Deeds, estate, family, professional and official papers of the Hale family of Alderley, 14th-20th cents.
Although the bulk of the records deposited in this collection are of the Hale family of Alderley, there are also documents relating to another South Gloucestershire family, the Blagdens of Kingswood. The two families were united in 1779 when John, eldest son of John Blagden of Nind, married Anne Hale, the heiress to the Hale estates. John Blagden was at this time already in possession of his family's property in Kingswood and these were united with those of the Hales in Alderley, Hawkesbury, and Wotton-under-Edge on the death of Anne's cousin, Matthew Hale of North Nibley in 1784. In December of that year John Blagden assumed the additional name of Hale.
Both families had been long established in their respective localities. The Hales can be traced with certainty to the end of the 16th century in the person of Robert Hale of Wotton-under-Edge, and the Blagdens to John Blagden's ancestor of the same name of Yate Court in the same period; both men coincidentally are described as clothiers. [For a joint pedigree of both families see Trans. B.G.A.S., LXXIV (1955), pp. 199-202. Although supplying information additional to the present pedigree it also contains several errors. Wherever possible the present version has been checked against manuscripts in the collection and is to be preferred.]
The Hale family owned land in Alderley in the 16th century, but did not acquire the manor itself until the next century. A long series of deeds of the manor (D1086/T2) allows its descent to be traced more or less completely. In the early 14th century it was in the hands of John de Chausey, but by 1409 Robert Stanshawe possessed it. This family conveyed it to Robert Poyntz in 1483 and remained with that family until its sale to Matthew Rogers of Bristol in 1616. Subsequently purchased by John Barker in 1636 it was finally conveyed to Sir Mathew Hale by Andrew Barker of Fairford in 1656 in exchange for the manor of Maiseyhampton.
Prior to this, about 1600, Robert Hale, Sir Mathew's grandfather, had acquired the manor of Rangeworthy (D1086/T74). But it was Sir Mathew Hale himself, an eminent figure in legal circles, who substantially founded the family's fortunes and greatly increased its possessions. He purchased the manor of Wortley in 1647, that of Tresham in 1664 and Hillesley in 1674 (D1086/T81, D1086/T44, D1086/T31). Finally, in the early 18th century the family came into possession of the Cottles estate at Atford in Wiltshire.
The Blagdens had likewise held property in Kingswood since the late 16th century, but did not acquire the manor until 1792, when John Blagden Hale purchased it from Daniel Rowles, presumably with the aid of the wealth he had acquired through his wife. Shortly afterwards, in 1800, he purchased the Burden's Court estate in Tresham to add to the family's already extensive possessions in Hawkesbury (D1086/T44).
Manorial, deeds and estate records
Records of the various Hale manors in Alderley, Hawkesbury, Rangeworthy and Wotton-under-Edge are relatively few, but there is a good series of loose court papers for the manor of Kingswood for the period 1731-1822 (D1086/M11). Otherwise the only notable manorial documents are some bailiffs' compoti of the early 16th century for various estates in the county owned by the Poyntz family (D1086/M1).
There are several interesting groups of medieval deeds in the collection, including a number for the manor of Alderley from 1313 (D1086/T2), a few of land in Tresham, 1382-1469 (D1086/T40-43), and, more surprisingly, ten deeds of the manors of Shustoke, Warwickshire, and Nosterfield, Cambridgeshire, dating from 1332 (D1086/T103). In addition there are nine membranes of a post-dissolution copy of some 40 charters of Kingswood Abbey, apparently made from the original documents, some of which date from the 12th century (D1086/T1). [Cf. Trans. B.G.A.S., XXII (1899), pp. 179-256 for translations of Abbey documents.]
The estate records contain little of great interest. The earliest volume of estate accounts, although beginning in 1733, contains little detail (D1086/E20), but there are some interesting, if sparse, accounts for additions to the Upper House at Alderley, 1775-80 (D1086/E25), and for alterations to Cottles House, 1775-78 (D1086/E191). A new house at Alderley was built for the family by the architect, Lewis Vulliamy, and the collection includes a few of his rough sketches (D1086/E181), together with a good series of vouchers for work done on its construction, 1859-63 (D1086/E182). Additionally, two volumes of lists of estate records of property belonging to the 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, 1618-19, have strayed into the collection (D1086/E192).
Family and Official records
The earliest personal records, apart from testamentary papers, to have survived are those of Sir Mathew Hale (1609-76), Lord Chief Justice. [For a detailed description of his life and works see Dictionary of National Biography] Unfortunately very few of his papers are to be found in the collection, apart from some bundles of memoranda and vouchers, some of which contain examples of his hand (D1086/F68, D1086/F70), and a few items of correspondence, mostly on estate matters, which include one draft letter in his own hand (D1086/F71). Papers connected with his official duties include grants of annuities for providing legal counsel, 1650, 1653 (D1086/X2, D1086/X3), letters patent of his appointment as a Justice of the Common Bench, 1654 (D1086/X4), and as Chief Baron of Exchequer, 1660 (D1086/X5), [but not that as Chief Baron of King's Bench 1671] and the grant of a pension for life, 1676 (D1086/X10). A bundle of papers relating to his executorship of John Selden [see D.N.B.] was transferred to the Bodleian Library in April 1954 [Now Ms. Dep. d.69; for list see depositor's file, 14 April 1954].
Sir Mathew's descendants are represented by various miscellaneous papers, but there is little of outstanding interest, apart from a good series of personal accounts of Robert Hale, 1757-81 (D1086/F87-F92), until the time of John Blagden Hale, (1740-1808). His personal correspondence has been preserved almost intact for the period October 1784 - December 1800 (D1086/F115-F143). This includes a long series of letters from his brother-in-law, William Lewis, which contains a valuable insight into contemporary agriculture and references to his business of iron-making in the Dowlais area of Glamorgan. Another notable figure represented in the collection is John's younger brother, Sir Charles Blagden (1748-1820), a leading physician and Secretary of the Royal Society (see D.N.B.). Unfortunately, apart from several bundles of personal and household vouchers (D1086/F145-157), the collection contains little relating to him, although there are a few letters written to his brother while on service as a medical officer during the American War of Independence (D1086/F113). A long series of lecture notes and other papers on medical topics formerly with the collection are now in the Wellcome Historical Medical library in London where they were transferred in June 1954. [For list, see depositor's file, 29 June 1954].
Other items of note include a series of journals and diaries of Robert Hale Blagden Hale, 1823-55 (D1086/F169-F177), and some letters to Lieut.- Col. Edward Hale relating to military events in India, 1857-60, although these are chiefly official communications and contain only a few interesting references (D1086/F189).
Both John Blagden Hale, in 1790, and his son Robert, in 1826, were Sheriffs of Gloucestershire and the collection contains the letters patent of appointment and quietus of each (D1086/X18, D1086/X21). The latter's son, Robert Blagden Hale, was M.P. for West Gloucestershire, 1835-57, but only a few letters and papers survive relating to his parliamentary career (D1086/X23) [For obituary, see Glos. Notes and Queries, II, pp. 549-550]. The appointment of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, as Captain-General of royal forces this side of the Trent, 1640, has also found its way into the collection (D1086/X27).
Legal and business papers
A good group of papers survive to show the litigious nature of the Poyntz family in the early 17th century (D1086/L1-L6), and the Legal section also contains papers relating to the two major Chancery disputes in which the Hale family was involved. The first occurred in 1763-64 and involved a dispute over family settlements and wills (D1086/L13); and the second, which dragged on for 10 years from 1819, arose from a very distant relation of the family claiming a share in the Hale estates (D1086/L16). [For this relationship see Hale pedigree in Trans. B.G.A.S., LXXIV (1955), pp. 199-202].
Several members of both families were solicitors and this is reflected in the collection. Apart from references in general correspondence to legal transactions there are two separate series of solicitors' records. Robert Hale (1726-81) was a partner in the Bristol law firm of Tyndale and Hale, and business accounts and ledgers survive for 1749-78 (D1086/B3-B6). John Blagden was a partner in another Bristol firm, Morland and Blagden, and similar accounts, with bill books and precedents, exist for the period 1766-85 (D1086/B16-B34). Other business records include a long series of letters relating to the winding-up of the Bristol Exchange Bank, 1778-1800 (D1086/B12-B14), with some papers on its formation in 1763 (D1086/B10-B11). Perhaps the most interesting group of documents, however, is the early 18th century series of correspondence of an English cloth merchant in Turkey, which consists largely of letters from out-agents in Asia Minor (D1086/B1-B2). Unfortunately, although the series appears to be complete, the letters contain less information on the business than one might have wished.
Like all collections of family papers, D1086 contains several odd and interesting documents. These include a manuscript treatise on the contemporary political situation, c.1645 (D1086/F69), Latin prose and verse composition by Winchester schoolboys, c.1737 (D1086/F99), a child's geography exercise book, 1767 (D1086/F107), a squib on an Oxfordshire parliamentary election, 1809 (D1086/F205), some Gloucestershire election squibs, 1811 (D1086/X19), and printed directions for the installation of fire-stoves, 1777 (D1086/Q2).