Catalogue description Estate papers of the Copley Family, Baronets, of Sprotborough including Nottinghamshire deeds of the Cromwell Family (Lords Cromwell) 1299-1516

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Title: Estate papers of the Copley Family, Baronets, of Sprotborough including Nottinghamshire deeds of the Cromwell Family (Lords Cromwell) 1299-1516

Most of the charters and deeds relate to lands in Sprotborough, Wildthorpe, Cadeby, Arksey and Bentley, co.Yorks. These are therefore not listed separately in the list of contents, which comprises only those groups of documents with more significant characteristics.

Date: 1218-1869

Deeds and settlements of the Fitzwilliam and Copley families


Deeds to lands formerly of the Chantry of Our Lady and of St. Katherine


Copies and schedules of deeds to Chantry lands


Deeds and charters to the lands of the Hospital of St. Edmund in Newton


Deeds to the manor and lands of Plumtree and Bowthorpe


Deeds to the Chapel Yard in Doncaster


Deeds to the tithes of Scawsby and Brodsworth


Enclosure of Marr Moor


Manorial records: Sprotborough


Estate papers


Moyle family settlements


Rentals and accounts


Sir Godfrey Copley's letterbook and Samuel Bower's diary


Tithes of Sprotborough


Vouchers: Manor of Tickhill, subsidies, briefs, hearth taxes and litigation


Official papers of Sir Godfrey Copley, J.P.(d. 1677)


Plan of coal Seam


Hospital of St. Edmund


Fitzwilliam charters


Cromwell of Cromwell charters


Miscellaneous Notts. charters


Charter of other counties (Essex and Lincs)


Miscellaneous items


Personal items


Wills and marriage settlements

Related material:

Papers of the Copleys dating from the 17th-19th centuries (including records of the Hospitallers' manor of Cadeby 15th - 18th century) (See Y.A.J. 35 (1943)) are at the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Claremont, 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9NZ (Ref. DD38).

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

Copley family, baronets, of Sprotbrough, Yorkshire

Physical description: c. 550 files
Access conditions:


Publication note:

See J. Hunter's South Yorkshire Vol 1 p 342 and Burke's Landed Gentry 1898 Vol 1 pp 322-323 (Bewicke-Copley family)

  • Cromwell family of Nottinghamshire
  • Sprotborough, West Riding of Yorkshire
Administrative / biographical background:

The manor of Cromwell pertained to the Bishop of Lincoln's soke of Newark on Trent, having been bought by Bishop Robert Bloet (1094-1125). The manor had been held T.R.E. by Alden, one of the King's thegns, and probably passed to the Cromwell family by marriage to one of the Englishman's heiresses. In the survey of the soke of c.1225-31, Ralph de Crumbewell held a knight's fee of the Bishop in Cromwell, West Hallam (co.Derbys.), Lambcote, Awsworth, Kelham, Carlton on Trent and Caunton (all co. Notts.). Ralph had in c.1218 attested a charter of the Bishop relating to castle-guard at Newark Castle. In 1233, the wardship of the Cromwell fee was in the hands of Bishop Hugh. Successive heirs male were named Ralph and are distinguished with some difficulty. Thoroton compiled a skeletal pedigree.


By 1299, the Cromwells also held the manor and advowson of Lambley as well as the manor and advowson of Cromwell. Lambley was held of the Honor of Tickhill, which may explain why these charters are found in the Copley MSS.- as the Copley's also held of the Honor of Tickhill. It is perhaps significant that most of the charters here are attested at Lambley.


These charters also coincide with the period of the rise of the Cromwells. Sir Ralph de Cromwell (d.1398) married Maud, sister and heiress of Sir William Bernake in 1367. Bernake also held of the Honor of Tickhill. By this marriage, the Cromwells became lords of Tattershall in Lincolnshire. Sir Ralph became Lord Cromwell in 1375 upon receiving a writ of summons to Parliament. In 1373 he had been retained to serve the King with 20 men at arms and 20 archers. In 1386, he was created a banneret.


Sir Ralph had also served on the commission of array, peace and sewers for Lindsey from 1371. He was probably on the commission of the peace for Lindsey from 1369, and was appointed capitalis justiarius in 1395-6. He also served on the county commission for Lincolnshire in 1382. This service in local administration for the county of Lincolnshire illustrates the ambivalent position of the gentry of the Trent valley, residing in Nottinghamshire, but having great affinity with Lincolnshire. The Trent, peculiarly, did not form an administrative or social barrier between Linconshire and Nottinghamshire in the area around Newark and Cromwell.


The last of the Cromwells was the most illustrious-Ralph, Lord Cromwell of Tattershall. He was Lord Treasurer of England, 1433-43, and was responsible for the building of Tattershall Castle, one of the earliest brick-built domestic buildings in England, and South Wingfield. Ralph's sister, Maud, married Richard Stanhop, who had issue, Henry, Joan and Maud. Of these, Henry died s.p., whilst Joan, the heiress, married Humphrey Bourchier.


The charters in the Copley Mss. relate mainly to Lambley (co. Notts.), Dronfield and West Hallam (co. Derbys.) and a few other properties in co. Notts.


The Copleys inherited Sprotborough through the marriage of Sir William Copley and Dorothy Fitzwilliam, aunt and co-heiress of William Fitzwilliam who died in 1516, last of the male line of the Fitzwilliams of Sprotborough. In addition to the Sprotborough estates Copley inherited Plumtree in the Rushcliffe hundred of Nottinghamshire. The other Fitzwilliam co-heiress married first, Sir Henry Savile of Thornhill and second, Richard Gascoigne.


Godfrey Copley (d1677) who succeeded to the estates in the mid 17th century, was created a baronet in 1661 and was a Justice of the Peace during Charles I's reign. His official papers are among these archives. His son, Godfrey, the second baronet, was the most distinguished member of the family, being an early member of the Royal Society and M.P. for Thirsk. He enlarged the estate and built a new mansion house at Sprotborough. Unfortunately, few of his papers are among those here. There are some letters from him in the Stowe and Sloane Mss in the British Museum. He died in 1709 and for two generations the estates were held by the Copleys of Wadworth. The descendants of Sir Godfrey's daughter, Catherine, who married Joseph Moyle, succeeded to the estates in 1766 and took the name of Copley.


These muniments were deposited by the British Records Association, to which they were given by Sir Vasey Sterry, in 1960.

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