Deciphering tales of the terriers

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Rushden research project Hearts & Soles updates Telegraph readers on its work.

Members of the Rushden & District History Society research group Hearts & Soles have recently copied some glebe terriers from the 1700s.

The terriers list each piece of land owned by the church and the parishioner farming the adjoining land.

We are in the process of transcribing these, and the first few are already on the website

The documents were drawn up to record the property owned by the rectory, and some also record the tithes due.

The land had been given to the church by wealthy landowners, and tithes or tenths of crops, livestock and produce were all due to the rector for his work in the church.

Renting out these pieces of land, and the tithes due, were the main income for the rector.

These lands were rarely sold so a parish could be more attractive to a prospective rector depending upon the amount of land it owned, as the income would be greater.

Some rectors were in charge of several parishes.

The glebe terrier had to be produced whenever the bishop sent his representative to visit the church to check that the parish was keeping good records of the baptisms, marriages and burials, and that they were paying the correct fees due to the mother church; in Rushden’s case, this was at Peterborough.

As well as listing each piece of land owned by the church and the parishioner farming the land adjoining, each terrier listed whether the land lay to the east, west, north or south of the church land.

Beyond the village houses were the ‘open’ fields, and these were rotated for certain crops each year, and each was divided into strips so all could have a strip to grow each type of crop.

The details vary from document to document, but those for 1744 and 1761 have a particularly good description of the rectory house and farm buildings at that time.

The website also has more details about the rectory houses.