Anthony Adolph, genealogist and author of 10 books including In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2015) The tithe was a 10th of a landholder’s produce, which was payable to the parish, and was originally paid in kind; crops, wool, stock and so on. The Enclosure Acts of the 17th and 18th century converted these payments in some parishes from produce to money, and in 1836 the Tithe Act extended this to all of England and Wales. Commissioners were dispatched to each parish to establish the value of land, and therefore how much cash was due to the Church of England.
The practical upshot of all this for family historians is accurate, large-scale tithe maps and accompanying apportionment information, which lists owners, land use and even tenants. The records are found in county archives and The National Archives; they used to be difficult to search, but are increasingly appearing online. The National Library of Wales ‘Places’ website ( places. library.wales) is the pick of the bunch. Here you can explore approximately 1,200 digitised tithe maps, covering more than 95 per cent of the Principality, and trawl through about 300,000 data entries drawn from the maps and accompanying documents. You can search the apportionments by parish, occupier, landowner, farm name or field name, or simply select a county, town or village and explore the material that way. All of this was powered by the crowdsourced Cynefin Project, which ran between 2013 and 2017 and involved 1,354 volunteers. It’s really rather good!
Women spinning and winding wool in front of St Collen’s Church in Llangollen, Denbighshire, painted in 1792