Tithe Records online for England and Wales
Level : Advanced
Time : 5 mins
The Tithe Maps and Apportionments are a valuable yet little used source of information about our ancestors. The Tithe Commissioners surveyed England and Wales in early Victorian times which produced some of the country's earliest large scale maps. Owners and occupiers of even the smallest piece of English and Welsh land in the 1800s were recorded in the Tithe Maps and Apportionment documents.
Note: Irish and Scottish tithe records are not included as they had different systems.
The Apportionment documents are in table format and contain:
The Landowner's name;
The Occupier's name;
Numbers referring to the Plan (i.e. the numbers connecting the document to the correct plot on the tithe map)
Name and description of and premises;
State and cultivation [of the land];
Quantities in Statute Measure (i.e. size of the land in Acres/Perches/Rods;
Amount of Rent Charge apportioned and payable to the Rector;
Remarks (usually containing an alphabetic code - see below).
The Tithe Maps are just that - a map of the area - which are read in conjunction with the Apportionment documents. The maps contain:
The whole local area with each plot of land marked out;
The size of each plot in Acres.Perches.Roods;
Shadings to indicate buildings.
So what are they exactly?
The churches and clergy originally levied a special 10% tax in kind every year on all agricultural produce in the local area. Known as a tithe, the tax was collected by the clergy for their support and the churches’ upkeep. After the Reformation land passed from the Church to individual owners who also inherited the entitlement to receive traditional tithes.
In the early 19th century, tithe payments in kind were very unpopular and coincided with a period of religious dissent, depressed agricultural conditions as well as the rise of the industrial revolution. In 1836 tithes in kind ceased but were replaced with monetary payments called a tithe rent charge.
The government established a tithe survey of the country to determine which areas were subject to tithes, who owned the tithes, how much was payable and to whom. All land was surveyed and valued to determine each parish’s rent charges and calculate individual landowners’ tithe payment. This was known as the apportionment. Each apportionment was accompanied by a tithe map.
The apportionments contained written information about a specific area shown on the map and included the amount of rent charge payable on each piece of land. The maps in turn used plot numbers to link each piece of land to its corresponding description in the apportionment document.
The following pictures are my own ancestor’s 1838 tithe map and apportionment details with the map indicating which plots he either owned or occupied.
George Wild of Pinxton in Derbyshire was my 4xgreat grandfather. From the Apportionment document I can see he occupied one property and let the other two to tenants. On one property he had a beer house, a blacksmith’s shop, shoeing house and garden. It also shows the size of each property and the amount of tithe he had to pay to the local vicar, namely, 5 shillings and one penny.
Above: Extract from the 1838 Pinxton, Derbyshire Tithe Map courtesy of TheGenealogist.co.uk
Above: Extract from 1838 Apportionment for Pinxton, Derbyshire courtesy of TheGenealogist.co.uk
Where do I find them?
The National Archives in the UK is the custodian of the Tithe Maps and apportionments which they have made available online through TheGenealogist. There is no charge to search TheGenealogist but if you find a likely match with an ancestor, then a subscription is needed to view the records.
If you don’t have a subscription to TheGenealogist then these records can be viewed in person at the National Archives in Kew if you lucky enough to either live in London or plan to visit any time.
TheGenealogist also has a key to the Codes attached to each record for easy reference.
I would love to hear if you find any ancestors in these little used records. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me via the Comments section below.
Your Family Genealogist
Top: Map readers - Unsplash
Middle: Pinxton Tithe Map and Apportionment extracts - TheGenealogist