Catalogue description THORNTON (BROCKHALL)

This record is held by Northamptonshire Archives Service

Details of Th
Reference: Th

The Thornton family originated in Newnham and came to Brockhall when Thomas Thornton (1553-1632) acquired the manor and advowson of Brockhall from Edward Eyton and his son Lawrence for £6,000 in 1625. Their estate grew gradually beginning with John Thornton (1589-1637) - son and heir of the above Thomas - fully acquiring the manor of Newnham (including land in Badby) in 1634[/5]. Land and property was further added by purchase and marriage with most notably the addition of Kingsthorpe Hall by the marriage of Thomas Reeve Thornton (1775-1862) to Susannah, daughter and heir of Peter Fremeaux, a Smyrnian merchant, in 1799. (The Fremeaux family had acquired the Kingsthorpe lands through the marriage of James Fremeaux to Margaret Cooke in 1720). Eventually, the Kingsthorpe and Brockhall lands were split creating a senior branch of the family descending from Thomas William Thornton (1850-1928) and a junior branch of the family descending from Frank Hugh Thornton (b.1853). The family sold the Brockhall estate shortly after the building of the M1. The Hall has recently been converted into apartments.


Centralised estate material is not easy to find within this collection as some remains unlisted, some material doubles as personal or family records, while other material is, unfortunately, spread throughout the collection. A series of account books - consisting of about eight boxes - remain unlisted (see end of introduction). Estate rentals (some with accounts, etc) exist, in part, for the period 1601-1782 (Th 2023-2026) but even here the first rental volume (Th 2023) partly doubles as the journal of John Thornton. Successive members of the family would use the same volume for different purposes: such as Th 2252 which was used to record expenditure, rentals and store loose estate accounts. What is usually easier to find is material relating to a given part of the estate.


Brockhall itself has a fine series of charters and deeds dating from 1283 until the late nineteenth century and includes the Lucien charters (Th 604-613, 1178-1200 & 1645), 1283-1410, as well as copies (late sixteenth century or early seventeenth century) of thirteenth century to sixteenth century charters. There are also the title deeds of purchase by the Thornton Family (Th 139-150 & 189) supplemented by letters and accounts regarding the purchase in 1625 and 1626 (Th 124-128). Records relating to the church, advowson and parsonage are extant. There are a few terriers, fourteenth century to sixteenth century, and three plans of note. These are a plan of pastureland, 1614 (Th 152); a sketch map of the Lordship in 1672 (Th 149); and a plan of the Grand Junction Canal in Brockhall and Norton in about 1800 (Th 285). In addition to all this there are still eight uncatalogued boxes of Brockhall material (see end of introduction).


There are only a few records relating to the Jacobean Hall at Brockhall and these mainly record alterations made. Thomas Reeve Thornton kept an account book (Th 2253) of the demolition and rebuilding undertaken between 1799 and 1802 as well as making comments in his common place book of 1800 to 1801 (Th 2257). The odd receipted account (Th 2309 & 2311) note payments for structural changes in 1889 while similar records before and after detail furniture, works of art, china, etc, purchased. An earlier (1846) inventory of Brockhall Hall (Th 2255) lists furniture, plate, china, etc. A fine article on the Hall appears in Country Life Vol. CXXXVI No. 3534 pages 1428-1432 (ROP 576).


The manor of Newnham and Badby is well represented within this collection. There are an impressive number of manorial documents dating from 1407 to 1829 being mostly an incomplete series of court rolls but also including minutes of court admissions, account of heriots and chief or quit rents (Th 1500-1606). Further chief rents exist from 1661 to 1783 (with gaps) (Th 2028-2030) as well as other rentals for between 1540 and 1630. A valuation of the manor at the dissolution of Evesham monastery in 1530 (Th 1631) also notes manorial customs. Two further documents note manorial customs in the sixteenth century (Th 406) and in the seventeenth century (Th 252). There is also a seventeenth century tithe precedent book for the manor (Th 1607) drawing on thirteenth century and fourteenth century sources as well as two seventeenth century terriers (Th 689 & 698).


Both Newnham and Badby have some records that relate to them individually. Of note for Newnham there are charters from the fourteenth century until the seventeenth century; terriers dating from 1524 to 1660; a draft inclosure map of 1764 (Th 1496) and accounts of expenses incurred through inclosure from 1764-1768 (Th 2487). Of note for Badby there is a survey of Badby Woods in 1653 (Th 283); a seventeenth century terrier (Th 707); and an inclosure quality book of 1779 (Th 917). Some records for both Newnham and Badby remain unlisted (see end of introduction).


There is a large amount of material for other manors and lands within Northamptonshire within this collection and the following merely highlights some of this material. Charters and deeds exist for: Cold Ashby, including the grange, rectory and parsonage, 1553-1681; Rothersthorpe, 1620-1720; Earl Barton, including the parsonage house and lands, 1616 to early nineteenth century; Kilsby parsonage, 1551-1659; Daventry, 1337-1609; Norton, 1293 to the late eighteenth century; Lutton, 1400-1670; Kingsthorpe, mid seventeenth century to late eighteenth century; Brayfield and Little Houghton, seventeenth century. Norton and Lutton have sixteenth century and seventeenth century terriers (Th 469-474 & 519; Th 1693 & 1716) with there also being an inclosure award of 1755 for Norton (Th 1658). A valuation of 1588 (Th 1666) and a survey of 1598 (Th 1671) of Daventry Priory are extant. There is also a good series of timber accounts for Mantles Heath, Farthingstone, 1637-1686 (Th 716-736); a few court rolls (some draft) for Brixworth for dates between 1587 and 1607; and an inclosure quality book of 1778 for Floore (Th 1663). A significant amount of Northamptonshire material - notably for Floore and Dodford - still remains unlisted (see end of introduction). Some records exist for other counties but only for Warwickshire is there any substantial amount of material. Deeds, charters, terriers, etc, dating from the mid fourteenth century to the mid seventeenth century, exist for various lands within Warwickshire. There are also two boxes of unlisted material - mostly for Ladbrooke (see end of introduction).


Towards the end of the listed part of the collection there are a number of papers showing how modern transport and communications effected Thornton family lands, from the late eighteenth century into the early twentieth century. The building of the Grand Junction Canal in the 1790s led to the selling of Thornton lands, principally in Norton and Brockhall, to the canal company with subsequent papers detailing compensation paid for flooded fields, repairs to bridges, fencing of lands adjoining the canal, etc (Th 3404-3443). A plan (with a table of reference) of the canal (c 1795) through the Thornton estate (Th 3407) pre-dates the plan mentioned earlier (Th 285). There is a long series of correspondence from 1832 to 1836 between Thomas Reeve Thornton (or his representative) and the London and Birmingham Railway regarding which exact route is to be used through Brockhall, Dodford and Norton as well as the deeds of sale of agreed land (Th 3455-3526). A few papers (Th 3444-3466) record the effect, both fiscally and aesthetically, of the erection of telegraph polls on Thornton land.


There is a substantially amount of correspondence, mostly between family members, spread throughout this collection and dating mainly from the mid eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century. Understandably, much of this deals with family (health, education, marriages, gossip, etc) and estate matters. However, amongst these letters are a number that comment on local and national events and politics (a few even international) and descriptions of travel undertaken at home and abroad. A small number of letters recording the military careers and activities of Major-General William Thornton, and his son Lieutenant-General William Thornton, from the mid eighteenth century until the early nineteenth century. These are complimented by the cash book (Th 2121) of Major-General Thornton which has entries regarding his military life between 1757 and 1768 and a series of notebooks and pocket account books of his son, Lieutenant-General Thornton, between 1783 and 1821 (Th 2122-2160). Most are filled with entries regarding personal expenditure, social activities and remarks on journeys but a few also contain entries on military matters. Of particular interest is his notebook (Th 2142) describing regimental marches through Holland in the 1790s. There are significant number of cash books and accounts for family members which, as previously mentioned, sometimes contain entries regarding estate matters as well. Notably there are cash books and account books for Thomas Thornton (1553-1632) for 1582 to 1600 (Th 2251); Samuel Thornton (1623-1696) for 1673 to 1696 (Th 2031 & 2033); Thomas Thornton (d.1719) for 1695 to 1706 (Th 2032 & 2033); Thomas Thornton (d. 1783) for 1747 to 1783 (Th 2035-2036); and Thomas Lee Thornton (1726-1790) for 1746 to 1790 (Th 2038-2046, 2065-2079). The journals of Philip Thornton (d. 1869) for 1808 to 1869 describe his tours around England and Scotland as well noting family news and commenting on local and national events.


Only some of the family's wills and marriage settlements have been catalogued - a number of boxes are still to be listed (see end of introduction). Amongst those catalogued are a copy of Thomas Thornton's will of 1629 (Th 2574), the probate will of his great-grandson Thomas of 1718 (Th 2587) and of his great-great-grandson son Thomas of 1783 (Th 2591). Wills of other family members can be found between Th 2583-2615. Other family documents of note include a register of births compiled by the family between 1637 and 1708 (Th 667); an inventory of Robert Thornton of 1679 (Th 3249); and a pardon granted by Charles II to John Thornton for conspiring against the King's father (Th 2296). There are also a few family pedigrees and depictions of coats of arms. External to the collection there is a good pedigree in VCH: Northamptonshire Families, ed. Oswald Barron (1906) and an updated sketch pedigree within the Thornton box file.


Papers of other families - inherited through marriage, the acquisition of estates or executorship - exist in differing states within this collection. The papers of the Fremeaux family include ledgers for the Kingsthorpe estate between 1751 and 1802 (Th 2055-2058) which have entries on the rebuilding of Kingsthorpe Hall as do a series of bills and receipts for 1774 & 1775 (Th 2324-2479). A letter book of James Fremeaux, merchant, for 1794-1798, include his trading interests in Amsterdam whilst family correspondence, 1784-1801, can be found within a small group of general family papers (Th 2212-2250). Also amongst these are two notebooks (Th 2223-2224) of Susannah Fremeaux detailing her daughter's illnesses and treatments in the 1780s and 1790s. The papers of the Cooke family and their estates, which came to the Thornton family through the Fremeaux family, remain unlisted (see end of introduction). The Lee family papers derive from the marriage of Frances, daughter of William Lee of Cold Ashby, to Thomas Thornton in 1722. Notably they include papers relating to the estate of Henry Lee of London and the accounts, receipts, etc, of the Chamber of London produced in the 1640s and 1650s to assist his widow Ann and their 'orphan' children (Th 1811-1843). Additionally, William Lee's almanacs of 1723 to 1728 record his arrival to and residence at Brockhall (Th 2060-2064).


Material of a miscellaneous nature includes notebooks on Quarter Session cases, copies of parliamentary speeches, some Brockhall parish records and a sketchbook of (mostly) Northamptonshire country houses in around 1820. The first notebook was kept by Thomas Thornton (d. 1719) whilst justice of the peace between 1700 and 1718 and records depositions of witnesses (Th 1679). The second notebook, that of Thomas Lee Thornton, justice of the peace, records examinations held in 1789 (Th 1681). The Brockhall parish records comprise of constable accounts (Th 2050) for 1724 to 1807, a poor rate book (Th 2052) for 1884-1886 and churchwardens accounts for 1637-1639, 1752-1801 and 1807-1898. There are also a few accounts regarding restoration work to the church in 1875 (Th 2316-2320). Lastly, there is a series of copies of parliamentary speeches, petitions and letters mostly originating in the 1620s (Th 2276-2294).


A selective overview of Th 1-2581 is available at the N.R.O. This finding aid is arranged by a small number of topics and record types as well as by place. Following this introduction (and as mentioned earlier) is a brief overview of the uncatalogued Thornton boxes. Ideally these should be ordered by advance notice.


THORNTON (BROCKHALL) collection - (uncatalogued to date)


Pending detailed cataloguing of the second half of the THORNTON (Brockhall) collection the documents have been sorted under general headings in the following manner and may be ordered by quoting "Th Box" plus the box number required. It should be emphasised, however, that as the documents must not be mixed or misplaced, they should only be issued with the express permission of an archivist. Please note those annotated with the references are now part of the catalogued collection.


Title (with Places underlined) Box Number


Account Books 1. 1


Account Books 2. 2


Account Books 3. 3


Account Books 4. 4


Account Books 5. 5


Account Books 6. 6


Account Books 7. 7


Accounts & Banking 8


Badby 9


Badby & Newnham 10


Boddington family Executorship 1. 11


Boddington family Executorship 2. 12


Brafield & Little Houghton 1. [13] Now Th 3348-3370


Brafield & Little Houghton 2. [14] Now Th 3371-3403


Brockhall 1. 15


Brockhall 2. 16


Brockhall 3. 17


Brockhall 4. 18


Brockhall 5. 19


Brockhall 6. 20


Brockhall 7. 21


Brockhall 8. 22


Canal [23] Now Th 3404-3466


Cooke estates 1. 24


Cooke estates 2. 25


Dodford 1. 26


Dodford 2. 27


Dodford 3. 28


Farthingstone 1. 29


Farthingstone 2. 30


Floore 1. 31


Floore 2. 32


Floore 3. 33


Floore 4. 34


Floore 5. 35


Floore 6. 36


Floore 7. 37


Floore 8. 38


General Title to Estates 1. 39


General Title to Estates 2. 40


General Title 3. (including some rentals) 41


Kilsby 1. 42


Kilsby 2. 43


Ladbrooke (Warwicks) 1. 44


Ladbrooke (Warwicks) 2. (including Southam, Willoughby etc) 45


London (mainly Budge Row) 46


Marriage Settlements 1. 47


Marriage Settlements 2. 48


Marriage Settlements 3. 49


Marriage Settlements 4. 50


Miscellaneous (with Thornton family) 1. 51


Miscellaneous (with Thornton family) 2. 52


Miscellaneous (with Thornton family) 3. 53


Miscellaneous (with Thornton family) 4. 54


Muscott 1. 55


Muscott 2. 56


Newnham 1. 57


Newnham 2. 58


Newnham 3. 59


Newnham 4. 60


Northants Places (various) 1. 61








Cold Ashby




















Long Buckby








Woodford Halse


Northants Places (various) 2. 62










Norton 1. 63


Norton 2. 64


Probates & Executorship 1. 65


Probates & Executorship 2. 66


Probates & Executorship 3. 67


Railway [68] Now Th 3467-3526


Thornton Family Trusts 69


Trusteeships 1. 70


Trusteeships 2. 71


Trusteeships 3. 72


Trusteeships 4. 73


Weedon Beck 74


Whilton & Hardwick [75] Now Th 3527-3658

Date: 1283-1964
Related material:

The Thornton (Brockhall): Burton of Daventry collection (Th B) contains records relevant to this collection principally for the manor of Newnham. These include court rolls 1733-1789 & 1848, minute books 1811-1825 and record books 1777-1923. The Frank H Thornton collection (FHT) contains the papers of Kingsthorpe branch of the Thornton family. Notable amongst the contents of this collection is the will of Lieutenant-General William Thornton of 1841, an estate notebook concerning property in Kingsthorpe, Duston, Charwelton and Newnham for 1826 to 1877 and some financial papers of the Fremeaux family between 1785 and 1826. Lists are available at the N.R.O. for both these collection.

Held by: Northamptonshire Archives Service, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Thornton family of Brockhall, Northamptonshire

Physical description: This collection comprises of 72 boxes of catalogued material (c 28 cubic feet) and approximately 86 boxes of uncatalogued material (c 33½ cubic feet).
Access conditions:

Some documents in this collection were listed but never permanently deposited. Copies of most of these are available on microfilm or as photocopies. Enquiries regarding the original documents should be addressed to the County Archivist.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Accession: 1963/116; 1964/114; 1969/196

  • Cooke family of Kindsthorpe, Northamptonshire
  • Fremeaux family of Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire
  • Lee family of Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire, and London
  • Badby, Northamptonshire
  • Brayfield, Northamptonshire
  • Brixworth, Northamptonshire
  • Brockhall, Northamptonshire
  • Brockhall Hall, Brockhall, Northamptonshire
  • Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire
  • Dodford, Northamptonshire
  • Earls Barton, Northamptonshire
  • Farthingstone, Northamptonshire
  • Floore, Northamptonshire
  • Little Houghton, Northamptonshire
  • Kilsby, Northamptonshire
  • Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire
  • Kingsthorpe Hall, Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire
  • Ladbrooke, Warwickshire
  • Lutton, Northamptonshire
  • Newnham, Northamptonshire
  • Norton, Northamptonshire
  • Rothersthorpe, Northamptonshire
  • Warwickshire
  • Armed forces
  • Travel abroad
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