This gives a valuation of the crops grown and describes the house, its farm buildings and fifty-two acres of land. Other information can be found in the Inland Revenue Valuation Office Survey, taken between 1910 and 1915, otherwise known as the Lloyd George Domesday. This assessed the value of land and property across the country. The original assessments and maps are held at The National Archives (TNA), but copies of the valuations can be found in local offices. Also held at TNA is the National Farm Survey. This was undertaken during World War Two to assess the productivity of farms, and includes an enormous amount of information such as the type of farm, buildings and who owned and occupied the farm. Parish records such as churchwardens’ and overseers’ accounts and poor law papers frequently include references to the ownership or tenancy of properties.
One of the criteria for gaining a settlement in a parish was to have owned or leased property over a certain rateable value. Thus, when Mary Hall, of St Clement in Ipswich, was examined as to her settlement by parish officials in 1799, she stated her husband Daniel had occupied a farm in Battisford and Ringshall and a tenement in Battisford in Suffolk, in which he lodged & which she hath heard he was the proprietor of’. A revealing insight into how young children were used in agricultural labour can be seen in a newspaper report on the death of eight-year-old Joseph Gowen of Butley in Suffolk, who died of an apoplexy while employed as a labourer to frighten birds off a corn field. Many examples of accidents also feature in local papers, such as the report originally found in the transcripts to the Beccles and Bungay Weekly News on GENUKI of how Frederick Downing lost his thumb and three fingers in an accident in 1862 while working on a steam sawing machine. While the growth of newspaper collections online has made it much easier to find such accounts, I still check the indexes and published collections in local record offices and local history libraries. In doing so I often find something that has not yet made it online. Or, a related story catches my eye that I might otherwise have missed.
For instance, an entry in the card indexes to newspaper reports at Bury St Edmunds record office, referring to the assault on gamekeeper William Otley in January 1796, gives us a glimpse into other aspects of rural life. As does the conviction of Edward High, of Salthouse in Norfolk, for night poaching in April 1891 and the diary entry of Parson Woodforde in 1786 which recorded that: Poor Tom Twaites of Honingham who was beat by the Poachers at Mr Townshends the other day is lately dead of the Wounds he then recd. Parish registers frequently include comments on local and social events. One such case is the burial register for Thompson, Norfolk in 1776. A reference to the death of twelve-year-old Daniel Jonas of the parish of Thimblethorpe’ [Themelthorpe] has a condemnatory tone. It describes in detail how he froze to death while driving cattle to London because his master had sent him out in the cold without proper clothing. In most cases little survives in the way of individual employment records for agricultural workers, except perhaps on some of the larger estates.