, papers about the Much Wenlock and Severn Junction Railway and a bundle of papers about primary schools in Wenlock Borough; Staffordshire (1617-1805) including a 1762 plan of a house to be built at Canal Gate, a diary and labour account book for Ganwell 1772-6, an 1805 schedule of the title deeds to the Ganwell estates of Lord Wenlock and a 1730 inventory of goods and furniture at Ganwell Hall, Suffolk (1647-1714); Suffolk and Essex (1647-1714) being a bundle related to the sale of the manor of Hooe and including the marriage settlements of William Harvey and Dorothy Dicer (1695) and Edmond Anderson and Mary Harvey (1712); Surrey (1770-1862) including a copy of the will of Henry Talbot (1770), Thomas Cornwall (1784), Elizabeth Cornwall (1796); Westmorland (1604) being a petition to the crown by John Tenant related to the Free Grammar School at Scotton; Yorkshire, North Riding (1662-1912) including the will of Margaret Prince (1747) and papers related to property at Helmsley and Marton; Yorkshire, West Riding (1570-1918) including papers related to Micklethwaite Grange in the parish of Collingham and papers of the Elizabeth and William Jackson of Bishopthorpe 1707-79; York (1549-1825). In addition, there are two items for Ireland (1659, 1705) including a 1659 deed of Viscountess Valentia.

DDFA2 has estate papers as follows: Deighton (1616-1805); Escrick (1581-19th century) including the marriage settlements of Edward Dalby and Elizabeth Parkinson (1621), Thomas Shipton and Althea Hartas (1688), Matthew Blyth and Catherine Tindall (1657); Gate Fulford and Naburn (1764-1771) including papers of the Ughtred and Tanckerd families; Kexby (1564-1771); Riccall (1600-1832) including the marriage settlement of Gilbert Parker and Ann Oddy (1714); Settrington (1827); Skipwith (1786); Wheldrake (1722-1918); Buckinghamshire (1630); Cambridgeshire (1765); Leicestershire (1676); Lincolnshire (1739); Norfolk (1652); Nottinghamshire (1584-1827); Shropshire (1625-1786); Staffordshire and Warwickshire (1617-1750) including the marriage settlement of William Peshell and Francis Aston (1632); York (1610-1665); Yorkshire, North Riding (1123-1704); Yorkshire, West Riding (1578-1655) including the marriage settlement of Thomas Illingworth and Grace Pollard (1590); various townships (1637-1846) including the will of Richard Roundell (1718) and the marriage settlement of Richard Roundell and Elizabeth Ramsden (1710) and some eighteenth-century papers about the estates of Sir Darcy Dawes and Lady Dawes.

U DDFA2 also contains bonds and statutes (1586-1815); commissions (1665-1734); correspondence (1730-1904) being just six family and estate letters; settlements (1649-1777) including the marriage settlements of Symon Benet and Grace Morewood (1649) (settling the manor and mansion house of Beachampton DDFA2/24/1) and Thomas Eadon and Ann Ward (1777); various documents (1571-1781) and wills (1744-1828) being those of John Fowler (1744), Bridget Colton (1745), Mary Robins (1749), John Fowler (1759), George Fowler (1802) and Francis Riddell (1828).

U DDFA3 comprises the correspondence of Caroline, Lady Wenlock (1822-1860) including letters from North America; the Reverend Stephen Lawley (1857-1901) being letters about family and local affairs; James Stuart Wortley and his wife, Jane Lawley (1845-1868) being about family and local affairs; Elizabeth, Lady Wenlock (1855-1895) including letters from North America, Canada, India and Europe; Constance, Lady Wenlock (1871-1930) including letters from India, Australasia, Europe, Canada and North America; Irene Lawley/Forbes-Adam (1900-1956) including a large number from her mother, Constance, Lady Wenlock, and dozens from young men on war service 1914-1918 (see below for further details about this family correspondence); 'various letters' (1771-1962) particularly correspondence of the family of Caroline, Lady Wenlock including her father Lord Braybrooke; individual letters (1724-1915) including some letters of Lady Dawes and some of Richard Thompson, commandant of the Ouse and Derwent Volunteer Infantry.

U DDFA3 also contains 114 miscellaneous items (1665-1945) and these include a monthly return in 1805 by Richard Thompson for the Ouse and Derwent Volunteer Infantry and related papers, a watercolour of the library at Escrick Park by Jane Lawley circa 1840, papers about death duties, some First World War material including an almanac, trench maps and memorial service cards, photographs, the transcript of a novel and some papers relating to life in Bombay.

U DDFA4 contains largely estate papers, settlements and wills as follows: Acaster Malbis (1582-1903) including papers of the Swailes family, an original bundle related to the sale of the manor by Sarah Dawes to Charles, Lord Fairfax, the will of Henry Thackray (1767) and the sale of farms in lots in 1899; Kexby (1908) being a tenancy agreement; Naburn (1850) being about the merger of tithes; Riccall (1908-1916) being conveyances; Skipwith (1840-1910) including a bundle of papers related to the sale of the manor in 1898, a bundle of leases and mortgages relating to the Toulson family and the release of the mortgage in 1899; Wheldrake (1562-1796) including the wills of Sylvester Walker (1681), William Clarke (1694), Robert Yeoman (1707), William Walker (1722), William Store (1746), Sylvester Walker (1753), Ann Walker (1756), Thomasine Webb (1770), Richard Swan (1770), William Walker (1783) and William Walker (1788) and the marriage settlements of William Walker and Sarah Bovill (1689) and William Walker and Mary Williamson (1796); London (1884-1895); Marton cum Moxby (1760-1822); 'various townships' (1820-1824); accounts (1898-1912) being the trust account book of the settled estates of Beilby Lord Wenlock; settlements (1739-1912) including the marriage settlements of John Doughty and Mary Fearby (1739) and Beilby Lawley and Elizabeth Grosvenor (1846); various deeds (1854-1909) including the estate death duties on Elizabeth, Dowager Lady Wenlock and an original bundle relating to the Derwent Valley Light Railway Fund; wills (1792-1849) being those of Sarah Thompson (copy; 1765), Robert Lawley (1792), Beilby Thompson (1794), Richard Thompson (1816), Robert, Lord Wenlock (1825), Paul Beilby (1845) and Francis Lawley (1849).

U DDFA5 is a large deposit of estate papers and a small amount of related correspondence as follows: Escrick (1848-1951) including a volume of accounts for the building of Escrick rectory in 1848, the minute book of the Escrick Rabbit Clearance Society 1962-1971 and an original bundle of papers related to the Escrick War Memorial fund; Kexby (1865-1908) being bank books and correspondence about the repair of Kexby church; Naburn (1911); Riccall (1843-1929) including an 1843 tithe rent and papers related to enclosure; manor of Riccall with Newbald and Cawthorpe (1621-1742, 1898-1934) including the 1649 survey of the manor for the parliamentary commissioners with related papers; Skipwith (1904-1936); Stillingfleet (1756); Wheldrake (1838-1912) including a valuation of the glebe belonging to the rectory in 1838 and the 1912 rental agreement with the Derwent Valley Light Railway; manor of Wheldrake (1877-1934) being largely nineteenth-century manorial records; 'various townships' (1914-1930) being notebooks about sales of a number of family estates including Kexby and Acaster Malbis.

U DDFA5 estate papers continue with accounts and vouchers for Beilby Thompson (1785-1837); Paul Beilby, 1st Lord Wenlock (1852-1853) being accounts related to his will; Beilby Richard, 2nd Lord Wenlock (1901-1911) being accounts related to his will; Beilby, 3rd Lord Wenlock (1900-1917) including accounts related to his will and some household accounts and correspondence; general estate accounts (1877-1988); summary estate accounts (1886-1954); printed and audited accounts (1930-1958); including for several farms; farm accounts (1911-1982); labour accounts (1794-1799, 1906-1983) including labourers' wage accounts 1794-1799; timber accounts (1809-1966); mortgages (1950-1964); taxation accounts (1917-1960); land tax (1910-1931); miscellaneous (1893-1932); vouchers (1938-1978) especially for farm accounts; correspondence (1864-1898) including letters about commissions and a packet of letters about Mrs Eleanor Law and child.

U DDFA5 also contains a large amount of estate correspondence and subject files comprising letter books (1894-1919); letters received (1905-1915); subject correspondence files (mainly twentieth century) including the Wheldrake glebe purchase of 1903, Naburn Ferry, the servants' ball of 1902, enclosure awards, school subscriptions and related education matters, the Kexby benefice, Skipwith Hall Institute and School, York and Ainsty Hunt, National War Savings Committee, various estate farms, Derwent Valley Light Railway, Escrick Church fire and rebuilding, Escrick Park Dairy, Skipwith rectorial tithes, Selby Sugar Company, Ouse and Derwent drainage; general correspondence (1935-1967) in alphabetical files; farms (twentieth century) for Deighton, Escrick, Kelfield, Little Skipwith, Riccall, Skipwith, Stillingfleet and Wheldrake.

U DDFA5 also contains miscellaneous files (1920-1930) including material on schools and drainage, some official family correspondence and material on Skipwith property and the Wheldrake Ings, correspondence about St Margaret's School 1946-1972, as well as papers on farming 1947-1950 such as livestock and grain production and an original bundle relating to the War Department and Air Ministry 1941-1947; Escrick Park Flats Co. Ltd. (1929-1939); Escrick Park Laundry Co. Ltd. being the directors' minute book 1950-1971; rentals, surveys and valuations (1871-1974) including very complete runs of rentals for Escrick, Deighton, Riccall, Stillingfleet, Wheldrake, Acaster Malbis, Kexby and Skipwith, surveys which include cropping details 1886-1920 and valuations of many estate farms; tenancy agreements (1887-1988) for Deighton, Escrick, Kelfield, Riccall, Skipwith, Stillingfleet, West Cottingwith, Wheldrake and Wheldrake Ings, with some shooting agreements 1887-1931; settlements (1950-1957); River Dee estates in Flintshire and Cheshire (1873-1888) including some parliamentary legislation; Rudding Park estate, West Riding (1927-1928); miscellaneous (1839-1980) including excursions to Escrick Park, sale catalogues, inventories, the estate interview book 1914-1960 and drainage and building papers; maps and plans (1884-1947).

U DDFA6 is a small deposit of additional estate papers for: Acaster Malbis (1898-1959); manor of Acaster Malbis (1846) being a list of pains; Bilbrough, North Riding (1943) being a sale plan; Deighton (1982) being the particulars of sale of Primrose farm; Escrick (1960s-1984) being sales and valuations; Naburn (1917) being particulars of sale of Naburn Hill farm; Riccall (1918-1982) being sale particulars; Skipwith (1967-1980) being the sale of Bells Cottage and Pear Tree House; Stillingfleet (1978) being the sale of the Grange; Wheldrake (1948-1979) including the 1948 sale of the estate; Reading, Berkshire (1970s) being sale particulars; various places (1914-1984) including the 1914 sale of the Kexby estate, the 1978 sale of the Thicket Priory estate (not owned), as well as the sale of farms in Escrick, Deighton, Riccall and other places; miscellaneous (1950s-1970s) including a report on the Derwent Valley Light Railway.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Thompson/Lawley family owned large estates centred on Escrick between the Ouse and Derwent rivers, a few miles south of the city of York. The two families merged with the marriage of Jane Thompson, heiress to the Escrick estates, to Sir Robert Lawley, 5th baronet Wenlock, whose family had held lands in Shropshire since 1471. Lawley family papers and title deeds for their Shropshire estates number some 138 items and date back to 1544 (U DDFA/26, U DDFA2/15). In 1639 the Lawleys acquired the site of Great Wenlock Priory (U DDFA/26/17). Papers for the manor of Escrick date back to 1387, though the Thompson family's connection with Escrick dates from 1668.

Through the sixteenth century the capital manor of Escrick belonged to the Knyvett family (U DDFA/31-2, 34-5, 67, 72, 74) and in 1607 Sir Thomas Knyvett was created Baron Knyvett of Escrick (his armorial seal can be found at U DDFA/5/33 and on a defeasance at U DDFA/5/36). The crown manor of Escrick was granted to John Bardolf in 1339 and it was given the name Bardolgarth. The earliest document in the collection relates to this manor; on 17 August 1387 some land on it was gifted to John and Helen Daunay (U DDFA/5/28). This land later descended through the Legard family to the Thompsons in 1726. The larger part of Bardolgarth came into the hands of the Knyvetts, so joining the capital manor, in 1584 (Allison, The Victoria history of the county of York East Riding, iii, pp.20-1).

Baron Knyvett was succeeded by his brother, Henry Knyvett, in 1622, whose only daughter, Catherine, married Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk. Their son, Edward (who became Baron Howard), became the heir of the Escrick estates (U DDFA/5/38, 75; U DDFA3/9/94). He consolidated this inheritance by buying more land in Escrick, Riccall and Deighton from another member of the Knyvett family in 1630 (U DDFA/5/5). In 1668 he sold the manors of Escrick and Bardolgarth and lands in Riccall and Wheldrake to Sir Henry Thompson (U DDFA/5/7, 127-36, U DDFA3/9/2) for £11,000. The Wheldrake land had come into his possession by letters patent from James I 'for faithful service' in 1625 (U DDFA/18/1 [with portrait and great seal of James I], 39).

Sir Henry Thompson was a merchant who seems to have made most of his money through importing French wine. He was lord mayor of York from 1663 and owned Clifford's Tower, part of York castle. His business dealings were complex and his connections many (cash books, business journals, a letter book and some vouchers are at U DDFA/37/1-6, 40-42). Barbara English suggests that he may have made some of his money through sequestrations of royalist property in York during the civil wars and some letters in the collection suggest that the Thompson family may also have been in the business of small lending (U DDFA/39/9, 30). Henry Thompson began buying up land in Escrick in 1666 (U DDFA/5/122-126). Two years after his large purchase in Escrick from Lord Howard he moved from York to his new country estate, leaving his brother in York as his main connection with the business world. To ease communication problems he built a carriage road from York to Escrick in 1672 (Neave, 'Escrick Hall and Park', p.25; English, The great landowners of East Yorkshire 1530-1910, pp.29, 46; Knight, A history of the city of York, p.489).

Some of the small amount of correspondence from this period throws light on the life of Henry Thompson. Like most members of the gentry, he was variously involved in matters of discipline and judicial procedure. He heard depositions of cases at York castle and was commissioned as deputy lieutenant for the West Riding and York in 1665 (U DDFA2/22/1). In this capacity he received letters from the duke of Buckingham about the West Riding militia and was involved in the arrest of the storekeeper for prizes at Hull during the trade war with the Dutch in 1666 (U DDFA/39/3, 4, 7). U DDFA/31/1 is an order signed by the duke of Buckingham on 16 August 1666 to pay £365 to him out of rents collected in Helmsley (contains a good impression of the duke's armorial seal). Only eight days later the duke wrote to say that his debts at York, totalling £2439, would be paid 'as fast as my rents at Helmelsy can be gatherd' (U DDFA/39/6). On 24 July 1667 Richard Boyle, the first earl of Burlington and second earl of Cork, wrote to him concerning a loan that was to be raised in the county (U DDFA/39/30). Boyle was lord lieutenant of the West Riding. Brian Fairfax, agent of the duke of Buckingham and cousin and biographer of Thomas Fairfax, wrote to him about the trade war on 9 January of that year, giving news also of the dreadful spread of the plague (U DDFA/39/2; see also U DDFA/39/5).

After moving to Escrick in 1668, Sir Henry Thompson conducted a patchy political career as an MP. In 1673 he sent an apologetic letter to Thomas, Viscount Osborne, about his agreement to stand as a member for York when Osborne had his own son in mind for the place (U DDFA/39/8). Throughout the 1670s he was a patron of Andrew Marvell, who was very friendly with his brother Edward. The 16 surviving letters of Andrew Marvell to Henry and Edward Thompson, make up a third of all personal Marvell letters extant. Three of these are letters held by Hull University Archives at U DDFA/39/27-29. These have been reprinted by H M Margoliouth, The poems and letters of Andrew Marvell (vol. ii, 1971). A fourth letter is from Henry Thompson to Marvell (U DDFA/39/26; see also U DDMM/28/1). Marvell's letters to the Thompsons indicate that he kept them informed of parliamentary afairs as well as court and London gossip. Some of the letters also indicate that he represented Henry Thompson's case over wine licences and that there was some problem with the Thompson family business in the 1670s. The letters further indicate that the Thompsons shared with Marvell anti-popery sentiments and he kept them informed of the efforts by the earl of Lauderdale to bring the episcopate to a reconciliation with religious nonconformists (probably along the lines suggested by Richard Baxter). One letter from Marvell regrets Sir Henry Thompson's sudden departure from the house of commons.

Amongst the 'valuable autographs' at U DDFA/39 there are two more of interest from this generation of the Thompson family. U DDFA/39/1 is a letter from Thomas Herbert to Thomas Lovell. Herbert had been in close attendance of the king in his last few months and accompanied him to the scaffold, at which time he was given the king's silver watch and cloak to keep. At the restoration he was rewarded with a baronetcy and retired to York to write books about his earlier travels on the continent and to the middle east and far east. DDFA/39/38(ii) is a letter to Henry Thompson from Richard Sterne, archbishop of York dated 23 November 1668. Sterne was probably the author of The whole duty of man, the most influential piece of Restoration pastoral theology. At U DDFA/40/1 there is also to be found the oath taken on 6 July 1668 of Sir Walsingham Cooke, a free brother of the Society of Merchant Adventurers.

Sir Henry Thompson died in 1683 and copies of his will are at U DDFA/5/137 and U DDFA/44/5. Prior to this he had moved to Marston leaving the old manor of Escrick in the hands of his son, also Henry (b.1651). A year after his father's death, Henry Thompson consolidated the holdings in Riccall by buying more land there (U DDFA/15/8). He was also responsible for rebuilding old Escrick Hall between 1680 and 1690. The resulting house was an elegant, symetrical house with two storeys and attic windows, a central door and portico, with evenly-spaced and sized windows. There is a copy of a sketch of it by Abraham de la Pryme, the Huguenot traveller, at U DDFA/40/41.

Henry Thompson followed in the footsteps of his father, becoming lord mayor of York in 1699, just a year before his death. His second wife was Mary Beilby (U DDFA/40/10 contains a transcription of her baptism date) and their marriage settlement document of 1685 is at U DDFA/42/2. The Escrick estates passed on Henry's death to their son, who was given his mother's maiden name, Beilby, as a Christian name and this became a family tradition.

Beilby Thompson inherited the Escrick estates from his father in 1700 when only 14 years old and three years later he departed on a four year grand tour of Italy and the Low Countries. There are several letters in the collection from this time, many of them from his friend and companion, Ambrose Philips, who sent sanitised reports to Beilby's mother about their exploits (DDFA/39/10-12 [4 letters]). Ambrose Philips was the pastoral poet sometimes called 'Namby Pamby' and he seems to have shared with Beilby Thompson a taste for a life filled with excessive light entertainment. After the grand tour he continued to write to Beilby about his romantic exploits, at one stage boasting 'we turn night into day and day into night here, living in one continued Round of Pleasure'. This was in 1710, in the same year he wrote to Beilby's brother Richard, recommending a prescription for a purge. The letters indicate that after the grand tour Beilby went on financing the travels of Ambrose Philips (U DDFA/39/14-15).

Beilby Thompson does not seem to have had any building ambitions for the house at Escrick, as it remained unchanged, but he did buy some more land from the Legard family. He married Dame Sarah Dawes of Acaster, prompting him to build a ferry across the Ouse to connect their estates. He also became high sheriff of Yorkshire (J D Legard, The Legards of Anlaby and Ganton: their neighbours and neighbourhood, p.165; DDFA/5/147-153; Allison, The Victoria history of the county of York East Riding, iii, p.75).

Few of Beilby Thompson's own letters are to be found in the Forbes-Adam papers, but the family kept a number of letters from the first half of the eighteenth century which have either been addressed to him or come into his possession. These are all calendared under U DDFA/39 ('valuable autographs') and they have a certain unity to them; they are all from clerics, most of whom can be said to have had a controversial career. For example, there are letters of William Cooke and William Lloyd, respectively fellow of Eton and bishop of Worcestor - the latter was put on trial by the Privy Council and both went mad. William Lloyd spent too much time with the books of Daniel and Revelation and thought he was a prophet. Another letter is from Edward Chandler, another controversialist involved in millenarian disputes. Two letters from later in the century are from Beilby Porteus and Daniel Waterland, clerical figures who were also controversial in some way. The former became bishop of London. He was a Virginian and devoted his later life to the promotion of missionary activity amongst African Americans. Daniel Waterland was almost the lone voice of anti-latitudinarianism when the church of England was awash with latitudinarian theology.

There is also a letter to the Reverend J Clark from Arthur Charlett, master of University College, Oxford, whose inept political manoevres scuppered his clerical ambitions; he became the subject of considerable ridicule. His only redeeming feature seems to have been his commitment to the Clarendon Press and collecting books and items of historical interest. The letter in Hull University Archives reflects this better side of Arthur Charlett, as he writes to tell Clark that 'we have built a noble Repository for all sorts of Rarity's'. He is probably referring to the Ashmolean Museum (DDFA/39/17).

Beilby Thompson died in 1750 and a personal account of his estates is at DDFA/40/12. His son, also Beilby Thompson, inherited the estate when only eight years old (b.1742). His mother, Sarah Thompson (who reverted to using her first married name, Dame Sarah Dawes), began building up the estate on his behalf. In 1750 she had an inventory done of her house in York (U DDFA3/9/5)). In December 1752 she bought land and the manor with an old and new hall at Kexby (U DDFA/8/11, 116). In 1753 she had her son's estates at Bole in Nottinghamshire surveyed (DDFA/25/4). In 1755 she bought the manor, manor house, rectory and advowson of Acaster Malbis and other lands bearing tithes, as well as land at Naburn for £26,000 and she had the lands at Riccall surveyed (U DDFA4/1/11; U DDFA/13/4). In 1756 and 1758 she arranged for the enclosure of lands at Stillingfleet and her large estates at Acaster (U DDFA/45/1, 3-4).

Lady Sarah also turned her attention to the house and in 1758 a third storey was built and rainwater heads date from this year. Beilby Thompson went to Cambridge 1759 and, in his absence in 1763, John Carr, the famous York architect, was employed to design additions to the hall (his account is at U DDFA/37/28). In 1764 he was further employed to build a new house in Micklethwaite. Lady Sarah did not confine her attention to houses and land. U DDFA/20/6 is a portfolio of papers relating to the Ouse and Derwent Drainage Commission 1756 to 1764 (Pevsner and Neave, York and the East Riding, p.407; Neave, 'Escrick Hall and park, p.26).

1764 and 1765 were important years for Lady Sarah Dawes. In 1764 Beilby Thompson returned from Cambridge and his sister, Jane, married Sir Robert Lawley, 5th baronet Wenlock. There are copies of the marriage settlement at U DDFA/26/76 and U DDFA/42/36 (original). Jane's dower was £20,000. In the same year, Deighton estate was added to Beilby Thompson's inheritance (U DDFA/3/10-11) and his mother released all her estates at Kexby and Wheldrake for £60,000 on his coming of age (U DDFA/8/123). Lady Sarah then made her will and there are copies at U DDFA/44/35 and U DDFA4/13/1. (Cash books and bank books of Lady Sarah Dawes and Beilby Thompson1759-84 are at U DDFA/37/7-11. There are vouchers for clothing, doctors and gunsmiths in the early 1750s at U DDFA/37/47.)

In 1768 Lord Rockingham wanted Beilby Thompson to stand for York but his mother objected on the grounds of the expense. Instead he stood for and became MP for Hedon. His personal wealth was valued at the time as £8000 a year. Beilby Thompson was MP for Hedon for the next twelve years, and then was MP for Thirsk for four years and finished his parliamentary career as MP for Hedon, again from 1790 to 1796 having only had three years out of office between 1784 and 1790. He voted with the Rockingham whigs, but he rarely attended and was of little political influence. Later in his career he solicited first the Shelburne administration and then the Fox coalition for a peerage, but his fickle behaviour did not go unnoticed and he failed to gain the reward he sought (The British establishment 1760-1784, pp.855-6; Namier and Brooke, The house of commons 1754-1790, ii, pp.523-4).

Beilby Thompson carried further the process started by his mother of consolidating the Escrick estates. He enclosed fields and began the lengthy process of altering the shape of the village and its access so that Escrick Hall could stand alone in parkland. He demolished the old church and rectory and gained permission in 1781 by act of parliament for building a new one further away from the house. He was able to buy many houses in the village, but had to wait years in some cases for tenancies to expire before he could demolish a house. By the time he died in 1799, the church and three quarters of the village had been relocated (Neave, 'Escrick Hall and park', pp.27-9).

Beilby Thompson appears to have married Elizabeth Miller, a widow in 1792 (U DDFA/42/15), but he left no direct heirs and his will in 1794 left all his estates and heirlooms to his brother, Richard (U DDFA/44/41). Richard Thompson's will of 1816 provided for nieces, male and female servants and other women in his acquaintance. It also made provision for a canal to join the rivers Derwent and Ouse from Stillingfleet to Wheldrake 'a plan whereof is in the Closet of the Library' (U DDFA/44/45). He died in 1820 and the bulk of his inheritance passed by the male entail to Paul Beilby Lawley (b.1784; U DDFA3/9/9), the third son of his sister, Jane. A provision of the inheritance was that Paul Beilby Lawley change his surname to Thompson. At this point the families of Thompson and Lawley merged (English, The great landowners of East Yorkshire, p.88).

Paul Beilby Lawley Thompson became Baron Wenlock in 1839 and 8th baronet after the deaths of both his brothers, Robert and Francis, in 1834 and 1851 respectively. After his elevation to the peerage in 1839 he was granted a licence to put the name Lawley before that of Thompson and for his heirs to take the name Lawley only. He had married Caroline Neville, the daughter of Richard, 2nd Lord Braybrooke, in 1817. They had four sons, Beilby Richard, Robert Neville, Stephen Willoughby and Francis Charles, and a daughter, Jane, who went on to marry James Stuart Wortley. The sons of this generation followed an almost archetypal hierarchy of employment for sons of the aristocracy - Beilby succeeded to the title and estate, Robert went into the army, Stephen went into the church and Francis went into politics. Robert spent his later life giving lectures on battles of the English civil wars (for example, The battle of Marston Moor, 1865). He married a general's daughter but died without leaving any legitimate issue (U DDFA5/12/3). Stephen wrote an ecclesiastical tract (1880) and Francis had a chequered career in politics. He went into parliament, being MP for Beverley 1852 to 1853. He was a friend and private secretary of Gladstone and the family connection with Gladstone was to continue for many years; he is known to have visited Escrick on many occasions. Francis Lawley's political career was foreshortened by gambling debts and he spent nine years in America before returning to England and taking up sports journalism. He wrote about horse-racing, for example, The Bench and the Jockey Club (1889).

The family correspondence of this generation survives in plenty in the collection. DDFA3/1 is the correspondence to Lady Caroline Wenlock from about 1822 to 1871 (there are also 6 letters from her to her grand-daughter at U DDFA3/7/7 and 3 to Lady Glyne at U DDFA3/7/4). It includes 29 letters from her son Stephen. It also includes letters from her son Francis from America and 12 letters from her daughter Jane. Letters to Stephen Lawley number 292 and 139 of these are from his brother, Francis. Another 17 are from Francis's wife, Louisa (U DDFA3/2). Other correspondents include W West, J Warriner, the Reverend Sidney Smith and Francis and Kate Belcombe. The correspondence of Jane Wortley and her husband is at U DDFA3/3; this mostly comprises 33 letters of Jane to her husband from 1845 to 1868. An interesting miscellanous letter from the dean and chapter of York dated 12 February 1829 thanks the family for sending an engine to help fight the fire at York Minster (U DDFA3/8/21).

Escrick Hall and park underwent considerable expansion in the time of the first Lord Wenlock. The movement of the village continued, Escrick rectory was built in 1848 and Lord Wenlock laid the foundation stone of another new church at Escrick in 1856 (U DDFA5/1/1; U DDFA/39/37; U DDFA3/9/68) and more land was enclosed, especially 1829-30 and 1839-44 (e.g. U DDFA/13/342-362). The management of the estates at this time can be researched through the various stewards' ledgers and account books which survive for the period 1832 to 1880. Wages books and household accounts also survive, including for the Shropshire estates (U DDFA/37/12-27). The house went through numerous alterations and additions in the nineteenth century. It had a fine library featuring a classical collection and books on Italian topography and a water colour painting of the library by Jane Lawley is at U DDFA3/9/29. The books on Italy may reflect the interest of the eldest son, Beilby Richard Lawley, whose journal of his European touring in the early 1840s is to be found at U DDFA/40/27 (Neave, 'Escrick Hall and park', p.29).

Paul Beilby, 1st Baron Wenlock pursued a parliamentary career being whig MP for Wenlock 1826 to 1832 and then for the East Riding until 1837. U DDFA3/7/5 comprises 92 letters mainly relating to the 1837 East Riding election, but the bundle also contains three letters from Dr Arnold of Rugby sent between 1836 and 1841.

Lord Wenlock died at the age of 68 in 1852. His eldest son, Beilby Richard, was then 34 years old (b.1818) and had been married to Elizabeth Grosvenor, daughter of the marquis of Westminster, since 1846. Marriage settlement documents are catalogued as U DDFA/42/25 and U DDFA4/11/3-5 and indicate that she brought £5000 to the marriage. He became lord lieutenant of the East Riding and the letter from Lord Palmerston offering him the commission in November 1864 is to be found at U DDFA5/12/1 (see also U DDFA/35/1-2).

There are six small items separately catalogued for the 2nd Lord Wenlock at U DDFA/35. Item 4 is an illuminated address from the tenantry of his estates in Yorkshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, congratulating him on the majority of his son in 1870. There is other evidence in the Forbes-Adam collection of the kind of patron-client relationship which existed between estate owners and their tenants. For example, when Beilby Richard Lawley came of age himself in 1839 his father put on two days of entertainments for the tenants and poor people in Escrick (U DDFA3/9/28). Another item of interested is a large photographic print of the 2nd Lord Wenlock and his eldest son mounted on horseback with the other members of the York and Ainsty hunt of 1878 (U DDFA/35/6). The photograph was taken not long before he died in 1880.

The correspondence of Elizabeth, Lady Wenlock is at U DDFA3/4, though it comprises mostly letters from her eldest son, Beilby, written between 1855 and 1895. They are written from Eton and then various places around the world including Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Austria and India. Lady Elizabeth died many years after her husband, in 1899, and so many of the letters from her eldest son were written after he became the 3rd Baron Wenlock and even after he became governor of Madras for five years from 1891. Apart from Beilby, there were three other sons, Richard, Algernon and Arthur. Letters from the former two to their mother are at U DDFA3/4/3-4. All three eventually succeeded to the title. There are also about forty letters written to Lady Elizabeth from Beilby's wife at U DDFA3/4/2, including some from when she was in India with her husband in the 1890s.

Beilby Lawley married Lady Constance Mary Lascelles in 1872; she brought £6000 to the marriage and an interest in the Harewood estates (U DDFA/42/26). There is a lot of material in the collection for this generation of the family. Beilby, 3rd Lord Wenlock was lord of the Escrick estates from 1880 until his death in 1912 and his papers are catalogued at DDFA/36. They include items about a number of family trusts and the earl of Harewood's settlement (1874-1900), his appointments and commissions including his appointment to the governorship of Madras (1890; another copy at U DDFA5/12/2) and his receipt of the honour of Knight of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (1891), his summons to attend the coronation of Edward the 7th and papers relating to his funeral and memorial after his death in 1912.

Lord Wenlock was a friend of the royal family. Some evidence of this can be found at U DDFA3/8/33 consisting of a letter dated 11 February 1892 from Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, thanking him for his condolences on the death of King Albert. Other letters to Beilby Lawley can be found at U DDFA/36/9; they number 36, dated from 1881 to 1911 and include a letter from W G Grace about his book on 'Cricket'. Seven letters offering him various honours and awards including the mastership of the buckhounds and the governorship of New South Wales are catalogued as U DDFA5/12/2.

More revealing evidence of the family's connection with the royal family is to be found at U DDFA/36/25-41 (and U DDFA/40/52) which contains some highlights of Lord Wenlock's world tour as lord-in-waiting to the duke and duchess of York in 1901. This tour took in Canada and the colonies of Australia and New Zealand. In Australia the royal couple were officially in attendance to mark federation. U DDFA/36/30-32 are programmes for the opening of the new Australian commonwealth parliament in Melbourne and the celebrations and receptions to do with this. U DDFA/36/34 is a well-preserved, leather-bound souvenir programme of the visit to Sydney. It is embossed with gold leaf with Lord Wenlock's name on the front. The programme itself is printed on pages of woven silk. Programmes of events in New Zealand include those for reviews, a public reception and a Maori reception in Rotorua. There are also eight large souvenir photographs of the southern alps featuring Mount Cook and the hermitage, the Murchison glacier and Lord Onslow and his party on Mount Sefton (complete with a small dog). Perhaps the most important item is some notes on meetings involving the governor of New Zealand about the land legislation of 1898 to 1899. These are in both English and Maori and were presented to Lord Wenlock by R J Seddon, Premier of New Zealand.

The correspondence of Constance, Lady Wenlock is quite extensive. It is catalogued as DDFA3/5 and DDFA3/7/9 and includes her letters to members of her own family and 88 letters from her husband written between 1871 and 1910, some of them from the time of his world tour. Most of her correspondence comprises letters sent to her rather than from her. She and her husband had many important connections and the collection includes letters from George, Earl of Pembroke and his wife, Gertrude; letters to and from Adolphus G C Liddell; from Evelyn, Viscountess de Vesci; from Ethel Grenfell (later Lady Desborough); from her brother, Henry, the Earl of Harewood; to and from Pamela, Countess of Lytton; from her sister, Margaret, Countess of Desart as well as 350 letters from her only child, Irene, sent from India and parts of Europe. The correspondence of Lady Constance Wenlock is of interest to anyone researching the history of the Raj as a great deal of her correspondence came from India, including many familiar letters from a man who simply signed himself as 'Douglas'. The collection also contains smaller numbers of letters from various members of the family on both sides and there are letters containing comments on 'the troubles' in Ireland 1922-3.

The Forbes Adam papers in the Hull University Archives are a rich source for the study of late Victorian and Edwardian aristocratic life in England. At U DDFA5/125 is a letter from Peters and Sons, carriage manufacturers of London, agreeing to build a new buggy, complete with heraldry, for Lord Wenlock for £300. There are papers relating to hunts, fishing and game shooting (for example, U DDFA5/13/47, 125, 127, 166). The miscellaneous papers at U DDFA/40 are rich in cellar books, and game books, catalogues, invitation lists and lists of agricultural shows. Pantry accounts are at U DDFA5/11/13.

Apart from the papers relating to the lands owned by the family, there are interesting papers to do with the maintenance of the house. For example, U DDFA5/13/74 contains the details sent by the Northern Vaccuum Cleaner Company of Leeds for cleaning Escrick Hall in 1904 and U DDFA5/13/90 indicates that the following year the family were looking into fire protection. Papers relating to early services such as water, electricity and the telephone also exist (U DDFA5/13/81, 99, 102, 325). Some photographs of the gardens at Escrick in the late nineteenth century are at U DDFA3/9/72.

The family's involvement with their locality is clearly shown in papers such as those about the maintenance of local schools and the village church (for example, U DDFA5/13/89). In December 1902, there was a servants' ball held at Escrick and a programme, with a list of dances is at U DDFA5/13/48. Like so many private landowners, the Barons Wenlock were also involved in railway development. In 1911 Beilby Lawley sold some of his fine collection of paintings by Romney, Gainsborough, Vandyke and Reynolds to finance the Derwent Valley Light Railway. Papers to do with this railway before and after 1911 can be found at U DDFA/40/53-54; U DDFA5/13/131, 173, 343 and U DDFA6/13/3. At the death of the 3rd Baron Wenlock the family owned £15,000 of shares and they continued to maintain this business interest (U DDFA5/11/10[h]; Neave, 'Escrick Hall and park', p.29; U DDFA/36/8).

The 3rd Baron Wenlock continued to buy property and add to the Escrick estates of his family. In 1898 he paid £32,500 for the manor, mansion house and estate at Skipwith (U DDFA4/5/23) and in 1907 he bought 93 acres to add to his estates in Stillingfleet (U DDFA/15/94). However, by 1894 he was worrying about death duties and how detrimental they would be to the family fortune. He discussed the problem with two of his brothers at the time. Death duties will 'involve the slow yet sure disintegration of Escrick and all other such estates' he noted in his diary (U DDFA3/9/38). A speech attacking Lloyd George and death duties made by a member of the family is at U DDFA3/9/77. When he died, he left £100 to his butler and sums of £50 and smaller to other servants. He complained of wanting to leave more, but said he felt constrained by death duties which were likely to be in the order of £67,000. He raised the amount he wanted to leave to his only child, Irene Constance, from £15,000 to £20,000. He left his wife, Constance, £1000 and a diamond necklace which she was allowed to keep for her lifetime (U DDFA3/9/38). An enormous effort went into settling his many estates. Inventories of furniture, paintings and heirlooms were done, not just in Escrick Hall but in two London houses at 29 Berkeley Square and 50 Portland Place (U DDFA/36/8; U DDFA/40/51 56, 57; U DDFA5/11/7-12; U DDFA5/13/120, 178-179; U DDFA5/21/14-15). Some estates were sold (U DDFA/31/5). Once it was all done his estate was valued at over half a million pounds and it turned out he had underestimated the death duties he would owe - the account came in at £84,904 (U DDFA5/11/10).

Irene Constance Lawley made a momentous decision upon the death of her father. She decided that her depleted inheritance would not leave enough money for her properly to run Escrick and she moved out into the house at Skipwith that her father had bought in 1898. She sent a note about this, accompanied by her photograph, to all her tenants and the pathos of this act evoked national sympathy; what she had done was recorded in many newspapers and the cuttings are at U DDFA3/9/35. Farms were sold off for a few years (U DDFA6/12/1-9). Skipwith remained the family house and it was altered and extended in the early 1930s (U DDFA5/11/303). In 1935 she turned Escrick Hall into flats and papers to do with their management are at U DDFA5/14. In 1948 Escrick Hall was let to Queen Margaret's School and the school is still there, with classes held in the old stable block (U DDFA5/13/1086-1093).

Irene Constance Lawley had been born in 1889. She was only 22 years old when her father died. She was interested in caring for the sick and had done some training with St John's Ambulance Association (U DDFA3/9/40). In 1914 war broke out and a hospital was set up in Escrick Park for wounded officers. An enormous number of letters and Christmas cards, as well as a few photographs were sent to Irene during the war and after from the men cared for at the hospital (U DDFA3/6/43-5). The correspondence of Irene Constance Lawley is the most considerable in the Forbes Adam papers and it is clear that she was a prolific letter-writer. Apart from the letters she received from the wounded during the first world war, she also received hundreds of letters from friends and family travelling in pre-war Europe and then serving in the forces once the war began. For example, the collection contains 12 letters from her uncle, Richard Lawley, from India and South Africa; 125 letters from Phyllis Windsor-Clive from India, France and Germany and around 400 letters from Barbara Jekyll (later Lady Freyberg) from Egypt, France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium (U DDFA3/6/3-5). Her aunt, the historian, Alethea Wiel Lawley wrote to her from her home in Italy between 1912 and 1917 (U DDFA3/6/20).

Between 1910 and 1920 she received around 130 letters from Leonard Parker of the Royal Flying Corps (U DDFA3/6/13). Another member of the Royal Flying Corps, Lance Page, sent 46 letters from Gallipolli, Mesopotamia and France (U DDFA3/6/14). Edmund, 5th Earl of Limerick sent her 76 letters and a photograph of the 6th squadron and the Royal Flying Corps (U DDFA3/6/27). The Honourable Guy Charteris wrote to her from Malta, France, Canada and the United States (U DDFA3/6/15). 150 letters were sent from Frank Balfour in the Sudan between 1913 and 1919 (U DDFA3/6/26). Francis Rodd, later Lord Rennell of the Rodd, sent her 150 letters while on war service from Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria. Between 1914 and 1921 Morris Gray sent her 53 letters from the United States (U DDFA3/6/29).

Just before the outbreak of the first world war she received several letters from two young German men, Egon Leuder and Hans Gunther Vogel. The latter sent her a picture of himself and a picture of the Flensburg naval college in Germany (U DDFA3/6/16, 19). She seems to have had a large number of admirers. Around 125 British soldiers wrote to her during the first world war and many sent photographs (U DDFA3/6/32). One of the more interesting bundles is that of about a hundred letters from Belgian soldiers and refugees, again including a number of photographs (U DDFA3/6/31). Irene Constance Lawley's correspondence is a wonderful source for anyone researching the social dimension of the first world war. In addition to the letters already enumerated, she received letters from Eric Ward (later earl of Dudley); Ivor, Viscount Windsor (and later earl of Plymouth); Bernard Freyberg (later first Lord Freyberg); Oliver Lyttleton (later Viscount Chandos); Roxburgh Stuart Wortley; Ralph Cavendish and many others, all on war service (see U DDFA3/6/33-41, 46).

On 10 October 1916 she attended the memorial service at St Margaret's in Westminster for the Honourable Edward Wyndham Tennant who had been killed in action in France on the 22nd of the previous month. The order of service and a memorial booklet are at U DDFA3/9/46-47. The memorial booklet contains a printed drawing of Edward dated 17 August 1915 and his last letter home to his mother written two days before he died. 'To-night we go up to the trenches we were in, and to-morrow or the next day we go over the top... I am full of hope and trust, and I pray that I may be worthy of my fighting ancestors... I have never been prouder of anything, except your love for me, than I am of being a Grenadier'. He was 19 years old.

There are numerous other items of interest in the Forbes Adam collection for a researcher interested in the first world war. The organization of the war effort at home is represented by material on the training of Canadian horses for the army (U DDFA5/13/143); the National War Savings Committee (U DDFA5/13/192-193) and the National Service Scheme (U DDFA5/13/231). Also in the collection are the field almanac of Bertram Pearson, 1916 (U DDFA3/9/44); a German field postcard of 1914 (U DDFA3/9/78); as well as two trench maps, a list of code messages and a field hymn book for Roman Catholic members of the German army and the transcript copy of a war diary (U DDFA3/9/79-87).

In 1920 Irene Lawley met and married Colin Forbes Adam (1889-1982), the 3rd son of Sir Frank Forbes-Adam, a successful businessman in India and Manchester. Over 200 letters of congratulation on the marriage are at U DDFA3/6/56. However, the family solicitor did not feel like celebrating. It meant Irene writing a new will and he had to consider the possibility of her not producing an heir and the inheritance moving sideways, as she wished to make no specific provision for her husband. After the death of the 3rd Lord Wenlock, the actual title had been inherited by his brother, Richard, who had had a relatively undistinguished career in the army and colonial civil service and died in 1918. Thus, in 1920 the title was held by yet another brother, Algernon, prebendary of St Paul's. He had only a daughter, so the heir presumptive was another younger brother, Arthur (portrait at U DDFA/40/55), who also had only daughters. The solicitor speculated on the nightmare of estate duties that could result. If Arthur Lawley remarried at any stage and had a son who died the estate would pass back to his eldest daughter, only 'loaded with the Estate Duty...And if there were twin boys, and they died one after the other, there would be double Estate Duty'. It was decided to let the inheritance of Escrick move colaterally and then through a female line because death duties meant 'that the old inherent right of males to priority is...falling into disuse' (U DDFA5/13/462). Arthur was in the colonial service; he was governor of Western Australia for two years and he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, the 3rd baron, when he became governor of Madras in 1905. He did eventually become the 6th baron, but the peerage became extinct when he died in 1932.

Colin Forbes Adam was in the Indian civil service and he and Irene went out to India after their marriage. Irene Lawley kept in very regular contact with her mother (Constance died in 1932; DDFA3/9/35 and DDFA3/6/79). The correspondence between the two women is intact and numbers some 750 letters (DDFA5/5/35; DDFA[6]/6/1). Other correspondents included Lady Diana Cooper (later Viscountess Norwich); Eve Fairfax; Victor Bulwer-Lytton (later Earl of Lytton); George Lloyd (later Lord Lloyd of Dolobran); Blanche Lloyd (later Lady Lloyd of Dolobran); Donald Somervell (later Lord Somervell of Harrow); Irene Charteris (later Countess of Plymouth) and Ursula, Lady Ridley (all in DDFA3/6).

U DDFA3/6 also contains many letters from members of Irene's family. For example, there are six letters from her uncle, the Earl of Desart (U DDFA3/6/72). There are also around 250 letters addressed to her from her husband and dated between 1920 and 1956 (U DDFA3/6/60) and many letters to her from her children, Virginia Mary (b.1922), Stephen Timothy Beilby (b.1923), Desmond Francis (b.1926) and Nigel Colin (b.1930) (U DDFA3/6/69, 81-82). U DDFA3/6/78 is a bundle of some 150 letters from her son, Timothy, many of which were written on service during the second world war. U DDFA3/6/88 is a bundle of about another 150 letters from various family members and friends dated between 1912 and her death in 1956.

Colin and Irene Forbes-Adam retired in 1927 and their youngest son, Nigel, still resides in Skipwith house. Their residence in England ensured that items of interest for the second world war also appear in the collection. For example, there is material from the East Riding of Yorkshire executive of the War Agricultural Committee as well as a number of items about war memorials and the Air Ministry's requisitioning of land in Escrick (U DDFA5/1/3-14; U DDFA5/13/969-970, 1057, 971-973, 1049-1055; U DDFA5/22/28).

The family had strong connections with India with both the 3rd Lord Wenlock and 6th Lord Wenlock holding the post of governor of Madras (Beilby and Arthur Lawley both had a number of pieces of political and travel journalism about India published in the 1890s and 1920s) and with Irene Lawley marrying a member of the Indian civil service. The correspondence of these generations of the family make valuable research material about India. There are some letters of an earlier age. For example, Richard England wrote about his service in India in the 1840s (U DDFA/39/51) and in 1851 Lady Elizabeth Lawley received a letter describing the Taj Mahal (U DDFA/39/38). In 1859 Tom Dayrell wrote to describe his life in India (U DDFA/39/37). In 1860 S T Canning wrote to Sir Charles Wood saying he was retiring as governor general of India, but that he wanted to carry through some constitutional changes first (U DDFA3/8/26). The deposit of miscellaneous items at DDFA3/9 contains a number of notices of entertainments amongst the ex-patriot community, including an exhibition of paintings of India by Lady Constance Wenlock shown on her return at the Sunderland art gallery (her paintings were collected into a book, Southern India, and described by Fanny Penny, the chronicler and romance novelist of Indian life - a painting of Annie Allen Lawley, Arthur Lawley's wife, features in this book).

While the Forbes-Adam family papers do have concentrations of papers on research areas such as Indian history and the social history of the first world war, in large part it is a collection of memorabilia. At U DDFA/8/1 it can be discovered that Kexby manor was granted to Robert Ughtred on 5 May 1552 'in consideration of injuries done to him by Cardinel Wolsey'. U DDFA5/21/11 is a poster for Signor T Somerfield's 'celebrated refined troupe of Negro minstrels' dated 4 February 1899 and U DDFA/43/27 is an agreement for stopping the trains at Escrick station at Lord Wenlock's request in 1864. There are letters from Lords Middleton and Carlisle dated 1826 and 1839 respectively and a letter from Lord Grosvenor dated 1852 saying that he would like Gladstone to pitch into Disraeli because the latter 'has no shame about him' (U DDFA/39/38). Most importantly, in the correspondence of Irene Lawley there are four letters from Vita (Victoria) Sackville-West from the 1920s (U DDFA3/6/75).

Access Information

Some of the records in this collection contain sensitive personal information. In accordance with data protection legislation, records containing sensitive personal information are not available for public inspection for 75 years if the information relates to adults, or 100 years if the information relates to children. In some circumstances access may be granted for research purposes. To request access or for further information please contact

Access to all other material will be granted to any accredited reader.

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate archives subject guide

Conditions Governing Use

Charles Forbes-Adam

Custodial History

U DDFA and DDFA2 were originally deposited in the East Riding Record Office and were transferred to Hull University Archives by Nigel Forbes-Adam in 1974. DDFA3 was deposited by Nigel Forbes-Adam on 13 October 1981, DDFA4 on 30 July 1982, DDFA5 in January 1990 and DDFA6 on 24 September 1991.

Related Material

Account book of Lady Elizabeth Wenlock 1852-63 [U DRA/604]

From the Papers of the Preston Family [DDPR/7/166, 180-183, 218-219; DDPR/12/7]

From the Papers of Kenneth A. MacMahon [DDMM/28/1]

Other repositories:

Wenlock deeds, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York [GB 0193]

Indian papers of 3rd Baron Wenlock [MSS Eur D 592], British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections [GB 0059]


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