A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5, the Hundred of Cleley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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THE HONOR OF GRAFTON AND THE WAKEFIELD LODGE ESTATE (fn. 1)
In 1542 a number of Crown estates in the hundred of Cleley and elsewhere in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire were combined by Act of Parliament to become the honor of Grafton, centred on the manor of that name, which became known as Grafton Regis and where the existing manor house was greatly enlarged. Somewhat reduced by grants and sales, the honor remained a Crown estate until 1706, when it passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton in tail male. The duke was also granted the rangership of Whittlewood Forest by the same tenure, thus acquiring the use of Wakefield Lodge, which he and his descendants made their Northamptonshire seat in preference to Grafton Manor.
Successive dukes added to the estate in both the 18th and 19th centuries and in the 1850s, when the remaining part of Whittlewood was disafforested and inclosed, made extensive freehold acquisitions in the forest, including Wakefield Lodge and its grounds. Most of the estate was sold in a series of auctions and sales to tenants between 1913 and 1920, followed by further disposals between then and 1939, when another major auction was held; Wakefield Lodge itself was sold in 1924. Almost all the rest of the estate, including Grafton Manor, was sold piecemeal after 1945, although at the time of writing the Grafton Estate Settlement Trust own a farmhouse, several smaller properties and about 600 acres of land at Grafton Regis, where Lord Charles FitzRoy, the younger son of the 11th duke of Grafton, and his family have their home.
A full history of either the honor of Grafton or the Wakefield Lodge estate is beyond the scope of this volume, since important parts of both lay outside Cleley hundred. Similarly, although the eastern portion of Whittlewood, including Wakefield Lodge, falls within the hundred, a full history of the forest has been reserved for a later volume. (fn. 2) However, since the estate played such an important part in the history of a majority of the parishes in the hundred between the mid 16th century and the early 20th, it may be helpful to outline its main features here, as an introduction to the more detailed accounts given in the following chapters, especially that on Grafton Regis. A brief summary of the history of Whittlewood has been included in the section on Wakefield in the chapter on Potterspury.
The Honor of Grafton 1541-1660
The Act of 1541 (fn. 3) declared that from the following year the manor of Grafton (which, together with Hartwell, had been in Crown hands since 1527) (fn. 4) should be erected into an honor and should have a number of other estates annexed to it. In Northamptonshire these included the hundreds of Wymersley and Hamfordshoe, the forests of Whittlewood and Salcey, and also Yardley Chase, as well as Whaddon Chase in Buckinghamshire. In addition all the king's lands in a long list of manors within roughly a ten-mile radius of Grafton were brought into the honor, including Hartwell, Ashton, Roade, Courteenhall, Alderton, Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger, Sewardsley, Blisworth, Milton Malsor, Tiffield, Paulerspury, Towcester, Easton Neston, Hulcote, Abthorpe, Foscote, Greens Norton, Blakesley, Eastcote, Astcote, Dalscote, Bugbrooke, Rothersthorpe, Collingtree, Hardingstone, Wootton, Quinton, Slapton, Deanshanger, Yardley Gobion, Potterspury, Furtho, Cosgrove, Castle Ashby, Wicken and Delapre in Northamptonshire, together with Luffield, Hanslope, Castlethorpe, Haversham, Shenley, Little Horwood, Snelshall and Little Linford in Buckinghamshire. The extent of the honor within these places varied considerably, from a few shillings in quit rents at one extreme to the manor itself and most or all of the land of the parish at the other.
The Act further stated that from 1 May 1542 the manor of Grafton should be adjudged the 'chief and capital park and place' of the whole honor and that all the other places listed in the Act should be deemed parcel of the honor. All tenants of the honor were to continue to do suit as before to the courts of the individual manors; only for a few years in the 1540s and 1550s was a court held for the honor as a whole at Grafton. (fn. 5) The honor was to be administered by the Court of Augmentations, which was to grant leases there. Revenue from the honor was to be accounted for in the same way as that from other estates for which Augmentations was responsible, although the interests of forest officials in the income from Whittlewood and Salcey, and the parks belonging to those forests, was specifically safeguarded, as was the jurisdiction of the forest justices. There were similar provisions to protect the interests of the Duchy of Lancaster, as regards both accounting for income and the granting of leases, in the case of estates annexed to the honor which belonged to the Duchy.
The policy adopted by Augmentations after 1541 was to convert the tenancies at will, which seem to have been the main tenure on most of the manors in the early 16th century, into 21-year leases, a process largely completed by the end of Edward VI's reign, with most farms and cottages apparently remaining in the hands of their previous tenants. The small number of leaseholders on the estate in 1541 seem mainly to have surrendered their existing grants in return for new leases from the Crown, again for 21 years. Most, if not all, lessees were induced to surrender after about ten years and pay a fine in return for a new lease, again for 21 years. Towards the end of her reign, Queen Elizabeth's officials were prepared to grant leases for longer terms of years or, more commonly, three lives, and also made grants in reversion. Under James I the Exchequer continued the same policy towards farmers on the estate but also made extensive leases in reversion of large parts of the honor to courtiers and London merchants, thus jeopardising future income in return for immediate lump sums.
The only manors on the estate within Cleley in which copyhold tenure existed in 1541 were Potterspury and Moor End, the latter including premises in Paulerspury and Yardley Gobion. Officials made no attempt to convert customary tenure on either manor to leasehold, in contrast to the policy of the Duchy of Lancaster at Passenham during the later 16th century, and copyhold survived on both manors until the 1720s, when the 2nd duke of Grafton made a determined and successful attempt at abolition.
Henry VIII appears to have taken a keen personal interest in the Grafton estate, both before and after the creation of the honor. The Woodville family's former manor house at Grafton itself was greatly enlarged into a major royal palace, which the king visited for several weeks each summer and autumn in most of the later years of his reign. As well as transacting a good deal of state business on these occasions, Henry also came to hunt in the network of parks on the estate, which were enlarged in the 1540s. In particular, Grafton and Potterspury parks were extended to form a single tract of almost a thousand acres stretching from Grafton Manor to the eastern edge of Whittlewood.
Throughout the period in which the honor was in Crown hands, the keepership of the mansion and of the various parks on the estate, together with an impressive list of other offices and, in the 16th century, a lease of the consolidated demesne pastures at Grafton, was granted to a succession of great magnates. They in turn appointed local gentry and substantial yeomen as deputies who actually discharged the duties involved. When combined with similar opportunities offered by the royal forests of Salcey and Whittlewood, there was ample scope in the district for families who wished to combine farming with office-holding, even if there was rather less chance to acquire freehold estates.
In 1528, the year after Henry VIII acquired Grafton, John Williams, a rising young courtier who was knighted in 1537 and created Lord Williams of Thame in 1554, was granted a lease of all the rents and services of free and customary tenants and the demesne lands of the lordship of Grafton for 21 years at an annual rent of £60. (fn. 6) Williams surrendered in 1544 in return for a new lease for a further 21 years. (fn. 7) Four years earlier, he was made chief steward, bailiff and parker of the manors and parks of Grafton and Hartwell, and also keeper of Grafton Manor (offices previously all held by Sir John Russell), as well as chief steward of the manors of Ashton and Alderton and of lands lately purchased from William Marriott. (fn. 8) Also in 1544 Williams received a new grant of the office of chief steward of the honor, 'keeper of le woodeaxe' and feodary there, steward or bailiff of a number of manors within the honor, keeper of Stoke Park and of the mansion and park at Greens Norton, and master forester, parker and master of the hunt of deer in Whittlewood forest. (fn. 9)
In March 1559, shortly before his death, Williams wrote to Sir William Cecil, telling him that he had appointed him one of the supervisors of his will and had left him his interest in Grafton Pastures, (fn. 10) i.e. the lease of the demesnes of 1544. By this date Williams had given up his offices within the honor, which in January 1559 were granted for life to William Parr, marquess of Northampton, (fn. 11) four years after he had been promised the reversion on Williams's death or retirement. (fn. 12) Northampton himself died in October 1571; two months later the same offices were granted to Robert, earl of Leicester for his life. (fn. 13) Meanwhile, in January 1562 Cecil had taken a lease of the Grafton demesne lands for 21 years at a rent of £42 12s. 11d. a year; other lands at Grafton were leased to Northampton in May the same year. (fn. 14) Cecil (now Lord Burghley) surrendered his lease in 1576, when a new lease, again for 21 years at the same rent as before, of the same premises was made to Leicester. (fn. 15) It was around this date that Leicester wrote to Queen Elizabeth, encouraging her to include a visit to Grafton in one of her progresses. (fn. 16) Leicester died in 1588 and appears to have been succeeded at Grafton by Robert, earl of Essex, whose mother had previously been Leicester's wife. (fn. 17)
Under James I the lease of the Grafton demesnes was separated from the stewardship of the honor and other offices. In 1605 Lewis, duke of Lennox was appointed steward, (fn. 18) to be succeeded by James, duke of Buckingham and later, in 1629, by the earl of Dorset, who was also given the keepership of Grafton and Hartwell parks. (fn. 19) The demesne lease, meanwhile, was granted to Sir Robert Osborne, possibly in about 1621. (fn. 20)
No part of the honor was alienated during Henry VIII's reign but from shortly after his death a succession of manors, advowsons and lands were granted away, either in fee or with a quit rent reserved. A grant of the rectory of Easton Neston and other premises there in 1549 (fn. 21) was followed in 1550 by a gift of the manors of Greens Norton and Heathencote (in Paulerspury), with other lands in both places and several adjoining parishes, to William Parr, marquess of Northampton. (fn. 22) In 1551 Nicholas Throckmorton surrendered an annuity of £100 in return for the manors of Cosgrove, Paulerspury, Silverstone and Tiffield, together with Paulerspury park, all previously parcel of the honor, (fn. 23) and the next year the rectory and advowson of Potterspury were lost to the estate, (fn. 24) to be followed by the manor and advowson of Blakesley in 1553. (fn. 25) The buildings and site of Snelshall priory were granted away in 1554, (fn. 26) as was the manor of Foscote in 1557 (fn. 27) and that of Little Linford, also in Buckinghamshire, in 1560. (fn. 28) The manor and advowson of Slapton were sold off in 1565 (fn. 29) and three years later Exeter College, Oxford, acquired some of the possessions of Sewardsley nunnery, previously annexed to the honor. (fn. 30) In 1574 the earl of Leicester was granted lands in Wellingborough, late of Crowland abbey and subsequently annexed to the honor, (fn. 31) and also premises in Towcester and Abthorpe. (fn. 32) Other former Crowland land in Wellingborough was granted to Christopher Hatton two years later; (fn. 33) also in 1576 some of the lands late of St. James's abbey, Northampton, at Eastcote, Astcote and Pattishall were acquired by Roger Manners. (fn. 34)
Apart from these disposals, the honor remained directly under the control of Crown officials until James I's reign, when it was among the estates conveyed to the king's eldest son Henry when he was created Prince of Wales in 1610, and later to his other son Charles, when he in turn was made Prince of Wales in 1616, following Henry's death. (fn. 35) Prince Charles's trustees continued to grant 21-year leases within the honor, both in possession and reversion, but after he succeeded to the throne in 1625, and the honor reverted to direct Crown administration, officials were also prepared permanently to alienate further portions of the estate. In Cleley, two parks (Hartwell and Stoke Bruerne), several mills and a few of the larger farms were sold in this way in the 1620s and 1630s. (fn. 36) The mansion at Grafton seems to have been allowed to decay in the early 17th century, although James I made occasional visits.
Potentially more serious than piecemeal sales was the proposal in February 1627 to raise £6,000 on security of the honor lands, of which half was to be used for the maintenance of the king's sister, the queen of Bohemia. (fn. 37) Twelve months later the sum had been increased to £7,500, to be borrowed from Sir Francis Crane on security of a mortgage of the manors of Grafton, Hartwell, Alderton, Blisworth, Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger, Ashton, Greens Norton, Potterspury and Moor End; (fn. 38) Crane was also to be given the title of lord high steward of the honor and master of the game there. (fn. 39) The grant was embodied in letters patent issued in March 1629 and in August the same year an attempt was being made to identify the lands involved and the rents and other income due from the estate. (fn. 40) Crane, who was in residence at Grafton House by March 1632, (fn. 41) if not earlier, proposed to establish a tapestry factory at the mansion, on the same lines as the one at Mortlake, and to train apprentices, two at a time, in the art, (fn. 42) a project that came to nothing. (fn. 43) In July 1631 efforts were being made to repay a second sum of £5,000 which Crane had lent the king (out of a promised total of £6,000), (fn. 44) intending the money to be used for the purchase of lands worth £200 a year within the honor, another scheme that did not go ahead. (fn. 45)
By 1634 Crane was in dispute with several other courtiers concerning his loans to the king, notably Sir Miles Fleetwood, the receiver of the Court of Wards, who sued Crane in the Exchequer over Grafton business, (fn. 46) and Sir Robert Osborne, who had a lease of the demesne lands of Grafton manor. (fn. 47) Crane was accused of pulling down large parts of Grafton House to use the materials (valued at over £4,000) to rebuild the lodge in Stoke Park; (fn. 48) he was also said to have taken a forfeiture of the honor because of the king's failure to repay the loan of £7,500 and to have held courts, received rents and fines, let estates and disposed of livings. (fn. 49) Crane's answer to the Council, to whom Osborne had made these complaints, was that he had neither intended nor taken any forfeiture in respect of the mortgage of £7,500 and in the case of the loan of £5,000 he simply wished to withdraw from the bargain. He also claimed, probably with some justification, that Osborne had brought these charges merely to damage Crane, not discover the truth, (fn. 50) although Osborne for his part insisted that he only wanted to see Grafton redeemed by the Crown, since the mansion there remained 'the bravest and best seat in the kingdom, a seat for a prince and not a subject'. (fn. 51)
Efforts to redeem Grafton continued and in May 1638, nearly two years after Crane's death, (fn. 52) Fleetwood, who had been employed by royal warrant to raise money to this end, was petitioning for some recompense for the costs he had incurred in bringing a suit in the Exchequer against Crane. He asked for £700 as part-repayment of a loan of £1,000 he had been obliged to take out, together with the reversion of Moor End Farm and the inn at Grafton. (fn. 53) Matters appear to have been resolved by October that year, when Lady Crane accepted a grant for her life of Grafton House at 10s. a year, in return for the surrender of a lease for 31 years. (fn. 54)
In 1638-9 the Crown leased large parts of the honor in reversion, (fn. 55) and a few years later what proved to be permanent damage was done to the estate. In 1641 Charles I granted the office of keeper of Grafton and Potterspury parks to Thomas Marsham of London and Ferdinand Marsham for their lives, with a stipend of 2d. a day for each park and the herbage and pannage of the parks, together with the browsing wood, windfall wood and dead wood. Three years later the king sold the two parks outright to Sir George Strode of Westerham and Arthur Duck of Chiswick for £7,000, subject to the earlier grant to the Marshams. (fn. 56) At the Restoration Strode and Duck's heirs petitioned to secure the benefit of this grant, which they had been prevented from enjoying during the Interregnum, (fn. 57) whereas Crown officials were more concerned to redeem what they considered to be a mortgage of £7,000 on the estate. (fn. 58) Their efforts were unsuccessful and in 1669-70 the Grafton Park estate (including both Grafton and Potterspury parks) was acquired by William Harbord, (fn. 59) who in 1671 asked the Crown either to redeem the mortgage or give him an absolute grant of the estate, which was now charged with an annuity of £250 a year to Ferdinand Marsham. (fn. 60) Two years later the Treasury authorised the payment of £9,000 to Harbord for the purchase of the Grafton Park estate and agreed to pay Marsham's annuity out of the Duchy of Cornwall. (fn. 61) In the event, the estate was not recovered by the Crown and almost a thousand acres of land, divided between the parishes of Grafton, Potterspury, Alderton and Paulerspury, were lost permanently. (fn. 62)
The honor, like the rest of the Crown lands, was surveyed by order of Parliament in 1650 and a number of sales followed. The parliamentary surveys are of interest partly because of the detail in which individual houses and farms are described and partly because they reveal the extent to which the estate had been leased in reversion in the previous half-century. Most of the premises offered for sale were subject to at least one lease, and sometimes two or three, that had several years to run. Some were encumbered with the particularly unattractive combination of a late 16thcentury grant for three lives to lessees who had proved unusually long-lived, at the end of which one of the leases for 60 years in reversion of 1638-9 would commence. Anyone buying such a property would have had to wait some years, without knowing exactly how many, before securing possession of his purchase. (fn. 63)
The Honor of Grafton, 1660-1705
Although sales in the honor, as elsewhere, during the Interregnum were declared void after the Restoration, officials faced other problems in the early 1660s, as petitions flooded in from a variety of individuals, prominent and obscure, seeking the rewewal of grants of lands or offices and the repayment of loans said to have been secured on the honor. (fn. 64) In particular, several suitors sought to succeed Sir Robert Osborne in the lease of Grafton demesnes, including Sir Gervase Lucas, (fn. 65) Col. John Griffen, (fn. 66) Sir Charles Gaudy, (fn. 67) and William Downhall. (fn. 68) In February 1661 Marthana Wilson, the executrix of Mary Crane, widow of Sir Francis, petitioned for a lease of the mansion at Grafton in which Mary had lived after her husband's death. (fn. 69) She herself had died in 1645. (fn. 70)
There were similar, if fewer, petitioners seeking the office of steward of the honor, including the earl of Dorset, who claimed quite wrongly that his ancestors had held the office for the past century, (fn. 71) and Major Robert Walters, another old soldier said to have fallen on hard times. (fn. 72) Walters secured the office in January 1661 (fn. 73) and, perhaps thus encouraged, later the same year joined those seeking a lease of the demesnes at Grafton and other premises. (fn. 74) In November 1662 Ralph Montague petitioned for a renewal of the lease, due to expire at Lady Day 1663, (fn. 75) which by this date was in Downhall's hands as Osborne's executor. (fn. 76)
Eventually, the choice of a new lessee fell on Charles, Viscount Fitzhardinge, who in February 1664 offered to take the mansion and demesnes at Grafton, together with other lands at Moor End, Greens Norton and Alderton, at double the old rent in each case. (fn. 77) He was accordingly granted a lease of the demesnes for 21 years at £85 5s. 10d., plus £1 for the mansion. (fn. 78) Fitzhardinge was created earl of Falmouth in March 1664 but died without issue in June the following year. (fn. 79) His widow continued to live at Grafton House for some time afterwards, probably until shortly before her marriage in 1674 to Charles earl of Dorset. (fn. 80) During these years a local yeoman noted that 'Mr Wilkes of Ashton seteth the grounds for her and maketh account to live in the house himself.' (fn. 81)
About a year before Osborne's lease expired, Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. The honor was among the Crown estates intended to be settled on the trustees of the queen's marriage and thus all the numerous petitions concerning Grafton received since the Restoration were referred to the Surveyor-General. (fn. 82) Queen Catherine's trustees were already pressing for the estate to be settled on her before the end of 1663, (fn. 83) but only in June 1665 was a grant made to the queen for her life of the honor, less the Grafton Park estate but including the mansion and demesnes at Grafton leased to Fitzhardinge. After the loss of Grafton and Potterspury parks and the piecemeal alienations of the 16th and 17th centuries, the estate was said to consist of the manors of Grafton, Hartwell, Alderton, Blisworth, Stoke Bruerne, Greens Norton, Potterspury, Moor End, Ashton and Paulerspury, together with lands in all those places and in Roade, Tiffield, Eastcote, Cotton End, Grimscote, Little Houghton, Hardingstone, Northampton, Shutlanger and Hanslope (Bucks.). In addition the queen became entitled to the office of feodary of the honor of Grafton, the tolls of Old Stratford and rents of assize throughout the honor. The underwood of Salcey and Whittlewood were included in the grant but the timber was reserved to the Crown. (fn. 84) A few months after the patent was issued, the queen's council ordered officials to discover what exactly was included in the grant and which parts of the honor were in or out of lease. (fn. 85)
Once they had established what they had acquired, the queen's council administered the honor on much the same lines as their predecessors since the 1540s. The customary tenants on the manors of Potterspury and Moor End were allowed to pay fines to add new lives to their copies, thus giving them more or less permanent security of tenure, while the leaseholders were fined every few years in return for new leases in reversion so as to maintain a term in being of 21 years. For example, a tenant with a 21-year lease granted in 1665 would find himself summoned in 1675 to pay a fine for a lease for ten years beginning in 1686. No attempt was made to increase the rents payable under the leases, which remained those first set by Augmentations in Edward VI's reign, subject in a few cases, for example at Paulerspury, to increments imposed in the early 17th century.
Under the terms of the grant of 1665 the honor was to revert after the queen's death to the Crown. In 1673, however, Charles II granted the estate in reversion, after Catherine's death, to Henry earl of Arlington for his life, with remainder in tail male to Henry FitzRoy, the king's second son by Barbara Villiers, duchess of Cleveland, and further remainders to Henry's brothers. This new patent included all the lands previously granted to the queen. (fn. 86) Also in 1673, Lady Falmouth was paid £11,289 2s. to surrender her leases of the mansion and demesnes at Grafton, the farm at Moor End and the Greens Norton demesnes, which had been granted to her late husband ten years before (fn. 87) and which were now leased to Arlington. (fn. 88) In 1672 Arlington's only daughter and heiress Isabella married Henry FitzRoy when she was five years old and he nine; they were remarried in 1679 when she was 12, four years after FitzRoy, created earl of Euston in 1672, had been made duke of Grafton. (fn. 89)
By the grant of 1673 Charles II, according to a petition from the tenants at the time, divested himself of one of the Crown's principal estates, said to be worth more than £40,000 a year if in hand. The tenants complained that over a thousand families had for generations held manors, farms and other tenements at small rents on leases for lives which they had been permitted to renew like other Crown tenants, but might not be able to do in the future. They further complained that Charles I had mortgaged the honor to Sir Francis Crane, that the tenants had raised money to redeem the mortgage and had expended further sums during the Civil War to save the woods on the estate from damage, but had been hindered from renewing their leases since the Restoration. (fn. 90) The tenants' estimate of the value of the estate was greatly exaggerated. Rents listed in the patent of 1673 total about £700 a year, together with a further £400 from the underwood of Whittlewood and £130 from Salcey, (fn. 91) and in 1680 the bailiff of the honor was charged with only £332 gross (£299 net) for half a year's rent. (fn. 92)
The reversionary grant of the honor of Grafton was only part of the provision which Charles II made for his sons by the duchess of Cleveland. In 1669 he granted an annuity of £4,700, charged on the General Post Office, to trustees for the then countess of Castlemaine for her life, who was given power to vary the uses of the trust. This she did in 1685, dividing the income after her death between Henry and her third son George, who died without issue in 1716, when the entire sum passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton. (fn. 93) More important was a grant of 1672 to George FitzRoy, with successive remainders in default of issue to his brothers, of the duties known as prizage and butlerage on all wines imported into England, except through ports in the Duchy of Lancaster, the Duchy of Cornwall and the Principality of Wales. After George died without issue, the income passed to Charles, later duke of Cleveland, whose only surviving son, William, died without male issue in 1774, when the 3rd duke of Grafton became entitled to the grant. (fn. 94) Thirdly, in 1674 the king granted three separate annuities of £3,000 to each of the sons, charged on the Excise, with remainders from one to the other. Once again, in 1774 the entire sum devolved on the 3rd duke. (fn. 95)
Within a few months of the reversionary grant of the honor, Arlington proposed that he should take a lease of the estate. (fn. 96) The matter was fully discussed by the queen's council in March 1674. Arlington offered to pay all the existing rents in a single sum, thus reducing arrears, the cost of collection, and losses through incompetent or dishonest officials; to pay a single fine for renewal at a specified time, in place of the small sums paid by a large number of tenants at irregular intervals; and to manage the wood sales so as to produce a more consistent sum from year to year. The tenants petitioned against the proposal, arguing that several large farms, including Grafton Pastures, were in lease for many years to come, giving Arlington limited scope for improving the estate, and fearing that, as premises came out of lease, fines and rents would be increased. The present arrangements did not in any way prejudice Arlington's (and Euston's) reversionary interest in the honor. (fn. 97)
The council advised the queen that she had the power to lease the honor for up to 21 years, which might well be to her advantage, but declined to act without knowing her wishes. (fn. 98) The queen appears to have been inclined to grant Arlington's request but in November 1674 he withdrew his proposals in view of the tenants' opposition. (fn. 99) Arlington then proposed to take a lease of Whittlewood and Salcey, which again the council considered seriously, (fn. 100) although nothing came of the idea and the estate continued to be managed directly for the rest of the queen's life.
Arlington died in 1685, twenty years before Queen Catherine, and therefore never inherited the honor, which instead passed to the 1st duke of Grafton, as did the lease of the mansion and demesnes at Grafton Regis. (fn. 101) Henry and Isabella's only child, a son named Charles, was born in 1683 and succeeded as 2nd duke seven years later when his father was killed at the siege of Cork. (fn. 102) In 1698 Duchess Isabella, who had succeeded her father as countess of Arlington sue jure, married Sir Thomas Hanmer, a High Tory M.P. between 1701 and 1727 and Speaker in 1713. (fn. 103) In 1700 Hanmer acquired the lease of the mansion and demesnes at Grafton, which he retained until 1721. (fn. 104) For at least part of the 1690s the house was occupied by the duke of Shrewsbury. (fn. 105)
The Wakefield Lodge Estate, 1706-1811
Queen Catherine finally died on New Year's Eve 1705 (fn. 106) and thus the honor of Grafton passed to the 2nd duke of Grafton, who had tried unsuccessfully to buy out the queen's interest three years before. (fn. 107) Grafton House and the demesnes, however, remained in the hands of his mother and her second husband. In fact, Duchess Isabella seems to have retained some interest in the estate as a whole until her own death in February 1723. Although Duke Charles was certainly granting leases from 1706 (fn. 108) and rentals of this period were drawn up in his name, (fn. 109) it is clear that he did not take full control of the estate after his mother died. Not only do the surviving court books begin only in 1723, but the following year the duke appointed a body of commissioners to help him modernise the administration of the estate, (fn. 110) a step he might have been expected to take before then had he enjoyed complete freedom of action. From about 1723-4, however, the management of the honor was clearly in the duke's hands and remained so until his death in 1757.
Duke Charles did not make Grafton House his family's Northamptonshire seat. When Hanmer's lease of the mansion and demesnes expired in 1721, the premises were leased (at a much increased rent) to a Towcester grazier and thereafter simply became the largest of the farms on the estate at Grafton. The duke chose to live at Wakefield Lodge, a few miles away on the eastern edge of Whittlewood Forest, near the village of Potterspury. Grafton acquired Wakefield by virtue of his office as keeper of Whittlewood and from about 1745 began to rebuild the house to a design by William Kent. (fn. 111) The mansion thus became the administrative centre of what was known by the end of the 18th century as the Wakefield Lodge estate, rather than the honor of Grafton.
The reorganisation by the 2nd duke and his commissioners began with the preparation of a comprehensive survey by Joseph Collier and William Baker, when, apparently for the first time, the estate was mapped. (fn. 112) The commissioners also summoned the tenants of the different manors to establish which farms were out of lease and which lands were freeholds intermixed with the duke's lands, and to resolve various other problems. (fn. 113) The Crown appears to have handed over few, if any, records to the duke's officials to help them administer an estate of about 15,000 acres. (fn. 114) In 1706 the duke complained that the queen's trustees were delaying delivery of the counterpart leases relating to the honor and was advised to sue in Chancery. (fn. 115) Thirty years later he was urged to interview the relevant Crown officials to establish the customs and services due at the various manor courts within the honor, but nothing was done (fn. 116) and no court books were handed over. (fn. 117) In 1748 the duke's steward was having difficulty collecting quit rents because he was uncertain of the amounts due. (fn. 118)
Initially the commissioners planned to inclose all the manors on the estate, beginning with Grafton Regis and Greens Norton. In practice, only Grafton's common fields were dealt with (through an agreement with the incumbent confirmed by a private Act) and most of the estate was inclosed under later Acts, with the usual apparatus of commissioners and surveyors, in the late 18th century and early 19th. At Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger intransigent incumbents delayed inclosure until the early 1840s, when the process collided with the commutation of tithe under the general Act of 1836.
The duke's officials had more success in replacing the archaic system of 21-year leases at low fixed rents and entry fines with modern leases for 12 years or less at rackrent. By the early 1730s, except for a few cases where 17th-century leases in reversion still had years to come, the whole estate seems to have been converted, and over the following twenty years there was a second shift from leasing to tenancies at will. When the estate was surveyed after the death of the 2nd duke in 1757 many of the farms were already let in this way and by the 1780s the transition was complete. Thereafter the estate continued to be managed through yearly tenancies until it was broken up. (fn. 119) The 2nd duke also launched a vigorous attack on customary tenure on the manors of Potterspury and Moor End, taking a test case to the House of Lords, which overturned a judgment against him in a lower court and enabled him to refuse any further renewals. The last copyholds for lives expired shortly before his death.
One of the commissioners of the 1720s was William Sherd, who remained the steward of the Wakefield Lodge estate until his death in 1751. (fn. 120) He was succeeded by Thomas Bedford, who moved from Euston in October 1752 (fn. 121) and stayed until his own death in 1783, when he was buried at Potterspury. (fn. 122)
In the 1750s the 2nd duke's annual income from his Northamptonshire estates was reckoned to be £6,000, compared with £2,800 from those in Suffolk and Norfolk. In addition, he was entitled to the pensions charged on the Excise (then worth £4,500) and the Post Office (£4,700), granted by Charles II to his father. (fn. 123) In the late 1770s the Wakefield Lodge estate had a gross income of about £8,000 a year, of which about £5,000 was remitted to the duke. (fn. 124)
Duke Charles made a few small purchases of additional land in Northamptonshire, a process which his grandson and successor, Augustus Henry, continued on a larger scale. (fn. 125) The 3rd duke also completed the rebuilding of Wakefield Lodge and considerably enlarged the home farm there. (fn. 126) As well as inclosing much of the common-field land on the estate, Duke Augustus and his stewards pursued a steady policy of amalgamating farms into larger units as tenancies fell in, at the same time modestly raising rents. Towards the end of his life the rate of change accelerated, probably in part thanks to the prosperous farming conditions during the war with France, so that when the estate was surveyed following his death in 1811 the number of farms was much smaller, and the rents much higher, than had been the case in 1757. (fn. 127) In the 12 years between 1794 and 1805 the gross annual income of the Wakefield Lodge Estate averaged £10,600, of which the duke drew just under half for his own use (on average £5,060 a year), (fn. 128) a slightly smaller proportion than 20 years earlier.
The Wakefield Lodge Estate, 1811-1918
Among the first tasks facing the 4th duke was to deal with the loss of the income from prizage of wines granted to the 1st duke by Charles II. (fn. 129) In 1785 and again in 1797 the government was urged to revest the income in the Crown but not until 1803 was an Act passed enabling this to be done. (fn. 130) In 1806 the 3rd duke received an annuity of £6,870 in place of the duties, with power to request that up to a third of that sum be funded. In 1807 he made such a request and the following year stock to the value of £76,333 6s. 8d. was transferred to a trustee account at the Bank of England, the annuity at the same time being reduced to £4,580. (fn. 131)
In 1815 the 4th duke secured an Act enabling the rest of the annuity to be funded. (fn. 132) The balance in the Prizage Fund was thus increased to £229,000, on which the duke (and his successors) could draw to purchase freehold estates, subject to the consent of the Court of Chancery. The first such request was made in 1816 and others followed over the next ten years, initially to enable the 4th duke to purchase from his father's executors some 32 separate, mostly quite small, estates which the 3rd duke had acquired over the previous half-century. (fn. 133) By 1831 the fund had been reduced to £103,000. (fn. 134)
The report on the estate after the death of the 3rd duke in 1811 suggested that there was further scope for raising rents and inclosing the remaining common-field parishes. Both policies were immediately implemented. In the seven years between 1816 and 1822 for which figures are available gross annual receipts averaged £18,700, of which £8,400 was drawn as income. (fn. 135) Inclosure awards were made for Alderton, Paulerspury, Ashton and Roade in 1819-22, Hartwell in 1828, and finally Stoke Bruerne in 1841-4, with corresponding farm amalgamations and increases in rent. In each case the cost was simply charged against current revenue, which remained able to bear it without creating a deficit or forcing the duke to reduce his drawings. (fn. 136) On the other hand, the estate shared in the slump following the end of the Napoleonic War, when rents had to be abated. (fn. 137) Although the cottage rental was raised from £300 to £800 following the survey of 1811, little of this could be collected and it was deemed prudent to avoid evictions during the years of 'well known excitement' of the 1820s. (fn. 138) In 1830 the duke described the 'melancholy picture' painted by his London attorney, John Parkinson, who audited the estate accounts, of 'great expense and little profit', with no humane means of improvement. There was only limited scope to recover arrears on the farm rental and less in the case of the cottages. (fn. 139)
Part of the problem was the incompetence and dishonesty of the duke's longserving steward, John Roper, who had been appointed in 1783 on a salary of £100 a year, £30 board wages, £18 riding expenses, and the services of the household apothecary. For the first four years he lived at Wakefield Lodge (as Sherd and Bedford had done), before moving to a farm tenancy on the estate, although he continued to conduct business from Wakefield. (fn. 140) He also leased Yardley Wharf on the Grand Junction Canal, from where he dealt on a large scale in coal, bricks, tiles, lime etc., all of which he supplied to both the house and estate. (fn. 141) Until 1816 Roper's accounts were merely agreed by the duke, up to two or three years after the end of the year in question, with no external audit. (fn. 142) Thereafter Parkinson acted as auditor, certifying the accounts within eight months of the year-end, (fn. 143) and in the 1820s began to raise doubts about Roper. This eventually led to his dismissal in 1831 and a protracted attempt to secure compensation for his defalcations. (fn. 144)
Roper's successor was John Cooper, who came from Euston (fn. 145) and in 1833 gave evidence to the Select Committee on Agriculture, drawing attention to the fall in rents on the Wakefield Lodge estate since 1815, the failure of farmers (because of lack of capital) to use artificial manures needed to raise output on heavy soil, the very high poor rates, and the ease with which the ablebodied could obtain relief. (fn. 146) Cooper died in January 1837 (fn. 147) and was replaced by John Gardner. He seems to have been the first agent to live at Hill House, Potterspury, which became the estate office. (fn. 148) He also opened a local bank account for the estate, with Oliver & York in Stony Stratford, through whom the rents were remitted to Drummond's, the dukes' London banker. (fn. 149) Before then, except for a short period in 1818-20 when the money was entrusted to Oliver's, (fn. 150) cash and bills were taken by both Bedford and Roper in a coach, with guards, directly to London. (fn. 151) After Oliver's failed early in 1843, (fn. 152) the account was moved to Percival's bank at Towcester. (fn. 153) It remained with the firm, and its successors, until the estate was broken up. (fn. 154)
More fundamentally, Gardner persuaded the 4th duke, a few years before his death in 1844, to institute a vigorous policy of rebuilding farmsteads throughout the estate. In some cases obsolete farm buildings were replaced with imposing quadrangles of barns, stables and cattle-sheds, built of coursed rubble limestone with slate or tile roofs, without the farmhouse itself being rebuilt. Elsewhere the houses were replaced with substantial four-square late Georgian buildings, again of coursed limestone (perhaps with ironstone quoins and dressings to the doors and windows), usually beneath a hipped slate roof. Where only the buildings were replaced, and in some cases where a new house was also erected, these 'model farms' (as they have come to be called, although the term is not found in contemporary estate papers) stood on the village street, flanked by older farmhouses and cottages. In some parishes, however, the new farmsteads were established outside the village on former common-field land that had been consolidated into larger holdings as a result of inclosure over the previous halfcentury. Perhaps the most striking results of the policy were to be seen in Stoke Bruerne parish, where three large farmsteads were built on new sites immediately following inclosure. All were of conventional design but Shutlanger Grove was unusual in that both house and buildings were entirely of brick, much of it made on site. (fn. 155)
This extensive rebuilding evidently attracted criticism, which Gardner rebutted forcefully, arguing that better farms attracted better tenants who paid better rents. Under Cooper, the farm rental was about £14,500 a year (plus £930 in cottage rents); between 1836 and 1844 Gardner lifted the figures to around £18,700 and £1,000, without, he claimed, any removal of tenants or other inconvenience. As well as the building programme, he had overseen the inclosure of Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger and purchases totalling £20,000. (fn. 156) The very fact that Gardner drew up a memorandum defending his policy suggests that it was not welcomed in all quarters and he left the 5th duke's service in 1851, moving first to Loughton (Bucks.) and then Brodsworth (Yorks.). (fn. 157) His successor was John Simpson, who was in his early thirties when appointed (fn. 158) and stayed for over forty years until he retired to Leckhampstead (Bucks.) in 1894. (fn. 159)
The improvements of the 1840s raised the total receipts from the Wakefield Lodge estate from about £18,000 a year in Cooper's time to nearly £27,000 a year under Gardner. In the 1830s a round figure of between £7,000 and £9,000 a year was remitted to the duke, whereas in the 1840s the duke's personal account was credited with the entire surplus after outgoings. These remained around £10,000 a year, even in the period in which the new farms were being built and Stoke and Shutlanger were being inclosed. In both cases the additional expense was met from current revenue. The duke's income thus rose to between £17,000 and £18,000 during Gardner's period as steward. The same arrangement continued for a few years under Cooper, until in 1855-6 the practice of paying the duke a round figure (£12,400 or £12,800 a year) was restored. The duke's drawings remained at this level until at least 1868. Gross income fluctuated between £20,000 and £25,000 a year in the 1850s and 1860s and, as before, exceptional expenditure (for example at the time of the disafforestation of Whittlewood) was charged against revenue. (fn. 160)
Gardner was fortunate in that the rebuilding campaign of the 1840s was undertaken just before the era of High Farming, in which it was possible to find good tenants with the resources to rent and stock large farms and who wanted sets of buildings intended for predominantly arable holdings. By contrast, on the neighbouring Easton Neston estate, which in 1867 passed from the last earl of Pomfret to a Lancashire landowner, Thomas Hesketh, who married one of the earl's sisters, a similar policy was completed shortly before the depression in arable farming began in the 1870s, leading to the suggestion that money had been illspent on unduly ambitious projects. (fn. 161)
No further large-scale renewal of farmsteads was undertaken on the Grafton estate in the later 19th century, nor was there much rebuilding of cottages. A few rows were erected in a prominent position on the High Street in Potterspury, the village with which the estate had closest links, since it stood at the entrance to Wakefield Lodge (but at the same time was an open village with a large stock of very poor cottages belonging to small owners), and smaller numbers were built in other villages in which the estate was the major owner. Some were simply of coursed rubble limestone in the local vernacular tradition, others (for example in Hartwell and Stoke Bruerne) stood out from their neighbours as cottages ornées. But it cannot be said that the estate spent similar sums on their cottages as they did, at least in the 1840s, on their farms.
The legacy of this contrast became clear at the time of the sales of 1913-20, when most of the farms could legitimately be described as modern and well-built, whereas much of the cottage stock was in poor condition and attracted little interest. The tenants lacked the means to buy their homes and investors lacked the inclination, leaving the local authority with the formidable task of closing houses unfit for human habitation and erecting new ones in their place. After a slow start, both Potterspury Rural District Council and its successor, Towcester R.D.C., tackled the problem with vigour before and after the Second World War. (fn. 162)
What further improvement to farming on the estate took place after the 4th duke's time was mainly connected with the disafforestation and inclosure of the eastern portion of Whittlewood, centring on Wakefield Lodge, which was carried out by commissioners under an Act of 1853. The 5th duke was entitled to compensation for loss of office as ranger of the forest and thus acquired the freehold of Wakefield Lodge and park. At the same time the estate made extensive purchases of former forest land in Potterspury, including both woods surrounding the mansion and arable which was added to the home farm at Wakefield. The cost was met from the Prizage Fund, which was thereby reduced to about £30,500, at which it remained until after the sale of the Wakefield Lodge Estate. The 10th and 11th dukes later used the remaining balance to buy farms in Norfolk and Suffolk. (fn. 163)
The Wakefield Lodge Estate, like the district as a whole, was not greatly affected by industrialisation. The 3rd duke was a prominent supporter of the Grand Junction Canal, authorised in 1793 and finally completed in 1805 as a trunk route from London to Birmingham, of which a lengthy stretch in Northamptonshire passed through Grafton lands. This included the major engineering work on the line, a long summit tunnel between Stoke Bruerne and Blisworth. At both villages public wharfs were established, which during the heyday of the canal handled a good deal of traffic, although certainly at Stoke Bruerne the canal's impact on what remained essentially a farming community should not be overstated. Forty years after the canal was built, the London & Birmingham Railway, opened in 1838, followed much the same route through the county and the Grafton estate. On this occasion the two villages on the estate most affected were Roade and Blisworth. Both acquired stations which for a few years (until the branch to Peterborough was built in the 1840s) provided the nearest access to the main line for travellers to and from Northampton. After Bridge Street station was opened in Northampton, Roade seems to have gone into a decline and there was little new building in the village attributable to the arrival of the railway.
Similarly, neither canal nor railway led to much industrial development. Bricks were made at Stoke Bruerne when the canal was being built and a canalside brickyard, rented from the estate, remained in use there for most of the 19th century. Just outside Cleley hundred at Blisworth, where John Roper had worked a limestone quarry connected to the canal by a short tramroad, (fn. 164) and there was an abortive search for coal by George Tissington in 1805, (fn. 165) attempts were later made to exploit the rather thin ironstone measures, using first the canal and then the railway to send output to the Midlands. Little came of the venture, (fn. 166) nor of an exploration of the ironstone at Abthorpe in the 1870s. (fn. 167) Several brickyards and limestone quarries were established on the estate, reliant entirely on road transport, (fn. 168) but neither the dukes nor their agents actively sought to develop its mineral resources, nor to promote additional railways that might have made such development possible. There is no evidence from which to judge whether this was through inertia, a distaste for industry intruding into a rural estate, or a definite decision that the scope for industrial development was so limited that capital expenditure, for example on railway promotion, could not be justified. It may have been all three.
As with agricultural improvements, there is a contrast between the Grafton estate and their neighbours at Easton Neston, where the Fermor-Heskeths tried hard to develop their ironstone, including taking shares in companies promoted by lessees, with disappointing results. (fn. 169) Similarly, they remained indefatigable supporters of ill-fated schemes to build an east-west railway from Blisworth to Banbury via Towcester, which was seen as a means of exporting ironstone to South Wales and facilitating the development of their estate around Towcester. Their agent gave evidence in support of bills for railways on this route, whereas the Grafton agent did not. (fn. 170)
At about the same time as the Whittlewood disafforestation, the 5th duke was also in negotiation with the Treasury for the redemption of two perpetual pensions and a sinecure office granted to his ancestor by Charles II. The latter, the receivergeneralship of the profits of the seals in the courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, was abolished in 1845, and the Excise and Post Office pensions were redeemed in 1856-7. In all three cases the duke was granted a capital sum in stock based on 27 years' purchase, and in all three he suffered a slight drop in income. His total loss was £1,390 a year out of an income which had previously amounted to about £11,000 after tax. (fn. 171)
The 5th duke received £193,000 for the Excise pension and £91,000 for the Post Office pension; he also raised over £6,000 from the sale in 1855 of land in Whittlebury and Silverstone to the 3rd Lord Southampton, (fn. 172) the only significant disposal by the estate in the 19th century. Initially the proceeds were invested in government securities but after he succeeded in 1863 the 6th duke sold sufficient stock to raise £73,000 to lend on mortgage to the duke of Newcastle. Most of the rest was sold in 1870. (fn. 173) Much of the sum realised by the second sale appears also to have been lent on mortgage, to either Lord Anglesey or Lord Cawdor. (fn. 174) Some of the remaining stock was used to buy additional property in both Northamptonshire and Suffolk, although in 1881 the settled estate still included £41,000 in securities. (fn. 175) Shortly before his death in 1882 the duke was among those attacked by Charles Bradlaugh in his parliamentary campaign against perpetual pensions, (fn. 176) which he revived in 1886. In 1887 the 7th duke had to submit a list of estates bought from the Prizage Fund to a select committee (on which Bradlaugh served), whose report successfully recommended the commutation of any remaining annuities. It also criticised as unduly generous the practice of paying 27 years' purchase on earlier redemptions. (fn. 177)
Both Wakefield and Euston survived the late 19th-century depression in farming but income from Northamptonshire dropped sharply. In 1883, a year after he succeeded, the 7th duke conceded a general reduction on the farm rental of 25 per cent and in 1888 another of 10 per cent on the reduced figures of five years earlier; (fn. 178) in some cases private arrangements to reduce a particular tenant's rent further were agreed. (fn. 179) The published figure for the Northamptonshire estate in 1883 (14,650 acres worth £28,000 a year) (fn. 180) appears extremely optimistic. (fn. 181) There were no major purchases in Northamptonshire in this period, although occasional acquisitions were still made, for example at Potterspury, where the mill, sold off by the Crown in Charles I's time, was restored to the estate in 1891. Equally, there were few if any disposals, apart from sites for churches, schools and burial grounds, which the dukes were always ready to provide, usually without charge. (fn. 182) The estate was also required to sell some land for the ill-fated Stratford-upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway scheme of 1888-9, where the sale was complicated because both the company's chaotic finances and the Prizage Fund (the owner of most of the land) were under the control of the Court of Chancery. (fn. 183)
All the 19th-century dukes were generous supporters of churches, schools and other institutions in parishes on the estate, and the 7th duke in particular was a conscientious member of several local authorities in the area. (fn. 184) From 1894 the management of the estate was in the hands of William Paterson, who was a leading member of Potterspury parish council from its inception the same year, and emerges from both parish and estate records as a commanding, not to say brusque, figure.
The end of a great estate
Although some improvement in rents on the estate is discernible after 1900, (fn. 185) the 7th duke's advisers evidently felt that a reduction in acreage to release capital was desirable and in 1913 some 2,120 acres were put up for auction, described, as so often in such cases, as 'outlying portions' of the estate. While this could reasonably be said of holdings in Blakesley, Maidford and Woodend, it was hardly true of Ashton, Roade and Hartwell, which adjoined the historic heart of the estate at Grafton. Eight farms, as well as cottages and smallholdings, with a total rental of £2,200 a year, were offered for sale. (fn. 186)
At this date the estate appears still to have been paying its way, although not on the scale of forty years earlier. In the year to 30 June 1914 total receipts were £21,400 (plus a balance brought forward of £4,700) and outgoings £17,300. Remittances to the duke totalled £5,600, less than half the figure of the 1860s. Almost all the income came from farm rents: over £14,000 compared with less than £2,000 from the cottages, which was little more than the cost of repairs, whereas repairs on the farms cost only slightly over 10 per cent of the rental. The brickyard at Meanfallow made a net profit of less than £100 and expenditure on Wakefield Home Farm was £4,500, compared with receipts of £1,300. The mansion absorbed £1,200 and the stables a further £700. (fn. 187) The estate then included land in 20 parishes: (fn. 188) the largest holdings were in Blisworth, Greens Norton, Potterspury, Grafton Regis, Stoke Bruerne and Yardley Gobion. (fn. 189)
The First World War affected the Graftons in much the same way as it did all landed families, but the general problems were considerably aggravated by the 7th duke's death, aged 97, in 1918, which created a large liability to death duties. (fn. 190) His son, succeeding at the age of 68, appears at once to have accepted advice that one of the family's two estates would have to be sold. It was decided that Wakefield should be disposed of, so as to ensure the survival of Euston, which would no longer be self-supporting. (fn. 191) In addition, the 7th duke's executors needed cash, or assets that could easily be realised, to meet pressing demands from the Inland Revenue. The position was therefore not helped by the inability of either the Anglesey or Cawdor estates to repay the money lent to them on mortgage, where in both cases the Grafton estate had to foreclose. (fn. 192)
Despite these underlying problems, the Northamptonshire estate continued to generate a useful surplus. In 1918-19 income of £23,000 was added to a balance in hand of £8,750, against payments of £17,400, enabling £12,000 to be remitted to the duke. (fn. 193) Meanwhile, throughout 1919 preparations were made to sell almost 8,000 acres in Northamptonshire, with tenants being allowed, as was customary, to buy their own holdings at the reserve prices. Many took up the offer, with the result that of the 209 lots, 132 were sold privately for £122,300. Only 18 of the remaining 77 lots failed to sell at the auction, which realised £46,600 (excluding the timber on some lots, which the purchasers took at valuation). (fn. 194) The auctioneers tried to reassure the duke that much of the talk locally of tenants quickly selling on at a large profit was unfounded or exaggerated. They also hinted that Paterson's reserves on the woodland, which had generally not sold, were far too high. (fn. 195)
Since many of the sales took some time to complete, rent receipts remained buoyant in 1919-20 at £27,000 (plus £2,300 brought forward), against payments of £20,000, enabling the duke to draw just under £8,000. (fn. 196)
Most of the rest of the estate was prepared for sale in the autumn of 1920. In May lots with reserves totalling £157,800 and a rental of £6,400 were offered to tenants, but by the autumn only £42,400 had been realised from sales of lots with reserves of £37,000, plus £1,500 for timber. (fn. 197) The auction of the remaining 4,500 acres in December 1920 (fn. 198) was disappointing. Only 43 out of 125 lots were sold, raising £36,750. As the duke gloomily observed, even if everything had been sold at similar prices, the sale would have raised only £107,000, which he dismissed as a dead loss. (fn. 199) Paterson remained doggedly optimistic in the aftermath of the sale, reporting every sign of interest in the unsold lots. By Christmas he had sold six for £13,025, but had also turned down an offer of £11,000 for the large Manor Farm at Alderton, on which the reserve was £11,500 and which remained on the estate's hands until 1939. Paterson's intransigent attitude towards what he felt were inadequate offers, at a time when the estate urgently needed cash, was apparent again in 1921, when he and the Euston agent clashed over the price of unsold woodland in Whittlebury. (fn. 200)
A particular problem was the future of Wakefield Lodge itself, together with its grounds and a large home farm. Various potential purchasers or lessees came, looked and went away in 1920-22, until finally Lord Hillingdon (the banker Arthur Mills) agreed to take a 21-year lease with a covenant to carry out extensive repairs and an option to buy, which he exercised in 1924. (fn. 201)
By the mid 1920s the rental on the remaining Wakefield Lodge estate had fallen to under £4,500 a year, although it rose to about £5,000 at the end of the decade. (fn. 202) As part of the reorganisation after the First World War, the 8th duke in 1922 set up a company to which he conveyed his life interest in both the Euston estate and what was left in Northamptonshire. (fn. 203) The Grafton Estates Co. was run until his death early in 1927 by John Wood of Barton Hall (Norfolk), who thus had overall responsibility for both Euston and Wakefield. Throughout the period in which he was in charge the residue of the Northamptonshire estate was running at a loss, or barely breaking even. The estate as a whole, and the Northamptonshire portion in particular, was clearly short of cash throughout the 1920s. (fn. 204) The position was not helped by the death of the 8th duke in 1930 and of his grandson, the 9th duke, only six years later in a motor-racing accident aged 22, which led to further large liabilities to death duties. (fn. 205)
Wood was replaced by G. V. Charlton of Woodford as 'Supervisory Agent' of both portions of the estate. (fn. 206) Paterson stayed on as agent at Potterspury until the early 1930s, (fn. 207) although he was seriously ill in 1927 (fn. 208) and seems not to have fully recovered. (fn. 209) Even before then, he was clearly failing. He remained close to the 8th duke, and Wood was always supportive, but both the estate's solicitors, Farrer's, and its principal insurers, the Royal, of which the duke was a director, found him difficult to deal with. Paterson continued to live at Hill House, which he bought in advance of the 1920 sale, and to conduct estate business from there. (fn. 210) Commendably, he responded to a request from the recently formed Northamptonshire Record Society to deposit with them the accumulation of estate papers in his custody, which might otherwise have been destroyed once most of the estate was sold. In 1923 nine large chests containing some 3,700 items were entrusted to the society, one of the first major gifts of family and estate papers which they received. (fn. 211)
After 1920 there was no systematic attempt to dispose of the remainder of the Wakefield Lodge estate until 1939, when about 1,600 acres in Alderton, Cold Higham, Greens Norton, Yardley Gobion, Potterspury and Blisworth were put up for auction. Among the purchasers was the 1st Lord Hesketh, whose Easton Neston estate appears to have enjoyed rather better fortune between the two World Wars than before 1914. (fn. 212) Most of the rest of the land in Northamptonshire was sold after 1945, apart from about 600 acres in Grafton Regis itself, where the estate also retained some cottages. (fn. 213) In 1987 the 11th duke sold a number of manorial titles from among those acquired by his ancestor in 1706, although he retained the lordships of Grafton Regis and Potterspury. The family's direct connection with Northamptonshire was also kept up in this period through the duke's younger son, Lord Charles FitzRoy, whose home was the Old Rectory, Grafton Regis. The duke continued to visit the county and his presence at a ceremony in 1990 to rename Potterspury primary school, founded by the 4th duke in 1817, was particularly warmly welcomed. (fn. 214) In 2000 the duchess of Grafton reopened the restored village hall at Grafton Regis at a ceremony at which a history of the village, written partly by Charles FitzRoy, was published. (fn. 215)