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About the Registers of Deeds

The three ‘Ridings’ of the County of Yorkshire were the only areas (with the exception of Middlesex) in England and Wales to introduce and maintain a Register of Deeds. They are therefore an unique source of information about property, people, finance and inheritance in both urban and rural locations across Yorkshire, as well as offering an insight into the documentary and legal practices which controlled property transfer. Each Riding extended as far as the walls of the City of York, therefore property within the walls was not included in the Registers of Deeds.

From the early part of the 18th century, transfers of freehold and leasehold property located within the boundaries of the three Ridings were copied and recorded at their respective Deeds Registries. A ‘Memorial’ or shortened version was all that was legally required, but many full copies can be found in the Registers as well. Although it was not compulsory to record such transactions it did become common practice, and the Deeds Registries were in use until the 1970s, when the Land Registry became the nationwide repository for property transfer documentation.


  • Yorkshire (West Riding) Land Registry Act, 1703 (2 & 3 Ann, c. 4, 5 Ann, c.18 and 6 Ann, c.35)
  • Yorkshire (East Riding) Land Registry Act, 1707 (6 Ann, c.62)
  • Yorkshire (North Riding) Land Registry Act, 1734 (8 Geo. 2, c.6)

Where to find the records

  • West Riding (1704-1970) – the records are held by West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) at the History Centre on Kirkgate in Wakefield. More information about the West Riding Registers and how to use them for house history, family history or for legal purposes, please read the guidance provided by WYAS here.
  • East Riding (1708-1974) – the records are held by East Riding Archives (EYA) at The Treasure House on Champney Road in Beverley. More information about the East Riding Registers, their contents and how to use them can be found in the guidance provided by EYA here.
  • North Riding (1736-1970) the records are held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office on Malpas Road, Northallerton. The Index Registers and Deeds for 1736-1884 are available on Microfilm and pages 219-220 of Appendix I of NYCRO Guide No. 1 will help you establish which microfilm numbers you need. For period 1885-1970, the Index Registers for both Place and People are held in the Search Room. Deeds Registers can be requested once the correct reference number is known. A recent NYCRO exhibition called ‘Researching House History’ had an accompanying blog which provides a useful resource to the North Riding Deeds Registers and what they contain.

Document Reference

Legislation was introduced in 1883-4 to ensure a common system of indexing across all three Ridings of Yorkshire. You will therefore find that there are some differences between what information was recorded in Index Ledgers prior to this date and how each individual Registry arranged and filed the documents. The main differences between the two systems are:

  • Unique reference
    • 1704 -1884 – Alpha/numerical reference system e.g. BY/101/123 – several index volumes being used at the same time.
    • 1885-1970s – Numerical reference system e.g. 16/1101/402 – filed in strict ‘date of registration’ order.
  • Names of parties
    • All parties involved in the transaction are listed in the Indexes from 1885 onwards; prior to this, only the names of the main parties were listed. Wives are often referred to only as ‘uxor‘.
  • Date of Registration
    • The exact date and time of registration is shown in the Index Registers from 1885 onwards. Older ledgers do not show this level of detail, listing each document only in a general list by year of registration.
  • Type of Transaction
    • Only shown in the Index Registers from 1885 onwards.

For more information on how to search, please click here.


These links have been provided in good faith. The Register of Deeds Project has no control over the nature, content and availability of the sites listed below. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

Genuki Yorkshire – a useful link to establish which Riding a Township falls within –