Manorial documents

The Manorial Documents Register Project for Cornwall funded by The National Archives began in January 2020, with the project Archivist based at Kresen Kernow. The project will continue until the end of August 2022 to list Cornish material held across the UK in other repositories and material further afield to create a database of Cornish manors and manorial documents. As part of our project, we’ve been researching the history of Cornish manors and this information will be available via our online catalogue later on this year.

The Manorial Documents Register for Cornwall can be found here: Manorial Documents Register (nationalarchives.gov.uk) and provides a detailed and accurate index of where manorial documents can be located. Researchers can 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.

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, environment, 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.

To see more of our Marvellous Manorial Documents, you can view our online exhibition here: Marvellous Manorial Documents – Kresen Kernow

To learn more on the manorial right of wreck franchise, please see: The Right of Wreck – The National Archives blog

To read more about how manors and mining are related, please see: Manors, Mining and the G7 – The National Archives blog

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

For any questions about the project or Cornwall’s manorial holdings please email kresenkernow@cornwall.gov.uk.