summaries are of much earlier date. At Bicknor the summary was obtained
from ‘an old survey’, while at Maidstone it was computed ‘from an
A recent statement about the summaries has been made by
Elwyn Cox. He considered that although the actual acreages may sometimes
be inaccurate, the proportions of arable, pasture, wood and the like are
stated with reasonable accuracy.26 It is possible to make
some further assessment of the accuracy of the summaries by comparing them
with land-use data obtained from the schedules of apportionment. The
schedules describe the state of cultivation and list the measured acreage
of every parcel of land. By summating these it is possible to obtain an
accurate summary of the total acreage of various types of land in a
parish. Such a comparison has been made for a sample of 41 Kent parishes
containing 93,570 acres, or 9.4 per cent of the county area. A null
hypothesis was set up to the effect that there is no difference between
the tithe-apportionment estimates and the summated totals from the
schedules of apportionment. A non-parametric Wilcoxon matched-pairs
signed-ranks test was employed and for each class of land use the null
hypothesis was accepted.27 This confirms Cox’s belief
that there is no systematic bias towards over- or under-estimation of the
acreage of particular categories of land. While for most parishes the two
sets of data show a close correspondence, there are some discrepancies
for example, lead to an incorrect classification of parishes in
detailed choropleth mapping. With blocks of parishes, inaccuracies
cancel each other out; for individual parishes errors may be very real.
For the purpose of the tithe act, an owner of land meant any
person in the actual possession or receipt of the rents and profits of land,
so it is almost certain that some mortgagees and tenants for life were
assumed to be owners at tithe commutation. In reply to a question about
whether the Tithe Commission investigated a person’s interest in a parcel
of land, Wiffiam Blamire, a Tithe Commissioner, replied, ‘Oh dear, no!28
A check on the names of occupiers listed in the apportionment can be
made with parish rate books. Rate books not only list the names of occupiers
of land but record the acreage of their holdings. A further check is
provided by the census enumerators’ books compiled by the censuses of 1841
and 1851. These record, house by house, the names of everyone living
in a parish or enumeration district at the time of the census and, in 1851,
also record the acreage of farms.
25 P.R.O. I.R.18/3506, 3699.
26 E. A. Cox, An
agricultural Geography of Essex c. 1840, unpublished University of
London M.A. thesis, 1963, 41.
27 S. Siegel, Nonparametric
Statistics, New York, 1956, 75—83.
28 In evidence before
Registration of Title and Sale and Transfer of Land Commission, P.P.S(H.G.),
xxi (1857 2nd session), appendix D.