Menu Home

Child Okeford

Parish 23

Date of Agreement / Award

Date of Confirmation of Apportionment

Child Okeford

4/5/1839

10/2/1841

Date on Map

Scale of Map

Signed

1840

6 chains to the inch

John Martin Valuer

The first stage in any apportionment was to agree the value of the tithe to be commuted. The process was almost always initiated by the rector of the parish when he, or more usually his agent, called a meeting of the landowners. In the case of Child Okeford this was the Revd. Charles Edward North.

North came from a moderately famous family, his great, great grandfather had been attorney-general to James II, but his father, Fountain North, had an unhappy childhood and ran away to sea until his father died when he inherited the family estate. According to the ‘History of Parliament on Line’, Fountain “settled at Hastings and divided his time between there and Hampstead, Middlesex, where he built a house with a flat roof, bulwarks, and portholes, like a man of wars deck, on which he used to pace up and down, firing off cannon from it on all great occasions and birthdays.”

Born in 1789 Charles Edward shared both the same birth year and the same death year as John Martin. As Fountain’s youngest son, Charles Edward, as he was always referred to, followed the almost obligatory course open to such children- he entered the church. A wise move in most cases as it moved his upkeep from the family to the wider community. In 1803, after attending Trinity college Cambridge he was ordained and became a Deacon at Winchester cathedral. After a short spell as curate in South Mimms in 1810, in 1811, he became Rector on the Isle of Portland. How lucrative this was is not known but he held the post for 22 years.

Meanwhile in 1815 Fountain North bought the advowson [1] of the parish of Child Okeford. An advowson was another form of property for it allowed it’s owner, as patron of the parish, to present any suitably qualified clergyman to the diocesan bishop in order to become rector of a parish. The bishop made the actual appointment but unless there were exceptional grounds he had little choice but to accept the patron’s candidate.

This was a ‘nice little earner’, for although Fountain had to buy the advowson from it’s previous owner, once Charles Edward became rector of Child Okeford, he was in effect being supported at public expense, through the tithes, glebe land and all the other fees and charges he was able to claim from the parishioners. North was rector until his death in 1863, some forty eighty years, during which time conservatively he could have been paid some £16,300 in tithes a year – in modern terms about £725,000 over his career.

Charles Edward inherited some of his fathers personality as he was described [after his death] as “of very eccentric habits and of a highly nervous temperament”. For over twenty years he was a ‘pluralist’, being, simultaneously, the rector on the Isle of Portland as well as at Child Okeford. Pluralism came under attack in the 1830’s and he gave up Portland in 1833. He was much praised in the press for doing this, but one senses that he did so more from his peculiar personal circumstances than any great religious principle. He certainly did not become much more active in Child Okeford, as when he died in 1863 it was noted that, “the ministerial duties of the parish” had “been ably and faithfully discharged during a period of 25 years by the Rev D. W Evans the curate”. North died a wealthy man, leaving an estate worth just under £60,000 [£3.5 m today]. Fountain’s investment certainly paid off handsomely. When Fountain died the advowson passed to his eldest son who out survived his brother and who sold it in 1866.

The accepted place to post notices was the door of the parish church, and it is rare for these to survive. Fortunately the Rector was also required to advertise in the local newspapers. Septimus Smith, a prominent local solicitor in Blandford and North’s agent, placed an advert in the Dorset County Chronicle of 7th February 1838, calling a meeting for the 27th March 1838. Like so many meetings in Child Okeford it was held in the Baker Arm’s Inn.

The meeting would have laid the ground work for an agreement and we may imagine that Septimus Smith, on the one side and the landowners on the other, set to work to thrash out a deal. In theory the rent-charge was easy to calculate, as it was based on the average value of the actual tithe that the parishioners had paid in each of the seven years preceding Christmas 1835. If good records had been kept by all sides then we may assume that everything proceeded smoothly. Despite the fact that there were over forty land owners in Child Okeford the evidence is that things did proceed smoothly and a second meeting was called for October 3rd 1838 when, it would appear, that both parties were almost ready to agree terms. The commutation process generated a large number of sundry documents which were gathered together in a tithe file [in reality a folder] created for each parish and held in the offices of the Tithe Commission in London. The contents of these files varies as they were ‘weeded out’ in a haphazard manner during the early 20th century; fortunately there is sufficient remaining in the Child Okeford file to give us a feel for the process.

What nobody wants to see – a Weeded Out stamp.

Curiously the tithe file for Child Okeford contains the diocesan copy [rather than the original] of the provisional agreement sent to the Registrar at Sarum [Salisbury]. This shows that the provisional agreement was finally made on the 29th October 1838. Charles Edward North was to receive a rent-charge of £250 with a further £20 for the glebe lands if not in his hands. [2]

The provisional agreement reached the Tithe Commission in London on 11th March 1839 and the text is the same as is used in the final agreement. The only difference being that the provisional agreement is signed by all of the landowners in the parish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

George Peach

John Rossiter

William Wiltshire

Henry Ker Seymer

John Harvey

Robert Holdway

Laurence St Loe

Thomas Tuffin

Susannah Newman

Elizabeth Trenchard

John Warren

Charles E North

George Hatcher

Elizabeth Kerly

Ann Pain

Edward Rossiter

Leah Holdway

Mary Ann Lock

William Melmoth

George Pitt Lord Rivers

Thomas Monk

The Mark of Ann Horlock

Edward Rose

William Ingram

George Monk

William Baldwin

John Baldwin

J H Galpine

Mary Cox

               The provisional agreement bears the copy signatures of the landowners. All but one of the signatories could write their names.

An Inspector Calls.

Once the agreement between tithe and land owners had been made, the chairman of the meeting sent it to the Tithe Commission in London “and the commissioners, by themselves or by some assistant commissioner shall cause inquiry to be made…whether the agreement has been made without fraud or collusion and whether or not it ought to be confirmed.” This necessitated a visit to the parish by a local agent or assistant tithe commissioner and some mention of their roles is worth making. “Although both assistant commissioners and local agents worked locally in the parishes and townships, local agents were only required to visit places where tithe-owners and landowners had agreed the rent-charge to be paid in lieu of tithes, and to report on the fairness of this agreement. An assistant commissioner’s duties were more diverse. Part of his time was spent reporting on agreements which had been reached, but from 1840 a significant proportion of it was in parishes where an agreement could not be reached, and consisted of hearing evidence from both parties and deciding upon the sum to be paid in lieu of tithes, i.e. making an award. Later he might also have to hear appeals against awards, or against the apportionment of rent-charge amongst the landowners” [3].

The man who came to Child Okeford was not an assistant tithe commissioner but a local agent, George Bolls, from the neighbouring parish of Fontmell Magna. [4] Bolls was an experienced agent, he was himself a land surveyor from the neighbouring village of Fontmell Magna and took part [as local agent] in three hundred and twenty seven commutations. One hundred and sixteen of these were in Dorset with the rest in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. To prove that he was up to the job he was also responsible for the commutation at Ashmore. He certainly got around a bit! A local agent “did not require the skill in arbitration which was essential for an assistant commissioner. He did, however, need to be fairly familiar with local tithing customs of the parishes he visited and understand their influence on agricultural practice. He had also to be able to assess the quality and value of land, sometimes several thousand acres of it, in the course of a few hours’ visit. The tithe commissioners, recognizing the importance of local knowledge, chose as local agents men with this type of expertise.” [5]

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The local agent attending a parish had two tasks. The first was to report on the fairness of the agreement and the second was to review the state of agriculture in the parish. The report on the agreement was undertaken promptly as the letter to the Tithe Commission shows -original formatting removed.

To the Tithe Commissioners for England and Wales, County of Dorset

Parish of Child Okeford April 26 1839

Gentlemen

I have the honour to report to you the result of my inquiries in the above parish which I visited the 25th Inst,

Due notice was given of the meeting signed by the Rectors Agent and affixed on the Church Door The notice was published in the Dorset County Chronicle of the 20th and 27th of September 1838 The meeting was holden within the parish a Chairman duly elected and the adjournments regularly made

The proportion of Interest in the titheable Lands which was represented at the meeting when the agreement was made amounted to £2626 19d 10d

The quantity of interest possessed by Landowners who have not signed the agreement amounted to £766.6s.8d

The Interest in the Tithes was represented by the Rectors Agent

There is a Map of the parish and the quantities of Land Stated in the agreement correct

The Annual value of the Glebe Land about one hundred and forty pounds

No objection has been made

The Rev Charles Edward North the present Rector is the Patron

Mr Martin is appointed the Valuer

Average produce Wheat 25 Bushels Barley 30 Bushels and Clover Hay 20cwt per Acre

Rent-charge agreed upon £250 0s 0d

Average Composition on the seven years previous to Christmas 1835 £250 0s 0d

The tithe-owner paid the Rates

Taking into consideration the value of the modus on Cows to the Landowners of which there are about 230 kept The Rent-charge agreed upon I think is fair and will amount to 5/-s in the pound on the arable and 1s/6d on the Meadow and Pasture Lands The parties are satisfied and I am of opinion the agreement for the Commutation of Tithes for this parish ought to be confirmed

I am Gentleman

Your Obedient servant George Bolls

In undertaking his second task Bolls was not the most informative of the agents. Although he completed 2/3 rds of Dorset’s reports he is not very forthcoming about any local agricultural practices. He was not alone. Altogether there were two hundred and eighty three tithe districts [6] in Dorset and the agents in the other parishes were not much better with the result that “In combination these factors mean that the body of Dorset tithe files is flawed as a source of reconstructing agriculture and farming practices. The entire returns for Dorset…are amongst the fewest for a county of this size”.[7]

How many Acres of Arable Land [ploughed in the present or last season] are there?

114

What is the course of Crops?

Three fields

What is the nature of the Soil?

Chalk

What is the Sub-soil?

Do

What description of Timber grown in the Hedge-rows or otherwise?

Oak and Elm

What is the fair average rentable Value per acre of the Arable Land

25/- [shillings]

What is the number of Acres of Pasture including seeds?

1039

What is the nature of the soil?

Sand

What is the nature of the sub-soil?

Gravel

What description of Timber?

Elm

What is the number of acres of Common Down

402

Stock Number of Cows?

Ditto Bullocks

Ditto Horses

Ditto Sheep

230 Modus of 4d each and 3d each Heifer

260 Ewes

What is the fair average rentable value of the pasture?

45/-

Ditto of the Common Down?

5/-

Average Composition on the seven years previous to Christmas 1835

£250 0s 0d

At the end of the report Bolls are two sets of figures that I have laid out in tabular form.

                                                        Valuation

£.

s.

d.

One-fifth of the arable at

25/s

Per acre

43

0

0

One -eighth of the Pasture at

45/s

Per acre

276

3

9

One- eighth of the Down at

5/s

Per acre

12

11

3

One -tenth of the Common

20/s

Per acre

2

2

2

Total

334

17

0

Total Rent-charge, exclusive of Glebe

250

0

0

Difference

Not half the value of the modus.

84

17

0

It is not clear what this first set of figures actually means but the second set [below] shows how the rent-charge was to be divided amongst the different qualities of land. In his report to the commission Bolls ends with a set of data that has tabulated below and is titled, “Remarks, stating the peculiar circumstances of the Parish, which may affect the value of the tithe.”

Acres

At shillings

£ s d

£ s d

172

Arable

25/-

215.0.0

At 5/

53.15.0

982

Meadow & Pasture

45/-

2209.10.0

At 1/8

184.2.6

402

Down

5/-

100.10.0

At 1/6

8.7.6

21

Coppice

20/-

21. 0. 0

1/10

2.2.0

Total

248. 7.0

Rent Charge

250.0.0

In the spirit of the act the landowner had great freedom of action “They may select what valuers they please, and what number of valuers; they may give those valuers specific instructions, or leave them to apportion by their own discretion, guided only by the general words of the act. They may, by means of those specific instructions, apportion the rent-charge, field by field, or on their gross estates; or partly field by field, and partly on estates; or, with the assent of the tithe owners, they may charge it on certain portions of their estates, leaving the other portions tithe free…. Amidst all this liberty, there is only one restraint: they must take care to be impartial—to oppress no one of the minority; and every individual of the minority has always an appeal to the commissioners.”

In the table we see how the landowners wanted to apportion the rent-charge according to the differing land types. The £20 rent-charge due on the glebe land is not included in this calculation as it applied to the whole of the glebe regardless of its state of cultivation and was in any case only paid when the land was in the hands of a tenant.

The bulk of the apportionment was to fall on the meadow and pasture land which, was the most valuable land in the parish to hold. The first line is slightly odd as the ‘At’ column should be at ¼ rather than 5/, but otherwise the figures listed in the report are in reasonably close accord with the amounts allocated in the final apportionment. For Down land the final apportionment for the 400 acres was £5.12s 0d for the Coppice £2 3s 9d and the arable £54 19s 7d. The Meadow and pasture have not been checked. The agreement was confirmed on the 4th May 1839.

Rent-charge.

When the apportionment of a parish had been completed the valuer produced an “Instrument of Apportionment” which was sent to the Tithe Commission for their confirmatory seal. We will look at an Instrument in detail later but suffice it to say that the first part of the Instrument is a re-iteration of the agreement or award following which there is a page which sits alone and rather oddly within the instrument.

This rather odd page represents the link between the historic tithe and the rent-charge. It always took the same form.

“NOW I John Martin of Evershot in the County of Dorset having been duly appointed VALUER to apportion the Total Sum agreed to be paid by way of Rent-Charge in lieu of Tithes, amongst the several Lands of the said Parish of Child Okeford Do HEREBY apportion the Rent-charge as follows:-

GROSS RENT-CHARGE payable to the Tithe-owner in lieu of Tithes for the Parish of Child Okeford in the County of Dorset

Two Hundred and Seventy Pounds [8]

Value in Imperial Bushels and Decimal Parts of an Imperial Bushel of Wheat, Barley and Oats”

Price per Bushel

Bushels and Decimal Parts

s d

WHEAT

7 – 1/4

256.37982

BARLEY

3 11 ½

454.73684

OATS

2 9

654.54545

At first sight it is difficult to know what this means but the devil is as ever in the detail. Martin has divided the rent-charge into three amounts of £90. He has then asked the question; “For each of these three grains, how much of them could be bought for £90 at the price prevailing as of Christmas 1835?”

Before showing how it was done a simplified example follows for one grain only and in modern money. Suppose the rent-charge is settled at £100 and the price of corn is 50p per bushel [9] the question was then asked “how many bushels of corn can be bought with the awarded rent-charge?” The answer of course is 100 × 0.5 = 200 bushels.

It was this figure, not the amount of rent-charge itself, that was the most important part of the whole commutation for the rector as it determined, each year, how much actual money the Rector was paid.

Suppose that the next year the price of corn was £1 a bushel; the question now asked was not how much wheat can I buy with £100 BUT “how much rent-charge is needed to buy 200 bushels of wheat? The answer is of course 200 × £1 = £200 and it was this figure that was paid by the landowners to the rector in that year. Of course if the price of wheat dropped to 25p a bushel then the amount of money needed to buy 200 bushels was 200 × 0.25 = £50 and this was the rectors due.

In practice variations as dramatic as this were avoided by averaging the price of corn for the seven years preceding the year coming and variations were further reduced by calculating across the three grains. Note that it did not actually matter if the parish grew the crop concerned or not. The corn price was simply a benchmark, a reflection of the state of the countries agriculture, against which the rent-charge could be adjusted.

We can now see how Martin converted the rent-charge to bushels of wheat etc:

Corn

Average Price per Bushel of grain over the seven years prior to

Christmas 1835

Calculation

The awarded rent-charge was £250 + £20 for the glebe =£270. This is divided between three grains that is £90 per grain.

Bushels and Decimal Parts

s d

WHEAT

7 0 1/4

One pound is 240 pence is 960 farthings.

Seven shillings is 84 pence is 336 farthings + another farthing is 337 farthings.

One pound ∴ buys 960 ÷337 = 2.84686 bushels of wheat. £90 buys 90× 2.84686 = 256.37982 bushels of wheat.

256.37982

BARLEY

3 11 ½

One pound is 240 pence is 480 half pennies.

Three shillings and eleven pence is 94 halfpence +1 is 95 half pence.

One pound ∴ buys 480÷95 = 5.05263 bushels of barley. £90 buys 90×5.05263 = 454.73684 bushels of barley.

454.73684

OATS

2 9

One pound is 240 pence

two shillings and ninepence is 33 pence.

One pound ∴ buys 240÷33 =7.27272727 bushels. £90 buys 90×7.27272727= 654.54545 bushels of oats

654.54545

Almost straight away there was a problem when it was discovered that the average price of wheat as published at Christmas 1835 -7s 11/4 d per bushel had been wrong and the very early commutations had to be corrected to the final value of 7 0 1/4d, seen in this example, at a later date.

For the valuer calculations such as these must have been arduous, involving as they did long multiplication and division. No doubt logarithm tables helped but even so it was a complicated affair and eventually to prove completely pointless.

At first tables were used to convert rent-charge into bushels. One example is “Tithe Commutation Tables showing at one view the Value, in corn-rent of the rent-charge payable in lieu of tithe and its relative value for the year 1837 and under every future variation in the price of corn and Practical digest of the Tithe Commutation Act with explanatory notes and the forms and plans settled by the commissioners”. It’s author W Palgrave Simpson certainly knew how to give a book a title.

Whether Martin had a copy of this is not known but something similar must surely have been on his desk as almost any amount of the awarded rent-charge could be converted into the equivalent number of bushels, at a glance. If the problems of the land surveyor were solved by such a device, what of the rectors and lay impropriators after all going forward it was they who had to recalculate the new rent-charge each year? They had their own problems for each year the price of corn could vary.

In January each year “the comptroller of corn returns for the time being… shall cause an advertisement to be inserted in the London Gazette, stating what has been, during seven years ending on the Thursday next before Christmas-day then next preceding, the average price of an imperial bushel of British wheat, barley, and oats, computed from the weekly averages of the corn returns.”

This is from 1843 [10] and how we might wonder was Charles Edward North to work out the new rent-charge? All he had to do was multiply, in the case of wheat the number of bushels 256.37982 by 7s 7 ½ d. I’m sure you have already guessed the answer!

Eventually they realised that none of this was necessary. Each year a handy little book published by Henry Pyne, rendered these calculations obsolete. It by-passed entirely the question of “how much money is needed to buy xxx bushels of corn?” It simply inflated the original tithe rent-charge each year by a percentage which reflected the percentage change in corn prices over the previous seven years. I won’t begin to consider the complicated equation that underlay the tables but working from 3d upwards any value of the original rent-charge could be converted to the equivalent to be paid for that year.

Pyne’s Value of the Tithe Rent-charge gave revised values for the rent-charge each year. If the apportioned rent-charge had originally been £25 then in 1843, the price of wheat, barley and oats having increased, its revised value was £26 8s 0 ¼ d.

Valuation and Apportionment.

Compared with what was to come, working out the agreement and even calculating the amount of wheat etc that could be bought must have seemed a doddle. No doubt the landowners were united when coming to terms with the rector about the total amount of rent-charge to be paid, but it was ‘every man for himself’ when it came to apportioning the rent-charge amongst themselves. As Joseph Bennet an ATC from Tutbury said: “The difficulties of effecting agreements between the tithe owners and tithe payers are as nothing in comparison with the difficulties of fairly and equitably apportioning the gross sum among the landowners, to the satisfaction of all. The landowners are mostly of one mind while they have the tithe owner to contend with; but when that question is disposed of, they begin to think of their individual interests and are opposed to each other as to the principle upon which the rent charge should be divided.”[11]

The politicians were clearly aware of the difficulties that might arise and to encourage the landowners there was a strict time limit. If after six months of the agreement being confirmed no valuer had been appointed, or if the valuer had not sent an apportionment to the commission, then an assistant tithe commissioner would be empowered to apportion the rent charge. This time limit must have been challenging, particularly in the larger parishes and doubtless the Tithe Commission would not enforce the time limit too strictly as long as they were kept apprised of the progress of the apportionment. None of John Martin’s commutations were achieved in this time [nor I suspect were anyone else’s’] and yet no sanctions seem to have been applied to him.

The first stage of the apportionment was to decide the principles upon which the apportionment was to be made. The landowners themselves were to decide how this was to be done and: “They may select what valuers they please, and what number of valuers; they may give those valuers specific instructions, or leave them to apportion by their own discretion, guided only by the general words of the act.”[12]

In the case of Child Okeford the local agent George Bolls indicates how the landowners had decided to apportion the rent-charge. The one hundred and seventy two acres of arable land were to have £53 15s apportioned to it and so on. The £20 for the glebe was a flat charge on the land whatever it grew and so was not included in the calculation.

Acres

£ s d

172

Arable

53.15.0

982

Meadow & Pasture

184.2.6

402

Down

8.7.6

21

Coppice

2.2.0

248. 7.0

Total

250.0.0

Even this was only a starting point however, for who was to say that all the arable or meadow lands were of equal agricultural or monetary value? The general words of the TCA laid down that “if no principles shall be then agreed upon for the guidance of the valuer or valuers,” then the valuer was to divide the rent-charge” having regard to the average titheable produce and productive quality of the lands.”

How widely the ideal of apportioning the tithe rent-charge according to this principle was ever actually achieved has not been studied widely. If we take rental value to be some indication of the quality of the land, and thus productive ability, then Baker [nee Gambier] [13] found that, across Dorset as a whole there was a generally positively relationship between the actual rent paid and the level of rent-charge. This is based of course on the assumption that highly productive lands generated a higher income for the tenant, a higher rent for the landowner and more titheable produce for the tithe-owner. This may or may not have been the case for as she says “there is no direct method of measuring agricultural production before 1866”.[14]

What we are in a position to say is that even though Bolls had agreed that certain totals of the rent-charge should be apportioned to arable, grasslands, down and coppice within those general categories some account was made by Martin of the quality of the land. Taking meadow land as an example and reducing the areas to perches and the rent-charge to pence it is possible to show that the amount of rent-charge apportioned to a perch of meadow land varied from one part of the parish to another.

Field Name

Acre

Rood

Perch

Rent-charge pence

Rent-charge per perch

pence

Higher Ridgeway

2

3

35

84

5.6

Louseland

3

3

28

196

2.75

Blackmoor

2

3

11

123

3.6

Southfield

1

1

20

72

3.05

Ridgeway

2

3

18

75

6.1

Nine Acres

8

19

448

2.9

On the whole the average comes out at about 3d /perch or 40 shillings an acre considerably more than the 25 shillings that Bolls had valued it at.

Having agreed the principle’s of apportionment the valuer set to work and the amount of rent-charge to be distributed the valuer set to work. Two things remained to be done, firstly the written details of how the rent-charge was to be apportioned and secondly to make the map that was annexed to the Instrument of Apportionment.

Following his time in the field he prepared his draft apportionment. This always followed a standard layout. There were columns for landowners who were defined for the purpose of the act as anybody who was in legal possession of the land or its rents and profits. Naturally this included freeholders, but others who held the land on customary tenures such as copyholders or life-holders [15] were also considered landowners. Landowners were a mixed bunch.

At Child Okeford there were forty five different landowners over half of whom owned less than 20 acres. As the land belonged to them they were nominally at least the people to pay the rent-charge although, as in the past, there is good evidence that the occupiers paid and deducted the same from the landowner rent. Next come the occupiers, some thirty four of them who lived in the ‘dwelling-houses’ [always specified in this manner], worked the land or who just lived in the cottages. Neither the instrument of commutation or the draft apportionment were small. The instrument was written on parchment 18 ¾ inches wide and 21 1/3 inches deep and at Child Okeford amounted to twenty six sheets.

The commissioner had also to “cause a copy of the same to be deposited at some convenient place within the said parish for the inspection of all persons interested in the said lands or tithes”. Once the provisional agreement had been made the Tithe Commission sent in an assistant tithe commissioner [ATC] to review the award. In December 1840 Aneurin Owen, one of the ATC’s received instructions from them to attend a meeting in Child Okeford at which objections were to be heard.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Letter from Aneurin Owen ATC to the Tithe Commission detailing the events at the meeting held to hear objections at Child Okeford. Jan 1841. Photographed for the author by National Archives.

Owen notes once again the presence of a pre-existing map from which the tithe map had been ‘constructed’ and his comment “There a great many small proprietors, in the parish and a number of them wished to advance frivolous objections and comparisons as to the assessments upon various fields” must have been reported countless times in any number of parishes as may the reason that he had to reject their objections:“I was constrained to declare that any objections or appeals must be put in writing”. In the event he exonerated Martin: “for the apportionment appeared to be most equitably executed. All parties then expressed their acquiescence with the assessments.”

Parish of Childe Okeford, County of Dorset

I attended, pursuant to your instructions December 29 1840 to hear objections to the Apportionment of the Rent-charge in Commutation of the tithes in this Parish.

The Notice that a Copy of the Draft of Apportionment of the Rent-charge agreed to be paid in lieu of tithes n this Parish was deposited for inspection at the Church in the said Parish, including the further Notice therein contained that a Meeting would be holden on the day aforesaid at the Church for the purpose of hearing any objections to the intended Apportionment was proven to have been duly affixed to the Door of the Parish Church December 7 1840.

The Copy of the Draft of Apportionment and the accompanying ^ Map were duly deposited for inspection at the Church on the same day.

The Map was constructed from an old survey.

The Apportionment of the rent-charge was left to the discretion of the Valuer.

There a great many small proprietors, in the parish and a number of them wished to advance frivolous objections and comparisons as to the assessments upon various fields. I was constrained to declare that any objections or appeals must be put in writing, for the apportionment appeared to be most equitably executed. All parties then expressed their acquiescence with the assessments.

I then verified the Draft of Apportionment, the Copy of the Draft of Apportionment and the accompanying Map by my signature, and left the Copy of the Draft of Apportionment with the Valuer to furnish the requisite engrossed Copies.

I have the honor to be, Gentleman, Your obedient Servant Aneurin Owen.

The Tithe Commission now had the final Instrument of Apportionment, the ATC’s report and the annexed map. It now remained for the Commissioners to sign the Instrument and the map, which they did, and the commutation passed into law. It only remained for two copies to be made, one of which was sent to the diocese and the other to the parish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two receipts for sealed copies of the confirmed apportionment. That on the left has been signed by the rector, Charles Edward North and the Church Wardens Richard Symmonds and John Rossiter, both tenant farmers in the parish. The other is from Edward Davies Registrar of the diocese of Salisbury.

List of Commutations under the Tithe Commutation Act

See also Child Okeford – the genesis of a tithe map.


1 The right to determine who the rector of the parish should be. As a form of property advowson’s could be bought and sold and were a good investment as the rector got the tithes, glebe land and all the other benefits of office.

2 During medieval times it was the custom of the lord of the manor to allot land, known as Glebe land , for the support of the clergy. The income [agricultural produce] was appropriated to the rector of the parish, usually a monastic institution. If the land was farmed directly by the clergy it was not subject to the tithe but if it was let to a tenant then tithe became due.

3 Assistant Commissioners and Local Agents: Their Role in Tithe Commutation, 1836-1854 By H M E HOLT British Agricultural History Review vol 32 1984.

4 Based on the fact that as he is not listed as an ATC he must have been a local agent.

5 Assistant Commissioners and Local Agents: Their Role in Tithe Commutation, 1836-1854 By H M E HOLT British Agricultural History Review vol 32 1984.

6 A tithe district was not quite the same as a parish. Some places were ‘extra-parochial’ i.e. they did not belong to a parish. In some parishes the tithe was paid to different rectors and so on. For our purposes unless otherwise stated we will call a parish and a tithe district the same.

7 Kain et al “An Atlas and Index of the Tithe Files of mid-nineteenth century England and Wales”

8 £250 plus £20 for the Glebe.

9 One Bushel = 8 gallons=36.4 litres.

10 The Value of the Tithe Rent-charges for the year 1843 by Henry Pyne Published by Authority of the Tithe Commissioners

11 Quoted in Eric Evans Tithes and the Tithe Commutation Act

12 Whalley ibid

13 Tithe Rent-charge and Agricultural Production in mid-nineteenth century England and Wales Baker 1993 BAHR vol 41 169-175

14 Baker ibid

15 By which I mean leaseholders who held the land according to a number of lives rather than short term leaseholders holding land for a short number of years.