The Manor of Wakefield collection
The manor of Wakefield was of exceptional size, covering 150 square miles in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It included lowland arable land in and around Wakefield itself, and less prosperous upland areas in the Holme and Calder valleys. The manorial records in YAHS's archives collection cover the regular court proceedings from 1274 to 1925 with few gaps, and many other documents. They are truly exceptional, offerring a unique source for studying the development of communities, families, and local economies in West Yorkshire. Their national importance has been recognized by their inclusion on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World register. Here is a guide to these records.
This map, made by John Speed and published c.1620, shows the area covered by the Manor and its surroundings.
Published transcriptions of the Court Rolls
The records relating to the Courts held in many of these years have been transcribed and published either in the Society' Record Series, or as part of a special project lasting from 1977 to 2021. Most of these are available to view on our pages of the Internet Archive. Print copies of some volumes are also still available.
The Court Baron Docket Books - a searchable database
Copyhold tenants wishing to transfer their property to another person formally surrendered their tenancy at a meeting of the Court Baron. The property was then allocated to whoever the surrendering tenant wished to have it and the transaction was recorded in a Docket Book kept by the Court. The Court began keeping these books in 1559 and continued to do so for 240 years to 1799 when methods were changed.
YAHS volunteers have compiled a database of key details relating to each of the 40,000 entries. The database can be searched using the search box below - perhaps beginning by entering a year number to view all the entries for that year. Users should also consult this short introduction which describes the type of information recorded.