Dorset Tithe Maps go online

Great Coxwell Tithe Barn Family HistoryTithe Apportionments & Maps have been added to the 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.

Great Coxwell Barn (Andrew Mathewson) / CC BY-SA 2.0′ target=_blank>Image courtesy of Andrew Mathewson – Creative Commons

East London Maps Online

clip_image002[5]I was working on my London genealogy at the weekend and needed a large scale street map of Bethnal Green and a Google search brought up this website which offers some great maps online. The maps are part of the East London Family History Society’s website and many thanks to them for putting these maps online.

The areas covered are Bethnal Green, Stepney, Bow, Bromley and Poplar, the maps range from the 1769 Rocque maps to a modern 2008 map and a lot in between. It was very easy to located the little alley that some of my ancestors were lurking down when the census enumerator came to call and I can now pinpoint where all the family were living during the 19th century.

I was intrigued by Thomas Milne’s 1800, “Land Use Map of London & Environs” as

I hadn’t come across it before (always something new to learn in genealogy!) There is a key showing what use the land was being put to so if your ancestors were living in this rural area around 1800 you can get a good idea of what sort of farming/market gardening they were employed in.

The East London Family History Society website has much to offer those with ancestors from this area so well worth a look.

Booth Poverty Maps

I am working on a new talk to give to genealogy groups and the theme is The Poor of London, let’s face it we all have people on our family trees that life has treated less than kindly. I decided the talk should include Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps, Peter Higginbotham’s website on The Workhouse and Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor. But then today I came across a blog post by Audrey Collins of The National Archives about a 3 volume series of books published in 1797 called “The State of the Poor or An History of the Labouring Classes in England”.

What a find, thank you Audrey Smile

So my talk has expanded to 4 sources and I thought I might write a post about each of them over the next few days. I’ll start with Booth’s Poverty Maps.

Who compiled the Booth Poverty Maps?

Family History MapsCharles Booth (1840 – 1916) was a social reformer and he is best known for his work in recording the state of the working class. It is said that he along with Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree influenced the government to consider how they could prevent poverty and this led to the founding of the old age pension.

Charles decided in 1886 that he would investigate the life and labour of the poor of London and one of the results is what has become know as the Booth Poverty Maps.

Booth employed a team of social investigators who walked around the London streets often in the company of the local policeman and recorded what they saw and heard. The notebooks that they filled out can be viewed online and make for fascinating reading with amongst other findings they record what the policeman thought of each street and sometime each building and it’s inhabitants.

Where can I find the Booth Poverty Maps?

The original records from Booth’s investigations are held by the London School of Economics and they can be consulted there, however the good news for those of us who don’t live in London is that the LSE have put the Booth archive online at

What can I expect to find in the Booth Poverty Maps?

Booth Poverty MapsMaps were drawn up and each street, road and lane was coloured according to a classification table developed by Booth which graded the people who lived in the street.

The seven classes were ………

A Black – The lowest class which consists of some occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals. Their life is the life of savages, with vicissitudes of extreme hardship and their only luxury is drink

B Dark Blue – Casual earnings, very poor. The labourers do not get as much as three days work a week, but it is doubtful if many could or would work full time for long together if they had the opportunity. Class B is not one in which men are born and live and die so much as a deposit of those who from mental, moral and physical reasons are incapable of better work

C & D Light Blue – Intermittent earning. 18s to 21s per week for a moderate family. The victims of competition and on them falls with particular severity the weight of recurrent depressions of trade. Labourers, poorer artisans and street sellers. This irregularity of employment may show itself in the week or in the year: stevedores and waterside porters may secure only one of two days’ work in a week, whereas labourers in the building trades may get only eight or nine months in a year.

Also those with small regular earnings. poor, regular earnings. Factory, dock, and warehouse labourers, carmen, messengers and porters. Of the whole section none can be said to rise above poverty, nor are many to be classed as very poor. As a general rule they have a hard struggle to make ends meet, but they are, as a body, decent steady men, paying their way and bringing up their children respectably.

E Purple – Regular standard earnings, 22s to 30s per week for regular work, fairly comfortable. As a rule the wives do not work, but the children do: the boys commonly following the father, the girls taking local trades or going out to service.

F Pink – Higher class labour and the best paid of the artisans. Earnings exceed 30s per week. Foremen are included, city warehousemen of the better class and first hand lightermen; they are usually paid for responsibility and are men of good character and much intelligence.

G Red – Lower middle class. Shopkeepers and small employers, clerks and subordinate professional men. A hardworking sober, energetic class.

H Yellow – Upper middle class, servant keeping class.

Some streets had a combination of several colours indicating that part of the street was worse or better off than another part. It can be noted on the maps that a Yellow Booth Note Booksupper class street is very close to say a dark blue street. Poverty didn’t always confine itself to specific areas, but intermingled with those who were better off.

If you have family that live in London in the latter part of the Victorian period then these maps will be of interest to you. It is well worth reading the background information on the website so that you have a clear idea of what you are looking at. If there are notebooks for the area in which your family lived do take the time to read them, they are fascinating and will bring your ancestors alive.

Copies of the maps can be purchased through the LSE and also two maps have been reprinted by Old House Books and can be purchased through Amazon.



Old Maps on New Website

clip_image002Old maps from places such as the British Library, the National Library of Scotland and many overseas archives are now available online thanks to a joint venture between the University of Portsmouth and JISC.

More archives & libraries have signed up to allow their collections to be put online in the months to come so this is a site which need to be bookmarked as a favourite and returned to on a regular basis.

The graphics come through very clearly and also on a side bar is some interesting information about the map. Maps add so much to a family history that I am sure we will all join in congratulating the University of Portsmouth in offering such a wonderful site.

Historic Bristol Maps Online

clip_image002This website offers access to historic maps, images & links for the city of Bristol. There is a good guide to using the site and what you can expect to find. Even though I don’t have any Bristol family I had great fun playing with this website !!


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