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    Cradley Links

    Return of Owners of Land (1873)

    We present a list of Cradley residents owning one acre or more of land in 1873, extracted from The Return of Owners of Land of that year.

    Cradley Links wishes to record our sincere thanks to Mr Rod Neep of The Archive CD Books Project for his generous permission to extract information from their CD edition of the Return of Landowners and to reproduce excerpts.

    We can highly recommend the products of The Archive CD Books Project for anyone interested in historical documents which are in many cases unavailable from any other source.

    We are also aware that the Returns of Owners of Land 1873 are published on microfiche for many counties, including Worcestershire, by the West Surrey Family History Society.

    The Return of Owners of Land was compiled by the Government in response to widespread claims that the 1861 Census and other sources showed that land ownership was being increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very small class of the population. The survey was prepared by the Local Government Board, and published in 1875 as The Return of Owners of Land, 1873. The Return listed by county the owners of all land holdings, in acres roods and square poles, and estimated yearly rental income, of all holdings over 1 acre. The survey, sometimes called the New Domesday Book, is the most valuable source of information about the extent and concentration of land at that time.

    The Return was analyzed and various entries verified and corrected by John Bateman, whose Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (Bateman, 1883) provides the most accurate and accessible summary of land ownership in the 1870s. Bateman's analysis shows that the land of England and Wales, exclusive of London, of roads, Crown woods, wastes, commons, etc., and properties of less than 1 acre, amounted to 32,862,343 acres, and was owned by 269,547 persons. If properties of less than 10 acres are omitted, there remain 32,383,664 acres, owned by only 147,564 persons. Slightly more than 2,000 persons owned half the agricultural land of the country.

    Estates of over 1,000 acres (usually implying annual rental income of over £1,000) in England and Wales were owned by just 4,217 individuals, but accounted for 56.3% of cultivated acreage. Indeed, the 1,688 "great landowners" with 3,000 acres or more owned 43.2% of England and Wales. 75% of the country was owned by just 7,000 families. Moreover, the Return omitted urban property holdings in London: had these been included, the richest landowner in the 1870s would have been revealed to be the Duke of Westminster (who owned Mayfair, Belgravia and Pimlico), with an annual income of over £300,000, while the income of the Duke of Bedford (who owned Bloomsbury and Covent Garden) was £250,000 (Rubinstein, 1981, p. 194).

    Not a lot changed in the next 120 years. The Northfield Report of 1979, the last major survey of land ownership in this country, showed that 1% of the adult population of Britain owned 70% of the land and that 1300 individuals owned 33% of total land area.

    Returning to the 1870s, and to Cradley in Worcestershire, the survey shows that 40 persons (including two Companies and some Trustees and Representatives) with addresses in Cradley own land in the County comprising lots of one acre or more. However, in addition to the general explanation of the nature and results of the 1873 Return given above, certain other aspects should be borne in mind when using the data for family or local history purposes:

    1) Whilst the extent and value of the lands owned by each landowner is given, unfortunately the location is not. The names listed are of people owning land in the county and their home addresses, which are sometimes outside the county or even the country. Thus, a Cradley address may mean ownership of land not in Cradley but elsewhere in Worcestershire. Similarly, for example, one Cradley resident and industrialist, Noah Hingley, is shown as owning a small acreage in the County, but his company Noah Hingley & Sons is listed by the Netherton address of his main Iron Works and whilst the acreage of the land holding is not stated in this case, the rental value is high.

    2) The different rental values relative to acreages may owe much to the different accounting and financial reporting methods used in the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors of the economy.

    3) The names and/or addresses listed may be inaccurate or incomplete. For the Return as a whole, information had to be supplied in respect of nearly 150,000 parishes containing about 5,000,000 separate assessments. The first examination of the returns disclosed nearly 250,000 defects, which were subsequently cleared up by correspondence and other means of inquiry. The end result may still not be entirely accurate. Thus, we notice that the Cradley solicitor Jeston Homfray (at a Halesowen address), is listed as Feston Homfray. Other mis-spellings may be more significant and less obvious.

    4) Some of the 40 Cradley land owners listed below are almost certainly residents of the other Cradley, in Herefordshire. The 1873 Return does not distinguish between the two places. Three examples will suffice:

    (i) The surname JAUNCEY is not a familiar surname in Cradley. In fact, the national index of the 1881 Census lists 186 persons with that name, of whom 69 were born in Herefordshire and 55 were resident in Herefordshire, 5 of them in Cradley (not the Black Country Cradley in Worcestershire). There are no Jaunceys living in Cradley, Worcs. in 1881. The Miss Jauncey listed under Cradley in the Return may be one of the retired Jauncey sisters Mary or Sarah living at Hacker House in Cradley, Herefordshire.

    (ii) Similarly, the surname SHAPLAND is not known to us in Cradley (in the Black Country). The 1881 Census has only 564 persons with that surname nationwide, of whom 340 were born in Devon and 280 were resident in Devon. In that year there was only one Shapland family in the whole of Worcestershire and they lived in the south-west of the city of Worcester, some 5 miles from the county boundary with Herefordshire. Once again, the land owner John Shapland is more likely to have been resident in the other Cradley.

    (iii) A third example is Rd. YAPP, a listed owner of land in Worcestershire, and resident in Cradley. The 1881 Census has no-one of that surname living in Cradley in the Black Country. However, it does have Mary Yapp, a 61 year old widow, living with her Cradley, Herefordshire-born daughter Frances and son-in-law Joseph Wm. Webb, a landed proprietor, at Ridgeway House, Cradley, Herefordshire. Richard Yapp, the listed landowner, may have been her late husband.

    These examples should serve as a general reminder to researchers to be careful to distinguish between these two places. Notwithstanding these cautionary notes, we hope the following data will be helpful.


    Population in 1871 . . . 338,837.

    Inhabited houses . . . 69,988.

    No. of parishes . . . 242.

    Name of Owner Extent of Lands. Gross Estimated Rental.

    Title page of the Return of Owners of Land (1873)

    A.R.P. £ s.

    Adams Jabez 1 2 6 38 2

    Adams Thomas 1 3 20 5 -

    Aston, James Wood 4 - - 143 12

    Aston, James, & Co. 1 1 17 137 10

    Aston, Lucy 7 2 0 93 -

    Attwood, William 4 1 35 54 18

    Bloomer, John 1 - 39 60 10

    Bloomer, Josiah 1 3 2 213 6

    Bullock, William 1 3 13 5 5

    Charity, Trustees of - 7 3 36 59 -

    Grice, John 66 2 35 99 10

    Haden, John, Reps. of 5 3 4 17 -

    Hill, Jas. 2 1 6 3 -

    Hill, Thomothy, Reps. of 45 1 19 147 -

    Hingley, James 9 2 34 107 10

    Hingley, Joseph 1 2 - 40 -

    Hingley, Noah 2 2 18 327 -

    Hingley, Samuel 1 - - 80 -

    Hipkin, Henry 6 1 28 206 10

    Homer, Mrs. Harriet 1 1 29 71 10

    Homer, Richard 18 1 0 37 10

    Homer, Thomas 2 1 4 164 2

    Homfray, Dd., Reps. of 24 1 16 300 5

    Jauncey, Miss 290 - 7 408 9

    Jones, Mrs. 2 3 11 12 -

    King, Brothers 3 1 23 23 10

    Lee, Thomas 5 2 20 30 -

    Leonard, James 19 1 35 121 15

    Leonard, Samuel 25 3 21 215 10

    Leonard, Saml., & ors. 17 2 - 49 7

    Little, T.H. 393 - 35 589 11

    Pargeter, Miss., Trustees of. 329 1 1 564 13

    Pateshall, John 4 2 38 61 -

    Pearson, Ambrose 3 2 39 32 10

    Shapland, John 70 - - 187 -

    Tate, William 1 - 24 46 -

    Tibbetts, J., Reps. of 42 2 25 201 4

    Webb, William 12 1 13 21 10

    Wood, Thomas 26 3 11 205 15

    Yapp, Rd. 86 2 15 119 5

    We invite anyone with a knowledge of any of the above landowners to submit brief genealogical and biographical details about them to Cradley Links for reproduction on this page.

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