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The Commutation Process

The 1836 Tithe Commutation Act established a process whereby the tithe, in no matter what form it was paid, would be for ever extinguished [commuted] and replaced by a monetary payment, known as the tithe rent-charge. Before the act tithe could be paid, ‘in kind’, with actual agricultural produce, or by a traditional monetary substitute known as a modus,  or by a locally agreed monetary payment, known as a composition. All this was to be swept away and replaced with the rent-charge which could be varied annually.

The process was conducted parish by parish and the first step was to secure the agreement between the landowners and the rector as to the amount of tithe that had been paid in the seven years before Christmas 1835. After the agreement had been agreed the next thing to do was to divide [apportion] the rent-charge between the landowners. In the following pages I will show how this was done in practice.

Old habits died hard and even though the rent-charge had replaced the tithe 23 years before Martin still referred to it as the ‘tithe’,

24th April 1861 [Tithe Day Evershot] Pd ½ yr’s Tithe Evershot £4 1s 3d

As an act of parliament the Tithe Commutation Act is written as a series of clauses. This gives the impression that the process of commutation follows an algorithmic path. One stage following another. The appointment of the valuer appears to occur a long way down the pathway; it’s clear though that he was integral to all stages of the agreement and must have been appointed at the earliest oppertunity.

Over the next few pages I describe the various parts of tithe commutation.

Next           The Agreement

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