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About Enclosure Awards

Traditional agriculture involved peasants (owner-occupiers) and tenants farming small areas of land (known as 'strips') which were intermixed with those of others in large open fields and cultivated according to communal agreement. The village might also have uncultivated common land, known as commons, used for rough grazing, fuel-gathering and timber.

Enclosure was the process by which the various strips of each owner were reorganised and consolidated into separate holdings, fenced off from the land of their neighbours. Where there were commons, this land too could be divided up between those who had rights to use it. The process made agriculture more efficient and it also exerted a major impact upon the communities affected.

The process of enclosure generally began by landowners in a community obtaining a local Act of Parliament. This authorised the appointment of enclosure commissioners, local men, one of whom was often a surveyor. They would investigate the rights of each owners, survey the land, allocate fields to owners and lay out new roads. Their final decision was then embodied in a formal written document, the 'enclosure award', which from the later eighteenth century was often accompanied by a map.

Over two dozen enclosure awards were made for places in the Doncaster area in the hundred years between 1754 and 1861. In all, 27,000 acres of land (10,927 hectares) of open fields and commons were enclosed. Much of this was organised under the stimulus of high agricultural prices during the Napoleonic Wars. A third of all the land enclosed in the Doncaster area was planned in eleven enclosure Acts obtained in the fifteen years between 1800 and 1815.

An enclosure award gives an overview of a community at a crucial moment in its history. For family historians, enclosure awards give the names of the landowners who owned land at the date of the enclosure and identifies the land which they owned. The same information is just as important, from another perspective, to local historians, who will also be aware that the process of enclosure usually made major changes to the local landscape.

Sometimes, enclosure was used as the opportunity for extinguishing tithes by allocating land to the tithe-owner in lieu of tithe-payments. See also the webpage on Tithes.

Doncaster Archives holds three dozen original (signed and sealed) enclosure awards and copies of awards.

Further information can be found in Barbara English's, Yorkshire Enclosure Awards (University of Hull, 1985). A copy is available at Doncaster Archives.

Original and Copy Enclosure Awards 1754-1861

Place Date of Act
(* copy available)
Date of AwardOriginal/Copy Available?  Map Available?  
Adlingfleet    1767    1769    copy, part    no    
Adwick le Street    1760    1761    copy    no 
Arksey see Bentley                
Armthorpe    1773*    1774    original    yes    
Askern see Campsall                
Austerfield    1765*    1767    copy    no    
Balby see Hexthorpe                

Barnburgh 

1819

1822 

original 

yes

Barnby Dun    1766    1768    original    no    
Barnby Dun    1803*    1807    original    yes    
Bentley with Arksey    1758*    1759    original    no    
Bentley with Arksey    1827*    1830    original    yes    
Blaxton see Finningley                

Braithwell   

Braithwell    

1765    

1855    

1766    

1858    

original    

original    

yes    

yes   

Branton see Cantley                
Brodsworth    1815*    1830    original    yes    
Burghwallis    1813*    1818    original    yes    
Campsall, Askern and Norton    1814*    1818    original    yes    
Cantley, Branton, Bessacarr and High Ellers    1777*    1779    original    copy, yes    
Clayton and Frickley    1814*    1821    original    yes    
Conisbrough and Clifton    1855    1858    original    yes    
Conisbrough Fields    1856    1858    original    yes    
Cowick see Stainton                
Doncaster, Cantley, Rossington and Wadworth    1765*    1771    copy, part    copy, yes    
Edlington see Stainton                
Fenwick    1779    1780    copy part    no    
Finningley, Auckley and Blaxton    1774    1778    original    copy, yes    
Fishlake see Hatfield                
Frickley see Clayton                
Gowdall    1773    1775    original    yes    
Hatfield, Thorne, Fishlake, Stainforth and Sykehouse    1811*    1825    original    yes    
Heck, Great and Little see Pollington                
Hexthorpe with Balby and Long Sandall    1784    1786    original    yes    
High Ellers see Cantley                
Hook    1768    1775    copy    no    
Kirk Sandall    1806    1808    copy    yes    
Mexborough and Dolcliffe    1859    1861    original    yes    
Moss and Kirk Bramwith    1780    1783    original    yes    
Norton see Campsall                
Owston    1761    1761    original    no    
Pollington, Balne, Whitley, Whitley Thorpe, Great and Little Heck    1772    1775    original    no    
Rossington    1810    [Act confirms agreement]    no    
Skellow    1801    1806    copy    copy, yes    
Snaith, Cowick and Rawcliffe    1752    1754    original    no    
Snaith and Cowick    1773    1781    original    no    
Stainforth see Hatfield                
Stainton and Edlington    1810    1815    original    yes    
Sutton    1854    1858    original    yes    
Sykehouse see Hatfield                
Thorne see Hatfield                
Tickhill    1765    1766    original    copy, yes    
Wadworth    1765*    1767    original    yes    
Whitley, Whitley Thorpe see Pollington                

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