How to look for records of... Manors
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching records of manors. Manorial records are incomplete and are kept in a variety of archives. This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists, and if it does where to find it.
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?
The manor was the principal administrative unit of medieval landed estates and its business was carried out in the manor court before the steward. Manors varied in size but were administered by their lords as a single unit.
Manorial records are a vital source for local, social, family and economic history. They hold information on local agriculture, the resolution of disagreements between tenants and the transfer of property amongst tenants.
In the case of urban manors, records contain details of markets, trade and industrial developments. They can also tell us a great deal about the community living in the manor, its social structure, households and the local economy.
The survival rate and comprehensiveness of manorial records varies. Records from one manor alone can be scattered across a number of archives and institutions as well as being held by private individuals and organisations.
Until 1733, manorial records are likely to be in Latin and, both before and after that date, in handwriting that can be difficult to read.
The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) identifies the nature and location of manorial records. Sections of the register are available online – see the Manorial Documents Register project page for further details. You can search only the data held within the Manorial Documents Register by using the new MDR home page within Discovery, our catalogue.