Margaret McMillan Tower
The frequently asked questions are outlined below. Please click the + icon to expand to see the answer.
Tithes were a local tax on agricultural produce that was originally paid by farmers to support the local church and clergy. When Henry VIII abolished the monasteries in the 16th century, many Church tithe rights were sold into private hands. Owners of tithe rights in land which previously belonged to the Church were known as ‘Lay Impropriators’.
The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 was introduced to resolve disputes over the increasingly outdated system where tithes could be paid ‘in kind’ (wheat, hay, wool, piglets, milk etc.) The act allowed tithes in kind to be converted into a fixed monetary payment called a ‘tithe rent charge’.
Any remaining tithe charges were abolished in 1936.
The 1836 Tithe Commutation Act required a detailed survey to establish where tithes were payable, and maps were drawn showing the boundaries of individual fields, woods, roads, streams and rivers, and the location of buildings. Plot numbers link the maps to the tithe apportionments. Most tithe maps were completed in the 1840s.
The details of rent charges payable for each property or field were written up in schedules called ‘tithe apportionments’. This part of the tithe award records the owner(s) and occupier(s) of each plot, its name, how the land was used, the size of the plot and a calculation of its value. The plot numbers link this data to the tithe map.
Tithe maps are often the first large scale map of a particular area and, with the apportionments, provide a detailed inventory of farming and land use in the mid-nineteenth century.
Three copies of each tithe map and award were produced. In most cases, one or both of the two copies made for the local church authorities are now held in local archives like WYAS, whilst the Tithe Commissioners' copy is now held at the National Archives in London.