Cambridge University Library (CUL)
Two volumes of office copies of letters written between 1675 and 1683 by young Newcastle merchant Michael Blackett, second son of William Blackett I are now in the Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University Library. In addition to shedding light on the commercial life of the town and its connections to Northern Europe, his letters reveal much on his father’s lead business. The volumes ended up at Cambridge via Michael’s widow, Dorothy, who later married John Moore, Bishop of Ely, whose library was later acquired by the University. We are grateful to the Syndics of Cambridge University Library for their assistance in obtaining copies of the two volumes. Contents of the first volume, dating from between September 1675 and February 1677, is available for download below.
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (PSAN)
Volumes 5-7 of the 3rd series of the Society’s proceedings, published between 1910 and 1916, contained transcripts of a number of manuscript letters and accounts relating to the Radcliffe family of Dilston, Earls of Derwentwater. The family had an extensive estate in North Northumberland, the Tyne Valley, and on Alston Moor, including a number of lead mining interests. The 3rd Earl famously led the Northumberland Jacobites in the Rising of 1715, was executed in the wake of its failure, and the family’s estates were sequestrated, ending up in the hands of the Greenwich Hospital from 1735. While many of the Radcliffe estate’s deeds have since made their way into the Admiralty (ADM) papers at the National Archives, most of the family papers and accounts were apparently lost. The letters published in the PSAN had by then made their way into the hands of the Rev T Stephens of Horsley (near Rochester in the North Tyne Valley). Their subsequent whereabouts are unknown, if they have survived at all. The letters have been included here primarily because they include some references to the Alston Moor lead mines and the Radcliffe’s smelting mill at Woodhall near Haydon Bridge. They were mainly addressed to the widowed Countess of Derwentwater in the early 1720s from her agents in Northumberland, but also include a 1689 mining lease and a short notice of a later such lease from 1710, together with a few letters to Sir John and Lady Webb, parents of the Countess, after the latter’s death in 1723. The letters are included in ‘Dukesfield Documents’ by permission of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Spelling has generally not been changed from that given in the earlier transcripts. Many ‘v’s are therefore given here as the letter ‘u’, for example. Also included in this download is a transcript by J C Hodgson of the will of John Mowbray from 1687, possibly the first mill agent at Dukesfield. Many of the issues of the Proceedings, including those from which these letters are taken are available online via the archive.org website.
Mining Institute (NEIMME)
From the manuscripts in the collection of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in Newcastle we have two short reports on coal mines in the 1730s by Amos Barnes.
Lit & Phil
Having given a lecture on lead smelting in the North Pennines to members of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1795, James Mulcaster’s manuscript on the subject was left with the Society and is preserved in their archives. Another copy is presently in Wigan Public Library, and was transcribed by Elizabeth Tylecote and published in the Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Society, Vol.5 No.2 (1971). We are grateful to the Lit and Phil for letting us copy and transcribe their version in order to make a digital copy available. Because it includes images of the original illustrations the transcription included here as a PDF is not also included in the database, but a short record to indicate its existence and to assist searches has been included in the database.
Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle (NHSNDN)
Nearly 40 years after Mulcaster’s lecture on lead smelting, another was given by Hugh Lee Pattison to the above named society. It was published in the Society’s transactions on 1832. Because it includes images of the original illustrations the transcription included here as a PDF is not also included in the database, but a short record to indicate its existence and to assist searches has been included in the database.
London Metropolitan Archives (LMA)
The records of Guy’s Hospital at London Metropolitan Archives include the minutes of a committee of the governors in 1725 to discuss a large loan granted to Sir William Blackett III by Thomas Guy, bequeathed as a source of income to the Hospital following Guy’s death (H09/GY/A/8 /1). These are useful in shedding some light on a poorly documented period in the Blacketts’ business history, and includes a rental of their North-east estate in 1725, listing the principal tenants.
British Library (BL)
Amongst the vast collections catalogued as Additional Manuscripts in the British Library are a few random letters with a Blackett or Beaumont origin or involvement. These have been transcribed and included here.
National Records Scotland (NRS)
Sir James Standsfield (d.1687) was a one-time officer in the Parliamentary army, Edinburgh cloth manufacturer and mining prospector. He was in partnership with a nephew of the first Sir William Blackett developing mines at Glenlyon in Angus and Wanlockhead in Dumfries in the 1670s and 1680s. Many of the relevant letters, accounts and receipts amongst his papers catalogued as RH 15/102/6/2… at National Records Scotland are transcribed here.
University of Birmingham Special Collections
A short manuscript notebook contains copies of letters to and from James Mulcaster (see entry for the Lit & Phil above) in the 1740s, the provenance of which is unknown. The University’s catalogue details for the notebook are given here.
Borthwick Institute for Archives (BIA)
While most wills, inventories and other probate records for the North-east were handled by the Durham ecclesiastical courts, and now in the care of Durham University Library’s Archives and Special Collections, those relating to inhabitants of the old regality of Hexhamshire (including Hexham town and parish, Allendale and St.John Lee/Acomb) were the responsibility of the Archbishop of York’s Peculiar jurisdiction. A small number of relevant wills from the Prerogative Court at York are included here.
Sheffield City Archives (SCA)
The Wentworth Woodhouse MSS (WWM), now at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies, contain two early 19th century letters to Lord Fitzwilliam of Beaumont interest. The Fitzwilliams were heirs to the Wentworths of Wentworth-Woodhouse, distant and ‘senior’ relations of the Wentworths of Bretton Hall.
Hull History Centre
The Bosville/ McDonald papers at the Hull History Centre include William (Billy) Bosville’s copy of his uncle Sir Thomas Wentworth/Blackett’s will, by which Thomas’ daughter Diana and her husband Thomas Richard Beaumont were left the lead business.
Hedley collection – Hexham letters
A few letters have been extracted from a ‘scrapbook’ of letters, printed handbills, newspaper extracts and other items relating to the proposed route of the turnpike road through Hexham. See G.Finch, ‘The Sele road dispute of 1823’, Hexham Historian, vol 26, (2016). The volume was originally owned by Thomas Bell, bookseller, surveyor and collector of Newcastle and is now owned by Dr Jim Hedley of Hexham. Another very similar scrapbook, also now in private hands, contains the originals of some of the copied letters, and was originally owned by the Revd Anthony Hedley, of Gateshead in 1823.
Surtees Society (SS)
Amongst the many volumes of original material published by the Surtees Society are extracts from the diaries of James Losh, auditor and adviser to Diana and Thomas Wentworth Beaumont in the 1820s and 1830s: E.T.Hughes, (ed) The Diaries and Correspondence of James Losh, Surtees Society, Volumes 171 (covering the years 1811-23, published 1962) and 174 (from 1824-33, published 1963). The selection here include mentions of and observations on the Beaumonts, and others related to their lead business, most notably Thomas Crawhall.
University of Leeds, Brotherton Library
The Brotherton Library contains a 1984 essay by Michael Bell which includes transcripts of a draft letter book kept between 1821-8 by Benjamin Johnson, agent to Thomas Wentworth Beaumont, permission to re-use and upload which has been kindly granted by the University Library. The location of the original volume is currently (2017) unknown. The draft letters complement other Beaumont-related material from the 1820s.
Most of the archives originally held at Wallington by the Trevelyan family are now in the Northumberland Archives (collection ZWN). However, the fully-catalogued library of the National Trust property retains a few manuscripts, including a scrapbook holding a few isolated letters and accounts, selected extracts of which are included here. They date from the last days of the Fenwicks and the second Sir William Blackett in the 1690s through to Sir Walter Blackett, including some of what must have been the last letters he wrote, late in 1776. We are grateful for the help of the National Trust staff at the hall. It holds an unrivalled collection of early Blackett family portraits.