Scope and Content

Deeds, 1449-1956; mining records, 1740-1942; estate papers, 1551-1965, including accounts, 1706-1928, receipts and vouchers, 1551-1888, rentals, [early 18th century]-1868, valuations, 1802-1914, surveys and particulars, 1727-[early 20th century], maps and plans, 1716-1908, inventories, 1565-1920; sale plans and particulars, 1841-1910, correspondence, 1647-1940, papers relating to Ffestiniog railway, 1827-1950, to roads, 1675-1939, timber, 1842-1937, Soughton inclosures,[ c. 1823]-1830, and drainage, 1909-1960; legal records, including case papers, [c. 1605]-1930; and family papers, including settlements, 1613-1890; wills and testamentary papers, 1644-1944; correspondence, 1711-1826; personal accounts and vouchers, [early 18th century]-1890; and papers relating to trusts and investments, 1849-1893.

Administrative / Biographical History

The foundations of the Soughton Hall estate, Centred on the ancient parish of Northop, Flintshire, were laid by a branch of the well-known Conway family of Bodrhyddan, at the beginning of the seventeenth century. By the middle of the century they had also acquired extensive lands in Caerfallwch and Ysceifiog as a result of the marriage of John Conway (died 1680) with Katherine, heiress of the Hanmers of Caerfallwch. Their combined estates passed to their only son, John, and on his death in 1689 to his eldest son, Edward Conway.

Edward Conway was an ambitious and enterprising man who figures frequently in documents in this collection. He bought up lands adjacent to his own, including the estate of his unfortunate brother-in-law, Edward Lewis, who spendthrift son obliged him to sell the greater part of his property. In a survey of 1727 there is refence to a quarry from which stones for Sought Hall had been taken, suggesting that it was at about this time that the house was built. However, Edward Conway himself was not long able to avioid financial difficulties. He became involved in expensive litigation and in 1732 sold Soughton Hall and that part of the estate know as Middle Soughton to Rev. John Wynne, Bishop of Bath and Wells. Lower Soughton, since Edward Conway's two children both died unmarried, passed on his death to his youngest sister, Elizabeth, wife of Rev. Benjamin Conway and to their descendants.

Rev. John Wynne (1667-1743) son of Humphrey Wynne of Caerwys was descended through his mother from the Wynnes of Coparleni, Trelawnyd. He attended schools at Northop and Ruthin and in 1682 was admitted to Jesus College, Oxford of which he later became principal. In 1715 he was appointed Bishop of St. Asaph and in 1720 married Anne Pugh, heiress of Pennarth, Penmachno, thus acquiring considerable estates in Caernarvonshire and Marioneth. He was translated to Bath and Wells in 1727 but after purchasing the Soughton estate, he appears to have spent a considerable amount of time there and it is recorded that he died there in 1743. Accounts of the rates of pay for a mason and Joiner at Soughton which are amongst this collection are unfortunately undated, so it is not clear whether they relate to work initiated by Edward Conway or later improvements undertaken by Bishop Wynne but they do refer to chimney-pieces of Halkyn marble and oak and deal flooring and panelling, which are the only details of the original house to be found recorded.

John Wynne's two sons, John and William, were both barristers and both died unmarried. William specialised in ecclesiastical law, becoming Dean of Arches and a judge in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. He was knighted in 1788. After his death in 1815, the Soughton estate passed to his surviving sister, Margaret, wife of Henry Bankes of Corfe Castle, co. Dorset and it is from the latter that the present owner of Soughton Hall is descended.

The Bankes family has included many men who have achieved positions of importance in national and local affairs. Canon Edward Bankes, grandson of Henry Bankes and Margaret Wynne, was Chaplain to Queen Victoria. He married firstly Lady Frances Jane Scott, daughter of John, Earl of Eldon, the Lord Chancellor and came into possession of Soughton on the death, without issued, of his elder brother, William John Bankes in 1855. The latter had been responsible for extensive alterations to Soughton Hall, remodelling it in the 'Spanish style' and moving the main entrance to the north side. There are references to this in letters he wrote to his parents in 1821, which are among a collection of his papers in the custody of Mr Ralph Bankes of Kingston Lacy. In 1867 the Soughton estate passed from Edward Bankes to his eldest son, John Scott Bankes who served as High Sheriff of Flintshire, 1869, and Chairman of Flintshire Quarter Sessions. His first wife, Anne was the daughter of Sir John Jervis, Chief Justice of Common Pleas. He, too, undertook substantial restoration and remodelling work at Soughton Hall, employing as the architect John Douglas of Chester. Some of his plans are to be found in this collection, and further minor additions were made in 1884 by Thomas Lockwood, also of Chester. John Scott Bankes' eldest son (Sir) John Eldon Bankes (1854-1946) followed in the steps both of his Wynne ancestors and of his maternal grandfather and great, great Grandfather in taking up a legal career and became Judge of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in 1910 and later Lord Justice of Appeal 1915-27. He married Edith Ethelston, daughter of Robert Peel Ethelston of Hinton Whitchurch, Salop and it was in her memory that the Edith Bankes Memorial Institute at Soughton was erected after her death in 1931. Their eldest son, Robert Wynne Bankes, who also became a barrister, served as Private Secretary to successive Lord Chancellors, 1919-29 and as High Sheriff of Flintshire in 1945. Shortly before his death in 1975 he kindly allowed this collection of Soughton Hall MSS. To be removed from the house for listing at the Clwyd Record Office in Hawarden. His son, Mr John Wynne Bankes, who continued the family tradition by serving as High Sheriff of Clwyd in 1975, has since also co-operated most generously in this undertaking and has place the collection on loan.


Arranged into the following: deeds; mining records; estate records; family papers; legal records, office papers; and miscellaneous.

Access Information

Data Protection Act restrictions will apply to any items less than 100 years old that contain personal information as defined by the Act.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by J. W. Bankes, Mynachlog, Northop, in 1975.


Please order documents using the alternative reference number (where provided).

Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Nicholas, Thomas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County families of Wales, (London, 2 vols, 1872), vol. I; Flintshire Record Office, Schedule of Soughton Hall MSS.

Other Finding Aids

Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Flintshire Record Office, National Library of Wales and the National Register of Archives.

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Archivist's Note

Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Nicholas, Thomas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County families of Wales, (London, 2 vols, 1872), vol. I; Flintshire Record Office, Schedule of Soughton Hall MSS.

Updated by Steven Davies, Flintshire Record Office, in 2016. Item level descpriptions input by Maurice Salt.

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Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Flintshire Record Office have been retained


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Geographical Names