Document ReferenceBK
TitlePapers of the Bentinck family, Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, largely concerning their estate at Doorwerth, The Netherlands
Date Of Creation1658-1841
Extent11 boxes
AbstractMainly concerning Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck (1715-1800), née Countess of Aldenburg, and the estate at Doorwerth in The Netherlands which was inherited by her English descendants. The collection also contains naval correspondence of her son Captain John A. Bentinck (1737-1775). Principal document types present include; family and legal correspondence, legal papers, literary papers (German, mid-late 18th century). Most of the collection is in Dutch, German or French.
LevelFonds
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers.
Admin HistoryThis branch of the family was descended from William, 1st Count Bentinck (1704-1774), the 1st Earl of Portland's second son (and the eldest by his second marriage to Jane Temple). Count William inherited his father's Dutch estates, and was educated and lived all his adult life in the Netherlands. In 1732 he was created Graf (Count) Bentinck. In 1733 he married Countess Charlotte Sophie von Aldenburg (1715-1800), daughter of Anton II, Count of Aldenburg and his wife Wilhelmine Maria, Princess of Hesse-Homburg. They had two sons: Christian Antoine (1734-1768) and John Albert (1737-1775). The brothers married sisters: Baroness Maria Catherine and Baroness Renira van Tuyll van Serooskerken. Whereas Christian inherited the Bentincks' Dutch estates, John Albert inherited the Earl of Portland's estate at Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, and settled in England. He became a British naval captain and fought in the Seven Years War. He invented and improved many mechanical devices used in ships, the best-known of which is the 'Coles-Bentinck' chain-pump, which was adopted for use in all Royal Navy ships.

The marriage of Count William and Countess Charlotte Sophie did not last and in the resulting separation settlement it was agreed that the Countess would keep her paternal family estates in Germany (Varel and Kniphausen, near Oldenburg), but that she would retain only a life interest in her Dutch estate at Doorwerth, on which there were heavy debts from her father's day. Bitter disputes arose between the Countess and Count William, and in 1754 an agreement was forced on the Countess, making her eldest son Christian the Lord of Varel and Kniphausen. His ownership was confirmed by Charlotte Sophie in 1757. She was not allowed to see her sons, and they both died before she could meet them again. The Countess - together with her two illegitimate sons - lived in various places including Leipzig and Vienna. She settled in Hamburg around 1767 and remained there for the rest of her life.

After Count William's death in 1774, the dispute escalated. Charlotte Sophie's daughter-in-law Catherine Maria Bentinck, née Tuyll van Serooskerken, took possession of Doorwerth on behalf of her young children, despite the fact that the Countess had been employing her own people there. A legal case over the ownership of the Doorwerth estate was heard at The Hague in 1781. The Countess won the case, and by 1782 her agents were administering the estate on her behalf. In the turmoil caused by the French invasion of the Netherlands in the 1790s, Countess Charlotte Sophie agreed to bequeath Doorwerth to her eldest grandson William G.F. Bentinck, Count Bentinck-Rhoon (1762-1835), who claimed it as the eldest son of Count Christian. However, this agreement was later rescinded by both parties, and when the Countess died in 1800 she bequeathed Doorworth instead to another of her grandsons, Vice-Admiral William Bentinck (1764-1813) of Terrington St Clement, the eldest son of Captain John Albert Bentinck. The Countess had met William for the first time in 1789, when he travelled to Germany to meet her with his friend James Hawkings-Whitshed. Whitshed later married William's sister Sophia H. Bentinck, with whom the Countess had an intimate correspondence until her death in 1800.

Vice-Admiral Bentinck bequeathed Doorwerth in his will to his third, posthumous son, Charles Aldenburg Bentinck (1810-1891). Legal business concerning Doorwerth was handled by his widow, Lady Frances Bentinck (c.1781-1847), until Charles came of age. Doorwerth was sold by Charles in 1837.

Varel and Kniphausen were inherited by Christian's son, William G.F. Bentinck, Count Bentinck-Rhoon. He died in 1835 without surviving male heirs. A dispute over the succession was only settled in 1854, when the Bentinck family were compensated for their property and sovereign rights, and Varel and Kniphausen became incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg.

The Bentincks' Dutch possessions, including the seigneury of Pendrecht and Rhoon, passed in turn to Count Bentinck-Rhoon's nephews William F.C. Bentinck (1787-1855) and Charles A.F. Bentinck (1792-1862). This branch of the family became settled in England during the late 18th century. Timothy Bentinck, the current 8th Count Bentinck (and 12th Earl of Portland) descends from Charles A.F. Bentinck.
Custodial HistoryInternal evidence suggests that at least some of these papers were stored at Doorwerth, and looked over by Vice-Admiral William Bentinck when he inherited the Doorwerth estate in 1800. It must be assumed that they were passed on to his son, Charles Aldenburg Bentinck. The later history of the papers is unclear. They came to be in the hands of the London solicitors, Stoneham, Langton and Passmore (later Mircham and Company), by whom they were transferred via the British Records Association to The University of Nottingham in 1982.
DescriptionThe bulk of the papers in the collection concern the long-running dispute over the Doorwerth estate near Arnhem in the Netherlands, and its administration by Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck, and her descendants.

The papers relating to Doorwerth consist of legal and estate papers relating to the ownership of the estate and money secured on it (BK 3); and estate correspondence between Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck and various lawyers, secretaries and agents (BK 4 and BK 5), mostly dated 1774-1800. A few items of the correspondence are of a more personal nature and relate to Charlotte Sophie's family and friends. A small series of correspondence of Lady Frances Bentinck, later Stephens, and other members of her family (BK 6/2) documents later legal wranglings over the ownership of Doorwerth, 1800-1842. These papers are primarily in French and Dutch.

A series of printed and official notices in Dutch contains proclamations issued to the citizens of Doorwerth and Gelderland, mostly in the period 1781-1786 (BK 2).

The collection also contains papers relating to two other members of the family:

Papers of Princess Wilhemine Maria of Aldenburg (1678-1770), Countess Charlotte Sophie's mother, mainly concerning a dispute between the Hesse-Homburg family and their cousins the Hesse-Darmstadts (BK 1). These papers are in German.

Correspondence of Captain John Albert Bentinck (1737-1774), including letters in French exchanged with his father William, 1st Count Bentinck, 1759-1760, and correspondence relating to his naval inventions (BK 6/1).

Other items in the collection include copies of poems in German, probably collected by Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck (BK 7), and miscellaneous papers (BK 8).
MgtGroupFamily and estate collections
MgtSubGroupPortland
ArrangementArchival order was not evident when the papers were acquired. The series have been created during the course of cataloguing and reflect the contents of the papers. Where possible, items within series are in chronological order.
LanguageEnglish
Dutch
French
German
TermAdministration of estates - Netherlands - Doorwerth
Great Britain - History, Naval - 18th century
Great Britain - Royal Navy - Studies
FindingAidsCopyright in all finding aids belongs to The University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus: Typescript catalogue, 199 pp.

Online: Available on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, accessible from the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections.
ReprodnNotePhotocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.
ConditionGood
Related MaterialLetters in French from Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck, to her granddaughter Sophia Hawkins Whitshed, née Bentinck, 1790-1799 (Pw F 10081-10343)
Two financial items relating to William, 1st Count Bentinck, and his son John Albert Bentinck, 1761-1774 (MS 376)
Digital copies of two journals of Captain William Bentinck [1764-1813]; 1790-1791 (MS 993)
Various items within the Portland (London) collection (Pl)
Gelders Archief, The Netherlands, holds a collection of Doorwerth estate papers: Huis Doorwerth, 1386-1833 (0383); and two family collections: Familie (Van Aldenburg) Bentinck, 15th-19th century (0613); and Familie (Van Aldenburg) Bentinck, 1651-1812; aanwinst 1967 (0884)
Related RecordPwF/10081-10343
MS376
Pl
Pw
MS993
Publication NoteNo publications have yet been based on the items within this collection, but the following works reference other archives and provide useful background to the European Bentinck family and the dispute over Doorwerth:
- Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck : her life and times 1715-1800. / by her descendant Mrs Aubrey Le Blond (2 vols, London: Hutchinson, 1912)
- Paul-Emile Schazmann, The Bentincks, the history of a European family (London, 1976)
- Aleid van de Bunt, 'Iets uit het leven can een Vrouwe van de Doorwerth', in Bijdragen en Mededelingen, LXII (1965/1967), 247-254 [article in Dutch about the Doorwerth estate and Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck]

Click the links below to view related name indexes

Click the links below to view related place indexes

Persons
CodePersonNameDates of Existence
NA95Bentinck; Charlotte S. (1715-1800); Countess Bentinck; dau. of Anton II Count of Aldenburg; m. 1733 William 1st Count Bentinck1715-1800
NA96Wilhelmine Maria (1678-1770); Countess of Aldenburg; née Princess of Hessen-Homburg; m Anton II Count, of Aldenburg; mother of Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck1678-1770
NA8591Stephens; Frances Augusta Eliza (c.1781-1847); Lady; née Medows/Pierrepont; dau. of 1st Earl Manvers; m. 1stly Vice Admiral William Bentinck 1802; m. 2ndly Henry William Stephens esq. 1821c.1781-1847
NA98Bentinck; John A. (1737-1775); Count Bentinck; captain; grandson of 1st Earl of Portland; son of William 1st Count Bentinck1737-1775
NA95Bentinck; Charlotte S. (1715-1800); Countess Bentinck; dau. of Anton II Count of Aldenburg; m. 1733 William 1st Count Bentinck1715-1800
NA96Wilhelmine Maria (1678-1770); Countess of Aldenburg; née Princess of Hessen-Homburg; m Anton II Count, of Aldenburg; mother of Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck1678-1770
NA99Bentinck; William G.F. (1762-1835); Count Bentinck-Rhoon; Sovereign Lord of Kniphausen and Varel; grandson of 1st Count Bentinck1762-1835
NA98Bentinck; John A. (1737-1775); Count Bentinck; captain; grandson of 1st Earl of Portland; son of William 1st Count Bentinck1737-1775
NA101Bentinck; William (1764-1813); Count Bentinck; Vice-Admiral; son of Capt J.A. Bentinck; governor of St Vincent 1798-18011764-1813
NA8591Stephens; Frances Augusta Eliza (c.1781-1847); Lady; née Medows/Pierrepont; dau. of 1st Earl Manvers; m. 1stly Vice Admiral William Bentinck 1802; m. 2ndly Henry William Stephens esq. 1821c.1781-1847
NA102Bentinck; William (1704-1774); 1st Count Bentinck; son of 1st Earl of Portland by his second wife; Lord of Rhoon and Pendrecht, Netherlands, and Terrington St Clements, Norfolk1704-1774
NA32400Bentinck; Christian F.A. (1734-1768); Count Bentinck de Varel; son of William, 1st Count Bentinck1734-1768
NA75765Bentinck; family; Counts of the Holy Roman Empire
Places
CodePlace name
PL58/Doorwerth/Gelderland/Netherlands
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