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Bagshawe Muniments

Date range: 1423–1866.

Archives of the Bagshawes of Ford Hall and the Oaks, Derbyshire, one of the oldest families in the county.

They held estates at Abney in the parish of Hope, and at Ridge in Chapel-en-le-Frith from at least the fourteenth century.

Later they are found at, among other places, Wormhill, Litton and Hucklow in Tideswell parish, Ford in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and the Oaks in Norton parish.

Members of the family included the Rev. William Bagshawe (1628–1702), the ‘Apostle of the Peak’, a prolific writer of sermons and tracts and one of the leading Nonconformist figures of the seventeenth century; and Colonel Samuel Bagshawe (1713–62), who had a distinguished military career in Gibraltar, Ireland and India.

The Bagshawes were related by marriage to two other families: the Caldwells of Castle Caldwell co. Fermanagh, Ireland, and the Murray family of Banner Cross near Sheffield. Sir James Caldwell, 4th Baronet (c.1722–84), involved himself in the political, social and economic affairs of Britain and Ireland and came into contact with many of the leading literary and social figures of the late eighteenth century.

Lord John Murray (1711–87), son of the 1st Duke of Atholl, and Lieutenant General William Murray, formerly Foxlowe (d. 1818), were both distinguished soldiers, the former serving as Colonel of the 42nd Highlanders (the Black Watch) for over forty years.

The Bagshawe muniments consist of two elements: first, the archives accumulated by members of the family in the administration of their private, estate and business concerns; and, secondly, correspondence, papers and records of all kinds acquired from extraneous sources by William H.G. Bagshawe.

The Bagshawes played a prominent part in local and county affairs within Derbyshire and Yorkshire, and historians of those areas, as well as economic and social historians, will find much of value among the numerous household, business and estate records.

There are large numbers of deeds and estate papers for properties in Derbyshire, particularly in Castleton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Ford, Hope, Norton and Wormhill; and in Ecclesall Bierlow, Fulwood and Sheffield in Yorkshire.

The collection also contains important material on military history and economic history.

The military papers of Colonel Samuel Bagshawe (1713–62) comprise some 2,500 items, constituting one of the most important collections relating to the military history of the mid-eighteenth century. They illustrate many aspects of military life and administration at this time, with particular reference to life in the Gibraltar garrison in the 1730s, and service in Ireland and India in the 1740s and ’50s.

Among the many financial records in the collection are several relating to lead mining in Derbyshire in the eighteenth century, and volumes of building accounts of the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville concerning the building of Banner Cross, the Yorkshire seat of the Murray family.

There are also several volumes of sermons, treatises and journals of William Bagshawe (1628–1702), ‘Apostle of the Peak’, Samuel Gardiner (d. 1686), Prebendary of Lichfield, and several early Nonconformist ministers.

Of the documents collected by William H.G. Bagshawe, the most important section is that concerning the Caldwells of Castle Caldwell. This comprises three to four thousand items, ranging in date from the time of the first baronet, Sir James Caldwell (c.1630–1717), to that of the fifth, Sir John Caldwell (1756–1830). They exhibit the variety typical of the archives of a landed family, and include personal correspondence, business and estate papers, legal and financial records, and household accounts and inventories. They constitute an excellent source for studies of the Anglo-Irish gentry in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Sir James Caldwell (c.1722–84), fourth baronet, corresponded with many leading figures of his day, including George Townshend, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Dr Samuel Johnson, Dr John Hawkesworth and David Garrick. The archive contains many of Sir James’s letterbooks and over 1,500 letters addressed to him.

There is also material relating to Arthur Young (1741–1820), perhaps the greatest English writer on agriculture, and his son, Rev. Arthur Young. 

The military papers of Lieut. General Sir John Caldwell (1756–1830) include material relating to the American War of Independence.

Finding aids

  • Published handlist, F. Taylor, Hand-List of the Bagshawe Muniments Deposited in the John Rylands Library (Manchester, 1955).
  • Catalogue also available online via the A2A website.
  • Rosemary Raughter, ‘‘My Dear Lady C’: Letters of Lady Arbella Denny to Lady Caldwell, 1754-1777’, Analecta Hibernica, no. 41 (2009).


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library