Manorial documents

The Manorial Documents Register Project for Cornwall funded by The National Archives began in January 2020, with the project officer based at Kresen Kernow. Work continues in 2021 to list uncatalogued collections, Cornish material held across the UK in other repositories and material further afield to create a comprehensive database of Cornish manors and manorial documents.

Manorial documents are protected by law as they contain proof of title to copyhold land. The manorial documents were placed under the protection of the Master of the Rolls in 1924 who issued the first Manorial Documents Rules in 1926. At the same time he ordered a register to be kept recording the individual nature, ownership and location of the documents, this was the original Manorial Documents Register.

Manorial records include court rolls, accounts, rentals, surveys, maps, terriers and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, rights and customs of a manor. These records hold a great source of information about local communities and places and can provide details on topics such as family history, finance, agriculture, crime, property and land ownership. They date from the 12th to 20th centuries and offer an insight into parts of our history where few other records have survived.

The updated online Manorial Documents Register for Cornwall will go live in the summer of 2022 and will be more detailed and accurate than the original paper indexes, improving both the quality and quantity of the information provided. Researchers will benefit from wider access to this resource wherever they are in the world, enabling them to search for manorial records by manor, parish, type of record, or by date, and identifying the relevant records.

For help understanding some of the more common manorial terms or information on further reading, please see our Glossary of Manorial Terms.

Further information about the Manorial Documents Register can be found on The National Archives’ website . For any questions about the project or Cornwall’s manorial holdings please email

You can watch films about many items in our collections, including several manorial records, on our YouTube channel and please check our What’s On page for events relating to manorial documents and the project.