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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 89  1974  page 109
The Tithe Commutation Surveys in Kent  By Roger J.P. Kain, B.A., Ph.D.

These names may appear as occupiers in the tithe apportionments and the houses should be marked on the accompanying map.
   The classification of land-use is the most equivocal schedule of apportionment information. The exact nature of the criteria by which a piece of land was assigned a particular state of cultivation in the apportionment will remain something of a mystery until a systematic search of field surveyors’ papers has been made. What is clear beyond doubt is that the system of mapping by conventional signs proposed by Lieut. R. K. Dawson was not widely employed.29  This means that corroboration of the state of cultivation is rarely found on the face of the tithe map. Woods, gardens, hops and the like could be unequivocally identified in the field and were frequently marked on the maps. But the distinction between permanent grassland and rotation grasses was not always as clear-cut. It is important to know how the tithe surveyors and valuers tackled this problem.
   At first sight, the tithe commutation act provides an answer. Land which was judged to have been ploughed within the previous three years for crops, rotation grasses, or fallow, was to be regarded as arable. Grassland and leys which had not been under the plough for three years were to be recorded as grass.30  Even if these instructions were strictly followed, problems of interpretation remain in those counties, like Kent, where convertible husbandry was practised in the mid-nineteenth century.31  Although

what the tithe surveyors recorded as arable may not be what modern surveyors would record as arable, we may be fairly sure that it was what local contemporaries would have understood by the term. A field survey was needed in order to apportion tithe rentcharge equitably over various classes of land in a parish. Accuracy was essential. The value of tithes was normally assessed at one-fifth of the arable rent and at about one-eighth or one-ninth of the grassland rent. The difference in value of grassland and arable tithes thus amounted to almost a tenth of the rent or even more in some parishes where moduses of only sixpence or a shilling an acre were applied to grasslands. Because considerable sums of money were involved, it is probable that an accurate identification of arable land would be made in terms of contemporary interpretation of the word. This process has been neatly put by F. D. Hartley: ‘On the one hand the parson and the lay impropriator would claim their due; on the other
   29  ‘Copy of Papers Respecting the Proposed Survey of Lands Under the Tithe Act’, P.P.S(H.C.), xli (1837), 383; ‘Report of Select Committee. . . best mode of effecting the Surveys of Parishes’, P.P.S(H.C.), vi (1837), 77.
  
30  William Eagle, The Acts for the Commutation of Tithes in England and Wales, London, 3rd edition 1840.
  
31  See, for example, the problems encountered in T. R. B. Dicks, The south. western Peninsulas of England And Wales: Studies in agricultural Geography, 1550—1900, unpublished University of Wales Ph.D. thesis, 1965

Page 109

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