The Barfoot Family Court Book Indices

An Explanation of Court Book Indices

Court Books, or earlier, Court Rolls, are were the records kept by manorial courts and they can contain a whole wealth of information on the tenants of a manor. One particular type of entry in Court Books are records of the transferal of land between copyholders on the manor.

Copyhold is an obsolete form of land tenure where the tenant held his land from a manor ‘by copy of the Court Roll’ in return for certain services to the manor which were usually converted into monetary payments.

In some cases, many manors were held by the same person or body, for example, in Hampshire a significant proportion of the manors in the county were held by the Ecclesiastic Commissioners for the Bishop of Winchester. When this happened, the same Court Book might be used for all of the manors, perhaps getting through as much as a book per year.

Fortunately the clerk responsible for the Court Books would often need to be able to quickly find older entries in the Court Book series and so he usually would produce an index to the books. Usually these indices are in a fairly standard format.

The date of the transaction. This is usually expressed as a regnal year.
Incoming Copyholder
The name of the incoming copyholder (tenant).
The fine or heriot payable to the Lord of the Manor upon transfering property.
Whether the property was bought (surrendered — S) or inherited on the death (D) of the previous copyholder.
Outgoing Copyholder
The name of the previous copyholder.
Original Admitance
The date when the previous tenant was admitted to the property. This serves as a cross-reference to other records in the index. Again this date is usually given as a regnal year.
Final Submitance
The date when the current tenant left the property. Frequently a regnal year.

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