Papers of the Willoughby Family of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, Middleton, Warwickshire, and Birdsall, Yorkshire, including, title deeds, estate records, family papers, legal and manorial records; c.1175-1835

Scope and Content

The earliest documents in the collection, relating to Trowell in Nottinghamshire, date from the late 12th century. The papers then document the Willoughby family's acquisition and consolidation of land through purchase, marriage, inheritance etc. for almost 700 years.The bulk of the papers consist of legal documents, either deeds themselves or papers relating to properties and the transfer of title. These documents complement those catalogued under Mi D and Mi Da within the main Middleton catalogue (Mi A-X). The South Nottinghamshire estates are particularly well represented, with documents relating to Trowell, Sutton Passeys, Wollaton, Cossall, Aspley, Lenton, Radford, Bramcote and Beeston. Also present in the collection are titles for South Muskham, Carlton, Willoughby, West Leake, North Wheatley, Sturton, Saundby, South Leverton and Newark. There are also deeds relating to Stapleford and Carlton le Moorland, Lincolnshire, Stanton by Dale, Derbyshire, Sutton Coldfield and Middleton, Warwickshire, and Chiddingstone, Chevening, Penshurst, Ightham and Sundridge, Kent.The collection also includes a substantial amount of manorial records including court rolls, compoti and manorial rentals and surveys. These relate particularly to Nottinghamshire, including Wollaton, Radford, Lenton, Trowell, Cossall, Collingham, Wiverton, Lowdham and Willoughby-on-the-Wolds. However, there are also manorial records relating to Middleton and Brandon in Warwickshire and significant series of court rolls relating to Kent including the Hundred of Hoo, and the manors of Selling and Ightham; and to Dorset including the Hundred of Knowlton and the manors of Woodland, Winterborne Zelstone and Langton Wallis. There are also a number of court rolls, compoti and other court records relating to the manor of Smallwood in Cheshire. Again, the manorial material is complementary to that covered in Mi M within the main Middleton catalogue (Mi A-X).Family documents within the collection include many marriage settlements, wills and inquisitions. Papers concerning the family's interests in woods, ironworks, woad growing and glassworks are also present. There are a few personal papers of Francis Willughby (1635-1672) and a small amount of family correspondence.The papers also include legal and cause papers, particularly for the 17th century, when the family was engaged in protracted litigation both concerning title to the estate of Sir William Willoughby of Selston (contested by Beaumont Dixie) and also as a result of claims made by the children of Francis Willughby against Sir Josiah Child, second husband of Francis's widow, Emma.The archive includes estate rental papers, and a small number of surveys and plans.

Administrative / Biographical History

The papers form part of the larger estate archive of Lord Middleton, the majority of which were generated in the course of the management of the family's extensive estate business. They form a separate group as the result of administrative arrangement, which organised the documents into bundles while they were still part of the working estate archive. The bundles bring together material about particular places and subjects. They are complementary in date and subject to the group of papers catalogued under Mi A-X, which includes the majority of documents within certain categories, such as deeds and rentals.See the fonds entry (Mi) for details about the Willoughby family and their estates.


The arrangement of the papers follows the system used at Wollaton Hall. In an arrangement made in 1835, parcels were numbered and placed on numbered shelves. This arrangement and numbering system has been retained.

Access Information

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:Typescript Catalogue, 422 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 254 pp On the World Wide Web:Catalogue available from the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.Access to the typescript catalogues also available online on the national A2A (Access to Archives) website.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Custodial History

The papers were acquired directly from the family's estate managers by the University of Nottingham in 1947, at the same time as a further quantity of archives (see Mi A-X).

Related Material

See also the fonds entry for the entire Middleton Collection (Mi); and items in the other parts of the collection (MiAX, Mi2, Mi3 and Mi4)

Geographical Names