Your favourite documents: an unexpected find

As part of our 75th anniversary celebrations this year, we recently asked you, our users, to nominate your favourite ERO documents. Thank you very much to those of you who have sent in nominations so far – today we bring you the next in a series of your favourites.

Today’s nomination comes from Paul Mardon, a member of the Essex Place Names Project, and is a map of part of Prittlewell dating to 1825 (Q/RHi 4/49). It is a good example of finding information in unexpected places:

I began working as a Recorder on the Essex Place names project in 2008. My first parish was Prittlewell, the historic centre of Southend. The Tithe Map proved to be disappointing in terms of place name information , so I began to research other maps hopefully to find more data.

This record consists of a map & accompanying order approved by Justices of the Peace at a special session in Rochford in December 1825. They record an agreement to stop up a footpath (1092 ft long by 4 ft wide) running through three fields on the south side of East St, Prittlewell. What appeals to me about this record is the exquisitely & precisely drawn coloured map which accompanies the decision. Why was so much care taken with this when a simple sketch map would seem to have been adequate? Even more surprising is that this little map has survived to the present day in such excellent condition. The colours have faded slightly but what would you expect after nearly 200 years. I think this record also illustrates that the treasures we are so fortunate to have at the ERO are not just of the great & the good but on so many occasions give us an insight into everyday lives of ordinary people.

G/RHi 4/49

G/RHi 4/49 (click for a larger version)

One of the documents accompanying the map tells us that the path was being stopped up because it was ‘useless and unnecessary’, and also gives us the professions of the three landowners named on the map: Thomas Lindsell was a wheelwright, and William Carr and William Cockerton were farmers – another good example of finding information about individuals in unexpected places, especially in pre-census years. Each signed their names to agree to the order stopping up the path.

G/RHi 4/49 

If you would like to nominate your own favourite ERO document, we would love to hear from you. Simply download this form, and return it to the Searchroom desk or by e-mail to hannahjane.salisbury[at]essex.gov.uk. There are also paper copies available at the Searchroom desk. Nominated documents may be featured on this blog or in displays at our open day on Saturday 14 September 2013.

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