The Watermark Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

A note found with the collection describes it as a collection of letters, deeds and accounts, etc ranging from 1560 to 1820 illustrating watermarks used in the manufacture of paper. This accompanies a numbered list of documents which gives a brief description of any watermarks, but no technical identification or dating of them.

Despite the fact that these documents appear to have been artifically been bought together, there is a discernible archival unity to the collection. It seems that they once formed part of the papers of the Freemen, Edwards and Mitford families of Batsford and includes papers related to the administration of their own estates, as well as those created in the course of their work as lawyers.

Items of particular interest include: Elizabethan court rolls for the manors of Uckington (Gloucestershire) 1562, Tempster (Montgomeryshire) 1584 and Saintbury (Gloucestershire) 1603; papers related to the advowson and tithes of the manor of Saintbury; and 17th century medicinal recipes and prescriptions

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Freeman of Batsford was an eminent lawyer who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1707. His daughter Mary married Walter Edwards and their sons Walter and Thomas assumed the name Edwards Freeman. Thomas Edwards Freeman went on to inherit the Batsford estate, but died in 1808 without heir and devised his estates to his wife's nephew John Mitford. Another eminent lawyer, he was made Solicitor General in 1793, Attorney General in 1799, speaker of the House of Commons in 1801 and Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1802. He was knighted in 1793 and created Baron Redesdale in 1802. Several other members of the Freeman, Edwards and Mitford families were also lawyers


The papers have been arranged as follows:

  • 1/ Manorial records
  • 2/ Title deeds and related papers
  • 3/ Abstracts
  • 4/ Bonds and receipts
  • 5/ Estate accounts
  • 6/ Estate papers
  • 7/ Personal papers
  • 8/ Legal papers
  • 9/ Miscellaneous

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to bona fide researchers

Acquisition Information

The papers were donated to the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College (one of the University's predecessor bodies) by Harry H. Peach on 21 January 1924.

Other Finding Aids

There is handlist available for the collection

Custodial History

The papers were articficially gathered together at some point to illustrate watermarks used in the manufacture of paper. It is not known who undertook this work.


No further accruals are expected

Location of Originals

Records related to the families of Freeman, Edwards and Mitford are housed at the Gloucestershire Archives