Neeson’s commoners

wisley common

I’ve just done a deep reading of J. M. Neeson’s now classic study of enclosure in Northamptonshire, Commoners, Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700-1820 (Cambridge University Press, 1993).

neeson book cover

It’s important to come back to influential texts to see why they were so significant in the historical field. What I enjoyed the most on the re-read was Neeson’s polemic. It is possible to write a detailed social and economic study grounded in deep archival research, while still having an overall message and a ‘feel’ for history that is less tangible and evidence that is read between the lines.

Enclosure and its impact is very difficult to capture holistically. By its very nature, it was local, dependent on local landowners, tenants and social structures specific to the village or the farm to be enacted. The acts and petitions are local. Economic and ecological conditions are local. So summarising and generalising a national picture is hard to do, and something I’m still grappling with.

Neeson points to the groundedness of private conceptions of property and agriculture today. She notes ‘imagining how commoners lived off the shared use of land is difficult in an age such as ours when land is owned exclusively and when enterprise is understood to be essentially individual not co-operative’. ‘The historians’ excuse is distance’. (p. 6-7)

This is a polemic against previous historians who took the descriptions and the values of the voluminous writings about agricultural improvement and the benefits of enclosure at face value. Improvers and enclosures argued that enclosure was necessary to increase national agricultural productivity; numerous pamphlets and parliamentary debates portrayed commoners as idle and inefficient, and common rights in decline. Neeson spends the rest of the book disproving this view. She takes the side of the local and the commoner, arguing powerfully, ‘the historian’s job is not to argue the national interest’ (p.7)

Neeson’s main conclusion, set out on p. 223, based on evidence from the land tax records, is that ‘high rates of turnover, a striking contraction in the size of original holdings, and an absolute decline in the number of small owner occupiers, landlords and tenants, were common in Northamptonshire at enclosure’.

Her study of resistance to enclosure highlights the now infamous West Haddon riots, which started disguised as a football match, an important symbol of the defence of old customs and community. She picks up on the more intangible elements of popular resistance, which are now common to protest historians infused with the work of James C. Scott on ‘weapons of the weak’, and Keith Snell on ‘deferential bitterness’. This is where historians, she argues, lose their conviction and rely on numerical evidence for protest, in the forms of numbers of signatures on an anti-enclosure petition or the instances of overt riot.

Yet Neeson also looks for less tangible evidences of hostility and bitterness. Hence, as Nicola Whyte has also indicated, we should not focus on the ‘special case’ or most extraordinary instances of riot and resistances, which as the Otmoor rising in Oxfordshire in 1830, or other similar large expropriations of common land (p.287).

[but NB the 2018 protest against roadbuilding in Otmoor: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16340941.otmoor-riots-road-protesters-take-inspiration-historic-uprising/ ]

Rather, it was a deep hostility, set in place, and long lasting, that was the impact and legacy of the smaller enclosures that are buried in the archives and newspaper reports. Again, somewhat intangible, Neeson suggests that social classes were already dividing and increasingly hostile to each other before enclosure. But ‘until enclosure it was masked by other relationships born of customary agricultural regulation and shared use rights over land’ (p. 290). Enclosure exposed and deepened these divides, and created hostility and bitterness that was ‘as corrosive of social relations as signing a petition or pulling down fences’, (p. 291) and indeed lasted much longer.

military requisitioning of commons and public space

kenley MoD sign

growing bibliography on the continuing hold of the MoD on land that they requisitioned for the war efforts.

Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley and Chris Pearson, ‘Defending nation, defending nature? Militarised Landscapes and military environmentalism in Britain, France and the United States’, Environmental History, 16: 3 (2011), 456-91

Marianna Dudley, ‘Traces of Conflict: environment and eviction in British Military Training Areas, 1943 to Present’, Journal of War and Culture Studies, 6: 2 (2013), 112-126

commons regulation as ‘accumulation by dispossession’

city of london post

I’m reappreciating Alun Howkins’s study of parliamentary enclosure in the 19th century: ‘The Use and Abuse of the English Commons, 1845– 1914’, History Workshop Journal, 78 (2014), 107–32

Howkins argued that historians have focused generally on the process of enclosure prior to the 1845 General Inclosure Act, (J. M. Neeson’s excellent Commoners, Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change ends in 1820) and that much significant enclosure occurred in the second half of the 19th century. We know of many of these enclosures where the campaigns were whipped up by the new commons preservation movements and by enigmatic popular leaders such as John de Morgan, and/or ended in violence and the pulling up of hedges and railings, especially at the metropolitan commons.

wisley common
Wisley Common, August 2019

But another key point made by Howkins is of the significance of commons regulation. The 1876 General Inclosure Act and later legislation allowed local authorities to set up commons commissioners and/or byelaws to regulate the use of commons. Indeed, the 1913 Select Committee into the Commons argued that regulation was preferable to enclosure as it would prevent overstocking the pasture (the main complaint and often the main reason for enclosure) and allow commoners to continue using the common while retaining the lord of the manor’s other rights (e.g. to minerals and gravel).

select committee report 1913

Howkins pointed out, however, that regulation was just another form of privatisation of common land rights. The commissioners were often self-selecting from among the local elites, and decided which rights would be maintained by whom. The ostensible hope of the 1913 select committee that both commoners and the lord of the manor would be satisfied was a pipe dream given the still very stratified nature of rural society. The Committee admitted that people who used the common for gathering ferns for fuel or ‘pasturing geese’ but were not commoners would be excluded, and therefore recommended, ‘if such privileges have existed for a long period they should be continued as a right’. But again, this would have been very unlikely to have been enacted.

Regulation was therefore just as much about ‘accumulation as a form of dispossession’ that Doreen Massey found was enacted in enclosure. The primacy of property and class was upheld by byelaws and commissioners.

Coulsdon common byelaws
Coulsdon Common byelaws, 1954, still in place

Coulsdon Commons in Surrey is a City of London common (there’s another story about how these came into being…). https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/city-commons/coulsdon-common/Pages/default.aspx

Here are the byelaws from 1954, posted up on noticeboards around the site. (full version PDF: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/city-commons/farthing-downs/Documents/Coulsdon-commons-byelaws.pdf)

e.g. ‘gambling, betting, playing with cards or dice, fortune telling, begging, brawling, quarrelling, fighting, cursing, swearing, being drunk, using indecent, disgusting or improper language, selling indecent books or prints or being otherwise disorderly, committing any nuisance or wilfully or designedly doing any act contrary to public decency, or which comes within the meaning of section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 (5 Geo IV cap 83) whether such act shall have been or shall be committed with intent to insult any female or not’ is punishable with a fine.

Coulsdon Common byelaws
Coulsdon Common byelaws

I do wonder how many times the commons are driven and any non-commoners’ animals impounded into a pound. Here is the list of fees:

list of fees coulsdon common
Coulsdon Common list of fees

most radical street? exhibition moved to new homes

You can see one of the panels of my People’s History Museum exhibition, ‘The most radical street in Manchester?’ in its new home, the Lakeside Cafe, Boggart Hole Clough Park, Manchester. https://www.facebook.com/LakesideCafeBoggartHoleClough/

It describes the contest over the park in 1896-7 between the council and the ILP and other socialist groups.

boggart hole clough cafe
my exhibition panel, and preparations for Christmas…
Boggart Hole Clough
Boggart Hole Clough, 11 November 2019

The other panels are now at Manchester Communication Academy, Harpurhey, with my fab contributor Amanda Rogers, who has mapped the names of the Collyhurst War Memorial.

manchester communication academy

[mapsmarker map="3"]

the book

some thoughts on emerging chapters of the forthcoming book.

‘For the People’ day of talks, Manchester, 9 November 2019

for the people flyer 9 nov 2019

The Modernist Society are holding a super day of talks on the democratisation of design in mid 20th century Britain.

Litter and street furniture including bins are an integral part of public space. I am speaking about the anti-litter campaign in Britain, from the Anti Litter Leagues of the 1920s to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign from 1951-77. I will also be discussing the changing design of litter bins in public spaces.

What do attitudes towards litter tell us about 20th century British society? How were the preservation of the countryside groups involved? Why were the women’s institutes so heavily involved? Why was it so associated with royalty? What do their story tell us about notions of Englishness, orderliness and patriotism?

Booking page for the event: http://modernist-society.org/events/paul-mellon-talks

advert for my talk 9 Nov

Peterloo bicentenary commemorations 2019

Friday 16 August

reading the names of the dead, 16 August 2019
16 august 2019
Peterloo commemoration, 16 August 2019
choir lyrics marching for liberty
X-tinction rebellion group climb the steps of Manchester Central
choir and x-tinction rebellion in front of Manchester Central

Saturday 17 August

middleton march to manchester
Martin Gittins leading the Middleton march to Manchester, 17 August 2019
by the Our Sam group
Middleton marchers pay their respects at Sam and Jemima Bamford's grave, Middleton churchyard, 17 August 2019
picture by Rebecca, @HousinghHubNorth, Middleton marchers pay their respects at Sam and Jemima Bamford’s grave, Middleton churchyard, 17 August 2019
sign to Luddites and Sam Bamford, Middleton
sign to the Luddites and Sam Bamford, Middleton
people en route from Middleton
en route from Middleton
Smedley Cottage site
site of Smedley Cottage, where Henry Hunt stayed. The playground behind was an orchard garden.
river irk by Angel Meadow
River Irk, en route between Smedley and Angel Meadow
“Conkers, meet concrete” advertising hoarding for Angel Meadow development
unity is strength banner at St Ann's Square
Image courtesy of @lilliasworld . Middleton contingent reached St Ann’s Square, 17 August 2019
liberty and fraternity banner, Deansgate
following Hunt’s procession route down Deansgate, 17 August 2019
carrying the Middleton banner down Deansgate, 17 August 2019
cacophany orkestra
Cacophany Orkestra, 17 August 2019
Sheffield Juxtavoices perform the Riot Act, 17 August 2019

Sunday 18 August

Tandle Hill memorial
Peterloo memorial Tandle Hill
memorial tandle hill
Peterloo memorial, Tandle Hill, Royton
Tandle Hill, Royton
Tandle Hill, Royton
tandle hill memorial
opening and blessing of the memorial
memorial, Tandle Hill
Robert Poole
Robert Poole giving an impassioned speech about the Green Belt

The most radical street in Manchester? exhibition on now at the People’s History Museum

20 July-22 September 2019

Go take a look on the 2nd floor at my exhibition on sites of protest and political meeting in Manchester and Salford

Maps available on this page: http://historyofpublicspace.uk/exhibition/

exhibition poster

Part of the #Peterloo2019 commemorations

With contributions by Amanda Rogers, Community Project Officer, Manchester Communication Academy, Harpurhey

Graphic Design by Gray Associates, www.gray-associates.co.uk

Funded by the British Academy and the University of Hertfordshire

Opening event and talk: Saturday 20 July

Drop-in session and fun with maps: Saturday 10 August

Radical roams: Saturday 21 September

For more details see https://phm.org.uk/exhibitions/the-most-radical-street-in-manchester/

Let us know about your radical streets – give us your stories in the guestbook, or feedback at: www.historyofpublicspace.uk/feedback/

Images in the exhibition used with permission from: John Rylands University of Manchester; Working Class Movement Library, Salford; Manchester Archives and Local Studies; Once Upon a Time, Manchester Communication Academy; The National Archives, Kew. Thanks especially to Janette Martin of JRLUM.

me at the exhibition
Thanks to Harriet of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign for taking this photo

Where did people hold political meetings in Manchester and Salford?

The main sites of protest and political meetings in the 19th century included Stevenson’s Square, St Peter’s Field, St George’s Fields (off Oldham Road), and Granby Row Fields (now by the universities). The Chartists held ‘monster’ meetings on Kersal Moor, Salford. The local authorities held civic and anti-democracy events on St Ann’s Square and Ardwick Green.

Democratic societies before and after the 1819 Peterloo Massacre hired meeting rooms in George Leigh Street, Ancoats, and Bibby’s mill, New Islington. Later the Chartists and Socialists had their own buildings, including the Hall of Science off Deansgate (now near where the Museum of Science and Industry is) and Carpenters’ Hall (near the Medlock).

In the later 19th century and 20th century, trade union and female suffrage demonstrations were usually held on Albert Square and Platt Fields.

Who were the Chartists?

The Chartists came after the Peterloo radicals. They were the biggest movement campaigning for the vote for working-class men in 19th century Britain. Working people of all genders and ages were involved. They presented three massive petitions to parliament (a ‘People’s Charter’) in 1839, 1842 and 1848, demanding democracy and reform of the representative system. Though the petitions were rejected, the movement laid the basis for the modern parliamentary democracy today.

Two leading Manchester Chartists lived at number 69 Cropper Street: Daniel and his brother Maurice Donovan. They were delegates to the Chartist National Convention in 1842 and 1848. Daniel was president of the powerloom weavers’ union, who led the ‘plug’ strikes in 1842. He was arrested in 1848 for leading the Manchester branch of the Irish Confederates, who fought to repeal the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. 

Why Cropper Street?

Cropper Street and Back Cropper Street were built off Oldham Road in Collyhurst in the first decade of the 19th century. Cropper Street later became known as Osborne Street. It was in the Irish Catholic area.

The two streets remained isolated from the other streets, separated by St George’s Fields, even in the 1840s. The terraces were cut across by two railway lines. Generations of radicals and trade unionists lived on these streets – do you live there now? Let us know!

Who lived on the street?

No 17

Edward Williams(on)

Batter, signed the 16 August 1819 petition,

Cut with a sabre at Peterloo

No 36

James Cowscroft, aged 23, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer

Signed the 6 August 1819 petition

No 63

Henry Bickerstaff, signed the 6 August 1819 petition

Ann Bickerstaff, age 22, ‘thrown down and trampled on and so much exhausted as to be carried off the field for dead’ at Peterloo

No 65

John Pendleton, aged 24, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer

Elizabeth Pendleton, subscribed to Chartist National Rent in 1839

No 67

John and Edward Philips, aged 24 and 19, weavers, 1817 Blanketeers

Sons of Edward Philips, arrested in 1812 for taking part in a reform meeting

No 69

Daniel and Maurice Donovan, delegates to the Chartist National Convention 1842 and 1848, president and secretary of the powerloom weavers’ union during the 1842 Plug strikes. Daniel was arrested in 1848 as leader of the Irish Confederates.

What was the Round House Chapel?

The Round House chapel on Every Street, off Great Ancoats Street, was built by Reverend Dr James Scholefield (1790-1855). He was a Peterloo veteran, preacher and doctor, and follower of William Cowherd, ‘the founder of vegetarianism’. The chapel opened on the anniversary of Peterloo in 1823. The Working Class Political Union held their meetings here during the 1831 Reform Bill agitation. Trade union and Chartist meetings were held here, as well as a radical Sunday School. A public meeting about the Tolpuddle Martyrs took place there in 1834. 

The Chartists erected a monument to Henry Hunt in the burial ground in 1842. It was unveiled by Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor on the anniversary of Peterloo. Hunt’s monument only survived a few decades before it fell down.

From 1897 to 1963, the old chapel was used by Manchester University for their Settlement, where students lived and volunteered among the working classes. The Round House was demolished in 1986. The foundations and gravestones still exist – go and see them!

millstone grit vs chalk

chanctonbury ring view

I am an upland person. I grew up surrounded on three sides by the foothills of the southern Pennines. I am shaped by views of Blackstone Edge, its dark millstone grit, from afar and up close, approaching it from the ‘Roman Road’ packhorse trail.

blackstone edge
Blackstone Edge, Tour de Yorkshire, 2014

I do not get that longing that many people have to be by the sea. The sea scares me. I find lowlands, particularly fens and estuaries, disquieting. Flatlands, where a building or a tree blocks a whole view. Hills, in the near distance, are comforting. The horizon, and the promise of a climb to a good vantage point to survey the landscape. A trig point.

In an earlier blogpost I quoted from Ted Hughes,

“You could not escape the moors. They did not impose themselves. They simply surrounded and waited. … And however rarely you climbed to investigate them in detail, they hung over you at all times. They were simply a part of everything you saw. Whether you looked east, west, north or south, the earth was held down by that fine line of moor…”

Ted Hughes, ‘The Rock’.

That’s exactly what it is like, albeit from the ‘right’ side of the Pennines in Rochdale rather than from Hughes’ Calderdale perspective.

My article on the public enquiries into the Super Grid pylons from Blackstone Edge to Belmont Moor in the 1950s similarly unpicks some of the relationship residents of south-east Lancashire have with the Pennines. Even though they are often bleak, scarred by mining or quarrying, devoid of trees or even of much ecological diversity (thanks to aristocratic grouse-moors), and though many parts are still out of reach for ramblers (thanks again grouse-moors and the military), residents nevertheless still feel part of the landscape. They see the views as amenities in themselves.

I am northern, and this is my landscape. But something draws me to southern downlands and chalklands. The southern English dominance of perceptions of landscape in writing (thanks Thomas Hardy) and art reifies these landscapes the most: the undulating grassy knolls of downland, the white chalk brightly in relief against a summer sky. It is a land of ridgeways, ancient tracks, long barrows and iron age hill forts, tors and white horses, druids and Romans. A land of morris men, green men, harvest customs and folksong. All the features that Victorian antiquarians and archaeologists revelled in uncovering and dissecting. It is southern.

“This landscape remembers. It remembers every footfall and wheelrow, and bears each of these as lines, on its face.”

Justin Hopper, ‘Chanctonbury Rings’.
chanctonbury rings Justin Hopper

This could be a quote from C. L. Nolan, antiquarian recorder of Hookland. But it is a line from ‘Chanctonbury Rings’ by Justin Hopper, the prose-poem/piece that he narrates about the iron age hill fort on the south Downs in West Sussex, accompanied by music by Sharron Kraus and the Belbury Poly (Ghost Box Records, 2019).

We saw Hopper and Kraus perform the album at state51 Conspiracy and Ghost Box’s ‘midsummer night’s happening’ on 21 June. It was a little incongruous, as it took place in state51 conspiracy’s performance space in an old industrial building in Shoreditch, which though they did their best to create a magical Pan-like world inside the hall, was as far as you could be from a chalkland ridgeway.

The next day, therefore, we felt drawn to Chanctonbury Ring itself. It was a perfect midsummer’s day, hot with a sharp long sun and bright blue cloudless sky.

Chanctonbury Ring
Chanctonbury Ring, 22 June 2019

There is genuinely something magical or mystical about such sites. Just the knowledge of walking along thousand-year old paths, sitting by ancient long barrows, trying to trace the patterns in the fields created by ancient people. I felt it here. I felt it on Uffington Castle hill, walking the Ridgeway there and at Tring. I felt it on Glastonbury Tor. Walking past Silbury Hill to Avebury.

And I say this not from a national or patriotic perspective. The false nostalgia of ‘good old England’ is something in particular that #landscapepunk and folkhorror writers and artists are trying to challenge in their work. See David Southwell’s pronouncements on why he does what he does through Hookland. There was a debate about this in relation to some writing about English landscapes done a couple of years ago that I won’t go into, but I am on the same lines as the landscape punk writers. (see also https://ayearinthecountry.co.uk/the-old-weird-albion-and-eighth-climate-spectres-of-myths-and-psychogeographic-explorations-wanderings-explorations-and-signposts-3852/)

The landscape is meant to be unsettling; it records conflict and unrest and unease and longer ways that we do not, and should not, understand. It is not blood and soil in the father-land sense of the term. It is not reassuring; it challenges us. And from my perspective, it is regional.

Nevertheless, it was still stunningly beautiful.

chanctonbury ring

I am thinking a lot about the regionality of landscape, not least because I am sorting through the common rights claimed by the various counties in enclosure cases and the registration documents for the 1965 Commons Registration Act (see previous blog post). The rights claimed were for subsistence and farming, and reflected the materiality of the regional landscape: chalk cut from pits in chalkland, and gorse, bracken and fern cut in September were key here. Whereas in the Pennines, turbury (peat cutting) was a main feature of the local customary economy, increasingly stretched as the population and urban settlements grew on the edges of the hills. Was there a ‘moral ecology’ at work here? (see the influence of Karl Jacoby in developing the term, e.g. in the work of Iain Robertson on Scottish crofting landscapes – see his article with Carl Griffin also on Gloucestershire: https://academic.oup.com/hwj/article-abstract/82/1/24/2499401) Or was it just subsistence, with over-grazing and over-stocking of animals on commons suggesting simply an increasingly pressured means of survival rather than concern for the environment?

Differing customary traditions also mark regionality of landscapes. And what tradition is should not be overthought. Hopper, again echoing Nolan I think, notes about encountering morris men on 1 May:

“They stepped in the same patterns as bearded men had stepped a century before them, maybe in the same place. Morris won’t make the rains or the harvest come; no child will flourish because of this dance; God knows fertility won’t be enhanced. It is a checkpoint, a diary entry, written onto the earth at Chanctonbury, with footsteps, like lines accrued on a face. That, that is tradition. That it is sole purpose, to be enacted, and ever so.”

Justin Hopper, ‘Bonny Breast Knot’, Chanctonbury Rings.

As for access, Chanctonbury is part of the South Downs National Park but is still owned by the Goring Estate, who have been major landowners in the region for centuries. Up to 75% of the trees planted on the Ring in the 18th century were felled by the Great Storm of 1987, a feature that Hopper relates on his album, reflecting on the ‘ghost trees’ he now remembers there.

common rights 1965

Herts county council commons registration act 1965

I’m coming back to earlier archival research I did on common rights and the Commons Registration Act 1965.

Key reading is chapter 4 of Christopher P Rodgers et al, Contested Common Land: environmental governance past and present (2011) and J. W. Aitchison, ‘The commons and wastes of England and Wales, 1958-1989’, Area, 22: 3 (1990), 272-77. The Royal Commission on Common Land 1958 report and its interpretation by Dudley Stamp and W. G. Hoskins, The Common Lands of England and Wales (1963).

These point to the deficiencies of the 1965 legislation, not just in creating confusion among who was allowed to register land and rights, multiple registrations of the same common, confusion between commons and village greens, and a lack of sensitivity to customary regulations that were time limited and designed to maintain environmental subsistence and ecology.

I was also inspired by the artist Ruth Beale (http://ruthbeale.net/work/commons-drones-gifs/) who spoke about her art using the 1965 Commons registers for Northamptonshire, at an event at Manchester School of Art on Commons last year.

The Hertfordshire registers for the Commons Registration Act 1965 are in Hertfordshire Local Studies, on microfilm (ref CL; also VG for the village green registers). I have had trouble trying to find the equivalent registers in other counties – Surrey History Centre, for example, said the council never purchased the originals for their county in the first place, so they don’t have them. They are held in the County Hall with the modern updated maps: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/land-planning-and-development/countryside/common-land-and-village-greens#where

Hertfordshire shows some distinctive patterns which reflect, as always, how landscape and community shape regions, and how regions thereby shape the common and customary legal framework in which people dwelt.

Aldbury common
Aldbury Common, from geograph.org

Aldbury Common near Tring, and Berkhamsted Common, were the predominant commons in the Hertfordshire registers. They demonstrate the legacy of the fight to save Berkhamsted common in the 1860s which led to the formation of the Commons Preservation society (see Ben Cowell, ‘ The Commons Preservation Society and the Campaign for Berkhamsted Common, 1866–70’, Rural History, 13:2 (2002). The commons were purchased or donated to the National Trust in the early 20th century. It is on those commons that the registers recorded the most claims of common rights. The current NT website https://www.chilternsaonb.org/ccbmaps/376/137/aldbury-common.html states that there are over 900 commoners, though only a few claim their rights, mainly to estovers (wood gathering).

A total of 146 claimed rights in 1973 according to the registers. Most commoners were farmers claiming pasturage for substantial numbers of animals, thus illustrating the continued role of customary forms of agriculture, even as late as the mid 20th century. 26 commoners at Aldbury claimed estovers and wood gathering, though this was regulated to ‘fallen wood not more than 9 inches diameter within one month of falling’, and ‘cut ripened fern from 1 September’. They also claimed the right to cut chalk from the chalk pit, reflecting the regional geology of this part of the Chilterns.

I am interested in the continuance of these claims to rights, particularly over small subsistence (e.g. the right to graze 6 geese) into the later 20th century and whether people exercise the rights today. How were these rights passed down? How many were rights appurtenant (belonging to the land/property)? Did people learn about them through generations, or to what extent were they bought and sold, a trade that seemed common in 18th and 19th century studies of enclosure? Were they recorded in deeds etc?

If you know of more 1965 commons registers in county archives or local studies or elsewhere, please comment below. Thanks.