V is for Villages

I have already talked about the genealogy resources that can be found at an archive. In this post I am going to turn to local history resources and look at the items that might typically be available for researching the history of a village (or a town or city, or other location not beginning with V!). These include:

  • Ordnance Survey maps
  • Valuation maps and related records
  • Enclosure maps and awards – these are an extraordinary resource showing how a parish was reorganised when the common fields were divided into individual allotments, often in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. New roads and footpaths were often introduced at the same time.
  • Tithe maps and awards – where these exist for a village they show the layout as it was in the 1830s, along with the identity of the landowners and occupiers.
  • Parish records, which may include information about Church buildings, rectories and vicarages, lands owned by the Church, local charities, and early education, as well as decisions taken by parish officials.
  • Parish council records – these relate to the civil parish rather than the ecclesiastical parish which is run by a parochial church council (PCC). Parish councils deal with the nitty gritty of village life: their role includes maintaining local facilities such as playgrounds and parks, organising local events, and commenting on planning applications.Parish council minutes will often include information about a wide variety of matters of local interest.
  • School log books are not only a source for the history of a school, they can also provide information about local events and other matters relating to the village (or town) as a whole.
  • Local newspapers often included regular village news columns.
  • Trade directories list local businesses, ranging from shops and public houses to farms and craftsmen.
  • Estate maps and records can be rich sources where part of a parish was owned by a major landowner.
  • Sale particulars describe both individual properties and substantial estates, often in considerable detail.

Many of the records which are useful for researching genealogy also provide useful information for local historians.For example,  censuses show the main sources of employment, and court records show the extent and type of crime in a village (and the main culprits! Every village is different, so while there are many common sources, each will also have its own unique records.


3 thoughts on “V is for Villages”

  1. There really is a wealth of information in archives for both local and family historians. You’ve shown too that both may use the same records, but in different ways.


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