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Following the Plot

The most significant UK data release of 2014 so far is the first phase of tithe commutation records at

This spring saw the launch of The National Collection of Tithe Records at For the first time you can now search more than 11,000,000 records and view the original documents online.

The tithe records provide a unique view into our ancestral heritage by providing details of ownership and occupancy of land throughout England and Wales, revealing a wealth of information about people, places and landmarks in the Victorian era. These pre-census records can allow you to further your research at the click of a button.

The tithe records are the perfect accompaniment to census and birth , marriage and death records (all also available at the site) and offer an extra piece in the genealogical jigsaw to give a valuable social and geographical insight into the lives of our Victorian ancestors. 

The introduction of the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 meant records were taken, as with the Domesday Book, of the land ownership and occupancy, land use and sizes, and the rents to be paid. This affected everyone – from aristocracy to peasantry, from politicians to labourers – and all levels of the social hierarchy found their way into the Tithe Records to give us a fascinating snapshot of a period in English history.

The first phase of the records release has revealed all tenants and landowners across England and Wales from more than 11,000 parishes. This provides the opportunity to discover whether your ancestors were landowners and how their land was put to use, or if tenants or occupiers, which plots of land they were living or working on.

The second phase of the project, due very soon, will link images of microfilm maps with the plot references.    

The third and final phase, expected to launch next year, will digitise the large original maps in colour for each county at high resolution to enhance this unique resource.

As an example, using the site’s easy-to-use search feature, on these pages we show records of major landowners of the 19th century, including The Duke of Wellington, Benjamin Disraeli (Prime Minister and Conservative MP), Sir Percy Shelley (son of the poet) and his mother Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

These records have been reproduced from the IR 29 and IR 30 collections in conjunction with The National Archives.

Fully transcribed details of Tithe Apportionment are available, as well as a copy of the original image. Here we find Benjamin Disraeli.

Above: the tithe apportionment records of Sir Percy and Mary Shelley.
Above Left: a copy of the image of the Duke of Wellington's Tithes Apportionment record. The record illustrates the amount of fields, arable lands and woodlands that the Duke owned and the areas that he occupied and those lands where he had tenants

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