RepositoryCheshire Record Office
LevelCollection (Fonds)
TitleLeicester-Warren family of Tabley, records
Date12th century-20th century
DescriptionMajor accumulation of medieval deeds (as well as later deeds, leases, rentals, accounts and estate papers 17th- 19th century) to estates in Over and Nether Tabley, Over and Nether Peover, Great Budworth, Northwich, Knutsford, Pickmere, Plumley, Aston, Marston and elsewhere, including manors of Nether Tabley, and of Held and Colton, Yorkshire, and to estates at and around Woodplumpton, Lancashire, c1150-c. 1920; inquisitions post mortem 13 32-1593, wills 1464-1700, delinquency papers 1646-9 and other papers; manuscript (and some printed) volumes of Sir Peter Leicester, 1st Bart. (d. 1676), antiquary and author, comprising his notes on the work of JPs and quarter sessions, scientific and music papers, and accounts of Cheshire families and pedigrees, transcriptions of numerous deeds and charters with drawings of seals, with emphasis on material relating to Earls and City of Chester and Hundred of Bucklow, much of this being preparatory to his publication of Historical Antiquities, 1673; correspondence including that of Sir Francis Leicester (d. 1742) on estate and family matters and Weaver Navigation 1714-41; collection of letters to Sir John Flerning Leicester (later 1st Baron de Tabley, d. 1828) patron of the arts, concerning foundation of Manchester Institute of Art 1823-7, and from a series of notable artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir William Beechey, J M W Turner, 1797-1828; Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry records 1797-; personal letters to Lady Leighton Warren from G and E Burne-Jones 1882-97
Administrative HistoryThe pedigree of the Leicester-Warren family begins with Sir Nicholas Leicester's marriage to Margaret Dutton around 1276. At this time, the Duttons possessed land in Nether Tabley, Wettenhall and Heild in Aston by Budworth which came to the Leicester family as a result of this union. Sir Nicholas's son, Roger (died 1349), extended the family's hold on Nether Tabley by buying out the other freeholders. His grandson, John (died 1398), served under John of Gaunt and built Nether Tabley manor house on the island in Tabley Mere in 1380. This became the family seat until the eighteenth century. The Leicester estates were again extended to include the moiety of Nether Peover and a portion of Over Alderley as a result of Thomas Leicester's (died 1526) marriage to Margaret Grosvenor of Hulme in 1464. His son, John, obtained a fifth of Allostock through his mother's sister Margery, fourth daughter of Robert Grosvenor of Hulme; he also purchased the moeity of Heild c1500, which had been sold in 1355 by John Leicester to William de Heild. John's heir, also John (died 1543) married twice and had four illegitimate children in addition to his five legitimate offspring. His legitimate son Peter succeeded him, with another legitmate son, James, starting the Leicester of Haleslowe branch of the family. His illegitimate son Nicholas founded the Leicester of Heild branch.

John sold Hulme House in Over Alderley to Nicholas Hobson in 1502. His successor, Peter (died 1581) married Elizabeth Colwich and purchased Stanley of Hooton's fifth portion of Allostock 1578/9. His daughter Alice married Sir George Leycester of Toft, and another daughter, Elizabeth, married George Legh of High Legh. Peter was succeeded by his brother Adam (died 1591), who married Dorothy Holford, nee Shakerley. Dorothy purchased the other moiety of Hield in 1601 and built the gate house at Nether Tabley. Their son Peter (born 1588) married Elizabeth Mainwaring in 1611and died in 1647. His son Peter was born in 1613 and was admitted to Brasenose College, Oxford, in about 1630, and to Gray's Inn in 1632. In 1642 he married Elizabeth Gerard. He succeeded his father in 1647 aged 34. He was imprisoned for Royalist sympathies and forced to compound £778l 18s 4d to Parliament (1647-1648). However, he was rewarded for his loyalty in 1660 when Charles II created him a baronet. Sir Peter was an antiquarian and Cheshire's first historian; he began compiling material towards a history of Bucklow Hundred in 1649. He meticulously copied deeds, charters and seals into a series of volumes. Many of the original deeds and seals have not survived and the only record of them is from Sir Peter's volumes. The History of Bucklow Hundred was published in 1673, when Sir Peter was aged 60, twenty four years after he began his research. Sir Peter's assertion, in the History, of the illegitimacy of Amicia, daughter of Earl Hugh Cyveliok who married Ralph Mainwaring, sparked a row between him and Sir Thomas Mainwaring and resulted in the publication of a series of tracts. The feud ended with Sir Peter's death in 1678.

Sir Peter was succeeded by his son, Sir Robert, who married Meriel Watson of Church Aston, Shropshire. They had one daughter, Meriel, and three sons: Robert, Francis and Peter. Sir Robert was succeeded on his death in 1684 by his second and only surving son, Francis. He married Frances Wilson, daughter of Joshua Wilson of Colton, Yorkshire and widow of Bryan Thornhill and had one daughter, Meriel. Sir Francis was MP for Newton, Lancashire, and was involved with the development of the Weaver Navigation, as a result of his position in Parliament and the interest of his steward, Mr Gorst, in the project. The estates descended to the children of his daughter Meriel as sole heir. She married twice: Fleetwood Legh of Bank who died in 1725 and Sir John Byrne, 3rd Baronet of Timogue in 1728. Meriel and Sir John had four children: Peter, John, Elizabeth and Dorothea, of whom Peter (died 1770) succeeded to the Leicester estates, taking the name Leicester in 1744 in accordance with his grandfather's will.

Sir Peter was responsible for the building of Tabley House (completed 1769), for which he employed the architect John Carr of York. The family no longer lived on the island in Tabley Mere, but still visited it to use the chapel. The chapel was moved from the island in 1927 after the Old Hall collapsed and for fear of it sinking into the mere. It is now attached to Tabley House. Sir Peter married Catherine Fleming (d.1786), youngest daughter and co-heir of Sir William Fleming, Baronet of Rydal in Westmoreland, in 1755 and they had four children: John Fleming, Henry Augustus, Charles and Catherine.

John Fleming Leicester succeeded his father and became the 1st Baron de Tabley in 1826. He was also the first Commander of the of the Earl of Chester's Yeomanry Cavalry and lead them between 1796-1820. Sir John was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, with an especial interest in the British school of painting. He collected extensively, displaying his art in a gallery at his London home in Hill Street, Mayfair. Sir John was also instrumental in the foundation of the Manchester Art Institute. Sir John married Georgiana Maria Cottin (d.1859), youngest daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Cottin, in 1810 and they had two sons, George and William Henry. George succeeded his father but assumed the name Warren by sign-manual in 1832 after inheriting the estates of the Viscountess Bulkeley. He was Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household 1868-1872 and Lieutenant-Colonel Commander of the Earl of Chester's Yeomanry Cavalry. He married twice: firstly to Catherine Barbara de Salis, daughter of Jerome, Count de Salis in 1832 by whom he had six children: John Byrne, Francis Peter, Catherine, Meriel, Eleanor and Margaret. After Catherine died in 1869; he married Elizabeth Jacson, daughter of Captain Shallcross Jacson, of Newton Bank, Cheshire in 1871.

Sir George was succeeded by his son, John, who became 3rd Baron de Tabley. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, he developed a keen interest in botany and poetry and published several works under his own name and the pseudonyms George F Preston and William Lancaster. When he died childless in 1895, the estates were taken on by his sister, Eleanor Leighton Warren, until her son, Cuthbert Leighton, came of age in 1898. Cuthbert took the name of Leicester-Warren by Royal Commission. He married Hilda, only daughter and heir of Edmund Davenport in 1904 and they had three children: John, Edmund and Alice. Cuthbert was a Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff (1921-1922) and Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire. He served in the army during Word War I and was an Army Welfare Officer during World War II. His son Lieutenant-Colonel John Leicester, was the final heir, and died unmarried in 1975, whereupon Tabley House was sold to Manchester University.
Related MaterialSee also DDX 559, DDX 180.
Charles Foster compiled additional notes on local land records in preparation of his publication 'Capital and Innovation - How Britain Became the First Industrial Nation: a Study of the Warrington, Knutsford, Northwich and Frodsham Area 1500 - 1780.' and these have been deposited at Tabley Hall in 2016. They may prove useful in accessing deeds relating to local property and families in this collection.
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