No 09: Who Owned Rutland in 1873? Rutland Entries in Return of Owners of Land 1873, by T H McK Clough (2010)


Transcript of the Rutland section of the 1873 Return of Owners of Land, with notes on most of the 563 entries. Analysis of who they were, where they came from and what they did. Special sections on Lyddington parish and on a mysterious group of small landowners with strong Gloucestershire connections. Illustrations, tables, index of addresses (60pp).

In the early 1870s there were serious social concerns that too much land in Britain was in the hands of too few major landowners, and Parliament carried out a survey to settle the matter. The result was the publication of the Return of Owners of Land 1873 in two massive volumes. The survey lists for each county all those identified as holding an acre of land or more, where they lived, how much they held, and the notional rental value. Despite errors and omissions, the Return is a mine of information about the people of each county, and Rutland is no exception. We learn who the county’s landowners were, where they came from – many lived outside the county – and what they did.

In the case of Rutland, there were four principal landowners, the Earl of Gainsborough of Exton with over 15,000 acres in the county, Lord Aveland (later Earl of Ancaster) of Normanton Park with 13,600, the Marquess of Exeter of Burleigh House with 10,700, and G H Finch of Burley-on-the-Hill with just over 9,000. Between them they owned over half the county. Twelve others owned more than 1,000 acres, leaving just 25% of the county divided between the remaining 1,400 owners, of whom 861 had less than 1 acre and so do not appear individually.

Even though the Return records details of only some 2.5% of the county’s total population at the time, it does afford a fascinating view of the landowning element of its society, and can be used alongside other sources such as Census returns, trade directories and parish records to build up the wider picture, making it a very useful document and of great interest to the local and family historian.

There are special sections on the parish of Lyddington and on an intriguing mystery concerning a group of minor landowners with strong associations with Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire, but apparently holding small plots of land in Whissendine.

The author, Tim Clough, was Curator of the Rutland County Museum and Oakham Castle from 1974 to 2002 and is the Rutland Local History & Record Society’s Honorary Editor.


Supplied by: Rutland Local History & Record Society

Format: Book

Product Ref: RLH-44