Villages by Andrew Nicholson


An excellent introduction to the wide range of material available for the study of village history, with many examples of key document types with transcriptions and translations:

A comprehensive guide to sources for researching building history in Nottinghamshire:

Also useful:

There are also a number of WEA publications which contain facsimiles and transcriptions of a wide variety of village records:

A good selection of village records (parish registers and accounts, manorial records, inventories and household accounts, quarter sessions etc) have been published in:


Extract from the Hearth Tax return for Ossington, 1674.

Extract from the Hearth Tax return for Ossington, 1674.

Taxation records are a useful source for village history. Lay Subsidy rolls from the early 14th century list village taxpayers by name and are available on microfilm at Nottinghamshire Archives. Later rolls can be consulted at National Archives and the ‘E179’ database should be searched to see what is available for Nottinghamshire villages:

The Protestation Returns from 1641/2 list all male inhabitants aged over 16 and have been transcribed and published:

Hearth tax records from the late 17th century list householders and the number of chargeable hearths in the house:

Parish records

The standard guide to the wide range of parish records which includes a large number of examples from Nottinghamshire:

Parish registers

The earliest parish registers in the county date from the mid-16th century, following Thomas Cromwell’s Injunction of 1538 that instructed every parson, vicar or curate to keep a “boke or registere” in which should be written “the day and yere of every weddyng christening and burying”.

Parish registers are held at the Nottinghamshire Archives Office. Most can be viewed on microfilm. The most useful guide to surviving parish registers is

Alternatively, use the Parish Register Finding Aid page on the Nottinghamshire Archives webpages to search for relevant records.

Other parish records

Vestry minutes (also commonly called parish or town books), churchwardens’ and constables’ accounts can shed light on the village community in the post-medieval period. The best example in the county is the material that survives for Clayworth in north Nottinghamshire. Clayworth is particularly blessed: The Rector’s Book, a chronicle of local events maintained by William Sampson between 1672 and 1701; The Town Book (recording the accounts of parish officials) covering 1674-1714; a number of wills and inventories also survive for the period 1670-1710. Editions of the Town Book and selected wills and inventories have been published and analysed by an adult education class at Nottingham University:

The Thoroton Society has produced editions of 17th century constables' accounts from Upton and the Gedling Town Book:


From the 1841 Census enumerators’ books record the names, family relationships, ages and occupations of all inhabitants. Microfilm copies can be consulted at Nottinghamshire Archives and Local Studies Libraries throughout the county.

Quarter Sessions

These were Court sessions held four times a year in each County and County Borough. Presided over by a Justice of the Peace early Quarter Sessions dealt with both law and order and the administrative tasks which were later carried out by local government. Quarter Sessions records contain a wealth of information that can add colour and texture to village history. The records cover a fascinating range of issues: meat eating and meat selling in Lent, alehouses, highways, apprentices, poor relief, disloyalty, Quakers, absence from church, vagrants, poaching, chimney taxes, witchcraft, hue and cry etc.

A representative selection of extracts from the archives has been published for both the 17th and 18th centuries:

The Access to Archives website provides a searchable catalogue catalogue of Nottinghamshire Quarter Sessions records.


A personal account of life in Laxton at the turn of the 20th century:

Reminiscences on aspects of village life during the 20th century can be found in:

In 1960, the Nottinghamshire Local History Council held a competition, "The Memories of a Villager ". Entries were received recalling rural life in Arnold, Aslockton, Balderton, Beckingham, Bingham, Blidworth, Blyth, East Bridgford, Upper Broughton, Bunny, Calverton, Car Colston, Caunton, Clifton, North Collingham, Cropwell Bishop, Cropwell Butler, Dunham, Edwinstowe, Farndon, Farnsfield, Flintham, Granby, Gringley-on-the-Hill, Gunthorpe, Harworth, Headon, Hickling, Hoveringham, Hucknall, Jacksdale, Kinoulton, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Kneesall, Lambley, East Leake, Linby, Mansfield, Manton, Ollerton, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Rampton, Ranby, Ruddington, Selston, Shelford, Southwell, West Stockwith, Syerston, Thrumpton, Tuxford, Warsop, Watnall, Welbeck, Whatton, Wilford. The entries were deposited in the Nottinghamshire Record Office (DD. 121/1) and a summary of the entries published in:



Several cartularies, recording the grants of land and tenements in Nottinghamshire villages to monastic houses, have been transcribed and translated:

The cartularies of other monastic houses such as Beauvale Priory, Welbeck Abbey and Felley Priory have not been published; microfilms of the originals can be viewed at Nottinghamshire Archives and their contents are detailed in:

Deeds, manorial and estate records

Extract from a rental for Langar and Barnstone, c.1340.
Extract from a rental for Langar and Barnstone, c.1340.

The vast majority of surviving manorial and estate records are unpublished and are deposited at Nottinghamshire Archives and Nottingham University Manuscripts Department. Manorial records fall into the following main types:

Manorial court rolls contain details of the working lives and activities of the people of the manor; manorial extents “provide the essential topographical and statistical detail as the backcloth to the scene.”

A very helpful guide to using manorial records for research is:

The “standard guide” on medieval estate management and associated records is:

The manuscripts department at Nottingham University has produced a useful online introduction to manorial records:

Use the Access to Archives website to search for deeds, manorial and estate records relating to Nottinghamshire villages:

Although catalogues for some of the major family collections held by Nottingham University Manuscripts Department can be searched on the Access to Archives website, it is advisable to try the department’s own online catalogue as well:

Some Nottinghamshire manorial records have been printed in the Thoroton Society Record Series. The following examples have been translated and published in ‘A Miscellany’, Thoroton Society Record Series, XI, 1944-5:

An extent made in 1431 for Upton, near Southwell, appears in

A very detailed manorial extent for the manor of Hodsock, near Blyth, dating from 1324 has been translated and printed in

An extract from the Mansfield Court Roll for 1315/16, along with a transcription and translation, was published in:

Extents and surveys appear among the inquisitions post mortem (a local enquiry into the lands held by people of some status in order to discover whatever income and rights were due to the crown) that have been translated and published in the Thoroton Society Record Series:

Other useful Record Series volumes are: