Sir Samuel Hellier, 1736–1784, was the son of Staffordshire landowner and barrister, also Samuel. His father, who passed away in 1751, had amassed substantial estates in Staffordshire and Worcestershire, including the new family residence, The Wodehouse in Wombourne. Additionally, Sir Samuel was the rightful heir to the Huntbach family's Featherstone estates through his mother. However, he did not come into this inheritance until the death of his maternal grandmother, Sarah Huntbach in 1782. Sir Samuel did not have much time to enjoy his full inheritance, as he passed away just two years later. Having no heirs, he bequeathed the entirety of his estates to a long-standing friend, Reverend Thomas Shaw.

Sir Samuel is known today as an avid collector of music and musical instruments, but his interests also included gardening, fossils, coins, and books. Upon his death, a portion of these collections was bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, whilst the music and instruments remained at The Wodehouse until the late 20th century. The surviving collections would not be nearly so interesting were it not for the treasure trove of personal correspondence which survive and are presented here.

This website presents the letters as a resource for those interested in society and culture in eighteenth-century Britian. They reveal the trials and tribulations of the life of a member of the landed gentry: the administration of his country estates whilst working as a barrister in London during the season; disagreements and negotiations with tenants; love and marriage; the relationship with his grandmother and the frustrations of not receiving more inheritance from her own incomes; his standing among his local communities and within his land-owning neighbours; his love of music, gardens and architecture; and his sometimes unappreciated philanthropic pursuits.

Visitors to this site can browse the letters chronologically, by theme, sender, recipient or location. 

Read more about Sir Samuel Hellier, his life, times and interests.

Learn about the People in Hellier's life, or the Locations.