Fonds GB 0210 MSPENNT - Thomas and David Pennant manuscripts

Identity area

Reference code



Thomas and David Pennant manuscripts


  • [16 cent.]-[early 20 cent.] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

101 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Thomas Pennant, naturalist, antiquary and traveller, was born on the Downing estate in Flintshire. He was educated at Wrexham and London before entering Queen's College, Oxford aged eighteen. Thomas developed a love of the natural world at school and began travelling whilst at Oxford; in the following years he travelled widely throughout Britain and Europe. The Outlines of the Globe was Thomas's most ambitious literary project. The work originally took up twenty-two volumes but only four of these were published - two by Pennant himself and two by his son, David.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Archival history

NLW MSS 12706-12720: Formerly housed at Downing Hall, co. Flint. They were purchased for the National Library of Wales in 1938, when part of the library of the earl of Denbigh at Newnham Paddox, co. Warwick, was offered for sale. They had probably been removed from Downing Hall subsequent to the marriage in 1846 of Louisa (1828-1853), daughter of David Pennant, junior (1796-1835), and great-grand-daughter of Thomas Pennant, to Rudolph William Basil Feilding, aft. 8th earl of Denbigh.
NLW MSS 23412-23415: Remained in the possession of the heirs of the Downing estate in Flintshire (the Fielding family) until 1938, when they were sold, together with numerous other of Pennant's manuscripts and books, by Christie's of London.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MSS 2521-2598: Earl and Countess of Denbigh; Purchase; 1912.
NLW MSS 4877-4880: Purchase; 1922/3 (originally separated from the main group).
NLW MSS 12706-12720: Christie's; London; Purchase; July 1938.
NLW MSS 23412-23415: Maggs Bros Ltd; London; Purchase; 1993 (Transferred from NLW Department of Printed Books to NLW Department of Manuscripts and Records in 1995).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers, [16 cent.]-[early 20 cent.], mainly of Thomas Pennant and his son, David, and comprising accounts of tours in Britain and Europe; geographical, topographical and historical notes and transcripts, as well as notes on natural history; accounts of David Pennant; correspondence of Thomas and David Pennant; annotated printed works of Thomas Pennant, including copies, with manuscript and other additions and related papers, of Outlines of the Globe, a work in four volumes by Thomas Pennant published between 1798 and 1800; and papers relating to the Downing estate and to Flintshire.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 2521-2598, 4877-4880, 12706-12720, 23412-23415.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • Breton
  • English
  • Estonian
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Spanish
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Latin, French, Welsh, Breton, Estonian, German, Italian, Spanish.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The descriptions are also available in the Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume I (Aberystwyth, 1943), Volume II (Aberystwyth, 1951), and Volume IV (Aberystwyth, 1971); NLW MSS 22853-23691 are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also NLW Downing Estate deeds.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.


NLW MSS 2521-2598, 4877-4880 formerly known as Pennant 1-82; NLW MSS 12706-12720 formerly known as Pennant[-Feilding] 1-15.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

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

October 2005-February 2010.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume I (Aberystwyth, 1943); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume II (Aberystwyth, 1951); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003).

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Siân Medi Davies for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS, and revised by Bethan Ifans.

Accession area

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