Tithe Surveys for Historians
Tithe Surveys are among the sources most frequently consulted by local historians and geographers, providing detailed information on parish and field boundaries, land use, farming, roads and rural settlements. " until now an accessible and systematic examination of the form, content and value of tithe records has been lacking. This new book ...fills that gap ...It is a worthy addition to Phillimore's already excellent series of guides ..." Association for Local History
'Tithe Surveys for Historians' is an interesting and thorough account of the background, conflicts and development of the tithe system that culminated in the Tithe Commutation Act 1836. This book builds upon the authors' 1985 publication 'The Tithe Surveys of England and Wales' (latest edition 2011). Roger Kain and Hugh Prince (who died in 2013) were recognised as the leading authorities on tithes at the time of publication (2000).
This is a well-written account in a clear and easy to read style, making it more accessible for those less familiar with the tithe system and its reforms. Four chapters discuss the historical context of the 1836 Act, the subsequent administrative processes that created the maps, apportionments and files, together with their accuracy. The fifth chapter provides a very helpful guide for using the surveys as a historical source. This includes researching boundaries, transport networks, land ownership and occupation, land use and farming, and population.
The book is slightly dated, with references to the PRO rather than TNA. Archival access and availability has changed in the intervening thirteen years between publication and this review. That said, this does not affect the usefulness of the publication in the overall context of tithe surveys.
There is an interesting range of pictures, maps, diagrams and tables. However, the reproduction of some maps is rather pale, but this does not unduly affect their overall legibility. There is a good range of examples across England and Wales, although predominately from English counties. The references and notes are comprehensive, together with a useful list for further reading. The index is thorough and effective.
Those who are already conversant with the topic may not find anything new here. However, for those unfamiliar with the tithe surveys, this book will be an invaluable guide and can be recommended accordingly.
Dr Tony Wakeford
Friends of The National Archives.