Catalogue description The Wellington Estate Collection

This record is held by Museum of English Rural Life

Details of Wellington
Reference: Wellington
Title: The Wellington Estate Collection

The papers described this report form part of the muniments of title and estate records of the Hampshire (Stratfield Saye) estate of the Duke of Wellington, amongst which are numerous deeds and legal papers relating to the first and second Barons Rivers and earlier members of the Pitt family


The Wellington Estate Collection consists of 279 boxes of manuscript material, housing some tens of thousands of letters, several thousand deeds and other legal documents, and various other maps and papers; in addition to these there are approximately 300 bound ledgers and a large collection of rentals and other sundry accounts. These are all associated with the purchase and administration of the Stratfieldsaye estate, Hampshire (the principal country seat of the Dukes of Wellington), and other estates once held by the family


The manuscripts of which this collection is comprised are primarily those of the estate, rather than the personal papers of the Wellington family; there are letters from most of the Dukes but they are mainly to their Estate Agent or their Solicitors. As such, the records may be roughly subdivided into two categories:


a) Deeds and other legal documents relating to the purchase of estate property;


b) Letters and other papers generated by the Estate Office in its day-to-day administration


a) Deeds The Collection includes most of the title deeds relating to the estate; apart from the original 1819 Conveyance from Lord Rivers to the Parliamentary Trustees there are hundreds of conveyances, releases, surrenders, etc., representing the many other acquisitions mentioned above. It is frequently the case that such deeds are accompanied by earlier ones recording the transfer of the property over the previous century or more; an example might be the deeds connected with the Foxcote and Brazenhead estates, purchased by the Parliamentary Trustees in 1860, in which instance the final conveyance is associated with deeds, wills and other papers going back to 1735 (plus a copy of a deed of 1569), which give a partial, if not complete, history of the land over that period (mss. Wellington/1368/1-Wellington/1368/30). Also, as the Collection includes a large quantity of archives taken from the storerooms of Farrer & Co., the Dukes' Solicitors from the 1st Duke to the present day (and also Solicitors to Lord Rivers), there are many draft deeds and draft abstracts, along with letters between Farrer & Co. and the Dukes' Agents, other solicitors, etc., connected with preparations for the transactions. There is, for example, a bundle of such drafts and letters connected with the Foxcote/Brazenhead purchase mentioned earlier (ms. 838). Also included in the papers from Farrer & Co. are their files of correspondence relating to more recent purchasing or leasing of estate property, c. 1930-60 (e.g. ms. 298). The earliest original deed catalogued so far dates from 1613


b) Estate Office Records, etc. This category, which forms the major proportion of the Collection, may be further subdivided as follows


i) Estate Agents' Correspondence The Duke of Wellingtons' estates (including the Wolverton and Wellington estates, but not property in London) were managed from the Stratfieldsaye Estate Office by a series of Estate Agents; a rough chronology may be established thus:


1826-32 John Payne


1832-73 George and Abel Easton


1874-95? Walter Monsley


1895?-1937 George Frederick North


1937-39 David Henry


1939-41? Maurice C. Simpson and Alex V. Lee


1941?-48 Alex V. Lee/Hawett & Lee


1948-67 V. Peart Robinson


1967- C. Scott


John Payne's dates of employment may be established from ms. 1568. Prior to that the position is uncertain; George Easton appears to have been employed as the Duke's Steward (the position claimed by Payne) as early as 1818 (ms. Wellington/176/5), and Samuel Smith of Gray's Inn Square, London, acted on the Duke's behalf in various transactions c. 1820-30. The Eastons took over as a partnership after Payne, and Abel seems to have left (or died) sometime before 1860 - the precise date, and also the way in which they divided the responsibilities between them (which one assumes must have been the case) could undoubtedly be established by a close examination of the relevant papers. Abel was described as the Duke's 'Land Steward' in a letter of 1841 (ms. 1635), and George (only) is listed in White's 1859 Directory, under the inhabitants of Stratfieldsaye, as the 'Land Agent'. George Easton retired at the end of 1873 - it is evident from the correspondence at ms. 1621 and 1622 that he was then an old man - and was succeeded by Walter Monsley, who had previously worked for the Earl of Cawdor. A document indicating the precise date of his retirement has not at the time of writing come to light, but G. F. North was definitely Agent by 1897 (as testified by, for example, ms. 1771). A large proportion of the Collection, and particularly the letters, data from North's period of office. A. V. Lee was one of the partners of Hewett & Lee, a firm of Estate Agents, and the Stratfieldsaye Agency seems to have been handled by them during the Second World War, and immediately afterwards


There are letters from the Eastons among the nineteenth-century draft deeds and associated documents, mentioned above, but the first appearance of correspondence to the Estate Agent in any quantity dates from Monsley's time, and there are numerous bundles of letters from various writers over the period 1870-90, concerning many different aspects of estate life. There are many more letters written to his successor; it was North's practice to bundle letters together at the end of each year (or later), sorted alphabetically, and there are many thousands of these letters from tenants, farmers, suppliers, fellow Estate Agents on neighbouring estates, etc. There do not, however, appear to be any copies of North's replies (presumably he did not keep them?); this also applies to Monsley. The Agents between North and Robinson kept their letters rather better organised, held together in files with copy letters adjacent; it is not possible to observe the system later than this as there are no letters later than 1946 (apart from those in the files deposited by Farrer & Co.). The later correspondence is presumably still kept in the Estate Office at Stratfieldsaye


ii) Accounts, etc. The Collection includes many thousands of payment vouchers, being bills of account for goods supplied to the estate, details of wages paid to estate workers, demand notices for rates and tax, etc. During the nineteenth century these were subdivided under different headings such as 'Stratfieldsaye estate', Wolverton estate', 'Garden', 'Game', 'Forage', etc., and balance sheets were drawn up approximately every month (this applies from about 1870 onwards; previous to that the intervals between balances was probably larger) and there was a running numerical sequence of accounts during the agencies of the Eastons and Monsley, up to about no. 600. The system appears to have been simplified under North, when the subdivisions disappeared and all vouchers were grouped under the general heading 'Estate and farm vouchers', being bundled together at the end of each month. After North's departure the system was again revised and vouchers were kept in loose-leaf binders


In addition to the vouchers, it would be appropriate to mention under this heading the run of estate ledgers, which cover the period (roughly) from 1830 to the middle of the twentieth century and relate in some to particular farms as well as to more general estate accounts. There is also a run of rent rolls (i.e. half-yearly accounts of rentals, with tenants' names, property rented, amount paid, etc.) from about 1870-1950: (prior to 1870 the details will be found in the estate ledgers)


Estate bank accounts were held at Coutts & Co., London, and Barclays Bank Ltd., Reading (previously Simonds & Co., Reading), and there is within the Collection a considerable quantity of bank statements, returned cheques, used cheque-books, and paying- in books. These date mainly from the period 1948-65


iii) Miscellaneous other papers There are also various other documents which do not strictly belong in the categories outlined above. There are for example numerous papers relating to timber on the Dukes' estates; these include catalogues of auction sales, summary annual lists of planting costs, reports on the state of the woods, etc. There are also catalogues of sale relating to estates sold or purchased (or to nearby estates which were presumably considered for purchase), e.g. mss. 197, 462-464. Under this heading one might also include various maps and plans, relating to parts of the estates or to specific farms, and such things as a plan of the proposed Berks and Hants Junction Canal of 1830 (ms. 1565) and a plan of the Wellington family vault in St. Mary's Church, Stratfieldsaye (ms. 348) The full scope of the Collection can be appreciated from the Catalogue


Classified Summary


Deeds, abstracts, memoranda, wills, bonds and other muniments of title 13th-19th century, mainly Berkshire and Hampshire, with some for Dorset 18th-19th century, etc


Pitt family settlements, mortgage deeds and related papers mainly temp the 1st and 2nd Barons Rivers; rental of the Dorset and Wiltshire jointure lands of Lady Rivers 1778


Stratfield Saye manorial court rolls 1401-2, 1402-3, 1475-6 and presentments 1623; Ecchinswell manorial admissions 17th-18th century


Hampshire (Stratfield Saye, Hartley Wespall, Heckfield, etc) leases 17th-19th century, with abstract of Stratfield Saye leaseholds 1664-99; Winchcombe (Gloucestershire) lease 1730


Surveys of Stratfield Saye 1663 and Turgis and Oklam's farms in Stratfield Turgis 17th century; Stratfield Turgis terrier 17th century; Heckfield particulars 1756, 1757; plan of Stratfield Saye farms c1800; plans and surveys, Bramley, Stratfield Turgis and Swallowfield ?19th century (3 volumes)


Stratfield Turgis rental 1636-41


Records of the Duke of Wellington's Stratfield Saye (Hampshire and Berkshire, with Wellington (Somerset)) estate generally, comprising:


Inventory 1939, terrier ?mid 19th century and particulars and valuation ?mid 19th century; book of reference mid 19th century and book of reference relating to tithes 1857;


Rental c1872-80;


Rental and account books, cash books and ledgers c1832-1965; estate labour account books c1834-1952 (not consecutive); accounts of labour employed on road building 1843-4;


Farms and cottages rental books 1896, 1903-61; accounts of farms in hand 1879, 1883, 1890-2; records of Stratfield Saye Farm 1893-1938, Ewhurst Farm 1904-34, Fremantle Farm 1928-9, Plantation Farm 1888-96 and Wyers Farm 1893, 1908; herd book c1891-8;


Timber account books, Stratfield Saye c1830-9, Wolverton c1840-9; accounts of estate planting 1898-1925;


Estate bills, vouchers and related papers c1900-25, c1940-59, with estate correspondence c1939-46


Articles of agreement, Wolverton tithes 1838


Stratfield Saye house accounts 1894, ?late 19th century, 1902-25; Stratfield Saye garden accounts 1836-58, 1867-71, 1929-30; Ewhurst garden accounts 1933


Account book, Beech Hill (Berkshire) surveyors of highways 1837-45


Accounts of valuations and surveys conducted by James Innes 1870-2 (on volume)


Rent rolls of the Dromana (Co Waterford) estate of Catherine, Viscountess Grandison, 15th-18th century, with related surveys, plans and papers mainly early 18th century

Date: 13th Century - 1965

At the time of writing the cataloguing process is incomplete; of the 279 boxes detailed listing has so far been applied to 134, and the contents of these latter form mss. 1-1861 in the succeeding pages. The list is not arranged according to any scheme of subdivision by subject; the numerical sequence represents only the order in which the material was found in the boxes.


As a general rule each distinct item, or bundle of items with a connecting theme (and which were originally bundled together by the Estate Office), has a distinct number. In the case of a bundle of deeds and legal documents which all relate to one particular piece of land, or which are connected by being deeds of the same sort and date (e.g. the bundles of draft assignments at ms. 1302, 1399, 1589), one number is assigned to the sequence as a whole and the individual items are then given sub-numbers (e.g. Wellington/165/1, Wellington/165/2, Wellington/165/3, etc.). As explained above, G. F. North's correspondence was originally tied up in bundles by letter and year, and the practice in listing these has been to maintain these units (arranged in alphabetical order within each unit), after extracting any series of letters from particular correspondents which appear to be of importance or are sufficient in quantity to merit separate listing. Letters from Farrer & Co. and from the Duke of Wellington are always listed apart from the general sequence (which reflects the practice of the Estate Office); the only others to whom this applies are the Dukes' Private Secretaries (Pratt-Barlow, Gordon and Boyle) and members of the Dukes' family.


The contents of boxes 135-279 are listed very briefly, box by box, at the end of the sequence; it must be pointed out that this is only a guide and is not based on an exhaustive examination of the contents.


The ledgers, rent rolls and the majority of the post-1936 vouchers (i.e. those held in loose-leaf binders) form separate sequences which are not at present listed within this catalogue.


The catalogue is indexed (up to ms. 1861), and indexes are available at the University of Reading

Related material:

Hampshire deeds (Stratfield Saye, Stratfield Turgis, etc) 13th-17th century (one box).


Hampshire Record Office (150M87). Loaned by the Duke of Wellington. NRA 1286.


Deeds and papers relating to the Duke of Wellington's Standon (Hertfordshire) estate 16th-19th century.


Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (Acc 523; D/EW1). Deposited by the Duke of Wellington through Farrer & Co 1954. NRA 1286.


Hilborough (Norfolk) estate maps 19th century (Duke of Wellington's estate).


Norfolk Record Office (MS 33242). Presented by Farrer & Co through the British Records Association (BRA 369). NRA 7825.


Pitt-Rivers of Rushmore (Wiltshire) deeds, family settlements (Pitt and Pitt-Rivers) and legal papers, manorial records (mostly Cranborne, Dorset) and estate and family papers 14th-20th century, mainly Dorset and Wiltshire, with deeds and papers for Berkshire, Hampshire and Gloucestershire 16th-19th century, extent of Sir William Pitt's estates 1637, Berkshire and Hampshire estate rentals and accounts 18th-early 19th century, and papers of the 2nd Baron Rivers, etc.


Dorset Record Office (D396). Deposited by the Pitt-Rivers family 1971 and subsequently NRA 635.


Papers of Sir William Pitt (d1636) and Edward Pitt (d1643).


British Library, Manuscript Collections (Add MSS 29974-7). Acquired 1876.


Political, military and official papers of the 1st Duke of Wellington (d1852).


Southampton University Library (MS 61). Accepted in lieu of tax on the estate of the 7th Duke and allocated 1983. NRA 20085.

Held by: Museum of English Rural Life, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Wellesley family, Dukes of Wellington

Physical description: 334 boxes
  • Stratfield Saye Estate, Hampshire
  • Stratfield Saye, Hampshire
Unpublished finding aids:

A considerable portion (some 279 archive boxes) of the 1974 deposit has been most helpfully listed by Reading University Library. The present report seeks only to provide a summary description of the unlisted papers of the 1974 deposit (consisting of several hundred ledgers and rent books and a number of files of vouchers) and of the entirety of the unlisted 1982 deposit (consisting of a further 55 boxes). This uncatalogued material has been listed in the order it was found on the shelves of the archive stacks of the Library.


The collection at Reading University Library includes items (Stratfield Saye manor records, medieval deeds, Dromana (Co Waterford) rentals, letters of George Dabridgecourt, a survey 1636, etc) previously examined by the Commission when it compiled a short, selective, report some fifty years ago on papers then kept at Stratfield Saye (see NRA 1286). It also includes a quantity of items seen by the Commission at the offices of Farrer & Co some years later and summarily listed then (for which see also NRA 1286). (Amongst the latter were papers now in Stratfield Saye boxes 3 and 11.) In respect of these deeds, legal and estate papers, those early lists are therefore now entirely superseded.

Administrative / biographical background:

The first Duke of Wellington's Stratfield Saye (Hampshire) estate was accumulated by its previous owners, the Pitt family, which held property in the Isle of Purbeck and elsewhere in Dorset by the sixteenth century. The family was established in Hampshire by Sir William Pitt (d1636), comptroller of the royal household under James I, and his son Edward Pitt (d1643), who acquired Stratfield Saye from the Dabridgecourt family in 1629-30 and Stratfield Turgis, a former estate of the Marquess of Winchester, in 1634. These estates were consolidated by piecemeal purchases during the seventeenth century. Property at Heckfield (Hampshire) came to the Pitt family from the Sturt family in the late eighteenth century, as a result of a mortgage agreement of 1757. In the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century the Hampshire estate was further extended and consolidated by piecemeal purchases and exchanges.


The diplomat George Pitt (d1803) was created Baron Rivers of Stratfield Saye in 1776 and Baron Rivers of Sudeley Castle (Gloucestershire) in 1802. (His ancestor the royalist George Pitt had married Jane, daughter of the second Earl Rivers and widow of George Brydges, sixth Baron Chandos, from whom a property at Sudeley Castle, subsequently alienated to the Marquess of Buckingham in 1810, had passed to the Pitt family.) The Hampshire estate was sold by George Pitt, second Baron Rivers (d1828), to Parliamentary trustees for the use of the first Duke of Wellington in 1817-18. From 1818 to 1918, under the Dukes of Wellington, the Hampshire estate was further enlarged, including by the purchase of Wolverton and Ewhurst from Sir Peter Pole in 1837 and Hartley Wespall from the executors of WHT Hawley in 1875. A property at Great Bourton (Cropredy, Oxfordshire), bought by the Duke of Wellington in 1854, was exchanged in 1855 with New College, Oxford, for an estate at Heckfield and Mattingley. In 1883 the Hampshire estate extended to some 15,847 acres, with a further 494 acres (at Beech Hill, Swallowfield, etc) lying immediately adjacent in the county of Berkshire.


The Pitt family's Dorset estate, with family property in Wiltshire (Rushmore, near Salisbury, etc), and the barony of Rivers of Sudeley Castle descended from the second Baron to his nephew Horace Pitt-Rivers (d1831), who was succeeded by his son George Pitt-Rivers (1810-66), fourth Baron. On the death of the sixth Baron in 1880 the barony was extinguished but the family property passed under the will of the second Baron to the anthropologist General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (1827-1900), a nephew of John Lane Fox of Bramham (Yorkshire), and thence to his descendants the Pitt-Rivers family of Rushmore (Wiltshire). (The Pitt-Rivers family papers in Dorset Record Office include deeds and legal papers relating to Pitt family properties in Hampshire, Berkshire, Dorset and elsewhere, as well as rentals and stewards accounts for the Stratfield Saye estate eighteenth-early 19th century.) In 1883 General Pitt-Rivers owned 24,942 acres in Dorset and 2,762 acres in Wiltshire, a total of 27,704 acres worth £35,396 a year.


The Manor and estate of Stratfieldsaye were purchased from George, Lord Rivers (2nd Baron Rivers of Stratfieldsaye) in 1818, for £ 263,000, by a body of trustees appointed by Parliament, as part of the nation's reward to the 1st Duke of Wellington for his military services. (The estate, along with other properties subsequently purchased, remains vested in these statutorily-appointed trustees (who include the Prime Minister, ex-officio) rather than in the Dukes themselves; the latter pay the annual rent of a flag, presented to the sovereign on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo). Lord Rivers had inherited it from his father, George Pitt (created 1st Baron Rivers in 1776), who died in 1802; the estate had been in the Pitt family since about 1630, when William Pitt (d. 1636) bought it from the Dabridgecourt family, who appear to have held it since the end of the thirteenth century (D.Y., Collections for the History of Hampshire, [1795]; W. White, History...of Hampshire, 1859). The house, which was rebuilt or at least added to around 1700, stood in a park of about 1500 acres.


Opinion seems to be divided, at best, as to the wisdom of the purchase. Although the architect Benjamin Wyatt apparently felt 'no hesitation in saying, that the estate possesses great beauty and dignity; and is capable of being made a princely place' (E. Longford, Wellington: Pillar of State, 1972), D.Y., in his History cited above, wrote about it in 1795 as follows: 'The rooms are in general low, and small: the only good ones being added by the present Lord Rivers, who has spent much money on the park and grounds, which are, though well-wooded, rather flat, and deficient in natural advantages, and the stream, which runs through them, too much of a serpentine'. Mrs. Harriet Arbuthnot, writing in 1821, apparently thought that 'it is not a nice place, seems damp and low, and the house but an indifferent one for him' (E. Longford, op. cit.); Pevsner, in his Buildings of England series (N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, Hampshire..., 1967), explains that 'it was a choice dictated by the excellent quality of the farms more than by any special qualities of grandeur or beauty of the house itself'. The most potent comment is perhaps that found in the DNB, in the article for the 1st Duke: 'a bad investment, which he [the Duke] used to say would have ruined any man but himself. He enlarged and improved it, spending on it for many years all the income he derived from it'. It seems that it was no Blenheim.


Geographically, the estate took in most of the parish of Stratfieldsaye, and part of the surrounding parishes of Stratfield Turgis, Hartley Wespall, Heckfield and Swallowfield; over the ensuing century it was consolidated and built up by the purchase of farms, cottages, land and other near or adjoining property. In addition, the trustees also held on the Dukes' behalf an estate at Wellington, Somerset (purchased in 1812: DNB); another major acquisition was the Wolverton and Ewhurst estate, encompassing some several thousand acres in the parishes of Wolverton Ewhurst, Baughurst, Tadley and thereabouts (north-west of Basingstoke), purchased from Sir Peter Pole and his trustees in 1831/32. Ewhurst Park House, described by White (op. cit.) in 1859 as 'a commodious mansion in a large and well-wooded park' was let to various tenants during the nineteenth century (including Alexander Lord Russell, 7th son of the 6th Duke of Bedford, who lived there c. 1880-1905), but thereafter it seems to have been the preferred country residence of the 4th Duke of Wellington (d. 1934), who leased Stratfieldsaye House to his son the Marquess Douro in about 1921. A further large addition was the Manorial estate of Hartley Wespall, purchased from the executors of W. H. T. Hawley in 1875. The Wolverton and Ewhurst estates were sold by auction in 1943, and the Wellington (Somerset) estate in 1972.


The whole collection (Accession 1641), which was deposited at Reading University Library from Stratfield Saye in 1974 and 1982, includes records transferred from the offices of the legal firm Farrer & Co, which acted both for the Barons Rivers and the Dukes of Wellington (Somerset) estate in 1972.

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