Backhouse Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 33 BAC
  • Dates of Creation
      Chiefly 18th - early 20th centuries but including deeds of 1352 and 1657
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English ; Latin
  • Physical Description
      9 metres

Scope and Content

Part 1. Personal and family correspondence, papers and deeds of Jonathan Backhouse junior, his wife Hannah Chapman Backhouse, and their descendants and related families, in particular the Gurneys of Norfolk but also including items relating to all the families mentioned under Administrative/Biographical history above.

Part 1 contains the following sections: A. (items 1-45) Deeds, wills, marriage settlements, trusts and transactions relating to properties in various counties (see below), 1352, 1657, 1721-1864. A number reflect the wide-spread business interests of the Hustler family, ranging from the promotion of canal companies to the wool-trade in Yorkshire and mining and the coal-trade in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Co. Durham. Some Fox documents concern the mining of ores in Cornwall. Places covered by deeds include:

  • Norfolk (Wendling, 1352)
  • Lancashire (Orrell coal mines, 1781-1847; Upholland, 1781-1792; Standish cum Langtree, Shevington, Worthington, Coppull, Duxbury and Wigan coal mines, 1798; Ulverston, 1739/40)
  • Yorkshire (Hunderscliffe or Undercliffe in Bradford, 1756; Scarborough, 1791; Shipley in Bradford, 1735; Shelf coal mines, 1760; Leeds and Liverpool Canal Co. tolls, 1778-1781)
  • Cornwall (Balmynheer mine in manor of Helston in Kerrier, 1864; Perranarworthal, 1809-1829; South Wheal mine in Calstock parish, 1845; Wheal Vyvyan mine in Constantine parish, 1834)
  • Co. Durham (Darlington, 1822; Trimdon Colliery, 1855; West Auckland and St. Helen Auckland collieries, 1856);
  • Hampshire (Andover, 1800)
  • Cheshire (iron foundries at Poulton cum Seacombe in Wallasey parish, 1852).
B. (items 46-272) Correspondence and papers, ca.1680-1878 but chiefly 18th-19th centuries: i) Dated and ii) Undated. This series includes a number of Quaker marriage and birth certificates. Much of it consists of the family and personal correspondence of Hannah Chapman Backhouse dating from both before and after her marriage in 1811; this correspondence is complemented by her journals for 1802-1824 in section C below and many items bear annotations probably linked to their preparation for publication (see Publication Note below).

Much of the correspondence in this section, especially that for the early 19th century, illustrates Quaker doctrines and activities and Quaker attitudes to such topics as war, slavery, prison reform and the payment of church rates. Some letters concern Quakers in North America, Australia and Holland and missionary trips, including those made by Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse to Ireland in the 1820s and North America in the 1830s. Some correspondence, again chiefly from the first half of the 19th century, gives information on political and business conditions in England and on international affairs.

C. (items 273-280) Journals, 1797-1848. These chiefly consist (items 275-280) of the journals of Hannah Chapman Backhouse (see also section B above) but also include: (item 273) diary of William Hustler of Bradford, Yorkshire, 1797; (item 274) an anthology of verse and prose compiled by Jonathan Backhouse junior, 1797; and (item 280) an account of family marriages by Rachel Barclay, 1848.

D. (items 281-294) Pedigrees and genealogical notes, compiled 18th-19th centuries.

E. (items 295-312) Miscellanea, ca.18th-early 20th centuries.

Part 2. This deposit is still being sorted and listed. Many of the documents are very similar in nature and content to the material in Part 1 of the Backhouse Papers, although there are more business papers and probably more items from the second half of the 19th century in Part 2. Many of the papers concern Jonathan Backhouse junior, his wife Hannah Chapman Backhouse, and their descendants, and also the descendants of John Backhouse (1784-1847), brother of Jonathan Backhouse junior.

Provisional list of contents:

A. Personal papers, including personal and family correspondence and papers, journals (including Hannah Chapman Backhouse's American journal 1831-1832), accounts and vouchers. The papers of Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse in particular are closely linked to the material found in Part 1 of the Backhouse Papers and the family correspondence of Hannah Chapman Backhouse forms the largest part of this section.

Groups of papers accumulated by the following people have so far been identified:

  • Jonathan Backhouse junior (1779-1842)
  • Hannah Chapman Backhouse, née Gurney, (1787-1850), wife of Jonathan Backhouse junior
  • Jonathan Edmund Backhouse, 1st Bart. (1849-1918), grandson of Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse
  • John Backhouse (1784-1847), brother of Jonathan Backhouse junior
  • John Church Backhouse (1811-1858), son of John Backhouse
  • John Henry Backhouse (1844-1869), son of John Church Backhouse
  • Eliza Barclay, née Backhouse, (1812-1884), daughter of John Backhouse
  • Thomas Backhouse (occ. 1854), [?great-nephew of Jonathan Backhouse junior] (one item only)

B. Business and testamentary papers, including correspondence, papers, accounts, bills, ledgers and vouchers relating to business and banking matters, share certificates, insurance policies, trusts, settlements, executorships (including probate valuations), legal and financial matters and land transactions. Many of these concern the affairs of descendants of John Backhouse (1784-1847) but others are business papers of Edmund Backhouse, M.P. (1824-1906), son of Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse, and of Edmund's son, Jonathan Edmund Backhouse.

C. Marriage and birth certificates, 1811-1848 (7 items).

D. Wills, 1783-1867 (8 items).

E. Deeds and related papers, including schedules of deeds, some wills, appointments of trustees, and a marriage settlement. The deeds relate chiefly to places in Cornwall, Co. Durham, Middlesex and Yorkshire.

F. Property surveys and valuations. (A few items only).

G. Plans. (A few items only).

H. Deeds and papers concerning an estate in America: 51 tracts of land in the counties of Northumberland and Lucerne in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the Waters of Tawandee and Loyalsock (Loyal Sock), about 150 miles from Philadelphia, 1794-1839. (A few items only).

I. Overseers' papers for Leyburn and Borrowby, North Yorkshire, 1756-1827 [FRAGILE].

J. Apprenticeship indenture for Thomas Leatley or Lightly of [Eryholme] (Ariom) [in Great Smeaton parish], Yorkshire, 14 March 1744/5.

K. Pedigrees and genealogical notes. (A few items only).

L. Book of profiles.

M. Miscellanea.

Part 3. Pedigree, compiled by Mr. Kinloch, of the descendants of John and Sarah Backhouse of Lancashire, 17th-20th centuries, with particular reference to the descendants of Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse, 1st Bart. (1849-1918), banker, of Darlington, Co. Durham, and his wife Florence Salusbury-Trelawny (died 1902).

Administrative / Biographical History

Family and business papers of and concerning the Backhouse family of Darlington, Co. Durham, and the Gurney family of Lakenham Grove, Norwich, Norfolk, prominent Quaker bankers, their descendants and related Quaker families.

The collection relates primarily to the family of Jonathan Backhouse junior (1779-1842), Quaker banker of Darlington, Co. Durham, his wife Hannah Chapman Backhouse (1787-1850), daughter of Joseph Gurney (1757-1830), Quaker banker of Lakenham Grove, Norwich, Norfolk, and their close relatives and descendants, including their son, Edmund Backhouse, M.P. (1824-1906), and grandson, Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse, 1st Bart, (1849-1918).

Other English Quaker families united to the Backhouses by ties of kinship and business interests are also represented in the collection: many items concern the Norfolk Gurneys, including Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847), the philanthropist, and his sister Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), and their Chapman, Barclay, Birckbeck and Hoare connections; other documents relate to the Fox family of Cornwall (Edmund Backhouse, M.P., married Juliet Fox, daughter of Charles Fox, in 1848) and their ancestors and relations, the Yorkshire Hornors and Hirds, the Hustlers of Yorkshire and Lancashire, the Fells of Lancashire and the Fullers of Norfolk.


See under scope and content. Except for the deeds in Part 2 (arranged firstly by county and then chronologically) the items within each section are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Some items in Parts 1 and 2 are in need of conservation treatment before they can be produced.

Part 2. Items from sections A and B will not normally be produced until the sorting and listing of these groups has been completed. Items from the other sections can generally be made available provided that arrangements to consult them are made in advance.

Acquisition Information

Part 1. Most of this material was deposited with the Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic of the University of Durham (from 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections Department of Durham University Library) through the National Register of Archives and the Dean and Chapter of Durham in August 1949 by Colonel Miles R.C. Backhouse (1878-1962), great-grandson of Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse.

A small additional deposit of deeds, 1735-1864, was received in December 1958 from the same source.

Part 2. Deposited on permanent loan with the University of Durham on 8 November 1982 (on the recommendation of the Historical Manuscripts Commission) by Mr. David M. Backhouse, grandson of Colonel Miles R.C. Backhouse who deposited Part 1 of the Backhouse Papers. Mr. David M. Backhouse was acting on behalf of his aunt, Mrs. Beatrice Backhouse.

Part 3. Donated on 18 September 1995 by Mr. Colin Kinloch, a great-grandson of Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse.

Other Finding Aids

Part 1. Detailed list, compiled by Margaret McCollum, The Backhouse Papers (Durham, 1973), (indexed by person, place and subject). Available online at online catalogue.

Part 2. Apart from a summary typescript report of 14 August 1980 produced by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, describing the material while it was still housed in London and before it had been sorted and arranged, there is as yet no comprehensive listing of this deposit. Draft typescript lists exist of the following sections:

  • C. Marriage and birth certificates
  • D. Wills
  • E. Deeds etc. (Cornwall and Co. Durham sections only)

Separated Material

Barclays Bank Ltd. Archives: Backhouse family papers and correspondence and business and banking papers, 1720 - ca.1920 [NRA 23958 and NRA 23504].

Durham County Record Office: Hodgkin Papers [NRA 12281], including correspondence etc. of Jonathan Backhouse junior and Hannah Chapman Backhouse and their children, 1823-1876, which came into the Hodgkin family through Ann Hodgkin (née Backhouse, 1815-1845), daughter of Jonathan and Hannah Chapman Backhouse [NRA 122811].

Society of Friends' Library, London: papers of James Backhouse of York (1794-1869).

Norfolk Record Office: Gurney Papers [NRA 15293].

Society of Friends' Library, London: isolated papers and diaries of various members of the Backhouse family.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

Backhouse Papers, Part 1, item 312 (no date), states that the correspondence in Part 1 consists of 'Family letters selected from a collection of several thousand sent from Trebah, [Falmouth, Cornwall] to the Bank on the death of Edmund Backhouse [in 1906]'. There is similar material in Backhouse Papers, Part 2.

Mrs. Beatrice Backhouse inherited the papers in Part 2 on the death of her husband, Roger Trelawny Backhouse (1905-1977), a son of Colonel Miles R.C. Backhouse and formerly the local director of Barclay's Bank, Darlington, Co. Durham.

Related Material

Additional Manuscript 854: small collection of Backhouse letters, etc., 19th century

Durham University Observatory MSS: V.65/1-36: journals of Thomas William Backhouse, 1858-1920.


Extracts from the journal and letters of Hannah Chapman Backhouse (privately printed 1858)
Backhouse, James, Select family memoirs (York, 1831)  Backhouse, Sarah, Memoir of James Backhouse (1870)  Banham, J.D. A very great public conveniency: the origins of banking in County Durham in Durham County Local History Society bulletin 52 (May 1994), 19-41, with an Addendum ibid., 53 (December 1994), 9-12.  Banham, J., Backhouses' Bank of Darlington 1774-1836 (NEEHI Papers in North-Eastern History 9, 1999) Davis, Peter, The Backhouse Family Bankers and Horticulturalists from from Durham Biographies vol.1, ed. G.R. Batho (Durham County Local History Society, 2000) - Foster, J., The descendants of John Backhouse ... (1894)  Hare, A.J.C., The Gurneys of Earlham (2 vols., 1895)  Kirby, M.W., Men of business and politics (Manchester, 1984)  Longstaffe, W.H.D., History and antiquities of the parish of Darlington (1854)  Milburn, G.E. and Miller, S.T., (eds.), Sunderland river, town and people (1988), including at p.209 a brief biographical note on the Backhouse family of Sunderland.  Monck, W., (ed.), Journals of Caroline Fox 1835-71 (1972) [includes references to Edmund Backhouse and his family and Fox relations]  Phillips, M., A History of banks, bankers and banking in Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire from 1755 to 1894 (1894)  Phillips, M., A history of Messrs. Backhouse & Co., bankers, Darlington (1896) [a reprint of a section of the 1894 publication cited above]  Spencer, H., Men that are gone from the households of Darlington (Darlington, 1862)  Taylor, J., Statement of the claims of the Tees Coal Company against Jonathan Backhouse (1838)  Trevor-Roper, H., A hidden life. The enigma of Sir Edmund Backhouse (1976) [re Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, 2nd Bart., 1873-1944]  Watson, F., The Backhouse family of Darlington (University of Durham [King's College, Newcastle], unpublished M.A. thesis, 1962).

Corporate Names