RepositoryCheshire Record Office
LevelCollection (Fonds)
TitleLeigh family of Westhall, High Legh, records
Date13th century-20th century
DescriptionDeeds and papers to properties in High Legh and Lymm (including advowson) c. 1250-1825; estate and official papers 1383-1959; pedigrees of Leigh of Westhall, Leigh of Booths and Castelion families c. 1580- 1816; papers of Rev Peter Leigh including correspondence with George Ormerod 1806-50; deeds to property in Twemlow of the Jodrell family 1341-1715, and to property in Knutsford and elsewhere of the Booth and Knutsford families c. 1240-1739; correspondence and miscellanea 1525-1959. Please note that the finding aid on A2A (see below) may be misleading: please contact Cheshire Archives and Local Studies for advice.
Administrative HistoryIt is clear that the Leigh family charters were known to, and used by Sir Peter Leycester, the 17th Century antiquary and historian of Cheshire. Several of the Westhall deeds are calendared in Sir Peter's manuscript books drawn up between 1664 and 1666 which are now in the Cheshire Record Office (ref. DLT/B2 and 3). Interestingly, his notes include various deeds which were then at Westhall which are now no longer in the collection. Unfortunately, his interests concentrated on Bucklow Hundred, and there is no evidence that he saw or used the Jodrell deeds or those of the Knutsford and Booth families. In the early years of the nineteenth century, the collection was extensively used and calendared by the Rev. Peter Leigh, second son of Egerton Leigh of Westhall; many of the deeds have his initials endorsed. He also corresponded with George Ormerod, the historian of Cheshire, in the 1840s.

The Twemlow:Knutsford and Booth deeds presumably passed to the Leighs of Westhall when Egerton Leigh bought the Booth family estate in Twemlow in 1862. The Jodrell deeds, on the other hand, can probably be traced to the marriage of Egerton Leigh and Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Francis Jodrell of Yeardsley in 1778. In 1881, Egerton Leigh entrusted his records to J.P. Earwaker, who had a particular interest in the history of Cheshire and Lancashire, and acquired a large collection of books and manuscripts on the subject, as well as making extensive notes on the records of others. (His papers are available under the reference ZCR 308). Earwaker appears to have been responsible for sorting, arranging and endorsing them. In his report, dated 27th February 1883, he writes: "The Deeds were in a state of great confusion when they reached me ... By far the greatest number of the deeds were without any endorsement, and these had become mixed up with the few that were endorsed [by Peter Leigh], and had then been roughly stored away in the various boxes of all shapes and sizes, in which they reached me". The report divided the collection into four sections: "1. Deeds relating to the family of Leigh of the Westhall, High Leigh; 2. Deeds relating to the family of Leigh of the Easthall, High Leigh; (sic); 3. Miscellaneous deeds relating to Cheshire; 4. Miscellaneous Deeds relating to Lancashire and chiefly to Manchester". The first group appears to be the "Leigh family charters"; the second group was transferred by Egerton Leigh at Earwaker's suggestion to the Cornwall-Legh family of Easthall and is presumably among the records deposited in the John Rylands Library in Manchester in 1951; the third group is an untitled group of deeds and the Jodrell charters; the fourth group was given to Mr Earwaker by Egerton Leigh. Earwaker also had various family papers bound up into the seven volumes now in the collection. He also saw the Calico bag containing Peter Leigh's notes, and the collection of family pedigrees (including a pedigree of the Jodrell family, now not with the collection). The deeds of the former Booth family estate in Twemlow were not lent to Earwaker until after he had completed his report; but he quoted from them in his "History of the ancient parish of Sandbach," published in 1890. By 1889, it appears that most of the collection as we now see it was back at Westhall, where it probably remained until the house was sold in 1924.

The collection is unusual in that it contains, almost exclusively, mediaeval material, and fewer of the seventeenth and eighteenth century leases and accounts which one would expect to find in a complete estate archive collection. This process of selection can also be attributed to Earwaker who, in a letter dated 20th Dec. 1882, refers to "sorting out those [documents] to take with me", and states that "Most of the later leases etc were left behind".

By 1932 the collection was in the possession of Major T.V. Booth-Jones, a descendant of the Booths of Twemlow, and it was probably he who had the deeds listed at the College of Arms. (Col. Malet of the National Register of Archives, in a letter written in 1951, refers to "the lists made at the Heralds College".)
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