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Parish 41

Date of Agreement / Award

Date of Confirmation of Apportionment




Date on Map

Scale of Map



7 chains

John Martin

Warmwell Field

3 chains

John Martin

One wonders what Martin was thinking when he undertook this commutation. It is clear from the diary entries that he considered this to be a first class map even though the main map [there are two] was drawn at a scale of seven chains to the inch. Perhaps he hoped that the second map, drawn at three chains to the inch, would scrape him the coveted seal. If so he hoped in vain.

According to the agreement the Rector was George Pickard who was the rector of the parish or to be more precise, as Martin had to add it in later, patron & Rector” of the parish. It will be remembered that Pickard was also the impropriate rector of Charminster and Stratton and in total his earnings from tithe were nine hundred and thirteen pounds from the three parishes, about £55k in today’s terms. The sole landowner [according to the agreement] was a Thomas Billett of Preston near Weymouth [and Warmwell] who is described in the census as independent. He died in 1843 and although the confirmed agreement bears his name the apportionment gives the sole landowner as being one Augustus Foster. Presumably Foster bought the estate but little is known about him. He is not listed anywhere in the 1841 census but his death, registered at Wareham, is recorded as being in 1848 but there are no parochial burial records for him.

It was inevitable in a time when life was precarious that on some occasions the main protagonists in a commutation would die before it was completed. In the case of a landowner or tithe owner dying clause 48 of the act stated “that no proceeding of or Proceedings before the commissioners or any assistant commissioner, or in any action, or in any case stated, or reference in pursuance of this act, shall abate or cease by reason of the death of any person interested therein”

Whalley [1] notes that the effect of this is, that if a party to an agreement dies after the confirmation of the agreement or the apportionment by the tithe commission, the consent given by him stands good, and binds his successors. In the case of the agreement being confirmed but the apportionment not being completed the successor remains bound by all the steps taken up to that point. Billett’s death must have delayed the apportionment because it was not completed until 1845, but the new landowner, Foster, although he would have had a right to say how the apportionment was done could not have overturned the agreement that had been confirmed by the commission in 1841. In the case of Warmwell there was only one landowner and three occupiers, apart from Foster and the Rector, so once the sale had been agreed the commutation should have been simple.

The agreement is unremarkable but there is an unusual and interesting modus,“The sum of Six Pence for each Calf that is weaned or sold and if Killed the left shoulder thereof”. One wonders what Pickard would have done if he had been given the right shoulder? There is a modus of 2 ½ d for cows that are milked and an eighty acre farm, Watercombe farm, paid two pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence. The parish is unusual in that all other tithes are paid in kind.

Two maps were submitted to the commission. Map one is the larger of the two and depicts the whole parish. Shaped a little like a ladies long boot about eighty percent of the parish was inclosed. Near the heel of the parish though there is an area known as Warmwell Field and it is this area that is the subject of map two. At the northern end of the boot the parish envelops a large coffin shaped area which belonged to the parish of Friar Mayne; one of the few parishes in Dorset that appears not to have been a tithe district for there is no commutation recorded there.

This area is marked out, like a dot to dot drawing, with boundary lines and marker stones which, as the shape is irregular could only have been laid out by triangulation or a traverse. This map has a number of interesting features including a depiction of the church, three round barrows [tumuli] and several tiny coppices of just a few trees in the arable fields themselves. As this map is drawn to a scale of seven chains to the inch it is difficult to say how accurate the positioning of these objects is.

The second map is an enlarged part of the first map – the area known as Warmwell field. The Genealogist publishes the original map but it is not available on Ancestry although a copy may be found in the tithe map chest at Dorset History Centre. According to records at Dorset History Centre the parish was inclosed in 1866; this was presumably inclosure of the common or waste as the tithe maps show that all the arable lands were inclosed by 1845 with the exception of Warmwell field which contains some twenty isolated strips known technically as quilletts. Surrounded by the arable fields, which retain their traditional names, middle, east and west fields, all of these are glebe lands and the original map gives their acreages and indicates that they were demarcated from the main field by a stone markers and possibly a stone border. In total the glebe lands covered some thirty four acres but all of these quilletts are fairly small typically a half to two acres in size. Some are at the edge of the field, others in the middle, some have neighbours others not, some are parallel to each other, some at right angles. All of which points to the fact that these are the sole surviving remnants of selions or strips in the open fields. These would originally have been organised into furlongs with the strips or others and all laying in a direction that suited that piece of land.

Field names are always of interest but at Warmwell they are redolent of so much more history and tradition than is usually found. Some, such as ‘Down’ land are common enough and could be of any time but the next plot, slightly further away is ‘Yonder Down Ground’; Yonder being a word that dates back to the thirteenth century and had probably been used for as long. Some of the names are self-explanatory;

At the Crook in the Hedge West Field”

Further down Five lands West Field”

Against Farm Hedge at the Pit west side”

Calves close”

Three cornered plot”

The third from the Green in Green Hill”

At Vyes Stoner Stile Green Hill”

In Ten Acre by Poxwell Hedge West Field”

Pig Close”

Goose Hams”

Others are less obvious,

Long Lemmons in East Field”

Pitty Close”

Mynty Close”


And some are frankly unimaginative,

Higher Part of Higher Cooks

Higher Part of Lower Cooks

Lower Part of Higher Cooks

Lower Part of Lower Cooks

Nevertheless they are easily learnt and remembered and it can be seen how important, in a pre-literate world, field names were.

Of all of John Martins maps the original map of Warmwell field, contains the most detail of his surveying methods. The copy map has no construction lines but on the original, starting at Warmwell Church, we can see how he laid down his first construction line running south west to the edge of the west field. We know that it his first line because he numbers them all and gives the total length next to them. The rest of the map is then criss crossed by further construction lines, connecting lines and offsets. Many of these run through the marker stones at the edge of the quilletts.

Both maps are signed [type two signature] and were sent to the tithe office in June. The original bears two stamps; the June one is partially cropped but it was obviously sent back to Martin as the second stamp is September 11th 1845. Only the first map was signed by the commissioners – no seal was attached!

The diary entries for the commutation all date from 1845 and the death of Billett must have contributed to the delay following the agreement in 1841. These are some of the few entries that enable us to see how long the commutation took to undertake. We know for example that it took him just four days to measure the parish of one thousand three hundred and seventy nine acres. Whether he used a pre-existing map for the main map is not known. Even if he measured just Warmwell Field it is a pretty impressive feat nevertheless. Map making took a little longer but not much. He started on the 14th May and worked intermittently mentioning the Warmwell maps on twelve days before finally sending the finished maps to London on 30th June, taking just about 6 weeks overall again a pretty impressive effort bearing in mind he was working on other projects as well.

5th May 1845

Went to Warmwell Measuring Slept at the Red Lion Winfrith

6th May 1845

Measuring at Warmwell Stormy Weather Took up my Quarters at Warmwell at Mr Saunders’s

Thomas Saunders was one of the three occupiers of land at Warmwell. He farmed some 410 acres of land belonging to August Foster.

7th 8th May 1845


9th May 1845

Finished Measuring at Warmwell

Pd Expenses at Warmwell Chain Man &c £1 15s

14th May 1845

Writing Various Letters and Plotting Warmwell Field

15th May 1845

Plotting Warmwell and preparing for Yeomanry meeting

17th May 1845

Plotting Warmwell &c

31st May 1845

Making up Accts &c looking into Valuation of Col Michels Lands at Allington and working on Warmwell 1st Class Map

4th June 1845

Working on the Warmwell 1st Class Map

9th June 1845

Looking after work people and doing something to the Warmwell 1st Class Map

11th 12th 13th June 1845

Working on the Warmwell 1st Class Map

21st June 1845

Making up Accounts &c and Scaling Warmwell Field Map

24th 25th June 1845

Scaling Warmwell Field

27th June 1845

Working on the Warmwell 1st Class Map of the Warmwell Field

30th June 1845

Haymaking in Poor Close and the Land and sent the Warmwell Map & Apportionment with the 1st Class map of Warmwell Field to London

1st August 1845

Examining the Warmwell Engrossments

21st August 1845

Examined Warmwell Engrossments Writing various letters Sent Checks to W & Dorset Bank Had a Tea Party

8th September 1845

IN PENCIL Warmwell 27 Sheets

10th September 1845

Sent off the Dewlish and Warmwell Engrossments and Maps to London and preparing for Railroad works

14th November 1845

Pd Carriage of the Warmwell Map from Mr Easton 2s


List of Commutations under the Tithe Commutation Act

[1] The Tithe Act and the whole of the Tithe Amendment Acts G H Whalley 1848