• B&NES Record Office
Reference number
  • 0770
  • This is a small but very significant collection of family papers, consisting of correspondence and legal and accounting papers. It was created by Michael Theobald Langton in the course of executing the Will of his father, Miguel Langton, who died in Cadiz while the rest of the family were living in Bath, where they had taken refuge from the Peninsular War in Spain. Background - the history of the Langton Family Nicolás Langton, who was born into a landed family in Kilkenny, Ireland, moved to Cadiz in Spain in 1724. Here he was free to practise his Catholic faith, and he prospered as a merchant, joining a number of other Irish families who had made their homes and ran their businesses in the city. He married in 1736 Francesca Josefa Careu, the daughter of another Kilkenny man, Lorenzo Careu, and Serafina Sanchez de Silveira. Nicolás became a naturalized Spanish subject in 1769, and in 1779 was registered as a nobleman of the province of Granada - thus gaining rights and dispensations which enabled him to conduct his business affairs more freely and profitably. Nicolás had a number of children, including Miguel, born 1737, who entered the family business. Miguel married twice: his first wife died young and the marriage produced no surviving heirs, and in 1766 he married for a second time, to Maria Dillon of Dublin, Ireland. This marriage produced four daughters and a son, Miguel Theobald, born in 1782. Involved, it seems, in trade between Cadiz and South America, the family were very wealthy, and the four daughters made advantageous marriages to noblemen of a higher status than their own. The fortunes of the family changed, however, when in 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, having conquered most of the rest of Europe, turned his attention to Spain. What became known as the Peninsular War lasted for the following six years until an alliance of the Spanish, Portuguese and British defeated Napoleon. In 1809, however, Napoleon was in control of much of Spain, and several members of the Langton family left Cadiz and took refuge in Bath: Miguel's wife, together with her daughter Carmen Aranza and her six young children, and her granddaughter Fanny Brun (whose mother , the youngest of the Langton daughters, had died in childbirth, and whose father Jose Brun had remarried). They were accompanied by Miguel Theobald, who was not only looking after the female members of the family, but also involved in what seems to have been a secret mission, sending gunpowder from England to Spain, for the use of the Spanish army. From February 1810, Cadiz was besieged by the French, but they were unable to control access to the city from the sea, and it was therefore possible not only import provisions, but also to continue sending and receiving letters. In July 1810, before he could join the rest of the family in Bath, Miguel Langton died in Cadiz. For the next seven years, his son Miguel Theobald was occupied in executing his father's Will, liquidating the family's business and other assets, and dividing the inheritance between the various heirs. The situation was immensely complicated by the war, and particularly by the fact that one of his sisters was married to a French nobleman, and another was married to Spanish noblemen who supported the French cause - a so-called 'afrancesado'. Miguel Theobald was unable to visit Spain until well after the end of the war, in 1816; in the meantime, he attempted to settle the family's affairs through contacts in Cadiz, in particular Agustín Butler, who he refers to as his 'cousin and friend', but who was also clearly a close business associate of his father, and was an executor of his Will. At the same time, the family in Bath were living in reduced circumstances, and Miguel Theobald was engaged in seeking out the family's assets in Ireland, which they had ignored while they had other sources of income. These activities gave rise to a significant amount of correspondence, all of which was either retained in its original form, or meticulously copied by Miguel Theobald into his copy letter books. This correspondence - which is not confined only to legal and business matters, but includes much family and political news - forms the nucleus of this collection; the rest of the collection consists of the family papers Miguel Theobald collected in support of his attempts to execute the Will, and the legal and accounting records that were created as part of the process. The collection is clearly of great interest to historians of the Peninsular War and to accounting historians. However, there is also much here for social and political historians, and for those interested in the history of Bath. Moreover, the family were devout Catholics, and the collection reflects this, containing information of interest to historians of Catholicism. Sources for the above information: 1. Internal evidence in the collection 2. Evidence from the journal of Fanny Brun held in Worcestershire Record Office (ref. 705:201/663/1) 3. Paper by María Dolores Capelo Bernal and others "Religion, responsibility and accounting: an exploratory study on a family of Irish origin during the period 1809-1813" given at the Accounting, Business and Financial History Conference, Cardiff, Sep. 2010 (copy at 0770A/3/2) 4. Charles Esdaile, 'The Peninsular War: a New History', London, 2002; and the Peninsular War 200 website Language The letters are written mostly in English, but some are in Spanish, and some in French. Most of the family papers and legal and accounting records are in Spanish. Related records in Bath Record Office: 1. 0770A - collected research papers relating to the Langton family 2. 0851/9 - a bundle of title deeds relating to 14 South Parade, Bath, which was owned by the Langton family from 1812 to 1849. Among the title deeds are a number of family papers, including the marriage settlement of Miguel Theobald Langton and his future wife Mary Ryan. Related records held elsewhere: Fanny Brun married William Berington of Little Malvern, Worcestershire in 1829. The Berington family papers have been deposited in the Worcestershire Record Office (reference 75:204), and among them are a number of journals and other papers of Fanny Brun. Digital copies of some of these papers are held by the Bath Record Office in Collection 0770A. Custodial History The papers seem to have been preserved by descendants of Miguel Theobald Langton, wrapped in a brown paper parcel labelled 'Spanish Papers'. The paper used to wrap the parcel seems to have been re-used - it was originally used to wrap a parcel sent from the Harrods store in London, as a Harrods label survives on the paper. The address on the label is to a Mrs Langton at Egerton Place. Checking the 1901 census reveals that Francis A R Langton, born in Bath about 1840, was living in Egerton Place with his family. Francis was the youngest son of Miguel Theobald Langton, and it is assumed that the papers must have been given to him. Their subsequent custody is unknown until they were sold at auction in 2008, and bought by the Bath Record Office. Arrangement The collection is divided into two sections: 1. Correspondence 2. Legal and accounting papers. Archivists' Note Catalogued in the Bath Record Office, April-June 2011. The catalogue was produced with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives
  • 1755-1817
Access status
  • Open
  • Collection