All of the images of Manorial documents are the copyright of Berwick Record Office and by their kind permission were incorporated in examples to be used at Family Tree Live. They are not to be copied or reproduced in any way without express permission from Berwick Record Office .
The transcriptions are my own and likewise may not to be copied or reproduced without my express permission.
Many of my regular readers will have seen me refer to Manorial Records, but before now I haven’t taken the time to explain exactly what they are and the types of useful information they may contain. I had prepared some information sheets with examples on this subject for the Family Tree Live event in April, which sadly like all other events has been forced to cancel for this year. Now is perhaps an opportune moment to share a small part of that information .
First, consider all the different types of records we use for family and local history research. With only a few exceptions, these resources served an administrative function and were created as a result of ever evolving administrative systems. Simply put; at the top there is central Government or prior to this the Crown; then devolved government, so within the United Kingdom the governments of Scotland, Ireland and Wales; then county or local government such as County Councils right down to a specific village Parish Council.
The various systems, and who was responsible for their administration changed over time. A prime example is modern day ‘unemployment benefit’ which is controlled by central government, but its origins lie at Parish level with ‘Poor Relief’. Understanding how administrative systems have evolved throughout history will help enormously when searching for records in archive repositories.
In addition to the above, another tier in the various systems of administration included the Manor. It is unclear exactly when the Manorial system came into existence, but it is thought to have been well established by the time of William I in 1066. At this time and throughout the Medieval period ALL land was owned by the Monarch, who made grants of land, which became Manors, to his followers making them Lords of the Manor. The land farmed ‘in hand’ by the Lord of the Manor was known as the ‘Demesne’ with other lands within the Manor rented out to tenants of which there were two types: free and unfree.
Freehold. The freeholders or 'free tenants' of a manor held their land in perpetuity, frequently just paying a rent instead of providing a service to the Lord. Freeholders were largely unencumbered by the Manor but were still obliged to attend the Manor Court.
Unfree Tenants. The unfree tenants of the Manor were known as Bondsmen or Villeins, and often provided a service such as a certain number of days labour to the Manor Lord in addition to a monetary payment. By the 16th century, payment by service had largely died out. This class of tenant became known as a ‘customary tenant’ and leases based on the ‘customs of the Manor’ were introduced. These comprised:
Unfree or Customary tenants were subject to the rules of Manor governing the maintenance of their properties. Failure to comply could result in a fine or even eviction.
All tenants whether free, unfree or customary were obliged to appear in Court and absence without leave to be so resulted in a fine known as an ‘amercement’. Those with a valid reason for non-attendance were charged a nominal fee known as an ‘essoin’. The tenants' names appeared in the Court ‘Call Books’ which were often annotated with either ‘amerc’ or ‘ess’, or in later documents 'app' or 'ab' to indicate whether they were present or absent at the meeting of the Court.
It is worth remembering that ‘The Manor’ differed from an ‘Estate’ as it had the right to hold a Court, and that an ‘Estate’ may have contained several different Manors. Whilst the Manor was predominantly a rural entity it was not exclusively so, nor was one village or town included in a single Manor. For example, Norham had two Manors: Norham Town and Norham Castle. Below is an extract from the Call Book for Norham Town in 1835
In this later example from 1835 (where the names are easy to read) the abbreviations used are:
app = appeared ab = absent
All matters relating to the transfer of property within the Manor were heard at the Manor Court and entered in the Court Rolls. There were two types of Court which dealt with matters concerning land; The Court Baron dealt with freeholders and the Court Customary which dealt with land matters for other tenants. In practice these two courts were regularly merged, and business was conducted collectively by the Court Baron and often include admittance to land and its surrender. These courts met frequently, in some cases every fortnight, although their regularity started to dwindle in the late 18th early nineteenth centuries. Admittances and surrenders were usually accompanied by a ‘fine’ or fee payment. Where they have survived these documents contain valuable sources of information for the family historian.
To this Court came John Nealson (present Bayliffe of this
Mannor) who nowe occupyeth a Horse Milne Situate near the
Bridge end in Tweedmouth within this Mannor Late in the
tenure of John Nealson his Father deceased (who held the same
by Copy of Court Roll of the Lord of this Mannor), Containing in
Length and in Breadth
And in the same Court the said John Nealson
surrendered into the hand[es] of the Lord[es] by their Steward All his
estate & title in the premises with that intention that it would
please the Lord[es] A graunt thereof into him the said
John Nealson to make. And in the same Court the said
John Nealson came & tooke out of the hand[es] of the Lord[es]
by their Steward the said Horse-Milne or Tenement with
the app[ur]tan[en]ces To have and to hold the said Tenement
and appurtenances to the said John Nealson his heirs and assigns
for ever according to the Customs of the Mannor aforesaid
By the rents Customs & services therefrom heretofore due
and of right accustomed And for such estate and
entrance so thereof to be had the aforesaid John Nealson
Gives the Lord[es] for fine two shillings And so is admitted
Other payments that may be unfamiliar were; the ‘Heriot’, a fee that was payable on the death of a tenant, and the ‘Merchet‘ a fee payable for the permission for a tenant’s daughter to marry.
In addition to land matters some manors could hear minor criminal cases such as affray, nuisance, failure to maintain property, trespass and debt at a ‘Court Leet’. The Court Leet was often combined with the View of Frankpledge, whereby tenants swore to uphold the Kings Peace. One particularly bloody affray was heard at the Tweedmouth Manor Court in May 1661
Presentments of the Jury upon their Oathes
George Scott a blood & affray upon Bartho[lomew] Potts his wife 00:08:00
Henry Morise for being Drunke 00:02:06
Henry Morise for a blood & affray upon Patrick Forriste wife 00:02:06
Henry Morise a blood & affray upon his own wife 00:02:06
William Shirnside an affray upon George Moore 00:01:08
William Shernside an affray upon Rich[ard] Given 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon William Shernside 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon W[ilia]m Dunken 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon Isabell Dunken 00:01:08
An example of the typical matters heard at the Manor Court of Norham Town in 1706
W[illia]m Marshall is presented by Rees Strother for delving in a part of the
Grounds he Farms of Alexander Stuart Gent[leman] at a place Called Easter Countriggs 1s viij d
John Stewart Pinder presents Roger Abernethy for his beasts Trespassing
frequently on the Corn belonging to the Town of Norham 1s viij d
Alice Abernethy is presented by the Pinder for Cutting of Grasse belonging
To Thomas Tynlin and throwing to her Sons beasts 1s viij d
George Purvis is presented by John Pawlin Constable for Sowing a piece of
Ground w[i]th lyes at a place Called the Wax Law and reaping Corn of it
tho’ it belongs to W[ilia]m Marshall 1s viij d
David Hume Ba[il[i]e of the Mannor presents Isabel Henderson
for Entertaining an Inmate in her house that Bore a Bastard Child
and amerced xxxix s xj d
Thomas Tynlin is presented by James Fullerton and Rob[er]t Marshall Constables
for his Fences being out of repair adjoining the Towns Loaning 1s
Ordained that the Sev[era]ll Inhabitants within this Town doe
repair the Causeys on their Sev[era]ll Forefronts of the Houses at or before
Christmas next or be Amerced each xx s
The Ba[i]ll[ie]s to See it done
NB. Pinder = kept the manorial pound/pinfold, Inmate= a lodger or subtenant which was severely fined at 39 shillings and 11 old pence, just under £2, approximately £214 as at 2017.
From the Tudor period onwards much of the Manor’s administration was absorbed in the new systems of local administration and powers transferred to the Justices of the Peace, parish and town officials. Common and statutory law began to replace customary law rendering the judicial role of the Court Baron obsolete. Therefore, by the 17th century, the main responsibility of the court was to deal with the transfer of land and minor cases of debt under 40 shillings. This function and the holding of the Court Baron continued right up to the 1920s when copyhold tenure was abolished. (It was this transfer of Copyhold to Freehold that George Aynsley Smith undertook in his capacity as Clerk to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Durham at the Halmote Court.)
In addition to their value to family historians, Manorial Records are a mine of information for local historians too. Just a small example is some of the field names I remember as a child, such as The Riggs, [High] Mill Lands and Eels Pools appear on an old map for the Manor of Longhoughton at the top of this blog. The records for Longhoughton Manor date back to 1474.
The surname Elder that appeared on the Alnwick Muster Roll of 1514 is still associated within living memory of the Village today.
https://www.flodden1513ecomuseum.org/project/the-campaign/31-the-alnwick-muster-roll (If you would like a transcription of any part just let me know!)
How to find a Manor in the Manorial Documents Register
To find the archive repository that holds the Manorial records which may be of use to you, they can be found in the Manorial Documents Register online at The National Archives. Here is the link to the page containing the surviving records for Manors in Northumberland.
Clicking on the records of the individual Manor will give the name of the repository that holds the records. Many of Northumberland’s records are held at Alnwick Castle, which as it is a privately funded archive is neither straightforward (but not impossible) nor at £55 per day, cheap to visit.
The records for Durham have not yet made it to the online register, but as a work in progress will be coming soon.
Other Useful Links
Aside from the records mentioned above, and rather than list them all here, Lancaster University has an excellent website which although its focus is the Manors of Cumbria, it contains a wealth of information covered in far more detail than I have here.
An extensive Glossary of unfamiliar terms and phrases in Latin, can be found at the University of Nottingham https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/manorial/glossary.aspx
Sadly, this is a question that is not asked enough! All too often circumstantial evidence is added to family trees and suddenly square pegs are sitting uncomfortably in round holes. Most of these errors are largely avoidable and have crept in unwittingly. There are many reasons why ancestors can’t be located, or the wrong ones appropriated, very briefly here are just a few:
Of course, there are other reasons too, but it would be impossible to cover such a huge topic in one short blog! In many cases, however, basic errors stem from a lack of understanding of the records that were kept and the laws that governed them. Often, the errors start to appear in the period prior to Civil Registration; 1837 in England, 1855 in Scotland, when evidence of familial relationships is sought in Church records. After all, birth marriage and death form the backbone of genealogy. Even after the introduction of Civil Registration in England, problems can still occur.
Quick Note re Civil Registration
When Civil Registration was introduced in England in July 1837 the onus for collecting records was initially placed on the Registrar of the Registration District in which the birth took place. This resulted in omissions, sometimes due to parental objection to the registration of births, which distorted both regional and national data. To rectify this, the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1874 was passed which placed the onus on the parents, rather than the Registrar, and the parents could now be fined for non-compliance or late registration. This may be just one reason why a birth certificate is proving elusive during the early years of Civil Registration, particularly if the issue of illegitimacy has been ruled out.
In Scotland when Civil Registration was introduced in January 1855, it was a statutory requirement to be performed by the parents or person in charge of the child from the outset. There is also the ‘Register of Neglected Entries’ which holds records of vital events dating from between 1800 and the enactment of the new law in 1855, but not registered elsewhere else i.e. a church register. Although they are very few in number those that do exist can be accessed through the Scotland’s People Website. This NRS Guide contains some helpful information.
Tracing Ancestors in the Border Region
Tracing ancestors in the Border regions can be particularly tricky. This is due to the different laws of each country and movement of people across the border. Although England and Scotland are part of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and have been since 1707, many of the laws in the two countries were different and continue to be so today. It might seem crazy after blogging for so many years to be writing about something quite so basic, but as it is something I regularly need to explain I thought it might be of use to a wider audience.
Another important fact that needs a bit of clarification is what Old Parish Registers actually are and what they cover. Simply put they are the records of the Established Church of each Country.
‘On 17 August 1560, the Parliament agreed to a Reformed Confession of Faith, a fundamental step away from the Roman Church, and on 24 August it passed a series of Acts that entirely destroyed the Roman Church in Scotland. The celebration of mass was made punishable by a series of penalties up to and including death, and all Papal jurisdiction in Scotland was repudiated.’
All religions other than the Established Church in both countries were known as non-conformists or dissenters, with Roman Catholics referred to as ‘recusants’. Because the Parish Records are the records of the established churches in each country, they do not as a rule of thumb, include the baptism records for other religions. Where they do, particularly in the late 18th and early 19th century they may be marked ‘Diss’ or noted as Dissenters. The registers will, however, contain some marriages and nearly all burials until the introduction of Civic Cemeteries. Some notable exceptions to this rule were Jews and Quakers.
Presbyterian Records in England
2nd Lieutenant ‘Jack’ McDougall 1911-1981 at enlistment in the uniform of the Canadian Black Watch. A documentary film maker in civilian life for Associated Screen News, Lieutenant Jack McDougall led the Canadian Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) in WW2. It is reported ‘they filmed 1.5-million feet of footage and over sixty thousand still photos’ which included the D-Day Landings on Juno Beach. He retired with the rank of Major.
As some of my readers will know, in the summer I became the voluntary co-administrator of the ‘McDougall Surname DNA Project’ and whilst the project aims to help descendants of McDougall families from throughout Scotland, there are a few testers within the project who are particularly interested in their heritage in the Scottish Borders – and rightly so say I – as the Borders occupies a unique space in Scottish history!
There are over 10,000 group projects such as this hosted by Family Tree DNA and led by volunteers who are there to help and advise their members explore their ancestral heritage both within a traceable genealogical timeframe and beyond. Whilst most surname or clan projects focus on Y-DNA (fatherline) or mtDNA (motherline), many also accept members who have test their atDNA only, so it is always worth asking the question! All Group DNA projects are completely free, but to be eligible to join a project a tester must have a bone-fide interest in the project’s subject and aims which can be found on their homepage. In addition the tester must have either tested their DNA with Family Tree DNA or transferred in their results from another DNA testing company. Transferring results is easy to do and is also free of charge – if unsure how to go about this, drop me a line and I shall talk you through it.
Even if you are not interested in joining a project, transferring your DNA results to FTDNA can often provide a whole new set of matches and is undoubtedly a worthwhile exercise!
- John McDougal: was born on 25th July and baptised at Coldstream 25th August 1805.
- Isobel McDougal: was born on the 6th May and baptised at Coldstream on 7th June 1807.
- William McDougal: was born on 13th February and baptised at Coldstream on 19th February 1809.
- Robert McDougal: was born on 15th May and baptised at Coldstream 18th July 1811.
- David & Isobel McDougal, Twins: were born on 9th February and baptised at Coldstream 8th March 1813.
- James McDougal: was born 19th November and baptised 25th November 1816.
- Elizabeth McDougal: was born 21st March and baptised at Coldstream on 5th April 1819.
- George McDougal: was born 25th March and baptised at Coldstream on 21st April 1822.
In memory of John McDougels son William who died 21.7.1804 aged 1 year 4 months, also his daughter Isabel who died 21.4.1808 aged 11 months, also his son James who died 27.3.1814 aged 14 years. Reverse: In memory of William M__ who died ?4.1805 aged 80 years.
McDougall’s Flour and other connections with Coldstream
Other Border McDougall families.
Aside from those known to have tested their DNA, another John McDougall born at Kelso, Roxburghshire in 1802 emigrated to Ontario in the 1850s - their family home is now open to the public. But perhaps most intriguing of all is yet another John McDougall born in Berwickshire circa 1826 who also emigrated to Quebec and who was the owner of the Caledonia Ironworks. To date researchers have been unable to determine if the two families of Iron Foundry fame, who were clearly in close contact, were in fact related.
McDougalls in North Northumberland
McDougall Families in Berwickshire
Note re Scottish Parish Registers
“The parish minister or the session clerk usually assumed responsibility for maintaining the registers, but since there was no standard format employed, record keeping varied enormously from parish to parish and also from year to year. As a result, the information may be sparse, unreliable and difficult to read. The oldest register dates from 1553 (baptisms and banns from Errol, Perthshire), but although there was a requirement from 1552 that parishes record baptisms and marriages, many did not commence until much later, and some more remote areas only have registers from the early 19th century. Some registers have been lost or destroyed and the condition of the surviving 3500 is variable.”
A detailed list of the Parish Registers and notes regarding their coverage can be downloaded as a PDF from the National Records of Scotland - do you use it! Also bear in mind that Baptisms and marriages outside of the Established Church of Scotland will not appear in the Parish Registers - double check records for non-conformists too.
McDougalls in the 1841 Census for Berwickshire
Number of Inhabitants & Households
2 Individuals in 2 separate households, both aged women.
10 Individuals in 2 Households – 1 ‘Male Servant’ living apart from their family.
16 Individuals in 7 Households, 3 ‘Females Servants’ living apart.
4 Individuals in 1 Household.
26 Individuals in 7 Households, 1 (Blacksmith) living apart.
4 Individuals in 1 Household = The McDougalls of Trois Rivieres
51 Individuals in 13 Households, 2 living separately.
2 Individuals in 1 household, David McDougall a Miller and his wife.
6 Individuals in 2 Households, 1 living apart
10 Individuals in 2 Households
3 Individuals – A widow and 2 small children.
Of the 76 females - 9 were born in Scotland but not in Berwickshire and 2 were born in England.
Of the 62 males – 4 were born in Scotland but not in Berwickshire and 4 were born in England.
McDougall Occupations in Berwickshire where stated
- 16 Agricultural Labourers
- 3 Farmers: 2 at Gordon, 1 at Lauder
- 3 Shoemakers
- 2 Millers: 1 at Hutton, 1 at Foulden (Trois Rivieres family)
- 1 Wright/Joiner
- 1 Saddler
- 1 Tailor
- 1 Hand Loom Weaver
McDougall Families in Roxburghshire
McDougalls families in the 1841 Census for Roxburghshire
Number of Inhabitants and Households
19 individuals in 5 households, 1 ‘Female Servant’ living apart from her family.
4 individuals living in 1 Household.
36 individuals living in 11 Households 3 living apart.
4 individuals living in 1 Household. (The McDougall Brisbane family of Makerstoun House have not been included.)
8 individuals living in 3 Households 2 living apart.
6 individuals living in 2 Households, 1 not born in County living separately
3 individuals living in 3 different households.
Of the 44 Males 4 were born in Scotland but not in Roxburghshire and the birth place of 1 was ‘Not Known’.
McDougall Occupations where stated
- 9 Agricultural Labourers
- 3 Farmers, 2 at Eckford, 1 at Ancrum
- 2 Shoemakers
- 5 Cabinet Makers inc 1 Turner & 1 Joiner
- 2 Saddlers
- 1 Surgeon (Melrose)
- 1 Tailor
- 1 Hand Loom Weaver
- 1 Pauper (Eckford)
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 733/ 30 103.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 111.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 129.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 132.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 149.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream, OPR 733/ 30 160.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream, OPR 733/ 40 13.
 Scotlands People https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/guides/church-registers
How land and associated property tax records can aid family & local history research.
Cargey Connections with Kiplin Hall Estate
A brief overview of Manorial Records
The Cargey Family of Ponteland
Roman Catholic Register & Land Tax
names, lands, tenements, the names of the tenants, or those in possession of the said lands, the yearly rents thereof, particulars of leases, fines (admittance fees) paid on renewal of such leases. The certificates were to be brought to the Clerk of the Peace either by the landowner in person, or by others to who he had given Power of Attorney, and enrolled in Court in parchment books to be subscribed by him or them, and laid up with the records of the county or shire.
 A list of Guild Records for Newcastle upon Tyne available from Tyne and Wear Archives is available online as a pdf. A William Cargey a butcher & likely uncle of Gilbert Cargey 2nd was admitted as a Freeman of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1747. The Freemen records for Newcastle upon Tyne can be accessed online through The Genealogist.
 The Manor of Ponteland was sold circa 1774 to George Silvertop of Minsteracres. High Sheriff of Northumberland d. 1831. The advertisement for the sale appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle on the 8th October.
or 'The ancestor who refuses to be found'
Reliability of Sources
The Marriage Certificate
Post Marriage Census Records
- 1861 Middlesex, London Age 33
- 1871 London, Age 43
- 1881 Scotland Age 53
- 1891 Not Known, London, Age 62
- 1901 Middlesex, London, Age 73
Death & Burial
Birth or Baptism Record
Mary Ogilvie Davison
 The Genealogist.co.uk Non Parochial BMD Database RG4: Non-parochial Registers 1567-1858,RG5: Protestant Dissenters' Registry,RG6: Quaker Registers 1578-1841,RG7: Fleet Marriages 1667-1777,RG8: Non-Parochial & Miscellaneous Registers,RG32: Registers Abroad and on British & Foreign Ships 1831-1969,RG33: Foreign Registers & Returns 1627-1960,RG34: Worldwide Foreign Marriage Returns 1826-1921,RG35: General Register Office: Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns - 1791-1921,RG36: Registers & Returns in the Protectorates etc of Africa & Asia,BT158: Registers compiled from Ships' Official logs of passengers at sea 1854-1908,BT159: Registers of Deaths at sea of British and other nationalities 1875-1888,BT160: Registers of Births at sea of British Nationals 1875-1891
Other useful Links for Alnwick
Family Search Wiki Page contains a comprehensive list of resources for researching ancestors from Alnwick
Non Conformist records from The National Archive Code RG series are available through The Genealogist
 Patience Anderson sister of Edward Anderson senior married John Grey in 1767, before purchasing Middle Ord they lived at Old Heaton. Edward Pringle of Snitter’s wife was Margaret Vardy. Two of Edward Pringles children married Re[a]dhead siblings. Numerous connections between Pringle, Thompson, Hogg , Coxon and Readhead. Only familial connection not proven Isabella Pringle to Edward of Snitter.
 Accounts of Richard Gough E101 56 28.
 Col. Fitzwilliam Elliott, 'The Battle of Flodden and the Raids of 1513'
 ‘Mugger’ is the old word for Gypsy or Tinker.
 Hall Chronicle https://archive.org/details/hallschronicleco00halluoft/page/560
 This same reference seems to have caused some confusion for the Battlefield Trust too. See page 8.
If, like me you are trying to track down your Pringle Forebears, a first step may be to contact the Clan Pringle Association where you will find more details on how to join both the Association and also the Pringle DNA project.
Smiths at Fenwick and the last Border Raid
by Rosemary Dixon-Smith
I saw come marching o'er the knows
Fyve hundred Fenwicks in a flock,
With jack and spurs and bowis all bent,
And warlike weaponis at their will.
The Redeswire Stone
On this ridge, July 7th, 1575 was fought one of the last border raids, known as The Raid of the Redeswire.
Snippets and Links
Leave Back Bongate 10.00 am - Arrive Redeswire 12.30 pm / Leave Redeswire 1.05 pm - Arrive Dolphinston Moor 3.00 pm. Leave Dolphinston Moor 4.30 pm - Arrive Market Place 6.00 pm
Moles Genealogy Blog Though South African ancestry is of particular interest to me, there are no boundaries in family history. I have traced my own and other peoples' ancestors in the UK, Canada, US, Australia,and Europe. My special field is Natal - settler families, maritime history, Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars; favourite pursuits: dating photographs, costume history, the history of slavery, lighthouses, history of India and the Indian diaspora, explorers, missionaries, ships; shipwrecks, British history, militaria. Comments on my blog or questions welcomed.
If you a question for Rosemary or would like to contact her you can do so here