In most parts of the country, the survival of property deeds has been haphazard, but in Yorkshire it is possible to make use of the vast resources of the three Yorkshire Registries of Deeds.

The West Riding Registry of Deeds, which covered the Doncaster area, operated from 1704 to 1970 to register abstracts (known as memorials) of property deeds, and accumulated a total of over five million registrations in its long history.

The Registry had three principal limitations. It could register deeds relating to freehold land but not to copyhold land, that is land subject to manorial rights. It could not register leases unless they were of twenty-one years or more. The register was voluntary rather than compulsory, as under the modern land registry system. Nevertheless, the Registry was very widely used, and it is a valuable source for local and family history.

To make use of it, you would need to know the name of any past owner of the property you are investigating, as the Registry is accessed through an index of surnames.

The Registry is now part of the resources of the West Yorkshire Archive Service Headquarters, whose website can be accessed by using this link

The deeds available at Doncaster Archives have arrived there from three sources. Deeds form an important part of the records of local landed families, such as the Davies-Cookes of Owston or the Battie-Wrightsons of Cusworth. The archives of solicitors contain large numbers of deeds of former clients. Other deeds have come in from a variety of private depositors.


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