Papers of the Ashe and Windham Family (Incorporating Bowyer and Smijth) of Wawne (Waghen)

Scope and Content

The papers include some 16th century crown leasehold sales, late 17th century sales and leases of the Ashe family including the 1668 purchase of a major moiety of the manor of Wawne for £8235, rectory leases from 1676 from York Minster, some late 17th century rentals, a number of abstracts of title as well as extracts from Meaux Abbey title documents, some 18th century manorial records being jury verdicts and call lists, a 1773 plan of the lordship, 1781 drainage acts, the 1772 appointment of Stephen Hawkes as gamekeeper, the grant of Joseph Smijth to take the name and arms of Windham, accounts relating to furniture bought 1819-31 and some 1830s correspondence about tithes. The collection also includes the marriage settlements of John Windham and Mary Ashe (1734) and Joseph Windham and Charlotte de Grey (1769) and the wills of Joseph Windham Ashe (1746) and William Hawtayne (1754).

Administrative / Biographical History

The village of Wawne (or Waghen) is just to the north of Hull, on low-lying fenland on the East bank of the River Hull. A Cistercian abbey established at Meaux was to dominate the economic and social life of the parish of Wawne until its dissolution in 1539. All that remains of the Abbey is earthworks; stone and medieval tiles survive, built into Hull's defensive walls and surrounding cottages and farms. Wawne then came into the hands of the crown and a few crown leases and sales are in the collection from the latter part of the sixteenth century. For the next century the Alford and Langdale families owned or leased most of Wawne until the Corporation of the City of London acquired it in 1629. In 1651 they made a grant of some of the land and rents to Joseph Ashe, beginning the long association of the Ashe, and later Windham, family with this village (Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p.613; Carrick, 'The lords of the manor of Wawne', pp.15-16).

Joseph Ashe (1617-1686) was the third son of a London clothier. He became a successful London merchant with a hunger for land. He built up estates in Wawne quickly, as well as Cambridge Park, Twickenham. He drained and enclosed land in Wawne and bought into the rectory, but his efforts were those of investment and he rarely inhabited the houses he owned. He was created baronet in 1660. He married Mary Wilson, who was the daughter of a London draper, in about 1650. They had a large family of daughters, many of whom died young, and one son was born to them late in their marriage in 1674. This was James Ashe, 2nd baronet, a cruel man whose marriage to Catherine Bowyers ended in separation without leaving a male heir. The eldest daughter of Joseph and Mary Ashe, Katherine Ashe (1652-1729), married William Windham of Fellbrigg Hall, Norfolk. The Windham family were wealthy and well-established, having owned Fellbrigg since at least the early part of the fifteenth century. After the breakdown of James and Catherine Ashe's marriage, their daughter Martha was brought up by her aunt, Katherine Windham, and she then married the son of Katherine and William Windham in 1715. After the death of the second baronet, Martha transferred her Wawne and Twickenham inheritance to her husband, Joseph Windham, who took the name Ashe (Carrick, 'The lords of the manor of Wawne', pp.16-18).

Joseph Windham Ashe (1683-1746) was a merchant in London specialising in wholesale linen drapery and was cashier to the salt commissioners between about 1718 and 1734. After the death of the shiftless second baronet in 1733, he invested his wife's inheritance by setting about completing the enclosure of land at Wawne started by her grandfather. His estates totalled around 4500 acres by the late-1730s, much of this in Wawne, though he did not reside in the village. The family lease on the manor of Downton in Wawne carried with it appointment of a parliamentary officer and Joseph Windham Ashe was returned for parliament as a government supporter between 1734 and 1741. Martha and Joseph Windham Ashe had only one child, Mary, who married John Windham Bowyer in 1734; this was the second marriage of first cousins to take place in the family. John Windham Bowyer dropped the name Bowyer later in life. He and his wife lived at Twickenham and had seven children, their eldest son being Joseph Windham (1739-1810) who married Catherine de Grey in 1769. This generation was the first to suffer financially; Joseph Windham Ashe had been forced to mortgage properties and soon after his death in 1746 the Twickenham Park property was sold. However, this did not lead the family to reside at Wawne. John Windham Bowyer died in 1780 and when his son Joseph died childless thirty years later the Wawne property moved to one of John and Mary Windham Bowyer's daughters, Anne, who had married William Smijth in 1779. She died in 1815 and he in 1823 (Carrick, 'The lords of the manor of Wawne', pp.17-19; Sedgewick, The house of commons, ii, p.549; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, pp.29-30).

Anne and William Smijth's fifth son, Joseph Smijth (b.1792), became the first family member to take the decision actually to live at Wawne. In 1816 he applied to take the extra name Windham and came to live at Wawne Hall, to which he also gained title. He was a captain in the 10th Hussars and 17th Lancers. When he died in 1857, his son, William George Smijth Windham (b.1828) dropped the name Smijth. William George Windham died unmarried in 1887 and the estates passed to his brother Ashe Windham, who served in the colonial judiciary in Africa. He had four children and ceded the estates to his eldest son, also Ashe Windham (b.1830), in 1903, dying in 1909. The family continued to be deeply involved in African politics and the legal profession. The younger Ashe Windham's eldest son, Ralph Windham, was a judge of the supreme court in Kenya and was the depositor of the family papers. The estate, which in the late nineteenth century was about 3500 acres in size, began to be a financial drain on the family in the 1890s and they lived in the lodge, letting out the Hall from 1892. In the 1910s economic depression bit hard and the estate was sold except for the Hall and surrounds. However, in the 1950s this was finally sold also, to an estate agent who demolished it and built speculative housing (Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, pp.29-30; Carrick, 'The lords of the manor of Wawne', pp.19-20; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p.738).

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate archives subject guide

Custodial History

Deposited originally by Lawrence Graham & Co, Solicitors, on behalf of Justice Ashe Windham, in the East Riding Record Office and transferred to Hull University Archives in 1974. DDWI/120 deposited separately through Middlesex County Record Office.

Related Material

From the Papers of Crust Todd and Mills Solicitors [U DDCV(2)/59/7]

Other repositories:

Windham family papers, Norfolk Record Office


  • Carrick, Mary,'The lords of the manor of Wawne: the Ashe, Windham and Smijth families, 1651-c.1950', Bulletin of the East Yorkshire Local History Society, 47 (1992/3)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus & Neave, David, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding (1995)
  • Sedgewick, Romney, The house of commons 1715-1754 (1970)
  • Ward J T, East Yorkshire landed estates in the nineteenth century (1967)