Papers of the Empson Family of Yokefleet

Scope and Content

The collection consists mainly of Empson family correspondence from the late 18th to the 20th centuries, arranged and some transcribed by Charles Empson; together with papers relating to Rev John Empson, 'The Flying Parson', and James Empson, as gathered during research for the publication of two books (Empson's Folly and Empson's Peace). There is also correspondence from Arthur, Jack and Charles Empson during their time serving in the First World War. Other family papers include wills, photographs, and school reports. There are also research files relating to the life and work of Sir William Empson, the literary critic. Items relating to the Yokefleet estate include cash books, invoices and receipts, ledgers, deeds, lease and tenancy agreements, terriers and rental records, surveys and valuations, papers relating to improvement schemes, plans and maps, and a game book. The estate papers mainly date from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Yokefleet Estate (also Yorkefleet) occupies about 2,500 acres alongside the River Humber in and around the village of Yokefleet (also Yorkefleet), near Goole. It was owned and developed by the Empson family which came originally from North Lincolnshire. Relatively few archives survive from the estate. Charles Empson, the uncle of the present owner, published three books about members of previous generations of the family, based on the correspondence in this collection. Two centre on the lives of five brothers, sons of Amaziah Empson of Yokefleet. Empson's Folly focuses on the Revd John Empson, 'The Flying Parson'; Empson's Peace tells the story of his brother, James and James' son William during the first half of the 19th century. Empson's War contains a collection of letters sent to their parents by three brothers, Jack, Arthur and Charles Empson, whilst abroad during war and peace.

Yokefleet Hall, built by John William Empson (b. 1817), son of Rev. John Empson, was designed by architect Cuthbert Brodrick and is a Grade II listed building. The Hall is situated on the eastern edge of the village. The famous literary critic and poet, Sir William Empson, was born at Yokefleet Hall in 1906. The Hall was later sold by the Empson family and has now been divided into individual residential apartments.


U DYK/1 Financial Records

U DYK/2 Property Records

U DYK/3 Farming and Sporting Records

U DYK/4 Family Papers

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Deposited 6 Aug 2004

Related Material

Papers of Sir William Empson and Hetta, Lady Empson, 1915-2007 [U DEN]

Other archives:

The majority of William Empson's papers are held in the University of Harvard archives

Appointments diaries and miscellaneous correspondence, c.1960-69, Sheffield University Library

Miscellaneous letters, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division

Correspondence and literary papers, from 1929, in the Chatto & Windus archives, Reading University Library

Letters to John Hayward, 1931-1956, Cambridge University: Kings College Modern Archive Centre

Correspondence with members of BBC staff, 1936-1962, BBC Written Archives Centre