Women and Property 1785-1789 dataset: North Riding Register of Deeds

Published: 6 August 2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/8bzht8y42x.1


Research hypothesis was to use the Registers of Deeds for the North Riding of Yorkshire (held at North Yorkshire County Record Office, Northallerton, England) to advance knowledge about women's involvement with property transfer and the wider property market in the 18th & 19th centuries. Registers began in 1736 and ceased in 1970; there are 89 Index Ledgers and 2,328 Deeds Registers. The system for recording data changed in 1885 so one Index Ledger was selected from pre/ post this date and 100 years apart to incorporate impact of Marriage Acts. Stage 1 - Two Index Ledgers were transcribed in full: 1) Index of Lands Vol 9 (1784-90) covers a seven-year period and contains 6,868 unique transactions (31,966 lines); and 2) Index of Lands 1885-1889 covers a five-year period and contains 14,481 unique transactions (52,741 lines). Each line represents a person's name. Core data from Index showed Township, unique reference and names of parties, but the 18th century Index Ledger did not show date of transaction or all parties. To analyse by gender this information was required so was added by using the Deeds Registers. Information from the individual Deeds Registers was then used to add to the core datasets: Stage 2 - The gender of all parties ('male', 'female' and 'not applicable' (for businesses) was added. Stage 3 - The usual residence, occupation (if any), marital status and any details of family relationships or inheritance rights of every women was added. Stage 4 - The 18th century dataset was then reduced to a five-year period covering 1785-1789 ONLY to provide a direct comparison with the 19th century dataset. Comparative analysis by: gender, marital status and number of transactions. Each transaction has a unique reference number but can contain multiple parties and cover more than one township. To identify the true number of transactions, the data had to be controlled for these factors. A control for uniqueness was also required for those individuals and organisations involved in multiple transactions and to avoid assuming that everyone with the same name was actually the same person. Where women were involved, additional data e.g. marital status, residence or family relationships was used to differentiate between like women. 1785-1789 findings include: distinctive patterns of female property involvement by gender and marital status. Married women represent more than 50% of female transactions despite having little, if any, legal status (coverture). Although 2,086 women transacted during this period, only 1.39% did so without husband's involvement; this increased to 45.47% by 1885-1889 period, reinforcing that Married Women's Property Acts were beginning to make an impact, treating married women as if 'feme sole'. More parity of involvement across marital status groups in 1885-1889 data, with spinsters' involvement increasing the most (from 17.58% to 31.37%).


Steps to reproduce

Data was transcribed from Index Ledger Vol 9 (1784-1790) into Excel using column headings for: Township/ Place Name, Additional Information, Unique Ref (Volume, Page, Number), Party Surname, Party Forename, Title. Additional column headings were added for: Date, Gender, Marital Status, Occupation, Family, Usual Residence. Each line represents a person within a transaction. Used 'data sort' facility, formulas and filters within Excel to carry out analysis and transferred results into separate overview spreadsheet for ease of reference (see example). For comparative analysis with 19th century dataset, only data for 1785-1789 period required; all data for 1784 and 1790 removed to create 1785-1789 dataset. For women with the same name, each one scrutinised to establish likelihood of being the same woman or a different woman. If different, name adjusted by punctuation after surname e.g. Smith. Smith..


Teesside University


Inheritance, England, Land Ownership, Women's History