THE LOSELEY MANUSCRIPTS: RECORDS OF THE MORE AND MORE MOLYNEUX FAMILY OF LOSELEY PARK
The following describes the contents of this collection in the Surrey History Centre archives. Access restrictions may apply. For more information, see our Access to Records Policy.
Help with searching
- SHC Ref No: LM
- Repository: Surrey History Centre, Woking
- Date: 13TH CENT-20TH CENT
- Description: The surviving papers are an extraordinarily rich source for one of the leading gentry families of the county and for the management of their estates and finances, as a glance at the summary will indicate. Of greatest significance is the large quantity of 16th and 17th century records relating to almost every aspect of the family's affairs, and their tenure of most local offices of any significance (see section B), which are of particular value because the county's Quarter Sessions records do not survive before 1659. The papers in this deposit (chiefly section B) together with the surviving official, semi-official and private correspondence held as LM/COR/- and 6729 are of fundamental importance for any study of the administration of the county and of its governing elite under the Tudors and Stuarts.
The copious estate and manorial records (section A) provide a detailed picture of the administration of the family's property over several centuries and have great secondary value as a source for the economic and social history of the south west of Surrey.
Other groups of papers that might be picked out for particular mention include: those relating to the activities of several members of the family as Members of Parliament between the 1540s and late 18th century (section C); to the often acrimonious elections in the family's parliamentary borough of Haslemere between 1640 and 1780 (section D); and several groups of papers relating to executorships or trusteeships entrusted to members of the family including those of Sir Thomas Cawarden, d.1559, the London goldsmith John Twisilton, d.1527, Richard Worsley, Captain of the Isle of Wight, d.1565, and Anthony Browne, Viscount Montague, d.1592 (section E).
- Admin History: The More family established itself in Surrey in 1508 when Christopher More (before1483-1549, knighted 1540), the son of a London fishmonger, originally from Derbyshire, completed purchase of the manor of Loseley outside Guildford. More was an Exchequer official and in 1505 purchased the office of ulnager of cloth in Surrey and Sussex. He subsequently obtained a formal legal training and secured offices in the households of several members of the nobility, including Margaret Countess of Salisbury (see section B). More continued to enhance his standing in Surrey through further purchases (see introduction to section A) and consequently was appointed to a large range of offices in county government including those of justice of the peace (from 1522), subsidy commissioner (from 1515) and sheriff of Surrey and Sussex (1539-40). He was clearly seen as dependable by Thomas Cromwell and was returned as one of the two Members of Parliament for Surrey in 1539, being again returned in 1547.
More's son William (1520-1600, knighted 1576) consolidated the family's political and material fortunes. He enlarged the estate considerably and rebuilt the house in the 1560s (see section A) and his reliability and loyalty were clearly valued by Queen Elizabeth, who visited Loseley on several occasions, as well as many by important politicians such as William Marquess of Northampton, Charles Lord Howard of Effingham, William Lord Burghley and Robert Earl of Leicester. He held almost every office in county government and was assiduous in fulfilling his duties as is testified by the bulk of the surviving papers in this collection (see section B). More was also an active member of the House of Commons from 1539 and served in every Elizabethan Parliament, representing Grantham in 1559 and thereafter either Surrey or Guildford (see section C). He sat on numerous Commons committees, and showed himself a zealous Protestant in his activities in Parliament and in local affairs, while retaining the friendship of the Catholic Lord Montague.
An important friendship in the early part of his career was that with Sir Thomas Cawarden (by 1514-1559) of Blackfriars and Bletchingley, who was Master of the Revels and Tents and Keeper of Nonsuch Palace from 1544, and an important local figure who enjoyed the favour of Henry VIII and Edward VI although his Protestant leanings made him an object of suspicion under Queen Mary. More acted as Cawarden's executor and as a consequence many of the latter's papers were held among the Loseley manuscripts (see section E). More also purchased Cawarden's Blackfriars property (see section A).
More's son George (1553-1632, knighted c.1598) shared his father's religious convictions and philosophy of public service. He held many county offices from 1580, and succeeded his father as chamberlain of receipt in the Exchequer; the support of Sir Robert Cecil and of More's brother in law Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Ellesmere, Lord Keeper and Chancellor (1596-1617), ensured that More enjoyed royal patronage under James I. James appointed him chancellor of the Order of the Garter (1611-30) and lieutenant of the Tower of London (1615-17) and he served as treasurer and receiver general to the King's eldest son, Prince Henry, from 1610 until the Prince's early death in 1612 (see section B). Even so, George felt he had received inadequate reward by James for his service and support for the government in Parliament, feelings which intensified after the accession of Charles I. More extended both Loseley house and the estate, in particular by securing the grant of the royal manor and hundred of Godalming in 1601 (see section A), which obtained for the family a measure of control over the parliamentary borough of Haslemere. He achieved good marriages for four of his five daughters but was appalled by the celebrated union of Anne with the poet John Donne.
Sir George More was succeeded by his grandson Poynings in 1632, his son Sir Robert More having died in 1626. Poynings More (1606-1649, baronet 1642) cut a far less impressive figure than his grandfather and great-grandfather. He appears to have been something of a spendthrift and a reluctant supporter of Parliament in the Civil War although he was named as a Presbyterian elder in the Godalming classis in 1648. The surviving Loseley manuscripts contain little relating to his activities and stewardship of the estate. His son Sir William More, 2nd bart. (c.1644-1684) sat as MP for Haslemere from 1675, serving on the committee of privileges (section C), and was an active justice of the peace particularly against conventicles (section B). He died indebted and childless and his death marks the end of the involvement of the family in national affairs for many years.
Sir William was succeeded by his uncle Nicholas More (d.1684), rector of Fetcham, and shortly after by the latter's son Robert who died without heirs in 1689. Thereafter the estate passed to Robert's sister Margaret (1660-1704) who married Thomas Molyneux of Westhoughton, Lancs (d.1719, knighted 1716). Their son William (1690-1760), took the name More Molyneux, often being referred to as Sir More Molyneux. He was an active justice of the peace, chairing the Michaelmas sessions in Guildford for many years (see section B). His eldest son James More Molyneux (1723-1759) who again represented Haslemere in Parliament from 1754, predeceased his father who was succeeded by his second son Thomas, a soldier who served with the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards, attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1761, and who succeeded his brother as MP for Haslemere, generally supporting the government.
Thomas died unmarried and his sisters Cassandra (d.1777) and Jane (d.1802) inherited Loseley. The quantity of the surviving records suggests Jane was an indefatigable steward of house and estate. After her death her nephew James (1760-1823), her brother James' (d.1759)' illegitimate son, succeeded. The subsequent descent of the estate can be traced in section F and in the family tree.
- Level: Collection
- Related Material: Two other major deposits of the Loseley Manuscripts received in 1971 and 1999, principally comprising correspondence of the More and More Molyneux family, both official and personal, are held under the references LM/COR/- (loose correspondence, 16th-19th cents) and 6729/- (including surviving parts of Bray's bound 'historical correspondence'). It has not proved possible to provide full cross-referencing to related items in LM/COR/- and 6729/- in the following list.
Microfilm of documents in the present deposit and of the 'historical correspondence' in 6729/-, and transcripts of many of the 16th and 17th cent letters in LM/COR/- and 6729/- is held as Zg/109/-.
Records at Loseley Park suffered some dispersal after William Bray's early interest in the evidence room. Bray himself seems to have acquired and kept various documents in the course of his researches (G85/2/2/2, G85/2/4/1, G85/2/6, G85/13/-, G85/17/1&4, G85/41/1 and G52/7/8/1), and was also presented with a small number of items relating principally to the Bray family and estates and to the keepership of Nonsuch Park (G85/4/1-15). Other records appear to have strayed into the estate archives of other Surrey families to whom Bray acted as steward and whose records he studied, including the Peper Harow estate (see G145/box62/2-3) and the Wotton estate of the Evelyns (in G52/8/9 p23 Bray refers to the permanent removal from Loseley of a 1591 commission headed by George More to enquire into George Evelyn's gunpowder business).
More significant losses to the archive occurred between c.1910 and 1954, when hundreds of documents were sold, some from the numeric sequence established by Craib, and others from the bound 'historical volumes' (volumes 1, 4 and part of volume 5). Some of the items sold have never been traced subsequently. It is known that Harvard University bought some printed pamphlets and broadsides, but the largest purchaser, of over 700 items, was the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. The Folger collection mainly comprises documents relating to: the marriage of the poet John Donne (1573-1631) to Anne More, daughter of George More; Sir Thomas Cawarden, his tenure of the Offices of the Tents and the Revels and his property at Blackfriars; and documents relating to various of the Mores' official positions including many documents relating to 16th century government policy towards recusancy. For microfilm of the Folger collection, see Z/407, which incorporates a modified version of the detailed catalogue prepared by the Folger Library.
A further small number of Loseley 'strays', probably borrowed from Loseley by local scholars, have subsequently been traced and now hold the references 5403/2/1-2 and 5430/1.
Loseley estate records, as with many large estate collections, have also been received from other sources, principally solicitors' archives: 1285/- (rentals, accounts, estate correspondence and case papers, c.1775-c.1825), 885/1-5 (papers relating to executorship of the will of James More Molyneux, 1818-1823), 1764/- (estate rental, 1850-1851), 1974/- (records, 1756-1823, including accounts and executorship papers, 1801-1823).
1971/-, deeds relating to Compton property, 19th cent, and 5136/-, publicity material relating to the estate farms, Guildway Ltd and the Loseley Christian Cancer Centre, 1955-1993, are additional deposits by the family.
For photograph of a plan of Loseley by John Thorpe, c.1601, see Z/355 (the original, in a book of architectural plans, is held at Sir John Soane's Museum, London, reference vol 101/39 & 40). For copies of photographs of the house at Loseley, c.1865, see Zg/79.
- Access Status: Open. There are no access restrictions.
- Provenance: Deposited by Major James More-Molyneux of Loseley Park near Guildford in 1950.
The house constructed at Loseley Park by William More in c.1563-1569 included a purpose-built 'evidence room', which, used for the storage of records by the family for hundreds of years, accumulated a great variety of documents, many created in the course of their official, business and estate affairs, and others apparently acquired through executorships.
The original sources of a small amount of material in the archive will probably always remain unclear, and it is not known whether any family members acquired entirely extraneous records by purchase. Early interest in records must account for the rich survival of papers from the first century of the Mores' presence in the county and their tenure of Loseley (in 1556, William's 'closet' included records of his father's position as King's Remembrancer along with his library, but none of his own business papers: see library and unattributed papers, section F).
At the end of the 18th century, when leasing the house, Jane More Molyneux reserved the evidence room for her own use (LM/358/110), and allowed access to her agent William Bray, solicitor and antiquarian, later author with Owen Manning of the History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey (1804-1814).
Bray worked through large quantities of the records, adding his own endorsements. His work was encouraged by Jane's successor, James More Molyneux (1760-1823), to whom his unpublished study LM/1654/-, section F, is dedicated; and further supported by his son James (1805-1874), a Fellow of the Society of Arts. Bray made a selection of 16th and 17th century documents, mainly personal and official correspondence, which were bound into volumes - the so-called 'historical correspondence' (now deposited as 6729) and thus separated, both physically and intellectually, from other closely related records in the present deposit (LM/-) and from correspondence which remained loose (now mostly deposited as LM/COR/-). Bray is believed to have had nine volumes bound, but the subsequent rebinding of some and the breaking up and sale of others (see below, related records) has made it impossible to be certain of the original number. Some volumes related to one subject, eg recusants, but most of them were varied selections, arranged in a rough date-order. Bray numbered every item and prefixed a list of contents to each volume. Bray's and James More Molyneux's publication of records in Archaeologia brought attention to the Loseley Manuscripts and prompted further scholarly interest from AJ Kempe, the Historical Manuscripts Commission and the Public Record Office (see below, arrangement and bibliography), before the present archive was made generally available to the public by deposit at Surrey Record Office.
- Bibliography: Studies of the Loseley Manuscripts
The following sources are of general relevance for the study of the More and More Molyneux family and the Loseley Manuscripts, including early listings of selected documents. Further sources including published transcripts by Surrey Record Society and Surrey Archaeological Society (Surrey Archaeological Collections) are cited under the relevant document group or item descriptions, as are Bray's publications in Archaeologia (some of these are to be found bound in LM/1654, section F).
AJ Kempe, The Loseley Manuscripts: manuscripts and rare documents illustrative of some of the more minute particulars of English History, Biography and Manners from the reign of Henry VIII to that of James I? (London, 1836), includes transcripts of documents including many now held at the Folger Library (on the subjects as described above, as well as Bletchingley churchwardens' accounts, 1552) and also a reproduction of an illustration of lottery prizes, 1567. Cross-referencing is provided from item descriptions in the following list to transcripts in Kempe.
JC Jeaffreson, appendix to the 7th Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission (1879) describes more than 2,000 selected documents, mostly of the Tudor and early Stuart periods, with the emphasis on correspondence, in chronological order. Cross referencing is provided in the following list, in the form 'HMC' with page and column (a or b) reference.
GK Hyland, A Century of Persecution Under Tudor and Stuart Sovereigns from contemporary records (London, 1920) describes Loseley documents relating to the relationship with Elizabeth I of William More and his daughter Elizabeth Wolley (a lady in waiting), and letters to George More from King James I concerning the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, as well as those illustrating his main theme of Catholic recusancy.
Sir Thomas Cawarden's Revels papers were explored by several scholars as a source for the history of the Elizabethan stage, and in 1914 Professor A G Feuillerat of Rennes published Documents Relating to the Revels at Court in the time of King Edward VI and Queen Mary (not held at Surrey History Centre).
Since the work of William Bray on the MSS, county histories have drawn on the archive as a major source for the topography and history of Surrey. In compiling this list the following have been used:
O Manning and W Bray, The History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey (1804-1814) cited henceforth as Manning and Bray;
HE Malden, ed., The Victoria History of the County of Surrey (1902-1912) cited henceforth as VCH
The History of Parliament: The House of Commons (HMSO) series has been referred to extensively for those members of the More and More Molyneux family who sat for parliament from the 16th to the 18th centuries, and for biographies of Sir Thomas Cawarden, Sir John Wolley, Sir Francis Wolley, James Gresham, Henry Weston and others: see introduction to section C for bibliographic details.
A brief contemporary biography of Sir George More is recorded in the commonplace book of his son in law Sir John Oglander (original held at the Isle of Wight Record Office; published inter alia by Francis Bamford, A Royalist's Notebook: the commonplace book of Sir John Oglander, kt of Nunwell, 1622-1652 London, 1936).
Unpublished work on the first three Mores, Christopher, William and George by William Bray is held as LM/1654, section F.
E Hedden, 'Conceptualising Faction: Patronage and Power Politics in Surrey, c.1550-1600' (MA thesis, London University, 1993) discusses the role of Sir William More and fellow justices of the peace in the county.
Unpublished work on the Loseley Manuscripts including a biography of Sir William More (1520-1600) by Kathleen Hobbs is held as 5403/1/-: this work was undertaken during the 1970s but does not unfortunately include any document references.
For Sir George More see R Munden, 'George More, 1553-1632: county governor, man-of-business and central government office holder' in Surrey Archaeological Collections, 83 pp97-124 (1996).
A ms account of Col Thomas More Molyneux (1724-1776) by William Bray is included in his 'candid biographies of contemporaries', held as G52/8/10.
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography includes articles on Sir Christopher, Sir William and Sir George More
E Wheaton, 'The Mores at Loseley, 1508-1632' (PhD thesis, London University, 2017)
Family pedigrees are listed in section F.
20th century history of the family and estate
For the history of the estate in the late 19th and 20th centuries, the development of the dairy and other business ventures, see James More-Molyneux, The Loseley Challenge: the story of half a century's stewardship of an historic estate (1995)
- Arrangement: The present deposit of Loseley Manuscripts was catalogued by Theodore Craib while on loan to the Public Record Office in 1908. In Craib's list the documents were given subject classifications, some of which were groupings by function, others by document type (eg 'inventories', 'rentals'), and others by general titles such as 'unclassified', 'arranged topographically' and 'miscellaneous'. The classes were roughly alphabetically ordered and the documents assigned reference numbers according to their position in this sequence. The title deeds were not catalogued at this stage, but arranged chronologically and given references in this sequence: see introduction to section A.
When the documents were deposited, the archivist GMA Beck largely retained the reference numbers assigned by Craib, and the outline of his catalogue in her list of 1964, while noting renumberings, loss and sale of documents from the numeric sequence.
The present list is an attempt to reconstruct an archival arrangement of the material, to link associated documents together and to explain the reasons why particular documents are included in the archive. This process has inevitably involved a complete loss of numeric sequence to the document references and the section numbers have been introduced to facilitate navigation and the following up of cross-references. However much more work could be done and the arrangement remains confusing and unsatisfactory. Readers are advised to use the summary to navigate their way around the records.
The list is divided into seven sections (summarised in more detail below): estate and manorial records (section A), records of official positions in national and local government, and of private commissions (section B), records relating to parliamentary, national and international affairs (section C), records of involvement in local affairs (section D), records of executorships (section E), family and personal records (section F) and deeds relating to the estates of the More-Molyneux family and related families in Surrey and elsewhere (section G).
- For more information contact: Surrey History Centre
This document forms part of a collectionHierarchy
A collection is arranged in order to show context. This means that it will have been catalogued to preserve its original order where possible. The catalogue will be arranged into sub-sections such as series, files and items so that related records appear together. Your current record is highlighted in bold and the folder it is in shows its context. From here you can explore the collection further by opening up folders (select the + signs) and viewing details of any other records shown (select the text). Catalogue Jump to this document in the hierarchy
If you are unable to visit Surrey History Centre to consult our records, we offer a paid research service to search a range of historical documents and local studies collections for names, properties, or topics on your behalf. Our fees range from £20 for half an hour’s research to £120 for three hours’ research. Please search our catalogue and then contact us below to check if we hold relevant records for your research. If we are able to help, we will send you a quote with a link to the online payment page.Copying services
We offer a digital copying service, as well as photocopies, microform copies and certified copies of baptism and marriage certificates. Please refer to our table of fees and then contact us below to check the suitability for copying. If we are able to help, we will send you a quote with a link to the online payment page.Contact us