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Buxton papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Buxton

Scope and Contents

The Buxton Papers, 131 boxes and miscellaneous individual items, consists of about 11,600 documents dating from around 1160 to 1926. The principal interest of the collection lies in the light it sheds, across many centuries, on local East Anglian society and on the interaction of the county of Norfolk with national affairs. The range of the material is considerable, opening up a wide range of potential research avenues. There are some 1200 deeds and charters, half of which date from c. 1160 to 1500. Many of the earlier deeds relate to lands in Tibenham, Bunwell, Thetford Priory and Earsham, but the vast majority concern lands in Rushford and Shadwell and are relevant to the foundation of Rushford College in 1342 and its subsequent history. There is an extensive collection of estate records; the records for Buxton properties in Tibenham and Rushford/Shadwell are the most extensive. There are remarkably complete runs of court rolls and court books between 1327 and 1692 for the manors in Bunwell, Carleton Rode and Tibenham, including Channons. The great mass of copies of court rolls, court extracts, bailiffs' accounts, rentals, extents, terriers, abbuttals, surveys, farm books and related material, extend from the fourteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century, providing a comprehensive source for local and social historians, as well as for the history of land ownership and land management in Norfolk over a period of some 600 years. Most generations of the Buxton family have left account books of personal and domestic expenses, revealing details of their lifestyles, interests and cultural tastes. Worthy of particular mention are the accounts of two different John Buxtons (for 1627-31/1653-4 and 1737-65 respectively), and a fairly complete run of housekeeping accounts for Shadwell between 1725 and 1823. Other interesting material includes accounts of school and college expenses (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries); journals and diaries recording travels by Buxtons in England or on the Continent, for example the diary of John Buxton who died at Orléans in 1682, part of young Elizabeth Cholmeley's 'Journal of a season in town' (1825) or the descriptions of yacht cruises in the Mediterranean and the English Channel (1852-5); an early manuscript booklet (1588) and several loose papers (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) containing recipes for medical, veterinary and horticultural treatments; a report of a séance (1866); and school exercises and notes compiled in the pursuit of university studies (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). The Buxtons' involvement in the political, administrative, legal and military affairs of their county is witnessed by numerous documents, relating to the office of High Sheriff, the collection of ship money, tax assessments for the raising of arms and troops, musters for the Navy or the Norfolk militia, prison accounts, initiatives against poaching, and election campaigns. There also remain interesting collections of papers dealing with criminal cases (magistrates' business) from times when Buxtons acted as Justices of the Peace (mainly late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). Over 3000 letters (1519-1926) are preserved among the Buxton Papers. Most of these are of a private nature, conveying personal messages or dealing with every-day concerns, family affairs, estate matters, illnesses, life at school or university, books, the planting of trees, communicating or commenting on local, national or international affairs. Such letters afford intriguing glimpses into the private lives of the writers, their lifestyles, their concerns and expectations. Full catalogues of the collection are available in the Manuscripts Reading Room of the Library. There are separate lists of deeds and letters, which are indexed. For further information see


  • Creation: 1160-1926


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 (


1 collection

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

There is a detailed downloadable catalogue available on the Archives and Modern Manuscripts departmental webpages at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Buxton Papers, the family archive of the Buxtons of Channons near Tibenham and later of Shadwell, three miles east of Thetford, were presented by Maud Buxton to the University Library in 1901, following the sale of Shadwell Court. Additional papers were presented by her and Augustus Jessopp between 1908 and 1926, and one box of material was transferred from the Wiltshire Archaeological Society in 1966.

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Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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