MC:P287 Correspondence of the Bagot Family, 1680–1754
This collection of letters appears to have once belonged to a larger collection of Bagot family papers. The Bagot family is one of the oldest families amongst the gentry of Staffordshire, tracing their ancestors back to a ‘Bagod’ recorded in the Domesday Book. By the late twelfth century they had established themselves at Bromley Bagot and were active participants in local affairs. The family home of Blithfield was built sometime in the 14th century. The other families involved in the correspondence, the Legges and Pagets, were also Staffordshire gentry. All three became connected through marriage.
This letter collection was sold at Sotheby’s on the 25th February 1946, as lot no. 249, to Dobell for £6.10.0, and given to Magdalen on 19th November 1946 by one A.B. Burney. Nothing is now known about Burney. Burney’s letter to Magdalen accompanies the collection. In it he records how he has disposed of other letter collections and books that had come into his possession. The other collections went to Trinity College Cambridge and the Guildhall. Presumably this collection came to Magdalen because several of the correspondents attended the College, namely: George Legge Viscount Lewisham (matr. 22nd Jan., 1719/20), Heneage Legge (matr. 22nd Jan., 1719/20) and Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot (matr. 27th Apr., 1720).
The collection is significant in a number of ways. Those writing participated in the artistic, intellectual and political spheres of late 17th/18th century England, making their letters a valuable resource to researchers. The more domestic letters serve to document social history. In terms of higher educational archives, it is very unusual to have letters written from one undergraduate to another, as opposed to the far more plentiful survival of letters home.
More information can be found about many of those mentioned in the letters as well as the writers. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in particular covers many of the individuals concerned. See also W. Bagot, Memorials of the Bagot family, privately printed, Blithfield (1824), available online. The Staffordshire County Record Office holds material relating to the Bagot family, most of which was deposited by the family. One of the deposits came to the Record office from the National Trust, which in turn had the material bequeathed to them by a private individual who had purchased it at a Sotheby’s auction in 1945 or 1955. This deposit contains correspondence dating from the 17th-19th centuries, legal and financial papers, antiquarian papers, and county maps. The Folger Library in Washington (USA) holds a further collection.
Not all of the letters were dated when they were written. Letters have been dated by the events discussed in them, where possible. Many of the letters have a second date written on the reverse in a later, probably early 19th century, hand. These are not always correct and it is noted in the catalogue where dates differ and why. These 19th century dates may represent an attempt by William Bagot, 2nd Baron Bagot (1773–1856) to put the family papers in order whilst writing his Memorials of the Bagot family, as this text quotes from many Bagot letters and papers, including some now in Magdalen’s collection.
The collection is arranged as follows:
MC:P287/C1 Letter from Jane Bagot nee Salusbury to Sir Walter Bagot (d.1704), plus accompanying documents, 1680.
MC:P287/C2 11 letters of Henry Paget to Sir Edward Bagot, and two draft letters from Sir Edward to Paget in reply, 1705-8/9.
MC:P287/C3 59 letters from George Legge, Viscount Lewisham (d.1732) to Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot (d.1768), 1720-1730.
MC:P287/C4 18 letters of Heneage Legge to Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot, Bt., 1720/1-1729, and one of 1754, plus one letter of Heneage Legge to his sister, Barbara.
MC:P287/C5 21 letters: fifteen from William Legge 1st Earl of Dartmouth (d.1750) to Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot (d.1768), four from Anne Finch, Lady Dartmouth (d.1751) to Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot), one from the Legge family to Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot and one other document, 1723/4 – 1728.
MC:P287/C6 1 letter from A.B. Burney to an unnamed doctor, plus accompanying documents, 1946.
Catalogued by Emma Burgham October-December 2006.