An explanation of the Sarratt Tithe Map.

The Sarratt Tithe Map of 1842, lodged at the Hertford Record Office, was borrowed for the 800th anniversery celebrations exhibition and was displayed in a specially made case now housing The Friends information in the church in the base of the tower.

The Hertford Record Office has another copy of the Map, belonging to the Diocese and a further copy is at the Public Records Office at Kew. Both these copies are in perfect condition but the parish copy has been in Sarratt for 146 years and its condition is certainly not pristine. Daylight and continuous reference over the years has dulled the surface but proves its part in the village.

A brief explanation of tithes: they were the payment of a tenth part of the produce of the land, allotted to the maintenance of the clergy and other ecclesiastical purposes. They might be the one tenth of a crop which were stored in Tithe Barns, or work carried out on glebe land, or a mixture of the two. The system was further complicated by divisions of tithes into ‘great’ or ‘small’. The ‘great’ were tithes of major crops like wheat and oats or ‘small’ – the minor produce of pigs, lambs and chickens.

In 970 AD. King Edgar enacted penalties for the non-payment of tithes when they, therefore, became a civil as well as a religious sanction and over the centuries they frequently caused resentment and friction between the priest and his parishioners. This may have been the reason for the following entry, dated 11 July 1575, in the Hertford Assize Records:-

“FYRON, RICHARD, gent., PHILLIPS, RICHARD, yeoman, and KYNDLEMARSHE, RICHARD, yeoman of Sarratt, indicted for forcible seizure. On 8 May 1575 they, with others unknown to the number of eight, forcibly seized Sarratt vicarage, 3 acres of meadow, 40 acres of arable and 4 acres of woods, all belonging to William Edwards, vicar of Sarratt, whom they desseised from 8 May until the date of this indictment.”

The verdict is unknown but William Edwards was succeeded as Vicar in 1575 by Ralph Turner.

The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 helped to ameliorate these ancient grievances by stopping payment in kind and tithes were commuted for an annual money payment in lieu of tithes which depended on the varying price of corn.

The Tithe Map identifies each house and plot of land with a number and its accompanying Index gives the names of the occupier, the owner, and the type of property and its use, the size of the land and the value of the tithe payment to the vicar. In 1842 it was William John Moore who later added “Brabazon” to his name.

The last page of the Index details the corn crop for the year:-

Wheat – 2990 bushels @ 7s 0¼d per bushel

Barley – 5300 bushels @ 3s 11½d per bushel

Oats – 7630 bushels @ 2s 9d per bushel

The tithe of one-tenth amounted to an income of £315 to the vicar, out of which he had responsibility for part of the church fabric, especially the chancel, and other expenses for the parish.

The tithe system has been gradually phased out and now, in England, there is no such thing as tithes. Their abolition has been replaced by a stipend to the vicar, paid by the Diocese. The offerings of the parishioners now go in part to the Diocese to contribute to the stipend while the remainder maintain the practice of religion in the parish and uphold the fabric of the building, although in Sarratt`s case this is now funded by The Friends.

The Tithe Map and Index give us a unique picture of how Sarratt looked in 1842, plus its inhabitants and landowners. For the transcript of an article giving an insight into the village at the time of the Tithe map please click on "Glimpses of Sarratt`s Past - the Village in 1842" under this "History" section.

NOTE: The Tithe Map was printed in 1842 but the original survey was carried out in 1840.