Skip to main content

The Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society

Since 1863

For everyone interested in Yorkshire's past

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.


You can scroll through all of the data here in this PDF

A plan to conserve the 18th Century rolls

Whereas medieval and some later Rolls were recorded on parchment, a relatively durable material, by the 18th century the Manor used only paper which has proved very vulnerable to decay. Parts of some pages have already crumbled to dust and some rolls can be handled only with the greatest of professional care. As a result the Society commissioned a survey to assess the condition of the 18th century rolls and then appointed West Yorkshire Archives Service to conserve two rolls.  The process used is called Leaf Casting, and our Hon Treasurer Kirsty Cox filmed and edited this video of conservator Katie Proctor at work.