W.H. Smith Family Estate Papers

Reference: SEPDate: 1498-1960Extent: 121 boxes

The Smith family of W.H. Smith & Son Ltd have owned a number of estates in the South of England. William Henry Smith II (1825-1881) was a successful businessman and respected politician. He and his father, also William Henry Smith, were partners at the family newsagency, W.H. Smith & Son, from 1846 to 1857. At that time, the elder Smith retired, and William Henry Smith II became sole owner of the firm. Upon W.H. Smith II’s death in 1881, his wife Emily was given the peerage Viscountess Hambleden in his honour. Emily died in 1913 and their eldest son, William Frederick Danvers Smith (1868-1928), succeeded as the 2nd Viscount Hambleden. W.F.D. Smith was succeeded by his son, William Henry Smith III (1903-1948), as the 3rd Viscount Hambleden. W.H. Smith III’s son, William Herbert Smith (1930-2012), inherited the title upon his father’s death. Today, the 5th Viscount Hambleden is William Henry Smith IV (b. 1955), William Herbert Smith’s eldest son.

Between 1866 and 1890, William Henry Smith II bought five estates in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. These properties were the Oxhey & Wiggenhall Estate, the Greenlands and Remenham Estates, Hundon & Thurlow Estate, Silverton & Rewe Estate and the Moretonhampstead Estate.

In 1866, W.H. Smith II bought the Oxhey & Wiggenhall Estate in Hertfordshire. He later sold the Wiggenhall Manor in 1872 and the rest of the Oxhey Estate in 1877.

In 1871, Smith purchased Greenlands in Buckinghamshire and Remenham in Berkshire. Both properties were directly across the Thames from each other and allowed the family more privacy on this estate. William Henry Smith III leased the Greenlands property to the Administrative Staff College in 1946. A year after the 3rd Viscount Hambleden’s untimely death in 1948, the Remenham Estate was sold, and the Greenlands Estate was sold to the Administrative Staff College in 1952. The Greenlands Estate is now part of the University’s Henley Business School.

William Henry Smith II bought the Hundon & Thurlow Estate in Suffolk in 1877. William Frederick Danvers Smith sold the Thurlow parts of the estate in 1906, and Hundon parts a year later.

In 1878, William Henry Smith II bought the Silverton & Rewe Estate. It was sold piecemeal to tenants in 1919 by the 2nd Viscount Hambleden.

In 1880, Smith bought the Moretonhampstead Estate, also in Devon. The property was sold after the 2nd Viscount Hambleden’s death in 1928 and immediately broken up.

William Frederick Danvers Smith followed in his father’s footsteps and also added to the family’s estates. In 1894, the 2nd Viscount Hambleden bought Culham Court, more than doubling the size of the family’s properties in Berkshire. He also bought Hambleden Manor in Buckinghamshire in 1922. Culham Court was later sold in 1949 after the death of the 3rd Viscount Hambleden. However, Hambleden Manor remained in the family for many more years until 2012, when it was sold by Lady Hambleden following the death of William Herbert Smith, the 4th Viscount Hambleden.

This collection covers the years 1498-1960. It includes documents from many centuries prior to the acquisition of the estates by the Smith family and comprise of title deeds, manorial documents including Court Rolls, surveys, inventories, terriers, wills, contracts, certificates, plans, maps and memoranda. The material is divided into eight sub-sections:

  1. SEP BER – Berkshire Properties
  2. SEP BUC – Buckinghamshire Properties
  3. SEP DEV – Devon Properties
  4. SEP HER – Hertfordshire Properties
  5. SEP SUF – Suffolk Properties
  6. SEP VAR – Various Properties in Middlesex, Oxfordshire and Somerset
  7. SEP XCT – W.H. Smith II’s Settled Estates
  8. SEP SA – Additional Estate Papers

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