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Flintshire Record Office
Erddig manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0208 D/E

Held at: Flintshire Record Office

Title: Erddig MSS

Short Title: Erddig manuscripts

Creation date(s): 1459-1984

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 3634 items

Name of creator(s): Erddig estate

CONTEXT

Administrative/Biographical history: Erddig, the mansion house near Wrexham, has been restored by the National Trust, takes its name from the township of Erddig, in which it stands. The present house was built by Joshua Edisbury in 1684/5. Previously the most important house in the neighbourhood had been Erddig Fechan, a farmhouse, which was demolished at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Joshua Edisbury was a member of the Edisbury family of Marchwiel, who seem to have moved into the area from Edisbury in Cheshire in the late sixteenth century. He was High Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1682 and obviously felt the need for a house befitting his position in the county. Unfortunately he was not a good businessman, nor able to refuse the pleas of his equally unbusinesslike relations, who were always in debt. Almost before the house was complete, he was forced to start mortgaging the estate to satisfy the demands of his creditors. He was also involved in lead-mining adventures at Trelawnyd in Flintshire, which proved a source of constant trouble and little profit. His brother, John Edisbury, a Master in Chancery, also became involved in Joshua's financial difficulties when he stood surety on his behalf, firmly believing in his ability to pay. On the strength of this belief, he borrowed from the fees belonging to the Court of Chancery and when it became evident that these would not be repaid, he was forced to resign his office and was brought to trial. He died, a ruined man, in 1713, leaving his brother still fighting at law to retain possession of his estates, which were mortgaged to Sir John Trevor. In the same year the Court of Chancery ordered that they should be sold to the highest bidder, who proved to be John Meller, the man who had succeeded to Dr. John Edisbury's office as a Master in Chancery. In 1718 Joshua Edisbury is heard of for the last time and it is presumed that he died shortly afterwards. Most of Joshua Edisbury's goods at Erddig had been sold and when John Meller took possession of the house he began immediately to furnish it in superb taste. Many of the pieces of furniture be bought still remain there. The "State bed", purchased in 1720, is at present on loan to the Victoria and Albert museum where it has been skilfully restored, such is the value put upon it as an example of its kind and period. John Meller also set about improving and laying out the gardens and planting numerous exotic fruit-trees. However, he remained unmarried and on his death in 1733 the house and estate passed to his nephew, Simon, son of his sister, Anne Yorke. The Yorke family originated in Wiltshire and Simon Yorke I of Erddig was a first cousin of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764). He married Dorothy, daughter of Matthew Hutton of Newnham, co. Hertford, in 1739 and had by her two children, Philip and Anne Jemima. He lived at Erddig for over thirty years until his death in 1767 but changed hardly anything he found there. His son, Philip Yorke I, however, was both energetic and painstaking, concerning himself particularly with maintaining and improving the house and grounds. He wrote most detailed instructions to his steward, John Caesar, and always urged strict attention to economy and good workmanship. He did not inherit sufficient fortune from his father to assure success in his suit for the hand of Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Sir John Cust, Speaker of the House of Commons, and it was only when his uncle, James Hutton, died bequeathing to him his Hertfordshire and London property, that Sir John finally gave his consent to the match. They were married in 1770 and Elizabeth died in 1779 after bearing seven children. A portrait of her by Cotes hangs at Erddig. In 1784 Philip married as his second wife, Diana Meyrick, widow of Ridgway Owen Meyrick and daughter of Piers Wynne of Dyffryn Aled, co. Denbigh, and by her he had six other children. He took part in public life as M.P for Grantham, as an officer in the Militia and as High Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1786, but he is perhaps most well-known for his book, Royal Tribes of Wales, published in 1799. His portrait was painted by Gainsborough. Of his thirteen children, seven died young, but his eldest son, Simon Yorke II, survived to inherit the estate on his father's death in 1804. Simon Yorke II lacked his father's colourful and lively personality. He married Margaret, second daughter of John Holland, esq., of Teyrdan, co. Denbigh in 1807 but their early married life was saddened by the death of their first two children soon after birth. In 1810, their daughter, Anne, the first surviving child, was born and in the next year, Simon Yorke III, the heir, soon followed by Ethelfred and John, both of whom lived into their seventies. Anne Yorke married her cousin, Charles Reynardson of Holywell, co. Lincoln, and John made his reputation as a General in the Crimean War. He also purchased Plasnewydd, the home of the Ladies of Llangollen, and first started opening it to the public. Simon Yorke II died in 1834 to be succeeded by his son, Simon Yorke III, aged twenty-three, who during his long life as squire of Erddig became one of the most well-loved and popular figures in the neighbourhood. In 1845, he married his cousin, Victoria, daughter of Sir Edward Cust, and a god-daughter of Queen Victoria. Of their four children, the two daughters bother married late in life after the death of their parents, their younger son, Victor Joseph Yorke, was killed in action in South Africa in 1881, and Philip, the elder son, had an unhappy first marriage from which he was only released by his wife's death in 1899. For several years after his estrangement from his wife, he did not return home to Erddig but travelled throughout Europe and the Near East, sketching, painting and making many firm friends. Eventually persuaded to return by the rest of his family, he occupied his time giving illustrated lectures and doing much other charitable work. He also shared his father's and great-grandfather's taste for versifying, though his mother apparently did not share in their enthusiasm. There are numerous examples in these verses, many of which were printed, among the Erddig MSS. In 1902 he married secondly Louisa Matilda, daughter of Rev. T.J. Scott of Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire, by whom he had two sons, Simon, born in 1903 and Philip Scott in 1905. However, neither son married. Simon Yorke IV inherited the estate in 1922 on the death of his father, and was succeeded in 1966 by his brother, Philip, who, faced with the problems of repairing the terrible damage done to the house by mining subsidence, in 1973 generously decided to convey it to the National Trust, by whom it was repaired and restored.

CONTENT

Scope and content/abstract: Deeds, 1459-1921, relating mainly to the estate in Denbighshire, 1552-1921, Flintshire, 1587-1764, Hertfordshire, 1610-[19 cent.], and to the Surrey and Buckinghamshire estate, 1568-1717; estate papers including papers relating to house and grounds, 1683-1977, rentals and surveys, 1585-1932, accounts, 1649-1954, vouchers, 1615-1932, correspondence, 1590-1976, plans, 1804-1938, sale plans and particulars, 1799-[c. 1970], and papers relating to timber, 1803-1948; papers relating to Wrexham, 1391-1913, 1950; legal papers, 1575-1895; papers relating to lead mining in Flintshire, 1667-1776, including Mold Mountain mines, 1738-1758, papers relating to coal mining in Flintshire, 1717-1929, 1949; papers relating to Denbighshire Quarter Sessions and Justices of the Peace, 1699-1914; manorial documents for some Denbighshire manors, 1525-1619; ecclesiastical papers 1629-1924; papers relating to Marchwiel church, 1629-1923, and tithes, 1714-1924; and papers relating to the National Trust , 1966-1984. The archive also includes Yorke family papers, [post 1606]-1954, including settlements, 1627-1942; wills and testamentary papers, 1600-1953; correspondence, 1693-1978; diaries and correspondence of Simon Yorke III, 1847-1894, diaries of Simon Yorke IV, 1915-1966, and correspondence, 1913-[1960s], diaries of Louisa Matilda Scott (later Mrs L. M. Yorke), 1885-1941; journal and correspondence of General John Yorke's in the Crimean war; Phillip Scott Yorke's plays, short stories and other writings, 1930-[c. 1970], together with correspondence, 1913-1978, diaries, 1924-1978, and papers relating to his involvement in the theatre, 1932-1946; military and naval papers, 1625-1915; political papers, 1685-1909; literary papers, [16 cent.]-1905, including a volume entitled 'Expence of Improvement and Repairs from 1767' with a later title 'The Annals of Erddig', compiled by Philip Yorke (1849-1922), and is known as the 'Family Book'; genealogical papers, [17th cent.]-1923; photographs and albums, [mid 19 cent.]-[1970's]. Miscellaneous papers include copies of documents relating to the building of Erddig, papers relating to the Royal British Bowmen, 1819-1829; and to Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby (The Ladies of Llangollen), 1822-[c. 1830].

ACCESS AND USE

Language/scripts of material: English, Latin

System of arrangement: Arranged into the following: deeds; estate papers; lead mining; coal mining; roads; family papers; office records; military and naval; ecclesiastical; politics; literary; genealogy; legal; miscellaneous; and appendix A (listed in vol. I); Appendix B; deeds; manorial records; estate papers; lead mining; coal mining; family papers; office records; legal papers; miscellaneous; appendix C; and appendix D (listed in vol. II) and estate papers; family papers; National Trust papers; local affairs; miscellaneous; and appendix (listed in vol. III).

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 Flintshire Record Office, National Library of Wales and the National Register of Archives.

ARCHIVAL INFORMATION

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

Accruals: Accruals are not expected but are possible

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

ALLIED MATERIALS

Publication note: The archive, whilst still housed at Erddig, was used by Alfred Neobard Palmer for his History of the Country Townships of the Old parish of Wrexham (Wrexham, 1903) and by Albinia Lucy Wherry for her Chronicles of Erthig on the Dyke (London, 1914). Parts of the archive was used after the records were transferred to Flintshire Record Office by A. G. Veysey, 'Philip Yorke, last squire of Erddig', Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society, 34 (1985).

DESCRIPTION NOTES

Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds. The documents in this collection lay for many years undisturbed in various drawers and cupboards at Erddig. Some of them were used by A.N. Palmer for his 'History of the Country Townships of the Old Parish of Wrexham' (1903), and by Mrs Albinia Lucy Wherry (nee Cust) for her 'Chronicles of Erthig on the Dyke' (1914), but many items of considerable importance have previously gone unrecorded. Mrs Wherry found the letters relating to the Trelogan lead mines very dull and so did not include any of them in her book, but they form a very important source for early eighteenth century lead-mining in Flintshire, as they are particularly detailed. The history of Wrexham is reflected in numerous ways from the time of Joshua Edisbury onwards, as the families of Erddig always involved themselves closely with Wrexham and its inhabitants. Of particular importance are the papers relating to the Kings Mill. The building agreements for Erddig itself are included in the section on the house and grounds, as are lists of the trees planted there by John Meller, 1718-24, and details of later alterations and additions. There is a fine series of estate rentals and accounts, which include references to the purchase of items of furniture and expenses incurred in improvements, and the estate correspondence between Joshua Edisbury and his steward, John Williams, and between Philip Yorke I and his steward, John Caesar, throw interesting light on the day-to-day running of the estate. The Yorkes seem almost never to have thrown anything away, so that the mass of vouchers and family correspondence is formidable. Philip Yorke II, particularly, corresponded with cousins of the remotest degree, and with an extensive circle of friends in Europe besides his nearer relatives and local friends. The pedigrees on the succeeding pages have been compiled to show the relationship of as many as possible of those represented in the correspondence. Other sections of the schedule list items relating to various offices held by members of the Erddig families, including shrievalty and lieutenancy papers, military and naval records, a group of papers relating to Marchwiel church and a few political papers. The literary section includes the draft manuscript of Philip York I's 'Royal Tribes of Wales' with related correspondence and two notebooks compiled by Rev. John Lloyd of Caerwys for Thomas Pennant, relating mainly to the life of Owen Glyndwr. There are ten bundles of legal papers relating to Joshua Edisbury's unsuccessful struggle to hold on to his estates in the cases Edisbury v. Edisbury and Mellor v. Edisbury, 1709-16 Added as an Appendix is "The Family Book" compiled by Philip Yorke II. Its contents (over 540 items) are so diverse that they have all been listed individually, but they include a letter from Elihu Yale to Joshua Edisbury thanking him for a present and promising to send him a Japan screen, 20 April 1682, bills for furniture and mirrors supplied to John Meller, 1722-6, and letters from Princess (later Queen) Victoria and Queen Mary.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Mair James for the HMC/NLW Family and Estates project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Clwyd Record Office, Report on the records of the Erddig Estate; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959); Burke's Landed Gentry (London, 1952). Item level descriptions input by Leona Jones and James Wasiuk.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2001


INDEX ENTRIES
Subjects
Coal mines and mining | Wales | Flintshire
Deeds | England | Buckinghamshire
Deeds | England | Herefordshire
Deeds | England | Surrey
Deeds | Wales | Denbighshire
Deeds | Wales | Flintshire
Erddig Estate (Wales) | Archives
Estate administration | Wales | Flintshire
Genealogy
Great Britain. | Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace | (Denbighshire) | Archives
Justices of the Peace | Wales | Denbighshire
Lead mines and mining | Wales | Flintshire
Marchwiel Church (Marchwiel, Wales) | Sources
National Trust (Great Britain) | Records and correspondence
Royal British Bowmen | Records and correspondence
Tithes | Wales | Denbighshire
Wrexham (Wales) | Sources
Yorke family, | of Erddig | Archives

Personal names
Yorke , John , 1814-1890 , General
Yorke , Louisa Matilda , 1863-1951
Yorke , Phillip , 1905-1978
Yorke , Simon , 1811-1894
Yorke , Simon , 1903-1966
Yorke family , of Erddig

Corporate names
Erddig Estate (Wales)
Marchwiel Church (Marchwiel, Wales)
National Trust (Great Britain)

Places
Wrexham (Wales)

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