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Manorial Documents Register (MDR)

Nature of Source

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is a catalogue and register of known surviving manorial court documents across Britain, identifying the nature and location of the records. The register was established in 1926 following the abolition of copyhold tenure in 1922 and is held at The National Archives on behalf of the Master of Rolls. Many people still had an interest in copyhold lands and would need access to manorial documents after 1922. For this reason, all manorial documents were put under the charge of the Master of the Rolls who set up a committee who set out to establish the existence of each manor and the whereabouts of the manorial documents. Initially the register was for the sole use of those with a copyhold interest. However the register is now available for inspection by the general public on microfilm in the reading rooms at The National Archives.

The register is arranged by county and then by manor within each county with a separate parish index showing which manors lay in which parish. Searches can be undertaken either by the name of the manor or by the name of the parish. The records include court rolls, accounts, surveys, maps, rentals, terriers and other manorial documents.

Some indexes from the Register are available online at the MDR website located within the Discovery catalogue. The available counties include all of Wales and the counties of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cumberland, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Lancashire, Norfolk, Lancashire North of the Sands (part of Cumbria since 1974), Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, Westmorland and Yorkshire (the three Ridings). For updates on the indexing progress see the progress map. You can also browse the alphabetical list of manors.

Always check with County Record Offices for their own listing of locally known manorial documents. Rentals are particularly useful as they can be used for tracking admissions of copyhold tenants and freehold transfers. The MDR also enables the user to identify which parishes are covered by which manor. The register only covers records generated by the manorial courts so do not include title deeds and other estate records.

TNA Research Guides:

Accessing the records of the Manorial Documents Register
Manorial documents and lordships and how to use the Manorial Documents Register
Manors
Manors: further research

See also:

Court Baron/Customary Records
Court Leet Records
Estate & Family Records
Maps & Gazetteers
Palaeography/Handwriting
Surveys: Custumal, Extent, Rental & Terrier

Where Found

The National Archives Open Reading Room and online at http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/manor-search

Period Covered

1250 - 1977

Genealogical Value

Gateway to the whereabouts of information on individuals such as birth, marriage and death details and their property tenures, especially before parish records and registers began.

Online Databases