Vaynol Papers

Scope and Content

Deeds, leases, mortgages, etc., relating to the Vaynol estate, mainly in Caernarfonshire and Anglesey, [c. 1778]-[c. 1926], including the Castellmarch estate in Llyn, including deeds relating to stone and slate quarries and copper mines; deeds relating to the Glanyrafon estate in Angelsey and Caernarfonshire, 1427-1726, (it is unclear how this estate was acquired by the Vaynol estate, if indeed it ever was) and to the Cheshire estate of Sir Thomas Assheton, [c. 1200]-1753; legal and business papers, 1801-1910; papers relating to the 1893 Welsh Land Commission; estate letters and letter books, [17 cent.]-[c. 1945]; rentals of the Vaynol estate, 1696-1931, including rentals of Caernarfon corporation property mortgaged in 1843 to Thomas Assheton-Smith, 1843-1878; surveys and valuations, 1776-1919; estate and home farm accounts, 1753-1924; plans, 1785-1920; sale catalogues, 1886-1925; and accounts, correspondence, and wage sheets of the Drwsycoed and Llanberis and Clogwyn Coch copper mines, 1767-1907. The archive also includes papers relating to Llanddeiniolen school, 1868-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir William Williams, the last of the Williams family, baronets, of Vaynol, died in 1696. He bequeathed the Vaynol estate, which included the Castellmarch estate in Llyn following the marriages of his grandfather Sir William Williams with Margaret (d. 1647) co-heiress of Griffith Jones of Castellmarch, and the marriage of Sir William's brother, Thomas, with Jane, the other co-heiress, to various members of the Wrey family for life, with the remainder to William III. In 1698 the Crown granted the Vaynol estates to John Gore, who in 1699 declared that he held the land in trust for John Smith of Tedworth, Hampshire. John Smith left his estate to his son Thomas Smith, who died without issue and was succeeded by his brother John Smith, Speaker of the House of Commons 1705-1708, who was succeeded by his son Captain William Smith who died without issue. John Smith's daughter Harriet Theodosia married Sir Thomas Assheton of Ashley Hall, Cheshire. Their son, Thomas Assheton of Ashley Hall, was heir to his uncle Captain William Smith and succeeded therefore to the Vaynol estate. He assumed the additional surname Smith on inheriting his uncle's estate. His son, also called Thomas Assheton-Smith (c. 1752-1828), married Elizabeth, daughter of Watkin Wynne of Voelas. His younger brother, William Henry Assheton-Smith, had Ashley Hall for life. Thomas's eldest son, Thomas Assheton-Smith (1776-1858), the celebrated fox-hunter, sold Ashley Hall to Tatton Egerton. In 1827 Assheton-Smith married Matilda (d. 1859), daughter of William Webber of Binfield Lodge, Berkshire, but died without issue, bequeathing his Tedworth and Welsh estates to his wife absolutely. Matilda bequeathed these estates in tail male to her husband's great-nephew George William Duff (1848-1904), who assumed the additional surname of Assheton-Smith on attaining his majority in 1869. His issue was an only daughter and the estate descended upon his brother Sir Charles Garden Duff (b. 1851), who assumed the surname Assheton-Smith in lieu of Duff. He was created a baronet in 1911.


Arranged chronologically in ten sections: deeds (by estate and parish); legal and business papers (by subject); correspondence (some subject bundles); rentals (by estate and series); surveys and valuations (by record type); accounts (by record type); plans, sale catalogues; photographs; and miscellaneous.

Access Information

No restrictions


Compiled by Stephen Benham for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Griffith, John Edwards, Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire families (Wrexham, 1998 reprint); Caernarfonshire Record Office, A Catalogue of the Vaynol Estate Records.

Other Finding Aids

Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Caernarfon Record Office, National Library of Wales, (items nos 1-2377, 3014-7328 only) and the National Register of Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

All records deposited at the Caernarfon Record Office have been retained

Custodial History

A few records in this archive were previously held at University of Wales Bangor Library and were catalogued and numbered by Dr Thomas Richards in his catalogue of Vaynol Estate Papers, 1946. These were the Cheshire Deeds, some rentals, agents' account books, surveys and valuations and a few account books of the Llanberis and Drwysycoed copper mines. These records have since been transferred to Caernarfon Record Office and are included in the current catalogue and renumbered. Their previous number, however, is denoted in brackets after the entry by the prefix U.C.N.W.


Accruals are not expected