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Cheeke, Russell Tipping families: Archer of Tanworth

Description

Personal papers relating to the Cheeke, Russell and Tipping families, acquired on the marriage of Catherine, daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield, Oxon., to Thomas Archer in 1736. Catherine Tipping's mother, Anne, was the daughter and sole surviving child of Thomas Cheeke of Pirgo, Essex, and Letitia his wife. Letitia, a niece of the Duke of Bedford, having begun life as a Russell, married for her second husband her cousin, Lord Robert Russell, by whom, however, she had no children.

Admin History

Administrative History Cheeke In 1670/1 Letitia (or Laetitia) Russell married Thomas Cheeke of Pirgo, Essex, the second son of Sir Thomas Cheeke and Essex, daughter of the Earl of Warwick. The Cheeke family fortunes were founded by the Cambridge scholar Sir John Cheke (1514-1557), who was rewarded with gifts of land by Edward VI, to whom he had acted as tutor, on his accession. Cheke's support of Lady Jane Grey led to his imprisonment and pardon, but after travelling abroad for two years he was again imprisoned and deprived of his lands. On his abjuration of protestantism in 1556 the lands were restored, but he was forced to exchange them with the Queen for others. (The deed whereby this exchange was made, the only item relating to Sir John in the Archer collection, does not come within the scope of this list.) Sir John's eldest son Henry was also something of a scholar or at any rate a translator, but by the time we come to the end of the 17th century and the Cheekes with whom this collection is concerned they do not appear to have been particularly distinguished academically. They were, however, more amply landed than ever; Pirgo, the family seat, was bought in 1621 from Lord Grey of Groby, and the manors of Childerditch and North Weald from the Earl of Warwick at about the same time. Although Thomas was the second son his father made a settlement in 1652 by which the estate bypassed Robert, the elder brother, in favour of his own children, leaving Robert with an annuity of £400 for life and instructions not to molest the trustees. Certain specific properties were settled on Thomas, but ultimately the whole estate reverted to him through the death of Robert's children. Letitia Russell was Thomas Cheeke's second wife. In 1668 he had married Dorothy Sydney, daughter of Philip viscount L'Isle and future Earl of Leicester, but she died only a month after the marriage, (a circumstance which gave rise to some wrangling over her marriage settlement). In April 1679 he was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower, in which office he remained until June 1687 when James II removed him from it. As compensation 'for loss of office' the king granted to Edward and Francis Russell an annuity of £600 for ten years, in trust for their sister Letitia and her children; but as the Lieutenant's salary had never been paid since the very early days of his appointment and was at this time £4,610:10:3 1/2 in arrears, besides which he had had to spend a considerable amount of his own money on keeping the Tower in repair and other necessary expenses, it might be supposed that the loss of this office would have been quite a blessing financially. However, the £600 was never paid either after the first instalment, so the status quo was not greatly upset. A number of the documents in this section relate to Thomas Cheeke's efforts to get payment of the crown's debt on this score, which he reckoned at about £10,000, but at the time of his death in 1688 he had had no success, and it was left to his widow to carry on the struggle. Thomas Cheeke left two daughters and a son; Essex who died unmarried, Anne who married Sir Thomas Tipping, and Edward; another son Henry had died in his father's lifetime. From 1694 to 1698 Edward Cheeke travelled abroad with his tutor, Germain Colladon, staying first in Geneva and then going on to tour Italy, and the letters and accounts sent back to England by Colladon form an important part of this section. In 1700 Edward married Anne, daughter of Sir William Ellys (or Ellis) of Nocton in Lincolnshire; he was appointed deputy lieutenant for Essex in 1703, but died in 1707, leaving a son Edward. This child died in 1712, and Anne, now Lady Tipping, finally inherited all the property. Russell - general The most important member of the Russell family so far as this collection is concerned is Letitia. Already it has been impossible to introduce the Cheeke element in the collection without mentioning Letitia Russell, and it would be equally difficult to attempt an explanation of the variety of the Russell papers without attempting to explain Letitia first. Letitia Russell was a niece of William, fifth Earl and first Duke of Bedford, being a daughter of Edward, the second son of the fourth earl. After the death of her first husband Thomas Cheeke she married her cousin Robert, known as Lord Robert Russell, a younger son of the duke. One of her brothers was Edward, Admiral Russell, created Earl of Orford in 1697; another was Col. Francis Russell, governor of Barbados from 1693 to 1696; her sister Katherine married William Harbord who was successively paymaster general and vice-treasurer of Ireland, and who died on a journey as special ambassador to Turkey in 1691. These people are all represented in a large or small degree, and it is easy to see that Letitia Russell is the link which holds them together. Just why all these papers should have come into her possession, on the other hand, is not quite so clear. She was executrix of her brother Col. Francis, who died in Barbados, but only jointly with Lord Orford and two others, any of whom and the former in particular might have been expected to have played a dominant part in the affair; however, the fact remaind that she came by all the more important of Col. Francis's executorship papers, and also quite a lot of material relating to lawsuits arising from the executorship. She also acted as executrix to both her husbands, but surprisingly there is little material here attributable to this source; in fact there is very little to suggest that either of these men had any existence outside their respective public offices, and the only memento which she seems to have kept of her second husband is the Pipe Office accounts for the period during which he was Clerk of the Pipe. So far as her brother, Lord Orford, is concerned much of the material seems to relate to matters in which Letitia was herself at least interested, if not actively involved, and some must have bypassed her altogether and come directly down the Cheeke/Tipping line of the family: but it is still impossible to do more than guess at reasons for the presence of other items. The Harbords come only very marginally into this section, but the two papers relating to William Harbord are connected with a petition filed by his daughters after his death, so it is possible that Lord Orford was using his interest with the government to help his nieces, as it is apparent that he did on occasion for his sister. A few items, such as receipts, originating from Lady Winn (Katherine Harbord's daughter Letitia, who married Sir Rowland Winn of Nostall, Yorks.) are either addressed directly to Letitia or are otherwise easily accountable for. Thus it is possible, through Letitia Russell, to account for the presence of all the Russell papers in this collection, even though the details of their accumulation may not be apparent. Their arrival in the Archer family together with a further addition in the form of Tipping papers, through the marriage of Letitia's granddaughter with an Archer, has already been mentioned. Letitia Russell It would be difficult and no doubt misleading to attempt, from the evidence in this collection, to produce any kind of picture of Letitia Russell as a living person. There is little personal information to be gleaned about any member of the family, and the episodes in their lives which are recorded here are isolated. But Letitia Russell as a maker and conserver of archives shines through her work with unmistakable clarity and charm. She was a writer of strange little notes on odds and ends of paper; a putter together of inconsequential bundles ornamented with cryptic descriptions of the contents; a tier up with handsome silk ribbon of documents of no particular significance. In an effort to outdo Philemon Holland she seems to have used one pen all her life, and to have written with the blunt end; her spelling was of the impressionist school, sometimes veering towards the surrealist. Her most usual method of filing was to fold the documents into a long packet and encircle it with a strip of paper fastened with a pin. Sometimes she would write on this band, sometimes on an erratically cut scrap tucked inside or pinned to the packet. Now the abundant pin hole s form the main testimony to her work, but many of these documents must at some time have had other documents or little notes attached to them. Perhaps this disintegration the of filing system is not a bad thing, however, for a very characteristic if rather longer than usual description of the contents of one bundle runs as follows:- ' in this packtit the agrements from mr minchell and mr heringman in parting with my Lese in Lincolling felds and mr Warbortons agrement to Look aftar my Irish Concarns severall Aquittans and A sinments settling ye aCount from borbadous and my brother Orfords Noot upon the setling of it what is dew from him must be maide Even from the mony Sr Tho: Tipping owed him which must be payd from ye agrement he maide with mee upon ye Iresh Less when my Brothar gives up Sr Tho Tippings bound then those sums maide Even 1718 '. Mercifully the contents of this packet have long since been dispersed, and only the informative wrapper remains. It has been mentioned that the incidents recorded in these papers are isolated, and if this were not so one might be left with the impression that when she was not writing notes or fastening pins, Letitia Russell's whole life was devoted to the pursuit of her annuity of £600. Practically every word written on the subject over a period of 31 years seems to have survived in at least one copy, and the proliferation of copies of some inter-departmental letters suggests that more than one source in the Treasury was eagerly dedicated to informing Lord Orford's sister that everything was being done to assist her case: for it is explicit in some of the private letters of these Treasury and Irish Revenue officials that they were prepared, in order to serve any relation of Lord Orford, to put themselves out in the performance of what otherwise one might have supposed to be their normal duties. The circumstances of the debt owed to Thomas Cheeke by the Crown have been explained already: the point at which it becomes a Russell concern rather than Cheeke is the point at which Letitia Russell, (now the wife of Lord Robert Russell), submitted a petition to the king praying for the grant of a yearly payment to her out of certain quitrents in Ireland. This was in 1691 or 1692, and it is unfortunate that the petition is one of the very few important documents in this case of which no copy survives here, since the version given in the Calendar of Treasury Papers 1557-1696, p.273, no. 67, is clearly based on a misunderstanding. This states that Lady Russell asked for 'the grant of a reserved rent of 1,5001. per ann., for 99 years, at a yearly rent, out of property in Ireland formerly granted to the Countess of Dorchester for life', and the petition is given the date c. 1692 or 1693 on the grounds that 'the Countess, (formerly Catherine Sedley, a mistress of James II ), did not die until 1717; and the grant which she had been given was of certain quitrents in Ireland valued at £5,000, on which a rent of £1,500 was reserved to the Crown. Letitia Russell was finally granted, in return for her release to the Crown of its debt to Thomas Cheeke, an annuity of £600 for 31 years payable out of this reserved rent of £1,500, so it seems quite likely that what she asked for in her petition was the whole of the reserved rent. Be that as it may, the grant of £600 was made, and hardly surprisingly it was not paid. The excuse in 1695 was that Lady Dorchester was not getting her payments in full either, on account of a prior grant of the very same quitrents made to the Earl of Sunderland, which he had assigned to Sir Stephen Fox. Later on the reasoning became more complicated, but the unfortunate fact was that a special clause in Lady Dorchester's grant enabled her to draw on the reserved rent if the remainder did not amount to £3,500, and since it never did for one reason or another there was never any reserved rent left for the payment of Letitia Russell's grant. Moreover Lady Dorchester's payments had got somewhat in arrears during the troubles in Ireland, so that even after things had settled down there was little chance of any money coming through until her arrears had been paid off. Letters went backwards and forwards between the Lord High Treasurer if there was one or the First Lord of the Treasury if there was not, the Commissioners of the Revenue for Ireland, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Accountant General for Ireland, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and anyone else who could conceivably hope to gain merit or a fee or both by interesting himself in the affair. Even the king or queen was brought in every so often to sign a warrant, for which a rather higher fee was chargeable than for one signed by a Lord Treasurer. `Reports on the State of Lady Dorchester's Grant' continued to be demanded by Whitehall and to flow in spasmodically from Dublin, until at last in 1710 it was reported that far from being still in arrears Lady Dorchester's grant had now been overpaid by several thousand pounds, and it was high time that Lady Russell began to receive some of her money. Slowly thereafter the money dribbled in, though not without many more reports, warrants and letters, and it was not until after Lady Dorchester's death in 1717 that payments really began to catch up on the arrears. Letitia Russell died 7th January 1722/3 aged 72. The term of her grant - her 'pating' as she always called it - expired at Lady Day 1723. It is a pity that she was never able to write on a small irregularly shaped piece of paper 'ye a Count of my Irish concarns is setled ', and pin it to some irrelevant document. Colonel Francis Russell From the biographical point of view Col. Francis is a strangely neglected and maltreated member of the family. In J.H.Wiffen's Historical Memoirs of the house of Russell he is mentioned only in a footnote, as being a brother of the Earl of Orford who died without issue; Collins's Peerage of England notes his existence as one of the 'other' sons of Edward, Lord Russell, but his marriage to Katherine, Lady North is attributed to his uncle Francis Russell, who died in 1641: neither of these sources mentions the fact that he was governor of Barbados. In the Complete Peerage he rates a short passage as the third husband of the widow of Lord North and Grey, but he is said to be a son of the fourth Earl of Bedford, (again he is confused with his uncle), and the date of his death and the circumstances of his wife's death are wrongly given. Col. Francis was a younger brother of Letitia Russell and Edward Earl of Orford, probably the fourth son, Edward being the second. He must therefore have been under forty at the time of his appointment to the governorship in 1693. What he had been doing up to that time remains a mystery, save for the fact that on 30th April 1691 he married Katherine, the widow of Charles, Lord North and Grey, she being then about forty. Vicary Gibbs in a note about Lord and Lady North and Grey says that ' He and his wife seem to have been unamiable persons. He left his two younger children, Charles and Dudley, wholly unprovided for, and she, after his death, appears to have totally neglected them. ' She accompanied Col. Francis to Barbados in 1694, where she died and was buried in the autumn of the same year. On his appointment Col. Francis fitted himself out for his post in a style which may have been suited to a governorship, but which does not seem to have accorded well with the state of his finances. By his own account to his brother in the single mutilated letter which survives from him, having no land to back his bond to the man who equipped him it was necessary that £2,000 be assured on his life. His own diffidence in this matter, (`it is called a policie', he says in what appears to be the tone of one who has never suspected the existence of such a thing), together with the confusion of his affairs and the complexity of his debts at the time of his death, leaves room for possible doubt as to his administrative ability, and one is tempted to wonder whether the appointment contained any element of flattery towards Lord Orford. On the other hand it was obviously an advantage to have a man of military standing in Barbados at this time, and there is no evidence to suggest that he was not a very competant soldier, or indeed that he did not occupy the post with complete success. Col. Francis died 7th August 1696 on the island of Barbados. The papers relating to him owe their presence here, as has already been said, to the fact that Letitia Russell was one of the executors of his will: many of them owe their existence, however, to the fact that for some time it was believed by the president and council that he had made no will, and the administration of his estate was given to Jonathan Langley on the unlikely grounds that he was 'next of kin'. Activities which followed, with Langley and his friends moving into Fontabelle, the governor's residence, and living off the estate, employing the negroes for their own use, selling off gold, jewelry, trinkets and clothes to pay their own debts, and refusing to pay off any of the debts which Col. Francis had left, is recorded in some detail in many of these documents. The discovery that a will existed would certainly have put a stop to this state of affairs in any case, but also Langley's two securities for proper administration began to fear that they might find themselves paying for his misappropriations, and filed a petition asking that he should be called to account: which of these actions was the immediate cause of his removal is not quite clear, but his reign at Fontabelle was brought to an end within two months of its beginning. The executors sent letters of attorney to some of the more reliable of the late governor's friends, a commission was set up to recover as much from Langley as could positively be laid to his account, and order was restored These papers are of particular interest for the light which they throw on the personal belongings and household of a governor of that period in the West Indies. The obstacles of distance and the impossibility of verbal communication lying between the executors and their attorneys have to some extent anticipated the similar obstacles lying between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, and some of the inventories and accounts have been prepared with a minuteness of detail which conveys even more information than can usually be hoped for from such things. Amongst the other papers are accounts by several people of what happened after Col. Russell's death, each written in a different light according to the author's state of knowledge, and a short description of the ceremony accompanying the embarkation of his body for England.