The nature of the records produced by manorial courts
Manorial records are, broadly speaking, of two kinds. The first and more important are the records relating to copyhold land. This was land which could not be transferred to another person (whether by sale, mortgage or inheritance) without the permission of the manor court. The transaction (known as an 'admittance'), was recorded on the court roll, the official record of the manorial court. A copy of the admittance was generally obtained by the tenant as proof of his legal right to hold the land. As a result land held in this way acquired the name of 'copyhold'.
Court rolls also record other manorial business, such as the appointment of constables for the townships, making rules to govern communal life and work, and the fining of tenants for breaches of these rules. This business was conducted in what was generally called the 'court leet'.
Manorial court records are in Latin up to 1733, like those of other courts.
Copyhold tenure was abolished by the Law of Real Property Act of 1922. The Act made it necessary for copyhold tenure to be converted ('enfranchised' is the legal term) into freehold. This involved paying compensation to the lord of the manor. The process was completed by the mid 1930s, when copyhold land ceased to exist.
Manorial court rolls, because of their importance for establishing title to property, were given special protection by the property reforms of the early 1920s. They fall under the protection of the Master of the Rolls. A manorial documents register (MDR), originally maintained by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (HMC), is now the responsibility The National Archives.
Parts of the MDR, including the entries for the whole of Yorkshire, are available on-line on the National Archives website at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/mdr.
Manorial Court Records 1265 - 1935
|Manor||Court Rolls||Other Records||Original/Copy|
|Balby with Hexthorpe||1467-1484, 1621-1704||1674-1687||original|
|Barmby Grange with Kirk Bramwith||1648-1804||1696-1788||original|
|Branton (or Brampton)||1772-1840||1788-1843||original|
|Braithwaite (or Bredcroft)||1638-1647||1635-1658||copy|
|Danthorpe (East Yorks)||1767, 1776||1745-1760||original|
|Hatfield: Graveship of Dousthorpe||1761||original|
|Hooton Pagnell||1562-1721||1542, 1548||copy|
|Plumtree (Notts)||1715-1743||1470, 1694-1765||original|
|Rossington||1468-1481, 1514-1534, 1669-1685||1678-1688||original|
|Thorpe in Balne||1777-1807||1669||original|
|Wroot (Lincolnshire)||1731-1754, 1835-1841||original|
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