The Chief Rents of Moretonhampstead, 1639 – 1840: how to use a problematic source.
An illustrated talk by Dr Ian Mortimer on Thursday 2nd September 2021 at 7pm in The Devon Rural Archive.
Imagine you had an annual directory listing everyone who owned or lived in every property in your town from the early 17th century to the 19th, how wonderful that would be! In borough rentals we have almost that – a list of all the freeholders, leaseholders or tenants paying the chief rent on a property – EXCEPT that none of the said rentals state exactly who was paying for each house. Sorting out who lived where is thus a problem of immense complexity. However, the potential rewards are so great that it is worth the undertaking. If we can interpret these documents accurately we can work out much more than simply who lived where. We can chart the expansion of the town and the subdivision of individual properties. We can date the built fabric of subdivided plots with greater accuracy. We can start to provide a social context for the houses – who built which structure and when and why. This, therefore, is a talk about overcoming very difficult archival research problems as much as it is about borough rentals.
Dr Ian Mortimer has edited two volumes of 17th century documents, and written 11 history books, the guide to the literary archives in the University of Exeter Library, 28 peer-refereed research articles, one volume of poetry, four novels and a book about the meaning of running. Between 1991 and 2003 he worked for a succession of archive and historical research organisations, including Devon Record Office, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts and the universities of Exeter and Reading. He has also served as a member and officer for many heritage organisations. Ian is best known, however, as the author of The Time Traveller’s Guides series, the fourth of which, Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain, is nearing completion.
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Doors open at 6:30pm for complimentary refreshments and a chance to explore the Archive.
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