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Tracing the history of your house

Copyhold property, wills and probate inventories

Copyhold property

Manor court rolls and books record the transfer of copyhold land, by sale or by inheritance, from person to person. The records may begin as early as the mid-13th century.

They commonly survive from the 17th century up to the abolition of copyhold property in 1925. They are usually in Latin before 1733.

Entries describe the property, giving the names of the new and the previous tenant, as well as the date when the previous tenant was admitted. It is therefore possible to trace the property back, owner by owner.

Many manor court rolls and books are on microfilm. Other records of a manor may include surveys which describe the land belonging to the manor, plot by plot. Rentals (lists of tenants and the rents they pay) may also describe individual properties.

Manorial records held by us are listed in the places card index and in the draft list of Norfolk Manors ('Mandy') in the searchroom. Many are included in the online catalogue (opens new window). Some manorial records are still in private hands.

The Manorial Documents Register (opens new window) contains information on the whereabouts of many manor court rolls and books. We also have guides to help you read and interpret manorial documents.

Wills and probate inventories

Bequests in wills may mention houses or other property. Probate inventories list and value household furnishings and other goods of the deceased, often room by room.

See our guide to wills and probate records for detailed information on how to use and access these documents.