Tithe Apportionments & Maps have been added to the Ancestry.co.uk Dorset Collection. Genealogy and maps go together wonderfully and tithe maps are excellent as the papers work that goes with them name the owners and the occupiers of the plots of land. There is a reference number so you can then refer to the maps and see where your ancestors lived or where they owned property.
Traditionally the local church and clergy were supported by a Tithe which means a tenth of anything produced when to the Church. For example if your crop of wheat yielded 20 bushels then you gave 2 bushels to the Church which could be used or sold to maintain the church property and give a wage to the local cleric. How they worked out if your pig had 8 piglets goodness only knows !
Even to this day there exists huge Tithe Barns where the produce was stored, the bigger the barn the wealthier the parish. Some of these barns are now in the care of the National Trust and can be visited. A good example is at Great Coxwell, which some of my ancestors helped to fill with wheat, corn and other crops. Below is a link to a webpage about the Great Coxwell barn including a slideshow so that you can get a feel for how big these barns were.
In 1836 it was decided that it would be much more efficient to replace payment in goods to payment in money and a commission was set up to work out how much each landowner should pay. Tithe maps were drawn up and the accompanying paperwork known as apportionments was written and these are the treasures that genealogist enjoy today.
The Apportionments generally give the land owners and land occupiers names, a description of the land, the name of the land if it has one, size of the holding and the monies due.
If you wish to know more about Tithe Maps & Apportionment Papers then The National Archives have a good webpage explaining all. There is a link below to the webpage.