Papers of the Sykes family of Sledmere



Admin History:

There are two competing stories of the origins of the Sykes family. James Legard claims that the Sykes family had land in the parish of Thornhill near Leeds in the thirteenth century. However, the story with official currency is that the family may originally have been from Saxony and were settled in Sykes Dyke near Carlisle in Cumberland during the middle ages. William Sykes (c.1500-1577), a younger son of Richard Sykes of Sykes Dyke, migrated to the West Riding of Yorkshire and settled near Leeds. Here the family built up its wealth in the cloth trade (Foster, Pedigrees; Legard, The Legards, p.191; Syme, 'Sledmere Hall', p.41; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, p.13).

William Sykes had at least five sons, one of whom was a Catholic priest who was hanged drawn and quartered at York Castle in 1588. A younger son, Richard Sykes (c.1530-1576) helped his father build up the business in the cloth trade and his son, another Richard Sykes, was a wealthy alderman and joint lord of the manor of Leeds after purchase in 1625. He is said to have built the workhouse in Leeds and he left a vast personal fortune which included £10,000 to each of his daughters. In 1593 he married Elizabeth Mawson and they had six sons and four daughters. Two sons died in infancy and another as a young man. The older surviving sons stayed in and around Leeds. The fifth son, William Sykes (b.1605), established himself in Knottingley and married Grace Jenkinson. William Sykes died a prisoner in York Castle in 1652 leaving his wife with five sons and three daughters all under the age of twenty. In 1684 Grace, who was a quaker, followed her husband to York Castle and she died in the following year (Foster, Pedigrees; English, The great landowners; p.28; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

William and Grace Sykes' fourth son, Daniel (b.1632), was the first of this merchant family to begin trading in Hull. He married Deborah Oates, daughter of the mayor of Pontefract where both he and his wife were later buried. He was twice mayor of Hull and amassed a fortune from shipping and finance, thus moving away from the family tradition of trading in cloth. They had two sons, Joseph and Richard, the former of whom drowned in May 1697. William Sykes died just a few months later in August 1697. The younger son, Richard (b.1678), diversified the family trading interests further concentrating on the flourishing Baltic trade and the wealth of the family was built on this in the first half of the eighteenth century. By the 1750s the Sykes family shared 60% of Hull's pig iron trade with Hull's other leading eighteenth-century merchant family, the Maisters. Richard Sykes consolidated his position by marrying Mary Kirkby, co-heiress to the estates of the third largest merchant in Hull, Mark Kirkby. They had three sons and three daughters. Two daughters died in infancy. The youngest son, Daniel, was born in January 1714 and buried in April, having died within a few days of his mother who was buried with him. Richard Sykes married, secondly, Martha Donkin, and had by her two sons, one of whom died in infancy. Richard Sykes and his second wife died within days of one another, in 1726. Their surviving son, Joseph Sykes (1723-1805), went on to manage the family's business with his older half brother, Richard Sykes (b.1706). Joseph and Richard Sykes ultimately split their business interests and Joseph Sykes bought estates around West Ella and Kirk Ella just outside Hull. Estate and family papers for Joseph Sykes are at DDKE which has a separate entry (Foster, Pedigrees; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family'; Jackson, Hull in the eighteenth century, p.96).

Richard Sykes the younger, came into the Sledmere estates in 1748. These were his mother's inheritance from her brother Mark Kirkby who had lived in the Tudor mansion house there since the death of their father in 1718 and had, in the final five years of his life, spent £4000 increasing his Sledmere landholdings. Richard Sykes took this programme of expansion further. He demolished the house and built a new one in 1751. He rebuilt Sledmere church, bought more land and, sensibly, planted 20,000 trees on the previously-treeless wolds. Richard Sykes became high sheriff of Yorkshire in 1752. He married twice but died childless in 1761 (Foster, Pedigrees; John Cornforth, Sledmere House, p.3; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

Richard Sykes was succeeded at Sledmere by his brother, Mark Sykes (b.1711), second son of the older Richard Sykes and Mary Kirkby. Mark Sykes took B.A. and then M.A. in Cambridge and was a fellow of Peterhouse. He was awarded his Doctorate in Divinity in the same year he inherited Sledmere, 1761. He had a living at Roos and was resident there when his brother died. He was married to Decima Woodham by whom he had five sons and a daughter. Two sons died in infancy and another two died as young adults leaving no children of their own. Their daughter married but also died without issue. When Mark Sykes died in 1783, therefore, he was succeeded at Sledmere by his one surviving child, Christopher Sykes, who also inherited his father's baronetcy awarded in the last months of his father's life (Foster, Pedigrees; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

Christopher Sykes was born in 1749. He was MP for Beverley 1784-90 and though he supported Pitt during the regency crisis and voted for parliamentary reform he is not known to have spoken in the house. In 1770 he made a very fortuitous marriage with Elizabeth Egerton of Tatton whose inheritance of £17,000 from her father was hugely augmented by her inheriting her brother's Cheshire estates and another £60,000 from her aunt in 1780. Christopher Sykes sold off shipping interests and government stock and he and his wife built up the Sledmere estate. They frantically bought land and enclosed huge areas for cultivation with artificial fertilizers. In the 1780s Elizabeth's third inheritance was ploughed into building two new wings to the house and Christopher Sykes not only worked closely with the plasterer, Joseph Rose, on the interior decoration, but was largely responsible for the exterior design after seeking plans from both John Carr and Samuel Wyatt. The grounds were landscaped along the lines of plans by Capability Brown and 1000 acres of trees were planted. The entire village of Sledmere was relocated. Christopher Sykes clearly visualised himself as a man who had left commerce and joined the landed classes. A famous picture of him and his wife, painted by George Romney in the 1780s, depicts the couple surveying their parkland estates stretching away to the horizon; Christopher Sykes holds in his hands spectacles and an estate plan. He had an engraving done of the vast library he built and sent copies of it to friends (Foster, Pedigrees; Namier & Brooke, The house of commons, iii, p.514; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family'; English, The great landowners, pp.28-9, 62-6; Cornforth, Sledmere House, p.4; Syme, 'Sledmere Hall', pp. 43-6; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p.693; Popham, 'Sir Christopher Sykes at Sledmere' I & II).

Christopher Sykes was a gambler 'playing the futures market in land'. He indulged in 'breathless selling and buying', but he did so at a time when continental war was forcing up agricultural prices. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century rentals in Sledmere increased sevenfold and Christopher Sykes used this money, plus money from a bank started in the 1790s, to buy and sell and buy and sell even more. By the time he died he was indebted to the tune of nearly £90,000 but he left behind him a vast estate of nearly 30,000 acres and a large mansion set in its own 200 acre parkland (English, The great landowners, pp.62-6; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, pp.13-15).

Christopher and Elizabeth Sykes lived until 1801 and 1803 respectively. They left behind three sons and two daughters. Their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, married back into the Egerton family of Tatton Park. Their second son, Tatton, and eldest daughter married offspring of Sir William Foulis of Ingleby manor. Their eldest son, Mark Masterman Sykes (b.1771), married Henrietta Masterman in 1795. Henrietta was the heiress of Henry Masterman of Settrington Hall and Mark Sykes therefore assumed the name of Masterman. He married, secondly, in 1814, a member of the Egerton family. He went to Brasenose college, Oxford and was high sheriff of Yorkshire in 1795 and MP for York from 1807 to 1820. He was a sportsman and gambler, but was also a knowledgeable collector of books and fine arts with one of the finest private libraries in England filling the library his father had built. He collected especially first printed editions of the classics, the jewel in his collection being a late fifteenth-century edition of Livy which sold for 400 guineas in 1824. He also owned one of the 18 known copies of the Gutenberg Bible. Mark Masterman Sykes died childless in 1823 and the estate and his collections were inherited by his younger brother Tatton Sykes (Foster, Pedigrees; Dictionary of National Biography; Ross, Celebrities of the Yorkshire wolds, p.154; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family'; Fairfax-Blakeborough, Sykes of Sledmere, p.47).

Sir Tatton Sykes (b.1772), 4th baronet, 'was not a great scholar'. As a young man he was made articled clerk to a London law firm, but quickly developed an interest in racing rather than the law. He returned to Yorkshire, worked for a while for a Hull bank, but developed more of an interest in agricultural techniques, especially the use of bone manures. He married in 1822 and succeeded to the Sledmere estates in 1823. A year later he sold his brother's library for £10,000 and his paintings and other works of art for £6000 and bought instead bloodstock breeding horses. He was a man of extreme puritanical habits and old-fashioned dress who behaved as a basically benevolent despot with his tenants (they helped erect a vast 120 foot monument to his memory at Garton-on-the-Wolds when he died), but whose cruelty to his own family had far-reaching effects. He beat his children and his behaviour made his wife a cold and distant mother to them who escaped to London whenever she could and who hid in her orangery with her flowers when she was at home. Their eldest son 'grew up in an atmosphere devoid of love' and when he succeeded to the estates on his father's death in 1863 he immediately sold his father's race horses and demolished his mother's orangery (Foster, Pedigrees; information about the Sledmere stud is contained in Fairfax-Blakeborough, Sykes of Sledmere; Noakes, 'Memories of Sir Tatton Sykes'; Denton Robinson, 'A Yorkshire landmark'; Sykes, The visitors' book, pp.19-20, 28-32; Kay, Great men of Yorkshire, pp.108-115; Dictionary of National Biography; Ross, Celebrities of the Yorkshire wolds, pp.155-7; English, The great landowners, pp. 218, 220; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

Tatton Sykes, 5th baronet, was born in 1826. His harsh childhood turned him into a rather withdrawn man who was an uncomfortable landlord. He disliked the sight of women and children lingering out the front of houses and made the tenants bolt up their front doors and only use back entrances. He banned the cultivation of flowers in Sledmere village. However, he was also efficient. The sale of his father's stud for £30,000 enabled him to concentrate on only buying a number of winning horses and by 1892 he owned 34,000 acres of land and was able to keep this vast estate running at a profit most years despite a decade of severe economic depression. He was also charitable in very particular ways. He was involved in the restoration of 17 churches at a cost of £10,000 each most of which came out of his private purse rather than estate accounts (Sykes, The visitors' book, pp.31-2; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family'; English, The great landowners, p.226; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, p.15; English, 'On the eve of the great depression', p.40).

Tatton Sykes was cornered into marriage in 1874 by the very determined mother of (Christina Anne) Jessica Cavendish-Bentinck who was thirty years his junior. Their marriage was a disaster and the coldness of their relations caused a rift that deepened with the passing years. She bore him a child, Mark Sykes, in 1879 and three years later she and the child became Catholics. By the 1890s Jessica Sykes was leading a gay but fragile (and alcoholic) life in London and sometimes overseas. She published a novel, a travel journal in Africa during the Boer war and a political commentary on France, but fell further and further into debt and disgrace culminating in Tatton Sykes refusing to pay her debts followed by a very spectacular court case. She died prematurely in 1912. Tatton Sykes died a year later, leaving their son to succeed (Sykes, The visitors' book, pp.36ff; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

Mark Sykes seems to have been more the product of his mother than his father, a restless man with a talent for writing. His first book came out in 1900 and was a political travel journal, Through five Turkish provinces. He married in 1903 the sister of his mother's lover, Edith Gorst, and their honeymoon took them to Paris, Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem. This kind of frantic travelling was to characterise their life together. Mark Sykes' next literary venture, a military parody and satire called Tactics and military training (published semi-pseudonomously by Major-General George D'Ordel), was a huge success and brought him to the attention of George Wyndham, chief secretary of Ireland, who offered him the post of private secretary which he took. However, bored with the job he produced two more books, Dar-ul-Islam and D'Ordel's Pantechnicon (Sykes, The visitors' book, pp.156-87; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family'; Adelson, Mark Sykes, passim).

In 1904 Mark and Edith Sykes had their first child, Freya, and she was followed by Richard (b.1905), Christopher and Petsy (twins born in 1907), Angela (b.1911) and Daniel (b.1916). The second child, Richard, was born while Mark Sykes was serving as honorary attache in Constantinople before he and his wife travelled back to England in 1906, largely on horseback. His final major work, The Caliph's last heritage was an acount of this journey and it appeared, edited by his wife, in 1915. On his return Mark Sykes threw himself into national and local politics and was elected MP for Central Hull in 1911. Just before the outbreak of the war he inherited the shell of Sledmere house, which had been devastated by fire in 1911, and he spent the next half dozen years rebuilding with the help of Walter Brierley (details in English, 'The rebuilding of Sledmere house'). From 1915 the family lived in the house and it served as a troop hospital during the war. Mark Sykes occupied himself for the early part of the war developing the Waggoner's Special Reserve with 1000 men trained as technical reservists. From about May 1915 he became more directly involved after being called to the War Office by Lord Kitchener. He was employed in intelligence and diplomatic work, being regarded as an expert on the Middle East. The collection is filled with his letters and reports from his time in this role and are especially rich in material about the pan-Arab movement, and Zionism to which he was an early convert. He is largely remembered for the part he played in forging an Inter-Allied agreement about the Middle East in 1916 called the Sykes-Picot agreement. In late 1916 he was made political secretary to the war cabinet and again journeyed to the Middle East. A year later he was moved to the Foreign Office where he advised on Arab and Palestinian affairs. In 1918 he was reporting on Armenian refugees and problems of Middle East resettlement. He was re-elected to parliament while away with a huge majority. While in Paris during the peace conference Mark Sykes contracted influenza and died at the age of only 39. He was a crucial figure in Middle East policy decision-making during the first world war and his papers are a very rich source of material on war policy (Adelson, Mark Sykes, chpts.10-15; Dictionary of National Biography; Hobson, 'Sledmere and the Sykes family').

When Mark Sykes died, Edith was left with a family who ranged in age from three years to thirteen years. His younger son, Christopher, went on to write in his own name and pseudonomously, romances, murders, travel stories, pseudo-philosophical war commentaries and biographies, so following in the footsteps of his father and grandmother. Richard Sykes, who became 7th baronet, married Virginia Gilliat, and they had six children between 1943 and 1957. He inherited an estate reduced by a third by his father to pay death duties and the debts of Jessica Sykes. However the Sledmere estate is still one of the largest landed estates in Yorkshire and its impact on the wolds is very visible. It is now run by the oldest son of Richard Sykes, Tatton Sykes, the 8th baronet, who succeeded when his father died in 1978 (Cornforth, 'Sledmere House', p.32; obit. in The Georgian Society for East Yorkshire).


U DDSY comprises a very large deposit of estate papers, genealogical material for the Sykes and local families, and personal family papers including correspondence and diaries, largely for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. U DDSY2 comprises the personal and political papers of Mark Sykes (1879-1919) including his literary manuscripts and correspondence relating to the Sykes-Picot agreement. In addition there are papers relating to work on his family's history and this includes family letters and papers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. U DDSY3 also comprises largely early Sykes letters and papers and amongst these are 77 letters to Richard Sykes, in his role as Captain of the Hull Volunteers, about the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. U DDSY3 is a very valuable source of material for the social history of eighteenth-century England. U DDSY4 is a small deposit containing miscellaneous estate papers, some family correspondence and twentieth-century office diaries. U DDSY5 is a large deposit of estate papers, accounts, legal papers and subject files created by Crust, Todd and Mills, solicitors. U DDSY6 consists of further deposits of estate papers relating to the Sledmere Estate and Sledmere Stud. The deposits in detail now follow.

U DDSY contains estate papers for the East Riding of Yorkshire in this order: manorial records for Balkholme (1608-1659); conveyance of Barmby on the Moor (1861); Beverley (1385-1784) including early title deeds and a letter and account book of Christopher Sykes as MP for Beverley 1784-9; Bishop Wilton (1379-1880) including court rolls for 1379-80 and the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, an account roll of Robert Hall, steward of the prebend, for 1468-9, surrenders and admissions in the manor court 1605-89, sales and conveyances, correspondence of Timothy Mortimer and Richard Darley, pedigrees of the Darley and Rogerson families, an original bundle relating to the estates of Roger Gee, eighteenth century farm leases, the marriage settlements of Catherine Darley and John Wentworth (1703) and John Toke and Margaret Roundell (1762), and several seventeenth-century wills of the Smith, Darley, Sanderson, Hansby and Hildyard families; papers about Bridlington pier (1789); Brigham (1683-1864) including eighteenth-century wills of the Brigham and Wilberforce families, the sale in 1794 to Christopher Sykes and its transfer in 1797 to his second son, Tatton Sykes, and eighteenth-century farm leases; Burton Pidsea (1601-1843) including the wills of Christopher Wilson (1640) and William Ford (1828) and the transfer of title in 1738 from the Wilson family to Mark Kirkby; a plan of Cottam (1760); Croom (1607-1821) including the letters patents granting to the earl of Clanricard the rectory and tithes of Sledmere in 1607, seventeenth and eighteenth century papers of the Rousby family and the sale of Croom in 1812 to Mark Masterman Sykes; Dalton Holme (1879); Derwent (drainage and navigation) (1772-1800) including 75 letters of Christopher Sykes, 2nd baronet; Driffield (1790, 1860); Drypool (1773-1794); Duggleby (1669-1800); Eastrington (1659); tenancy agreements and the 1916 particulars of sale for Eddlethorpe (1858-1916); a plan of Etton (1819); Fimber (1566-1884) including leases from 1853 and 22 marriage settlements and wills largely of the eighteenth century from the Horsley, Ford, Hardy, Layton, Callis, Edmond, Holtby, Jefferson, Coole, Langley, Foulis and Willoughby families; Fitling (1696-1795) including papers of the Johnson, Thompson and Blaydes families; Fosham (1768-1812); Fridaythorpe (1805-1877) including some papers of the Harper family; Ganstead (1803); Garton on the Wolds (1598-1917) including the Garton enclosure act of 1774, the Edward Topham case in Chancery in the 1790s, leases from the 1780s and eighteenth-century wills and other family papers of the Towse, Barmby, Graham, Kirk, Staveley, Horsley, Cook, Lakeland, Arundell, Sever, Shepherd, Forge, Overend, Taylor, Boyes and Widdrington families; manor of Garton-on-the-Wolds (1703-1780) including rentals, court rolls and verdicts; East and West Heslerton and Sherburn (1535-1877) including manorial records, deeds, leases and rentals from 1780, papers relating to the estates of the Strickland family of Boynton, the marriage settlement of Francis Spink and Mary Langdale (1643) and the wills of Marmaduke Darby (1665), Marmaduke Dodsworth (1694), Thomas Spink (1741), Peter Dowsland (1725), John Davies (1730), Mary Brown (1748), David Cross (1843), Christopher Cross (1853) and John Owtram (1776); Hilderthorpe (1768, 1791); Hilston (1584-1796) including leases 1781-1796, the marriage settlements of James Hewitt and Jane Carlisle (1669) and Randolphus Hewitt and Catherine Nelson (1731) and the will of Randolphus Carlisle (1744); leases for Hollym (1765-1795); leases for Hotham (1772-1776); Howden (1625, 1773); Huggate (1767-1839) including the title documents of John Hustler and the wills of William Tuffnell Jolliff (1796), Charles Newman (1815), George Anderton (1817) and William Wastell (1836); Hull (1603-1839) including a schedule of deeds about the Sykes house in High Street, documents about the Hull Dock Company, the correspondence of William Wilberforce and James Shaw about the misappropriation of charity funds, the marriage settlement of William Fowler and Jane Viepont (1685), documents relating to the Blaydes, Hebden and Fowler families and the will of Robert Stephenson (1603); Hunsley (1588); Hutton Cranswick (1578-1813) including leases from 1780, the marriage settlements of Marmaduke Jenkinson and Phillip (sic) Hammond (1672) and Hesketh Hobman and Elizabeth Carlisle (1700) and the wills of Robert Popplewell (1614), George Coatsforth (1680), Elizabeth Hobman (1728) and Hesketh Hobman (1711); Kennythorpe (1677-1752); Kilham (1633-1813) including leases from 1792 and an abstract of the title of John Preston; manorial records of Kilpin (1581-1636); Kirby Grindalthorpe and Mowthorpe (1545-1880) including a pedigree of the Peirson family, leases from 1806, the marriage settlements of William Peirson and Susannah Thorndike (1637), William Peirson and Elizabeth Conyers (1680), Nathaniel Towry and Katherine Hassell (1703), Luke Lillingston and Catherine Towry (1710), Luke Lillingston and Williema Joanna Dottin (1769), Abraham Spooner and Elizabeth Mary Agnes Lillingston (1797), Mark Masterman Sykes and Mary Elizabeth Egerton (1814) and the wills of Nathaniel Towry (1703), Luke Lillingston (1771) and Robert Snowball (1805); Kirkburn (1566-1861) including the 1628 grant of wardship and marriage of Thomas Young to Jane Young by Charles I, the marriage settlement of Thomas and Barbara Martin (1757), the wills of Ann Young (1714), Charles Cartwright (1752), Ann Hall (1698), Isaac Thompson (1747), Abraham Thompson (1775) and leases from 1852; Langtoft (1791-1880); Linton (1856-1877); Lockington (1772, 1791); Lund (1596); report of St William's Catholic School in Market Weighton (1910); Menethorpe (1907); Middleton on the Wolds (1655-1812) including papers of the Manby family and leases from 1774; Molescroft (c.1300-1812) including the earliest document in the archive (a gift of circa 1300) a pedigree of the Ashmole family, lists of deeds and leases, the marriage settlements of Thomas Taylor and Elizabeth Hargrave (1700), William Taylor and Rebecca Smailes (1615), John Taylor and Bridget Tomlin (1637) and William Taylor and Anna Aythorp and the wills of John Taylor (1686) and Catherine Dawson (1784); a Myton lease (1780); North Cave leases (1772-1776); North Dalton (1722-1812); North Frodingham (1806, 1870); Owstwick (1305-1801) including medieval deeds, leases from 1779 and the wills of Stephen Christie (1551), William Burkwood (1636), Robert Witty (1684), Mary Witty (1691) and Francis Hardy (1736); Owthorne (16th century); Riccall (1790-1795); Rimswell (1725, 1786); Roos (1558-1786) including rentals and the will of Jane Hogg (n.d.); Rotsea leases (1854-1861); Sancton leases (1770-1797); Settringtton enclosure (1797-1810); Sherburn (1795); Skelton (17th century); Sledmere (1320-1926) including papers relating to the school, poor rate assessment, water supply, tithes, leases and rentals, a history of the descent of Sledmere, the correspondence of Christopher Sykes, 2nd baronet, with Joseph Sykes of West Ella and Kirk Ella (see DDKE) and other members of the local gentry including Timothy Mortimer, attorney, the marriage settlements of Robert and Ann Crompton (1666), Robert Crompton and Mary Fawsitt (1685), John Goodricke and Mary Smith (1710), John Taylor and Elene Morwen (1546) and John Wilkinson and Mary Hornsey (1730) and the wills of Robert Taylor (1587), John Taylor (1682), Lovell Lazenby (1728), Elizabeth Majeson (1677), John Meason (1709), Mark Mitchell (1722), John Towse (1698), John Hardy (1709), Lovell Lazenby (1712), Thomas Lazenby (1727), Joseph Roper ( (1705), Clare Hayes (1716), Henry Gillan (1724), James Hardy (1631), Thomas Watson (1698) and Frances Wilson (1734); tenancy agreements for South Frodingham (1774-1812); Thirkleby and Linton (1756-1861) including the 1834 purchase by Tatton Sykes from Lord Middleton, leases from 1854, the marriage settlements of Henry Willoughby and Dorothy Cartwright (1756) and Henry Willoughby and Jane Lawley (1793) and the will of Robert Lawley (1825); Thirtleby (1751); Thixendale (1528-1877) including an abstract of the Payler family title, papers relating to the Richardson and Elwicke families, a pedigree of the Leppington family, the correspondence of Timothy Mortimer, leases from 1790, the marriage settlements of John Donkin and Sarah Simpkin (1733), William Sharp and Jane Thompson (1704), Thomas Beilby and Jane Brown (1690), Christopher Marshall and Ellen Utley (1731), John Singleton and Ann Jackson (1769), William Powlett and Lady Lovesse Delaforce (1689) and Robert Brigham and Anne Williamson (1727) and the wills of William Vescy (1713), Edmund Dring (1708), Ann Blackbeard (1732), Ann Nicholson (1762) Robert Kirby (1785), William Sharp (1745), John Leppington (1770), William Marshall (1770), John Boyes (1771), Robert Brigham (1767), Ralph Wharram (1720), William Powlett (1756), Watkinson Payler (1705), Mary Payler (1752), John Ruston (1806) and William Marshall (1832); Tibthorp (1610-1861) including papers of the Harrison and Hudson familes, leases from 1774 and the will of William Beilby (1691); Wansford (1604-1803) including an abstract of the title of William St Quintin, an original bundle of papers relating to the collapse of John Boyes' carpet manufactury and the involvement of the Sykes family and John Lockwood, leases from 1787, the marriage settlements of William Metcalfe and Ann Crompton (1650) and William St Quintin and Charlotte Fane (1758) and the wills of Thomas Bainton (1732), William St Quintin (1723), George Ion (1812) and Jonathan Ion (1806); Waxholme (1722, 1796); Weaverthorpe and Helperthorpe (1607-1880) including manorial records 1686-1785, leases from 1774, the marriage settlements of Richard Kirkby and Judith Dring (1667) and Richard Kirkby and Ruth Helperthorpe (1670) and the wills of Thomas Heblethwaite (1668), Edmund Dring (1708), Richard Kirkby (1640), John Kirkby (1728), Richard Kirkby (1790), Elizabeth Newlove (1781), John Ness (1791), Ann Ness (1813), William Beilby (1716) and John Beilby (1764); West Lutton (1844); Wetwang (1688-1898) including the 1773 purchase from the Gee family, the 1788 petition of Ann Robson for charity, rentals and court records, leases from 1780, pedigrees of the Newlove and Wharram families, and the wills of Ann Wilson (1776), Thomas Green (1749), Mary Napton (1789), John Newlove (1786), George Stabler (1822), Francis Newlove (1808) and Betty Newlove (1850); Wheldrake (1781); Yedingham (1798) papers in the dispute between Christopher Sykes and Richard Langley. Papers for the estates in the North Riding of Yorkshire are as follows: Cayton (1563-1725) including the marriage settlements of John Carlisle and Jane Hardy (1663) and James Hewitt and Jane Carlisle (1669); a photograph of the sale document with Guy Fawkes' name (1592); plans of Danby (1577-1789); Huttons Ambo (1780); Malton (1721-1824) including rules for the Subscription Library in 1791, the accounts and balances of the Malton Bank in the 1790s and the correspondence with John Lockwood about buying a house for electioneering purposes; Mowthorpe (1621-1699); Scarborough (1783-1794) including rules for the Assembly Rooms.

Papers for estates in the West Riding of Yorkshire are as follows: Crofton (1700) the marriage settlement of James Langwood and Sarah Watson; Knottingley (1624-1655); the manor court roll for Leeds Kirkgate (1560-1561); a plan of Crow Trees Farm in Levels (early 19th century); Monk Bretton (1800); the purchase of Rothwell by Daniel Sykes (1690); Sherburn in Elmet (1736-1762); correspondence with Timothy Mortimer and sale documents for Sutton (1788-1789). The remaining papers in U DDSY held for various places are: York (1501-1777) including a volume of religious material with reports of miracles and papers about the York Lunatic Assylum; Bedfordshire (late 18th century); Cheshire (1809); a map of Ireland (1797); a list of livings and patrons for Lincolnshire (early 17th century); Middlesex (1729-1824); Wiltshire (1782); 'various townships' (1743-1919).

Other sections in the deposit include: accounts and vouchers (1657-1914) including estate account books from 1786, wood sales and bank books, labourers' journals from 1870-1900, accounts for jewellery, paintings and silverware, solicitors' accounts with Lockwood and Shepherd and an account for the special train which brought the body of Jessica Sykes from London to Sledmere with the sexton's receipt for grave digging; acts of parliament (1777-1813) are largely enclosure acts; commissions and appointments (1737-1854); drainage (1787-1874); plans, maps and drawings (1713-1915) including a 1731 plan of the Channel Islands, early plans of Sledmere, eighteenth-century charts of the coast, a 1782 map of India and a road map of Scotland showing coaching stages for the same year, an 1821 street map of Paris and an 1829 plan of ancient Rome; rentals and surveys (1728-1928); various deeds (1631-1876).

Pedigrees and genealogical material include information on the Tyson, Thoresby, Clifford, Norton, Boddington, Cutler, Boulter, Peirson, Bridekirk, Kirkby and Sykes families as well as the Fitzwilliam family of Sprotborough and the Scott family of Beverley. A section of settlements contains the following marriage settlements: Augustine and Anne Ambrose (1669); Charles Webber and Mary Peirson (1789); William Tinling and Frances Tinling (1790); Mark Sykes and Henrietta Masterman (1795); Robert Grimston and Esther Eyres (1741); Frances Peirson and Sarah Cogdell (1754); Christopher Sykes and Elizabeth Tatton (1770); Tatton Sykes and Mary Ann Foulis (1822); Wilbraham Egerton and Elizabeth Sykes (1806); Mark Masterman Sykes and Mary Elizabeth Egerton (1814). Wills are as follows: Elizabeth Cornwell (1609); Jane Cowper (1636); Stephen Bird (1647); Thomas Peirson (1689); William Peirson (1661); Michael Clarke (1681); Richard Ganton (1706); Mark Kirkby (1712); Luke Lillingston (1713); Robert Raven (1717); Richard Sykes (1724); Elizabeth Hobman (1728); Deborah Mason (1730); John Peirson (1731); Mary Sykes (1742); Thomas Andrew (1751); Richard Sykes (1753); Hannah Anderson (1761); Elizabeth Egerton (1763); Isabel Collings (1753); Samuel Egerton (1780); Mark Sykes (1781); Francis Peirson (1781); Decima Sykes (1783); Sarah Peirson (1786); Christopher Sykes (1801); Elizabeth Beckwith (1802); Henrietta Masterman Sykes (1813); Mark Masterman Sykes (1819); Thomas Egerton (1845) and Tatton Sykes (1847).

Most of the papers of personal interest for the Sykes family are in three sections - correspondence, diaries and jounals, and a large miscellaneous section. The correspondence section has a few miscellaneous letters including Arundel Penruddock's last letter to her husband before his execution in 1655 and some eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century letters including one from the bishop of Clogher to Sir Henry Beaumont in 1751 and a file of 30 letters dated 1879 giving notice to quit farms. The earliest correspondence for the Sykes family is that of Richard Sykes, Hull merchant (1678-1726), from his factors in Danzig, his agent in the Navy Office and local gentry. The correspondence of Mark Sykes (1711-1783) includes six letters from the London merchant Henry de Ponthieu about the French in Canada 1761-3, circa 100 letters from his London banker, Joseph Denison, and letters from local gentry containing local gossip. There is also a letter book for Richard and Mark Sykes. The correspondence of Christopher Sykes, 2nd baronet (1749-1801) includes two letters from the archbishop of York, letters from Joseph Denison, banker, and Timothy Mortimer, solicitor, letters from Richard Henry Beaumont about local affairs, letters from his steward, George Britton, about estate affairs, letters from the local merchant, Robert Carlisle Broadley, and about 270 other letters from a wide range of people including William Carr of York and Henry Maister of Hull. There are a few letters to Mark Masterman Sykes, 3rd baronet (1771-1823). The correspondence of Tatton Sykes, 4th baronet (1772-1863), includes letters from other family members, local gentry such as William Foulis, his letters to his estate agent and to John Lockwood about legal matters. Letters to Tatton Sykes, 5th baronet (1826-1913), include some from solicitors, the archbishop of York, the East Riding bank, from agents and local gentry. There are letter books kept by his agent and cousin, Henry Cholmondeley and separate letter books kept about horse racing and breeding. There are a few letters addressed to or relating to his estranged wife, Jessica Sykes. There is one letter book for Mark Sykes (1879-1919) covering the years 1902-1919. Diaries and journals kept by the Sykes family reflect their influence and interests. The diary of Richard Sykes for 1752 includes information on dinner guests (who included Laurence Sterne and the archbishop of York), local affairs, servants' wages and the declaration of war against France. The diaries of Christopher Sykes, which are intermittent from 1771 to 1796 include information on Sledmere House, financial affairs, Sarah Siddons and a journey to the west country. The diaries of Tatton Sykes, which are intermittent from 1793 to 1832, contain much on hunting, horses and social affairs. Miscellaneous family diaries and journals include one of a tour of Italy in 1852.

U DDSY has an extensive miscellaneous section. There are some anonymous notes of proceedings in the parliaments of Mary between 6 July 1553 and 2 April 1554 and Elizabeth between 5 May and 30 June 1572. There is also a manuscript account of Wyatt's Rebellion and the marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain. Other miscellaneous items include a 1587 manuscript giving the names of all ports and landing places on the coasts of England and Wales, copies of some documents of interest for the English Civil War (for example, copies of letters to General Monck and minutes of the Council of State about subscription to the Covenant), a transcribed copy of Sir Thomas Herbert's account of the last two years of Charles I and his execution, some seventeenth-century printed material and some information about the Sykes family during the seventeenth century. Eighteenth-century material includes pamphlets, an inventory of the plate of Mark Kirkby, an account of the funeral of Mary Sykes who died unmarried at the age of 35 in 1744, a tract on the origins of venereal disease, some recipe and household medicinal books, the 1751 enquiry into the lunacy of Ann Barnard, lists of tenants, post-mortem results on Thomas Tatton and Mrs Egerton (who died as a result of childbirth), a description of a meteorite which fell in Thwing, the details of a house purchase by John Lockwood, the sale catalogues of the library and fine art collections of Mark Masterman Sykes in 1824, the correspondence and papers in parliament about the trial of Warren Hastings, some copies of 'The English Chronicle' and the 'Universal Evening Post' and nineteenth-century catalogues and racing calendars.

U DDSY2 comprises the papers of Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919). His correspondence includes his letters to Henry Cholmondeley, his cousin and estate manager, a few letters to his father, Tatton Sykes, as well as over 400 letters to his wife, Edith. Many of his letters are illustrated with cartoons. Letters and telegrams to him are from a wide range of correspondents who include Alfred Dowling, E G Browne, Francis Maunsell, Grant Dalton and Oswald Fitzgerald. There are a few personal letters, for example from Aubrey Herbert and the duke of Norfolk, but many are constituency letters and communications from important political figures with whom he was involved such as Winston Churchill and Chaim Weizmann. Embedded in his correspondence is also the correspondence of his wife Edith nee Gorst and his mother Jessica (nee Cavendish-Bentinck). His mother was involved in some Catholic politics and the collection also includes one letter from the duke of Norfolk to Cardinal Manning about the building of Westminster Cathedral.

U DDSY2 also contains Mark Sykes' appointment diaries from 1903 and his account books, including those for his trips to Paris and the Middle East. A large section of material catalogued as 'Foreign affairs and travel' is divided into material relating to his travel prior to the first world war and material relating to his wartime activity. The pre-war material contains notebooks and drawings of journeys including the trip taken by Mark and Edith Sykes from Sinope to Aleppo in 1906 (written up as The caliph's last heritage). The earliest is a trip Mark Sykes took between Jericho and Damascus in 1898. There are letters, maps and plans from several trips to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire and material relating to his time as military attaché at Constantinople 1904-6.

The wartime material in U DDSY2 is a rich source of information on affairs in the Middle East. It includes a draft of a letter from Mark Sykes to Winston Churchill which indicates that in January 1915 Sykes lent strong support to the idea of a Dardanelles offensive at a time when Churchill was trying to convince Lord Fisher and the War Council of its viability. Other copies of letters include one from Austen Chamberlain in 1916 and one to Lord Curzon about the work of the Mesopotamian Administration Sub-Committee. The war material contains reports on such things as the pan-Arab party in Syria in 1915, the Armenian question, letters from General Clayton with information on cabinet affairs, Arab affairs, on T E Lawrence. There are telegrams from Arthur Balfour and many papers relating to his work with F G Picot for an Inter-Allied settlement in the Middle East (the Sykes-Picot agreement). Material from his Middle East mission of 1918-1919 includes 85 letters, more than half of them about the Armenian massacre of 1915 and refugees. There are another 21 letters relating to the Anglo-Russian Friendship Society and a large number from people involved in the settlement of the Jewish state and Zionism. These include correspondence from Chaim Weizmann, F G Picot, Nahum Sokolow, C P Scott, W Ormesby-Gore, Ronald Storrs and members of the British Palestine Committee (Capern, 'Mark Sykes, Winston Churchill and the Dardanelles Campaign').

A fifth section in U DDSY2 has material on military affairs and this includes battalion orders 1907-1914, material relating to Sykes' Wagoners' Special Reserve, and miscellaneous lectures and reports about this (including a draft letter to Lloyd George) and material relating to Sykes' organization in 1913 and 1914 of the Royal Naval and Military tournaments. A sixth section of 'projects' includes material for his literary projects (for example, notes and proofs of The caliph's last heritage and a letter from H G Wells complimenting him on a book) and other projects such as Edith's hospital in France and the war memorials built at Sledmere. A seventh section on political affairs includes all his correspondence during campaigning and during his time as MP for Central Hull as well as his speeches on such matters as Irish Home Rule.

A miscellaneous section in U DDSY2 includes a sketchbook with plans of the rebuilding of Sledmere house and printed material. A tenth section comprises material used by Shane Leslie in the 1920s for his book on Mark Sykes and amongst this are cartoons, obituary material including 24 letters of condolence to Edith Sykes, two letters from T E Lawrence and one from H J Greedy at the War Office. A further deposit of Mark Sykes' papers was deposited in April 1976 and is now catalogued as U DDSY2/11 and this includes more papers relating to the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Zionist movement and British policy in Islamic countries. There are notes from the India Office, Mark Sykes' notes and reports and correspondence with people such as General Callwell, General Clayton, Austen Chamberlain, Lord Hardinge, William Ormesby-Gore, Harry Verney and Reginald Wingate. There are two reports by General Clayton on the operational plans of Emir Feisal and other Arab leaders as well as information about T E Lawrence. An appendix (catalogued as U DDSY2/12) consists of material previously displayed at Sledmere House and there is more of the same correspondence here including some with Picot. There are prominent papers about the Sykes-Picot agreement and notes of a conference at 10 Downing Street.

U DDSY3 contains manor court rolls for Roos in the East Riding of Yorkshire (1538-1774) and some miscellaneous material (1786-1881). U DDSY3/1 comprises 77 letters to Richard Sykes detailing the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The rest of the deposit is constructed of letters and papers of the family arranged roughly chronologically. Letters and papers for 1641-1769 include the letters of Richard Sykes from his brother and local gentry and from Joseph Denison about business matters such as banking and the Leeds cloth trade, and some news of local electioneering. Letters to the Reverend Mark Sykes largely comprise correspondence from Joseph Denison as well. The following wills are in this section: Richard Sykes of Leeds(1641); William Sykes of Knottingley (1652); Grace [Jenkinson] Sykes of Leeds (1685); Richard Sykes of Leeds (1693); Daniel Sykes of Knottingley (1697); Richard Sykes of Stockholm (1703); Deborah Mason [Oates/Sykes] (1730). Letters and papers for 1770-1782 include letters to the Reverend Mark Sykes about local fairs, banking and holding manor courts in Roos, letters to Captain Christopher Sykes about family and local affairs, some charity and poor rate assessment material, the marriage licence of Christopher Sykes and Elizabeth Tatton and the will of Mark Sykes (1781). Letters and papers for 1783-1793 include letters to Christopher Sykes from his family and local gentry, from Henry Maister, the Hull merchant and from John Lockwood, solicitor. There are also some estate accounts, banking bonds, the 1791 purchase for £33,000 of a 1000 acre estate in Ottringham Marsh, the 1785 subscription list for the charitable York Spinning School and some early material for Tatton Sykes (later 4th baronet) including his articled-clerk papers of 1790 and a small number of family letters. Letters and papers for 1794-1823 include letters of Christopher Sykes about Sledmere and local affairs and the correspondence of his brother, Tatton Sykes and Mark Masterman Sykes. There are miscellaneous estate papers and letters to Mark Masterman Sykes from the earls of Carlisle and Lancaster and from members of the local gentry. Letters and papers for 1604-1766 include some seventeenth-century manorial records for Knottingley and for Knutsford and Bucklow in County Chester. There are some papers of the Kirkby family, the marriage settlements of Francis Mason and Deborah Sykes (1700) and the ordination certificate of Mark Sykes by the bishop of Ely and his admission to the rectory of Roos. There are the wills of Stephen Oates (1743); William Ford (1766); Mark Sykes (1767, 1774); Thomas Hall (1769) and William Tatton (1775). There are letters to Christopher Sykes from his father, from Joseph Denison, from Roger Gee of Bishop Burton, and these are all about local affairs, fishing, hunting, coin and medal cabinets, wines etc. Letters and papers for 1780-1852 include letters to Christopher Sykes from Joseph Sykes of Kirk Ella (see DDKE), Henry Maister, other local business connections in and around Hull and his son, Christopher Sykes. Topics include mention of the death of Capability Brown and the Hull Bank. There are also some letters to Mark Masterman Sykes and papers about the estates of Christopher Ford of Owstwick. There is also some drainage and navigation mterial as well as some printed material from the Royal Humane Society in the 1790s and accounts for the engraving of the library at Sledmere. There are two wills: Timothy Mortimer (1788) and Robert Bewlay (1780).

Originally listed as a second appendix to the main deposit of U DDSY2, and now at U DDSY3/10, are 22 bound typescript volumes of transcripts of family papers which were probably put together when Mark Sykes was working on his family history. His unfinished draft manuscript is available (volume 12). Some of the volumes contain transcripts of material held in original form in the rest of the archive. However, of the material not held at Hull University Archives, the most interesting includes a letterbook of Richard Sykes (1749-61), some early recipe books, two letterbooks of Christopher Sykes (1775-95), a letterbook of Mark Masterman Sykes (1802-8), a journal of a continental tour by Richard Sykes (1730) and a journal of a tour in Wales by Lady Sykes (1796). Volume 22 contains a name index.

U DDSY4 is a small additional collection largely comprising estate papers of Mark Sykes with some miscellaneous earlier family papers. Estate papers are as follows: a sale catalogue for Bishop Wilton (1917); a sale catalogue for Eddlethorpe (1916); an enclosure award for Wetwang (1806); other miscellaneous estate papers including nineteenth-century daybooks and ledgers for Sledmere, some household accounts for Christopher Sykes (1785-1811) and Mark Masterman Sykes (1814-1823), labour expense books from 1839, the private account book of the Reverend Mark Sykes (1767-1781) and vouchers from 1846. Correspondence in U DDSY4 spans pre-1801-1979 and includes estate letter books (1919-1948); subject files (1925-1979), a few letters of Sir Tatton and Lady Sykes of the 1870s and copies of letters of Mark Sykes (1907-1911). Miscellaneous earlier diaries include one for Mark Kirkby (1673-1692) and one of Tatton Sykes, 4th baronet. There are also office diaries 1918-1940. U DDSY4 also contains files of estate improvement schemes (1961-1983); maps and plans (late 17th century-1929), including maps of seventeenth-century roads from York to Whitby and Scarborough and a 1737 printed plan of London in 1578 (in 7 parts); rentals and rent accounts (1796-1956) and material relating to the Sledmere stud which spans the dates 1801-1979 but is largely twentieth century. This includes horse valuations and photographs.

The fifth deposit, U DDSY5, contains title deeds, manorial records, sales particulars, tenancy agreements and related correspondence, mainly dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, for the following places in the East Riding: Barmby; Beverley; Bishop Wilton; Brandesburton; Bishopthorpe; Burstwick; Croom; East Heslerton; Eddlethorpe; Elloughton; Fimber; Fridaythorpe; Garton; Hedon; Helperthorpe (including papers about a dispute with the vicar of Lutton over grazing rights); Hollym; Howden; Kirby Grindalythe; Kirkburn; Langtoft; Nafferton; North Frodingham; Owstwick; Owthorne; Preston; Sledmere (including papers about the village hall, 1953); Thirkleby; Thixendale; Thorngumbald; Tibthorpe; Wansford; Wetwang; Wharram Percy (comprising a terrier, 1817). There are also reports for Beverley and Barmston Drainage, 1879-1881; title deeds, tenancy agreements, correspondence, sales particulars for properties in London, Sussex and Ireland; and papers about the maintenance of the Sykes churches in the East Riding. There is a large series of late 19th and 20th century accounts, especially for Sir Tatton and Lady Jessica Sykes, their estates, the estate of Sir Mark Sykes after his death and of his children's shares in the estate. Correspondence covers finance, estate and legal affairs, and there is a separate and extensive series of legal papers concerning the estate and personal affairs of Sir Tatton and Lady Jessica Sykes (including their divorce and Lady Sykes' debts), the estate of Sir Mark Sykes and the Sledmere Stud. A small number of inventories of the contents of Sledmere Hall is available, covering 1863-1951. There are very few maps and plans in this deposit, but amongst these is the 1778 plan of alterations at Sledmere designed by Capability Brown for Sir Christopher Sykes. Settlements are available for Sir Tatton Sykes 4th baronet, Sir Tatton Sykes 5th baronet, Lady Jessica Sykes, Sir Mark Sykes, Sir Richard Sykes and several other children of Sir Mark. Wills and related papers include the will of Sir Tatton Sykes 4th baronet. The deposit ends with a large series of subject files on the Sledmere Settled Estates, created by the solicitors Crust, Todd and Mills. These files cover such topics as the sale of land, buildings and other property, rent, tithes, debts, wills, marriage settlements, trusts, the estates of Sir Mark and Lady Edith Sykes, Sledmere Stud, and various local issues such as schools and water supplies.