Family tree Insights – a day in the world of #Manorial Records

I thought an insight into what a typical day of a genealogist looks like would be of interest. In this case it involved additional research for the #Wigston’s in #Barwell, building on the information already gathered, dating from around 1806-1852.

Not all research can be done online, unlike the impression of many popular TV family history programmes, sometimes success comes with some good old fashioned paper-based research. My first step was to establish if Barwell was a Manor which I had researched previously by searching online, which indeed it is. The next step had been to check The National Archives’ (TNA) Manorial Document Register which identifies the nature and location of manorial records – after all there is no point in searching for something which doesn’t exist!

Sadly, #Leicestershire had not been part of the set computerised so I submitted a query email to TNA who identified two sets of documents that exist for the period I was interested in. My next step was to check the online catalogue of the Leicestershire County Record Office and this confirmed the documents which the TNA had listed…plus many more.

Armed with this background information my day starts with a trip to the Leicestershire County Record Office in Wigston. For those that have not visited it before, it is a real treasure trove and well worth the trip. You will need to take some ID with you to gain entry and don’t be afraid to seek guidance from the staff.

Using the document references established online I then requested the documents of interest, two at a time. These manorial records are really useful as they contain records of (amongst other things) tenancy transfers through the generations and court hearings in the days before local government and a national legal system. It takes time to go through each of the documents which can be lengthy, written in poor handwriting and use unfamiliar language.

However, it was worth it as I found a John #Wigson as the court foreman in 1845 (spellings often vary from place to place and over time), Jane Wigston who was a widow in 1794 and another John Wigston (might be the same one) who is described in 1806 as a framework knitter married to Amey, who occupies an orchard which he took on from Thomas Robinson.

John and Amey were new to me so when I returned home in the afternoon I used the information from the manorial records to look them up in the 1841 census online and sure enough they were there living with Elizabeth Mires. Compared to later census’ 1841 is light on detail so I searched a later one, 1861, and found John living with Elizabeth Mires who turns out to be his unmarried niece, who is deaf.

From one piece of preparation work, a visit to the County Record office and then some online follow up research I have been able to define four or five new candidates to join up with the other research on the Wigston’s of Barwell. Sometimes you put in the hard work and get nothing and other times you unlock a raft of invaluable information. This was a comparatively small victory but valuable none the less.

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