Tom Grimes, President, writes: This book was purchased by Spalding Gentlemen's Society for its archive collection using a generous grant from FNL. It is a manuscript of 206 pages and has four sections. The first three are acre books of Pinchbeck (1595), Spalding (1617) and Cowbit (1640), all written in different secretary hands. The fourth section consists of seven pages of indexes compiled in the 19th century. The sections were bound into the book in the early 19th century.
Each of the acre books shows the areas of the lands and their owners. The Pinchbeck section also shows the tenants of each land holding. The book has been digitised, and will be transcribed in due course. We expect the information to be useful to genealogists as well as to historians of farming in the area.
Acre books were compiled for tax purposes. The ownership of the land was recorded with the information needed to calculate the taxes payable by each owner. This was particularly important in the low-lying areas of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, where the landowners benefitted from the work of the authorities who managed the drainage and raised taxes to facilitate their work. These authorities were known as the Court of Sewers, where the word “sewers” is used to mean waterways, whether natural (rivers and streams) or man-made drains or canals.
It is clear from some of the annotations in this volume that the Court of Sewers retained and used these records, although some may have originally been collected as a joint enterprise by some of the leading landowners of the area.