Spencer family, Earls Spencer
This page summarises records created by this Family
The summary includes a brief description of the collection(s) (usually including the covering dates of the collection), the name of the archive where they are held, and reference information to help you find the collection.
The Spencer family originated as graziers and sheepbreeders in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire in the late 15th century. Sir John Spencer of Snitterfield (Warwickshire) purchased Wormleighton (Warwickshire) in 1506 and Althorp (Northamptonshire) in 1508. Sir John Spencer (d. 1599) married Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Catlin (d. 1574) and heiress of property in Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Dorset, much of which, however, was sold between 1575 and 1617. Their son Robert Spencer was created Baron Spencer of Wormleighton in 1603, and the 3rd Baron was created Earl of Sunderland in 1643.
The 3rd Earl of Sunderland (c.1674-1722) married in 1700 Anne, second daughter and co-heir of the 1st Duke of Marlborough (see Spencer-Churchill, Dukes of Marlborough). In 1733, on the death of his maternal aunt Henrietta, Countess of Godolphin and in her own right Duchess of Marlborough, the 5th Earl of Sunderland (1706-58) succeeded to the dukedom and the Blenheim estates. He resigned the Althorp estates to his younger brother John Spencer (1708-46), who on the death of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough in 1744 also succeeded to her paternal estates in Hertfordshire (Sandridge, etc) and to her purchased properties in Surrey (Wimbledon, etc), Berkshire (Shillingford, etc), Norfolk (North Creake), Northamptonshire (Steane), Staffordshire and elsewhere. (Her trustees continued to make purchases after her death.) John Spencer’s son purchased the Battersea (Surrey) estate in 1763, and was created Earl Spencer in 1765.
The 3rd Earl Spencer (1782-1845) married in 1814 Esther, daughter and heir of Richard Acklom of Wiseton (Nottinghamshire). The 4th Earl (1798-1857) married in 1830 Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of William Poyntz of Midgham (Berkshire) (d. 1840) by Elizabeth, sister of George Browne, 8th Viscount Montagu (d. 1793), and co-heir to the Cowdray (Sussex) estates. Records for these estates survive among the Spencer papers, but the Midgham and Cowdray estates themselves were sold in 1843 and were never held with the Althorp estates.
The Althorp estates in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, with outliers in Buckinghamshire and Leicestershire, were consolidated in the 19th century. But there were sales of other outlying properties, including land in Wimbledon (though not the manorial lordship) in 1846, the Wiseton estate in 1848 and remaining properties in Bedfordshire by 1883.
Estates in 1883: Northants 16,800 acres, Warwicks 3,392 acres, Herts 3,017 acres, Norfolk 2,533 acres, Bucks 771 acres, Leics 670 acres, Surrey 2 acres, total 27,185 acres worth £46,764 a year.
|Sources of authority:||Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Guide to principal estate and family collections L-W, 1999.|
|Name authority reference:||GB/NNAF/F88800 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/F10795 )|