Description of the Documents

The freeholders books comprise 64 slim volumes filed with the records of the Devon quarter sessions. They vary slightly in size, but the 1751 list is typical. It consists of a single foolscap volume of watermarked, off white laid paper covered with marbled paper. It can be assumed that the lists were compiled annually and that the volumes for some years have not survived. The lists are organised according to hundred, with the hundreds entered in alphabetical order. Devon contained 33 separate hundreds, and an 'artificial' hundred consisting of the manor of the Duchy of Lancaster.58 The entries for the Duchy can usually be found at the end of the volumes. Within each hundred, names are arranged by parish, with the parishes generally listed in no particular order. Likewise, no effort has been made to order the names alphabetically. The words "Freeholders Book Michaelmas" followed by the year are usually entered on the inside of the front cover. The names are then entered in two columns on each page of the volume. It seems likely that a scribe was employed to write out the entries, which were then checked and signed by the deputy clerk of the peace.

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  1. Roberts, Recovery and Restoration, 76. [back]