Muniment and charter collections

The Library holds many notable muniment collections, principally from north-west England. The majority hail from Cheshire, including the Bromley-Davenport, Brooke of Mere, Cornwall-Legh, Grey (Stamford) of Dunham Massey, Jodrell, Legh of Lyme, Leycester of Toft, Mainwaring, Roundell, Stanley of Alderley, Tatton of Wythenshawe and Warburton of Arley collections. Lancashire is represented by the Clowes Deeds, Ducie Muniments and Legh of Lyme Muniments. Derbyshire by the Bagshawe and Crutchley collections.

Among the Beaumont Charters and Phillipps Charters are many important medieval documents, including papal bulls, relating to religious houses in France and Belgium. The latter collection also houses several hundred English secular charters. In addition to discrete collections, the miscellaneous Rylands Charters sequence contains several thousand deeds and charters, acquired from various sources, with wide geographical coverage.

The muniment and charter collections range from the 12th to the 20th century. They are major sources not merely for local affairs but also for the study of national political history and of English economic and social development in general. They are significant for studies of land-ownership, agriculture, topography, continuity and change among the gentry and aristocracy, genealogy, women's history, legal history, diplomatic and sigillography.

Several collections have wider politico-geographical significance, as sources for military, colonial and diplomatic history. The Spring Rice Collection, for example, contains valuable comments on the political and economic situation in Britain, on the administration of the Foreign Office, and on the troubles in Ireland in the 1840s.

The muniment and charter collections are complemented by the Library's excellent collection of 18th and 19th-century published County Histories.