Leeds University Library

Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society Archive Sources

The Society was an important collector and custodian of archives and manuscripts prior to the establishment of local government archive services in Yorkshire. In particular it was successful in acquiring, or holding for safe-keeping, manorial court rolls, and the estate papers of many leading Yorkshire families in the early 20th century. Family papers within the collection include papers of the Osbornes, Dukes of Leeds, the Slingsbys of Scriven, the Copleys of Sprotborough, Skipton Castle estates, the Ferrand family of St Ives, Bingley, the Middeltons of Stockeld, the Clarke-Thornhills of Fixby and the Annes of Burghwallis Hall. The most important manorial holdings are the Wakefield manor court rolls which form an almost unbroken sequence from 1274 to the end of the manorial system in the 1920s. Their significance is recognised by their inscription on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

Through Sir Thomas Brooke the Society also acquired a splendid collection of manuscripts, most notably the papers of Leeds Antiquarian Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725) and the original watercolours by George Walker, published in 1814 as 'The Costume of Yorkshire'. The collector H.L. Bradfer-Lawrence (1887-1965) also left his private collection to the Society, which contains the archives of the Listers, Lords Ribblesdale and many medieval monastic records, including the 15th century Fountains Abbey Stock Book. The archive also contains the papers of the archaeologists Mary Kitson Clark (1905-2005), Ella Armitage (1841–1931), B.W.J. Kent (d.1969), Frank Elgee (1880-1944), Francis Villy (d.1940) and W.H. St John Hope (1854-1919).