Catalogue description SAVERNAKE ESTATE

This record is held by Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Details of 9
Reference: 9

This collection is generally very full for the period c.1760-1820. i.e. the time of Thomas, 4th Earl of Ailesbury, and is particularly rich in:


Early deeds, from the late 12th and 13th centuries, see especially: Sections 6 and 7, Burbage; Section 10, Collingbourne Kingston; Section 14, Crofton; Section 15, Easton; Section 16, Grafton; Section 21, Milton Lilborne; Section 27, Wilton in Great Bedwyn:


Estate and personal correspondence, especially c. 750 letters from Charles Bill, Agent, 1760-1806, and c. 700 from John Ward, Agent, 1783-1822 in Section 1, (9/1/442-470) and c. 2,000 personal letters, mostly c. 1760-1820, (9/35/82-328).


Section 34 includes some interesting papers on politics: two diaries of proceedings in parliament, 1621, 1624, 1654 and 1659 (9/34/2-3); correspondence on elections, 18th century, (9/34/7-17), also on public office: correspondence and accounts on the Royal Household, 1761-1821 (9/34/38-44), and on the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, 1794-1829, (9/34/62-106) and the Wiltshire Militia, 1758-1827 (9/34/107-152).


Other documents deserving mention are: legal treatises and year books, 14th-early 15th centuries, (9/32/1-5); liturgical fragments from two illuminated manuscripts, thought to have come from Easton Priory, 14th Century, 9/15/338; register of applicants and minutes of the Wiltshire Emigration Association, 1849-51, 9/35389-390; and recommendations to the Froxfield Almshouses, late 18th-early 19th centuries, 9/35/368.


General Estate


Barton, Manton and Preshute


Great Bedwyn Borough


Great Bedwyn Prebend


Little Bedwyn and Froxfield


Burbage Savage, Darrells and Esturmy


Burbage Rectory




Collingbourne Ducis


Collingbourne Kingston


Collingbourne Sunton


Collingbourne Brunton or Valence


Collingbourne Aughton




Easton Bradenstoke, Warren and Priory


East and West Grafton


Hippenscombe and Chute


Kinwardstone Hundred






Milton Lilborne and Wootton Rivers


Savernake Forest and Park


Selkley Hundred






Stock and West Bedwyn


Wilton in Great Bedwyn


Bedfordshire Estates


Lincolnshire Estates


Other counties and Wales








Public Affairs


Personal and Family

Date: 11th Century-20th Century

The list of documents is arranged so that for any one place, the researcher should look at records of the individual manors in Sections 2-27, but also at the general estate section, Section 1, where deeds, court rolls and surveys of more than one manor will be found.

Held by: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Savernake Estate, Wiltshire

Physical description: 7592 Files
Immediate source of acquisition:

the Marquess of Ailesbury

Custodial history:

This collection, comprising 223 boxes of records of the Earls and Marquesses of Ailesbury of Tottenham Park. Savernake Forest, was brought to County Hall in Trowbridge in 1946. Many of the documents had been extensively damaged by water during the military occupation of Tottenham House at the time of the Second World War.


In 1946 a small proportion of the records was retained for research by Lord Cardigan: these documents came to the Record Office in 1975, and are listed under Catalogue 1300. In many cases the documents in 1300 would slot into series of documents already in Catalogue 9, but the two collections cannot be amalgamated as the first was a gift, and the second a deposit. Virtually no records are known to remain with the family. Some manuscripts and portraits are known to be with Mrs Killander, the daughter of Hector Binney, who purchased the contents of the library.

  • Esturmy family of Savernake, Wiltshire
  • Seymour family, Dukes of Somerset
  • Bruce family of Savernake, Wiltshire
  • Brudenell-Bruce family, Marquesses of Ailesbury
  • Bruce, Brudenell-, family, Marquesses of Ailesbury
Administrative / biographical background:

The Esturmy family held property in Savernake Forest from at least the 11th century until the early 15th century. The main residence of the Esturmys was Wolf Hall, which was acquired by Henry Esturmy c. 1250-77, and finally pulled down in the late 17th century.


The Seymour family inherited the Esturmys' estates in the early 15th century. Sir William Esturmy was succeeded in 1427 by his grandson, later Sir John Seymour, (son of his daughter, Matilda, and Roger Seymour). The Savernake Estate remained in the possession of the Seymour Family, later Dukes of Somerset, until 1676.


The Bruce family acquired the Savernake Estate by marriage in 1676. The Estate was greatly encumbered and heavily in debt at the death of John Seymour, 4th Duke of Somerset, who died in 1675. In 1676 Thomas, Lord Bruce, later 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, married Elizabeth Seymour, sister of William, 3rd Duke of Somerset. By this marriage the Savernake Estate was added to the Bruce family's own estates in Yorkshire and Bedfordshire. The principal seat at Savernake. Tottenham House, was uninhabitable in 1676, and was rebuilt c. 1720-40 and much enlarged c. 1825.


Charles Bruce, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury, was succeeded in 1747 by his nephew. Thomas Brudenell, (later Brudenell-Bruce), who was known as Lord Bruce from 1747 to 1776, when he became the 4th Earl of Ailesbury. His son, Charles Brudenell-Bruce, succeeded him in 1814 and in 1821 he was created 1st Marquess of Ailesbury. The Wiltshire estate remained in the Brudenell-Bruce family until most of it was sold 1929-32.


The Yorkshire estates at Jervaulx and Tanfield were acquired by Edward, Lord Bruce (with some lands in Hertfordshire) in 1606 or 1608, and the majority, including the site of Jervaulx Abbey, was sold in 1887. Almost all the records concerning Yorkshire are now in the North Yorkshire Record Office at Northallerton, (see Section 30 for a list of some documents transferred), but some will be found in the general estate section, Section 1, and in Catalogue 1300.


The Bedfordshire estate at Ampthill and nearby was acquired by Thomas, Lord Bruce, c. 1620-40, see Section 28.


Most records of the Somerset property of the Dukes of Somerset have been transferred to the Somerset Record Office in Taunton: see Section 30 for a list of some documents transferred.


Other records of the Duke of Somerset, not later part of the Savernake Estate, for instance those of Netley, Hampshire, will be found in Sections 1 and 30.


The Wiltshire estate is centred on Savernake Forest which was extra-parochial, and the nearby parishes of Great and Little Bedwyn, Marlborough, Burbage, Easton Royal, Milton Lilborne, Wootton Rivers, Froxfield, Shalbourne, Collingbourne Kingston and Ducis, Mildenhall, Hippenscombe and Chute.

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