To understand fully the wealth of detail in manorial court records, we need to access the surviving records of historical geography. These are often chance survivals, whose attention to detail, scale and topography vary in accordance with the purposes of the map. Even when one has apparently located a particular place on a map, it is not always identical to the historical reference in question, since many places, even quite close to one another, can be called by the same name, and not every place is a precise geographical grid reference location.
This map is an historical geographer's composition of the parish boundaries of the deanery of Doncaster, in the archdeaconry of York. The ecclesiastical parish represents one of the most stable historical entities from the central middle ages onwards. It is important to keep in mind that townships (which appear in the manorial records) had different boundaries, and that civil parishes (created in the nineteenth century) are often configured differently. In this map, we have coloured those ecclesiastical parishes in which the manor of Conisbrough was known to have rights and jurisdictions in the late middle ages (c. 1400). This is, then, an approximation of the extent of the manor.
The tradition of preparing maps on a county-by-county basis in England dates back to the early seventeenth century. The quality of the cartography and the precision of the details varied enormously, but by the second half of the eighteenth century, well-qualified surveyors were capable of producing county maps which are useful for elucidating features mentioned in manorial court records. In this instance, the map was prepared by the surveyor John Take, originally published in 1787, and in this example republished in 1816.
One of the major customers for land surveyors in the eighteenth century were significant regional landowners. Estate maps were needed in order to keep an account of the tenants of an estate and estimate the values of the properties in question. They also served as a means to indicate on which portions of property mortgages and entails had been arranged. Finally, they served a vital role in the division of an estate at a moment of inheritance.
This is one of a series of estate maps produced for the owner of the Warmsworth estate, which was in the manor of Conisbrough. This series of maps was produced following the survey in 1755 of the Warmsworth estate by the noted Sheffield surveyor William Fairbank II (1730-1801) for John Battie, esq., the owner of the Warmsworth estate. In due course, John Battie's son, also John, married Isabella, heiress of William Wrightson of Cusworth, inheriting that estate as well in 1760. He changed his name to Wrightson upon that inheritance, and the Cusworth estate (as it became known) continued to own the area on this map, Butterbusk Farm, until January 1958. These maps provide a wealth of agricultural and ecological detail with which to interpret the manorial court records.
This is a plan of the Conisbrough estate compiled for Charles Alfred Worsley, 4th earl of Yarborough, and Marcia Amelia Mary, countess of Yarborough and Baroness Conyers, lords of the manor of Conisbrough 1889-1935.
This estate plan was drawn up in 1901 by Henry Fowler of Manchester. It contains a detailed depiction of the changes experienced in Conisbrough by that date, along with acreage and history of ownership of particular areas of land.
This map of the Crookhill Hall estate, surveyed in February 1770 by B. Armitage, provides a rich source of detail to assist with the interpretation of manorial court records. Field names, locations and acreage are given, along with the hall and buildings, pond, orchard and garden, allowing a comprehensive view of the estate and its setting.
The Crookhill Hall estate was the property of Jon. Woodyear, esq. in 1770. It is now partly used as a golf course. The hall was used as an isolation hospital after the sale of the estate in 1926 and was subsequently demolished.