The records have been arranged as follows:
D/F/AMH/1-5 Records relating to the family in Holland (Netherlands)
D/F/AMH/6 - 161 Records relating to property in Valescure, France
D/F/AMH/162 - 193 Records relating to archaeological researches
D/F/AMH/194 - 207 Parliamentary papers
D/F/AMH/208 - 302 Correspondence etc concerning purchases of works of art
D/F/AMH/303 - 323 Miscellania concerning the family yacht
D/F/AMH/324 - 353 Printed miscellania and ephemera
D/F/AMH/354 - 362 Miscellaneous correspondence
D/F/AMH/363 - 393 Additional correspondence, mostly on financial matters
D/F/AMH/394 - 484 Estate correspondence
D/F/AMH/485 - 516 Accounting records
D/F/AMH/517 - 521 Estate and other plans
D/F/AMH/522 - 536 Property records
D/F/AMH/537 - 578 Estate ledgers (including family information)
D/F/AMH/579 - 582 Additional deposit : estate correspondence, accounts and photographs
D/F/AMH/583 - 587 Lord Amherst's papers
|Administrative / biographical background:
The Tyssen family came from Holland, hence the Dutch documents, nos D/F/AMH/1 - 6. Francis Tyssen of Flushing came to London, was naturalised, and died in 1690. His son Francis in 1697-99 bought two of the Hackney manors and the lease of the third, which belonged to the rectory. The estate descended to his son Francis, and his son Francis John. The latter did not marry but had a number of recognised illegitimate children, and the estate passed to three of them : Francis and Francis John, both died unmarried, and Mary, who married Captain Amhurst of Farleigh, Kent.
Mary's daughter, Amelia, married William George Daniel, who changed his surname to Daniel-Tyssen. Their third son, John Robert Daniel-Tyssen, lived in Hackney and was steward of the manors. There are surviving letters from him to his father concerning the estate (nos. D/F/AMH/394-422). He made an extensive collection of books, manuscripts and transcripts of records relating to the history of Hackney; this was presented to the parish as the Tyssen Library, and formed the basis of the Hackney local history collection, now in the Archives Department. The original documents and transcripts from this collection are now catalogued as D/F/TYS.
J.R.D. Tyssen's eldest brother, William George, changed his surname from Daniel-Tyssen to Tyssen-Amhurst in 1852. This gave his eldest son the name William Amhurst Tyssen-Amhurst. This son changed the spelling of his surname to Amherst in 1877 because of the family's distant relationship to the Earls Amherst. W.A. Tyssen-Amherst was created Baron Amherst of Hackney in 1892. The majority of the papers in this collectin relate to this Lord Amherst and his family.
The Amhersts, as befitted their position, contributed to various charities. Letters asking for donations are to be found in the correspondence sections, D/F/AMH/354-479. Mrs (later Lady) Amherst was particularly involved with the North Eastern (now Queen Elizabeth's) Hospital for Children, Hackney Road. In 1885 she published In a Good Cause, a volume of short stories sold in aid of the Hospital (there is a copy in the local history library). It includes a poem "Le Jardin des Tuileries" by Oscar Wilde (see Oscar Wilde by Philippe Julien) and "Hunter Quartermain's Story" by Rider Haggard.
Alicia, the Amherst's fifth daughter, was a keen botanist and an expert on gardens and gardening (see no. D/F/AMH/332). Her extensive knowledge of literature as well as gardening history can be seen in A History of Gardening in England which she published in 1895. There is a copy (presented by the author) in the local history library now at the Archives Department.
Lord Amherst made an extensive collection of antiquities and archaeological finds, which was kept at the family seat, Didlington Hall in Norfolk (see nos. D/F/AMH/162-193). His wife shared his interest in archaeology, as did their daughter Lady William Cecil. In 1904 Lady Amherst published A Sketch of Egyptian History (Methuen). Howard Carter, later to discover the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen, was employed by Lord Amherst early in his career; he "assisted Professor Flanders Petrie excavation Tel-el-Amarna on behalf of Lord Amherst, 1892". (Who Was Who 1929-1940).
In Lady Amherst's book she says that the Amhersts had visited Egypt many times. They also spent a number of winters in the south of France. At the turn of the century Lord Amherst built a villa, "Lou Casteou", near St. Raphael (nos D/F/AMH/6 - 161).
Lord Amherst's fortunes took a serious turn in 1906, when it was discovered that the family's late solicitor and estate agent had embezzled £250,000 of Lord Amherst's money, and £70,000 of which he was a trustee. (Newspaper cuttings in the Biography file at Hackney Archives Department). Lord Amherst's collection of antiquities had to be sold, as did his library. There is a copy of the library catalogue in the local history library at Hackney Archives Department.
Lord Amherst died in 1909. His barony passed to his eldest daughter, Lady William Cecil. She was succeeded by her grandson in 1919, her eldest son having been killed in action.
Although the family no longer lived in Hackney they retained an interest in it because of their property there. The Tyssen land in the south of the parish had been sold off by the time of the 1831 parish map, but later in the century the family developed the property themselves; hence the series of estate records, nos. D/F/AMH/394-578. Hence also the large number of roads in Hackney named after the family, their connections and their properties (Amhurst, Fountayne, Foulden etc.) There are maps in the Tyssen collection referred to above which show this estate at an earlier period. The records of the manorial courts are held at the London Metropolitan Archives (references M79/LH, -/KH and -/G).
Information on the Tyssen-Amherst family is to be found in Robinson's History and Antiquities of Hackney and Burke's Peerage.