Estate and manorial documents
The nature of an estate varies from small compact areas of land to large dispersed holdings spread throughout Britain (or even the world). Estates may be held by an individual, family, religious foundation, guild or business or in recent times by bodies such as the National Trust. Until the early 20th century, Shropshire was dominated by a few large landowners.
Finding and using estate records at Shropshire Archives
Full catalogues for many estate collections are available on our online catalogue. Please note that for some estates, only title deeds and administrative material survives. For other estates, such as the Powis, Attingham or Sutherland (Lilleshall) estates, there are rentals and useful material relating to estate workers.
If you are looking for a particular property or parcel of land, then the tithe maps (c 1840) or finance act maps (1910) might confirm which estate the land was part of. These records are on microform.
You’ll need to view records in the search room. Early parchment documents and parchment maps containing coloured pigments are vulnerable to changes in humidity. In particularly cold climatic conditions we won’t be able to produce certain parchment/vellum maps and manuscripts.
Anthony Ruscoe’s series of books ‘Landed estates and the gentry’ and the Victoria County History are useful for locating estates in Shropshire. If you are looking for servant ancestors then check our printable short guide.
Information held elsewhere
Some estate records are split between archive repositories. For example part of the Powis collection is at the National Library of Wales. Part of the Sutherland (Lilleshall) Collection is at Staffordshire Record Office See also www.sutherlandcollection.org.uk which highlights records held in both repositories.
If you want to check whether other records are held, try the National Archives. Use the advanced search of their discovery catalogue to check for the name of the landed family.
Manors were units of local administration and justice. They were administered through manorial courts by officers on behalf of the Lords of the Manor.
Finding and using manorial records at Shropshire Archives
Many Shropshire manorial records are held at Shropshire Archives. An initial search for the records is best made using the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) .
Please note – not all of the manorial records belonging to Shropshire will be located at Shropshire Archives. The database will list where the records are held.
Manorial records were usually written in Latin until 1733 and are often difficult to read and handle. Please book space in the search room especially if you wish to view a long series of court rolls and be aware that we will issue each court roll separately.
Find out more
The University of Nottingham has some excellent online guidance on manorial records.
We regularly hold courses on palaeography and medieval Latin. Check our events pages for these.
The National Archives has very useful online tutorials for reading old documents.
Information held elsewhere
The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) will list records held in other repositories.