The Tithe Map and Apportionment

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The legacy of this massive effort to survey the country is that we now have a ‘window’ into the nineteenth century through which we can see with remarkable clarity and fine detail the rural landscape of England and Wales in the 1840s. For many areas, particularly in Wales, we are provided with our first detailed look at the landscape. The documents that give us this viewpoint are collectively known as the Tithe Award and Apportionment, and Map.

The Tithe Award is the written document. It consists of two parts; a written agreement or statement of award, and the apportionment itself. The first part of the award gives the names of the Commissioners, surveyors, and tithe owners. This part of the document is extremely useful, for it provides the acreage of the parish, the area subject to tithes, and notes on any exemptions. The value of the tithes in monetary terms will also be given. A perusal of the names mentioned in the agreement will often give the reader some indication of the leading social figures of the parish at the time. The second part of the document, and by far the largest, is the schedule of apportionment which lists how much of the total corn rent charge is payable on every parcel of land in the parish. In some parishes over three thousand parcels may be enumerated.

The need to schedule every parcel of land is what makes the document so valuable to the historian. Every tithable parcel of land is itemised by land owner, occupier, reference number on the accompanying plan, name and description of the land, and size in acres, roods and perches. The final columns give the payment due to the tithe owners (chiefly the rector and the vicar). In some surveys the observed state of cultivation of the land is also listed. It is important to remember that the schedules were compiled in the 1830s and 1840s for a specific purpose and the logic of their arrangement may not be apparent to the present day reader. New users of the tithe awards will be quickly disappointed to find that the parcels of land are not laid out in numerical order in the schedule. It is more likely that the schedule will be arranged in alphabetical order of owner. The result is to effectively scatter the tithe map parcel numbers in a seemingly random fashion throughout the fifty or sixty pages of a typically sized schedule.

The Tithe Map and Apportionment (Continued)



The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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