The documents catalogued here represent the title to an extensive estate in the Isle of Wight, chiefly acquired between 1856 and 1874 by Charles Seely, Member of Parliament for Lincoln and owner of lucrative coal mines in Nottinghamshire.
Papers concerned with the administration of the estate are described as sections 122 - 125 in this catalogue. The great bulk of the documents, however, is made up of title deeds to the constituent parts of the estate dating back, in some cases, as far as the 13th century, sections 1 - 121. In the listing of these papers a distinction has been drawn between the title deeds themselves and miscellaneous items concerned with title. These later, which are particularly numerous and troublesome in the 19th century, "shadow" the true title deeds section by section under the distinctive "A" reference, see table of contents.
Deeds to the principal purchases made by Charles Seely are grouped, where applicable, with deeds to smaller neighbouring and subsidiary properties. The result of this is an arrangement generally geographic, but not always so. Bowcombe and Brighstone, though separated from each other by a considerable distance, were purchased together in 1873, JER/SEL/48/1. They have, therefore, been placed together here with deeds to the smaller properties subsidiary to each one close at hand, sections 48 - 82. A separate introduction has been provided for each of the six major groups of title deeds.
The two largest manorial properties, Bowcombe and Gatcombe, have extensive series of leases dating back as far as the middle ages, sections 60 and 88. Leases for the lesser properties are placed immediately after the relevant title deeds in separate sections of their own. Leases granted by the Seely family or which were current at the time any property was purchased by the family take their place amongst the estate papers as section 124.
A very few items concerned with the Seely family's activities in public life have been found in the present deposit and placed in section 122.
In common with the rest of the Jerome papers the Seely documents have suffered from poor management in the past which has resulted in serious loss of archival integrity. Many of the documents listed in the present catalogue have previously been described incorrectly elsewhere. Each entry in this catalogue, therefore, is terminated with a former reference number, where applicable.