How to look for records of... Manors

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

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?

Try to find out:

  • the name of the manor
  • the name of the parish and county

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 among 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.

Online records

View a sample of Conisbrough manorial records (Yorkshire) online at the Conisbrough Court Rolls website.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

Land Revenue, Crown Estates and Duchy of Lancaster (from 11th century to 1956)

Search Discovery, our catalogue, by name of manor for records in Office of the Auditors of the Land Revenue (LR), Office of Land Revenue Records and Enrolments (LRRO), Crown Estates (CRES), Duchy of Lancaster (DL) and Special Collections (SC).

Court Rolls

Search our catalogue using the term ‘Court Rolls’ for manorial court rolls which are held in a number of record series. Most pre-1700 court rolls in SC 2 and DL 30 are included in a published work, the List and Index of Court Rolls (Lists and Indexes VI, Kraus Reprint, 1963).

Records in other archives and organisations

Manorial Documents Register

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) identifies the nature and location of manorial records. Read our advice on Using the Manorial Documents Register to search for the location of all known surviving manorial records for England and Wales. The register is partially available online but for areas where it has not been digitised you will need to visit The National Archives.

Records held locally

The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.

Other resources

Websites

Search the British History Online website. This is a digital library created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust containing core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

Look at the Lancaster University and Nottingham University guides to using manorial records.

Books

Read Using Manorial Records by Mary Ellis (Public Record Office, 1994)

Manorial Records by P D A Harvey (British Records Association, 1999)

Dorset Manorial Documents: A Guide for Local and Family Historians by Mark Forrest (Dorset Record Society, 2011)

‘Manorial Records in Cumbria and Lancashire: A User’s Guide’ by Angus Winchester, et al (Lancaster University, 2013)