Bed­ford­shire land records go on­line

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

Thou­sands of his­toric land own­er­ship records in Bed­ford­shire are now avail­able to search in two new col­lec­tions on ances­

The first col­lec­tion com­prises 534,240 records and 22,616 digi­tised im­ages of land tax records from 1797 to 1832. Land tax was levied year-by-year on all land held by landown­ers with an an­nual value of more than 20 shillings.

The records con­sist of as­sess­ments and re­turns and show both the own­ers and oc­cu­piers of real es­tate in each parish in the county of Bed­ford­shire.

The tax on per­sonal es­tate and pub­lic of­fices and land was in­tro­duced by Par­lia­ment in 1692 to raise money for the war against France. The land tax records give de­tails for each parish of an­nual rentals, names of pro­pri­etors, names of oc­cu­piers, the sum as­sessed and, from about 1825, brief de­scrip­tions of the prop­erty.

Quar­ter ses­sions held the land tax records un­til 1832, when elec­toral reg­is­tra­tion was in­tro­duced. Records af­ter that date are found in the ar­chives of firms of so­lic­i­tors who acted as land tax com­mis­sion­ers.

The sec­ond col­lec­tion in­cludes 493,971 records and 52,463 im­ages of val­u­a­tion records from 1838 to 1929. The vol­umes name the pro­pri­etor or ten­ant, de­scribe or name the prop­erty and give an an­nual rental value and some­times an acreage.

Ances­try has also added 118,272 records and 19,111 im­ages from the Bed­ford­shire petty ses­sions of 18541915. Petty ses­sions were the low­est tier in the court sys­tem and usu­ally in­volved cases such as drunk­en­ness or mi­nor theft.

Bed­ford High Street is one of the lo­ca­tions found in the new col­lec­tions on Ances­try

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