Title deeds show the ownership of property and land. As well as being a fantastic resource for tracing house history, they are also a brilliant resource when researching your ancestors. So what information can you get from title deeds?
Most importantly title deeds contain names! Names of the main parties appear at the beginning of the document and previous owners may be referred to throughout. Previous owners or tenants may well be relatives of the main parties; some properties were tenanted by one family for generations.
As well as the address the deed refers to, title deeds can also include correspondence addresses of the main parties. People didn’t always live at the property they were leasing, so this information can help genealogists discover the property their ancestors invested in compared to the property they resided in.
Occupations of the main parties are also recorded in title deeds. Whilst this information is recorded in the census, people may have changed occupations within the ten year period. Deeds could be signed and dated at any time, helping you uncover your ancestor’s life between official censuses.
Title deeds can also contain personal information such as marital status and relationship information, including spouse’s names. Deeds which refer to the trustees of an estate are particularly useful as they can indicate the type of relationship between the deceased and trustee.
Wealth and affluence
Title deeds can give an insight into the wealth and affluence of an individual. Deeds usually contain information on the value of land or property, as well as the property description including acreage. This information can really paint the picture of what your ancestor’s life may have been like.
If a title deed includes a plan, it may well state the names of the owners of the adjoining land. This allows you to discover the neighbours and potential friends (or enemies!) of your ancestor.
Signatures and seals
Sometimes the most exciting part of an original title deed is the signatures of the main parties and there may be seals too. Each signature needed to be witnessed, so you may get the signatures, occupations and addresses of witnesses too. Witnesses could be a variety of people, including friends, but commonly they were the clerks or solicitors acting on behalf of the main parties.
Title deeds are a fantastic resource when researching genealogy because they can give an insight into an ancestor in a specific time and place, indicate wealth and affluence, fill in the gaps between census’ and potentially show you their signatures and seals. With title deeds your ancestors become people, not just names. Start using our site today and see what you find.