The records here catalogued, principally concerning the Gore Langton family, are one of the valuable and extensive archive collections accumulated by Messrs. Farrer & Co., of Lincoln's Inn Fields, London.
The greater part of the collection was deposited at the Somerset Record Office in March 1948 under the title 'Gore Langton Papers' (ref.DD/GL), but examination of the deposits made by Messrs. Farrer & Co. through the British Records Association at various dates in 1941 and 1942 (original ref.DD/BR/fr) indicated a considerable element of further Gore Langton material which has now, as far as possible, been restored to its correct place. The schedule of original storage above shows how the merging has been affected. A third element in the collection found its way via the B.R.A. to the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, but was later transferred to the S.R.O. These relate both to the Gore Langton and to the Jones (of Stowey) family estates, and the separate list of these records (ref.DD/BR/dt) should be read in conjunction with the present catalogue.
The greater part of the present collection relates to the estates of the Gore family (originally of London, later of Flax Bourton and Barrow Gurney), the Langton family (originally of Bristol, later of Doynton, Gloucs., and Newton St.Loe), and after 1783, the Gore Langton family. In that year William Gore (b.1760) married Bridget, only child of Joseph Langton, of Newton Park, and assumed by royal permission the additional arms and surname of Langton. The family seat of Newton Park was the work of Joseph Langton c.1762-5, and has been described by Pevsner as 'one of the finest country mansions of the 18th century in Somerset'. Unfortunately, the present deposit has virtually nothing on the house or the main Newton St.Loe estate and it is presumed that whatever existed was contained in the 3 boxes of deeds sent by Messrs. Farrer & Co. to the Duchy of Cornwall after the sale of the house. The records in the present collection do, however, illustrate the building up of a prosperous, if less than compact, estate, by the energetic merchant family of Langton, its continued growth following the Gore marriage, and culminating in the marriage of William Henry Fowell Gore Langton and Lady Anna Eliza Mary Plantagenet Campbell in 1846, involving the acquisition of the Temple and Chandos estates and a vast personal fortune. Their son, William Stephen Gore Langton, inherited the title of 4th Earl Temple of Stowe by special remainder in 1889 and was authorised in 1892 to continue use of the surname of Gore and to take the additional name and arms of Temple (162 below).
The history of the manor of Brislington is illustrated from 1575 (1318 below and that of the Hallatrow estate in High Littleton from 1616 (33-4, etc., below). The Langton family acquisition of property in the Doynton area of Gloucestershire in the early 17th cent. involved complicated property deals with the inter-related families of Guy, Mill als. Butler, Player, Kitchen, and Osborne, not always fully elucidated by the surviving records (85-94 below).
Items of special interest include a group of early Wellow deeds (71 and detailed Appendix below), and deeds of a tenement in Marksbury acquired by the Mercer family in 1459 and still in their hands in 1663(43 below). Mineral exploitation on the estates is well illustrated by coal leases and accounts for Brislington (126-8 below), leases and a detailed agreement for Hallatrow in High Littleton (132 below), and an agreement for calamine and lead mining in Doynton (96 below). References to coal mining in Brislington are found as early as 1586 (124 below).
The presence of certain extraneous elements among these records should be noted. The probability is that these owe their presence largely to the handling of the business of several estates by the one legal practice, but in 2 cases some slight family link can be suggested. Joseph Langton of Newton Park was appointed one of the executors of the will of Richard Jones of Stowey (dated 1688 - see DD/BR/dt 10) and thus became a guardian of the testator's son William. Possibly the 2 estates continued to be handled by the same legal practice; the Farrer records deposited through the Dorset Nat. Hist. & Arch. Soc., show a complete fusion of the 2 elements. The marriage of William H.P. Gore Langton and Lady Anna E.M. Plantagenet Campbell in 1846 may perhaps have brought together the Pynsent and Pitt records and those of the Gore Langton estates, as Hester, Countess of Chatham (wife of Wm. Pitt the elder) was a daughter of Richard Grenville of Wotton (co.Bucks.) and Hester, Countess Temple, the ancestors of Lady Plantagenet Campbell. In that case, the bundle of later Pitt estate papers (185 below) must be regarded as essentially a stray item.
However, no clear family connection can be adduced for the records of Earl Godolphin and there does not seem to be any evidence linking the Pitt family of Newmarket with that of the 'Great Commoner'