How to look for records of... Landed estates
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching records of landed estates. The National Archives is not the best place to start your research as landed estate records are kept in a variety of archives. Instead, start by searching Discovery by family name and then click on the record creators tab – this will tell you which archives hold the information you are seeking. This guide will help you to find other helpful sources of information.
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
Until the 19th century, much of the land and property of Britain was vested in the hands of a few hundred or so elite landed families. These British landowners could potentially hold property stretching from Cornwall to the Highlands of Scotland, and would pass that property from generation to generation. As a result, family and estate collections are almost unparalleled in terms of their range and continuity.
The archives created and gathered together by landowners usually contain records relating to many aspects of local life. Often, these records are held in local archives, but some families still keep their papers in an estate office or at home.
Very often landowners were connected with early industrial enterprises because of the natural resources found on their estates, such as coal and other valuable minerals underground.
Not all estates were confined to the countryside. The records of estates with property in towns show the development of building and housing.
Estate archives can include deeds, leases, rentals, surveys, accounts, maps, architectural drawings, correspondence, household records, wages books other working papers that can help to build up a picture of the people living and working on the estate.