Where did my ancestor live? Part 2 Enclosure maps

Enclosure awards essentially enclosed larger areas of land rather than having strips of land spread across open fields. The process began in the 12th century but became widespread from 1750. Open land was allotted to landowners by private Acts of Parliament and later by the Inclosure Acts between 1801 and 1845.

The Acts of Parliament listed the landowner who had brought the case and the name of the appointed enclosure commissioner. The enrolled award detailed how the land was to be divided up with the survey providing a written physical description of the land and its boundaries including the names of the pre-enclosure fields, footpaths, roads and other features. The award lists the wealthy landowners and then the farmers and cottagers allotted land in lieu of their former common rights.

The awards do not, however, list landless people, so many parishioners are not recorded. Most enclosures dealt with waste and common land which few residents had any legal claims to.

Names of farmers and landowners and the land allotted to them; Large scale maps of the consolidated land; Names of tenants might appear in the schedule. Useful for house histories.

Where Tithe records (see part one of this series) can be found for a location, it is unlikely enclosure awards will be found, it was therefore no suprise to find there were no enclosure award(s) for Cranleigh which I looked at in part 1 of this series. I therefore looked at the enclosure award for a neighbouring area.

The main Enclosure[1] award for Godalming[2] is found at Surrey History Centre (SHC) under references QS6/4/10 and 5332/1.

  • QS6/4/10 comprises three books – two large books: one of maps, one of the awards itself as references to the map; and a smaller book containing the narrative award. The maps and award cover the Manors of Godalming and Cottshall under the Godalming Enclosure Act 1808, the award itself is dated 11 December 1811;
  • 5332/1 is one large book which states it is the 1809 enclosure award but is a larger combined version of the three books comprising reference QS6/4/10 and dated 11 December 1891. This is copy also contains a seal thus this is the enrolled copy.

The maps

The map book started with a general plan of the area showing how the 19 individual maps are connected. The maps are coloured although there is no key to decipher any colour coding and there does not seem to be any continuity of colouring between the different maps. The colour coding does not appear to distinguish different uses of land although it is easy to distinguish woodland because trees are drawn in those areas on the maps.

The maps provide detailed scaled plans of each area although each map has a different scale, so it is not straight forward to compare the size of each area or plots between areas. For example,  

The maps are like the tithe maps and use the same system of numbers to identify the proprietor of each plot. The enclosure maps however are no where near as detailed at the Tithe maps in that whilst there are buildings indicated on them, they do not to identify/name individual properties or other buildings such as the Manor house, farms, the rectory, mills etc. as the Tithe maps do.

The Reference to the map (part of the Enclosure Award)

The page is split into three columns with each of those columns further split into columns:

  • No. of plan;
  • Proprietor;
  • No. on the plan;
  • Quantities in a (acres), r (roods) and p (perches).

Each proprietors’ lands are listed with the old Enclosures first, each plot listed individually although no description of the land or state of cultivation is provided as with the Tithe records. They are simply referred to by numbers on the plans. New awards are then listed individually by number on the plan and lastly any common land. The numbering system is easy to follow but the lack of information regarding the use of the land is disappointing.

Individual proprietors are listed but no other personal information such as family or address are provided. There is also no information as to whether the proprietor is also the occupier or who else occupies the land.

The number of each fields each proprietor is listed as holding along with the size of each field and the total per proprietor is however useful in determining who the major and small landowners were, to who ‘new’ enclosures were awarded, who had already had land enclosed (presumably by private Act of Parliament[3]) and thus perhaps a person’s/families status and standing in the community. It does not provide details of those who may have lost land as a result of enclosure.

There are 24 pages of awards. There are total quantities at the bottom of the last page of old Enclosures, new Enclosures, common meadows and overall total.  

The ‘Narrative’ Award book

The Enclosure Act

On opening the book, the first item is a loose copy of the actual Enclosure Act for Godalming. This, is of use to the genealogist and family/local historian. The preamble sets out a brief description of Manor Godalming and Cattshull “in the several parishes of Godalming, Chiddingfold, Haslemere, and Compton in the County of Surrey, several Commons and Waste Lands, containing by Estimation One Thousand Seven Hundred Acres, or thereabouts” followed be a ‘who’s who’ of the manor:

“And whereas James More Molyneux, Esquire, is Lord of the Manors of Godalming and Cattshull aforesaid, and as such is entitled to the Soil of the Commons and Waste Lands within the said several Manors”

It then lists various Esquires and a Widow who are “Owners and Proprietors of divers Messuages, Cottages, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments” within the manors who “are entitle to Rights of Common upon the said Commons and Waste Lands”.

The Act then appoint the commissioners, George Smallpiece and Thomas Chapman “for dividing, allotting, and Inclosing” the Common and Waste Lands. It goes on to provide some history as to the development of the area by providing the right to widening water egress tunnels; widening, cutting out and deepening “all ancient Brooks, Ditches, Drains, Watercourses, Tunnels, Gates, Banks, and Bridges” and build new ones. It further provides for parts of common and waste land to be “divided, allotted and inclosed,…..for a public Pit or Pits to get Gravel, Stone, and other Materials, for making and repairing the Turnpike and other Roads and Ways already made or to be made” and the calculation of compensation to be paid to the Lord of Manor “in lieu of and as Recompense for the Right of Soil”.

The Act also authorises the Commissioners to determine which and what tithes are payable to the impropriator of the Rectory and which are what tithes are payable to the vicar only and to declare copyhold estates as freehold if so requested by the copyholder where the copyholder is desirous of being “discharged from all Fines, Quite Rents, Heriots, Customs, and Service”.IT also provided details as to how tithes where to be converted into a yearly rent.

Many of the clauses set out in the Act are standard clauses concerning the powers of the Commissioners.

The book

This contains essentially the preamble to the award, appointing the Enclosure commissioners – George Smallpiece of Stoke next Guildford and Thomas Chapman of Richmond

The first matter to be dealt with is the “Several Carriage Roads and private roads”. Includes “Occupation Roads”[4] (or drift ways), “Foot Roads” and “drains”.  Descriptions of such roads are provided, including the width, distinctive features, junctions, direction, where it leads from and too etc., they also deal with who is responsible for the upkeep of such roads/paths etc. This is not something dealt with in the tithe records and allows a comparison to the modern-day road layout.

The awards detailed in this book appear to be those not detailed in the larger book and are those plots numbered by roman numerals in map numbers 6, 9, 11, 12. 14, 15, and 17. Each description includes its position, boundaries, type of land, size and name of owner.  The names are only of those to whom the award is made no other family members are named.

The land awarded to the Reverend (who is named) “in respect of his messuage and glebe”, the description includesdetails of who the neighbouring land is owned by, names parts of land “Jewersley Common”.

Following this entry, there are details of how, when and where the sale of the remaining common land took place in pursuance of their powers un the Enclosure Act, such sales having took place at the Kings Arms public house, Godalming on 8th May 1804 and 27th May and 18th November 1806.

Next follows further information for individual plots numbered by roman numerals (as detailed above), it appears that all those plots were purchased by the named individuals at the above auctions as being the highest bidders.  Each entry gives the details of the plot(s) of land, the corresponding roman numeral on the plan, the amount paid in consideration such as:

These records therefore provide an indication as to how much the land was worth at the time of the enclosure, or at least what value (in terms of how much they were prepared to pay) it had to those who purchased them. The above example also illustrates that not all those who were awarded land through Enclosure, were residents of the Manor. Wintershall, Bramley was a neighbouring manor and parish not within this Enclosure award.

Another example illustrates that not all land purchased, was paid for by the individual the award to allotted to. The example below is an award to “George Burrell Devisee of …Mary Diddlesfold ……in consideration of the sum of two pounds having been paid by the said Mary Diddlesfold” and in fact Mary Diddlesford purchased several lands for George Burrell Devisee. What the record does not tell us is why? What was their connection?

Such information would not be found in tithe records.

At pages 144  and 145 there are Schedules A  and B “referred to by the above award”: A set out copyholders by Tenants name, description of tenement enfranchised, yearly rents; whilst B sets out freeholders by tenants name, description of freehold messuages land and tenements discharged from quit rents and other services, yearly rent and heriots/other services. These are separated into the Manors of Godalming and Cattshall.

Other Enclosure Records

In addition to the Parliamentary enclosure records discussed above, other records in connection with enclosure can be found amongst private estate papers deposited at SHC such as:

  • “Two bundles of papers relating to inclosure of commons of manors of Godalming and Catteshall, 1803-1806, including claims and plans of new roads; also papers many of which were probably gathered as evidence by inclosure commissioners relating to management of manor including re legal cases brought by More-Molyneux family for trespass and turf cutting on commons including Peasmarsh, Shackleford Heath, Gatwick Common, late 18th cent; appointment by William More of Richard Baylie as receiver of manors of Compton Westbury and Polsted, 10 Sep 1571; descriptions of bounds of manors; copy of will of William Billingshurst of Haslemere, 1776, proved 1778; land tax assessments, 1802, for Chiddingfold, Farncombe, Compton, Godalming, Haslemere”[5]
  • Plot 68a of the Godalming Inclosure (1833-1851)Deeds and papers relating to 1a 2r 34p on Catteshall Common Meadow (described as ‘Lammas Meadow’), received by exchange under the Godalming Inclosure from James More Molyneux esq and referred to as plot 68 otherwise 68a. Title is given from 1816 when the premises were included in a bargain and sale by Sir John Frederick and Arthur Stanhope to Dame Elizabeth Morshead and others. The premises were held of trustees (probably of Elizabeth) in 1833, when they were sold to James Moon of Godalming, innholder. Moon’s will (1845, 1848; probate 1850) directed that his estates were to be sold, and in 1851, Messrs James Moon and Frederick Mellersh, trustees of Moon’s estate, conveyed to George Marshall, esq, timber merchant”[6]
  • “Copyhold at Attleford Common and other parcels in … (1750-c.1870)

Receipt for purchase money of lots in Godalming and Catteshall Inclosure”[7]

  • “Memorandum of conditional surrender (Manor of Godalming) by William Mullard of Culmore, Godalming, carpenter, to John Clarke of Godalming. Cottage and 60 rod, and 1 rood 34 perches, Witley, allotted by Inclosure Act. Consideration: 100”[8]
  • “Copy order of exchange by the Inclosure Commissioners. Relates to lands of John Roker of Shackleford, farmer, and George Roker of Shackleford, farmer, named in the first schedule and coloured green on the accompanying map, to be exchanged with lands of the Carpenter’s Company of London, named in the second schedule and coloured brown on the map. 1st schedule: Kiln Field, Great Crooked Reeds etc, Godalming; Priors Wood, Compton; The Peaked Field, Wanborough. 2nd schedule: East Field, Little Ban Field, Great Ban Field etc in Godalming.”[9]
  • “Certified copy of Order of Exchange of lands by Land Commissioners for Edward Henry, Earl of Derby, under provisions of Inclosure Acts of 1845 and 1878 to exchange with Francis Edmund Eastwood of Enton, Godalming, and Emma Molyneux his wife, lands in Witley comprising wood, pastures, cottages, outbuildings and garden, 8a 30p for meadows, cottage and garden and wood 8a 1r 24p. Two schedules of land with numbers and plan”[10]
  • “Lease and release by Richard Charrott of Change Court, Exeter Change, Westminster, milkman, to William Smith of Compton, bricklayer, and John Roker of Shackleford, Godalming, yeoman, his trustee, of a plot of land in the manor of Polested, numbered 28 on the plan attached to the award of the [Inclosure] Commissioners [details of Act of Parliament not filled in], containing 1r 18p, bounded on the north east by the road from Compton Common to Guildford, for 25. Roker was to hold the land in trust for William Smith as specified in the release between Richard Charrott, James Smith of Puttenham, farmer, John Smith of Compton, farmer, Daniel Searle of Binscombe, Godalming, tailor, and Sarah his wife (formerly Sarah Smith), William Smith and Reuben Smith of Compton, bricklayers, John Smith the elder of Compton, bricklayer, and John Roker. Richard Charrott was heir of the trustees of the will (1789, proved 1792) of James Smallpiece, formerly of Compton and then of Normandy, who bequeathed his property to his daughter Sarah Smith, wife of John Smith the elder, and after her death in 1826 to her children James Smith, John Smith the younger, Sarah Searle, William and Reuben Smith. The land allotted by the Inclosure Commissioners was in lieu of rights of common relating to the land in Compton devised by James Smallpiece”[11]
  • There are also various deeds to properties which were exchanged as a result of enclosure awards

These documents will provide further genealogical information for those involved in the transactions and the documents dealing with later exchange of land will help in building a history of the land and any property on the land.

The Enclosure records are in many ways akin to the tithe records in many ways but vary in other ways. The narrative of the Enclosure records in some cases provides more details about the proprietors than the tithe records do and may reveal connections between individuals which may need to be investigated further and may point to other documents being available, as in the example above.

Impact of Enclosure

Perhaps the biggest impact of enclosure was a change in the landscape of Britain. For the community the impact was both good and bad:

  • Increase productivity – it was general opinion that enclosing waste and arable land resulted in more compact and efficient farming units. This may be supported by the Home Office crop returns “Depending on the timing of the enclosures, the crop returned offer detailed information about the acreages of crops being grown in each parish, one group enclosed before 1801 and the other enclosed after 1801, the differences being assumed to be, partly at lease, due to the enclosure”[12] although there are highlighted problems with the validity of these returns and there had been a number of poor harvests in the 1790’s.
  • Small landholders would have been concerned with the cost impact of enclosure as they would have had to pay their share of the costs involved in enclosure which would likely have been a significant financial burden on those who were barely scraping by on their own means. Further, small landholders were usually granted limited land, often insufficient to maintain a livelihood, resulting in many becoming employed agricultural labourers, miners, or workers in other emerging industries. This was often because of the loss of use of common land on which they may have had the right grazed cattle;
  • Small landowners who found it difficult to raise their share of the costs of enclosure may have had to sell part or all of their land to a larger landowner, again resulting in them no longer able to be self-sufficient necessitating them to join the paid labour force;
  • Those who had no land, found they were no longer able to supplement their income with their rights over common land which have helped them to source seasonal food and fuel for free “forcing some of them….towards the new industrial centres to gain employment”[13]. Enclosure therefore may have contributed to the growth of industrial Britain and poor conditions of those industrial areas and a widening gap between the ‘rich and the poor’;
  • Conversely tenant farmers of larger landowners may have found their farms expand requiring them to employ more labourers and increase both their income and their landlord’s income, although no doubt with increase land and income, rents would have increased too;
  • The loss of the open field system and open countryside;
  • Building of walls and fences and/or planting of hedges to mark boundaries of land, many of which continue to raise issues today with boundaries – many boundary rights and responsibilities are likely to have their origins in enclosure;
  • An increase in the value of land following enclosure, although this was not always the case “By the 19th Century, it was known that land could very soon double in value following an enclosure”[14] which may have led to those who could afford to, investing in land rather than elsewhere;
  • Because Enclosure also provided for widening water egress tunnels; widening, cutting out and deepening “all ancient Brooks, Ditches, Drains, Watercourses, Tunnels, Gates, Banks, and Bridges” and build new ones, it may have resulted in improved transport links to the area, improved land (because of drainage etc) and thus improved use of the land.

There is no doubt that Enclosure awards changed both landscape, land ownership and the fortunes of those living and working in the area and the community in general.


Hollowell, S    Enclosure Records for Historians (Phillimore 2000)

Surrey History Centre and online Catalogue https://www.surreyarchives.org.uk/Calmview/

[1] The records are referred to as Inclosure awards rather than Enclosure awards

[2] Excluding the town itself for which there are tithe maps and apportionments but no enclosure awards

[3] I could not locate any Private Acts of Enclosure amongst other Enclosure related documents archived at SHC amongst family estate papers (see further in assignment for further details)

[4] Also known as ‘Drift Ways’, being a road allowing access by occupiers of adjoining properties rather than a public highway

[5] 7473/box4

[6] 7105/2/3/8/1-4

[7] G145/Box58

[8] G106/6/14

[9] G89/4/6/1

[10] 5119/13

[11] 10064/1-2

[12] Hollowell, S Enclosure Records for Historians page 131

[13] Holloway ibid page 120

[14] Holloway ibid page 132

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