The principal archival sources used to record land ownership are the records of manorial courts. Since the manor courts acted as the land registries of the time their records were carefully preserved both by the Lord of the Manor, who derived an income from the parcels of land every time they changed hands, and the tenants who, if challenged, needed to be able to prove their right of ownership. The records of the Lords of the manor, originally in the form of Court Rolls, but later as Court Books and the copies of Court Rolls (the tenants record of the their rights to hold land) survive in the archives of great estates or in local government or national archive offices. The language of the early records is Latin. During the commonwealth English was used but after the restoration of Charles II many manors reverted to Latin. English only become universal in the late 18th century.

The manor court usually only records the name of the landowner, only occasionally are tenants named. Many of the landowners did not live in the houses that they owned. We have only been able to consistently identify tenants after 1780 when Land Tax records for Hamsey survive. However, when a single tenant is recorded in several properties farm workers or other employees were living in some of the houses, their names can only rarely be discovered.

Sadly the earliest manor court records for Hamsey have not survived. Only occasional stray information dating to earlier than the late 16th century occurs, often surviving because the ownership of the land was disputed and the case went for judgement to the crown. Those records survive in The National Archive.

The Hamsey tenement survey was prepared by Christopher Whittick and we thank him for his substantial contribution to the project.

Hamsey Court Book 1631.
Latin was the language of the manorial courts. English was used during the commonwealth (1651 - 1660) but the courts reverted to Latin after the restoration. The use of English became universal after 1733.

©2007 Sussex Archaeological Society

Tenements - part 1

Tenements - part 2

Tenements List .xls
Tenements .doc (1.7mgs)
Tithe Landowners Map .pdf