Bill explained, were drawn up in respect of land disputes in the
16th century that had reached court. Decisions had to be made
regarding the dispute and a map was an important factor in the
decision making process.
Bill’s research covered 39 maps that are held in the National
Archive, Kew. Records show that between the years 1500 to 1650
more dispute maps and plans were produced in Lancashire and
Yorkshire than anywhere else in the country. The earliest map,
dated 1522, covered Staining Carr, near Blackpool.
Bill explained the differences between the County Palatine of
Lancashire and the Duchy of Lancaster. One of which was that the
land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, the monarch, covered areas
not just in the county palatine but around the country.
The duchy’s chancellor in terms of any dispute would issue
instructions to ‘make a perfect plot’ so the court could
understand the case. In court, where the chancellor sat, would
also include a plaintiff and a defendant and legal
representatives. Maps would be drawn up by the adversaries and
provide the court with different viewpoints, different
perspectives, in short, truth and lies.
A third perspective was required to get a true picture of the
area concerned. These evolved from first a sketch map, to a
picture map then to a scale map. The duchy appointed
commissioners to view the disputed area, meet in church with
witnesses and gather statements that could influence the
Bill showed many examples not only of these third perspective
maps but also the adversarial maps.
Examples showed maps with detailed pictorial information that
included such things as churches, archery butts, mills, barns
and conyclappers (rabbit breeding places).
Disputes occurred where there was a lack of landscape features
such as hills and rivers, indeed, natural markers. Consequently,
many of the 39 dispute maps Bill analysed were in the west of
the county. One such was the area of Leyland Moss, an area used
for peat digging and the 10 townships that surrounded it. He
compared the map of Wymott Moss c1570 with a modern map of the
area to demonstrate who well it was drawn.
Bill concluded an enlightening evening by stating these maps
were not quaint artefacts of purely antiquarian interest, not
for decoration, not just a footnote in the history of
cartography but was a valuable source of history.