The Norfolk Archives
I had a very interesting day at the Archives recently particularly looking at what were known as the Overseers of the Poor Account Books. These related to the raising of Tithes from the local landowners. In 1828 the rateable value of the Parish was £535 with the tithe set at 2/6p (12.6p) in the pound raising in the order £66/17/6 (66 pounds 17 shillings and 6 pence in old money). The collection and use of this money was managed by the Overseer of the Poor with input by the Church Council. More of Tithes next time.
One thing I spotted was entries such as “boy Welton 2 doz sparrows £1” and “boy Chilvers 3 doz sparrows £1/6/0”. Clearly sparrows were not popular, why?? Today we see pigeons as a pest but then they would have been an important food source so would not have been in the numbers we now see. Sparrows caused considerable damage to growing and stored grain and a considerable range of other crops like fruit and of course could decimate a seed bed. Sparrows as we know are intelligent birds and are hardy, aggressive and immune to natural predators, are prolific breeders with a pair averaging 3 or 4 broods of 4-7 offspring each year. A pair left alone could increase to thousands within a couple of years. Sparrows were clearly a pest and their control and would have been a useful addition to the family income.
Found on the back page of the Vestry book dated Oct 1680. “Collected towards the redemption of English captives out of slavery and bondage by the Algiers £3-16-0”. Research continues……