DescriptionOn the closure of Mersham le Hatch c1950, the entire Brabourne collection, having been examined by the National Register of Archives, was deposited in the Kent Archives Office in February 1951. Subsequently most of the personal, estate and official records were reclaimed and stored for the time being in a Bank Safe Deposit. In 1962, Lord Brabourne recalled these documents and decided on their future deposit in the KAO, along with a certain number of bound items in his library. A small number of personal documents and maps still remain at Newhouse, Mersham.

In 1924, Capt the Hon M H Knatchbull, MC, compiled a catalogue of the papers at Mersham le Hatch (see E18). The deeds listed by him form the greater part of the 1951 deposit now listed as U274. The accounts, letters and papers in his list include the majority of the documents described in this catalogue and comprise the Knatchbull Manuscripts received in 1962. MHK's catalogue and numeration were retained as far as possible and later accessions have been added as appropriate (see Appendix 1).

However, in 1962 it was clear that many items in the series of correspondence which MHK had listed and numbered in 1924 had been lost in the intervening years or had entirely disintegrated as a result of damp damage. Hence, there are 31 documents in MHK's sequence (C1-260) which no longer exist and these are listed in Appendix 2. A further five documents have been relocated in the Banks Manuscripts, referred to below. In addition, a number of special items had been bound and placed in the library and were thus not included in MHK's list: these have now been integrated with their appropriate group of papers.

During the period 1951-62, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen examined many of the documents and prepared his 'Annals of the Knatchbull Family'. This in turn was condensed into the book 'Kentish Family' published by Methuen in 1961. It follows the story of the Knatchbulls up to 1849 and includes useful family trees. (Copy shelved in the Local Studies Library at KB KNA.)
Two important additions to this collection were the Banks papers and part of the Dering Manuscripts.

Banks Manuscripts:-
Dorothea Hugessen, sister of Mary wife of Sir Edward Knatchbull (8th Bt) and coheiress with her of their father William Weston Hugessen, married Joseph Banks of Revesby Abbey (Co Lincs) in 1779. There were no children of this marriage and Sir Edward Knatchbull (9th Bt) was closely associated with his aunt's affairs, especially after the death of Sir Joseph in 1820. As a result the muniments, including all Sir Joseph's botanical and scientific notes passed to the Knatchbull family. Subsequently disputes arose between the family and the British Museum and in 1886 the 1st Lord Brabourne sold the majority of these records at Sothebys. The overall result has been a wide dispersal of records between the government of New South Wales, the British Museum, the Sutro Library of the Californian State Library and elsewhere [See H C Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks (1952) for a fuller account of this dispersal; also H B Carter, Sir Joseph Banks 1743-1820 - guide to biographical and bibliographical sources, (1982)]. The few documents listed within the catalogue under the heading BANKS Manuscripts, form the small corpus of material remaining in the Knatchbull collection (summary in Appendix 1). In addition, there are a few letters scattered through the entries U951 CORRESPONDENCE (Letters and papers) and also in U274.
For a discussion of Botanical material in the Banks Manuscripts see "Banks papers in the KAO" by Prof G Meynell.

Dering Manuscripts:-
These documents were mainly gifts or loans from the Dering family. All Dering Manuscripts have been listed under U275.

Later Accessions to the Knatchbull Manuscripts:-
The 20th century history of the family is represented by further material, largely correspondence and photograph albums, deposited in 1980 and 1982 concerning Sir Michael Knatchbull, 5th Lord Brabourne and his wife Doreen. They travelled widely as a result of his diplomatic career in India during the period 1933-1939 and Lady Doreen made several overseas trips to Australia and the Pacific in the 1960s. All this is reflected in the personal correspondence in the collection. These contemporary papers, however, are subject to a 30 year closure and any items connected with members of the Royal Family are closed for 50 years.

The 7th Lord Brabourne has accumulated a considerable quantity of business records, many reflecting his professional life as a film producer, and these will be added to the catalogue in due course when they become available for research.

Documents numbered by Captain the Hon. M.H. Knatchbull in 1924, but not received in 1962:-
C140, C142, C144, C147, C151-153, C163, C178, C180, C187-192, C195-196, C200-202, C230, C234, C239, C242-245, C247, C250, C260.
Brief details of these items can be found in the 'Miscellaneous, letters, documents' section of MHK's list (U951/E18).
LocationKent History and Library Centre
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