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Manuscripts from Hengrave Hall, Suffolk

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Hengrave

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a mixture of family and estate papers relating to the Hengrave Hall estate, owned by the Kitson and Gage families, alongside antiquarian records collected by two members of the Gage family in the early 19th century. There is also a small collection of records relating to the Rookwoods of Coldham Hall, who married into the Gage family in the 19th century. These records have been kept separate to the main series except where it is not possible to tell whether or not the records relate to the family or their estates. Where this is the case it has been noted in the catalogue entry. A brief description of the contents of each section is provided below – see individual catalogue entries under the reference number provided for further information.

• Title deeds, early 12th cent.-1632
• Wills and settlements
• Legal case papers
• Household
• Family and personal papers, including correspondence
• Records relating to trade
• Antiquarian records
• Records relating to the Rookwood family of Coldham

Bound volumes of records, including property transactions, relating to land in Suffolk are available at Hengrave 2-19, arranged by hundred, then parish. Many relate to land and property owned by the estate but other records relating to Suffolk have been added by John Gage. Other title deeds have not been bound and can be found separately. Most of the title deeds in the following sections have been listed individually (see catalogue entries for details).
Hengrave 89 Late Medieval and 16th cent. MSS
Hengrave 117 early 12th cent.-1632
Hengrave 118 1500-1588
Hengrave 119 1609-1732
Hengrave 120 Miscellaneous documents and manuscripts
Hengrave 121 Miscellaneous seals and 19C seal impressions.

There is one main collection of wills [see Hengrave 86] but others appear within various sections, eg see Hengrave 89 for records relating to the estate of Sir Thomas Kitson 1. There may also be wills and settlements in the miscellaneous documents found at Hengrave 120 (see catalogue entry for details). Marriage settlements can be found at Hengrave 85.

Hengrave 90 Margaret Countess of Bath, legal proceedings, inventories, etc.
Hengrave 84 There are three boxes of 16th-17th century legal cases involving various property, including the manors of Fillol and Coggeshall. This series has not yet been listed in detail.

Life in the house is evoked in household books, accounts and inventories of various dates in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Other aspects of domestic life touched on in the inventories include cookery, furniture, and the history of the garden; also the visits of the distinguished painter George Gower, who provided five portraits for Hengrave in 1573.

Records of building developments and surveys
Hengrave 81 Including mason’s contract, plasterer’s contract, steward’s minutes re building, early C16th
Hengrave 26 J.G. Lenny, survey plans, 1824
Hengrave 27 Misc. plans, drawings, photographs
Hengrave 123 catalogue 1897

Hengrave 80 Building accounts, 1525-35
Hengrave 82/13 Sir Thomas Kytson’s household accounts, 1539-40; accounts of money spent by Lady Kytson for Thomas and Penelope Darcy, 1606;
Hengrave 82 Household accounts, 1541-45, 1562, 1563-64, 1572-75, 1613-17
Hengrave 93/1 Including Elizabeth Kytson accounts
Hengrave 81 Including inventory of household effects, 1603
Hengrave 83 Account books 1604, 1612-19
Hengrave 45 Household account books, 1808-14
Hengrave 95 Cellar books, 1848-68; Garden account 1848-53, etc.
Hengrave 94 Housekeeping accounts, c.1850-65

Inventories and catalogues (see also Accounts)
Hengrave 87 Inventory of linen, 1603; inventory of linen 1625; other inventories
Hengrave 87 Inventory, 1617
Hengrave 87 Inventory, 1621 and 1624
Hengrave 87 Inventory, 1661
Hengrave 49 Bibliotheca Rokewodiana, catalogue of John Gage Rokewode’s library
Hengrave 50 Sir Thomas Gage, catalogue of library at Hengrave, 1812
Hengrave 51 Library catalogue, n.d.
Hengrave 52 Catalogue of books, MSS and pictures at Hengrave, 1872

Recipe Book
Hengrave 44 Charlotte Gage, recipe book, 18C

Music and entertainment
Visits of troupes of actors and players are recorded. There was a notable musical establishment, including at various times the lutenist Edward Johnson and the great Elizabethan madrigalist John Wilbye. The collection contains an original letter from him, as well as descriptions in the inventories of ‘Wilbee’s Room’ in the house.

Hengrave 55 Sir Thomas Gage, song book
Hengrave 48 Index of plays, 18C?
Hengrave 77 MSS music, late C17th
Hengrave 124 Sir Thomas Gage and Lady Gage: catches and glees, late 18C
Hengrave 125 Sir Thomas Gage: The storm. A musical interlude, n.d.

A highlight of the collection is the substantial amount of correspondence from the mid-16th century, including that of Margaret, later Countess of Bath (Sir Thomas Kitson I’s widow). They include letters from (or from the office of) Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, and a very rare letter from Sir Philip Sidney, c.1544-1586 (Hengrave 88/2/66). [See Hengrave 88]

Pedigrees and Arms relating to the Kytson, Gage and Rookwood families
Hengrave 64 Grant of arms to Thomas Kytson, 1527
Hengrave 65 Alteration of arms for Thomas Kytson, 1568
Hengrave 67 Patent for Gage baronetcy, 1662
Hengrave 68 Licence for change of name to Rokewood, 1843
Hengrave 76 Collection of Rokewood pedigrees, 1619, and 19C pedigrees by JGR
Hengrave 122 Pedigree of Gage family from 1406, drawn by Edmund Lodge

Hengrave 88 16C-17C correspondence volumes, including Sir Thomas Kytson 1, Margaret, Countess of Bath,

Sir Thomas Gage
Topography, sketches, notes and journals
Hengrave 23 Sketches in France etc. 1816
Hengrave 24 Sketches in Rome, 1818
Hengrave 25 Sketches made in Italy, 1819
Hengrave 30 Short notes taken on journey to Italy, 1816
Hengrave 56 Sir Edward Gage, Solomon’s reflections on human life, mid-17C
Hengrave 57 MS Testament de l’ame chrestienne, 1683

Also see MS Add.8813-8815

Botanical and natural history
Hengrave 59 Index generum of plants, n.d.
Hengrave 60 Classification of tulips
Hengrave 61 Drawings of English butterflies, 1799
Hengrave 62 European butterflies, 1819-20
Hengrave 63 Natural history of British insects, drawn and coloured by M. Dalton from E. Donovan
Hengrave 93/3 List of insects chiefly collected in Italy

John Gage
Hengrave 42 Sentimental journey through Holland and Flanders, 1815
Hengrave 53 On reading Virgil during a tour of Italy, 1827

Family accounts
Including executors’ papers

Hengrave 46 Ledger, executor of Sir Thomas Gage, 1821-31
Hengrave 91 Misc: memoranda, acquitances, correspondence
Hengrave 92 Misc: inventories, wills, letters
Hengrave 93 Gage family bonds, bills, letters, accounts, cash books
Hengrave 47 Ledger, guardians of Sir Thomas Gage, 1821-31, Sir Thomas Gage, 1831-43
Hengrave 98 Sir Thomas Gage, account with John Gage, 1816-17
Hengrave 97 J. Gage, ledger, 1819-37
Hengrave 100 John Gage, account with trustees of R.G. Rokewood, 1813-41

Sets of accounts detail the trading activities of the first Sir Thomas Kitson in London and the Low Countries. One MS lists the volume of goods in each ship employed by Kitson, 1512-39; another mixes trading and household accounts, 1529-41.

Hengrave 78/1-4 Mercers’ and trading accounts, early 16C
Hengrave 73 Certificate of inspection of cloth, Antwerp, 1536
Hengrave 82/4a List of goods shipped by Thomas Kytson, c.1530

Includes much original and transcript material on Suffolk history and topography collated or collected by Sir Thomas (7th bart) and his brother John in the early 19th century. It is an extraordinarily rich collection for the history of Suffolk and historiography of the early 19th century. Of particular note are the 14 volumes of correspondence (more than 2000 individual items) between John Gage and many antiquaries, heralds, naturalists, botanists, Roman Catholic historians, architects, librarians, and other individuals interested in history.

(See notes at end of this section for further details about the antiquarian records.)

Hengrave 1 History of Hengrave, interleaved copy. Written and collated by John Gage.
Hengrave 2-19 Bound volumes of collections of documents, arranged by hundreds.
Hengrave 20 Visitation of Suffolk by William Harvey, Clarenceux, 1561, 183 transcript
Hengrave 22 Suffolk church notes
Hengrave 28 Notes of churches, 2 vols
Hengrave 29 Suffolk notes, 2 vols
Hengrave 31 Expenses, receipts of William Hanbury in 1748 election
Hengrave 32 Note by John Gage relating to the Dalton pedigree, early 19C
Hengrave 33 Heraldic visitation of Shropshire, 1663-64
Hengrave 34 Description of Bury St. Edmunds, 3rd ed, 1782, interleaved, with MS notes
Hengrave 35 Another copy of Hengrave 34
Hengrave 36 Index to Valor of Norwich Diocese, 17C
Hengrave 37 Bishop Tanner’s collections for Suffolk, 19C
Hengrave 38 1561 Visitation of Suffolk, 19C
Hengrave 39 Sir R. Gipps, Antiquitates Suffolkienses, copied from original MS by Lady Mary Anne Gage, 1814
Hengrave 40 Another copy, different hand
Hengrave 41 Littleport churchwarden’s accounts, 1577-1613
Hengrave 43 Edmund Lodge, list of coins and medals
Hengrave 79 Remains of antiquity in the County of Suffolk – Thingoe and Thedwastre hundreds, 3 vols
Hengrave 21 Antiquarian correspondence of John Gage, 1815-42, 14 vols
[See separate index of correspondents and some subjects/places]
Hengrave 58 Notes on religion
Hengrave 69 Diary of a Catholic clergyman, tutor of Charles Jeremy Bond of Bury, 1731-43
Hengrave 70 Bostock of Chester pedigrees, 1634 – 18C
Hengrave 71 16C poems
Hengrave 72 Letters Patent of Oliver Cromwell, 1657
Hengrave 74 Grant of Rectory of Measham, Derbyshire, 1606
Hengrave 116 16C – 17C commonplace and legal notebooks

Rokewode family

Hengrave 76/2-4 Papers, Coldham, etc.; catalogue of Coldham books sold at auction, 19C
Hengrave 77 Coldham Hall music MSS, 17C

Antiquarian records
The collections and correspondence of the antiquarian brothers Sir Thomas Gage and John Gage (later Gage Rokewode), the latter of whom was President of the Society of Antiquaries is remarkable. Between them they formed great antiquarian collections for Suffolk, and John Gage maintained a large correspondence with many of the leading scholars and antiquaries of his day, including the Roman Catholic historians John Lingard and M.A. Tierney, letters from whom appear in Gage’s correspondence volumes, just as letters from Gage appear in Lingard’s and Tierney’s papers, (MSS Add.9417-9418). It is clear that large parts of the brothers’ collections for Suffolk, which are gathered together into 26 large and handsome leather-bound folios, are actually the Suffolk part of the collections of the great East Anglian antiquary Peter Le Neve (1661-1729). From Le Neve the Suffolk materials seem to have passed to his executor and eventual brother-in-law, the antiquary Thomas Martin (1697-1771), and after Martin’s death they were sold at auction. Their subsequent movements are unclear, but they seem to have been acquired by Sir Thomas Gage or John Gage early in the 19th century, and together with other materials collected by the brothers, they form a rich source for the various hundreds and parishes of Suffolk, as well as a valuable illustration of the history of antiquarian collecting in East Anglia. The four volumes illustrating the history of Hengrave contain a series of well-executed copies of family portraits by John Linnell (whose papers have been recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum). Other watercolours, of views and antiquities, are by the well-known artist John Buckler, more of whose material, as also that of Sir Jeffry Wyatville, appears in a portfolio of architectural drawings for the house and garden at Hengrave. Sir Thomas Gage was himself a proficient amateur draughtsman and watercolourist, and there are sketches on his visits to the Continent, especially Rome, which complement three volumes of his British antiquarian sketches, which were acquired by the Library in recent years (MSS Add.8813-8815). There are proficient volumes of watercolours by him of tulips, insects and butterflies. In addition to the cumulated collections of various antiquaries, the folios, and other parts of the archive, contain an impressive series of deeds ranging from medieval to early modern times. Some entered the collection as a result of the various family alliances of the Gages; others seem to have been acquired by John Gage. Other MSS add further to the antiquities of Suffolk, incorporating the antiquarian researches of other antiquaries, such as Thomas Tanner, Sir Richard Gipps and George Ashby. There are MSS of interest for particular places, such as a volume of election expenses for Hanbury, 1748, a volume on Bury St Edmunds, and churchwarden’s accounts for Littleport, 1580s. An interesting survival is a diary of a Roman Catholic clergyman who was tutor to the Gage family, 1731-43.


  • Creation: 1187-1914


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Information about the history and pedigree of the family written by John Gage in 1815 is available at the beginning of John Gage’s Some account of the parish and manor of Hengrave in the County of Suffolk: and memoirs of the Kytson family and their descendants proprietors of Hengrave [see the catalogue entry for Hengrave 88/1 for further details].

Kytson/Kitson family Hengrave Hall was built by Sir Thomas Kitson (1485-1540), a prominent merchant of his time, who traded extensively with Flanders, and an influential official of the City of London. Kitson bought Hengrave from the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, and built the large and impressive Hall between 1528 and 1540, most of which survives today. After the death of Sir Thomas’s son, also Sir Thomas Kitson (1540-1603), Hengrave passed through the female line to Penelope (d.1661), who married Sir John Gage of Firle Place, Sussex. Penelope settled Hengrave on her third son, Edward Gage (1626-1706), who was created Baronet in 1662. For the next 200 years Hengrave descended in the Gage family, until the death of Sir Edward Rokewode-Gage in 1872. Gage family The history of the Gage family can be traced back to the first Sir John Gage (fl. 1420-1475). His son, William of Firle (c. 1456-1496), was the father of Sir John Gage (1479-1556), vice-chamberlain to Henry VIII, 1528-1540. Sir John became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, constable of the Tower and comptroller of the household in 1540, and later served as lord chamberlain to Queen Mary. He was succeeded by his son Edward, K.B., whose son Thomas was father to Sir John Gage (1577-1633), who was created a baronet in 1622. The family acquired Hengrave Hall through the marriage of Sir John Gage, Bart, to Penelope, daughter of Thomas Darcy, Earl Rivers. Penelope was the great-granddaughter of Sir Thomas Kytson (1485-1540), who had purchased the Hengrave estate from the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, and carried out the construction of the manor-house between 1525 and 1538. Penelope settled Hengrave on her third son, Edward Gage (1626-1706), who inherited it on her death in 1661. Edward, who also served as sheriff of Sussex, was created a baronet in 1662. The Hengrave estate passed first to his son Sir William Gage (c. 1651-1727), and then to Sir Thomas Gage (c. 1710-1741), son and heir of Thomas Gage (d. 1716), a younger son of the 1st Baronet. In 1741 the estate was inherited by Sir William Gage (c. 1712-1767), the brother and heir of the 3rd Baronet. It then passed to Sir William's cousin and heir, Sir Thomas Rookwood Gage (c. 1720-1796), the son and heir of John Gage (d. 1728), the third son of the 2nd Baronet. Through his mother Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Rookwood, Sir Thomas also inherited Coldham Hall in Stanningfield, Suffolk. He was succeeded by his son Thomas (c. 1752-1798), whose son, also called Thomas (1781-1820), became the 7th Baronet. Sir Thomas did not inherit the Coldham Hall estate, which passed instead to Robert Joseph Gage, second son of the 6th Baronet, who took the additional name of Rookwood, and, in 1838, to Robert's younger brother, the antiquary John Gage (1786-1842), who changed his name to John Gage Rokewode. Sir Thomas Gage (1810-1866), son and successor of the 7th Baronet, inherited Coldham Hall from John Gage Rokewode in 1842, and took the name of Rokewode Gage by royal licence in 1843. He became sheriff of Suffolk in 1850. He was succeeded by his brother Sir Edward Gage (1812-1872), 9th Baronet, who changed his name to Edward Rokewode Gage by royal licence. Before becoming Baronet he had served as a major in the Scots Fusilier Guards. The baronetcy became extinct on the death of Sir Edward in 1872. Following the death of his widow Henrietta Mary, Lady Gage (1818-1887), second daughter of the Revd Lord Frederick Beauclerk, the Hengrave estate passed to the Earl of Kenmare.

Rookwood of Coldham Hall

The Kitson, Gage and Rookwood families were Catholics.


1 collection

Language of Materials



The original order of the records has been lost due to the sorting, selecting and rearrangement undertaken by the Gage brothers in the 19th century. The first few pages of one of the volumes of letters (Hengrave 88/1) describes how the archives were found in the belfry of the local church. There had been water ingress and many of the title deeds were “congealed” and unable to be read.

At times it is difficult to assess which records were created by the various estates and families, and those acquired for antiquarian purposes. Various series of records have been bound together in volumes, some of which are arranged by parish (mostly Suffolk). It is likely that many of these related to land owned by the estate but it is also possible that there are deeds relating to other land or property too. There are also several volumes and loose collections of correspondence that overlap by date and person, for which there is no clear reason.

Custodial History

Hengrave Hall and its contents were sold in 1897. The purchaser of the estate was Sir John Wood (1857-1951), 1st Baronet, MP, who, it seems, bought back many of the manuscripts in the Hengrave collection (though some, such as Hengrave 22, the literary and antiquarian correspondence of John Gage (1786-1842), were bought back by him subsequently). After Wood's death Hengrave Hall was sold, and the manuscripts became part of the property of Sir John Wood's Will Trust, administered by the Alliance Assurance Co., with Mrs. Shirley Donnelly, Sir John's granddaughter, as tenant-for-life.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited in Cambridge University Library by Sir John Wood’s Will Trust, circa 1951. In 1980 some literary manuscripts were transferred from Suffolk Record Office. After the death of Mrs. Shirley Donnelly, Sir John Wood's granddaughter, who had been administering his estate, the manuscripts were offered for sale to meet inheritance tax, and were purchased by the Library in 2003. In 2007 a volume of letters and autographs received or collected by Sir Thomas Rokwode-Gage, 8th Baronet, was bought and added to the collection as Hengrave 129.

Related Materials

In 1990 three volumes of antiquarian and topographical drawings by Sir Thomas Gage, 7th Baronet, part of a set of fifteen which were lot 1362 in the Hampton catalogue, were bought by the Library and given the classmarks MSS Add.8813-8815.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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