Estate and family papers of the Gregory (later Gregory-Hood) family of Stivichall, near Coventry relating to their estates in Stivichall, Brinklow, Kingshill (in Stoneleigh) and elsewhere, mainly pre-1700 in date, with a very high proportion from the medieval period.
This collection, deposited by Major C.H. Gregory-Hood and Col. A.M.H. Gregory Hood of Loxley Hall, relates almost entirely to the estates of the Gregory family of Stivichall, near Coventry. On the death of the last of the male line in 1909, the family estates passed, by bequest, to a cousin,Alexander Hood, third son of Samuel Viscount Hood, whose sister had married a Gregory. There are only eight documents included in the collection by virtue of this connection with the Hood family, and these have been placed at the end of the calendar (nos. 2036-43).
Although the bulk of the collection relates to the Gregory family and their estates, there is a notable absence of estate material of 18th and 19th century date, nearly all the documents of this period being either title deeds or personal papers. This is the result of the bombing of the old Stivichall estate office during the air-raids of World War II.
The bulk of the collection, then, dates from before 1700, but only a part of this relates directly to the Gregory family. For the whole of the mediaeval period, the family, then of modest means, lived in Asfordby in Leicestershire, and the only documents now in the family collection which concern them are a run of Asfordby deeds (nos. 1344-50) which date from the time of Edward I to 1518. A number of title deeds (nos. 1374-88) came into the family's possession on the acquisition, by William Gregory's marriage, c.1500, of estates in Nottinghamshire, but the real period of expansion began in 1528, when Thomas Gregory moved from Asfordby to take up the post of town clerk to Coventry Corporation. In the thirty or forty years which followed, he and his son, Arthur, built up a considerable estate in and around Coventry, principally by the purchase of lands belonging to the dissolved monasteries of Stoneleigh and Combe. In this way they came into possession of very large quantities of mediaeval deeds relating to Stivichall, Coventry, Kingshill (in Stoneleigh) and Brinklow. Some of these, which date from the mid-12th century, are of exceptional interest and include a charter of King Stephen, confirming the foundation of the abbey of Combe, and a gift of the town of Coventry from Ranulph earl of Chester to Robert Marmion.
Thomas and Arthur Gregory were also the first members of the family to accumulate business and personal letters in their own hands. Thomas, apart from the town clerkship of Coventry, practised as a local solicitor and also held a number of other official posts, including those of Surveyor of the lands of the Holy Trinity Guild and Coroner and Clerk of the Statute in Coventry. His son, Arthur, was also a lawyer and rose to be Feodary for the county of Warwick. There are also a few personal items relating to their careers, as well as estate accounts and papers relating to the numerous legal cases in which Arthur Gregory was involved.
When Arthur Gregory died in 1603, he left the family fortunes in a precarious state, and this is very much reflected in the family papers. His son John received no legal or university education, and consequently held no official posts. He made no additions to the Gregory estates, and the surviving papers until the 1660s comprise mainly personal correspondence and estate and household accounts.
John was eventually succeeded by his grandson, Loveisgod Gregory, who came of age in 1673. Although there is no evidence that he received more than a rudimentary education, it is clear that he was endowed with good business sense, and that the family fortunes began to revive. He began to buy up parcels of land in Stivichall and Brinklow, thus adding some 16th and 17th century title deeds to the family collection, and also accumulated some household estate and business papers.
During the 18th century, the papers are almost all of a personal nature. As already explained, the estate papers, which should characterise a collection of this kind, perished during World War II and, although it is fortunate that the building accounts for Stivichall Hall have survived, the other items comprise mainly personal letters and account books.
Arthur Gregory (d. 1791) began a tradition, since observed by subsequent generations of the family, of service in the regular army, and undoubtedly the most interesting survivals for this period are letter books containing correspondence of members of the family, while serving in the Peninsular and Crimean Wars. These books are retained at Loxley Hall, but are briefly described in the appendix to this calendar.
The family collection has not attracted widespread attention until very recently. It was known to an anonymous 16th century antiquarian, who copied some of Arthur Gregory's charters into one of his notebooks, now amongst the Wrest Park Manuscripts. The collection was also known to Simon Archer and William Dugdale, although they had little success in examining it: in 1638, Archer wrote to Dugdale: 'I was with my cosen Gregory who shewed me his Leger booke, but he hath vowed never to lend it out to any, bycause one that borrowed it of him did cut two leaves out; but we shall at his house transcribe what we will and see his writinges at any time. It is clear, however, both from Dugdale's and Archer's notes, that they were able to derive very little information from the Gregory muniments. Another antiquarian who knew of the collection was Humfrey Wanley, although he apparently found it impossible to see it. In 1697 he wrote to the master of University College, Oxford: "Sir Thomas Price of Park-Hal in Warwickshire has some Mss and Madam Gregory of Stivichal a mile hence has some Mss & writings, & as I am inform'd Madam Oxfrige at Whaburley a mile off, has some more. But if Mr. Kimberley showd send his letters to the two last, I believe it would be very difficult to persuade them that they have any, and much more so, to get an account of them.'