Manuscripts and Special Collections

Windows on the community

Illustration showing two reapers at work in a field, published 1898 

Husbandmen: Engraving dated 1799, from Andrew W. Tuer, Pages & pictures from forgotten children's books (1898-1899) from Briggs Collection, PZ 6.P2

The records of the Archdeaconry court take us directly into the lives of local communities.

On an individual level, genealogists and local historians can discover details about ancestors and local parishes, in some cases pre-dating the evidence of parish registers. On a broader scale, historians can detect social and economic patterns, or chart the development of religious belief and dissent.

One example of a specific area of interest lies in the record of occupations. A large number of trades were cited in the records, sometimes restricted to rural or urban communities.

Blacksmiths were found wherever there were horses. Ostlers worked at large inns, and were found in Mansfield and Lenton, and on the Great North Road at Tuxford. Most villagers worked on the land and were described as 'yeoman', 'husbandman' or 'labourer'. Millers and servants of all kinds were present in every community.

Some of the occupations in the list were specific to their location: the colliers in Cossall and Trowell were the ancestors of the coalminers who worked the coal seams there until the 20th century.


Illustration showing reapers in a field, with another man bundling up the hay, published in 1847

Reapers at work, From Thomas Miller, The Country Year Book (1847) from Briggs Collection, LT 210.SM4

Illustration of a hairdresser combing the hair of his client, who is sat reading a newspaper, dated 1799 to 1808

Hairdresser: Engravings dated 1799-1808, from Andrew W. Tuer, Pages & pictures from forgotten children's books (1898-1899) from Briggs Collection, PZ 6.P2



Occupations mentioned in the Presentment Bills

Occupation Parishes
Alderman Nottingham, Newark, Sneinton, East Retford
Apple seller Bothamsall
Barber Mansfield, Nottingham
Beggar Sutton Bonington, Rempstone
Bellfounder Nottingham
Blacksmith Gotham, Winthorpe, Sneinton, Nottingham, Skegby, Flawborough, Elston Chapel, Staunton
Carpenter Edwinstowe, Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Lenton, Mansfield, Littleborough
Codder [leatherworker] Sutton-cum-Lound, Trowell, Clarborough, Newark
Collier Cossall, Trowell
Cooper Lenton
Dyer Nottingham
Falconer Hawton, Mansfield
Fisherman Littleborough
Gamekeeper Clipstone
Glover Mansfield, Nottingham
Horse-dealer Everton
Mason Screveton, Mansfield Woodhouse, Kelham
Ostler Mansfield, Lenton, Tuxford
Ploughwright Boughton
Shepherd Trowell
Shoemaker East Retford, Mansfield, Basford, Nottingham
Skinner Nottingham, West Retford
Surgeon Nottingham
Tanner Blyth, Mansfield, Nottingham
Vintner Mansfield, Nottingham
Weaver Nottingham, Selston, Boughton, East Markham, Holme Pierrepont, Arnold, Mansfield
Wheelwright Sutton-cum-Lound, Nottingham

Some cases before the court concerned defamation, or slander. Accounts of the charges describe arguments between neighbours, giving verbatim accounts of the outspoken exchanges. Perhaps some of the insults shown here should be brought back into popular use?

17th century insults recorded in the Presentment Bills

  • 'I pray to god thou mayest lye above ground as blacke as a toade'
  • '[he] lied in his throat'
  • 'a very bould impudent and a clamourous woman'
  • 'Thou art a naughtie fellow, thou diddest never anye good in this town'
  • 'you are a swaggerer'
  • 'dunce asse calfe blockhead and foole'
  • 'villaine and Rascaldy knave'
  • 'scurvie pawtrie knave'
  • 'base rascally preist lowsye slave'
  • 'filthy and scurvy Cockes combe'

The records live most vividly when they refer to individual people. One fascinating aspect of study lies in the personal names listed. While the majority bore familiar names - William, John, George, Mary, Elizabeth and Jane were constant favourites - others were given more unusual first names. Are any of these perhaps due for a revival in the 21st century?

Personal names

  • Eaglemore Soresby (Ruddington, 1601)
  • Zenolphus Slight (Epperstone, 1608)
  • Aticrust Cragg (Shelford, 1609)
  • Fortune Smith (Gonalston, 1620)
  • Swillington Tayler (Sutton Bonington, 1620)
  • Brice Campion (Cotgrave, 1620)
  • Gillibauld Pee (Car Colston, 1626)
  • Tempest Dobson (Littleborough, 1637)
  • Inkersall Heslabie (Treswell, 1638)
  • Patriarch Kempe (Wysall, 1663)
  • Baptist Rowbotham (Selston, 1664)
  • Leicester Boot (Barton in Fabis, 1668)
  • Barefoot Booth (North Wheatley, 1673)


Next: Belief and Persecution


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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