- nd [late 13th century]-1822 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
335 volumes, bundles, files, parchments and papers listed at piece or item level
Name of creator
In Norfolk, from 1766 to 1822. The Petres rose to national significance under the Tudors, and over the course of the next two centuries, established large country estates in and around Ingatestone, Essex, Axminster, Devon and around Thetford in Norfolk. Related by marriage to the Howards, the Lords Petre inherited many of the latter's south Norfolk and Thetford estates, to which, in the later eighteenth century, they added many adjoining estates by purchase, thereby becoming one of Norfolk's leading Roman Catholic families. The Petre's Norfolk home at Buckenham Parva incorporated a private chapel, to which, no doubt, many of the family's retainers resorted, especially so since the ancient parish church there had long been disused and its remains incorporated into the Hall's pleasure gardens.
Despite the family's adherence to Roman Catholicism, the tenth baron, Robert Edward Petre (1763-1809) nursed political ambitions via his patronage over the then notoriously rotten borough of Thetford in the first few years of the nineteenth century. Ultimately, however, he was out-manouvred in Thetford by his local rival, the Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall, just across the Suffolk border, and his influence eclipsed. Subsequently, Petre seems to have lost interest in his Norfolk estates, and after his death in 1809, his son, the eleventh baron, William Henry Francis, continued the process of disengagement from Norfolk.. Eventually, in 1816, and after obtaining a common recovery so as to bar the entail on the manor, Petre sold the Manor of Ickburgh, and also the Langford, Stanford and Thetford estates. Finally, in 1821/2, the remainder of his Norfolk properties (over 11,000 acres in all) were sold to the financier, Alexander Baring, later Lord Ashburton, for £142,000, thereby effectively ending Petre's interests in this county.
The archive was previously known, in the NRO, as (Petre) NCC.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
The documents listed under PTR were not passed to the new owner of the Norfolk estates in 1822, but were kept in the archive of the Petre family at Ingatestone, Essex. Eventually, they, along with the rest of the family archive, were passed to the newly established Essex Record Office in the late 1930s (the early premises of the Essex Record Office were at Ingatestone Hall). At an unknown subsequent date, but prior to the establishment of the Norfolk and Norwich Record Office in 1963, the Essex Record Office transferred the Norfolk portions of the Petre archive to the Norfolk County Council. These then formed part of the Norfolk and Norwich Record Office's initial holdings, and were inherited by the Norfolk Record Office in 1974. Catalogue completed May 2011 (TT).
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Title deeds (many medieval), manorial, estate and other papers resulting from the acquisition of Norfolk and Suffolk estates by the ninth Baron of Writtle (Essex), Robert Edward Petre (1742-1801). He acquired the Buckenham Parva, Thetford and Croxton estates in 1767 via his wife, Anne, the daughter and co-heir of Philip Howard (brother of the ninth Duke of Norfolk) and also heir of her brother, Edward Howard, then deceased. Estates in and around Kenninghall in south Norfolk were also acquired in this way, but were, in 1771, sold back to the Howards.
The Dairy Farm estates in Langford and Stanford were purchased from Craven Ord in 1781, although Petre could barely afford the purchase price of £3,500. The purchase was only achieved with the aid of a mortgage loan of £2,000, secured on the Norwich, Croxton and Abbey Farms in Thetford, and with the further loan of £1,500 from the vendor, Craven Ord, on the security of the Dairy Farm itself. It was not until 1801 that the resulting debts were fully redeemed.
Two years later, in 1783, Bridgit Southcote, widow of Phillip Southcote, died, leaving Lord Petre both the executor of her will and its main beneficiary. In it, she devised to him her estates in Ashill, Houghton on the Hill, Pudding Norton and North Pickenham in Norfolk and also the Manor of Hildersham in south Cambridgeshire. The Pudding Norton estate, though entailed, was sold in 1805 and the proceeds used to purchase estates in Shenfield and elsewhere in Essex, adjacent to the Petre Family's existing holdings there.
In 1785, Petre purchased further estates in Langford, and, in 1797/8, consolidated his holdings in south-west Norfolk by purchasing estates, once the property of the Garrard Family, from George Nelthorpe Esq. in the adjoining parish of Ickburgh, alias Ickborough.
The tenth baron, also Robert Edward (1763-1809) nursed political ambitions via his patronage over the then notoriously rotten borough of Thetford in the first few years of the nineteenth century. Ultimately, however, he was out-manouvred in Thetford by his local rival, the Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall, just across the Suffolk border, and his influence eclipsed. Subsequently, Petre seems to have lost interest in his Norfolk estates, and after his death in 1809, his son, the eleventh baron, William Henry Francis, continued the process of disengagement from Norfolk.. Eventually, in 1816-17, a common recovery was suffered so as to bar the entail on the Manor of Ickburgh, thereby enabling the sale of that estate. In 1821/2, the remainder of his Norfolk properties (over 11,000 acres in all) were sold to the financier, Alexander Baring, for £142,000, thereby ending Petre's interests in the county.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Title Deeds and related papers - PTR 1/1-179
Please note that in the case of files entirely consisting of medieval deeds, each deed is described individually.
Manorial records - PTR 2/1-36
Estate records - PTR 3/1-55
Legal records - PTR 4/1-13
Family, Official and Ecclesiatical records - PTR 5/1-10
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