Photograph of court rolls (NWM 1/1-8)
Manorial records can be rather off-putting to researchers because of the difficulties involved in using them. Their format means that they may sometimes be quite cumbersome to handle.
Perhaps more significantly, though, there are the barriers of handwriting and language. Until 1733, manorial records were kept in Latin. The form of the Latin was often very heavily contracted or abbreviated, and the type of handwriting used would vary from period to period.
Manorial records are not as inaccessible as they might first appear, however. As with deeds, they tended to be highly formulaic and adhere to a very standardised order and terminology.
Users, then, will find that they need some ability to read older forms of handwriting, and that they will need to be familiar with standard formats and vocabularies, but that, armed with this knowledge, they will be able to access a surprising amount of information.
Next page: What can manorial records tell us?