Coke Family of Weasenham: Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of over 4,000 title deeds and estate papers from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, concerning the lordship of Weasenham, Norfolk. It includes a series of fourteenth-century court rolls, with accounts for the two manors of Kipton and Northall, which were acquired in 1592 by Sir Edward Coke. There are also a number of rentals and terriers from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, and a survey by William Hayward, with two estate maps from 1600. The collection also includes several hundred charters and deeds recording land transfers from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Twelve boxes contain deeds and papers relating to the third Weasenham manor of Easthall and Hastings, which the Coke family purchased in 1796 from the heirs of Richard Jackson.

Administrative / Biographical History

The history of the family has been traced to Robert Cok of East Rushton, a gentleman, who married Agnes, daughter and heir of Roger Crispying of Happisburgh. Their son John married the daughter and heir of William Falcard, lord of the manor of Sparham. This brought to Sparham their son Sir Robert Coke, who married Anne Wodehouse of Waxham. Their son, Robert Coke of Mileham (b. 1513), married Winifred, daughter of William Knightly, a Norwich attorney, in 1543. This marriage produced Sir Edward Coke, lord chief justice of England (1552-1634), who married Bridget, daughter and heir of John Paston of Huntingfield. Their great-grandson was Robert Coke of Sharrington, Suffolk, who married Lady Ann Osborne, the daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Leeds, and fathered Edward Coke of Holkham (d. 1707). He was the father of Sir Thomas Coke (1697-1759), K.B., who was made Viscount Coke of Holkham and Earl of Leicester, and died without issue. Sir Thomas's sister Anne married Major Philip Roberts of the Royal House Guards. Their son, Wenham Roberts, assumed the name Coke on succeeding to the estate of his maternal uncle Thomas, Viscount Coke. Wenham was the father of Thomas William Coke (c. 1752-1842), M.P. for Norfolk, who was created Viscount Coke and 1st Earl Leicester of Holkham in 1837. He fathered by his second marriage Thomas William Coke (1822-1909), Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk. His son, Thomas William Coke (1848-1941), became 3rd Earl of Leicester, and was Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and president of the Local Territorial Force Association. He was in the Scots Guards, and served with distinction in the Egyptian, Soudan and South African campaigns. The family's lordship of Weasenham is situated between Castleacre and Fakenham in West Norfolk.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1998.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The history of the Coke family was compiled with reference to Walter Rye, Norfolk families (2 vols; Norwich, 1911-1915).

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection, produced at Holkham in 1890-1909 as part of the Holkham papers series by Edward Scott (1840-1918) of the British Museum, is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Custodial History

The papers were previously part of the Holkham Archive at Holkham Hall. They were transferred to Weasenham Hall in 1909, at the death of the 2nd Earl of Leicester, when the Weasenham estate was left to his second wife, Georgiana Caroline Cavendish (1855-1937), as her dowager seat.

Geographical Names