Papers of the Chesshyre Family

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of the Chesshyre Family of Halton, co Ches, the majority of which relate to the lawyer Sir John Chesshyre (1662-1738).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir John Chesshyre was born on 11th November 1662, the son of Thomas Chesshyre of Halwood, near Runcorn. In 1696 he entered the Inner Temple and was involved in several of the most controversial trials of the early 18th century. He rose to be Queen Anne's and, on George I's accession in 1714 (when he was knighted), the King's prime serjeant. He spent most of his time in London (where he owned a house in Essex Street, Strand) and in Isleworth, but he kept in touch with Halton co Ches, and endowed the church with a curacy of £200 pa in 1705 (increased in 1718 or 1731 to £600). In 1733 he founded a library at Halton primarily for the clergy of the Church of England. The library, as originally constituted, numbered some 400 volumes, consisting chiefly of theology, but including some legal texts, and Greek and Latin classics. According to Sylvanus Urban, Chesshyre's personal wealth amounted to £100,000. Certainly he was a big moneylender, lending up to £30,000 to the Earl of Chesterfield.

Chesshyre died in 1738 and was buried in the parish church of Runcorn. He was survived by his wife who died in 1756. By his will he divided his property between his nephews, William, who succeeded him at Halwood, and John, who established himself at Benington, co Herts.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection. Viewing is by prior appointment. Please contact archivist@chethams.org.uk.

Acquisition Information

From the collection of James Crossley. See Catalogue of the Library of James Crossley, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge (1885) lot no. 2902. The arrival of the collection into the Library is not documented.

Related Material

A.3.122: legal notes, letters etc of Robert and Peter Chesshyre c. 1696. Presumably part of the collection owned by Crossley.

Bibliography

  • David Lemmings, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • Sir Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain, 18th ed. vol. iii, p. 186 (London, 1965-1972).
  • Humphry W. Woolrych, Lives of eminent serjeants-at-law of the English bar (London, 1869) vol. ii.
  • A. H. Gomme, "Four eighteenth-century buildings at Halton", Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 135 (1986), pp. 37-59.

Geographical Names