Papers Relating to the Case of Attorney General v. Constable (1869 onwards)

Scope and Content

These papers are in six original bundles. The first contains instructions to advise in a case brought by the Constable family against the Humber Conservancy Board and the Withernsea Improvement Company Limited in 1879, as well as translations and copies of deeds, sales and letters patent of the Constable family relating to the foreshore of the Humber from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. There is the abstract of the title of the seigniory of Holderness in the will of Sir Thomas Aston Clifford Constable (d.1870). The second bundle contains mainly translations of relevant medieval charters for Holderness, including Holderness entries in the Domesday Book and the descent of the manor of Burstwick and village of Hedon through royal hands, beginning with Queen Eleanor in 1280 until the reversion in 1390 to Thomas, duke of Gloucester until its ownership by the dukes of Buckingham in the fifteenth century. The third bundle contains papers relating to the mortgage of estates at Fosham and West Newton for £7500 in 1895 and the fourth bundle contains papers relating to the remortgaging of estates in Sproatley, Burstwick, West Newton, Keyingham, Ellerby and Skeckling 1919-1922. The fifth bundle contains papers relating to the remortgaging of estates in Sproatley and West Newton 1923-1924 and the sixth bundle contains documents assembled for the 1891 case of Constable -v- Attorney General about seigniorial rights of the foreshore of the Humber.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Constables of Burton Constable (Sproatley) were one of three branches of the Constable family in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the early modern period. Originally from Halsham (where the family mausoleum stands) they acquired the manor of Burton in the early twelfth century. Sir Henry Constable (d. 1645) was created viscount Dunbar in 1620, but the title became extinct on the death of his grandson, William, in 1718. The estate and seigniory passed sideways twice in the eighteenth century, on each occasion a nephew taking on the name Constable. In 1821 the estate once again passed to a relative, on this occasion to Sir Thomas Hugh Clifford of Tixall, Staffordshire and on the death of Sir Frederick Augustus Talbot Clifford Constable in 1894, the estate and seigniory passed to his cousin, Walter Chichester. Through the nineteenth century the Constables claimed the right as lords of Holderness to sell gravel from the coast and banks of the Humber. As this led to serious erosion from 1869 the attorney general brought a case to end their seignorial rights (Lythe, Two families, pp.33-4).


U DCC/1 Bundle I, 1390-1880

U DCC/2 Bundle II, 1086-1879

U DCC/3 Bundle III, 1846 - 1918

U DCC/4 Bundle IV, 1919-1922

U DCC/5 Bundle V: relating to a mortgage of estates in Sproatley and West Newton to the trustees of Henry Richmong Richmond, 1861 - 1924

U DCC/6 Bundle VI: printed documents assembled for the case of Constable v. Attorney general, c.1891, 1551-1891

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate papers subject guide

Related Material

Papers of Sir Charles and Lady Mary Barbara Chichester [U DDCH]

Other repositories:

Papers of the Chichester-Constable family of Burton Constable [DDCC], East Riding of Yorkshire Archives Service [GB 0047]


Lythe, S G E, Two families at Walkington (1992)