Court Books of the manorial courts of Great Bowden and Market Harborough.

Item date: 1708-1868
Grant Value: £1,270
Item cost: £1,270
Item date acquired: 2021
Item institution: Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland Record Office
Town/City: Wigston Magna
County: Leicestershire

Robin P Jenkins, Senior Archivist, writes:  Despite the restrictions enforced during the coronavirus pandemic, Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office (LLRO) was able – through the generous support of the Friends of the National Libraries - to purchase a small but significant collection of Market Harborough and Great Bowden manorial records covering the period from 1708 until 1868. The collection has been accessioned as DE10001 and a full description may be found in the Record Office’s on-line catalogue.

The seven volumes which make up the bulk of the collection are split between the two allied courts; both in the ownership of the Durrard (or Durrad) and Bliss families, and later the earls of Harborough. As they include the business of both courts leet and baron, the volumes are rich in local names; recording the tithingmen and officials of the court, those concerned in presentments and amercements, as well as many transfers of land. 

More names were recorded on a list of pensioners of the Harborough Charity Estate (and the payments each received) from January 1838, which was found interleaved in the Great Bowden Court Leet book from 1809-1823. Records of the Lords of the Manor of Market Harborough and Great Bowden Charity were already held at the Record Office (ref. DE5233).

Of rather more importance, however, is the fact that this purchase reunites the seven court books with that of the Great Bowden and Market Harborough Manor Court for the period 1804-1827 (which was deposited earlier as DE4067/2); thereby nearly doubling the coverage of the Great Bowden Court Leet in public possession.

This is a particularly pleasing new acquisition. It arrives close on the heels of the Leicestershire (and Rutland) part of the newly updated and improved Manorial Documents Register and also in the wake of the cataloguing of a major deposit of Market Harborough and Bowdens Charity and Town Estate records. This deposit (DE8743) dovetails perfectly with the newly arrived manorial records to provide an unusually complete picture of life in Market Harborough and Great Bowden towards the close of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century and a wonderful field for study. It is perhaps significant that the final item in the collection is a pamphlet, of 1868, devoted to a new scheme for the management of the Market Harborough Town Estate.

We are grateful for the financial assistance of the Friends of the National Libraries and for the attentive support and efficiency of their Secretary, Mrs Nell Hoare.


Item Provenance
Bought from Locke and England (28 January 2021 Lots 322 & 323)