Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-12 > 1040326593

From: (Reedpcgen)
Subject: Re: manorial documents & genealogy (was re: Question on validity)
Date: 19 Dec 2002 19:36:33 GMT
References: <ats6f1$idf$>

I might also point out that the 1524-5 subsidy, which survives for much of the
country, covers not only all landowners, but practically anyone who earned a
living wage (enough to buy food to eat). It predates parish registers by some

Where manorial records survive, leases for lives are invaluable for making out
family relationships. Payment also had to be made at the death of an ancestor,
and people were fined if they did not perform their duties at the local
manorial court.

Subsidies and poll taxes are often the closest thing we have to a census prior
to 1841.

As four of my great-grandparents emigrated from different corners of England,
and two from New England, I can state from personal experience that once one
gets back before the 1841 census, ancestors who tended to move around in the
previous centuriy who did not leave probate records are difficult to trace,
especially if nonconformist. It is traversing that period of movement in the
1700s to get back to a more stable period when people tended to stay in or near
the parish of birth (if they did not run off to London) where so many people
get lost.

Whereas my New England ancestry is almost fully traced back to about 1600, with
only a few gaps. Americans frequently owned property, even if small parcels,
and this was recorded at the local level (generally on a county basis). It is
not infrequent that marriages are also recorded on a countywide basis. Also,
US census records survive from 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, etc. It makes a
big difference in tracing people back and having nearly complete indexes (an
error rate in the indexes of around 5% is common for 1800 and later indexes)


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