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Parish 5

Date of Agreement / Award

Date of Confirmation of Apportionment


12/4/1838 28/2/1839

Date on Map

Scale of Map


None 6 chains

John Martin of Evershot in the County of Dorset Valuer

This must have been a major undertaking for John Martin. The parish was big, it not only encompassed the village of Stratton but also that of Grimstone. Rising from the valley of the River Frome the land ascended steeply to a height of about 150m and there was a lot of it. Some one thousand six hundred and thirty six acres of which a mere twelve acres was tithe free and which in large part was still farmed under the open or common field system. To add to his problems ownership of the land in the parish was not simple. The agreement is the longest of any of the commutations that he did. It is shown below for no other reason that it demonstrates how complicated commutations could be. It is worth noting that there is not a single punctuation mark in the whole document and one of the brackets is missing towards the end of the document.

An agreement for the commutation of tithes of the parish of Stratton…………….. between the Reverend George Pickard of Warmwell in the said County of Dorset Clerk the impropriate Rector of the said parish of Stratton under the will of the late John Trenchard Esquire deceased and as such entitled unto and owner of all the tithes of the said Parish [except the modus on cows hereinafter mentioned and except the tithes of Gardens] the Reverend Robert Albion Cox Clark perpetual curate of the said Parish of Stratton and as such entitled unto and owner of the said modus on cows and the tithes of Gardens within the said parish of the one part and the Reverend John Still of Fonthill Bishop in the County of Wilts Clerk Prebendary of the Prebend of Stratton founded in the cathedral church of Salisbury and lying partly in the parish of Stratton aforesaid and as such entitled to and joint owner as lessor of the Manor Mansion House Farm Lands and hereditaments next hereinafter referred to Robert Pattison of Wrackford within the said parish of Stratton esquire lessee of the said John still as such Prebendary of the Manor of Stratton and all the lands within and belonging to the same [except the Mansion House and Farm called Lower Wrackford] under leases dated respectively the 25th day of May 1826 and the 27th day of October 1836 for Three Lives absolute in which rents of less than two-thirds of the clear yearly value of the premises comprised therein respectively were reserved William Garland of Dorchester in the said county of Dorset Wine merchant and William Manfield of the same place Gentleman lessees of the said John Still as such Prebendary as aforesaid of the said Mansion house and Farm called Lower Wrackleford under a lease dated the 27th day of October 1836 for Three Lives absolute in which a rent of less than two-thirds of the clear yearly value of the premises comprised therein was reserved in Trust for Joseph Slade of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in the said county of Dorset Esquire and Elizabeth Agnes Slade his wife Henry Plowman of Dorchester aforesaid as wire and Frances Louisa Plowman his wife and the Reverend Hamilton John Williams of Whatley Rectory in the County of Somerset Clark and Mary that there’s a Margaret Sophie Williams his wife the said Joseph Slade and Elizabeth Agnes Slade his wife Henry Plowman of Dorchester and Frances Louise Plowman his wife and the Reverend Hamilton John Williams of Whatley Rectory in the County of Somerset Clerk and Margaret Sophia Williams his wife the said Joseph Slade and Elizabeth Agnes his wife Henry Plowman and Frances Louisa his wife and Hamilton John Williams and Sophia his wife Christopher Hodgson of Number 5 Great Deans Yard in the City of Westminster Esquire Treasurer of the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne and as Such Treasurer the substitute or representative joint owner of the suspended Prebend of Yetminster and Grimstone also founded in the Cathedral Church of Salisbury and lying partly at Grimston within the said parish of Stratton vacant by the recent death of the Reverend Dr Hawes the late prebendary thereof the said Robert Pattison lessee of a former prebendary of the said last mentioned Prebend of the Manor Farm and Demesne lands of Grimston situate Grimston within the said parish of Stratton under a lease dated the 29th day of November 1824 for Three Lives absolute in which a rent of less than two-thirds of the clear yearly value of the premises comprised therein was reserved THE WARDEN and Fellows of Winchester college joint owners as Lessors of a certain Farm and lands at Grimstone aforesaid called Langford Farm William Devenish of Bradford Peverell in the said county of Dorset Gentleman lessee of the said house of the said Farm and Lands under a lease dated the 1st day of November 1837 for 21 years in which a rent of less than two-thirds of the clear yearly value of the premises comprised therein was reserved and the several other persons by whom or by whose agents duly authorised in that behalf this agreement is executed and who are respectively copy holders for lives under the said Robert Pattison as such lessee as aforesaid of Portions of the said respective prebendal Manor of Grimston and Stratton [and the interests of which aforesaid landowners in the Lands of the said parish is not less than two-thirds of the lands of the parish subject of tithes of the other part It is by these presents Witnessed that at the said meeting it hath been and is mutually agreed by upon and between all the said parties to these presents in the manner following [that is to say] the annual sum of two hundred and seventy five pounds ten shillings and seven pence by way of rent charge subject to variation as in the said act provided and subject to the other provisions therein contained shall be payable and paid to the said George Pickard as such impropriate Rector of the said Parish of Stratton and owner of the Tithes thereof [except that belonging to the perpetual curate thereof as aforesaid] and to the several persons who shall be entitiled after him the Said George Pickard under the said Will of the said John Trenchard instead of all the said Tithes [except as aforesaid] and that the annual sum of Five pounds twelve shillings shall be paid to the said Robert Albion Cox…..”

The long and short of it was that the impropriate [lay] Rector was the Revd. George Pickard of Warmwell who we met at Charminster. Although he was a clerk [in the religious sense] he was not receiving the tithes in any clerical role but because he had been left the right to claim the tithe under the will of one John Trenchard. He was in fact an impropriate rector who happened to be a cleric. He received £275.10s 7d. The person responsible for the day to day care of the souls in the parish was the perpetual curate Robert Albion Cox, who we also met at Charminster and who got £5 12s 0d.

Cox was entitled to the tithe payable on the cattle of the parish [4d per cow so long as the “pasture is fed” i.e. grazed by the cattle] together with the tithe due on gardens. Today most images of Victorian gardens emphasise the ornamental flower gardens or the vegetable gardens of large houses but in Martins time most were used as productive areas of agriculture. If they were subject to the rent-charge it would have been money down the drain to have grown flowers. Tithe on gardens seems to have been apportioned variably in most parishes. In Rampisham for example one garden of two roods was apportioned at 2s as was another of one rood. The majority however attracted no rent charge at all. This kind of variation was found in most parishes but in Stratton there was a flat rate modus of 6d per garden and Martin records that some twenty five acres of gardens were titheable.

The apportionment document is presented in an unusual form. Instead of listing the individual pieces of land and assigning each a unique plot number he allots a single number to an owner and applies it to all of the owners holdings. Uniquely in any of his commutations he includes farmers rights of common. As we saw in the section on his estate work rights of common in Stratton were called ‘whole places’ or ‘half places’ and the example below is for one William Davis a whole place holder.

Landowner Occupier Plot Description State of Cultivation Statute area Rent charge apportioned to Perpetual Curate Rent charge apportioned to impropriate rector.
William Davis

[Whole Place]

Himself 5 Dwellinghouse, Barn Garden and Orchard Homestead 0-1-24
Lords Mead in five different pieces Meadow 1-2-0
Two Doles Meadow 2-0-0
New Close Meadow 1-3-24
In East Field Six pieces Arable 3-1-17
In Middle Field Eight pieces Arable 6-2-2
In West Field Seven Pieces Arable 3-3-15
2 Horses 4 Cows & 80 Sheep pastures over the Commonable Lands at Stratton called the Cowleaze Stratton Down & waste & the Common Meadows
19-2-3 £0 1s 6d £2 17s 9d

The result of this unusual presentation was that on the map numerous plots bore the same number and this was picked up by that eagle eyed ATC Lieut. Dawson who wrote to Martin questioning why. Martin’s reply was as follows;

“Before I made the Maps of Stratton I wrote to the Commissioners and informed them what sort of Maps Mr Pattison the Lord of the Manor had in his possession and desired to be informed if they could be used for the commutation. And the answer was whatever Map three fourths in Number and Value of the Landowners adopted would not be objected to. The Maps are certainly numbered different from Maps in general and the reason is this. That the Reference Book wherein the Measure of each piece of Land in the Common Arable Fields and the Common Meadows were particularised is lost. But Mr Pattison had a Book of Reference where the Totals of the different pieces belonging to each persons tenement in the Common Fields and Meadows were given. But not each piece separately, consequently I adopted the Plan of letting each tenement have but one number. And you will observe in the Common Meadows that there are in some instances two or three different Numbers in the same piece, and the reason of this is that two or three different persons have a right in such places alternately.

The estates ( except the Manor Farms and a tenement or two which are in hand) are held for lives under Mr Pattison, who has not renewed for many Years, and the Estates, ere long, of the whole Parish will be in the hands of Mr Pattison as lessee under the Prebendaries of Stratton and Grimston.

The Proprietors were desirous of saving the Expense of a New Survey which obliged me to make Copies from the Old Maps. And I knew of no better method than the one I have adopted in numbering the Maps for commutations

I have the honor to be Sir your very obedient servant John Martin” [1]

The original map was signed by the landowners but the copy omits this detail. The various fields and farms are separated by a red line to distinguish them. On the original there is a small building and a parcel of land was not numbered initially and at some time later an arrow pointing to it has been added with “This has been accepted as ### 40” next to it and underneath 19/209/7”. The plot concerned garden worth 6d to the curate – well he did need the money after all. There is no mention of the cottage to which the garden was attached in the apportionment. The copy map shows the cottage but no garden.

Most tithe maps have an outer border drawn in but the original map Stratton map has a discontinuous square line within the frame and surrounding the map with intersections across it and, rotated diagonally across the map the following:

28 5/8”+15” and +

The significance of these lines and marks is not known. As they are on the original map they must have been added at the tithe commission and they are absent from the copy map. The Stratton maps also have a charming drawing of the church on them.

The diary entries for Stratton represent the most comprehensive set of entries about the commutation process and it is in the middle of this commutation that his wife took ill and died. We have no date for when he started work but the agreement was made on 14th of November 1837 at the Bull Inn.[2] Assuming that he started shortly after this time the whole commutation took about seven months of intermittent work.

10th January 1838 Taking Off the Stratton Map Half Size with Pantograph”
25th – 27th January 1838 Stratton Commutation At Stratton finding out State of Property
1st February 1838 Stratton Commutation

Working on Rough Maps exmng properties &c and dined at Mr J Jennings ½ day

2nd February 1838 Stratton Commutation rather unwell – working on Maps writing Names in Lands &c [a whole day]
5th February 1838 Went to Stratton with Edwin making Lines [sic] on Langford Farm Slept at Stratton
6th February 1838 Stratton Commutation Finding out State of Property and measuring at Stratton.
7th February 1838 Ditto
8th – 10th February 1838 Stratton Working on Particulars & Rough Map
12 -13th February 1838 Stratton Working on the Fair Map
15th February 1838 Returned Home [from Godmanstone] called at Stratton and found out a few Queries in State of Property
16th February 1838 Working ½ day on Stratton Particulars the other ½ Writing Letters &c Mr Pine of Gittisham was at my House.
19th February 1838 Stratton Commutation Attending at Stratton when the Map was signed by the Proprietors
30th April 1838 Corfe castle rate Rating the Sundries and doing something to Stratton Tithe works Mrs Martin Still Very Ill
1st May 1838 Stratton Commutation -numbering Rough Map Edwin went to Ilminster after Arthur His Dear Mother very ill
3rd May 1838 Stratton Commutation Numbering Rough Map and adding 7.5% to present rental of tithes
4-5th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Working on the Painted Form Rent Charges &c
7th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Journey to Stratton getting more signatures to the Map and Valuing the Wracklefords for dividing the Rent Charges between the Farms
8th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Journey to Stratton taking up the Lots in Broad Mead and getting more Signatures to the Map and waited on Mr C Henning at Dorchester respg copy of agreement
9th May 1838 Mrs Martin much worse and sinking fast Stratton Commutation Working on the Particulars – Fair map &c & Rent Charges
11th May 1838 My Dear Wife expired 10 minutes before 3 this morning -leaving us in the greatest distress Aged 54 years.
12th May 1838 Altering the Corfe Rate ½ day – ½ day about Stratton Maps &c
15th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Attending meeting at Stratton with Maps & Particulars
16th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Working on the Moduses and Draft Apportionment
18th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Working half the day on Rent chargs examining Book of apportionment &c and doing something to alteration in Maiden Newton in Rent charges
19th May 1838 Stratton Commutation SC Working on the Fair Map &c – & Rent charge
21st May 1838 Stratton Commutation Journey to Stratton and Wrackleford to see Mr Pattison respg Tithes and at Stratton respg moduses Edwin went to School with Arthur
22nd May 1838 Stratton Commutation Finished apportionment -and Examined Maps
25th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Attending with Maps & Rent Charges at Stratton
20th June 1838 attending the Corfe Rate further Sent the Draft Apportionment & Stratton map to London
8th August 1838 Stratton Commutation altering Draft Apportionment the whole day and packed the same with Map for London £2 2s 0d
6th December 1838 Went to Sydling Fair and Examining the Stratton Apportionment
7th December 1838 making out Mr Jestys Accounts and went to Woolcombe – and pasting the Stratton Maps on Canvas
8th December 1838 Stratton Commutation Journey to Stratton with Draft Apportionment and deposited the same at Mr Chapmans Charge £2 2s 0d


List of Commutations under the Tithe Commutation Act

1 Quoted by Jennifer Gambier in her doctoral thesis “Tithes, Tithe Commutation and Agricultural Improvement. A Case Study of Dorset , circa 1700-1850” submitted to the University of Exeter in 1990.

2 Now closed but the building still exists see