The archive of the Ashburnham family at East Sussex Record Office was catalogued by F W Steer in the 1950s. His catalogue is on the A2A site as 'Ashburnham family archive' (179-ash). He assigned sequential numbers to documents as they were found, and these numbers were retained when he organised the documents into groups by their subject matter. Many of the deeds had however already been listed and numbered. In his Introduction, under the heading 'Title deeds', he wrote
'Nearly 4,500 items are included under this heading for Sussex. Documents ranging in date between the late 12th and late 19th centuries are included in the following groups
'Al-A313 which are loose deeds removed from Ashburnham Place and not fully calendared. Draft calendars and notes exist (Ashburnham MS. 118 [now ASH/118]) for deeds A1-A73
'B1-B1167 which were arranged in chronological order (13th century to 1836) and calendared by the late Rev. Walter Budgen [in 1928]. Mr. Budgen must have broken numerous original bundles thereby destroying much valuable evidence on the composition of the estate and its growth; his calendar is in one volume (no. 4449, and not indexed. Most of the documents were endorsed by Mr. Budgen in indelible pencil. There is evidence that some of these deeds have been in or near a fire as they are scorched and the seals have melted
'L1-L2949 were received through Messrs. Peake & Co., the estate solicitors, London, and are arranged in original bundles under properties. Except for certain groups of early deeds, the documents are listed in a typed schedule (nos. 4450, 4451, and an index of properties, arranged by parishes, has been compiled
'These archives are an exceptionally complete and important series despite the interference in the arrangement of the first two groups.'
The present catalogue is a transcript of Budgen's calendar of B1-B1167, being ASH/4449. However, in order to assimilate them into Steer's numbering, the deeds as a series have been assigned one of the next available numbers, 4501. So, for example, the deed calendared by Budgen as 63 became 'Ashburnham MS. B63' but is now ASH/4501/63. The A series of deeds have been assigned the reference ASH/4500, and the L series the reference ASH/4502. The finding aid to A series, ASH/4500, remains only in draft form and has not yet been placed on the A2A website
Budgen's catalogue has been amended only slightly. Dates have been converted, from those which Budgen took from the face of the deeds, to day-month-year format, with the year running from 1 January. Cross-references have been made explicit, by giving the document's reference in place of 'the last deed', 'the deed of even date', etc.; some are likely to have been missed, but the references are usually to the deed immediately or but one preceding. The entry for ASH/4501/487 incorporates corrections by a later researcher. Budgen transcribed place names as written in the deeds and did not add modern spellings nor compile an index which would have included modern forms