manorial records

Manorial records provide a huge amount of information about the history of Colne and survive sporadically from 1425 (the earliest court roll) and consistently from the 1490s until the 1920s when the manorial system was wound-up.

The Manor of Colne – included Great Marsden  – was part of the Honor of Clithoroe, and was dealt with alongside the Forest of Trawden.

Details of what survives can be found in the Manorial Documents Register. The vast majority can be seen at Lancashire Archives in the Assheton of Downham collection, reference DDHCL.

Court rolls are the most important type of manorial record. It was at the court, which took place twice a year at Colne (Easter and Michaelmas), that all sorts of business was conducted and recorded in the rolls, including presentments and judgements about wrongdoing by the lord’s tenants, the appointment of officials, and the transfer of copyhold land. As the manor was almosty entirely copyhold, the rolls are, in effect, a kind of land registry for the town. Property was “surrendered” to the lord by the person conveying it and the lord “admitted” the new owner (for a fee). The new owner received a copy of the court roll entry to prove ownerhsip – hence copyhold.

Importantly, an index survives to the Colne surrenders 1660-1926, and this can be searched online here. Simply enter the personal name you are interested as Any Text and select “Honour of Clitheroe Indexes” from the “look in” field.

The rolls prior to 1733 are typically in Latin and so can be quite challenging! Luckily, those prior to 1568 have been transcribed and translated in The Court Rolls of the Honor of Clitheroe in the County of Lancaster, Vol 1, 1897, by William Farrer (with name index). It is available online and here are some links to specific entries: