Welsh tithe maps project
Volunteers help National Library of Wales digitise 1200 maps
The National Library of Wales has launched its own collection of Welsh tithe maps online. They are now available for free at the new Places of Wales website, https://places. library.wales.
Tithe maps were produced for the whole of England and Wales after the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, which replaced the historic tradition of church levies being paid through goods in kind with monetary payments. The resulting maps, which detail land ownership and occupation, were produced from 1838 to 1850 and form the most detailed maps available from the era before Ordnance Survey maps.
In the case of Wales, more than 1000 tithe maps are available, which cover 95% of the country. The level of detail in the Welsh maps varies, and in some cases place names are not shown. The maps are accompanied by apportionment documents (also referred to as schedules) which provide details about the people who owned or occupied each piece of land, what they had to pay, and details of field sizes and land use.
Three copies of tithe maps were typically made, with one produced for the local parish (typically now in county archives), a second for the Tithe Commissioners (now held at The National Archives), and a third for the diocesan registry; for Wales, the latter are held at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. TNA’s maps for both England and Wales have already been digitised and are currently only available to subscribers at www.thegenealogist.co.uk. Some regional archives have also digitised their own collections – see http://maps.cheshire.gov.uk/ tithemaps/, for example.
The Places of Wales website is the work of the Cynefin Project (see http:// cynefin.archiveswales.org.uk), a crowdsourcing project mostly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and using volunteers to repair and digitise tithe maps for Wales. The project partners are Archive Wales, the National Library of Wales and People’s Collection Wales.
In total the site offers 1200 maps, with more than 30,000 pages of the digitised
schedules describing villages, farms and individual plots of land. It can be browsed by place, with plots shown on a modern satellite map or an 1880s Ordnance Survey, as well as searched by parish, occupier, landowner and farm or field name. Original schedule documents are available to view, and the information on them has been transcribed.
One of the highlights of Places of Wales is the ability to see the whole of Wales as a one huge, joined map. This means that users can browse the maps and cross from one parish to another. It is also possible to see the boundaries of each map and their names.
The NLW also intends to add further place-related data sets to the Places of Wales site in future as new map layers, enabling researchers to compare information from different sources.
Linda Tomos, chief executive and librarian at NLW, commented: ‘What has been achieved here by the Library and its partners is quite remarkable and this incredible resource will benefit everyone who’s interested in the places where they live and work. Innovation and growth is important to us and this new platform ensures that the Library remains at the cutting edge of using technology to provide free access to our collections for pleasure, learning and research.’
Other ongoing volunteer projects in Wales include transcriptions of 1840s Chartist court cases in south Wales ( http://chartist.cynefin. wales/) and Wales’ Book of Remembrance – potential volunteers can find out more at www.walesforpeace. org. The NLW is also expected to announce a new crowdsourced digitisation project in September – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Cynefin Project’s work on tithe maps is now complete, with 30,000 pages of records digitised and available at the Places of Wales website