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Flintshire Record Office
Gwysaney manuscripts (Davies-Cooke)

Reference code(s): GB 0208 D/GW

Held at: Flintshire Record Office

Title: Gwysaney MSS (Davies-Cooke)

Short Title: Gwysaney manuscripts (Davies-Cooke)

Creation date(s): 1282-1962

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 2158 items

Name of creator(s): Gwysaney estate


Administrative/Biographical history: The Gwysaney estate in Flintshire was originally held by the Davies family, who traced their descent in a direct line from Cynric Efell, elder son of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys in the 13th century, though the surname, Davies, was not adopted until the 16th century, when it was first used by John ap David. The latter married Jane, widow of Richard Mostyn and daughter of Thomas Salisbury of Leadbrook, Flintshire, and they had three children, the eldest of whom, Robert (1555-1602), inherited the estate, and was the first of a long line of sons named Robert, through whose hands it passed. His eldest son, Robert Davies II served as sheriff of Flintshire in 1607, and his second son, Thomas, became a lieutenant- colonel for Charles I and Constable of Hawarden Castle in 1643. Later he also had command of a regiment under Sir Charles Morgan, lord-general of Christian V of Denmark (1646-99) and many interesting letters written by him from the continent are still preserved at Gwysaney. The estate passed to Robert Davies III, only son of Robert Davies II by his marriage to Anne, daughter and heiress of John Haynes, receiver for Elizabeth I, of her revenues in Wales, on his father's death in 1633. Although only seventeen years of age, he had already married Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Peter Mutton, and it was as a result of this marriage that the Llanerch estate in Denbighshire was added to the Davies estates. Robert III was a staunch Royalist and during the Civil War was besieged at Gwysaney by the forces of Sir William Brereton. He was imprisoned at Chester but later released, and held the office of sheriff of Flintshire in 1644/6. His son Mutton Davies, who had suffered similarly for his support of the King, also held the office of sheriff in 1670 and served as M.P. for the county 1678-1681. He was responsible for laying out continental style gardens at Llanerch, which were unfortunately destroyed in the 18th century, though pictures of them remain at Gwysaney. Robert Davies IV, his son (1658-1710), was a keen antiquary and naturalist, most of whose collection of valuable books and manuscripts is now in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Among them is the famous 'Book of Llandaff' (N.L.W. Journal IV, 123ff) Gwysaney and Llanerch continued to pass together in a direct male line from Robert IV to his son , Robert V (1684-1728) and to his grandson, Robert VI, (1710-45), both of whom continued to hold the important local offices, but in 1785, John Davies, only son of Robert VI, died unmarried. The estate was divided between his two sisters, Letitia and Mary, the former obtaining Llanerch and the latter Gwysaney. In 1764 Mary had married Philip Puleston of Hafod -y-Wern, Wrexham and their only daughter, Frances, married Bryan Cooke of Owston, Yorkshire in 1786. Their son, Philip Davies Cooke therefore inherited estates in Flintshire, Denbighshire and Yorkshire on the death of his father in 1820. All were in need of skilled management, but despite their scattered nature Philip Davies Cooke worked tirelessly to maintain both Owston and Gwysaney as flourishing estates. Hafod-y Wern was leased out as a farmstead, and later to Wrexham Corporation as a sewage farm, but Owston and Gwysaney were restored and developed. Interests in industrial enterprises in Flintshire, including lead mines, coal mines, potteries and brickworks were expanded and a large section of the records in this collection relate to these activities, both estates are still in the hands of his successors.


Scope and content/abstract: Deeds, 1282-1945, mainly for lands in Flintshire and Denbighshire; fair copy rentals and estate accounts prepared by the agent relating to Gwysaney, Flintshire, Llanerch estate, Denbighshire, and Hafod-y-Wern estate, Wrexham, 1639-1939, including tithe rents for Holywell and Mold, Flintshire, and accounts for lead mines, mainly at Rhydymwyn; agents' rentals and accounts, 1783-1946, including estate wages books, 1884-1945; papers relating to tithe rent charges, 1852-1936; rentals and accounts for Hafod-y-wern estate, Wrexham, with miscellaneous papers of the Puleston family, 1545-1836; plans, 1756-1913, estate agents' letter books, 1881-1933; papers relating to the manor of Ewloe, collected and bound around 1900 by P. B. Davies-Cooke, including surveys, perambulations, rentals, court leet minutes and presentments; papers relating to potteries and brickworks, 1594-1912, deeds relating to coal and lead mining, Flintshire, 1763-1913; a register of leases, [c. 1870]-1912; and legal papers relating to the Gwysaney estate and the Puleston family containing miscellaneous case papers, [c. 1600]-1875. The archive also includes family papers, 1567-1900, including marriage settlements, 1692-1786; wills, 1760-1854; correspondence, 1621-1877, mainly of Bryan Cooke and Philip Davies-Cooke, 1796-1825; papers relating to the Davies family seats in Mold church, 1567-1661; military papers consisting of typed copies of letters written by A. G. K. Davies-Cooke, 10th Hussars, from South Africa describing service in the Boer War, 1900-1902; papers relating to the Denbighshire and Caernarfonshire militias, 1689-1892; and Flint, Denbigh and Anglesey hunt papers, 1892-1908.


Language/scripts of material: English, Latin, Anglo-Norman French

System of arrangement: Arranged at Flintshire Record Office into two volumes: Volume 1: Deeds, Estate, Manor, Potteries and Brickworks, Lead Mining, Coal Mining, Plans, Family, Military, Legal, Miscellaneous and Appendix; Volume 2: Deeds, Lead Mining, Coal Mining, Estate, Family, Local Affairs, Office, Military, Legal, Miscellaneous and Appendix.

Conditions governing access: Data Protection Act restrictions will apply to any items less than 100 years old that contain sensitive personal information as defined by the Act.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual Copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogue are available at the Flintshire Record Office, National Library of Wales and the National Register of Archives. Further details relating to manorial records within the archive can be accessed from the Manorial Documents Register. A calendar of some of the Gwysaney letters, once held at the National Library of Wales, is available at the National Library of Wales.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records deposited at Flintshire Record Office have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history: From 1942 onwards, several groups of manuscripts from Llannerch, Gwysaney and Owston have been deposited in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and at the University College of North Wales, Bangor. Mr G A Usher's history of the family, 'Gwysaney and Owston', 1964, is based on these papers. The present collection includes a few documents noted in the Historical Manuscripts Commission 6th Report, 1877, 418-426. Part of the archive, originally listed in a second volume, was transferred from the National Library of Wales to Flintshire Record Office in October 1981, and the items re-numbered to continue from an existing deposit. Papers relating to the Owston estate were transferred from Flintshire Record Office to Doncaster Archives Department following the sale of the Owston estate in 1981. Gwysaney estate records held at University of Wales Bangor, Department of Manuscripts and Archives, were also transferred to Flintshire Record Office. The latter are Flintshire Record Office, D/GW/B.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of copies: Microfilm or xerox copies of most of the Gwysaney papers transferred from the National Library of Wales to Flintshire Record Office are available at the National Library of Wales.

Related material: Further papers relating to the Gwysaney estate and the Davies-Cooke family are Flintshire Record Office, D/GW/B; National Library of Wales, MSS 17110-62, National Library of Wales, Kinmel Deeds; and Doncaster Archives Department, DD.DC, and DX.Bax/61191.

Publication note: Usher, G. A., Gwysaney and Owston: a history of the family of Davies-Cooke of Gwysaney, Flintshire, and Owston, West Riding of Yorkshire (Denbigh, 1964).


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds

Archivist's note: Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project and amended by Elizabeth Pettitt of Flintshire Record Office. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Veysey, A.G., ed., Guide to the Flintshire Record Office (Flintshire County Council, 1974); Nicholas, Thomas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County families of Wales (London, 2 vols, 1872), vol. 1; James, Brian, 'The Great Landowners of Wales in 1873', National Library of Wales Journal, XIV (1965-6); Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2 and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2001; August 2005

Coal mines and mining | Wales | Flintshire
Deeds | Wales | Denbighshire
Estate administration | Wales | Flintshire
Gwysaney (Wales: Estate) | Archives
Lead mines and mining | Wales | Flintshire

Personal names
Cooke , Bryan , 1756-1821
Davies family , of Gwysaney
Davies-Cooke , A. G. K.
Davies-Cooke , Philip , 1793-1853
Davies-Cooke family , of Gwysaney and Owston

Corporate names
Ewloe Manor (Wales)
Gwynfryn Estate (Gwynedd, Wales)
Gwysaney (Wales: Estate)

Denbighshire (Wales)
Flintshire (Wales)
Mold (Wales)

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