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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Unit topic: Maps & Land Ownership

Understanding the documents

Overview guide


This month we’re focusing on the records generated by two major pieces of legislation; the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 and the Finance Act of 1910. Both resulted in the creation of sets of maps covering the whole of the country and both required the recording of vast amounts of information relating to land, properties and the people who owned them and occupied them.

A mini history of tithes

Tithes, originally one tenth of the produce of a farm or small-holding, had been collected by the Church for hundreds of years and although, following the Reformation of the 16th century, the right to collect tithes was often in secular hands, by the early 1800s the system had become a subject of some controversy and was seen by many as an anachronism.

The 1836 Act converted all payments of tithes to their equivalent monetary value. In order to carry out this mammoth task, the Tithe Commission had to assess the value of all those pieces of land which were then liable to payments of tithes in England and Wales. The work was carried out over a period of about 15 years although most was completed by the early 1840s. Land which had been subject to Inclosure Acts, along with land and properties in most urban areas (representing roughly 25 per cent of the country), isn’t covered by the records but when it comes to researching our rural ancestors and those who lived in the smaller towns and villages the work of the Tithe Commission is a major boon.

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