Map showing details of fields and agriculture to calculate tithe payments, 1847
Plan of the parish of Chiswick in the County of Middlesex 1847. Dedicated (by permission) To His Grace The Most Noble William Spencer, Duke of Devonshire. By his Grace’s most obliged and obedient Servant, John Pyne, Surveyor, Warwick Square, Kensington.
A tithe was a payment of one tenth of produce to the local church, payable since Anglo-Saxon times. After the dissolution of the monasteries such tithes were often paid to the landlord.
The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 permitted tithes to be paid in cash rather than goods, reforming the way in which the established Church was financed by this tax (tithe) on local agricultural output, so that instead of paying every tenth turnip, parishioners could pay a lump sum. This would fluctuate every year, depending on the price of wheat, barley and oats. This meant a detailed field survey of parishes and townships had to be carried out. Throughout England and Wales some 11,800 of these large-scale, detailed maps were produced, providing one of the most important records for historians as well as lawyers about land ownership and rights of way disputes. The landowner paid for the mapping, and was of course interested in having an accurate record, providing the names of all owners and occupiers of land in the parish, along with a description, sometimes with field names. Most of the surveying and mapping was carried out by 1841.
Chiswick’s map shows notes for “railway, proposed railway, foot/bridleway, waterbodies, houses, woods, parkland (in detail), fences, building names, road names, horticultural gardens, osier beds.”
Three copies of these maps and schedules were prepared: one copy was held centrally by the Tithe Commissioners, one locally in the parish church, and one in the diocesan registry.*
Acknowledgements: With thanks to the Diocese of London and the collections at London Metropolitan Archives, City of London.
* See also: Roger J.P. Kain, Richard R. Oliver, The Tithe Maps of England and Wales: A Cartographic Analysis and County-by-county Catalogue, Cambridge University Press, 1995.