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Tracks in Time:
The West Yorkshire Tithe Map Project,
West Yorkshire Archive Service,
PO Box 5,
Nepshaw Lane South,
Morley,
LS27 0QP.

E: tracksintime@wyjs.org.uk
 
  Glossary & FAQs
 

Glossary

Tithe Terminology

Altered apportionment
Changes in ownership of land necessitated the reapportionment of tithe rent charges and a new or ‘altered’ apportionment was produced for the parcels of land concerned. A new tithe map sometimes accompanied the altered apportionment.


Annuities
Annual instalments paid for a fixed number of years to redeem tithe rent charges.


Apportionment
The legal instrument which specifies the amount of reformed tax (tithe rent charge) for each field or property. See also FAQs (below).


Appropriate
See impropriate.


Award
Tithe commutation was achieved either by voluntary agreement between the landowners and tithe owners (made at a parochial meeting and subsequently confirmed by the Tithe Commissioners), or, if no agreement was reached, by a compulsory award by the Tithe Commissioners.


Benefice
An ecclesiastical living e.g. a vicarage or rectory.


Commutation
The replacement of tithes in kind with annual monetary payments.


Corn rent
Some tithes had already been commuted before 1836 by means of a ‘corn rent’ which was a continuing monetary payment. Corn rents were fixed according to the local price of grain (wheat, oats and barley). The 1860 Tithe Amendment Act enabled pre-1836 corn rents to be converted into tithe rent charges.


Exemption from tithe
Reasons for exemption from tithe are normally stated in the agreement or award for tithe apportionment. In some areas, tithe had been commuted for monetary payments, or extinguished by award or exchange of lands in the course of parliamentary enclosure. Other reasons for exemption included crown land, former manorial or monastic land, the merger of tithes in the land, and the existence of local tithe moduses (see Modus below).


First & Second class
Amendments to the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act established two classes of tithe maps: first and second class. Essentially, this was a legal distinction; first class maps provided legal evidence of all matters depicted in the plans, whereas second class maps were considered evidence only of facts of direct relevance to tithe commutation. To the majority of tithe map users, this distinction is largely irrelevant.


Glebe
An area of land belonging to a benefice that was farmed (or leased out) by a parish priest. The priest was entitled to retain the glebe for his own use, e.g. by farming the land, or he could let it to generate income. Glebe included a wide variety of properties (farms, individual fields, shops, houses, factories etc.) and the amount of glebe land varied considerably from parish to parish.


Great tithes
Corn, hay and wood. Usually payable to the rector or, later, to a lay impropriator.


Incumbent
The holder of an ecclesiastical benefice e.g. a vicar or rector.


Impropriate
In early use, ‘impropriate’ was applied to the annexation of the tithes of a benefice to a religious house. At the Reformation most of these impropriations passed into lay hands so that the word came to be specially associated with the lay possession of tithes, the synonym appropriate being subsequently taken to designate the original sense.


(Lay) Impropriator
A lay person (i.e. not a clergyman) who owned tithe rights.


Merger
When the landowner was also the tithe owner, a situation was created in which an individual was liable to pay tithes to himself. Such a situation was usually resolved by merging the tithes (or tithe rent charge) in the land i.e. cancelling the liability to pay tithes by virtue of being entitled to receive them. A Declaration of Merger effectively made the land tithe free.


Modus
A small customary payment in lieu of tithe. Moduses were particularly common in northern England, where they often applied over whole districts.


Queen Anne’s Bounty
A fund to supplement the incomes of the poorer clergy of the Church of England.


Redemption
The 1846 Tithe Act enabled a landowner to extinguish a tithe rent charge by a lump sum payment to the tithe owner. The redemption money for rent charge owing to an incumbent was to be paid to the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty.

The 1918 Tithe Act allowed rent charge to be redeemed by means of terminable annual instalments or ‘annuity’ payments for a maximum period of 50 (later 60) years. Redemption annuities could themselves be redeemed with a single lump sum, or might be further apportioned if the land was divided or sold on. Redemption, if requested by the landowner, became compulsory, and could not be refused by the tithe owner.

The 1936 Tithe Act finally extinguished rent charges. The rent charges were redeemed centrally by the government, and tithe owners compensated by the issue of 3% government stock. Landowners paid a ‘rent charge redemption annuity’ to the Crown instead of a rent charge. These annuities were payable for a maximum of 60 years but were often redeemed by paying a single lump sum. They were extinguished prematurely by the 1977 Finance Act.


Rector
An incumbent of a parish whose tithes had not been impropriated.


Rent charge
Rent charges were based on the average value of tithes collected over the previous seven years. The annual payment that was subsequently collected was based on these rent charges, but was adjusted according to the average price of wheat, barley and oats.


Small tithes
Usually held by the vicar of a parish. Included animals and animal produce (wool, milk, eggs etc.) and the profits from mills and fishing.


Vicar
In early use, a person acting as priest in a parish in place of the real parson or rector, or as the representative of a religious community to which the tithes had been appropriated. In later use in the Church of England, the incumbent of a parish of which the tithes were impropriated (in contrast to a rector).


Technical Terminology

Archive
A collection of historical records and the location in which these records are kept.


Conservation
Involves the examination and preservation of cultural heritage using methods that ensure the item is kept as close as possible to its original condition for as long as possible. There should be minimal intervention from the conservator who will use materials and methods which aim to be reversible so as to reduce potential problems with future treatment, investigation and use.


Digitising / Digitisation
Digitising, in the context of this project, involves making digital representations of geographical features from map images i.e. creating digital map data (fields, roads, rivers etc.), ‘traced’ from the registered tithe map scans.


Georeferencing
See registration.


Leeds Metropolitan District
A local government district of West Yorkshire, England.


Ordnance Survey
The national mapping agency of Great Britain.


Registration
The data depicted in each of the tithe maps was acquired at different times, from different perspectives, by different cartographers, to differing standards and in accordance with different coordinate systems. Image registration transforms the different sets of data, in this case the tithe maps, into one coordinate system. To define the existence of things in physical space is known as georeferencing, establishing their location in terms of map projections or coordinate systems, and it is imperative so that the townships shown in each of the tithe maps can be integrated together in this way and thus compared to modern mapping data.


Scanning
The action or process of converting paper documents into digital images. This ‘analogue’ to ‘digital’ translation enables users to view the relevant documents on a computer.


Transcription
The conversion of one language source, e.g. handwritten apportionment data, into an alternative medium, in this case digital databases.


Frequently Asked Questions

What were tithes?
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’. Tithe charges were extinguished in 1936.


What is a tithe map?
Disputes over the assessment and collection of tithes were resolved by the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act. This allowed tithes in kind (wheat, hay, wool, piglets, milk etc.) to be converted into a fixed monetary payment called a ‘tithe rent charge’. Detailed maps were drawn showing the boundaries of individual fields, woods, roads, streams and rivers, and the location of buildings. Most tithe maps were completed in the 1840s.


What is a tithe apportionment?
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, the use to which the parcel of land was being put, the size of the plot and a calculation of its value. The information recorded in the tithe apportionments will be available to search and view within the Tithe Map Digital Resource.


Why are tithe records useful?
Tithe maps are very important because they are often the first large scale map of a particular area. The apportionments are a detailed inventory of farming and land use in the mid-nineteenth century.


Where can I find tithe records?
Three originals of each tithe map and award were produced. The Tithe Commissioners’ copy is now held at the National Archives in London. In most cases one or both of the copies made for the local Church authorities are held in local archives.