Tuesday 23 September 2014

Tithe Apportionments and Maps

I wrote in a few previous posts about maps as a powerful tool in sorting out and understanding family history (see posts of 22 July 2014, 12 August 2014 and 26 August 2014). One set of maps of Britain I did not mention in those posts was the Tithe Maps of the 1840s, although I did reference them, and show potions of such maps in a few posts I did about old family homes (25 February 2014, 4 March 2014 and 11 March 2014).

The Tithe Apportionments, along with and accompanying the Tithe Maps, are a great source of data about parish residents, both landowners and occupiers, for the early 1800s. They show where families actually lived around 1840 and whether they were landowners or renters.

The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in kind with monetary payments called the "corn rent" calculated on the basis of a national, seven-year average price for wheat, barley and oats. Lands throughout England and Wales were evaluated to determine the amounts to be paid and maps were produced showing all of the parcels subject to the tithes. Associated with each map was an “apportionment” in the form of a table, with an entry for each parcel of land. For each entry, the owner, tenant, area name or description, state of cultivation, area and rent charge payable was listed, as well as the name of the tithe owner.

The list and maps shown here if for a piece of land owned by Sampson Shepheard (spelled Shepherd on the list), my 4th great-granduncle, at the time the documents were constructed. The table details the parcels of land at Middle and East Rooke, the estate that had been in possession of the Shepheard family since at least the early 1600s.

Portion of 1842 Apportionment showing Rooke lands, in Cornwood Parish, Devon County, England, owned then by Sampson Shepheard (1771-1856)

Portion of 1841 Tithe Map showing Rooke lands (outlined), in Cornwood Parish, Devon County, England, owned then by Sampson Shepheard (1771-1856)
Of interest is the size of the lands that were able to produce a reasonable income for a family. East Rooke parcels, including those on which the buildings were located, totaled only just over 47 acres. Middle Rooke was 34 acres. That is exceedingly small compared to lands some of my ancestors farmed in Alberta in the 20th century. At a minimum they were 160 acres, most often much larger.

Many OPCs, like me, have obtained copies of the maps and apportionments and display them on their websites or are able to look up information on them. Regular genealogists, though, can often access the maps and lists online. Most often only the apportionments can be viewed. Apportionments for all of the Devon parishes can be seen now through the auspices of the Devon County Council. The original maps are quite large and a more intensive effort to scan them has been required. Gradually counties like Devon are successfully digitizing them and making them available. East Devon parishes are well represented in the digitizing process.

Other counties are also making significant progress in making apportionments and maps available. Some have them online and some through searches at record offices or on CDs for sale. For example, a quick Google search for “tithe maps” brought up these websites: Cheshire, Cornwall, East Sussex, Kent, Surrey, West Sussex and West Yorkshire. Ancestry has Dorset maps and apportionment data on their website.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated. Tithe map and apportionment records are the property of The National Archives and published under their Open Government License.