Tracking the owners of land in 1873

On a shelf in the Frith Room at the Heritage Hub are two large, fat, blue-bound tomes labelled ‘Return of owners of land 1873’.  They tell us that the Returns were ‘Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty’ and were printed in 1875. The first volume contained English counties from Bedford to Norfolk (so included Gloucestershire) and the second Northampton to Yorkshire West Riding, also the Welsh counties. London was not included. The information was arranged in two sets of seven columns on each page. They record the surname of the owner in alphabetical order in each county, followed by christian name(s) and title, the address of the owner, the amount of land owned in acres, roods and perches, and the value in pounds and shillings. Nearly a million names were listed, 37,705 in Gloucestershire.

You have to admire the compositors of the time who set up the type, back to front in the ‘forms’ which could then be inked and printed. You have also to admire the clerks in the Civil Service who coped with the varieties of hand-writing on the returns from each Poor Law Union in the country, as were the returns transcribed by a willing and persevering band of volunteers for Lloyd George’s attempt to tax the increasing value of land. The Unions were the effective local governments of the time. Jean Gibbons has searched for some of the mysterious addresses in 1873. ‘Rhirdeville’ –  nothing else said –  was Rhodeville in Leckhampton. Other house names, too, were given without stating the place.

Owners of land did not necessarily live where they owned land. Ninety-five people lived in Cheltenham, and owned land  in Gloucestershire varying from 1 acre to nearly 2,000 acres; Richard R C Rogers owned nearly 3,000 acres. Thirty-six people lived in Bath. The really big land-owners, like Lord Fitzharding at Berkeley Castle (18,264 acres ) or Lord Sherborne at Sherborne Lodge (15,773) owned land in many other places. 

At present we are transcribing those owning 10 acres or more: 3,281 names.

by Anthea Jones, Gloucestershire Archives researcher

Life on the Gloucestershire Home Front, by John Putley

When, on Sunday 3rd September 1939, the public were informed that Britain was again at war with Germany, few people were surprised.  Initially life remained oddly ordinary, but although as time passed there were air raids and other characteristics of the war, nothing particularly terrible or terrifying took place on a large scale.  Gloucestershire was never in the front line in either the 1940 invasion scare (though if the Germans had invaded, the Severn Estuary was the goal of a second assault) or the 1944 D-Day preparations, but the sense of involvement in the conflict thanks to the Blackout, the media and rationing, made the Home Front very real for most people.

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Sir Robert Atkyns and Mr J Kip delin et sculp (artist and engraver)

Thirty years ago, Nicholas Kingsley (late of this parish as it were) wrote an article for Country Life on the ‘conundrum’ of how Sir Robert Atkyns chose the places which Johannes Kip was asked to draw and engrave for inclusion in his Ancient and Present State of Glostershire published in 1712. Although there are 65 illustrations in the book, 60 of them the houses of the county gentry (61 counting Chepstow Castle which was not in Gloucestershire but was linked through the lord of the manor of Tidenham and the bridge over the Wye), there were yet others he might well have chosen. As we know, Gloucestershire was a big county, including those parishes in the diocese of Bristol when it was created in 1542 and much more recently in Avon and then in South Gloucestershire local authority areas. It must have taken Kip a considerable amount of time to travel around the whole county, as well as staying in each place long enough to carry out a simple survey and then to draw it. Kingsley suggested therefore he may not have been able to reach the farther bounds of the county. The engravings are a unique resource and particular ones are frequently used by local historians. The Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust is one such, using them to examine historic gardens and compare them with the present day. Continue reading

A CATTER-LOG-ER-AT-HOME

As one of a group of volunteers, I’m missing our Monday get togethers and am really looking forward to when we can all get back together. But have we been allowed to be idle? OH NO!

That slave driver cum school ma, (so called volunteer coordinator) has continued to organise us! (Can’t she give us a break?). A long respite from ‘you’ve not used the right Archives format’; ’that shouldn’t be a capital letter’; ‘ there shouldn’t be a gap in the item reference’ etc etc ad infinitum… And what has she made us do? Continue reading

New Book Stock – January 2020, by Sue Constance

There is a fascinating array of books on the New Book Stock shelves in the searchroom at the moment.  Most of them were published and added to stock during 2019.

This is just a small selection of items available for research at Gloucestershire Archives.Gloucestershire Archives is always grateful to receive items in printed or digital format to enhance stock.

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Dear Diary…

By John Putley

The diaries of William Thomas Swift, schoolmaster & teacher, 1860-1915 are a remarkable series of documents with entries for every single day from 31 December 1859, when the diarist was eighteen years old, until 5 February 1915, just five days before his death at the age of 73.  Early entries are brief, but as time goes on they become more and more comprehensive and none more so than the entries for the various Christmas holidays that he recorded.   They reveal a Christmas that most of us would easily recognise today, despite the fact that they took place over a century ago.

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Its Festival time again!

Next week is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  If you carry out a search of the phrase Three Choirs Festival on our online catalogue you get 579 hits, including programmes, musical scores and printed histories of the Festival and its key performers.  The Festival was originally called the music meeting and was in existence by 1718.  If you’re visiting it don’t forget that you can see any of the items listed on the catalogue here at the Heritage Hub, as long as you give us prior notice of the items you wish to see.  You can either order documents directly through the catalogue, or by emailing archives@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

The Heritage Hub is making its own contribution to the Festival by hosting two talks, both of which are free to access without prior booking, and are specifically timed to avoid events on the Festival programme.

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Controlling archival ferment: the West Country Breweries Collection at GA, by Mike Bevan

Gloucestershire Archives has been stock checking, listing, enhancing and structuring the collection ready to being fully catalogued into CALM, with the help of volunteer Amber Patrick, also a member of GSIA (Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology) and an expert in the Maltings Industry. Is she partial to an amber ale then? No, she doesn’t drink beer!

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub’s nearest pub, which has a West Country Brewery plaque on the exterior

The series of photographs taken of the staff at the brewery is an interesting feature which can be useful for family history reseachers, looking for relatives employed by the brewery. Another good set of photos are of b/w inn signs which again allow locals to identify with their specific landscape and memory; and connecting their local pub with an image of what the sign would have looked like in the past.

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Port of Gloucester Crew Lists all ship shape thanks to volunteers!, by Ann Attwood

Mags and Terri with repackaged D3080 boxes

Working 1 morning a week from November 2015 to October 2018, Margaret and Terri ploughed through 44 large boxes coming across mutinies, shipwrecks and desertions along the way.

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Scarcity of news + 1720’s= Poems! Extracts from…

Gloucester Journal

Image from the Journal showing church towers from left to right: St. Mary de Lode, Cathedral, St. John’s, St. Nicholas, St. Michael, St. Mary de Grace and St. Mary de Crypt, 13 April 1724, page 631

I came across an interesting fact whilst reading 1,339 facts to make your jaw drop, published in 2013: ‘In the 1720s, the Gloucester Journal apologised for ‘present scarcity of news’ and offered its readers a selection of poems instead.’ Continue reading