Claverley Property Document Analysis, Part 1: Transcript

An essential method of making sense of historical document is transcribing the original.  The Amanuensis Monday blogging prompt suggests transcribing documents is a good idea, because it:

  1. makes a copy
  2. transforms the original into searchable text
  3. forces focus on details

This is a start, but only hints at the processes involved.  A transcript is a faithful copy that preserves the characteristics of the original as much as possible, making a useful copy for further analysis and research.  The process of transforming an old hand-written document into a computerised one is not just a matter of typing the words.  Diplomatic (the study of documents) and palaeography (the study of hand-writing) skills are a great help in producing a good transcript.

The example I use here is a manorial court record of a property transaction.  The diplomatic study of this kind of record reveals their structure and the reasons why they follow a particular pattern.  The manorial court held sessions periodically at which various matters concerning the governance of the manor were presented.  Consequently the court recorded sessions and within each session one or more cases to dealt with each matter.  The court at Claverley typically presented the legal event of a surrender of a property to the lord of the manor as a one case, and the legal event of an admission of a tenant to a property as a separate case.  This reflected the legal technicality of copyhold property transfers where property always reverted to the lord of the manor before being granted to a new owner.

I have not included images of the original court books because I only have poor quality images and do not have any permission to reproduce the original.  These two related cases come from:
Manor of Claverley. Court Book 1833-1848. Session 25 April 1844. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, USA. film no 1951756.

Inevitably, some characteristics of the original do not translate easily into electronic text.  Description of the layout on the original pages, identification of my digital image files, and other explanatory comments are in square brackets.  Each line of text has been reproduced as on the original and line numbers added within each case.  I do this for difficult to read documents because it makes finding the place within the repeated phrases much easier.

[image P1284247.jpg]
[page number] (544)

[new court session starts half way down the page]
[in margin]
Manor of Claverley} to wit
25th April 1844

  1. The Court Baron purchased of Thomas Whitman
  2. Esquire Lord of this manor held at the dwelling house of
  3. John Crowther called the Kings Arms situate in Claverley
  4. within this manor on Thursdays the twenty fifth day of
  5. April in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred
  6. and forty four and in the seventh year of the reign of her
  7. present Majesty Queen Victoria  Before Francis Harrison deputy
  8. Steward there and in the presence of Christopher Gabert and
  9. Edward Crowther two copyholders of this manor.

[case 1 not transcribed as it does not concern people of interest]
[I photographed the start of the court session, then skipped to the cases of interest on a later page.]
[image P1284248.jpg]
[page number ?query not the page following the previous image.] (561)
[case x starting half way down page]

  1. To this Court come John Wilson of Aston within this
  2. manor Farmer and Samuel Nicholls late of Catstree in the
  3. parish of Worfield but now of Bridgnorth in the county of Salop
  4. Gentleman Devisees in trust named in the last will and testament
  5. of John Felton heretofore of Hopstone but late of Draycott within
  6. this manor Yeoman late copyholder of this manor deceased
  7. in their own proper persons and in consideration of the Sum
  8. of three hundred and fifteen pounds seven shillings of lawful
  9. British money to them the said John Wilson and Samuel Nicholls
  10. in hand well and truly paid by Sarah Ward Nicholls of
  11. Catstree aforesaid Spinster before the passing of this surrender
  12. as and for the purchase money for the hereditaments hereinafter
  13. mentioned surrender into the hands of the Lord of this manor
  14. by his deputy Steward aforesaid by the rod according to the custom
  15. [image P1284249.jpg]
    [page number] (562)

  16. of this manor All that piece or parcel of land called or known
  17. by the name of Mill Hill and all that newly erected messuage or
  18. dwelling house and outbuildings on the same piece of land or some
  19. part thereof with the appurtenances formerly Grosvenors and
  20. late Onions’s[?] situate in the township of Sleathton in the manor
  21. of Claverley in the county of Salop formerly in the occupation
  22. of John Felton and now of William Ferrington or his undertennants
  23. containing by admeasurement three acres one rood and sixteen
  24. perches or thereabouts being by computation the half of one
  25. third part of a nook of land  To the use and behoof of the
  26. said Sarah Ward Nicholls her heirs and assigns for ever at
  27. the will of the Lord according to the custom of this manor

[case y]
[undeciferable mark in margin]

  1. To this Court comes Sarah Ward Nicholls of Catstree in
  2. the parish of Worfield in the County of Salop Spinster in her own
  3. proper person and by virture of a surrender to her use at this
  4. Court made by John Wilson of Aston within this manor
  5. Farmer and Samuel Nicholls late of Catstree aforesaid but now
  6. of Bridgnorth in the said County of Salop Gentleman Devisees in
  7. trust named in the last will and testament of John Felton
  8. heretofore of Hopstone but late of Draycott within this manor
  9. Yeoman late a copyholder of this manor deceases desires to
  10. be admitted tenant to the Lord of this manor according to the
  11. custom of this manor of and to All that piece or parcel of land
  12. called or known by the name of Mill Hill and all that newly
  13. erected messuage or dwelling house and outbuildings on the same
  14. piece of land or some part thereof with the appurtenances formerly
  15. Grosvenors and late Onions’s situate in the township of Heathton
  16. in the manor of Claverley in the county of Salop formerly in the
  17. occupation of John Felton and now of William Ferrington or
  18. his undertenants containing by admeasurement three acres one
  19. rood and sixteen perches or thereabouts being by computation
  20. the half of one third part of a nook of land  To whom the
  21. Lord of this manor by his deputy Steward aforesaid by the
  22. rod according to the custom of this manor hath granted the
  23. premises aforesaid with the appurtenances and seizin thereof
  24. To have and to hold the same premises with the appurtenances
  25. unto the said Sarah Ward Nicholls her heirs and assigns
  26. To the use and behoof of the said Sarah Ward Nicholls her heirs
  27. [image P1284250.jpg]
    [page number] (563)

  28. and assigns for ever at the will of the Lord according to the
  29. custom of this manor by the rents and customary services
  30. therefore due and of right accustomed and for such estate and
  31. ingress[?] the said Sarah Ward Nicholls doth give to the Lord
  32. for a fine six pence half penny and four sixth parts of a
  33. farthing and she is admitted tenant thereof in form aforesaid
  34. and doth to the Lord fealty
  35. [signature]  Fran[cis] Harrison
  36. Deputy Steward of the said manor

[end of court session, another session follows]

Now we are ready to start analysing the information contained in this property transaction.  I will tackle extracting data in the next instalment.  If you fancy some homework, try answering the following:

  1. How many people are mentioned?
  2. How many places are referred to?
  3. Who lived at Catstree?
  4. How many ‘facts’ (e.g. John Wilson was a Farmer on 25th April 1844) are contained in this transcript?

© Sue Adams 2013

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8 Comments on “Claverley Property Document Analysis, Part 1: Transcript”

  1. Tony Proctor says:

    I’ve hand-generated a STEMMA version of this transcription Sue: http://parallax-viewpoint.blogspot.com/2013/10/claverley-property-document-transcript.html.

    I’m still developing the associated software tools and it’s going rather slowly because of other work.

    Still, let me know if it’s of any interest.

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  2. […] Claverley Property Document Analysis, Part 1: Transcript → […]

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  3. I am really interested in this especially as my interest is Worfield Parish next door to Claverley and three of us are going to put the Worfield Court Rolls from 1495-1783 (or thereabouts) on to a database so that they can be used. Needless to say it will take a while!
    Best wishes,
    Jane

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    • Sounds like a fabulous and ambitious project. Do you plan to transcribe Worfield manor only or all manors that had lands within the parish of Worfield? Why only up to 1783? Later manorial court records tend to become more detailed and if you overlap in time with tithe apportionments, census and civil registration, your work will have greater value to family historians. Court rolls after 1733 are in English, so that could be a good starting point before you move on to tackling earlier rolls in Latin.

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  4. […] the previous two parts of this series, I transcribed a manorial court record of a property transaction, and extracted information from it.  So far, I […]

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  5. […] the three previous posts in this series I transcribed a court record of a land transaction that occurred on 25 April 1844; proposed semantic mark-up that identified […]

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  6. […] Transcript – described the structure of the court record of the session and cases, and presented a faithful copy in a format ready for further analysis. […]

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