Plas-yn-Rhos Papers

Scope and Content

Also known as the Brinkley Family papers. 1734, 1787-1970.

John Brinkley (1766-1835), before his elevation to the see of Cloyne, Ireland, in 1826, had been in charge of the Dublin Observatory and was from 1788 a Senior Wrangler, and from 1792, Astronomer Royal. In 1822 he was also President of the Royal Irish Academy. John's eldest son, the Rev. John Brinkley (1793-1847), was rector of Glanworth in his father's diocese. He married Anna Stephens, daughter of an Irish clergyman. Their eldest son, John (d. 1851), died whilst serving in the army in India. His younger brother, Walter Stephens Brinkley (1826-1884), inherited the Brinkley estates. Walter's eldest son, John Turner Brinkley was Chief Constable of Warwickshire, and another of his sons, Charles Michael Brinkley (1861-1903), served as Chief Constable of Lincolnshire. On Charles's death in 1903 the family moved to St Asaph. Charles's daughter, Violet Kathleen (b. 1895), Lady Graham, remained in the Vale of Clwyd after her marriage to Crosland Graham in 1929. Their elder daughter, Miss Marigold Graham, was appointed sheriff of Clwyd in 1981. Their second daughter, Miss Helen Graham, married Dr James Earl, MD FRCPath.

This relatively small collection of correspondence and other personal papers of the Brinkley and related families has been kindly deposited on loan by Miss Marigold Graham of Plas yn Rhos, Ruthin, whose mother, Lady Graham, was formerly Miss V.K. Brinkley. Although the family's connection with the Vale of Clwyd is fairly recent, and the collection therefore does not contain a great deal of material of purely local interest, many of the letters are important for the light they throw on events and the attitude of people in other parts, notably in Ireland and India.

The earliest letters date from the early nineteenth century and include the correspondence of John Brinkley, Bishop of Cloyne, his wife, Esther (formerly Weld), and their friend, Maria Edgeworth, the Irish novelist.

There is also a letter to the Bishop from Sir Walter Scott, whom the Brinkleys had visited at Abbotsford. Bishop Brinkley paid several visits to England and to Scotland, accompanied on some occasions by his wife and daughter, and several of their journals of these visits are in this collection. Before his elevation to the see of Cloyne in 1826, he had been in charge of the Dublin Observatory and was from 1788 a Senior Wrangler, and from 1792, Astronomer Royal. These interests are reflected in letters written to him by several correspondents, including one from William Edgeworth while in Italy conveying a request for his co-operation with Italian astronomers in some observations.

In 1822 he was also President of the Royal Irish Academy.

Bishop Brinkley's eldest son, John, followed his father into the church and was rector of Glanworth in his father's diocese. He married Anna Stephens, daughter of another Irish clergyman, but did not attain to any higher office. Their eldest son, John, died as a young man while serving in the Army in India. His letters home during the year before his death show him to have disliked India intensely, but his descriptions of Army life there in 1850 are nevertheless full of interest. His younger brother, Walter Stephens Brinkley, was also an Army officer, and it was he who inherited the Brinkley estates. Unlike his immediate forebears, however, he married into an English not an Irish family, in the person of Susanna Caroline Turner whose family home was in Suffolk.

The impression one gets of W.S. Brinkley and his wife from their letters is of people who based their lives firmly on their strong Protestant religious convictions and who felt that they were fighting an uphill battle to maintain these convictions in their children and grandchildren in the face of the increasingly 'papist' tendencies of the Church of England. Of their six children, the second son, Walter Frederick Brownlow Brinkley, became a clergyman, serving as vicar of Abbotsleigh near Bristol for many years, while their two other sons both started their careers as Army officers and retired from their respective regiments to take up posts of Chief Constable, John Turner Brinkley in Warwickshire, and his younger brother, Charles Michael Edgeworth Brinkley, in Lincolnshire. The three daughters figure only fleetingly in the correspondence. Anna Brinkley married Capt. Maurice Elrington-Bisset of Lessendrum in Scotland, but tragedy befell her younger sister, Susannah Kathleen (Kitty), who was drowned in the wreck of the Drummond Castle when returning from a visit to South Africa in 1896. There are several letters in this collection which she wrote to her mother while on this visit, and it is poignant to read that she had originally intended to return home earlier on a different vessel but put off her departure as people had urged her to stay longer.

By far the largest group of letters dating from the later nineteenth century are those between Charles M.E. Brinkley, Lady Graham's father, and his wife and mother. His courtship of Miss Evelyn Everard-Hutton of Bath seems to have been fraught with difficulties and their engagement after several years was only agreed to reluctantly by her parents. The marriage, however, though cut short by his early death in 1903, seems to have been an entirely happy one, and their letters from India during the 1890s make an interesting contrast to those written by John Brinkley forty years earlier. Their four children were still young when their father died, only a short time after settling in Lincolnshire, and his widow decided to move to North Wales where she and her family had several friends of long standing in the St. Asaph neighbourhood. Her father, Thomas Everard Hutton, one of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade, had lived in the Vale of Clwyd at various times and become friendly with the Williams-Wynn family. On two occasions he leased Dolben near St. Asaph which he used as a fishing lodge and was also a frequent visitor to Bodidris for the grouse shooting. The family returned to the area again after periods of residence in Norfolk and Bath, finally settling at Talardy, St. Asaph. Unfortunately, however, the collection includes only one undated letter of Thomas Everard Hutton referring to the Vale of Clwyd, written while he was on a visit to Bodelwyddan, though his daughter Evelyn, who had herself been born at Dolben, kept up a correspondence with Mary Hughes of Kinmel for many years. She settled with her children in St. Asaph, and remained there until her death in 1937. Her eldest daughter, Maud Agneta Brinkley, also stayed in the area, and was well known in the locality for her involvement in voluntary work, while her second daughter, Violet Kathleen, now Lady Graham, continued to make her home in the Vale of Clwyd after her marriage.


The collection is arranged into correspondence, journals, diaries and other personal papers.

Access Information

This collection is open for research. It is advisable to book in advance, for details and opening hours see Access to some documents may be restricted due to Data Protection legislation, Denbighshire Archive Service will advise where this is the case.

Archivist's Note

Originally listed in 1981, added to CALM Sep 2014 by Sarah Winning (Archivist) by OCR copying of the original paper list and input into MS Excel by Lowri Williams (Archives Assistant).

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