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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D3155
Former ReferenceDL 42 (Derby Local Studies Library)
TitleWilmot-Horton family of Osmaston and Catton
Date[13th cent]-1955
DescriptionThe ESTATE PAPERS include title deeds, rentals, accounts and plans for estates belonging to the Wilmot and Horton families in Catton, Walton on Trent, Rosliston, Coton, Weston on Trent, Aston on Trent, Shardlow, Stapenhill, Mickleover, Osmaston, Ockbrook/Derbyshire. Outcounty estates in Staffordshire (Barton under Needwood, Tatenhill, Rugeley and Audley), Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Kent and Warwickshire and estates of related families such as the Eardleys and Buswell, are included. Including plans for the rebuilding of Osmaston Hall, with volumes of correspondence about the house and garden, 1739-1771

MANORIAL RECORDS include Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire 1414-1926 (including surveys, court books and other records); Audley, Staffordshire 1368-1576 and Birmingham, Warwickshire 1704-1734.

CORRESPONDENCE with the steward at Osmaston 1739-1771 includes information on the rebuilding and redecoration of the house, planning and implementing the layout of gardens and parklands, and household administration including references to servants. Other HOUSEHOLD RECORDS include eighteenth and nineteenth century medical recipes.

Both the Wilmot and the Horton families were involved to some degree in local politics and administration during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as shown by records of collecting taxes and other levies.

The CORRESPONDENCE SERIES are of particular importance.
The correspondence of (Sir) Robert Wilmot (1708-1772) is arranged chronologically in volumes of incoming letters covering his work as Resident Secretary to twelve successive viceroys of Ireland (1737-1772) and as Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain (1758-1772). These include references to well-known artists such as David Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds, surviving from his tenure as Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain. There is also correspondence 1756-1764 with the Dukes of Devonshire and Newcastle on political and other matters including the war in North America.

Robert Wilmot's first post from 1729 onwards was with William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. When Cavendish was appointed Viceroy of Ireland in 1737, Wilmot become his Resident Secretary in England, a post he held until the year of his death. From 1737 virtually all Irish government business passed through Wilmot's hands and he also inherited files which predate his tenure of office. From 1746 his counterpart at Dublin Castle, Thomas Waite, was a frequent and increasingly frank correspondent. The series includes many of Wilmot's letters to Waite which were returned at Wilmot's request. The correspondence is particularly important owing to the loss of the Chief Secretary's papers for the period as a result of the Four Courts explosion in Dublin in 1922.

Sir Robert John Wilmot, later Wilmot-Horton (1784-1841) was an assiduous correspondent and was in contact by letter with most of the important political figures of the day including George and Stratford Canning, the 14th Earl of Derby, Lord Grenville, John Gladstone, Lord Goderich, William Huskisson, Lord Palmerston and Sir Robert Peel.

Wilmot-Horton's main interests were the problems of poverty and over-population and issues of political economy. Apparently much influenced by Malthus, he saw emigration as the main answer to these challenges. The relocation of surplus, chiefly pauper, populations from Britain and Ireland to the colonies of Australia and Canada was a considerable pre-occupation. Associated with this main interest were concern about reform of the poor law, taxes and currency. The management of Ireland, the Catholic question, slavery and the West Indies, and Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] also feature largely at different times in his correspondence. He received letters on:
- emigration from Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Thomas Tooke, Robert Torrens, William Nassau Senior and Maria Edgeworth,
- Australia from Sir Thomas Brisbane and Francis Forbes,
- Canada from John Galt,
- economics from James Mill and Robert Owen, and
- the West Indies from Zachary Macaulay and William Wilberforce.
Other correspondents include Sydney Smith.
Extent129 boxes
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Full Catalogue ListClick here to view a full list for this collection
Archive CreatorWilmot-Horton family of Osmaston and Catton, Derbyshire
Wilmot family of Osmaston
Horton family of Catton
Administrative HistoryWILMOT FAMILY
The Wilmot family may have been merchants in Derby until Robert bought property in Chaddesden and Osmaston in the early 17th century. There is possibly an earlier connection through the Babington family. The Osmaston estate was left to Robert Wilmot's second son, Nicholas, a serjeant at law who was knighted by Charles II in 1674. Nicholas' son Robert (1640-1722) served as Member of Parliament for Derby from 1690 to 1695.

By 1696 Robert was living at Osmaston Hall. The house was entirely rebuilt about 1702 with several later additions and alterations to the house, gardens and parklands during the eighteenth century. Osmaston Hall remained the main residence for the family until they inherited Catton in 1823. Osmaston was then leased to the Fox family of Derby. In 1888 the house and estate were bought by the Midland Railway Company and used as an extension to their carriage and wagon works. The house later became a golf club house but was demolished in 1938. The remainder of the park was acquired by Derby City Council in 1946-1947 for an industrial estate.

Robert's elder son, also Robert (died 1738), developed the estate which had grown through purchase and marriage with other gentry families. Both of the second Robert's sons became men of more than local importance.

The younger son (Sir) John Eardley Wilmot (1710-1792) was Chief Justice of Common Pleas from 1766 to 1771.

The elder son (Sir) Robert Wilmot (1708-1772) became private secretary to William Cavendish, 3rd; Duke of Devonshire in about 1730. When Cavendish was appointed Viceroy of Ireland in 1737, Wilmot became the Viceroy's Deputy Resident Secretary in England. He was promoted to Resident Secretary in 1740, a post he held until his death, serving twelve successive Viceroys. In 1758, still with Devonshire patronage, he became Deputy Secretary, then Secretary, to the Lord Chamberlain of the Household, another post he held until his death.

Robert Wilmot had no children by his first marriage but, when his wife died in 1769, within two months he married his mistress who was the mother of his illegitimate children. When Wilmot was created a baronet in October 1772, he was granted a special remainder to allow his eldest son Robert to succeed to the baronetcy.

Robert Wilmot (1752-1834), the 2nd; baronet, married as his first wife the daughter of Admiral John Byron. Their son (Sir) Robert John Wilmot, later Wilmot-Horton (1784-1841), the 3rd; baronet, served as Member of Parliament for Newcastle under Lyme/Staffordshire from 1818 to 1830 and was Under Secretary of State for War and the Colonies 1821-1828 and Governor of Ceylon 1831-1837. In 1806 he married Anne Beatrix Horton, daughter of Eusebius Horton of Horton. Anne Beatrix is said to have inspired Lord Byron's verse: She walks in beauty like the night/Of cloudless climes and starry skies/And all that's best of dark and bright/Meet in her aspect and her eyes. Wilmot assumed the surname Wilmot-Horton in 1823 on the death of his father-in-law Eusebius Horton.

Sir Robert Edward Wilmot, later Wilmot-Horton (1808-1880), the 4th baronet, used the surname Wilmot from his father's death in 1842 to his mother's death in 1872 when he assumed the surname Wilmot-Horton. He was succeeded as the 5th baronet by his brother Revd Sir George Edward Wilmot-Horton (1825-1887) who also died without issue and was succeeded as the 6th baronet by his cousin Rodney Wilmot (1853-1931), the grandson of Robert the 2nd; baronet by his second wife. The baronetcy became extinct in 1931.

In about 1400 Roger Horton from a Cheshire family purchased property in Catton, which had previously belonged to the de Albini and St Amand families. The estate passed to Roger's son William and then to another son John. John's son Walter, his son and grandson held the estate through the sixteenth century.

In the next generations Christopher (1582-1659) and Walter his son (1628-1680) both served as Sheriff of Derbyshire. Walter's son Christopher and grandson Walter (1678-1716) do not appear to have been very active in local politics or in enlarging the estate.

Walter's son Christopher brought into the family property of the Buswell family through his marriage to Frances, daughter of Eusebius Pelsant who took the surname Buswell through his mother. Christopher was also responsible for the building of Catton Hall in 1741-1742 on the site of an earlier house. Christopher and Frances' son Christopher died young with no surviving children. His widow Lady Ann (Luttrell) is said to have caused a scandal by her morganatic marriage to Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of George III.

The estate passed to Christopher's brother Eusebius, whose daughter Anne Beatrix in 1806 married Sir Robert John Wilmot. The Wilmots took the surname Wilmot-Horton on Eusebius' death in 1823 and moved to Catton as their main residence. On the death of the 5th baronet, Revd Sir George Wilmot-Horton, in 1887 the estate passed to his niece Mrs Anson whose descendants used the surname Anson-Horton. From them it passed to the Neilson family.
Custodial HistoryThe estate records of the Wilmot family of Osmaston, the Horton family of Catton and the Wilmot-Horton family of Catton and Osmaston, including estate records for properties acquired outside of Derbyshire by marriage, were eventually held together at Catton Hall. The records were deposited in Derby Local Studies Library in January 1959 and April 1971 by the family, and were purchased by Derbyshire County Council in 1987 with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Further records (Barton under Needwood manor court rolls, 17th cent) were transferred from Derby Local Studies Library in March 2000.
ArrangementThere is some evidence of sorting and re-arrangement of Wilmot-Horton's (1784-1841) correspondence in the 1830s or 1840s. Before he returned to Ceylon, Wilmot-Horton had discussed with his Private Secretary George Lee a project to select extracts from his papers. This work appears to have continued after his death in 1841. It may be that it was intended to publish certain selections; certainly, many documents bear signs of having been consulted and grouped together in or about 1843. Consequently, the present sequence and numbering of the letters is largely artificial and inherited. Despite the descriptions used such as "bound volumes" for correspondence, there is no substantive distinction between the "bound volumes", the "subject sequence" and the "ABC sequence". Most groups are in the same format; that is, series of letters in limp bindings with a general description of contents on the front cover. Sometimes, the covers include numbers which may be part of earlier reference systems. There are some case-bound volumes (e.g. D3155/WH/2939, 2940, 2941). Conversely, there are some items numbered in sequence which have never been bound or intended to be bound. Examples are the copy 1676 marriage settlement (D3155/WH/3076) and copy Osmaston lease of 1737 (D3155/WH/3077). It is advisable to check all groups since the numbering does not indicate relationships in terms of content or subject matter.

The main series of correspondence are:
- 1st series of bound volumes: Letters arranged in alphabetical sequence of correspondence relating to Sir Robert John Wilmot-Horton
- 2nd series of bound volumes: Letters arranged by subject relating to Sir Robert John Wilmot-Horton
- 3rd series of bound volumes: Letters on a variety of subjects many relating to Sir Robert John Wilmot-Horton but also to other members of the family in the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
- The Irish correspondence consists of volumes of incoming and outgoing letters arranged in chronological order relating to (Sir) Robert Wilmot as Resident Secretary to Viceroy of Ireland 1739-1772 and as (Deputy) Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain 1758-1772.
- There is also a sequence of individual letters c1630-1880 arranged in chronological order including family and local affairs, court gossip, the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-1746 and Ireland.

The records were sorted and numbered when on deposit in Derby Local Studies Library and this has been retained for the present.


Title deeds, estate and family papers
Title deeds
D3155/WH/1-32 Derbyshire and Staffordshire deeds (see also D3155/WH/6329-7919)
D3155/WH/33-85 Audley Manor Court (Eardley family)
D3155/WH/86-98 Barton-under-Needwood Manor Court deeds
D3155/WH/99-863 Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland deeds (see also D3155/WH 7931)
D3155/WH/864-879 Title deeds, other counties
D3155/WH/7931-7932 Miscellaneous deeds, 17th century
D3155/WH/6329-7919 `Derbyshire Deeds' series, 1392-1912: Title deeds and associated papers, predominantly relating to the Derbyshire and Staffordshire estates but also including deeds to properties in Yorkshire, Cheshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Birmingham, Suffolk, Somerset, Kent and London
D3155/J1-CROXALL LXI Title deeds, 1309-1508 (Deeds listed in Jeayes' Derbyshire Charters)

Manorial and Estate
D3155/WH/880-1771, D3155/WH/7920-7930 Barton-under-Needwood Manor Court papers, 1636-1911
D3155/WH/1772-2014 Derbyshire and Staffordshire estate papers (see also D3155/WH 2196-2200)
D3155/WH/2015-2036 Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and general Wilmot accounts
D3155/WH/2037-2044 Manor of Birmingham
D3155/WH/2045-2081 Northamptonshire and Leicestershire estate papers
D3155/WH/2082-2112 Estate papers, other counties
D3155/WH/2113-2195 Buswell personal estate papers
D3155/WH/2196-2200 Weston-on-Trent estate papers (see also D3155/WH 1772-2014)
D3155/WH/2201-2214 General estate papers
D3155/WH/2215-2507 Personal estate papers
D3155/WH/3674-3941 Rentals for the Catton estate (1822-1956)

Family and Public Office
D3155/WH/2508-2701 Family and public office
D3155/WH/2702-2740 Miscellaneous papers

D3155/WH/2741-2903 Bound volumes of letters (1st series): Letters arranged in alphabetical sequence of correspondent in bound volumes. The letters all relate to Sir Robert John Wilmot Horton, Baronet (1784-1841) who was Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies 1821-1828 and Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Ceylon 1831-1837
D3155/WH/2904-2938 Bound volumes of letters (2nd series): Letters arranged by subject in bound volumes, relating to Sir Robert John Wilmot Horton, Baronet (1784-1841)
D3155/WH/2939-3083 Bound volumes of letters (3rd series): 117 bound volumes of letters on a variety of subjects, many concerning Sir Robert John Wilmot Horton, but also of two Sir Robert John Wilmots in the mid-18th and early 19th centuries
D3155/WH/3084-3428 Loose letters and unsorted miscellaneous papers, 1698-1898
D3155/WH/3429-3475 Irish correspondence, 1739-1770: Volumes of incoming letters arranged in chronological order covering the period Sir Robert Wilmot of Osmaston, 1st Baronet (c1709-1772) was Resident Secretary in London to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1740-1772, and Deputy Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain of the Household, 1758-1772
D3155/C1-7115 Correspondence, c1630-1880: Sequence of individual letters and some deeds arranged in chronological order

Numbers not used
Organisation Sub-TypeFamily and estate
Finding AidsA printed copy of the catalogue is available on the shelves in the search room.
Related MaterialPhotocopies of (Sir) Robert Wilmot's correspondence as Resident Secretary to the Viceroy of Ireland 1737-1772 are held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
See D4576 for Incoming letters K-Z of Sir Robert John Wilmot-Horton (1784-1841) early 19th cent.
Papers with literary associations, especially those relating to Lord Byron, some family journals and albums of watercolour sketches, were specifically excluded from the sale to Derbyshire County Council and do not form part of the archive in Derbyshire Record Office. Similar exclusions operated in respect of some family journals and albums of watercolour sketches.
Second Jacobite Rebellion (1745)

Show related Persons records.

Related Names
Name (click for further details)
Wilmot; Sir; Robert (1708–1772); civil servant
Wilmot-Horton; family; Osmaston and Catton, Derby
Wilmot-Horton, formerly Wilmot; Sir; Robert John (1784-1841); of Catton Hall, baronet, Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies 1821-1828, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Ceylon 1831-1837
Place (click for further details)Type
Walton on Trent 
Coton in the Elms 
Weston on Trent 
Aston on Trent 
Osmaston by Derby 
Sri Lanka 
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