Although the collection lacks some of the essential elements of a full estate archive (there isfor instance no series of maps and plans) it provides general coverage for the history of theestates and the Clifton family over almost 700 years and includes some series of exceptionalinterest, notably the deeds. Parts of the archive have suffered through poor storage conditions inthe past, and some series of papers are particularly fragile.
The early accounts include rentals and other papers relating to the family estates, with those ofthe 17th and 18th centuries being a mix of estate, general, personal and household accounts. Many ofthe entries are bundles of vouchers. By the late 18th and 19th centuries, most are personal andhousehold accounts. The second deposit includes a separate series of rentals, taking the coverage tothe late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although information about the 20th-century estate andindividual tenants is patchy, there are letter books of Henry Haynes, agent for the estate(1926-1931), and a series of husbandry books in the second deposit includes estate labour diaries ofthe 1930s-1940s.
The series of title deeds (Cl D) from the 12th to the 18th centuries provides exceptionally goodevidence of the family's property holding, which lay primarily in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, andthe process by which it expanded through marriage and purchase. Areas covered include in particularBlyth, Hodsock, Carlton in Lindrick, Oldcoates, Styrrup, East Markham and Cotgrave inNottinghamshire, and Bawtry in Yorkshire. A few properties in Lincolnshire and Derbyshire are alsorecorded. Settlements, including marriage settlements, and wills are found with the deeds. Theyinclude 16th-century manuscripts relating to the Pierepont, Frechevile and Thorold families. Withinthe same deeds series are also records of bonds and other financial undertakings, together with anumber of pardons and grants of official office.
There is a small but significant collection of correspondence. Early writers include Sir GervaseClifton (d. 1588), or those engages in the business of the trustees during the minority of SirGervase's heir. The bulk of the letters come from the time of the later Sir Gervase Clifton(d.1669), with a few from the 18th century and later. Members of the Clifton family, theirconnections and friends, make up the majority of the correspondents. Family and estate mattersfeature strongly in the letters, and a number of the letters are by women in the family, but publicand political affairs are sometimes discussed.
A series comprising fifteen inventories (1467 to 1740) record household goods of various membersof the Clifton family and others linked to them.
A bundle of miscellaneous estate papers overlaps in interest with legal and family papers. Itincludes papers on a wide range of subjects, in some cases fragmentary and indicative of how muchhas been lost from the archive.
The legal papers in the collection include records of the shrievalty of the counties ofNottinghamshire and Derbyshire, notably from the periods in the 16th century when office was held bya member of the Clifton family. Further papers relate to causes in which the Cliftons or theirconnections were involved, or cases in which they were interested though not directly concerned,17th to 18th centuries.
The public career of Sir Gervase Clifton (1587-1666) is recorded in a series described as 'Legal,parliamentary and political papers'. This is a sub-group of particular interest, including recordsof cases before parliament, 1599-1635, copies of political speeches, petitions addressed to the Kingor parliament, and other miscellaneous papers concerning Clifton's period as an M.P. forNottinghamshire and his political interests. A few later items (18th century) refer to localparliamentary elections.
A small bundle of papers and pamphlets, gathered together as 'Literary Manuscripts', includes aseries of verses in English and Latin (17th century), together with theological notes andpapers.
Manorial records from the early 14th to the 18th centuries relate to a number of theNottinghamshire estates, including Broughton, Clifton cum Glapton and Wilford, Kinoulton, Stanton onthe Wolds, Blyth, Hodsock, Carlton in Lindrick and Oldcotes, as well as manors in Derbyshire,Dorset, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. These records include court rolls, surveys and terriers, aswell as valuations and accounts.
Although no maps were present in the main collection, surveys survive from the 16th to the 20thcenturies, including records for Kinoulton, Blyth, Hodsock, Carlton in Lindrick and Oldcoates aswell as Clifton and Wilford.
A series of miscellaneous papers includes a number of household notes with culinary or medicinalrecipes, as well as a number of plans for buildings or alterations. There are two volumes ofnewspaper cuttings from the war in South Africa, 1899-1900.