Thanks to Eric Chase of the History and Environmental Group, we have been able to borrow and process a lot of extra information about land ownership and use that accompanies the 1842 tithe map. The main sources of this information were two substantial documents that had been transcribed, possibly from handwritten records, by Phoebe Merrick at the County Records office in Trowbridge. Unfortunately the transcribed documents were hard copy and didn't exist as computer files, but we were able to convert them into a little database which we hope may be useful to anyone who wants to know who owned what land—and who occupied it—in Whiteparish at that time.

On the tithe map, most of the individual parcels of land are identified with a name or description, together with a reference number. Within the database each record includes the name and reference number just mentioned, plus the following:

  • Landowner
  • Land occupier/user (often the landowner him/herself)
  • Cultivation state (how the land was used)
  • Area of this landholding

Use the following menu to view the information in several different (hopefully self-explanatory) ways.

Tithe Data Menu

On some of the pages linked above, you can click on landowner or land-occupier names to get more information.

Area Measurements:

In the transcribed data that accompanies the Tithe Map, land areas are listed in Acres, Roods, and Perches. In the links above that mention land areas, we have kept these obsolete measurements for individual landholdings, but standardised on acres for total land owned or occupied.

If You Find Errors in the Tithe Map Data:

There are bound to be some errors in the data linked to above. These could have arisen from the original transcription from handwritten records, from our processing of the transcriptions, and from the difficulty of reading some of the reference numbers on the map. There are also a few items missing. But we took the attitude that mostly accurate data was more useful than no data ! You're free to disagree. But if you do find errors, please let us know.

What Were Tithes?

According to Collins English Dictionary a tithe is: "A tenth part of agricultural or other produce, personal income, or profits, contributed either voluntarily or as a tax for the support of the church or clergy . . . ". In England, tithes were originally paid to the Church "in kind", which in an agricultural society meant that they were mostly paid in the form of crops or livestock. However, in the centuries following the the dissolution of the monasteries the situation became very confused, with tithes being increasingly paid in money; and with landowners, rather than the church, acquiring the right to collect them. There is a lot of useful information about tithes in the UK available elsewhere on the web, and if you're interested a good starting point might be the National Archives Research Guide on the subject. You can also find some good general information at http://www.devon.gov.uk/tithe_records.

In 1836 the Government of the time decided to regularise the system of tithe-collecting and to standardise on financial payments. All parishes were required to prepare a tithe map showing the titheable areas of land, and to document their owners, tenants, and the value of the tithes payable. The maps prepared at that time were of very variable quality, but the Whiteparish Tithe Map of 1842 is a pretty good one. You can read about the Whiteparish Tithe Map, and download sections of it, by clicking here. You can find details about the land areas shown on the map, and the landowners and tenants, by clicking here.

Despite the attempt to bring the tithe system up to date, it nevertheless became progressively more fragmented and confused over the following decades, in many cases falling into disuse, and was finally abolished by law in 1936.

Link with Lord Nelson

At the time the Whiteparish Tithe Map was compiled, the majority of the land recorded was owned by a handful of landowners. The most prominent of these were descendants of Admiral Viscount Nelson, killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, following which a grateful nation had given his heirs the "Trafalgar Estate", including large areas of Whiteparish. Consequently the Nelson family were by far the biggest landowners in the village.

The largest share of 1355 acres belonged to the Dowager Countess Nelson. Another 540 acres was being held in trust for another Lord Horatio Nelson, a descendant and namesake of the famous admiral, and still a minor in 1842.

Abbreviations and Full Names/Titles

The following short forms and full forms of names and titles were listed at the beginning of the transcriptions of tithe data, so we are including them here for completeness.

Term in Tithe Database Full Version and/or Explanation
Downton Free School The Trustees of Downton Free School
Freemantle Lady Lady Selina Mary Fremantle
Lockhart James James Lockhart Esq, the younger
Lynches School The Trustees of Lynches School
Nelson Earl Horatio Nelson. This descendant of Admiral Viscount Nelson was a minor when the tithe map was drawn up, so the land that he was described as owning was actually in the charge of his guardians. They were: George Matcham Esq, the Reverend Henry Girdlestone, Nelson Matcham Esq, and the Dowager Countess Nelson.
Nelson Countess Frances Elizabeth, the Dowager Countess Nelson
Pembroke Robert Henry Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke
Queen Elizabeth Charity The Feoffees [similar to trustees] of Queen Elizabeth Charity
Radnor William Pleydell Bouverie, the Earl of Radnor
Shafto Robert Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto Esq
Wynne Edward Edward Wynne Esq
Wall Charles Charles Baring Wall Esq
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