Fonds GB 0210 ASHHAM - Ashburnham Welsh Estates Records,

Identity area

Reference code



Ashburnham Welsh Estates Records,


  • 1392-1968 (predominantly 1600-1925) (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.218 cubic metres (40 boxes, 2 rolls, 1 volume)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Before 1677 the Ashburnham Welsh estate belonged to the Vaughan family, originally of Brodwardine, Herefordshire. Following the marriage of Sir Richard Vaughan to Anne, daughter and heiress of John Butler of Pembrey, the family acquired both the Pembrey and Dunraven estates. Sir Walter's son, Sir Richard's heir, was sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1557 and living at Dunraven in 1584.

Sir Walter Vaughan's son, Sir Thomas Vaughan, married Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais, and through this marriage acquired the Fallerstone estate in Wiltshire (sold, apparently, in 1649). Sir Charles Vaughan, Sir Walter's son, acquired the Porthamel estate in Breconshire following his marriage in 1605 to Catherine, co-heiress of Sir Robert Knollys. A Bill of Complaint of Rowland Vaughan in 1664, however, claims that Sir Thomas Vaughan actually purchased the estate from Sir Robert Knollys. After the death of Sir Charles Vaughan in 1630 and of his father in 1637 the estate devolved upon Sir George Vaughan, Sir Walter's eldest son by his second marriage. It was Sir George who sometime during the 1640s sold the Dunraven estate to Humphrey Wyndham, with the exception of some 250 acres in Llangennith and Rhossilly. Sir George died in 1650 without issue and the estate passed to his younger brother, the Rev. Frederick Vaughan. Following the death of Frederick Vaughan, of his son Walter and of his infant grandson between November 1661 and November 1662 the estate passed to an heiress, Bridget Vaughan, the daughter of Walter Vaughan by his wife Alice. In 1677, Bridget married John, 1st baron Ashburnham, of Battle, Sussex. The estate descended with the Ashburnham title until the death in 1924 of Thomas, 6th earl of Ashburnham. Under the terms of the will of the 5th earl the estate then passed to Mary Charlotte Ashburnham, sister of the last earl. She died in 1953.

Large portions of the Welsh estate had been sold prior to the extinction of the Ashburnham title. The most insignificant part of the estate, namely the remainder of the old Dunraven estate in the parishes of Llangennith and Rhossilly in Glamorgan was sold in 1839-1840. A further 1,800 acres in the parishes of Llanddeusant and Myddfai, Carmarthenshire, were offered for sale in 1844.The major sales came in the half century after about 1870 and more especially the period 1900-1925. Annotations on a survey of the Ashburnham Welsh estate compiled in 1881 reveal that parts of the Llanddeusant estate (the Carmarthenshire portion of the estate was divided into two parts: the Llanddeusant estate and the Pembrey estate] were sold between 1892 and 1900 and parts of the Porthamel estate in Breconshire between 1889 and 1905. In 1900 the unsold portion of the Llanddeusant estate was disposed of whilst the rest of the Porthamel estate was sold in 1907, 1913 and 1918. Finally, in 1922-1923, the greater part of the Pembrey estate, the most valuable of the Ashburnham estates in Wales, was sold.

According to the 1873 return of owners of land, the Earl of Ashburnham owned an estimated 7,568 acres in Wales (all in Carmarthenshire and Breconshire), with an estimated rental of #5,511. There was also some 2,230 acres of sheepwalk in Breconshire, excluded from the above, and the Earl of Ashburnham was also a 'great landowner' (over 3,000 acres with a rental of over #3000 a year) in resepect of land outside of Wales.

Archival history

Previous to their deposit at NLW, all the estate records were held at Ashburnham, Sussex, apart from the records held in London by the estate solicitors. The bulk of the 1981 deposit had already been arranged into bundles prior to its deposit at NLW, some as early as the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; this order has been retained.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Deposited by Mr. J.P. Bickersteth, per F.W. Steer, East Sussex County Archivist, in 1954, with additional deposits by Richard F. Dell, Sussex County Archivist, July 1964, and the Rev. J. D. Bickersteth of Battle, per A. A. Dibben, East Sussex County Records Officer, 1981. Estate records held by Messrs Frere & Cholmeley, the estate's solicitors, were deposited by the British Records Association in 1933.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Deeds, rentals, estate receiver's accounts, surveys, valuations, correspondence, maps and plans of the Ashburnham estate in Breconshire, Carmarthenshire and Glamorganshire, 1392-1968 (predominantly 1600-1925); sale catalogues and related papers, 1900-1923, deeds of the Mellington Hall estate in the parishes of Churchstoke and Mainstone in Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, 1753-1937, mortgaged by Samuel Rankin Heap to the trustees of the Ashburnham estate in 1923; manorial records and related papers of the manors of Cantref Selyf, 1650-1810, Talgarth, 1650-1826, Bronllys, 1661-1757, and Crickadarn, 1743-1809, all in Breconshire, and especially of the manor of Pembrey in Carmarthenshire, 1663-1922 (including papers relating to rights of shipwreck); accounts of collieries in Pembrey, 1714-1852 (mainly 1795 onwards), and papers relating to Pembrey tithes, colliery, port and harbour, and foreshore rights and wrecks, mainly 18-early 20 cent.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All records deposited at NLW have been retained.


Accruals are not expected

System of arrangement

Arranged into Ashburnham Groups I and II; and a parcel within other records deposited by British Records Association in 1933.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English
  • Latin

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Latin.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Further details relating to manorial records within the archive can be accessed online from The National Archives Manorial Documents Register.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The archive of the Ashburnham English estate is in the East Sussex Record Office. Further papers relating to the Welsh estate are Carmarthenshire Archives Service, CDX/445A and a number of maps of are in NLW, Map Collections.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

April 2001.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Mair James.

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Ashburnham Welsh Estates' Muniments, Principal family and estate collections A-K, (London, 1995); Complete Peerage, (London, 13 vols, 1910-1959), vol. 1; James, Brian, 'The end of the great estates and the rise of freehold farming in Wales', Welsh History Review, (1974), vol. 7, no. 2,; Clark, G. T., Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae (London, 1886); Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, (London, 1959);

Accession area