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Tithe Award and map, Newbiggin

Since the early Middle Ages, all householders were required to pay tithes to the church assessed at a tenth of what a person earned, grew or produced. Tithes were defined as "the tenth part of the increase, yearly arising and renewing from the profits of lands, the stock upon lands, and the personal industry of the inhabitants." They were usually paid in kind e.g. one in ten of the lambs born each year, a tenth of the hay harvest or one in ten of the horseshoes made by the village blacksmith.


After the Reformation in the 1530s much land passed from the Church to lay owners, who also inherited entitlement to receive tithes. By the early 19th century, tithes in Thoralby, Bishopdale and Newbiggin were payable to John Hutton and Christopher Other, who had leased them from Trinity College, Cambridge.

However, tithe payment in kind seemed a very out-of-date practice, while payment of tithes per se became unpopular against a background of industrialisation, religious dissent and agricultural depression. The 1836 Tithe Commutation Act required tithes in kind to be converted to more convenient monetary payments called tithe rent charges. To make this conversion, a Tithe Survey was undertaken to confirm which land was subject to tithes, who owned it, how much was payable and to whom. The monetary payments to be made were determined by commissioners appointed by the crown.


The tithe apportionment (award) for Newbiggin was drawn up in 1839. The apportionment listed all the fields, woodlands and houses, their owners and occupiers and how much they were required to pay. Of particular interest was the fact that each field was listed by name together with its size and whether it was arable, meadow or pasture. The arable crops of wheat, barley and oats were still being grown in the 1840s, with oats being the prominent crop.

There was a wartime requirement in the 1940s for farms to grow some arable crops, even Dales farms that would normally have concentrated exclusively on livestock farming. Some oats and mixed corn were grown locally, but not wheat because the climate was too wet and cold. Turnips, swedes and potatoes were also grown and kale for animal fodder.

Tithe maps are usually manuscript (drawn by hand) and are often earlier in date than the earliest Ordnance Survey maps. They show all the fields and houses, giving each a number.

Click on the button below to view a transcript of the tithe apportionment and map for Newbiggin.

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