Heytesbury Letters

Estate Letters

Below are a set of letters written mainly by Charles Ashe à Court to his elder brother William, First Lord Heytesbury while the latter was ambassador in Madrid and later Lisbon between 1823 and 1828.  Some of the  letters accompanied regular estate accounts while others reported family and estate business.  Charles was running the estate during this period while William was abroad.  There are a few illegible words throughout the letters which I have left blank. Some of the letters have links to the original images.

Characters mentioned throughout the letters include:   Edward, Charles and William's younger brother; Phelps, who was the family solicitor, Prangley, who was the local village builder; and Chandler one of the farm tenants.

Letter 1 15 January 1823 image  p1  p2  p3 p4 Letter 10 01 February 1825 Letter 18 17 April 1826
Letter 2  16 December 1823 image  p1  p2  p3 Letter 11 11 July 1825 Letter 19 18 April 1826  attached a/c p1 a/c p2
Letter 3 Phelps to Boucher 16 July 1823 and Phelps to Everett 16 July 1823
Letter 12 21 August 1825 -  In which discussions of purchasing adjoining property take place Letter 20 1 July 1826 -  A discussion of rebuilding the farmhouse in Tytherington
Letter 4 17 April 1824 - In which Heytesbury House almost catches fire. Letter 13 05 October 1825 -  In which Lord Beresford arrives in a state.... Letter 21 09 November 1826
Letter 5 9 May 1824 - In which Charles and Edward talk with Chandler Letter 14 30 October 1825  
Letter 6  22 July 1824 - In which a successor to Chandler is found Letter 15 2 December 1825 -  In which proposed alterations to the house are discussed  
Letter 7 2 November 1824
Letter 16 10 January 1826  
Letter 9 4 November 1824 Letter 17 14 March 1826  - This letter's last page is missing  


Lieutenant General Charles 
Ashe à Court

William à Court
1st Baron Heytesbury
Courtesy of the National
Gallery of Ireland

Marriage Settlement between William Frederick Holmes à Court and Margaret Anna Harman

Here are a number of letters between the 2nd Baron (William Henry), and his grandson (William Frederick, 3rd Baron)'s future mother in law, Mrs Parkinson. The 2nd Baron is initially against the marriage on the basis that while he, the 2nd Baron, is still alive the 3rd Baron will have insufficient income to support a wife and children, and may borrow money to support himself which he will have difficulty paying back after the 2nd Baron's death. The 2nd Baron makes it clear that the income from the Heytesbury and Isle of Wight Estates is much reduced, and together with the large family that he already has to support he has no money to provide the 3rd Baron with a marriage settlement. The 2nd Baron does eventually agree to the marriage, on the condition that the 3rd Baron does not borrow against the future income of the estates, and that he will provide a small settlement (between £400 and £800 per year) if Mrs Parkinson also provides a settlement of £150 per year.

When the marriage is eventually agreed to, there follows a number of letters between the 2nd Baron and his solicitors where he is trying to ensure that Mrs Parkinson will be legally bound to continue the payment, even if her circumstances change. He is worried that if the payment stops the 3rd Baron will be forced to borrow money against the estate.

It is somewhat ironic that despite the 2nd Baron's insistence on not mortgaging the estate the terms of his will (presumably, although not checked yet) mean that a substantial mortgage on the estate has to be taken out after his death. This is because in addition to a relatively small amount of death duties substantial payments ('portions' of the estate) have to be made to the numerous children and grandchildren of the 2nd Baron. This amounts to around £48,000, based on an estate value (I think) of £180,000. A mortgage of £48,000 is therefore taken out on the estate in 1891 by the 3rd Baron, which would appear to represent almost 1/4 of its value. Although the income from the estate appears to cover the interest payments with a reasonable surplus (£4000) this appears to be a significant step in the downfall of the estate, which resulted in the sale of the majority in the 1920's.

As far as I can tell £48,000 in 1891 is roughly equivalent to £4 million today, a considerable sum to borrow!

Click here to view transcription of letters

William Henry Ashe à Court
2nd Baron Heytesbury
Margaret Anna Harman William Frederick Holmes à Court
3rd Baron Heytesbury

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