Home Up Feedback Contents Search

Sigma Books  - publications for the local and family historian









Tithe apportionments and maps

Tithes were originally a tax of one tenth of all produce which was payable to the local clergyman by his parishioners. They were payable in kind, that is as sacks of wheat, a pig etc., and were not easy to collect. By the early 19th century, there was a lot of pressure to get these tithes in kind to be commuted to cash payments. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 provided the framework for this to happen by requiring that detailed maps be drawn up, indicating who owned which plot of land and to whom the tithe was payable. The tithe maps and apportionments produced under this Act provide a detailed picture of the owners and occupiers of the land within individual parishes.

The map indicates the boundaries of individual fields and the existence of buildings, such as barns and stables, as well as dwellings. Each of the properties is identified by a number, which is shown on the map, and buildings are shaded red for dwellings, or grey for barns, outbuildings etc.. Rivers and ponds are shaded in blue on the original map. The apportionments should identify both the owner and occupier of each numbered property, with a description or name for each property and the area covered. [The area is given in acres, roods and poles - there are 4 roods in one acre and 40 poles in one rood]. The apportionments should also indicate whether a field is arable, pasture or woodland. A list of cottages and tenements exempt from tithe by agreement is often included in the apportionments list, with details of the owners and occupiers.

 Although the tithe maps are very detailed, the information is not necessarily accurate. The Act did not insist that a new survey be carried out, and in some cases old surveys of doubtful accuracy were used to save expense. However, many of the maps produced for parishes in east Suffolk appear to be substantially accurate. Comparing the tithe map with later Ordnance Survey maps shows that many of the field boundaries and wooded areas remain unchanged into the 20th century.

Example of a tithe apportionment

The apportionments list the landowner and occupier, and the plot numbers associated with each, together with a description of the plot, whether arable or pasture, and its area. In some cases the cultivation is omitted and only a vague description, eg. field, is given. The amount of tithe rent is also given in the original documents.

Landowner Occupier Plot no.  Description Cultivation Area (a-h-p)
EVERETT Robert GILDERSLEEVES George 153 Field  Arable  4-3-29
    154 Meadow Pasture 0-3-33
  GRIMSEY John 149 Paradise Arable 2-0-17
    170 Field Arable 4-1-39
    170a Drift   0-0-9
FULLER Edward DEBENHAM John 432 Lockard Pightle Arable 8-2-9
  KEMP John 100 House and shop   0-0-30

Example of part of a tithe map

Dwelling houses are shown here as darkest shading, barns and sheds etc. are shown in a mid shading and ponds in the lightest shading. Each of the plots is numbered to tie in with the list of tithe apportionments. This example gives some indication of the level of detail shown in the tithe maps. [NB. This is a low resolution image - the maps in the books and CDs are high resolution]


Home Up

Copyright 2007 Sigma Books
Last modified: 05/14/09