Landed Family and Estate Papers Subject Guide

Forbes-Adam (Thompson/Lawley) family, Barons Wenlock, of Escrick and Skipwith

The Thompson/Lawley family owned large estates at Escrick near York. The two families merged with the marriage of Jane Thompson and Sir Robert Lawley, 5th baronet Wenlock, whose family had held lands in Shropshire since 1471. Lawley family papers and title deeds for their Shropshire estates number some 138 items and date back to 1544 (DDFA/26, DDFA[2]/15). In 1639 the Lawleys acquired the site of Great Wenlock Priory. Papers for the manor of Escrick date back to 1387, though the Thompson family's connection with Escrick dates from 1668 when Sir Henry Thompson (d.1683) bought lands from the Knyvett family. Henry Thompson was a merchant importing French wine and his account books survive. He was Lord Mayor of York from 1663 and owned Clifford's Tower, part of York Castle. His correspondence includes letters from Richard Boyle, first Earl of Burlington and second earl of Cork, Richard Sterne, Archbishop of York and the poet and politician, Andrew Marvell. His son, also Henry Thompson (1651-1700), rebuilt Escrick Hall between 1680 and 1690 and became Lord Mayor of York. His son, Beilby Thompson (1686-1750) was friendly with Ambrose Philips, or 'Namby Pamby' the pastoral poet ('Namby Pamby'), and letters from their 'grand tour' survive. He married Dame Sarah Dawes of Acaster, prompting him to build a ferry across the Ouse to connect their estates. He was high sheriff of Yorkshire. He collected letters from controversial clerical figures such as William Cooke and William Lloyd, who both went insane, William Lloyd, who thought he was a prophet, Edward Chandler, the millenarian, and Daniel Waterland, the missionary who worked with African Americans. After his death, his wife built up the estates for their son, Beilby Thompson (1742-1794) and in 1758 built a third storey on Escrick Hall. Beilby Thompson was MP for Hedon and Thirsk. His estates passed to his brother and then two nephews. Paul Beilby Lawley (1784-1852) inherited in 1820 and changed his name to Thompson. He became Baron Wenlock in 1839 and was granted a licence to put the name Lawley before that of Thompson and for his heirs to take the name Lawley only. He was Whig MP for Wenlock 1826 to 1832 and then for the East Riding until 1837. He had four sons, one of whom was a friend and private secretary of W E Gladstone. Family correspondence is extensive and includes 92 letters relating to the 1837 East Riding election and 3 letters from Dr Arnold of Rugby. Beilby Richard Lawley (1818-1880), 2nd Lord Wenlock, married Elizabeth Grosvenor, daughter of the marquis of Westminster. Letters to her from her son, Beilby Lawley (-1912), 3rd Lord Wenlock, are written from Eton, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Austria and India. He was Governor of Madras and a friend of the royal family. He was lord-in-waiting to the Duke and Duchess of York in 1901 on a tour of Canada, Australia and New Zealand for which souvenir programmes and photographs survive. The correspondence of Constance, Lady Wenlock (d.1932), includes letters from her brother, Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood and 350 letters from her only child, Irene (b.1889), from India. Irene married Colin Forbes-Adam, who was in the Indian civil service. She moved out of Escrick Hall because of the impact of death duties. The collection contains her vast correspondence with her children and her friends, such as Edmund, 5th Earl of Limerick, Frank Balfour and Francis Rodd, Lord Rennell of the Rodd, and family, such as her aunt, the historian, Alethea Wiel Lawley and her uncle, the Earl of Desart. 125 British soldiers and 100 Belgian soldiers wrote to her during the first world war and many sent photographs. Other war correspondents include Eric Ward (later Earl of Dudley) Ivor, Viscount Windsor (and later Earl of Plymouth) Bernard Freyberg (later first Lord Freyberg), Oliver Lyttleton (later Viscount Chandos) Roxburgh Stuart Wortley and Ralph Cavendish. Other correspondents include Diana Duff Cooper, Viscountess Norwich, Lord and Lady Dolobran, Irene Charteris, Countess of Plymouth and Vita (Victoria) Sackville-West. Colin and Irene Forbes-Adam's only son Nigel Forbes-Adam, who resides at Skipwith, is the owner of the 30,000 items in this family collection. There are six deposits including pre-twentieth-century estate papers, including marriage settlements and wills, especially for Deighton, Escrick, Kexby, Riccall, Skipwith, Stillingfleet and Wheldrake. There is a valuable collection of maps and plans including a substantial run of 6 inch ordnance survey maps of Yorkshire from the 1850-7 edition. Miscellaneous material includes a volume of accounts for the building of Escrick rectory in 1848 and the minute book of the Escrick Rabbit Clearance Society 1962-1971 and subject files in the fifth deposit include material on the York and Ainsty Hunt, the National War Savings Committee, Escrick Park Dairy, the Selby Sugar Company, the War Department and Air Ministry 1941-1947 and correspondence with St Margaret's School, both of which have been housed in Escrick Hall. [DDFA; DDFA(2); DDFA(3); DDFA(4); DDFA(5); DDFA(6); DRA/604 (account book of Lady Caroline Wenlock 1852-63)]

Go back to Contents «
Go to next page »