Skip to main content

Cholmondeley (Houghton) Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Ch (H)

Scope and Contents

The papers include a large collection of political papers collected by Sir Robert Walpole, first Prime Minister of Great Britain, during his long political career. Also included are working records of the estate office of Houghton Hall, Walpole’s family seat, papers of the Pell family, and collections relating to various generations of the Walpole family.

The larger part of Sir Robert's papers consist of reports, memoranda, and petitions. There are abstracts of all papers signed by the Lords of the Treasury, 1718-40, Walpole's own memoranda, and his notes for speeches. There is also extensive correspondence.

The large collection of estate papers cover a period of about 700 years, including manorial court records, rentals, extents and terriers, title deeds, accounts and legal documents, mostly relating to land in Norfolk. They provide information about everyday life through the administration of manors and estates owned by the the Walpoles, their predecessors and successors. A large number of manors are represented, including Bircham Newton, Bircham Tofts, Breckles, East Ruston, Grimston, Hickling and Stanhoe, Horning, Houghton Walpole, North Roughton, Sloley, Syderstone, West Winch, and Weybread and Isted. Coverage for most of the manors is patchy but the earliest court rolls date from the 1270s. The title deeds (dating from around 1200) and legal documents are uncatalogued but the manorial court rolls, terriers and accounts are accessible. There are also wage books and farm accounts from the 18th century, including details of stock. Although the title deeds and legal documents are uncatalogued, some items of interest have been identified, including the Act of Attainder for Edward Walpole, a recusant Catholic, dating from 1597 (Ch(H)/MiscDocs/Box 28b).

A particularly fascinating series is that containing the receipts, vouchers and details of expenses incurred by household and estate staff covering most of the 18th century. There seems to an account or receipt for almost every time money was spent on behalf of the household and estates. This section is extraordinarily wide ranging, including names of women drafted in to gather corn with details of what they were paid, signatures of housemaids receiving their wages, details of building tools and equipment, gamekeeper's expenses and housekeeper's accounts.


  • Creation: Circa 1600 - 1800



1 collection

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

There are hard copy handlists to various areas of the collection available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Marquess of Cholmondeley deposited the bulk of these papers in 1951, the collection subsequently being purchased by the Library.


For an introduction to the papers see G.A. Chinnery, A Handlist of the Cholmondeley (Houghton) Manuscripts: Sir Robert Walpole's Archive, Cambridge, 1953.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom