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Clayton family
Clayton family papers, 1814-1871.
Physical Description:
0.42 linear feet (1 box)
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
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View a description and listing of collection contents in the finding aid
Archives & Manuscripts
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Dorothea Brack was born circa 1770 and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. She was probably the daughter of James Brack of Durham County, who married Dorothy Clayton of Newcastle in 1769. Apparently orphaned at a young age, she grew up in the family of her maternal uncle, Alderman William Clayton, and never married. She took her mother's family name in 1814, becoming Dorothea Clayton. By the 1830s, she owned property in Durham County, a house and stable in London, and had many thousands of pounds invested in stocks. By the time of her death, she possessed more than £65,000 in assets. Dorothea's London house was located in Paddington Parish just north of Hyde Park, at 6 Hyde Park Street. It was probably built in the late 1820s or 1830s, and Dorothea may have been its first owner. One of her heirs described it many years later: "The house purchased by my relatives in an unfinished state & was completed without regard to expense & is I believe one of the best houses in the street. It is completed furnished almost entirely from Gillows [i.e. Gillows & Co., a London furniture firm]." When she died on September 15, 1849, Dorothea left the London house to her nephew, William Clayton Walters. William was the second son of Dorothea's adoptive sister, Isabella, and Robert Walters, a Newcastle attorney. Following in his father's and maternal grandfather's footsteps, he entered the field of law, studying at Lincoln's Inn. Though he soon became a practicing barrister, he gained more fame as a writer. Dorothea named William the executor of her estate. He inherited her house, and claimed a further £40,000 as a repayment of a sum that he said he had lent her seven months before her death. However, it is unclear whether there had truly been a loan, or if William simply wanted to avoid paying duties on that portion of her estate. William never lived in the London house. He leased it to a series of tenants beginning just one month after Dorothea died. In later years, he would try unsuccessfully to sell it with all of its furnishings intact. It stayed in his hands until 1871, when he (or perhaps his son of the same name) mortgaged it to a relative, John Clayton.
Papers related to the Clayton family house in London and the estate of its first owner, Dorothea Clayton. Includes an inventory of the house and its library; receipts for repairs, household expenses; lease and sales offers; and documents relating to Dorothea Clayton's estate. The original collector of the papers was William Clayton Clayton, Dorothea Clayton's adoptive nephew. He was the executor of her will and the heir to her London house. He kept many papers related to her estate, including inventories, legal documents and household receipts. He sold most of her assets soon after her death in 1849, but the house remained in his hands until after 1870. The bulk of the papers date from the period soon after Dorothea's death, 1849-1850.The collection consists of two parts: papers related to the house on Hyde Park Street, and papers related to the Dorothea Clayton estate. The Hyde Park Street House section includes the inventory that was made after Dorothea's death, a catalog of its library, household bills and receipts, taxes and ground rent documents, and documents related to leases and sales offers. The Dorothea Clayton estate section contains her will and other documents related to probate, legacies, expenses associated with her estate, and sales of her non-real property. There is also a small group of material related to her adoptive brother's estate and other family papers, which William Clayton Clayton probably included in the collection because they related to Dorothea's assets. The inventory of Dorothea Clayton's house provides an extraordinarily complete listing of all of its contents, including furniture, decorations, clothes, tools, crockery, linens and wine. It describes not only valuable items, but everything down to the slop pail in the housemaid's closet and the "quantity of coals" in the coal cellar. Arranged room-by-room, it gives a short description of each item, with an estimated value for all the items together at the end.
The collection is arranged into two series: I. Hyde Park Street house papers, including documents directly related to the townhouse, its contents and its maintenance. II. Dorothea Clayton estate papers, including documents related to the estate of Dorothea Clayton, as well as a few miscellaneous documents pertaining to other Clayton family members. The items within each series are arranged by document type (for example, household bills and receipts), and then chronologically.
Subject Terms:
Clayton family.
Clayton, Dorothea, d. 1849.
Clayton, William Clayton, 1799-
Estates (Law) -- Great Britain -- Cases.
Furniture -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Gillow & Co.
Home economics -- Great Britain.
Inheritance and succession -- Great Britain.
Interior decoration -- Great Britain.
Material culture -- Great Britain.
Paddington (London, England)
Estate inventories.
Library catalogs.
Probate records.

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