How land records can help your research

The Victorian house I mentioned was constructed around 1865-70. The local Poor Law Rate Books indicated that from 1865, the occupant was paying rates for a “house and land with a gross rateable value of £33. 0s. 0d at Green Head” and that the house was actually owned by the business owned by the occupier and his two brothers.[1]  However ownership of the land was not transferred to the brothers until November 1871.  Prior to the transfer the land had been owned by William Rishworth, a yeoman farmer who lived in a village a few miles away.  William’s wife was Mary Paget and her father, William Paget, a farmer, bequeathed the land to Mary in his will made on 16th December 1812.[2] The Tithe apportionment map* of 1842 identifies a number of Closes (parcels of land) being owned by William Rishworth but being occupied by William Smith. These same Closes are mentioned in the three indentures** made on November 16th 1871 and registered at West Riding Registry of Deeds Wakefield, which records the conveyance of the land from William Rishworth to the brothers.[3]

In 1816, Joseph Paget, by the means of a deed of lease and release***, passed the ownership of his land to his four farmer sons, William (father of Mary), Joshua, Thomas and James.[4] In 1801 the Pagets also acquired land from the widow of Henry Comaleach. In the deed dated 1796 which records Henry’s own acquisition of the land, mention is made to land previously owned by The Reverend Jonathan Kighley, who had an “Estate in Utley”, ‘by virtue of an Act of Parliament obtained for enclosing the common moor and waste land within the manor of Kighley(sic, Thwaites, and Newsholme, laying on the south side of the Turnpike road from Kighley to Skipton’.  The land was enclosed by Lords Richard and George Henry Cavendish, Benjamin Ferrand, Reverend Charles Knowlton, Rector of Keighley, Joshua Field  ‘and others’  in 1780.[5]

The Local Studies Library has a copy of a sketch map drawn in 1612 for the Earl of Devonshire, which identified his land, in the parish of Keighley. The original of this map is held at Chatsworth House. Although not to scale, this map identifies areas of common moors and waste land around the town and the Turnpike road. Until the enclosure map can be located it cannot be proved the house is built on enclosed land, as seems likely.

*You can learn more about Tithes and Tithe Apportionment by reading the

**An Indenture is a binding legal agreement, contract or other document involving two or more parties. These documents got their name from the “indented” side of the document. The agreement would be written out twice (or more as required) and the document was divided up by cutting a “wavy” line. To prove a document was not a fraudulent copy, the two sides could be matched up together.

***Lease and release This site gives an excellent explanation of lease and release

There are many different types of deed and the University of Nottingham has produced a useful list which explains the various different types.



[1] Keighley Local Studies Library BK1/15/1-60.

[2] West Riding Registry of Deeds Ref QM/677/730.  

[3] West Riding Registry of Deeds Ref 664/260/298 Ref 664/261/299, Ref 664/261/300.

[4] West Riding Registry of Deeds Ref  GI/180/196. 

[5] Keighley Library Bk 315.


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