- [c. 1147]-[19 cent.]; 1909 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
3.915 cubic metres (492 boxes, 11 volumes, 5 bundles, 1 roll, 1 frame)
Name of creator
The ancestors of the Mansel family originated in Normandy and appear to have arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror. The Gower branch of the family lived in comparative obscurity during the Middle Ages, but through judicious marriages with local families they acquired the manors of Penrice, Oxwich and Port Eynon in 1410, which formed the basis of the family's Gower estates. Later purchases included the manors of Landimore (including Rhossili), Weobley and Reynoldston, and later still, portions of the Popkins and Lucas estates in Gower. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Mansels lived mostly at Oxwich Castle, but at the Dissolution of the Monasteries Sir Rice Mansel first leased and later bought the lands and buildings of the Abbey of Margam.
Margam Abbey had been founded in 1147, endowed by Robert earl of Gloucester with a large tract of land between the Afan and Kenfig rivers. During successive centuries, the abbey grew in importance, and its possessions increased, to such an extent that at the time of the Dissolution its holdings amounted to some 50,000 acres. Rice Mansel, now the owner of lands stretching from one end of Glamorgan almost to the other, set about converting the old monastic buildings into a mansion, which became the principal home of his descendants for the next 200 years. The Mansel family line came to an end in 1750 with Bussy, the fourth Baron Mansel, and the estates, but not the title, passed to the family of his sister Mary who had married John Ivory Talbot of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire. In the 1770s Thomas Mansel Talbot built a new house at Penrice, as an alternative residence to the rambling old house at Margam. The house at Margam was in its turn pulled down in the early 19th century and a new mansion was built there between 1827 and 1830 near the ruins of the old abbey.
According to the 1873 return of owners of land, Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, of Margam owned an estimated 34,033 acres in Wales (all in Glamorgan), with an estimated rental of £44,175.
Dr Walter de Gray Birch of the British Museum prepared for the late Miss Emily Talbot of Penrice Castle and Margam Abbey, a catalogue of approximately two-thirds of the archive before the archive was deposited at NLW.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
The archive was deposited by the Lady Blythswood, the Honourable Mrs Olive Douglas Methuen-Campbell, and the Trustees of the will of the late Emily Charlotte Talbot of Penrice Castle and Margam Abbey in 1941. The Margam Abbey charters were accepted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, with the agreement of the Secretary of State of Wales, in exercise of the powers vested in them by Section 230 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (a) in satisfaction of Inheritance Tax in connection with the death on 4 April 1995 of Mr J. T. T. Fletcher, whilst the remainder of the archive was purchased by NLW in August 1999 from the executors of the late Mr J. T. T. Fletcher and the executors of the late Mr Cristopher Methuen-Campbell per Sotheby's, apart from Penrice and Margam 2305 and 5622 were retained by Mr Christopher Methuen-Campbell; A1999/88
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Estate and family records of Mansel, later Talbot, of Penrice, and its estates in Gower, Glamorgan, from the 16th cent.; including records of Margam Abbey, 12-19th cent., including charters from its foundation in c. 1147, together with royal charters, charter rolls and papal bulls, which form one of the most complete series of archives of any medieval abbey in Great Britain; substantial early archives for Penrice, and other estates, mostly in Glamorgan; manorial records for the manor of Margam Abbey and others; early records of the coal industry in Glamorgan; a large group of Mansel correspondence, 1568-1848, along with some papers relating to Williams of Plas Dyffryn Clydach, largely literary, 17th cent.-18 cent.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Accruals are not expected.
System of arrangement
Arranged into the following: charters listed chronologically (comprising the group originally known as the first series and a small number of charters from other series); deeds relating to the families of Penrice and Mansel (also originally known as the first series, parts III and IV); deeds by county (listed as the second series); general and personal, Margam abbey and manor, Gower, eastern Glamorganshire, (listed as the third series); general and personal, Margam abbey and manor (listed as the fourth series, parts I and II); eastern Glamorgan, miscellaneous documents and documents relating to counties other than Glamorgan (listed as the fourth series, part III); general and personal and Margam abbey (listed as the fourth series, part IV); title deeds (listed in an appendix); title deeds (listed in appendixes I-II of 1942); correspondence (listed in appendix I of 1946) and papers associated with the Williams family of Plas Dyffryn Clydach and documents relating to Margam abbey (listed in appendix II of 1946).
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
English, Latin, Welsh, French.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Further details relating to manorial records within the archive can be accessed online from The National Archives Manorial Documents Register at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/mdr/
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Title based on contents of fonds.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Place access points
Name access points
- Margam Abbey -- Archives. (Subject)
- Margam Estate (Wales) -- Archives. (Subject)
- Margam Abbey (Subject)
- Margam Estate (Wales) (Subject)
- Penrice Estate (Wales) (Subject)
- Mansell family, Barons of Margam -- Archives. (Subject)
- Williams family, of Plas Dyffryn Clydach -- Archives. (Subject)
- Mansell family, Barons of Margam (Subject)
- Williams family, of Plas Dyffryn Clydach (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Revised by Lucie Hobson, April 2021.
The following sources were used in the completion of this description: West Glamorgan Archive Service, Catalogue of the Penrice Estate Papers; Collis, Kim, The West Glamorgan Archive Service: A Guide to the Collections, (West Glamorgan Archive Service, 1998); Williams, David H., Catalogue of Seals Prior to 1750 Attached to the Penrice and Margam Charters (National Library of Wales, 2005).
Compiled by Mair James.