fonds VI/TS - Archive of Troughton and Simms and family papers

Identity area

Reference code



Archive of Troughton and Simms and family papers


  • 1773-c 1950 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.17 cubic metres

12 boxes, 1 oversize folder and 1 roll

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The mathematical instrument-making business founded by John Troughton Senior in London in 1756 was subsequently continued by his nephews, John and Edward Troughton. After John died Edward took into partnership William Simms who also came from an instrument-making family. The firm of Troughton & Simms expanded to produce a wide range of scientific instruments including levels, theodolites and astronomical equipment.

The company was involved in a notorious lawsuit in the 1830s brought against the astronomer Sir James South by Troughton & Simms concerning an equatorial telescope which they had constructed for him. South claimed this was defective and refused to pay. After much wrangling the case was eventually won by Troughton & Simms, but later South reduced the telescope to pieces and advertised it for sale.

The firm continued to trade until 1922 when it was bought out by T. Cooke & Sons Ltd of York.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1989.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Corporate records of the company 1820-1920; records of the Simms family 1815-1939; Troughton family records, 1773-1839; accounting and financial records 1858-1920; manufacturing records, 1780s-1901; sales records 1874-1923; publications


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York, terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Generated finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Selected images from the archive have been digitised and can be viewed through the University of York's Digital Library:

Related units of description

The archives of T. Cooke & Sons; Cooke, Troughton & Simms; Charles Baker; and Vickers Instruments, are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute.

Books from the Vickers Instruments library, including 17th, 18th and 19th century works on surveying, astronomy and microscopy, form part of the University of York's Special Collections. A catalogue can be viewed online:

Instruments manufactured by Troughton & Simms; T. Cooke & Sons; Cooke, Troughton & Simms; and Vickers Instruments are on display at the Department of Physics at the University of York.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 17.02.17.




Archivist's note

Description compiled by Alison Brech in 2003.

Accession area