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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/0262

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1542-1815

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 31.31 linear metres (317 documents).

Name of creator(s): Wood | family | of Littleton


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Wood family settled at Littleton in Middlesex c 1663 and remained there until 1873/4, when the original mansion (built by Edward Wood 1663-5) was largely burnt down and Thomas Wood built a new one at Gwernyfed, Brecon, Wales. The present mansion was partially rebuilt on the same site by Richard Burbidge, who purchased the property from the Wood family.

A manuscript Pedigree Book of the Wood family was drawn up in the nineteenth century and this traces the family back to the fifteenth century, when they were living in Fulbourne, Cambridgeshire. Sir John Wood (1536-1633) sold the family estates in Fulbourne and settled in Beeston, Yorkshire, while his brother Nicholas settled in Norfolk.

The material catalogued in this collection relates to the Norfolk branch of the family, and in particular to Nicholas' son, Edward Wood, (c 1604-1667), Edward's son, Thomas Wood (1641-1723), and Thomas' family. Edward Wood was born in Suffolk c 1604 (Will: PCC.Carr 83) and came to London some time before 1634 when the Burial Register of St. Dunstan's in the East has an entry for an unbaptised child of his.

From 1636 onwards there is a steady flow of entries for the baptisms and burials of his children, Susanna, Edward, John, Nicholas and Thomas. Of these, only Thomas survived infancy. Further evidence of Edward's early years in London is sparse. According to The Inhabitants of London in 1638 (an edition of MS 272 at Lambeth Palace Library), he was living in Thames Street in 1638. Then there have survived among the family papers two account sheets for money collected by Edward Wood for Fairfax's army 1647- 9 in the St. Dunstan's in the East and Billingsgate area. In 1657 he was an Alderman for Billingsgate Ward, and he was on the Committee of the East India Company 1655-7 (Beaven: The Alderman of London).

In his will, dated 1658, Edward describes himself as Citizen and Grocer of London (PCC.CARR 83). It seems probable that Edward Wood's London residence was the house in Thames Street, later occupied by his business partners and agents, John Pack and Joseph Stapley. He was certainly familiar with the house in 1663, and still stayed there on his visits to London. In a letter dated 5th September, 1665, instructing Pack to shut up the house and flee from the plague he wrote, "remove my two trunkes, the one goinge into my chamber and the other by my beds side. In my Closet are the Keyes of all the Chests. In the Cyprus chest in my Chamber is a Long Guilt Cupp." (262/43/58).

Many of the surviving letters sent by Edward Wood to John Pack are endorsed with an address. The earliest, dated 4th September, 1663, has "For Mr John Pack, these, in Thames St." Another, dated 18th October, 1663, gives more information: "For Mr John Pack at the Signe of the Shipp over against beare key in Thames St." (262/43/7), and on a letter dated 26th October: "For Mr John Pack at the signe of the shipp in Thames (sic) neere the Costome house." (262/43/8). It might be supposed that Pack merely collected the letters from the Ship Inn and did not necessarily live close at hand. However, some Assessments at the LMA clearly show that the house was in Tower Ward in "Bear Key Precinct", off Thames Street. In the 1663 subsidy list there is the name of Edward Wood alone. In the 1663/4 Militia Tax there are the names of Edward Wood, Joseph (sic) Pack and Joseph "Stapli", bracketed together as "Partners". In the 1671 subsidy the names of John Pack and Joseph Stapley appear alone.

The latest reference to the house before the Fire of London in October, 1666, is in a letter dated 22nd March, 1665/6 where the endorsement reads..."over against Bare Key neere the Custom House" (262/43/104). Unfortunately there is a long gap in the correspondence at this point, and the first reference to the house after the fire is the 1671 subsidy as above.

The house must have been rebuilt, since the whole of that area of Thames Street was destroyed, but it was obviously rebuilt on the same site. Later references to the house indicate that the Inn was also rebuilt but was renamed as the Cross Keys (September 18th, 1684) or the Porter and Key (March 31st, 1689). In his will, dated 10th January, 1695/6, John Pack bequeathed to Thomas Wood "all my terme and interest in those two messuages or houses situate and being in Thame Street in the said parish of St. Dunstan's in the East, and all my right and title in and to the same being three and twenty years yett to come." (PCC Bond 238). Edward Wood was still living in London in December 1659, since in the negotiations with Nicholas Townley the elder for the purchase of property called "Ipwells" in Littleton he was doubtful about a clause leasing back the house to Townley for four years, saying, "for anything I know, may be forced to hyer a house my selfe for have thoughts of leaving London" (262/43/17). He was still in London in April, 1662 when a bond includes a clause for the repayment of the loan to Edward "att his now dwelling house in Thames Street in London" (262/43/113). In all the surviving deeds of his earliest purchases in Littleton and Laleham his name appears as "Edward Wood of London" from 1660 until as late as April 1664. (928/15/2,4,& 5; 262/34/30).

The earliest reference to Edward Wood actually living in the Littleton area is a Gamekeeper's Licence dated 2nd May, 1663. The first surviving letter written from Edward Wood at Littleton to John Pack is dated 4th September, 1663 (262/43/1). This is in fact the beginning of a good series of letters. Between 4th September, 1663 and 26th March, 1665/6 a total of 112 letters sent by Edward Wood to Pack have survived. (262/43/1-105; 262/35/22-24). There are also two letters within this period sent by Edward's son, Thomas Wood, to John Pack, dated October 12th, 1663 and 10th July, 1665. A further two letters sent by John Pack to Edward Wood have survived dated 28th June, 1666 and 15th June, 1665. All these letters were between Littleton and London, and concerned both business matters in London and domestic requirements at Littleton. They were often conveyed by John Loton's barge. The correspondence was apparently quite regular and it seems that both Edward Wood and John Pack sent two letters each per week.

In 1665, when this was disrupted by the plague, Edward wrote that two of his letters had been returned although he had received Pack's "Tuesday letter" and "Frydayes letter" (262/43/47). Pack frequently sent domestic goods down to Littleton by John Loton and on occasion quite valuable pieces of plate, sums of cash, etc. On at least one occasion, one of Edward's sisters travelled down to Littleton by Loton's barge (262/43/39). It is clear from the letters that Edward Wood was engaged in building at Littleton during the period approximately October, 1663 to June, 1665. In a letter dated 3rd December he specifically mentioned that he was building (262/43/12), and his other letters include orders for building materials such as timber, nails, pantiles, lime, etc. On 28th March, 1664 he requests "scaffolding ropes" (262/43/32 & 3) and on 29th December, 1663 instructs Pack to pay the Wharfinger of Bear Key 5 "for the plummer for work donn at Litleton." (262/43/16). On 14th April, 1664 he asks Pack to enquire "the honest price of Slit deales such as ar fitt to board the out side of a stable or barne." (262/43/34). In May, 1665 he asks Pack to send down the Glazier and Joiner "for I would fayne have my house finished". (262/43/38). He obviously felt bound to supervise the building himself and gave this as his reason for not coming up to London in June, 1665 (262/34/21). In another letter in the same month he writes, "I have men and women at worke three or four and twenty at least", and requests some Suffolk cheese "for breakfast meale for my workmen". (262/43/41). As late as November, 1665 Wood mentions in a letter to Robert Dicer that his house is "a ruinous place in respect of the times that I could not finish nor furnish it". (262/34/134).

In addition to this information derived from Edward's letters to John Pack there have survived depositions by Aron Dies of Clerkenwell, Bricklayer, and Thomas Laurence of St. Brides, London, Labourer, that they were employed by Edward Wood in bricklaying work at Littleton and Laleham from the beginning of August to the end of October, 1663. (262/34/28). There has also survived an Award, dated 1st May, 1661 by which Edward Wood agreed to pay quitrents on his property in Littleton, and in return was allowed by Gilbert Lambell, the Lord of the Manor, "soe much brick earth upon that part of the common of may make five hundred thousand of bricks", and the right to have a kiln there. (262/34/5 and 928/9/1). These bricks may well have been used to build Edward Wood's mansion at Littleton. It was apparently quite a large house. There are several later references to it as a "mansion" and the 1664 Hearth Tax for Littleton shows that Edward Wood was assessed for sixteen fire hearths.

It seems, therefore, that Edward Wood moved down to Littleton during 1663, possibly as early as August, but certainly by the beginning of September. There he built a large new mansion for himself and his family. It is tempting to think that the first letters that have survived from Edward Wood to John Pack were in fact the first letters sent, and were occasioned by Edward's removal from London.

Edward apparently started to farm his land at Littleton immediately on arrival. In one of the first letters to Pack that have survived, dated 14th October, 1663 he asks him to get "a brand to marke sheepe E.W. (262/43/1), and on 28th October, enough iron to "shoe a payre of Cart Wheeles." (262/43/4). On 2nd November he requested "20 fathum of white rope of this size of the straw in the letter, for plowraces." (262/43/5). Orders for oats and "pease" are a recurrent item in the letters, and were used for fodder for cattle. On 29th February, 1663/4 Edward requested "50 or 60 cash "as I have much business here as cowes, horses, and seeds, barley and teares to buy besids my building." (262/43/27). In March, 1663/4 he says "my sowing of pease and tares is soe that I cannot be absent." (262/43/29). In the following summer he asked Pack to send down 10 cash to pay the harvest men (262/43/48).

Edward Wood, Citizen and Merchant of London had apparently decided to become a gentleman farmer. He still retained, however, his business connections in London. Probably between 1660 and 1663 he came to some arrangement with John Pack and Joseph Stapley that they should occupy his London house after he left for Littleton, and should act as his partners and agents in London. In his will, written in January, 1658/9, Edward describes John Pack as "my late servant" (i.e. former servant) and appoints him as one of his executors. Probably Pack was already an occupant of the house in Thames Street at the date that Edward moved to Littleton, and simply took over the management of all Edward Wood's affairs in London. There are several references in the letters to "the partable account" which was the joint account of John Pack, Joseph Stapley and Edward Wood.

In a letter dated 8th February, 1663/4 Edward writes with regard to a loan to a Dr. Turner, "if you and Joseph thinke fitt to let him have it out of the partable account I am contented to adventure my halfe part." (262/43/24). From this it seems that Edward had a half share, and Pack and Stapley a quarter share each in the account. In another letter dated 7th August, 1665 he suggested that the penalty clause in an indenture should be "double what our Stock is, which you and Joseph knowes best what it is, which I leave to you to put in the wrightinge." (262/43/52). Edward Wood also had an account of his own, which was kept at London in the care of John Pack.

In a letter dated 5th September, 1665 he urged Pack to shut up the house and flee the plague. Among his other instructions he wrote, "pray putt upp all my wrightings in my closett and all them in your closett below and all my bookes and the bookes which belong to the partable account into a sack and seale them upp and leave them at my Cozen alsoe. As for what moneys you have in the house which concern the partable account I pray dispose of it as you shall thinke fitt." (262/43/58) It is difficult to tell from the letters what was the purpose of the joint account. Loans and mortgages to friends and acquaintances both from the joint account and Wood's own account seem to have been very frequent, but a remark in one of Edward Wood's letters suggests that this was not regarded as desirable. Concerning Nicholas Townley he said, "I thinke I shall never be quitt of hime and others for borrowing money." (262/43/38). He must have profited considerably from the loans he made, however, since he charged high interest rates. On one occasion at least he charged 6% interest on a bond for repayment in twelve months. (262/43/88). There are also clear indications that some of the capital was invested, as for example, with the East India Company. (262/43/54 and 61). It seems also that the three partners may well have been concerned in some sort of rope business. The house in Thames Street was either attached to or very near a warehouse and shop.

In September, 1665 Edward Wood advised Pack to "keepe the shopp dores shutt" and "tis better to loose the warehouse rent than to hazard your health." (262/43/63). In August 1665 Edward refers to "the spinning upp the hempe at ould Gravell Lane" and suggests that for safety's sake Pack should lock it up together with the yarn. (262/43/52). There is also a reference to "our workemen" (262/43/52). Other evidence is supplied by a letter from J.S. (Joseph Stapley) to Henry Leigh of Boston with regard to a shipment of "Marline" or double stranded rope, and another letter from William Greene dated 24th August, 1665. Finally, an undated letter from Mr Dingley to Thomas Wood is endorsed, "To be left at Mr Pack's a rope shop."

Edward Wood died in March, 1666/7 and was buried at St. Dunstan's in the East on March 20 th. (Parish Register). Among the family papers has survived a printed invitation to the funeral: "by Eight or Nine of the Clock in the Morning, by reason that the Corps is to be carried to London that day". There is also a list of 102 names, written in John Pack's handwriting, headed, "The names of those that are to be invited to the funerall on 20th March, 1666." This is endorsed with a further list of twenty-three names headed, "Ringes to be provided for the persons hereunder mentioned." This list includes both John Pack and Joseph Stapley. It seems surprising that Edward Wood was buried in London at St. Dunstan's, when this church had been partly destroyed by the Fire of London, and when Edward's last years had been devoted to building a new mansion in the country and acquiring land in that area. In his will, however, he shows that his main motive was a desire to be buried with his wife who had died in 1652. He left 50 to the poor of the parish of St Dunstan's provided "that I may have at an indifferent vallue the same vault for a burying place for my selfe and family where my late deceased wife lyeth interred." He mentions elsewhere that this was "the new vault in the South Chappell" but it is important to note that this will was drawn up in 1658, before the Fire.

The relationship between John Pack and Edward Wood is difficult to assess. Edward's letters are definitely businesslike in character and usually consist almost entirely of orders for goods to be sent and errands to be done. Pack may have been a "partner" but to Edward he was still the former servant, as he described him in his will of 1658. On the other hand, Pack was obviously trusted completely by Wood. All his money and deeds were kept in chests in the London house, and probably also the "plate and jewells" mentioned in his will. One definitely gets the impression from the letters that Edward Wood was a rather hard man, close-fisted and dominated by the profit motive. In his letters to Pack no small detail of weight or price is too trivial for his attention. Every penny is accounted for; every half per cent interest a matter of vital concern. His loans to friends were never made purely out of the goodness of his heart. He charged his cousin William Bowyer, for example, an interest rate of 5%. Charity was given to the poor, but only moderately. At the height of the plague in 1663 he instructed Pack to relieve the workmen, giving 2/6d., 2/- or 1/6d. each, and later he told Pack to give 5 to the parish of St. Dunstan's. (262/43/60 and 66). This seems to have been the sum total of his charity during the plague, and compared with these sums it is interesting to note that Edward purchased property in Littleton in 1660 for 6,800, and property in Middleham, Yorkshire, in 1661 for 7,500. During the plague too, he expressed fears for Pack's health and safety on many occasions, but still asked him to get various commodities to be sent down to Littleton; for example, on 14th August, 1665, tobacco "if these houses be clere" (262/43/53) and vinegar and candles on 21st September (262/43/62). He invited Pack and Stapley to stay over Christmas 1665, but made it clear that both should not come at once . . . "I shal be glad to see you here, one of you may come and stay one weeke, an d Joseph another." (262/43/80). This was presumably so that the shop need not be closed. On another occasion Edward commented on the death of a friend, William Chambers "whoe it hath pleased God to call out of this world so soone after he had setled his business." (8th Jan. 1665/6. 262/43/85). Edward was a merchant, heart and soul. One can only admire John Pack for his accuracy and efficiency to please such a demanding partner.

Thomas Wood, Edward's son, seems to have been on closer terms with Pack. In a letter dated 10th July, 1665, Thomas agreed to be his Executor but said "at the Reading of thy letter and writeing to the now my tears stand in my eyes." Thomas also asked Pack to stand as Godfather to his son, born in 1683 (April 30th). In his reply Pack wrote: "were it onely your request I should not deny it you, therefore for want or in stead of a better I shall, God permittinge, stand a wittenes to answer for your younge sonne, be it of what name so ever that you please to give him." This reply seems again to be that of a servant rather than an equal, and this is underlined by Pack's own note, added to an Account Sheet, August 1683, sent to Thomas Wood: "This first Account sent to my Master." John Pack remains a rather elusive figure. In the 1695 Marriage Assessment he was listed as a Bachelor with more than 600. He died in January, 1695/6 and in his will described himself as Citizen and Skinner of London. His body, he said, was to be "decently but privately buried in the vault in the churchyard in the parish of St. Dunstan's in the East . . . adjoining to the South side . . . where my late deceased freind Mr Joseph Stapley was buryed." (PCC. Bond 238). He left substantial bequests to Thomas Wood himself, including property in Wetheringsett cum Brockford in Suffolk; and his stock with the East India Company. He also left a total of 370 to Thomas Wood's children. The most interesting feature of his will, however, is the reference to another John Pack and his children. No clue is given as to relationships.

John Pack of London left property in Mickfield, Suffolk, to his kinsman, Thomas Watts, with the provise that he pay an annuity of 16 to Elias Cooper of Hingham, Norfolk "or to such other person or persons as shall have the Guardianshipp or tuition of the two youngest children, (being a son and a daughter) of John Pack late of Marche Ganger deceased, during their minority", and also of the two eldest children of "John Pack late Ganger deceased." He also bequeathed a moiety of all the money owed to him from Sir Robert Viner and Edward Backwell to Thomas Wood, provided he pay the other half "to and amongst my Relations as the said Thomas Wood the Elder shall think stand most in need thereof." Thomas was also the sole Executor of the will. This was clearly no light task. Among the family papers there is a receipt dated March 5th, 1714/15 for 10 paid by Thomas Wood to Francis Pack "being part of the money left by Mr John Pack's will to be distributed to his poor relations."

There is also a rather pathetic letter from Elias Cooper to Thomas Wood dated February 8th, 1702/3, concerning the legacy due to Thomas Pack, son of John Pack the Younger, deceased. Elias said, "but how I shall come in for my owne money that I disboursed for these children when nobody would doe for them in their Minority I know not." In addition, as late as January, 1720/21 there is an entry in an Account Sheet sent to Thomas Wood "Paid your order to the three Packs...10." (262/43/147). It is interesting to note that John Pack held land in Suffolk. Is it mere coincidence that Edward Wood was himself born in Suffolk, and that both Edward Wood's and John Pack's families seem to have been living in Norfolk at the beginning of the seventeenth century? There is also an Apprenticeship Indenture dated 1st June, 1632 among the Littleton Park Records (928/29/4) for the apprenticeship of a John Pack, son of Thomas Pack of Ockwood, Suffolk, Gent., to Thomas Frere, Citizen and Skinner of London. The date of this seems very early, since John Pack, Wood's agent, did not die until 1695. However, he described himself in his will as a skinner and he certainly held land in Suffolk at that date, so that it seems that this indenture may well refer to John Pack, Wood's agent.

The other occupant of the house in Thames Street was Joseph Stapley, who appears in the Assessments of 1663/4, 1671 and 1673/4. He died in July, 1685 and was buried at St. Dunstan's in the East. His will has been preserved (262/44/20) and in this he describes himself as Citizen and Ironmonger of London. He appointed his "trusty and well beloved friends", Thomas Wood and Daniel Proctor, as his Executors and bequeathed to each of them 40. Other bequests included 50 to each of his cousins, Tomson Stapley and Jane Stapley, who figure prominently in the Littleton Park Records (Acc/0928/22 - 24). To John Pack he left 10. It seems from the letters that probably two of Edward's elderly sisters lived near or with Pack and Stapley in London. In a letter dated 4th February, 1663/4 Edward writes, "I understand that my sister Ann is a trouble to the house with her base and scurrulus language, pray tell her from me that if she doe not behave herselfe better I will with-draw my hand and allow her nothing." (262/43/22). In the letter dated September, 1665 Wood invites "all three of you" to escape the plague, so presumably this includes Ann. (262/43/58). Edward's sister Katherine was living with a Cousin, Robert Thurkettle, at the time Edward wrote his will in 1658. Presumably this was fairly close at hand since both Edward and Thomas commission Pack with messages for her. For example, in March, 1665/6 Pack was to ask her to knit a pair of fine hose for her brother. (262/43/102). Both sisters are among the persons listed to receive memorial rings in 1666/7. It is also interesting to note that Joseph Stapley in his will, dated 1685, left 50 to Mrs Katherine Smith, widow. (262/44/20). Possibly Ann was already dead or living permanently at Littleton by this date.

The family letters and papers also reveal much of Thomas Wood, son of Edward Wood. In 1663 when he first appears in the letters, he was only aged twenty-one, and in fact his father made provision for his minority in his will dated 1658. The negotiations for his marriage to Dorothy Dicer in 1666 are clearly reflected. (262/43/44 - 7). Apparently both sides endeavoured to strike a good bargain, and this caused some bitterness. In a letter dated 15th June, 1665 Edward wrote, "my son's affections are much towards Sir Robert Dicer's daughter" but by July the question of a settlement was already in dispute. In a letter dated 17th July, Edward protested indignantly to Pack, "you do wright that Sir Robert Dicer thinkes I keepe my sonn too hardly to it. I know not what he meanes by it unles he thinkes tis I stand for soe much money for his daughter's portion. Tell him I ever gave my sonn that liberty to please himselfe both as to person and portion." (262/43/47) The marriage actually took place on 3rd June, 1666 at St. Dunstan's. (Parish Register). The couple seem to have lived at Littleton with Edward Wood from the beginning. Considerable care was taken over some tapestry hangings purchased from Mr Cox the Upholsterer, who made a visit to Littleton and apparently gave his advice. When it came to the point, however, Edward was unwilling to pay the bill and asked Pack to suggest to Lady Dicer that she pay for them. "You may tell her that I have and must lay out uppon the house soe much money that I am unwilling to lay out 100 uppon the hangings". (262/43/101). Glimpses of the household at Littleton from 1666 until 1704 when Dorothy Dicer died are revealed in various family letters and papers, but particularly in the letters of Stephen Penton, Principal of Wadham College, Oxford, and a close friend of Thomas Wood.

In a letter dated September, 19th, 1689 he wrote, "of all places in the world I guess I could bee most Easy att your house where a man hath leav to love and bee beloved in his own way, where Curtesy is not starch'd and stiffened with Formality and a man is not forc'd to go to Dancinge Schoole a month before he Enters the threshold." The material also provides an interesting picture of the domestic requirements at Littleton. Coal, sugar, wine and tobacco were regularly sent down from London. Other items are only mentioned once or twice, such as mace, cloves, ginger, Sugar Candy, "Licoras" and items of equipment such as "a copper pot to warme drinkes in," and "a warming pan".

There are fairly frequent references to family ailments, and medicines and drugs were sent from London, as, for example, diascordium, methridatum, a "bitter draught", pills for purging, and steel powder "for one of the maids, a stirring wench which hath the green sicknes" (262/43/92). Wigs are also mentioned in various letters. One of the chief problems in the management of the house-hold was undoubtedly that of servants. John Pack knew someone called "Dutch Sarah" who provided several maids and servants for Littleton. Pack wrote in a letter dated February 3rd, 1681/2, "Dutch Sarah saith she hath now a Couple of little prittey likely Chamber maids...and they say they can doe well as to dressinge, raisinge paste etc." A rather desperate letter has survived written from Dorothy Wood to John Pack, undated: "I woold desier you to speke to the Duch wooman to helpe me to a cook maid for I think that wich shee helped me to last hath ben mad." Other cook maids also presented a problem. In a letter dated 30th June, 1684 Thomas Wood wrote, "The Cook Maid came here on Saturday night but she hath got a great Cough" and "appeares to be very infirme and sickly." John Westley, a friend, wrote to Dorothy Wood, in another undated letter, "I make it my business to enquire oute a Silent Cooke maid which I suppose is a rarity in the house." (WFP.H) It seems as though other friends also helped to find servants. Dorothy Spencer, for example, wrote in a letter of 3rd February, 1681/2 recommencing a housekeeper, "a stayed sivell well conditioned body that hath knowledge in all things that pertaine to a good huswife ...and one that can preserve, conserve etc. and is well skilled in making all manner of sweetmeats and the like for pastery."

There are also a number of letters sent to Thomas Wood from his sons Robert and Edward at Eton, and subsequently at Oxford. The earliest of these is dated 21st July, 1687 when Edward was seventeen and Robert fifteen years old. On August 18th Robert wrote home requesting a study ... "it is an ungrateful object to me to have my books lye in a confused manner upon my Chamber table." His request was apparently satisfied, since in a letter dated 1687 Edward explained that their candle consumption has risen since my Brother has had a study." Edward went up to Oxford in 1680 and his tutor there, Charles Whiting, made several reports on his progress. On Christmas Eve, 1688 he wrote, "he has shown himself publickly in the Hall since he came by a speech made before the whole house and he quitted himself very handsomely." A letter from Edward dated March, 31st, 1689 gives an interesting account of his current debts, including payments to a Bedmaker 6/-; Tutor 2 guineas; 31/6d "for a new set of maps"; chamber rent 16/6d. and books and shoes 20/-. At this date Edward was receiving an allowance of 80 per annum. Robert also sent accounts to his father later, and it must be presumed that Thomas kept a close check on the expenditure of both his sons. Robert was always a more enthusiastic scholar than Edward. At Eton Charles Roderick commented to their father that "the elder is coming off a little lazinesse that he was fallen into" and Edward's tutor at Oxford wrote in a letter dated July 6th, 1690, "I cannot say he is idle, as on the other hand I will not tell you he studies very hard."

Some honour was nevertheless conferred on Edward in March, 1689 when he was chosen to speak some verses entitled Legis Restitutae in the Theatre on Coronation Day. Robert stayed at Oxford for a longer period and became a Fellow of All Souls in April, 1695, on the basis of kinship with the founder, Thomas Chicheley. A large number of the letters preserved at this date reflect the negotiations and difficulties involved. One side effect of the Fellowship was to rouse the interest of Thomas and Robert in their own family history. The College of Arms was consulted for a pedigree, and someone was also sent to study the monuments in Fulburn Church, Cambridgeshire, for Wood ancestors. (April 21st, 1694.) Robert eventually became a Doctor of Laws.

Edward, as the elder son, moved from his house at Hampton, where he had been living since his marriage in 1695, into the mansion at Littleton on his father's death in 1723. He did much to extend the family holdings in the Littleton area, purchasing, for example, the Chantry House and the Malthouse in Littleton. (928/5 & 7) His son, Thomas, was the one who finally purchased the Manor of Littleton itself from Gilbert Lambell in 1749. (928/2/7) It then remained in the hands of the Wood family until 1873.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Wood family, including records relating to properties in Laleham, Littleton and Shepperton including title deeds, tax assessments, legal papers, rentals, court rolls and plans; family letters, particularly between Edward Wood and his London agent John Pack; family papers such as legal opinions, marriage settlements, wills, and financial accounts; and papers relating to court cases including the Chancery case of Sir Richard Lane versus Charles Wood, 1733, and the Chancery case of Wood versus Wood, 1738-1746.

The material as a whole provides a fascinating picture of the Wood family in the seventeenth century, their personal letters and papers complemented by the deeds of the property they acquired. The material is also interesting from a wider point of view. There are, for example, various references to the Elections of Members of Parliament for Middlesex, including a letter from Henry Spiller of Laleham in 1695 saying, "I have this day sent to particularly and spoken to myself every person in this parish that I thought a freeholder" (March 4th, 1695?). The results of his canvassing are given in detail. Less information has survived on the plague, however, than one might expect. Pack was apparently in the habit of sending down to Littleton the current Bills of Mortality, but unfortunately none of these have survived, although Edward Wood frequently makes pious and sententious comments on them. There are also interesting sidelights on the political scene, including two detailed accounts of the background of the 1688 deposition, and four political and satirical ballads. It is surprising, however, to see how little the family were affected by the enormous political changes taking place. Edward Wood, for example, made his fortune during the Interregnum but did not suffer from the Restoration when he set himself up as a wealthy landowner in Middlesex.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The material from each of the three sources has been listed separately, but with cross references, and an index including personal names, places and selected subjects. The Wood Family Papers (Stowe) have been arranged chronologically, but the letters sent from Edward Wood to Pack 1663-6 have been kept together as a unit. (262/43/1-105). The deeds have been listed under parishes and then chronologically under properties; the legal papers have been listed under parishes chronologically. 337 of the Wood Family Papers (Harrison) were pasted into a volume in 1860 by Colonel Charles Wood, and this volume had a partial system of page numbering which has been retained and extended to include every page. Unfortunately this means that the pages are numbered 1651-1745, which is easily confused with the date. The letters themselves have been listed chronologically and cross references to them have been made by their date rather than their page reference number. The reason for this is that the letters are not going to be retained in the office and reference must therefore be made in the first place to the list. A further 29 items were found loose and these have been numbered FL 1-29. They obviously fitted in with the other 337 items, and have been catalogued in the same list.

The Littleton Park Records had already been subjected to a system of stuck-on label numbers. Originally the deeds were listed as found in their original bundles, but in all cases except two, these bundles were found to be of no significance. One exception was 928/27, which was a bundle of papers relating to the copyhold tenements of "Lotons, Rayners, Balnetts and Harts" in Shepperton, wrapped in an original paper on which was written; "Old papers relating to an estate at Shepperton (copyhold) purchased by Col. Wood of A.M. Storey, Esq." The other exception was the bundle relating to the 1717 legal dispute, 928/21.

Apart from this it looked as though someone had simply picked up the documents as they came to hand and labelled straight through, subsequently arranging them in numerical groups. Thus, one might expect to find in these groups traces of original bundles, but these apparently did not exist at the time when the documents were labelled. The surviving bundle labels were preserved and the label numbers of the individual documents have been included in the list. The Littleton Park records have been arranged and listed primarily by parishes and secondarily by properties, chronologically. One important feature of the collection is a detailed abstract of Gilbert Lambell's title to the manor of Littleton in 1649. The deeds listed in this document are numbered and these numbers correspond with the original numbers (not the label numbers) written on the documents themselves. Not all the deeds listed have survived, but there are in fact 70 which correspond to the abstract. These have been listed according to the abstract. In one other case an abstract of title was found, which lists deeds 1547-1690, relating to a group of properties including a messuage with 22 acres, and Malthouse Close. (928/7/1) This does not number the deeds, but nevertheless the deeds which correspond with the list have been arranged according to the abstract.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The material catalogued is from three modern sources:

(a) The Stowe Collection. These were the deeds and family papers of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, whose seat was at Stowe Hall, Bucks. Part of the collection was acquired in 1947 from a dealer whose premises had been badly damaged in an air raid. Among the documents acquired were found 258 items relating to the Wood Family, which seem to have no connection with the rest of the Stowe collection. Reference: Wood Family Papers (Stowe), ACC/0262/043/001-197; ACC/0262/034/001- 042; ACC/0262/035/001-018; and ACC/0262/044/020. Covering dates: 1622-1814.

(b) The Wood Family Papers on temporary deposit for listing from Mrs C. Harrison, descendant of the Wood family of Littleton. Number of items: 366; reference: Wood Family Papers (Harrison; covering dates: 1628-1861.

(c) The Littleton Park Records, deposited by the Shepperton Studios Ltd., present owners of Littleton Park. Number of items: 436; accession reference: ACC/0928; covering dates: 1366-1809, and 1938.

The link between (b) and (c) is clear. The Littleton Park Records are in fact the title deeds of the estates of the Wood family, which were handed on intact to their successor at Littleton Park in 1873/4. They thus passed from Wood to Burbidge, to Sir Edward Nicholl in 1918, and then to Shepperton Film Studios, these being the successive owners of Littleton Park from 1873 until the present. The Wood Family Papers (Harrison), source (b), had no connection with the property itself and were taken away with the family in 1873.

The link between these two sources and source (a), the Wood Family Papers (Stowe), is much more difficult to trace. The Wood papers form only a very small part of the large Stowe Collection, which is at present scattered, the greater part of it being at the Huntington Library, California, and part at the Greater London Council Record Office, (now LMA). The Wood papers do not appear to have any connection at all with the rest of the Stowe Collection. In addition, these Wood papers are a mixture of 205 personal family documents and 52 deeds of property and legal papers relating to Littleton, Shepperton and Laleham.

The material from all three sources interlocks. The letters between Edward and Thomas Wood and their partner/agent in London, John Pack, are an interesting example. There are in the Wood Family Papers (Stowe) a series of 105 letters sent to Pack by Edward Wood, 1663-6, as well as a stray four letters found with the deeds, and two further letters sent from Thomas Wood. There are in the Wood Family Papers (Harrison) a further 44 letters between Pack and Wood. It would be tempting to surmise that the letters found in the Stowe Collection were all from the London end of the correspondence and remained separate for this reason. However, the Wood Family Papers (Harrison) also include letters sent to Pack, including four which actually fit into the middle of the 1663-6 series in the Wood Family Papers (Stowe), so this theory is obviously untenable. There are other indications, too, that some of the material at London found its way to Littleton, and that material at Littleton found its way into the Wood Family Papers (Stowe). All Edward Wood's deeds regarding property were kept in chests in the house in London in the care of John Pack. If these deeds were returned to Littleton, why were the letters sent to Pack not also returned? It is quite certain that at least some of these deeds were in fact returned to Littleton. For example, Wood instructs Pack carefully in several letters (262/43/98 and 99) to look out the deed between Townley and Elwes concerning the George Yard property in Westminster, and tells him that he will find it in the chest with the other writings. This deed has survived among the Littleton Park Records. (928/28/11). On the other hand, some material in the Wood Family Papers (Stowe) clearly belongs with the Littleton Park Records, and this is particularly true of the deeds and legal papers. In one case a lease has survived among the Wood Family Papers (Stowe) (262/34/10) and the release among the Littleton Park Records (928/15/17). An even clearer link derives from the fact that Thomas Wood filed on a metal spike many, but not all, of the letters he received at Littleton, and these letters all have in them one or more small holes with rusted brown edges. Two of the items in the Wood Family Papers (Stowe) have this evidence of having been filed at Littleton. (262/43/132 and 136) Thus the Townley-Elwes deed apparently went from London to Littleton and remained there while the lease and the two filed items went from Littleton. Both these filed items are dated after the death of John Pack in 1696, however, so it seems unlikely that they were sent up to London and remained separate for that reason.

The series of letters from Edward Wood to John Pack, 1663-6, (262/43/1-105) might well have been sold as a unit, but this does not account for the apparently random selection of deeds and papers found with them in the Stowe Collection. There is also an important reference among the nineteenth century letters of the Wood family (also deposited temporarily by Mrs Harrison). Charles Wood, who died in 1877, apparently spent some time in research on the family history, and in a letter to his brother Thomas, dated 22nd November, 1842, he says, "take care the good John Pack's letters are all preserved-He was servant and agent for above half a century." He also mentions the burning of some old documents. "Those parchments are burnt were of great value being of the earliest Reigns", and from other information he gives, it is clear that at that date there was more material than has now survived. For example, Charles had a record of a visit to Littleton in 1688 with details of tipping seven children, eleven servants, and two children at Eton. In another place he mentions household bills-as much as 25 for a month, and this is obviously more specific information than could be gathered from John Pack's letters. At this date, too, there were apparently portraits of many of the earlier members of the family. Possibly some of this material was destroyed when the house at Littleton was burnt down in 1873, possibly some was mislaid during the move to Wales. One of the crucial points is whether the John Pack letters referred to in 1842 were only those preserved in the Wood Family Papers (Harrison) (c. 22 letters sent from John Pack) or whether there were in fact more letters at that date than have survived today. Possibly Charles was referring to the other end of the correspondence in the Stowe Collection, 1663-6. There is other evidence that there were papers that have not survived. Nicholas Townley refers to a "platt" of Littleton showing "the whole parish and distinguished by co ulers" in 1664 (262/34/19), but this has not survived among these collections. The 1717 legal dispute, too, has all the evidence presented by Gilbert Lambell to support his claim concerning the Manor of Astlam in Littleton, but almost none of Thomas Wood's evidence, although a list of the items he presented has survived (928/21/20a). Possibly these have been preserved among the records of the Court of Chancery at the Public Record Office. It might be expected that some of the earlier deeds and papers were destroyed in the Fire of London, 1666, and it is impossible to tell whether this is so. It is certain that most of the writings at Thames Street were evacuated in time, however, since the pre-Fire references to deeds do in fact link up with documents that have survived. John Pack's letters from Edward Wood must also have been evacuated, since they are all dated pre-Fire. Obviously it would be possible to fill in the background of the Wood family in the seventeenth century in more detail. There is, for example, the will of Robert Thurkettle, a cousin of Thomas Wood's, at Somerset House. The nineteenth century Wood letters also provide much information on earlier members of the family, and probably this could also be followed up. The family pedigree book provides a good basis for further study, and also suggests that there may well be more material in existence.


Related material:

More papers relating to the Wood Family can be found under reference codes ACC/0421, ACC/0423, ACC/0840, ACC/0928, ACC/1030, ACC/1302, ACC/1362, ACC/1713, ACC/2456, ACC/2916 and ACC/2917.


Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: January to May 2011.

Chancery proceedings | Legal case records | Documents | Information sources
Estate management | Land management | Land economics | Agricultural economics
Estates (land) | Land use
Family accounts | Accounts | Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Family archives | Personal papers | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Family correspondence | Personal papers | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Family finance | Private finance | Finance
Family records | Personal papers | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Manorial courts | Courts | Administration of justice
Manorial records | Documents | Information sources
Property ownership | Civil law | Legal systems | Law
Property transfer | Property
Right to property | Civil and political rights | Human rights
Title deeds | Deeds | Documents | Information sources
Property law x Right to property

Personal names
Wood | family | of Littleton

Corporate names
Court of Chancery
Manor of Laleham

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Laleham | Surrey | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Littleton | Surrey | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Middlesex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Shepperton | Surrey | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe