Aston Collection

Scope and Content

The collection at the University of Liverpool comprises of over 700 deeds, rent rolls, accounts, receipts, inventories, bonds, fragments of court rolls and presentments. The collection also contains documents concerning the shrievalty of Cheshire, legal papers, correspondence, and maps of Cheshire.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Aston family is first documented in the reign of Henry II, whose charters record one Gilbert de Aston, Lord of Aston juxta Sutton (he is mentioned in AD/IX/7 ). The family built up a large estate in Cheshire and other parts of the country (especially in Berkshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire), largely through the marriage of their male heirs to a female heiresses. The estate descended lineally until the death of Sir Thomas Aston, 4th Baronet, in 1744 when the baronetcy reverted to a collateral male line and the estate was settled on his elder sister Catherine. This brought the estate to the Hervey-Aston line and remained in the possession of this family until the death of Arthur Hervey-Aston in 1839, when an entail passed it to Charles Chetwynd-Talbot. It was inherited in turn by his great-nephew Captain Talbot, and the estate stayed in the hands of the Talbot family until its demise the 20th century.

Accrual and descent of the Aston estates


The collection is arranged into nine sections. When acquired, the sections were arranged chronologically, and this original order has been maintained.

Section AD/VIII was originally an amalgamation of a variety of different types documents, under the heading 'Miscellaneous', and arranged into the sub-groups 'Letters of attorney', 'Miscellaneous deeds' and 'Miscellaneous papers'. When the collection was relisted in 2006, these papers were put where appropriate into the other original seven sections, and given a reference number ending in 'A'. The remaining papers were arranged into the sections 'Papers relating to the management of the estates and buildings', 'Papers relating to the tenants of the Aston estates', and 'Ephemera'.

The collection of Cheshire maps, originally numbered AD/IX, are now AD/XII.

The Aston Collection is now arranged into the following sections:

  • AD/I  A number of deeds (mainly leases and articles of agreement) and letters of attorney regarding the estates in Cheshire and other counties, especially Stanford-in-the-Vale in Berkshire (ca. 1541-1881)
  • AD/II  Rent rolls, accounts, receipts and inventories (ca.1557-1873)
  • AD/III  Bonds ([155-]-1777)
  • AD/IV  Fragments of court rolls for estates in Berkshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire ([159-]-1707) and presentments for properties in Warwickshire (1720-1739)
  • AD/V  Documents concerning the shrievalty of Cheshire (1634-1724)
  • AD/VI  Legal papers (1566-1873) including some from the chancery suit Knollys v. Knollys concerning the manor of Stanford, Berks. (ca.1598-1601).
  • AD/VII  Correspondence (ca.1630 - 19th century)
  • AD/VIII  Papers relating to the tenants of the Aston estates (ca.1630-1848)
  • AD/IX  Papers relating to the management of the Aston estates and buildings (1564 - 18th century)
  • AD/X  Contemporary notes relating to material in the Aston collection (ca.1638-1700).
  • AD/XI  Ephemera (1638 - 18th century)
  • AD/XII  Maps of properties in Cheshire (1753-1767)

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers. An appointment must be made in advance of any visit.

Acquisition Information

The collection at the University of Liverpool was presented to the Liverpool University School of History in 1949  by Raymond Richards, F.S.A., of Birkdale, Lancashire.


Anne Willoughby, heir of Sir Henry Willoughby of Risley, Derbshire, brought with her estates in Berkshire (Stanford-in-the-Vale) and Warwickshire (Kingsbury). She was subsequently married to the Honourable Anchitel Grey of Stanford-in-the-Vale. These estates came into the possession of the Aston family when Sir Willoughby inherited them on his mother's death. Her maternal great-grandfathers were Sir Ambrose Cave of Warwickshire (ca.1503-1568), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Sir Francis Knollys (ca.1514-1596), Treasurer of Queen Elizabeth. (See AD/VI/4  and AD/X/1  for records relating to the Knollys and Cave estates.)

On the death of Sir Thomas, the Aston baronetcy passed to his cousin, Sir Willoughby Aston, son of Richard Aston (brother of Sir Thomas, 3rd Baronet).The baronetcy was inherited by Sir Willoughby's son, also Sir Willoughby (b. 1748), in 1772. On his death in 1815, the baronetcy become extinct.

The lists for the holdings at these institutions can be found at the end of the printed finding aid.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available in the reading room. It includes family trees for the Aston and Hervey-Aston families, and printed lists for the Aston material held in other repositories (see 'Associated Material' below).

Archivist's Note

The collection was relisted in its present form by Charlotte Swire in 2006, replacing the original paper finding aid created by Sarah Kinsey in 1993.

Separated Material

The Aston collection at the University of Liverpool form only a small part of the papers of the Aston family. A full list of the other holdings of the papers of the Aston family of Aston Hall can be found on the National Register of Archives. Links are provided below to the catalogue entries for the Aston papers held by

Conditions Governing Use

This material cannot be photocopied. Reproduction and licensing rules are available on request.

Appraisal Information

All of the material deposited with the Aston collection has been preserved.

Custodial History

The collection was originally kept at the University of Liverpool School of History. It was transferred to the University archives in 1962 and given the reference number D20, but was then transferred to form part of University of Liverpool Special Collections on 13 July 1978.


There are no anticipated accruals


George Ormerod: The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, Volume I, 2nd edition , revised and enlarged by Thomas Helsby (George Routledge, London, 1882). Pages 531-537 are Ormerod's account of the Aston family from the reign of Henry II up to the time of Sir Willoughby Aston, 2nd Baronet, with an added family tree which follows the family up to Sir Arthur Ingram Aston.

George Edward Cockayne: Complete Baronetage, Volume II, 1625-1649, (William Pollard & co., Exeter, 1902). Pages 48-49 list the grantee and successors to the title of Baronet Aston in the reign of Charles I.

The Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd series, vol 24, (Chester, 1927). Contains a description of the biographical diaries of Sir Willoughby Aston with some biographical notes.