Medieval Deeds from Chetham’s Library


Many medieval Latin documents from Lancashire remain to be translated. These documents are a little-known treasure chest for the medieval history of the region, Chetham’s Library houses many medieval documents in the medieval former manor house of Manchester.

An aerial/map view of Chetham’s is here.

The deeds below are an example of this rich archive, they are reproduced with the permission of Chetham’s Library

These deeds and many others are mentioned in the CD of the Raines manuscripts scanned by Peter Davenport of the family history Society of Cheshire, great work! Read more about this here.

These deeds refer to land in Spotland, a township in the north-west of the large medieval Parish of Rochdale, in south-east Lancashire. They are part of the large collection of deeds in the Raines Collection, just one of the many unique collections held at Chetham’s.  Special thanks to Fergus for making these scans.


At the bottom of the deeds can be seen the names of the witnesses, usually local landowners.For example, Gilbert de Notton as well as witnesses from Clegg (“de cleg”) and Falinge (“de phalleng”) can be seen in this deed:  raines_e45_bundle1_04.jpg.

Note: These are large files, they may take a while to download.

Download scanned deeds  relating to Spotland, Rochdale from the Raines Collection, Chetham’s Library

Want More?

We are hoping to run some projects in the future, please comment if you are interested.

If you plan to translate these please send me the information so I can link to your translations, thanks.

Published in: on February 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A very interesting and informative website! I’ve always been interested in the history of medieval England. About 25 years ago, my wife and i acquired a small English medieval land deed that, through partial translation on our part, dates from 1409. The towns of Dorsyngham and Sandryngham are mentioned. Medieval Latin is not always easy to translate! The deed seems to involve a plot of farm land and some pigs. The deed is written on vellum and has a sawtooth-cut top edge. There is one small seal on a twist of vellum at center bottom. The seal is very dark in color and about the size of an American penny. The deed looks very much like the long, narrow one pictured on your website. If you are interested, I could scan our deed and, perhaps you can translate it further and tell us more about it.

    • I will try and help, I assume deed refers to Norfolk?

      History of the Area

      ‘Freebridge Hundred: Sandringham’, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: volume 9 (1808), pp. 67-72. URL:
      Date accessed: 16 November 2012.

      On the above link you will find some information about the area, the Queen has a residence at Sandringham. I am sure there is a lot of information about the history of the area and plenty of local experts who will know more about the context of your document.

      Scanning your deed is a great idea, that way experts all over the world can take a look at it. I am no expert in medieval deeds, just trying to point out the wealth of Salford Hundred medieval information that has been overlooked.



      • Thanks for your quick reply! I’m assuming the deed originated in the Norfolk region, as that’s where the only Sandringham and Dersingham I know of, are located. In the medieval clerk’s handwriting, the “e” in Dersingham looked like an “o.” Alternative spellings may also have existed. (“Tudor” was variously spelled as “Tider” and “Tidder” in the 15th century.) I’m very interested in the English medieval manorial system under which the majority of people lived during that era. It would be fascinating to find out which manor contained the small holding concerned with this deed. Maybe the deed-holder was a village official such as, a reeve or a beadle?

        I do know that Sandringham is one of the Royal residences. I’m wondering if the village of Dersingham (“Dorsyngham”) was actually one of the manorial holdings of Sandringham during the Middle Ages, just as the village of Elton, in Cambridgeshire (Huntingtonshire?), belonged to the Ramsey Abbey holdings?

        I’ll have to remember where I have the document stored; we’ve always tried to keep in a dark, cool and dry place so that continuous exposure to light doesn’t fade it. When I find it, I would like to scan it into this site so that others can look it over and possibly uncover more information about it. Please tell me how I can scan our deed and post it here. Thanks for your help, so far.



  2. […] Here’s Stuart’s post with the charter images. […]

  3. I came to this page looking to obtain an example of a deed issued during the medieval times. From your page I learned that they were written in Latin. Being that I’m only able to read English, I was wondering if you could supply a translated copy of such a deed.

    • Fishwick’s history of the parish of Rochdale has some translated sections of deeds. I will write a post giving more examples soon.

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