Important family papers of the Bromley Davenport family of Capesthorne near Macclesfield, Cheshire, dating from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries. The collection contains correspondence, family papers, muniments of title (including large numbers of medieval deeds and charters), estate accounts, rentals, surveys and associated documents. As well as the Davenports of Capesthorne, two other branches of the family in Cheshire are also represented, the Davenports of Calveley and the Davenports of Woodford, together with two Warwickshire families, the Bromleys of Baginton and the Throckmortons of Haseley.
The properties represented lie in many counties but primarily in Cheshire (especially in Nether Alderley, Calveley, Capesthorne, Davenport, Gawsworth, Henbury, Heswall, Macclesfield, Marton, Siddington, Somerford, Swettenham, Upton and Woodford), Staffordshire (especially Ellastone and Wootton), Warwickshire (Baginton, Churchover, Finham, Haseley, Hatton, Oxhill, Shrewley and Southam) and Buckinghamshire (Great Marlow). The extensive papers of Edward Davies Davenport (1778-1847) include political and personal correspondence with Thomas Attwood, Richard Cobden, Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquis of Westminster, Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta, Harriet Martineau, Sir Charles Napier, Lord John Russell and Sydney Smith. Other material includes the Crimean War diary of William Davenport Bromley, who was attached to British forces as a freelance observer/soldier, and papers relating to Sir William Bromley Davenport's service in the South African War (Boer War), 1899-1902.
The Bromley Davenport Muniments: The main groups of additions are: letters and papers respecting the chapel at Capesthorne, eighteenth-nineteenth century; miscellaneous correspondence and papers of John Ward (d. 1748), Davies Davenport II (d. 1758), Edward Davies Davenport (d. 1847), Rev. Walter Bromley, later Davenport Bromley (d. 1862), and William Bromley Davenport (d. 1884) and Augusta his wife; the Crimean Diary of William Davenport Bromley, 1854-55 ; and six manuscript volumes (eighteenth-nineteenth century), including one concerning the estates of the Fittons of Gawsworth (seventeenth-eighteenth century), an account book (1810-18) of Davies Davenport III, and two codices containing family pedigrees.
|Immediate source of acquisition:
The most substantial part of the collection was deposited in April 1948 by Lt.Col. Walter Bromley Davenport (later Sir Walter, knighted 1961), on behalf of his uncle, Sir William Bromley Davenport (d.1949), the then owner of Capesthorne. In 1951, after Lt.Col.Walter had inherited, a further large deposit of deeds, letters and papers was made. This second deposit was made by Mrs Bromley Davenport, acting for her husband. In 1955 a third large and important transfer was made. This was made up entirely of estate records relating to land and properties in Cheshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire, dating from the 18th to the 20th century, the greater part being 19th century. It consisted of over 600 ms. volumes and 37 boxes of correspondence, together with a substantial number of estate maps and plans.
An unpublished list is available in the Library for consultation.
For over 30 years, from the early 1950s onwards, Mrs Bromley Davenport was responsible for the house, its contents and the family collections. From time to time she continued to transfer to the Library additional groups of letters, papers and ms. volumes, generally of a more personal nature. On arrival these were integrated into the 1951 listing.
|Administrative / biographical background:
The Bromley Davenport family of Capesthorne, Cheshire claim descent from Ormus de Davenport, who lived during the reign of William I and have been associated with eastern Cheshire since the eleventh century. Originally the family had their estate at Marton, near Capesthorne, which was acquired in 1166. Vivian de Davenport had a grant of the hereditary office of Master Serjeant of the Peace of Macclesfield from Ranulf, Earl of Warwick c. 1217-1226. The Davenports also served as Chief Foresters for the Hundred of Macclesfield from the twelfth century. The Bromleys and the Davenports came together in 1594 with the marriage of John Davenport of Woodford to Mary, daughter of Hugh Bromley. Their great-grandson John Davenport (d. 1733) married Anne, daughter and co-heiress of John Davenport, of Marton. He was in turn succeeded by his brother, Monk Davenport (d. 1735).
Capesthorne, although situated close to the existing Davenport estates, was not acquired until 1721 when Davies Davenport of Woodford and Marton (son of Monk Davenport) married Mary, daughter and heiress of John Ward of Capesthorne in 1721. John Ward had been responsible for building the "New Hall" at Capesthorne, which now passed to the Davenport family. Davies Davenport's son, Davies (1723-1757) married a member of another branch of the family, Phoebe, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Davenport of Calveley. Davies and Phoebe died while their children, also Davies and Phoebe, were infants. The children were raised by their maternal grandfather, Richard Davenport, at Calveley. Richard Davenport was a friend of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and educated his grandson according to Rousseau's radical precepts (apparently without success). When Rousseau visited England, he stayed with the Davenports at their other estate, Wootton in Staffordshire from 1766-1769. Davies Davenport (1757-1837) married Charlotte Sneyd of Keele, Staffs., and had four children. He sat as MP for Cheshire between 1806-1830. His eldest son and heir, Edward Davies Davenport (1778-1847) was a vocal opponent of his father's tory views and sat as a whig MP for Shaftesbury from 1826-1830. He married Caroline Anne, daughter of Richard Hurt of Wirksworth, Derbyshire in 1830, and had a son, Arthur Henry Davenport (1832-1867).
Edward was responsible for the architectural remodelling of Capesthorne in the mid-nineteenth century, contracting Edward Blore to re-build the house in the Jacobean style, which was undertaken between 1837-1839. This building was severely damaged by fire in 1861, and was rebuilt by Anthony Slavin. Davies' youngest son, Walter, a clergyman added the name 'Bromley' in 1822 (until 1867 the order of surnames was Davenport Bromley). He was an active collector of art, with a fine collection of early Italian pictures. His son, William Bromley Davenport (1821-1884) succeeded to the Capesthorne estate in 1867 on the death of his cousin, Arthur Henry Davenport. William was MP for North Warwickshire from 1864-1884 and a stalwart opponent of all radicalism. His son, William (1862-1949) was also a Conservative MP, sitting for Macclesfield (1886-1906). He died without issue, whereupon Capesthorne passed to his cousin, Walter Henry Bromley-Davenport (1903-1989), who opened Capesthorne to the public in 1955 (he too sat as a Conservative MP for Knutsford).
The present owner is their son, William Bromley Davenport, who is actively engaged in the management of Capesthorne and the estates. He and his wife do not live in the house, but their home is very close by. In 1990 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire. In the same year Mrs Bromley Davenport began a refurbishment of the interior of Capesthorne during the winter months when the house is closed to the public, a programme now in its fourth year.
In the 1950s Dr Taylor and I provided, at Mrs Bromley Davenport's request, an exhibition to illustrate the history of the Davenports, with items dating from the 12th century to the 20th. This became a permanent exhibition at Capesthorne. In 1970 I arranged an additional display relating to the family estates, their administration and their working practices which also became a permanent exhibit.
More recently, in 1990, as part of the current refurbishment programme I was asked to suggest how the main exhibition, arranged almost 40 years ago, might be reorganized. This proved to be a major undertaking, as in the course of the work it was decided to resite the display and house it in an entirely different manner. From the outset I asked John Woodhouse to collaborate and the conservation unit prepared and mounted the exhibition items for display. The work was completed before the opening of the 1991 season. The new exhibition illustrates, as did its predecessor, the history of the family up to the present day, the lands it has held and the part it has played in both local and national affairs.
Relationship with the family.
Since the initial contacts were made, the Library has been fortunate in enjoying an excellent relationship with the Bromley Davenports, and particularly with Lady Bromley Davenport. It was her life's work to restore and maintain Capesthorne and its contents. To that end she sought the expertise of scholars in many fields, and Library staff made a significant contribution. Over the years she wrote and published a number of illustrated booklets dealing with Capesthorne Hall and the family.
See B attached, the last of these booklets to be produced. The first part dealing with the house is now somewhat outdated by recent changes. The second section is a useful outline account of the family's history.
The good relationship continues to the present time.
Importance of the collection.
The Bromley Davenport Muniments are an important source for researchers in many fields of scholarship. They offer a great deal more beyond their interest to local historians, for they contain valuable materials for far wider aspects of political, economic and social history. In my experience the collection has been well-used, and regularly brings to the Library researchers, who come principally from the United Kingdom and North America.