The Wyndham Archive

About the Wyndham family

The Wyndham family settled in Somerset in 1520 following marriage to the Sydenhams of Orchard Sydenham (later called Orchard Wyndham).  John Wyndham, the first to settle, served at the French Court in the retinue of Mary, sister of Henry VIII and Queen of France.  His descendants strengthened their Somerset links through marriages and served in offices of national importance, including in 57 of the 101 Parliaments between 1439 and 1913.  Sir William Wyndham the 3rd baronet (1688–1740) held the offices of Master of the Queen’s Hart and Buckhounds, Secretary for War, Chancellor, Under–Treasurer of the Exchequer and Privy Councillor.

 

In 1750 Charles Wyndham became Earl of Egremont and Baron Cockermouth (titles inherited from his uncle the Duke of Somerset) and gained estates throughout England, including Petworth House, West Sussex.  By 1873 the Wyndhams owned 11,231 acres in Somerset and 12,700 acres in Devon and Wiltshire.  In 1876 the estates passed to William Wyndham of Dinton, Wiltshire.  Following his death in 1914 his son William made his home in Somerset and championed the county’s history.  He funded a major extension to the County Museum (now the Museum of Somerset).

About the Wyndham collection

The Wyndham archive was allocated permanently to the county through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme in 2013 and is of outstanding significance for the history of the West Country. The collection can be divided into four main categories:

 

  • Estate records detailing Wyndham properties in West Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire, including deeds, surveys, correspondence, accounts and maps.

 

  • Manorial records for nineteen Somerset manors for the 16th to 20th centuries, including court books, rentals, surveys, lists of tenants and accounts, with substantial additional papers for manors in Devon and Wiltshire.

 

  • Papers of West Country interest, such as plans, letters and portreeve’s accounts for Watchet Harbour, correspondence concerning the sea wall and foreshore rights at Brean and Brean Down Harbour, the lease of Watchet Paper Mill, the Williton Fire Engine and the Ilton Almshouses.

 

  • Correspondence of members of the Wyndham family, including letters of William Frederick Wyndham, English Ambassador to Tuscany at the end of the 18th century; the letters of George Wyndham, 4th Earl of Egremont, concerning his art collection; and of John Wyndham, Assistant District Commissioner in Nigeria during the First World War.