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A view from inside Conisbrough Castle.

The form above allows you to search all material, just a certain type of material or a specific document. You can search both by subject category and individual word. The spelling of township names has been regularised throughout, but personal surnames have been left in the original spelling and variant spellings are common.

The Database

Items for the database have been chosen from a vast number of surviving records relating to Conisbrough manor in order to provide examples of the wealth of material available for local historians and family historians, as well as serving as a valuable resource for social and economic history. Samples have been chosen to cover different types of resource and a broad chronological range, from the entry for Conisbrough in the 1086 Domesday Book to a survey of Conisbrough and Conisbrough Park in 1805-06. Records include tax returns, rentals, and a summary of statistics from the parish registers of Conisbrough.

The Conisbrough Manor Court Rolls

In particular, the database includes translations of a few rolls from the large set of surviving court rolls for Conisbrough manor. The manor court rolls provided a formal record of the proceedings of the manor court and could be consulted for matters of fact and of precedent in difficult cases. The Conisbrough court rolls are a very fine series, with a complete run of registers from 1717 to 1935, many of which are indexed for personal names. Before that individual court rolls survive for many years, especially from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. The earliest roll is that of 1265, from the reign of King Henry III. Good series of rolls exist for the years 1310-1329, 1399-1401, 1452-1574, 1600-1611, 1620-1624, 1632-1660 and 1700-1716. In addition, there is a fine series of suit rolls covering the years 1671-1675, 1688-1699, 1706-1749 and 1790-1796. These list all those tenants who owed suit of court and were bound to appear before the court, those who offered essoins and those who were fined for default.

The court rolls include details of land transfers, names of jurors and officers of the manor and of townships, private litigation brought to the court and presentments for offences. They provide a rich resource for local and family history, with a wealth of genealogical information given in land transfers, along with topographical details: field names, streets and lanes, cottages, mills, shops, woods and quarries. There are clues about interpersonal relationships, the working of the open field agricultural system, crops grown and animals kept. The court rolls are especially valuable because they provide information about individuals in the lower levels of society, those who are unlikely to appear in other historical records except, from 1538, as names in parish registers. Conisbrough is fortunate to have such an extensive survival of rolls; for most manors the survival is patchy or nonexistent.

The Specimen Rolls

A few rolls have been selected for translation to provide "snapshots" of the material available. The years chosen are those that can be related to well-known historical events: the Black Death (1348/50), the Peasants' Revolt (1381), the accession of Richard III (1483), the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536) and the Gunpowder Plot (1605). Where survival has permitted, the translation covers the calendar year, January to December, incorporating material from two adjacent rolls (rolls run from October to September).