Northumberland Archives is working with The National Archives to revise, update and computerise the paper based Manorial Documents Register. Manorial documents are protected by law as they contain proof of title to copyhold land. The manorial documents were placed under the protection of the Master of the Rolls in 1924 who issued the first Manorial Documents Rules in 1926. At the same time he ordered a register to be kept recording the individual nature, ownership and location of the documents, this was the original Manorial Documents Register.
Manorial records include court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor. These records offer a wonderful source of information about local communities and places. They can provide detail on topics such as family, agriculture, crime, property and land ownership. They date from the 12th to 20th centuries so offer insight into parts of our history where few other records have survived.
The updated online Manorial Documents Register is far more detailed and accurate than the original paper indexes, improving both the quality and quantity of the information provided. Researchers will benefit from wider access to this resource wherever they are based in the world, enabling them to search for manorial records by manor, parish, type of record, or by date, and identifying the relevant records.
Our project began in April 2014 and we expect it to continue through to December 2016. During this time we will be looking at catalogued and uncatalogued collections held by Northumberland Archives at Berwick-upon-Tweed and Woodhorn as well as Northumberland material held in both UK and international repositories. The project will also identify and record Northumberland manorial records retained privately. Our project has been made possible by grant funding provided by The National Archives and The Federation of Family History Societies.
We have set up the project blog to tell you about the work that we are undertaking within the project, update you on our progress, introduce you to some of the different kinds of records that we have been able to locate and tell you about some of the more interesting finds that we have made. We hope that you enjoy reading it.