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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 E/NOR
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1279-1951
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 21.57 linear metres (approx. 1900 files).
Name of creator(s): Compton | family | marquesses of Northampton


Administrative/Biographical history:

These records relate to two separate Manors, those of Clerkenwell and Canonbury which came into the Northampton family through the marriage in 1594 of William Compton, first earl of Northampton, to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John Spencer, Alderman of London.

Clerkenwell: It is important to note that the Manor of Clerkenwell relates to land which is not in the parish of Clerkenwell. Instead it consisted of 110 acres of land in Holloway, in the parish of St Mary, Islington. It is often known as the Manor of St Mary, Clerkenwell since it was previously in the possession of the Nunnery of St Mary at Clerkenwell. Pinks states that the Manor has been in the Compton family since the Dissolution.

The location of the manorial land is on the West side of Holloway Road at Upper Holloway from the Church of St John the Evangelist, Pemberton Gardens northwards to the Whittington Stone to Gordon Place extending across Maiden Lane, bounded by Barnsbury Manor in the South; the last field in Maiden Lane to the North (a detached part of Barnsbury Manor); by the Manors of St John of Jerusalem and Barnsbury on the West and by Highgate and the Old Great North Road on the East. Courts were occasionally held at the London Spa.

Most of the parish of Clerkenwell was included in the separate Manor of St John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell.

Canonbury: The Manor of Canonbury was known alternatively as the Manor of Canbury. It was triangular in shape, bounded on the West by Upper Street, on the East by Lower Street (now Essex Road) and on the North by Hopping Lane (now St Paul's Road) and Balls Pond Road. Its chequered history is a diary of patronage in the sixteenth century: originally it had been presented by Ralph de Berners to the Prior and Convent of St Bartholomew, Smithfield in the thirteenth century but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was enjoyed briefly and in turn by Thomas Cromwell, Anne of Cleves and John Dudley later the Duke of Northumberland. The Manor was granted in 1557 to Thomas Wentworth, who then sold it to Sir John Spencer in 1570.


Scope and content/abstract:

The records of the Marquess of Northampton's London Estates in Holloway and Canonbury form a considerable collection of material from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries relating to the development of Islington.

Estate Records (E/NOR/E): These relate almost entirely to the Northampton Estates in London in Clerkenwell and Canonbury, Islington. There is a fine series of eighteenth century rentals and accounts which extend into the twentieth century. These can be used in conjunction with the leases and maps in E/NOR/L.

Also included in this section are records of Estate administration in the twentieth century, relating to legislation under the Housing Acts of 1925, 1930 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, together with more local orders by Finsbury Justices. In particular, there is a lot of material relating to the Clearance of the Northampton Road area in the 1930s and the building of new flats in Canonbury via the Compton Housing Association in the same decade. By 1954 at least part of the Canonbury Estate had been sold by the Northampton trustees to property companies Western Ground Rents and the Oriel Property Trust.

The development of the Canonbury Estate is outlined in the Victoria County History of Middlesex vol VIII pp 54,55.

Leases (E/NOR/L): There are a number of schedules of leases giving an insight into the running of the Estates in the nineteenth century; these are complemented by the Maps of Estates which vary in date from 1809 to 1947 (E/NOR/L/2), the maps in the Map and Print Section of the LMA, and Estate Records mentioned above.

The leases have been split into two groups: one covering the geographical area of Clerkenwell (E/NOR/L/3) and one covering Canonbury (E/NOR/L/4). They include documents from all forms of transfer of property and other related records: bargain and sale, demises, assignments, abstracts of title, building agreements, mortgages. Most of these have been kept in original bundles where possible.

For ease of access the leases have been listed in alphabetical order of streets and within each street by the numbered property. An attempt has been made to give alternative street names. Similarly cross references to properties mentioned in other deeds have been added. However, it has not been possible (or considered necessary) to produce a totally comprehensive appendix of street numbering changes. Individual instances of street numbering can be further clarified by reference to the LCC's published Names of Streets and Places and the accompanying list of Street Naming and Numbering records in the Catalogue Room.

Many of the nineteenth century leases have plans on them, but a number of separate plans of buildings are included separately at the end of the leases section (E/NOR/L/5).

Among the leases of Clerkenwell properties belonging to the Marquess of Northampton are the London Spa, Wilmington Square, Exmouth Market, the Sheep Skin Market at Woods Close, and Northampton Square.

Canonbury leases include Canonbury Tower, Canonbury House, Canonbury Square and Northampton House. Pevsner describes Canonbury as "especially illuminating for the development of domestic building in London."

Other Records: Apart from the Estate Records there are a number of significant small collections and individual items in this archive.

The Sheep Skin Market run by the Skinners Company in Woods Close is documented by three volumes of market books 1754-1772 (E/NOR/S/1-3).

Among items of local historical interest there are photographs of Canonbury (E/NOR/X) and a small amount of printed material on Clerkenwell including a History of Spa Fields Burial Ground (E/NOR/Y/2), and a sketch of Finsbury Health Centre (E/NOR/Y/7).

Away from Clerkenwell and Canonbury, there are some records concerning the Northampton family's involvement in the Ragged School at Hertford Place, Mile End Old Town (E/NOR/R) and the Northampton Training Ship (E/NOR/Y/8).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

E/NOR/E: Canonbury and Clerkenwell Manors, Islington: Estate records;
E/NOR/L: Canonbury and Clerkenwell Manors, Islington: Leases;
E/NOR/M: Canonbury and Clerkenwell Manors, Islington: Manorial records;
E/NOR/R: Ragged School, Hertford Place (Mile End Old Town);
E/NOR/S: Skin Market;
E/NOR/X: Canonbury and Clerkenwell Manors, Islington: Photographs;
E/NOR/Y: Canonbury and Clerkenwell Manors, Islington: Printed material.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in December 1970 and March 1975.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Pinks, W.J. The History of Clerkenwell (74.21 CLE)
Le Hardy, W. A List of Middlesex Manorial Documents (60.49 LEH)
Lewis, S The History and Topography of the Parish of St Mary Islington (74.1 LEW)
Cosh, M. The Squares of Islington, Part 1: Finsbury and Clerkenwell (74.2 ISL)
Tomlins, T.E. A Perambulation of Islington (74.1 TOM)
Lysons, D. Environs of London (67.0 1792)
Institute of Historical Research Victoria County History of Middlesex vol. VIII (97.OVCH)
Pevsner, N The Buildings of England: London vol II (67.0 1952)

Description Notes

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:
Records prepared May to September 2011.

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