The archives at Belsay cover the acquisition of, tenure and disposition of real estate, manorial administration, estate administration and personal papers relating to both public offices and private interests. A subsidiary group of records within the latter class relate to public undertakings, such as turnpikes and railways in which the Middletons had a financial or administrative interest. Notices of the more interesting and important items are included in the first report. In addition, transcripts have now been made of a selection of the political correspondence (mainly letters on elections) of Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck. The Wallace correspondence has not been listed, as the owner proposes to deposit this in a suitable repository. The letters of Isabella Cooke form a third box of correspondence. The individual items in this box are of no great importance, but, taken as a whole, they give a very good impression of the life of a Victorian lady of leisure. In particular, her locked diary is a very good guide to the feelings and sentiments of the age, in particular to the "high moral tone" adopted in the face of disappointments and bereavements. The journals on travel-though not particularly original or well written - are again a useful guide to the attitude and ideas of the Victorian lady. There is also a series of very carefully kept reading lists, giving a brief, but decidedly personal criticism of each book.
Property. The following brief details regarding the acquisition and sale of land are a useful guide to the date range of the various groups of title deeds included in the archives.
Belsay. The Book of Fees records that the Middletons held the manor of Belsay in socage and Thornbrough for one knight's fee in 1242 but no record remains of how these properties were acquired.
Edington. Bought by Ralph Middleton in 1609 from the Eures for £540 and sold by Sir Arthur Middleton in 1901.
Whalton. Bought by Ralph Middleton between 1611 and 1640.
Dromonby (Yorks). Bought by Thomas Middleton 13 April, 1623 from the Constables for £520; sold by Sir John Middleton in 1700 for £4,000.
Tritlington and Choppington. Bought 12 June, 1628 for £3,050.
Netherworsall. Bought by Robert Middleton from the Constables 6 November, 1574.
Choppington and Cleaswell Hill Collieries (leasehold). Sold by Sir John Middleton c.1700. (also Tritlington and Swinburn).
Calton (Yorks). Lambert estate, sold by Sir William Middleton May, 1727.
Albury Hatch, Essex. Left to Anne, wife of Sir John Lambert Middleton by her cousin, Mrs. Frances Bladen and sold by Sir Charles M. L. Monck 1820.
Lincolnshire Estate. Principally Caenby and Glentham - acquired as a result of the marriage of Jane, daughter and heiress of Lawrence Monck of Caenby with Sir William Middleton (20 April, 1774) and sold by Sir Arthur Middleton 1871.
(a) Belsay MSS. There are large quantities of deeds, (including a few medieval ones), estate papers, etc. relating to the Northumberland property; many of the deeds concerning the Yorkshire, Durham, and Essex estates, inherited from the Lambert, Ettrick and Hodges heiresses respectively were probably handed over at the times when those properties were sold, but some wills, estate papers etc., remain at Belsay. There are particularly fine series of modern Northumberland Estate Accounts and Labourers day-books. The personal papers of Sir Charles Monck, bart. (ob. 1867) are of considerable interest and importance. There is a notable absence of the main classes of manorial documents: it is possible that they may be discovered in the offices of a local lawyer, successor of a former steward as it is unlikely, being important legal documents, that they would have been deliberately destroyed. There are also some papers relating to coal mines and lead mines.
(b) The Caenby MSS consist of a considerable quantity of deeds from the 12th century, and a few manorial documents from the 14th, (but no Court Rolls earlier than the 16th); estate papers from the late 17th, with enclosure and drainage acts of the 18th and 19th centuries; all referring to the estates inherited from the Monck heiress, and formerly belonging to the Tournays.
1-6 Deeds and estate papers, Northumberland, also Dromonby, Yorkshire, and a few co. Durham
7 Deeds and estate papers, Yorkshire (Lambert estate
8 Deeds and estate papers, co. Durham
9 Accounts and correspondence, Albury Hatch, Essex
10 Wills and marriage settlements
11 Legal papers
12 Estate accounts, correspondence etc
13 Tithe and ecclesiastical papers
14 Lambert papers
15 Family letters and historical collections; papers of Sir Charles Monck
16 Political papers of Sir Charles Monck
17 Public offices
18-19 Turnpikes and railways
20-21 Historical collections on Middleton family
23-32 Lincolnshire estate records (part II of report)
33 Cooke papers
34 Deeds and papers returned from estate office and solicitors
- Books (accounts, diaries etc.)
- Loose items (pedigrees, patents, plans)
- Miscellaneous files on Sir Charles Monck
Appendices: (i) extracts from diaries
(ii) calendar of charters in Lambert pedigree
Index to marriage settlements and wills