Having recently completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I have been looking around for further educational opportunities.
As my diploma dissertation was a study of manorial land records between 1712 and 1927, of Clent Manor, Worcestershire, England, the “Advanced Research Tools: Land Records” track presented by Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2012 peaked my interest. The course runs from 23-27 January 2012.
Although my study focused on land inheritance, I had originally intended presenting results by mapping land holdings belonging to individuals or families. However, faced with vague property descriptions, I realised this was more difficult than I had anticipated. Of the copyholdings bought, sold or inherited by the Waldron family of the Fieldhouse, I could locate less than half. Below is the map that I did not include in my dissertation because of these difficulties.
The Fieldhouse itself was easy (no 13), it is marked on current maps and the listed building records confirm that the house was built in the 1750s. Some fields that were enclosed and first granted by the Lord in 1788 were described well enough for me to work out their location relative to roads and adjoining property (nos 1-7). Descriptions referring to ancient field names that so not appear on any maps are more difficult, but I managed to find an archaeological report that gave approximate locations for a few names like Kitchen Meadow, Long Meadow and Wallfields. So I could approximate the locations of land (the rest of the nos on the map) with descriptions like the following example:
“three pieces of land called the Halfmoon Hills containing about sixteen acres two pieces of land adjoining called the Wallfields containing about eight acres and Meadow called the Kitchen Meadow containing about six acres and one Meadow called Long Meadow containing about four acres and one close adjoining called Ollerpiece containing about two acres in Upper Clent”
Winden Field is a place name that occurs frequently in the manorial court records, but I do not know where it was. It is thought to be the name of one of the open fields dating back to the medieval farming system.
Occasionally, land descriptions refer to the tithe map. In Clent this dates to 1838 and records the landowners who were liable to pay tithes, a tax collected by the church which supported the clergy. None of the land owned by my study family is directly linked to the tithe map in the court rolls, but it may be still possible to correlate the two.
So what does all this stuff about English land records have to do with and course on American land records? Well the problems are similar and the SLIG course offers some tools applicable to land records anywhere. The Strathclyde program is biased toward Scottish research and records (it is a Scottish university!), which some think a disadvantage for English based researchers. However, I benefited from seeing how English and Scottish records differ and the comparison has deepened my understanding making me a better researcher. American records will be different again, and that is interesting.
As I am based in England the main expense of attending SLIG is the airfare. However, as RootsTech (2-4 February 2012) and APG Professional Management Conference (1 February 2012), follow a few days later, I could attend all three. Now the airfare seems a little less extravagant!
About Sue Adams: My interest in family history was ignited by the death of Raymond Coulson, a cousin of my paternal grand-mother. Tracking down the beneficiaries of his estate got me hooked and led me on to research the tales passed down the generations. The story continues …