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Berkeley-Dursley account books

Call Number: MS 130


A collection of financial accounts for the Berkeley family, including primarily Charles Berkeley (1649-1710), the 2nd Earl of Berkeley, and his son James Berkeley (1680-1736), 3rd Earl of Berkeley (James was also styled Viscount Dursley from 1699-1710 before he succeeding his father as Earl of Berkeley in 1710). Also included are briefer accounts for the Countess Dowager of Berkeley (presumably Elizabeth, Charles's wife and James's mother), and the Honorable George Berkeley, Charles's fourth and youngest son.


  • 1702-1713; 1716-1717


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of James Berkeley, 3rd Earl of Berkeley (1680-1736)

James Berkeley was the second son of Charles, 2nd Earl of Berkeley (1649-1710), and Elizabeth Noel (-1719), who was the daughter of Baptist Noel, first Viscount Campden and his third wife, Hester Wotton, and the sister of Edward, the first earl of Gainsborough. Charles Berkeley was the son of George, the 9th Lord Berkeley (1628-1698) and Elizabeth Messingberd (-1708). George Berkeley was created Viscount Dursley and Early of Berkeley in 1679 by King Charles II.

James Berkeley was appointed a volunteer on board the ship Centurion around the age of 15, and eventually he was commissioned third lieutenant on the Boyne in 1699. That same year his elder brother Charles died from smallpox, and Berkeley was styled Lord Dursley.

Around the age of 21, Dursley was promoted to captain, commanding first the frigate Sorlings and later the Lichfield, Boyne, Devonshire, and St George, serving at the battle of Malaga in 1704 and the siege of Toulon in 1707. In 1708 he was raised to flag rank as vice admiral, serving as second in command under Sir George Byng off the coast of Scotland on the Berwick.

In 1710, after the death of his father, Dursley became earl of Berkely and lord lieutenant of Gloucestershire, retiring from the sea for several years. In 1711 he married Louise Lennox (1694-1717), daughter of Charles Lennox, the first duke of Richmond and lady of the bedchamber to Caroline, the princess of Wales.

In 1714, after the death of Queen Anne, Berkeley was appointed by the lords justices to command the fleet of warships that escorted the new King George I from the Ductch coast. King George appointed Berkeley a lord of the bedchamber, as well as master and elder brother of Trinity House. In 1717 Berkeley was appointed first lord of the Admiralty and sworn into the privy council. The following year Berkeley was made a knight of the Garter.

In 1719 Berkeley returned to the sea, serving as commander-in-chief of the fleet in the English Channel during a short war with Spain. He did not return to the sea after that and was dismissed from the Admiralty in 1727. In 1735, with ill health, Berkeley traveled to northern France with his friend Lord Bolingbroke and died at Aubigny. He was buried at Berkeley alongside his wife Louise.

[Information retrieved from Hattendorf, John B., "Berkeley, James, third early of Berkeley," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2009.]


.25 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Scope and Contents

Charles' accounts as the 2nd Earl of Berkeley are somewhat complete, providing information regarding servants, children's schooling, debt to William Pulteney, expenses of properties, legal fees, the "lamprey pie which was a present to my Ld Treasurer," etc. James' accounts as Lord Dursley and later Earl of Berkeley are more detailed, providing information about clothing, silver, house decorations, horses, mourning, coaches, "Kneller for your Picture," etc.

The accounts were probably prepared by the Berkeley family's homme d'affaires, possibly including a William Smythe, who is mentioned on the penultimate leaf of the Honorable George Berkeley's accounts in folder 2. The accounts are in several hands. The 2nd Earl of Berkeley signed item 1 on March 27, 1705; George Berkeley signed item 2.

Physical Location

MS 130

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Items 1, 3, and 4 probably purchased at Dillon's stall, 1969. Other items probably came from Hoffmann-Freeman consignment 2 and added to the collection.

Guide to the Berkeley-Dursely Accounts Collection
Berkeley-Dursley account books
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1974. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Berkeley-Dursley account books, MS 130, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States