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Vanneck of Heveningham papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Vanneck

Scope and Contents

A substantial number of the records within the collection concern the administration of the various estates and manors before their purchase by Vanneck. There are lengthy series of medieval court records for the manors of Aldham, Cratfield, Huntingfield, Laxfield, and Leiston Abbey, dating from the 13th century. A few medieval account rolls, rentals and surveys also survive. There is a volume for a Court of “Hethwarmot” (c1504-1518), which dealt with matters relating to right of wreck, ie goods found at sea and luxury fish such as porpoises and sturgeon.

Around 150 title deeds, mainly relating to the manorial holdings, survive from the late 12th century to the mid-16th century. Further records relating to some of these manors are held at Suffolk Record Office.

The collection includes extensive records relating to estate administration and husbandry from the 19th century up to the middle of the 20th century. There are numerous series of accounts recording wages and day-to-day expenses of working estates. Livestock is recorded in herd books. The collection of estate maps and plans is substantial, with most dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. There is one from 1635.

There are 8 bundles of political papers relating to the pocket borough of Dunwich, which was held by members of the Vanneck family.

There is only a small amount of personal papers, most notable of which are letters between Anne Bedingfield and the Paston family in relation to a proposed marriage between their children, dating from 1578 to 1580.

The best known section of this collection consists of papers of the Arcedeckne family of Glevering Hall, Suffolk, relating to their estates in Suffolk and Jamaica, c.1744-1848. Charles Andrew Vanneck, third Baron Huntingfield, married Louisa, only daughter of Andrew Arcedeckne, in 1839. There are direct references in these records to enslaved people and slavery. Some of the letters in this section of the collection were published on Southampton University's Slavery and Revolution website.


  • Creation: 1180-1942 (1180 is an approximation for 'late 12C deeds')


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

This collection is made up of records of various manors, estates and property accumulated by the Vanneck family in the 18th and 19th centuries. The bulk of the estates were united in the late 18th century by Sir Joshua Vanneck, who made major purchases of land in Suffolk from 1752. The marriage of his grandson to Louisa Arcedeckne in 1839 eventually brought in estates in Jamaica. The Suffolk lands had been purchased or occupied by many successive families, including the Earls of Oxford, Dukes of Suffolk, Bedingfield and Paston families, Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice (1552-1634), and the Bence family. Edward Coke was responsible for bringing several of the manors together in the early 16th century.

Vanneck, his brother Gerard and son Joshua, rebuilt Heveningham Hall following its purchase in 1752. In 1781-3 the grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown and the Hall became the main family seat.

Sir Joshua Vanneck (van Neck) (1702-1777) was a Dutch merchant and financier based mainly in London. He became extremely wealthy, allowing him to purchase Heveningham and undertake extensive building and landscaping work. Among other activities, Vanneck and his brother Gerard traded in Virginian tobacco, which would have been produced by slave labour. One of his closest business partners was Thomas Walpole (1727-1803), who later held the contract for supplying the French tobacco monopoly. Walpole owned a number of plantations in the West Indies and is known to be a slave owner. He married Vanneck’s daughter, Elizabeth.

Vanneck is known to have had financial and business connections to Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of Plessey (“Clive of India”).

Two of Vanneck’s descendants married into the Arcdeckne family, who were slave owners and whose money came mainly from their property in Jamaica.

Joshua Vanneck (1745-1816), in his role as an MP, voted against the abolition of the slave trade in 1796.


1 collection

Language of Materials



The collection has been arranged in an idiosyncratic manner with only a basic attempt to create a structure. Items are described by box and volume number. There are manorial records mixed in with the title deeds and there is quite a lot of overlap generally.

Custodial History

The papers listed here were kept at Heveningham Hall, near Halesworth, Suffolk. It is likely that records from the other properties acquired by the Vannecks were at some point transferred to Heveningham after it was acquired by Sir Joshua Vanneck in 1752. Louisa Vanneck, nee Arcedeckne, was the heir to her brother Andrew and it might be that the Arcedeckne records were transferred to Heveningham after his death in 1871 or when Glevering Hall was sold in 1898. Heveringham Hall remained in the possession of the Vanneck family until 1970 when it was purchased by the Government. The collection was deposited on indefinite loan in Cambridge University Library by the Trustees of the Heveningham Hall Settlement in the summer of 1973. They were purchased by the library in March 2004.

The catalogue was revised in 1999 and in some cases expanded, with the Vanneck papers being arranged as boxes and volumes. The Arcedeckne papers were rearranged and given a new classification. The estate papers, in particular the title deeds, have not been listed in detail and there are only basic box descriptions for many of them.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers listed here were formerly kept at Heveningham Hall, near Halesworth, Suffolk. They were deposited on indefinite loan in Cambridge University Library by the Trustees of the Heveningham Hall Settlement in the summer of 1973. The Vanneck Papers were purchased by the Library in March 2004.

Related Materials

CUL MS Add.8708-8712 Correspondence of Thomas Walpole, 1744-1796

British Library correspondence between Joshua Van Neck and others

Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 11th May 2022: This catalogue was revised by Sally Kent as part of the 'Democratising Description' pilot project to review the use of historic language in catalogue descriptions. The collection level description (fonds level) has been expanded to provide further detail on the contents and subject matter of the papers. The sub-section of papers relating to the Arcedeckne family has been revised to make explicit reference to the family's involvement in enslavement, and the administration and economic exploitation of Jamaica.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom